Manoj Kumar has always been a filmmaker whose sole intention of making films is to make films about India and present problems of India in a honest and truthful way! Where Upkaar was dedicated to farmers and "dharti maa", Purab Aur Paschim was about Indians overseas who forget about their culture. Roti Kapada Aur Makaan is his most successful film to date and is about the 3 things which every Indian in India needs -Roti (Food), Kapada(Clothes) and Makaan (House)!!
The plot is very well thought out and is directed to perfection by Manoj. It revolves around Bharat (Manoj) who after studying for years and getting a degree canĀ“t get a job; He has two younger brothers at home Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) and Bharat (Dheeraj Kumar), an ailing father, worried mother and a young sister. He also has a girlfriend (Zeenat Aman) who wants Bharat to get a job and fulfil her dreams in life. These dreams consist of a nice house, lots of travelling and a nice car. She loves Bharat for his honesty - the one thing that he is proud to have. Bharat has a fight with his brother Vijay after which he leaves home and vows to return only after he has become something. In the meantime Sheetal (Zeenat) gets a job and starts falling for the charms of the lovely Mr. Kapoor (Shashi Kapoor). Bharat loses Sheetal to Mr Kapoor. He finally gets a job at a construction site where he meets Moushmi Chatterjee. She is a victim of rape and is now bringing up the son that happened after the incident and a happy-go-lucky Sardar (Prem Nath). Bharat loses his father after an incident and gets done for jail after he tries to steal the medicine for his father. His father passes away and Bharat vows to become a rich man even if that means losing his honesty! How Bharat becomes a rich man, gets all his needs in life but loses his self-respect is what forms the rest of the story. In the meantime Vijay returns as a die-hard army officer and his other brother becomes a police officer. Little do they know that their idol of a brother has become a corrupt don.
In terms of performance everyone gives a great performance and lives up to their role. Manoj Kumar has never been a mind blowing actor-but itĀ“s his character and mannerisms that enabled him to succeed. Here again as the prototype Indian Bharat, he succeeds. His dialogue delivery and facials and immaculate as Bharat though he tends to go overboard with the hand gestures. In his other films like Upkaar, Kranti and Purab Aur Paschim he played a perfect Indian, here he plays an Indian who falters under the pressures of society, a flawed character but one you sympathise with. Zeenat Aman as Sheetal was pretty good too. She oozed sex appeal and had me drooling in that wet sari in āHai Hai Yeh Majbooriā. She acts gracefully and her scenes with Manoj are great. Shashi Kapoor is good in his role too; he doesnĀ“t have much to do but looks good. Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay ROCKS! His role is shorter than ManojĀ“s but his character is one that the audience instantly LOVE! Right from his entrance his dialogues and delivery is just pure dynamite. His re-entrance into the movie as an Army Officer is also great. Moushmi Chatterjee was awesome in her role. She looked gorgeous and was amazing in the emotional scenes. Just witness the scene where she loses her kid and dad in the sewers. Madan Puri made a pretty ace villain and everyone else in the cast did their part well. Prem Nath also performs well.
In terms of direction Manoj Kumar was in top form! He had an awesome story, killer cast and mind-blowing music! He showed his genius as a director and filmmaker many times before and does here again. Just witness the showdown with him and Bachchan at the start; His scenes with Zeenat Aman; The scenes with Moushmi Chatterjee and finally the shocking yet over-the-top rape scene.
Music had always been a strongpoint in Manoj Kumar films and it is safe to say that Roti Kapada Aur Makaan is the best soundtrack from any of his films. Each and every song is a classic and oozes melody! The picturization of the songs are awesome too-but Laxmikant Pyarelal were hands down legends as proven in this film. Music is one factor that is part of RKAM and contributes heavily to its success!
Technically the film is also pretty good and he introduces fight master Veeru Devgan here (No wonder his debut flick Hindustan Ki Kasam resembled parts of a Manoj Kumar starrer.)
Roti Kapada Aur Makaan is one film in my lifetime I have seen more than one hundred times and all I can say after watching it for the first time this year is that the film has not lost its novelty!