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Beta

1992 171’ col/scope Hindi d/co-p Indra Kumar pc Maruti International co-p Vinod Doshi, Ashok Thakeria st K. Bhagyaraj sc Gyandev Agnihotri dial Kamlesh Pandey lyr Sameer c Baba Azmi m Anand-Milind, Vanraj Bhatia lp Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Aruna Irani, Laxmikant Berde, Akash Khurana, Ajitesh, Anupam Kher, Rita Bhaduri

A rich widower (Khurana) marries Laxmi (Irani) to provide a mother for his infant son Raju. However, she is an evil woman who schemes to appropriate her husband’s property by having him locked away, making her stepson emotionally dependent on her and moving in with her equally villainous brother (Kher). Raju (Kapoor) grows up an illiterate peasant, but when he marries Saraswati (Dixit), the new daughter-in-law sets things right. The major dramatic pivot constitutes the assembling of a new patriarchy around Raju and around the contradiction of ‘bad’ characters being positioned in positive roles: e.g. the daughterin- law must persecute the evil Laxmi without tarnishing Laxmi’s authority as her mother-inlaw, and Raju himself has to accede to new notions of morality - including economic independence from the joint family - while the narrative must sustain his symbolic regard for his stepmother. After his second success (Dil, in 1990, was his first) Indra Kumar went on to make it three-in-a-row with Raja (1995), all starring Madhuri Dixit. The film is notorious mainly for its erotic picturisation of the Dhak dhak number (Anand Patwardhan later refers to the song in Father Son and Holy War, 1994, as epitomising male fantasy).

Film