Directed by: Yash Chopra
Script, Dialogues: Salim-Javed
Starring: Sanjeev Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Amitabh Bachchan, Rakhee,
Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Sachin, Poonam Dhillon, Prem Chopra
1978 was a very good year for Amitabh Bachchan. He had six releases (Don, Kasme Vaade, Muqaddar ka Sikander, Besharam, Trishul, Ganga ki Saugandh) out of which three were block busters, two of them hits, and one a better than average grosser. It consolidated his position as the reigning superstar, and it seemed that he could do no wrong. With a script by Salim-Javed, who diverged from their previous script Don completely with this one, Trishul explored the relationship between a father and his illegitimate son. Or a son and his illegitimate father. Take your pick.
Rajkumar Gupta (Sanjeev Kumar), a successful civil engineer is in love with Shanti (Waheeda Rehman), his secretary. They talk of getting married, and Rajkumar takes her to meet his mother.
Shanti is ecstatic, but Rajkumar’s mother has a word of practical advice for her son – if he needs to get ahead in life, then Shanti is not the girl for him. Rajkumar’s boss has approached her with a marriage proposal for his daughter, Kamini (Gita Kak); she desires that he marry her. Of course, fifty per cent shares in his father-in-law’s company is not a joke. So Rajkumar gets married without even letting Shanti know. Shanti comes to know however, and comes to his office to wish him. As she leaves, she shares another piece of news.
Shanti leaves Rajkumar and the city behind; months later, she gives birth to a son, whom she names Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan). She brings him up, not just with love, but in adversity, teaching him from childhood to be strong and independent, a stranger to the more tender emotions that a man may feel.
Years pass, and Vijay is as hard, and as emotionless as the granite quarry where he works. His only feelings are reserved for his mother. As she lies dying, she tells him not to cry. The world is cruel, and she wants him to live with courage.
Rajkumar Gupta is now RK Gupta, one of the top construction magnates in the country. His son, Shekhar (Shashi Kapoor) is coming home from London after two years. Shekhar is young, handsome, a flirt, and had once wanted to be a musician, but his father has different ideas.
RK had expected to meet a self-confident young man; he is disappointed to meet the dissolute son of a wealthy father, who wants to buy a land that is under litigation. Vijay erupts.
Intrigued by the fact that Vijay has come to make a deal worth five lakhs without five paise in his pocket, RK gives him the land, on the guarantee that he will get his money back within 15 days.
Vijay warns Madho Singh (Shetty) that he wants him to evacuate the premises by the next day to much general hilarity. He then proceeds to meet Balwant Rai (Prem Chopra), one of the leading financiers in the city, and RK Gupta’s ex-colleague, to ask him for a loan. They share an enmity of RK Gupta and Balwant is ready to help in return for a lien on the land.
One good fight later, Vijay succeeds in evicting Madho Singh. As he goes to Gupta’s office to pay off the five lakhs he owes, he runs into Shekhar. Geeta (Raakhee), Gupta’s secretary, introduces the two. The latter is impressed. So is Gupta.
Soon, RK Gupta’s signboard is replaced by that of Shanti Constructions. Vijay has taken his first step against his father. Meanwhile, Shekhar has just appointed a young lad straight out of college. Ravi (Sachin) is Babli’s boyfriend. Shekhar has an appointment with the general manager of a company; as he walks in, he is astonished to see that the GM is a woman. As is his wont, he begins to flirt.
Sheetal Verma (Hema Malini) is friendly and soon falls for our hero and his nonsense. (Well, it is!) Soon, they are golfing, practicing yoga, playing tennis (or at least they are dressed for the occasion), singing duets and falling in love.
Vijay, on the other hand is making his moves very carefully. Meeting Geeta on the way, he offers her a lift and asks her for her help in getting a big contract. Geeta is furious. Her integrity is not for sale.
It doesn’t faze Vijay, and he approaches another of Gupta’s employees – Bhandari (Yunez Parvez). Bhandari proves to be an easier mark.
The task is simple. Before Gupta Constructions’ tenders reach the jobs they are both bidding for, Bhandari will ensure that Vijay gets a copy. And so it happens that one after the other, Gupta loses bids to Vijay. Step two is complete. The battle has begun, but the war is still to be fought. Gupta is at first annoyed, then furious, and finally, suspicious. He has become addicted to winning. Bhandari cleverly implicates Geeta.
Vijay, meanwhile, has run into Geeta again. She is shopping with Babli, and Vijay apologises for the earlier incident. Geeta accepts the apology and introduces him to Babli, who greets him with simple friendliness. Vijay has now met both his siblings. As Vijay and Geeta come out of the store, Gupta sees them, and the suspicion planted by Bhandari crystallises.
Geeta is distraught but she has no way of proving her innocence. Gupta sacks her, much to Bhandari’s glee. However, he had not reckoned with Vijay.
Geeta begins working for Vijay. He is a man obsessed, and Geeta soon finds out how much. Days. weeks, months pass in his company, and Geeta is drawn to her employer. He, in turn, depends on her like he has never depended on any one before.
It’s the second anniversary of Vijay’s company and he elicits her help in throwing a party for the city’s who’s who. Gupta also puts in an appearance; father and son have a conversation, where Vijay’s responses are double-edged.
Vijay is not leaving any stone unturned to destroy his father, even buying land at more than market value. Gupta is beginning to be intrigued. He realises that there is more to this story than he first thought. But what?
It’s not only Gupta that Vijay is seeking to destroy, but also his half-brother, Shekhar. Having noticed Shekhar’s closeness to Sheetal at his party, he plans to destroy their relationship much to Geeta’s distress. However, the best laid plans of mice and men, and all that, and Shekhar and Sheetal only become closer.
Vijay’s next encounter with the Gupta family is with Babli. He rescues her from an accident and takes her home. He is hurt too, and Mrs Gupta tends to him. For the first time since his mother’s death, he feels a sense of belonging.
While it doesn’t mitigate his hatred toward his father, he surprises himself when he reacts violently to Balwant abusing Gupta. It leads to further enmity. Sheetal’s father, Mr Verma (Iftekhar) has a project that he is passing out for tenders. A confrontation in the board room sees the enmity between Vijay and Gupta boil over. Geeta wonders at the obsession that is driving Vijay; she even wonders whether, after achieving so much wealth, he is happy. For the first time, Vijay breaks his silence about his past. For the first time, he lets in some friendship, some affection into a life driven by hatred.
Gupta sends Mr Verma a bribe – in Vijay’s name. Mr Verma, whose integrity is offended, disqualifies him. RK Gupta receives the contract. Vijay is down but not out. The next move is his. Geeta is aghast at the audacity of the scheme. The first casualty is Gupta’s financiers who begin to back out. And every promissory note that he has signed is bought up by Vijay. Cornered, Gupta fights back – taking a step that is beyond the pale.
What will happen next in this war between father and son? Who will win, who will lose? Will Vijay succeed in driving a wedge between his father and his legitimate children? Will Gupta atone? Where does Balwant Rai and Bhandari fit into all this? Their enmity is with both father and son.
Two years after she acted as his wife in Kabhi-Kabhie, Waheeda Rehman dons the role of Amitabh’s mother in Trishul. Her presence looms large over the entire film though her screen time is limited. It is for her that Vijay takes on his father, both professionally and personally. It is his single-minded devotion to her that makes Vijay focus on alleviating his poverty, be it any which way. Waheeda’s Shanti is a self-respecting, independent woman. And a strong one at that, since she walks out of her one-time lover’s life without so much as asking him ‘why’?
It is that same strength that lets her inform him that she is going to be the mother of his child. Not because she wants something from him, but because he has the right to know. She is not a martyr sacrificing her love. She’s a woman who can hold her head up high as she pities her spineless lover for sacrificing love at the altar of ambition.
And while one can claim that RK is playing a dutiful son, that is too simplistic a viewpoint – he is ambitious. His mother’s words fall on fruitful ears only because he also wants to go far in life and is willing to use anybody as a ladder to get to the top. His guilt over Shanti is not so much that he wronged her, but that she might cause problems in his well-planned life. And once he plants his feet on that slippery slope to success, he becomes more and more attuned to achieving that success at any cost. Indeed, he becomes rigid in his expectations of how his family must behave; his son’s engagement to Sheetal is approved because she is a rich and successful young woman. His daughter’s relationship with Ravi, on the other hand, is a no-no because Ravi does not belong to the same economic strata, and therefore, is not worthy of his family.
Sanjeev Kumar’s portrayal of the wealthy, successful, arrogant RK was one of his finest – and that is saying a lot considering the oeuvre of this natural actor.
Amitabh? Well, this is yet another Vijay, and he seethed on screen. His resentment at being called a bastard; his anger at the way his mother was used and discarded; his yearning for a family that he can call his own – this surely was one of Amitabh’s most intense performances. His Vijay is a man who does not care about the consequences (to others) of his actions. His pursuit of revenge is the both the journey and the destination. There is no thought for anybody or anything else. His anger at RK burns so bright that he cannot even see that underneath it all is his need to be accepted – when Balwant Rai abuses RK, it’s that underlying angst that bursts out. His vulnerability is only exposed once in the movie – when he asks Geeta to stay behind because he is lonely. In that one sentence, he exposes the extent of his need for love.
Raakhee had a smaller role in terms of screen time than did Hema Malini; yet, her character, Geeta, had more depth. There is something about Vijay that draws her to him, and soon she becomes his friend and confidante. It is her silent support that helps him find some solace even as he single-mindedly plots the destruction of the man who was responsible for his emotional scars. She is both his support and the voice of his conscience, and finally it is to her he turns for friendship, for affection, for love.
Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Poonam Dhillon (in her debut role) and Sachin were there as the supporting cast; they got to be the pretty people who sang all the songs (Amitabh got a couple of verses in this song, in my opinion, the best of a pleasant, but not great score).
This is Salim-Javed’s script all the way, and both Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjeev Kumar set the screen on fire with their confrontation scenes. The tension is built up slowly but surely until it finally bursts forth, in the scene where Vijay returns Gupta’s wealth, almost as charity. If Amitabh underplays the hatred, watch Sanjeev Kumar’s expressions the revelation that Vijay is his son hits him. Trishul was what it was because of these two.
Interestingly enough, Sanjeev Kumar is a few months younger than Shashi Kapoor who plays his son. And for some reason, Amitabh continues to play elder brother to the latter, even though he is a couple of years younger. RK Gupta’s role was first offered to Dilip Kumar.
Some beautiful people: