When Yash Chopra┬┤s "Trishul" released in 1978, the audiences at the time must have deeply recognized the Chopra trademark themes that were there in Chopra┬┤s earlier 1970┬┤s movies. Coming after
"Daag" (1973), "Deewar" (1975) and "Kabhi Kabhie" (1976), the plot of "Trishul" is also about fragmented families, the divide between the rich and the poor and dramatic revelations.
Sanjeev Kumar is Raj Kumar Gupta, a reasonably successful businessman, who falls in love with a secretary, Shanti (Waheeda Rehman). They decide to get married but first Raj must introduce Shanti to his mother. After the meeting, Shanti leaves Raj┬┤s house under the impression that she has been accepted as a future daughter-in-law. But Raj┬┤s mother is actually none-too-pleased about this match. Under pressure from his mother, Raj weds a daughter of a wealthy businessman (Gita Siddharth). He does so because Raj believes that it will advance his career. After the wedding, a dejected Shanti reveals to Raj that she is expecting his baby.
Shunned by society, Shanti leaves town to live her own life. She gives birth to a boy, Vijay, and brings him up in a life full of poverty and adversity. With the main gist of the plot being established, the story flash-forwards to a couple of decades later where Vijay is now a grown man (Amitabh Bachchan). Shanti dies from an illness and Vijay vows to get revenge on the man who made his mother suffer- R.K. Gupta. Raj Kumar Gupta is now something of a legend in the business world. He has achieved fame, money and success. Vijay moves back into the city and tracks down his father┬┤s company. He walks in to Raj┬┤s office and proposes a deal.
With this deal, Vijay manages to strike up his own business company, and much to Raj┬┤s horror, he becomes a serious rival. Vijay poaches Geeta (Raakhee), a hard-working secretary, from RK┬┤s firm and after that he is even stealing their potential contracts and clients. Vijay contrives to create difficulties in Raj┬┤s household too. His step-brother, Shekhar (played by Shashi Kapoor) has a romance going with Sheetal (Hema Malini). Ditto for ShekharÔÇÖs younger sister, Bubbly (Poonam Dhillon in her debut) who is secretly seeing Ravi (Sachin). Vijay uses his knowledge of these relationships to his advantage to create jealousies, rash decisions and tension. The film hurtles towards the climax where secret motives and revelations are opened like a can of worms.
The force that drives all the events along is the maternal force. Here, Yash Chopra reinforces the
"Mere Paas Maa Hai" message of his "Deewar". Whoever has the most love for his mother on his side will be the strongest. In terms of physical presence, the mother is invisible for the most part of "Trishul". Where the maternal force lies is in the psyche of Vijay. It is he who acts on behalf of mother even if he is doing something that even Shanti would not do. If you look at the rest of the characters, they come across as "motherless". Shekhar and Bubbly have a bond with their own mother but it is portrayed as a superficial bond. They are not very close to her and neither does their mother know what her own children are going through (thus Bubbly manages to hide her relationship with Ravi so well).
But the clash between Raj and Vijay is a rather compelling aspect of the plot. Their clash does not mean that Raj himself is oblivious to the idea of devotion to mother. It is his loyalty to his maa that made him ready to marry somebody that he does not love (and reject Shanti). So, beneath the surface, the film suggests that too much devotion to your mother can cause problems. The story seems to be quite critical of the archetypal dutiful son, as Raj and Vijay do not find ultimate happiness from their worship of their mothers. The plot emphasizes its message that while a child must love and care for his mother, he must also have the courage to develop his own independent thought and do what makes him happy.
The movie relies on the acting capabilities of Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan to work and when have those two artists ever let us down? The film does have its share of mandatory side villains but the roles of Raj and Vijay do have negative shades. Raj┬┤s one moment of rash decisions and selfishness sets off an order of events. Similarly, Vijay┬┤s relentless pursuit and agenda for his own revenge causes grief for bekasoor characters such as Shekhar and Bubbly (an element that was taken to the extreme with Shah Rukh Khan┬┤s character in Abbas-Mustan┬┤s
"Baazigar"). Sanjeev Kumar astutely portrays the slight veil of arrogance of his middle-aged character. Amitabh Bachchan seethes with rage and anger and his suspenseful scenes with Kumar sets the screen ablaze. When an actor can express such emotions without even the need to shout then he is clearly an exceptional talent.
Waheeda Rehman looks beautiful as the young Shanti in the opening scenes of the story. Raakhee leaves her mark as Geeta, a confidant who grows closer to Vijay. As for the rest of the cast, their roles are not very important. Stars like Shashi Kapoor, Hema Malini and Poonam Dhillon are there to add glitter and sparkle to the rather grim story. At least, they all perform well but the same cannot be said for Sachin who overacts in his few scenes. The stars are actually there for the songs, which have been composed by Khayyam and penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. "Mohabbat Bade Kaam Ki" and "Jo Hai Yaar Apna" (both sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar) were huge hits at the time of the film┬┤s release.
The main angles that lift "Trishul" are the dialogues (especially between Raj and Vijay) and the screenplay and that is not a surprise as the formidable duo of Salim-Javed are the writers. The screenplay is excellent in the way that tension is built throughout the story as new twists and turns take place. They also add a little dash of humor here and there, especially in the sequence Vijay goes to beat up some goonday and he takes an ambulance along just in case there is a need for it! Only one criticism though- the song and romantic scenes between the characters essayed by Poonam and Sachin should have been taken out. They add nothing to the film and distract viewers away from the main plot.
A huge success on its release, Yash Chopra then went on to remake the film in "Vijay" (1988) and adopt shades of it in his "Parampara" (1993). But the original version,
"Trishul", remains the best of the lot.