Adopted Sons

I am an NRI, translated into: no-real Indian. I follow Indian cinema in my quest to find only one million original films before humanity as we know it disappears. I will use the term Indian cinema sparingly because I only have access to Hindi films, not Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati and other languages.

Gopal Verma’s film Sarkar Raj has something in common with Romeo Must Die, starring Aaliyah, Jet Li and Delroy Lindo. They are both extremes of what happens when young men who manage the wealth of their rich bosses end up seeing themselves as part of the family, and not as hired help.

In Sarkar Raj, Shankar (Abhishek Bachchan), Govinda ‘s youngest son, the local hero or don, depending on who is talking, comes back from abroad to join his father’s empire. Govinda, played by Amitabh Bachchan keeps politicians in line with promises they made to voters. Cheka, Govinda’s right hand man for many years sees himself as his son that should take over when the old man goes. He plots with local politicians and kills Shankar.

Servant wants to be a son
Romeo Must Die was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak. The film is about greed and is set mainly in Oaklands California. Delroy Lindo plays Isaak O’Day, a powerful African American business who does not do things legitimately some time. He shares this with Ch’u Sing (Henry O) a Chinese-American who uses his restaurant as a cover up for his illegal businesses.

Isaak O’Day has a son Colin, played by D.B. Woodside. Ch’u Sing has two sons, Po Sing (Jon Kit Lee) who lives in the U.S. with him and Han Sing, played by Jet Li, who is in prison in Hong Kong. Isaak’s empire is run by his right hand man Mac (Isaiah Washington). Ch’u Sing also has a right hand man, Kai, played by Russel Wong.

A local businessman wants to build a stadium on the San Francisco waterfront area controlled by Isaak and Ch’u Sing. Mac and Kai threaten or kill fishermen who do want to move. Han Sing escapes from prison when he hears that his brother Po Sing is murdered. He meets Isaak’s daughter Trish O’Day (Aaliyah) when he arrives in the United States. The film is about how they discover that Mac and Kai regarded themselves as proxy sons to their bosses, and not as employees.

Grateful adopted sons
Pardes is one of the films where adopted sons are better than flesh and blood. Subhash Ghai’s film is about Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan) who was adopted by Kishorilal(Amrish Puri) a rich businessman when his parents died when he was ten years old.

Kishorilal goes to India on business and bumps into his old friend Surajdev (Alok Nath) who persuades him to visit his home in the country. Kishorilal is captivated by his daughter Ganga, played by Mahima Chaudhary and wants her for his son Rajiv (Apurva Agnihotri).

Rajiv was born in the U.S. and has never been to India. His father wants an Indian wife for him so that he can appreciate his Indian roots. Kishorilal relies on Arjun so much he calls him ‘Little Master.’ He confides in Arjun about his anxiety that Rajiv will reject Ganga. Arjun’s assignment is to go to India with Rajiv to see Ganga and persuade him to agree to the marriage. Arjun will do anything for Kishorilal because he adopted him, give him a job and built a music studio for him.

Arjun and Ganga become friends after a rocky start. Ganga asks him about Rajiv. He lies and says he is wonderful, when in fact he is a spoilt, rude, abusive, and drinks like a fish. Ganga lashes out at Arjun when she discovers Rajiv’s true colours which included his attempt to rape her. Kishorilal must now choose between his real son Rajiv and Arjun, the adopted one.

The adoptive son also sacrifices as in Lawrence de Souza’s film Saajan. Aman, an orphan (Sanjay Dutt) strikes a friendship with a rich boy Akash Verma (Salman Khan). They grow up together because the Verma family adopts him. Aman runs most of the family business because Akash is a free spirit without an ounce of responsibility in his bones.

Aman writes and publishes poetry secretly and donates money to the orphanage that raised him, before he was adopted by the Verma family. Aman and Akash fall in love with the same girl played by Madhuri Dixit. The adopted son sacrifices his love.

In Main Hoon Na, directed by Farah Khan, Shekhar Sharma played by Naserrudin Shah has two sons by two women. His wife Madhu (Kirron Kher) leaves him when his girlfriend sends a young boy to his door and tells him that he is a product of their love affair. Later on in life, that young boy follows in his father’s dreams and becomes Major Ram Prasad Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan).

Brigadier Shekhar Sharma is shot in a television studio during a terrorist attack. He asks Ram Prasad to find Madhu and his son. Ram pretends to be a college student and befriends his brother Lucky (Sayed Khan), who convinces him to rent a room at his mother’s house.

The two sons are as different as night and day. Ram Prasad is prim and proper, a real army creature. Lucky doesn’t comb his hair. His clothes look like tree trunks and he is notorious for not passing his grades. Ram saves his brother Lucky in the end.

Real sons in these films are not nasty to their adoptive brothers but they make them feel that that they are adopted and manipulate them to get favours from their fathers.

Nonqaba waka Msimang is the author of Sweetness The Novel.
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