September 2, 2009
Bollywood in 1970's : A Series of Classics !
Alright, this is the third part in the Bollywood series covering my favourite movies from 1970's, having already written in the first part (1950's) and in the second part (1960's). Here is the latest one...
(1) Pakeezah (1972)
Kamal Amrohi’s ’Pakeezah’ acquired a legendary status soon after its heroine, the ‘Tragedy Queen’ Meena Kumari passed away. The film has a larger than life feel and is grand in appearance. The story of a courtesan played by Meena Kumari in arguably her best role ever, ‘Pakeezah’ was made by her husband Amrohi and took a long time to make. The film showcases the elegant past of the privileged class of Uttar Pradesh; their refined culture and grandeur yet at the same time their hypocrisy and decadence of the bourgeois society. Ashok Kumar and Raj ‘Jaani’ Kumar play the suitors of Meena Kumari who has a double role in the film as mother and daughter. The incredibly lyrical songs or mujras in the film are breathtaking be it "Chalthe Chalthe","Thade rahiyo O Banke Yaar","Inhi Logon ne" and "Chalo Dildaar chalo", rendered music by legendary Ghulam Mohammad,who incidentally died by the time the film neared release. Hence, Naushad was brought in to complete the background score. The costumes and sets are gorgeous. As the film took 14 long years to make due to the differences between the husband –wife team of Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi, Meena looks young and fresh in some scenes and in some painfully haggard and sad.Meena Kumari was very ill when filming resumed and can be seen lying down in most of her scenes. For the dance sequences, Padma Khanna was used as a body double and can be seen in the long-shots. But Meena Kumari covers it all up with her stunning histrionics and dialogue delivery. A breathtaking watch !
(2) Bobby (1973)
It was inspired by chapter 1 of the movie 'Mera Naam Joker', Raj kapoor's most ambitious venture (involving Rishi Kapoor as a child artist and Simi Garewal). But in the aftermath of disastrous box office results of this movie, a situation came where Raj Kapoor was even thinking of selling family owned R.K.Studios to pay off the debt money, which was utilized in making this movie. But then, in a swing of fortune, he decided to make 'Bobby' and as they say, rest is history. This was the launch vehicle of Raj Kapoor’s son Rishi Kapoor and a 14 year old girl who became a teen-sensation- Dimple Kapadia. One of the sweetest love stories in Hindi cinema, ‘Bobby’ is about a school going girl who falls in love with a lonely, rich young boy. It’s the rich-poor formula but the freshness of the lead pair was the clincher for ‘Bobby’. Dimple Kapadia with her short dresses and knotted teeny weeny tops became the darling of the nation. The screen chemistry of the hero and heroine was so amazing that when Dimple made a comeback in 'Sagaar' more than a decade after ‘Bobby’, Rishi Kapoor was signed opposite her. The music of the film was a smash hit with songs like ‘Hum tum ik kamre mein band ho’,'Mein shayar to nahin','Mujhe kuch kehna hain','Na maangon sona chandi' and ‘Jhooth bole kauwva kaate’ becoming anthems for the youth. Narendra Chanchal debuted as a singer in the song ' Beshaq Mandir Masjid todo' and became a rage with his unique voice at that time. The movie became so popular that many children born in that year or a year later were named as 'Bobby'. Such was the hype of the movie, that the bike Rajdoot GTS175 (which was used by the couple in the movie) was relaunched as the nick name 'Bobby'. This movie was a trend setter in a sense, as numerous flicks followed after this with teenage romance and clash of rich-vs-poor as backdrop in the following years.
(3) Sholay (1975)
It’s a tad difficult to fit ‘Sholay’ into a single paragraph. Arguably the most complete and entertaining film of all times in Hindi Cinema, the film boasts of some of the biggest stars of its era-Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri. It also made a star out of a character called Gabbar Singh -the most imitated character of Hindi cinema. The legendary Gabbar’s dialogues are now folk-lore "Kitne Aadmi The”, “Arre O Samba”, "Kitna inaam rakhee hain sarkar hum par”, ”Bahut yaarana lagta hai”,"Yeh haath mujhe de de Thakur,"Suaar ke bacchon" or,"Pachas pachas kos door gaon mein jab bachcha raat ko rota hai to maa kahti hai beta soja ..soja nahin to Gabbar Singh aa jaayega" :D They were peppered with his quirky vicious laughter showing his tobacco-stained teeth or the trademark ferocity. Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh is a true blue cult-figure. Each and every character of Sholay is a part of the cinematic folklore, be it Asrani as Jailor, Keshtu mukherjee as the Jailor's Informer, Jagdeep as Surma Bhopali or even the ghodi Dhanno . But apart from all this, the other most popular characters are Hindi cinema’s best-known buddies, Jai- Veeru and Veeru’s blabbermouth love interest, Basanti. The two friends singing ‘ Yeh dosti hum nahin chhodenge’ makes the most enduring image of screen friendship. Hema Malini as the chatterbox Basanti was a laugh riot all the way. The three share some of the most memorable scenes in the film, be it 'the Tanki Scene', 'The shooting practice scene' or 'The temple scene'. Directed by Ramesh Sippy, the movie was shot in the rocky terrain of Ramnagar, an acutal village in Karnataka. Ironically, for the first 6 weeks, this movie was a box office dud, till it picked up from word-to-mouth publicity and never looked back after that, as it became one of the highest grossing film of all time in Hindi Cinema. Such was the phenomenon of this movie, that 13 years later in 1986, when it was first shown on government run- Doordharshan TV channel, Streets were literally empty during the movie run. It was the first Hindi film whose audio cassettes were released with the movie dialogues. Sholay is a classic to be watched again and again !!
(4) Deewaar (1975)
Yash Chopra’s ‘Deewaar’ is a classic example of a perfect Indian melodrama of the 70s –two brothers raised by a long suffering mother. One turns out to be good and the other gets strayed into the big bad world of crime. Amitabh, who had already made a mark with ‘Zanjeer’ as the ‘angry young man’ but it was ‘Deewaar’ which catapulted his image emerging as a force to reckon with. The potent dialogues written by the hit duo of Salim-Javed left a huge impact on the audiences receiving whistles and claps by the front-benchers. Who hasn’t heard the most famous dialogue of the movie...“ Aaj mere paas bangla hai, gaadi hai, bank balance hai. Tumhare paas kya hai? Mere paas ... Maaa Hai ”! Not just this, some of the one liners has become absolutely immortal, "Aaj Khush to bahut hoge tum"," Mein aaj bhi Phenke hue paise nahin leta" or " Mera baap chor hain". Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor play brothers and Nirupa Roy their mother. In the climax when Amitabh is shot by his own brother to drive home the good-over-bad philosophy, he staggers into a temple where he dies in the arms of his mother. It was one of the most powerful scenes in the film. The character of Anita, player by Parvin Babi was a liberated working girl, smoking, drinking and sleeping with her lover, defying every Hindi film heroine set trends till that point.No wonder, so many B grade movie with the titular role of heroine as Anita followed, in a raunchy and sexy avataar.Though the entire cast also including Satyen Kappu and Neetu Singh did a good job, but the film belonged to Amitabh Bachchan who made ‘Deewaar’ a fare to remember with his powerhouse performance.
(5) Chupke Chupke (1975)
Arguably one of the most cleanest and fun filled comedies to come out ever in Bollywood, Chupke Chupke is considered to be among the best works of the director, Hrishikesh Mukherjee. It showed the Sholay duo of Amitabh Bachhan and Dharmendra in dramatically opposite roles, as that of two professors- a Ghaas Phoos (botany) professor and an English professor respectively.Their comic timing and the pauses were signs of extraordinary actors.Even though all the performances in the film were commendable and outstanding, the film stood out most because of the liveliness in Om Prakash's chracter. The subtle naunaces which he brought to the table; right from being an arrogant senior member of the family, to an angry jijaji to Sharmila Tagore, to the subdued looser at the end of the film, all of them were an absolute delight to watch.His introductory scene with Dharmendra, where they converse in shudh hindi is a laugh riot.The movie has a number of memorable songs by the duo of music director S.D. Burman and lyricist Anand Baakshi such as "Chupke Chupke", "Sa Re Ga Ma", "Abke Sajan Sawan Mein". A remake of a Bengali Film, 'Chhadmabeshi', its a fun filled laughter riot trying to resolve mishaps all through the flick. A must watch!
(6) Kabhie Kabhie (1976)
This romance saga over two generations, was initially originated from a poem (by the same title) written by the lyricist, Sahir Ludhianavi. The deadly duo of 'Deewar' - Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bacchaan was truly in form in this mushy musical drama on celluloid, end result - fireworks all over. The climax scene between the two lead actors, where they discuss their past relationships is a result of the sheer brilliance by the director, Yash Chopra. Shot entirely in Kashmir, this film had some of the best romantic songs ever compiled in a single album: "Kabhie Kabhie mere dil mein","Mein ek pal ka shayar hoon","Mere ghar aayi ek nanhi pari","Tere chehre se nazar nahin hathi","Pyar kar liya to kya" and "Tere phooolon jaisa rang". Its a sad story about two young and lovable hearts visualizing perfect life together while destiny has made different plans for them. Its a story about the journey of a girl (played by Neetu singh) to find the hidden truth of his life even at the cost of his current love. Its a story about how a poet looses its inspiration for a lifetime, only to realize its repercussions 20 years later. Kabhie Kabhie was an art film in the commercial grab, it was truly a film which you come across 'sometimes'. For all the hard core romantic watchers - this is a must watch!
(7) Don (1978)
Basically an underworld movie, it has gained cult status over the years in Indian cinema. Directed by Chandra Barot, Amitabh bacchaan starred in the title role as the DON. . A script originally written by Salim-Javed, it was rejected by almost all the top directors at that time, before it finally saw light. Interestingly, the film was started in helping the producer/cinematographer of the movie, Nariman Irani out of 12 lakh rupees debt but he died during the shooting of the movie. A new version of Indian film heroine, played by Zeenat Aman, doing Judo and karate was introduced to the audience, a true seeti-maar moment on celluloid. Music by Kalyanji Anandji and lyrics by Anjaan, it produced some of the evergreen songs on the big screen, be it " Yeh Mera Dil pyaar ka deewana", " Khai ke paan banaras wala"," Yeh hain bambai Nagaria",'Jiska mujhe tha Intezaar" or " Are deewano, mujhe pechaano". A sample from the song "Ye Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana" was also used by the Black Eyed Peas for their hit 2005 song "Don't Phunk with My Heart".The song won the Black Eyed Peas their first Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, while the original composers (Kalyanji-Anandji) for their song,were awarded the BMI Award for being the originators of the melodies used in this new song.It will be interesting to watch what Farhan Akthar offers in the sequel of his own remake of this movie, currently titled as Don- the chase continues and slated to release sometime in late 2010. I sincerely hope he doesn't make another disaster as the remake of Don, which was released in 2007 :D
PS: Though i have included only seven movies here in this list, there are few movies worth mentioning which released during this decade:
Anand (1970) - arguably Rajesh Khanna's best role ever!
Purab Aur Paschim (1970) - Manoj Kumar at its patriotic best!
Zanjeer (1973) - The start of a phenomenon: 'The Angry Young Men' in AB!
Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) - The biggest lost and found formula film in Bollywood!
Trishul (1978) - One of the best roles of Sanjeev Kumar!
Jai Santoshi Maa (1975) - The biggest religious movie ever made in India; Mom once told me people used to go without footwear while watching this movie. There were stands put outside the cinema halls to accommodate all shoes, chappals and sandals, such was the pious devotion of people watching it :D
Let me know your favourites among these or any other movies released during 1970-1979. Next post in this series will be on movies from 1980-1989. Till then, happy movie watching, cheers!