July 28, 2009
Bollywood In 1950's : The Golden Era of Classics !
Alright folks, this is a movie related series which i wanted to write for a very long time, just searching and selecting the best of the movies took a bit of a time. So, here are my favourite seven Hindi Movies from 1950-1959......
1) Awara (1951)
The USP of ‘Awara’ was the famous Raj-Nargis pairing. Whenever Raj Kapoor and Nargis came together on screen, sparks flew. Their chemistry was electrifying and it crackles with raw passion in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Awara’. Nargis’s wild and carefree sensuality pulsates and Raj Kapoor’s scruffy hair-rebellious persona only adds fuel to the fire. The film was a runaway success not just in India but also in the erstwhile USSR and China. Raj Kapoor plays Raju an aimless youth turned into a criminal living in the slums who is loved by a respectable lawyer played by Nargis. The film established Raj Kapoor as the Chaplin-like ‘tramp’ of Hindi cinema. The music of the film was on the lips of not just Indians but people from all over the world especially Russians. The songs specially “ Awaara hoon”, “Ghar aaya mera pardesi" and “ Dum bhar jo udhar muhn phere" are remembered even today. The first ever dream sequence to be filmed in Hindi cinema where a gorgeous Nargis wafts through the clouds in search of her lover, Raj Kapoor took three months to shoot. It is a symbolic picturisation of the turbulence in the mind of the hero, he escapes the hell that the villain has created and climbs up to the angelic heroine. This song was a big attraction in its time and it spawned numerous dream-sequences in the future films.
2) Do Bigha Zameen (1953)
A Bimal Roy classic, ’Do Bigha Zameen’ is one of the most unforgettable films of Indian cinema. The protagonist Shambhu (brilliantly played by Balraj Sahni) migrates to Calcutta from a small village where he owns two acres of land. He needs to earn money desperately to pay the debt as the moneylender wants his plot of land. His son joins him in the city and becomes a shoeshine boy. Balraj Sahni becomes a rickshaw puller. The scenes with him pulling people in his rickshaw were so compelling that you felt the anguish and the urgency with which he enacts them. To get into the skin of the character, Balraj Sahni, a well educated westernized actor practiced rickshaw pulling on the streets of Calcutta and mingled with other rickshaw pullers without telling them who he was. The film explores the cruelty that is meted out to the poor in villages and cities alike. The film wasn’t a big hit but it won major awards at almost all film festivals it went at that point of time.
3) Devdas (1955)
Based on a novel by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, this has been made numerous times in the history in different Indian languages, with the latest modern versions in Dev D (Abhay Deol) and Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan). But in this Bimal Roy directed classic, Dilip Kumar played the title role, and is arguably the best performance among all the other lead actors in different versions till date. It is tragic tale of lost love and a complex mish-mash of human relationships, it made you wonder what's so enigmatic about this character that it is been made so many times, after all it is a story of a looser ! But, then sad stories always work better than happy ending stories, they are remembered more and they are more relatable.His drunken scenes are understated and that coupled with his inimitable style of dialogue delivery is a deadly combo. Its dialogue " Kaun kambakht bardasht karne ke liye peeta hai ?” was often repeated by Dilip Kumar fans. Vyjayanthimala as Chandramukhi and Suchitra Sen as Paro gave sensitive performances. Motilal as Chunnibabu is a treat to watch. If you didn't liked the two latest modern versions, go for this one!
4) Pyaasa (1957)
Guru Dutt was one of the most brilliant filmmakers of India and ‘Pyaasa’ his most evocative work. Guru Dutt did the lead role of a suffering poet Vijay when it was rejected by Dilip Kumar. Mala Sinha plays his girlfriend, Johnny Walker his masseuse pal and Waheeda Rehman his admirer and a prostitute. The film is replete with symbolism, Guru Dutt’s forte. Whether it’s the powerful crushing the feeble or the hypocrisy of the society there is no parallel to the way it’s handled in ‘Pyaasa’. As an unsuccessful poet he is shunned by all and sundry from his own brothers to even the prostitutes. In bizarre circumstances he is believed to be dead and as luck would have it his work gets published and famous. The same people who ridiculed him attempt to cash in on his ‘posthumous’ glory. In a Christ-like manner the poet ‘resurrects in a function in his memory. The poignancy of the moment leaves you stunned. ‘Pyaasa’ is utterly bitter at times and painfully ironic at others. Its not the kind of film that one forgets in a hurry, it forces you to contemplate over matters that one usually shoves at the back of one’s mind. S. D. Burman music is brilliant as usual but the crowning glory of the film is the lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi. Songs like “Jaane woh kaise log the”, “Jinhe naaz hai Hind par who kahan hain” and the heartrending “ Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai ” are true classics. The film is an absolute must see for all film buffs!
5) Mother India (1957)
‘Mother India’ is basically a tribute to spirit of the Indian woman! The only film before ‘Lagaan’ to get a nomination in the Best Foreign Film Category at the Oscars, ‘Mother India’ is an epic. Nargis as Radha, a ‘Mother Courage’ like character was spectacular in the film. It was a performance of a lifetime, a role to die for. The film is emotionally charged as Radha represents millions of women across the country struggling to preserve their dignity while bringing up their children single-handedly. She works like a beast to feed her children and pay off the moneylender. Her sons played by Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt help her in getting back their land from the vile clutches of the local moneylender. Sunil Dutt as the rebel son whom she shoots in the end is brilliant. While shooting for the film Sunil Dutt had rescued Nargis from a fire that had broken out on the sets. The two later married spinning a romantic folklore around the film.
6) Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957)
The renowned filmmaker V Shantaram made a stirring ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’; a film about social reforms. It’s a stark black-and-white film about a jailor who believes that love and trust can turn even the most hardened criminals into God fearing responsible citizens. V Shantaram played the lead character of an idealistic jailor himself and his real life wife Sandhya plays a toy seller. The jailor takes six murderers out of jail and takes their responsibility to reform them. He gives them freedom and trust and gradually are reformed. Shantaram makes the film believable as the change is gradual and thankfully there is no melodrama in the film. The prisoners keep going back to their old ways but the jailors faith and psychologically handled situations make him a winner in the end.
7) Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
Another classic from Guru dutt, it traces the life of Suresh sinha (played by GD only), a movie director whose marriage is in the rocks because his wife's family see film making as a direct attack on their social status. He is also not allowed to see her daughter in the boarding school. One rainy night, he meets Mala Sinha accidentally, and sees a potential star in her. She goes into becoming a big star, but the tabloid gossip results in breaking her marriage and relationship with her daughter. He turns to alcohol, don't direct a film till Mala sinha stars in it, and all that tumultuous events in his life ultimately leads to his demise, and in the climax scene - he dies sitting in the director's chair, a true epitome of his own life and its tribulations. You can also read another earlier post on this film and interesting facts about it here.
PS: Please free to share your other favourite movies, just make sure the scope of this post are the Bollywood movies released between 1950-1960. Similar kind of posts to come, covering movies from other decades in a chronological order, stay tuned !