August 2, 2009
Bollywood in 1960's : A Tale of Classics !
After the first post of 1950's movies here, and in continuation with this filmy series, here are seven of my favourite movies of 1960's :
(1) Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
Mughal-e-Azam’, a historical, had the grandeur of a Mughal court and a heady defiant note. Each and every scene in the film is a masterpiece moving in front of your eyes. The film took almost fifteen years in the making and cost Rs 1.5 crores in those days. The cast had the superstars of that time including Dilip Kumar, Madhubala and Prithviraj Kapoor. People from all over the country were brought to Bombay to work on the elaborate costumes, props and sets. It had a grand premiere held simultaneously in 150 theatres all over the country, a big thing in those days. The filmmaker K. Asif left no stone unturned to make sure that his film becomes a part of the cinematic folklore. Its a classic tale of rebellious love between Prince Salim and the courtesan Anarkali. Their love is opposed by the powerful king Akbar leading to a father-son rift. Naushad’s music is spell binding specially “Prem Joga”, ”Pyaar Kiya to darna kya ” and “ Mohe panghat". The recreation of the Sheesh mahal and the shots where the reflection of Madhubala in a giddy twirl is captured in loads of glittering glass pieces is fascinating. The humongous set for this legendary song took all the lights available (even 500 truck beams) and about 100 reflectors to bounce off the light. An intoxicated Madhubala declaring her love with bold lyrics like ‘ Parda nahin jab koi khuda se, bandon se parda karna kya’ in front of the whole world and the powerful King himself is awe-inspiring. It has one of the most talked about erotic scenes in Hindi cinema; Dilip Kumar teasingly caresses an impassioned Madhubala’s radiant face with a long white feather. She shuts her eyes slowly with her lips turned towards her lover and there is a suggestion of a kiss when the two go behind the veil of the feather. The classical notes of ‘Prem Jogan Banke’ sung by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan add a timeless quality to the moment. It had some most heart wrenching dialogues remembered even today, such as "Anarkali, Salim tumhe marne nahin dega aur hum tumhe jeene nahin denge" (by Akbar), "Jahe Naseeb, Kaanton ko murjhaane ka khauf nahin hota"(by Anarkali); And who can forget the clash scene between Jodhabai and Salim, where the most famous dailogue of the movie was said "Hamara Hindustan koi tumhara dil nahin hai, koi laundi jispar hukumat kare"; "Toh mere dil bhi aapka Hindusthan nahin hai, jo aap uspar hukumat kare" Aww, The aura, the voice modulation, the anger and the frustation that has been brought out in this scene still gives me goosebumps. Its coloured version which was released in 2004 met with stupendous success, just reiterating my point of the beauty of this timeless classic.
(2) Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam (1962)
According to some, ‘Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam’ was ghost directed by Guru Dutt. But Actually directed by Abrar Alvi,the film was set in late 19th century against a feudal backdrop. Meena Kumari has never looked as sensuous as the Chhoti Bahu in this movie. A stray lovelock peeping out of her head covered with a silk saree pallu and falling on her forehead adorned by a big bindi. She plays the respectable bahu from an upper class Bengali household, yet when she starts a slurred “ Na jao saiyaan, chuuda ke baiiyaan ”, the contrast is striking. The unshed tears in Meena’s eyes make her worthy of her ‘Tragedy Queen’ title. Undoubtedly, Chhoti Bahu is the most spectacular character in tragedienne Meena Kumari’s career; a role that was uncannily similar to her own alcohol ridden life, ultimately leading to her death (or suicide, whatever it was,still a mystery!). Chhoti Bahu dares to question the system and tries to reclaim her errant husband. Unlike the other women in the house, she is not submissive instead she wants his adoration and time. When in her desperation she turns to alcohol, one is stunned by her passion and desire to win over her husband. Her most forceful dialogue from the film is when she dares to argue with her husband who equates her to the wives of other landowners, " Hindu ghar ki bahu hokar, kya sharab pee hai kissine ?” Meena Kumari, like the miraculous sindoor she yearns for in the film mesmerizes you with her acting skills. The role of Jaba was played by Waheeda Rehman and of Bhootnath by Guru Dutt himself. The film remains with you forever simply because of the splendid performance of Meena Kumari. A Must watch !
(3) Bandini (1963)
A Bimal roy directed film, it explores the human conflicts of love and hate intertwined in the mind of kalyani, brilliantly played by Nutan. The movie binds an awesome narrative in a story of all suffering, selfless, sacrificing, strong yet ironically weak women, where she has to make the choice between two men in her life apart from answering all the awkward questions society puts forward to her. Her scenes were Bikash (played by Ashok Kumar) and Deven (a young vibrant Dharmendra) are brilliantly filmed, and the films ends at a jaw dropping climax - where the character of Kalyani gets lifted from a prisoner of destiny to the one who defines her own freedom in a oppressive Indian society. It was peppered with brilliant numbers such as " Oh Jaanewale ho sake to laut ke aana" (by Mukesh), " Mora Gora Aang Laga lai "(By Lata Mangeshkar) and " Mere Saajan hain us paar" (sung by the music director, S.D. Burman himself). The brilliantly photographed movie,with its rich tonal quality and evocative framing won almost all the major awards in that year.
(4) Waqt (1965)
The Indian movie industry probably never saw such an ensemble cast together before 'Waqt' hit the theatres in 1965. Comprising of Balraj Sahni, Achala Sachdev, Rehman, Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Sadhana, Madan Puri and Sharmila Tagore, it pioneered the 'lost and reunite' formula in Bollywood. It traced a happy family separated by time (and a never seen earthquake scene on Indian celluloid !), which goes through a series of trials and tribulations and finally reunites in the climax. Raaj Kumar's two dialogues, "Jinke apne ghar sheeshay ke hon, woh dusron par pathar nahi phenka karte" and "Yeh bachon ke khelne ki cheez nahi, haath kat jaye toh khoon nikal aata hai " become a rage among the young audience and created the "jaani" sterotype for all his life.The brilliant songs "Ae meri Zohara Jabeen","Kaun aaya ki nighaoon mein", and "Aage bhi Jaane na tu" gave the musical touch to this melodramatic storyline. The court scenes (which has been a trademark of all B.R chopra films), acted and emoted brilliantly by Sunil Dutt, are an absolute treat to watch.The climax scene where the whole family reunites still gives me a shiver down the spine. This film put Yash chopra among the top bracket of directors prevalent at that time, and was one of the most successful movies produced by B.R Chopra ever.
(5) Guide (1965)
A true classic based on R.K. Narayan's novel ‘The Guide’, Vijay Anand’s ‘Guide’ starred Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. The film was pretty bold for its time as it showed a guide and a married woman in love and even living together. Rosie played by Waheeda is a dancer who is forced to get married to a middle aged man. She meets an interesting man, Raju who is a guide by profession. The two fall in love and Raju gives Rosie the life that she always craved for. Things don’t work out between them and in a cheating case Raju lands up in jail. When years later he is released he is mistaken as a holy man. He tells the villagers a story of a holy man who had kept a fast for twelve days to bring rain to a drought-hit village. Unfortunately, a drought hits the village soon after. He keeps the fast and slowly grows week and listless. The rains come on the last day of his fast and while the villagers rejoice he dies quietly. ’Guide’ is a landmark films of Indian cinema, way ahead of its time. Dev Anand gives a remarkable performance, perhaps his best, winning the Filmfare Award for Best Actor that year. But, its Waheeda who brings life to the film, specially in the first half as a free-spirited young woman who doesn’t mind a live-in relationship. She also won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress that year. Another plus-point of ‘Guide’ was S.D Burman’s music with songs like, “ Piya Tose Naina Lage Re”, ”Aaj Phir Jeene ki Tamanna Hai”, “Din Dhal Jaaye”, “Gaata Rahe Mera Dil”, ““Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai”, “Kya se Kya Ho Gaya” and “Wahaan Kaun Hai Tera”. Can you beat that collection of songs in one single album, which have stood in the test of time, and even today are equally relevant and mesmerizing ! Just one word, Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
(6) Teesri Manzil (1966)
’Teesri Manzil’ is a suspense thriller peppered with glamorous people, glittering sets and a lot of the swinging 60s style songs. The lead pair of Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh featured in a string of hits and this potboiler was undoubtedly their best film together. Shammi Kapoor as Rocky, a drummer at a nightclub with his Elvis Presley suits, hairdo and rock’n’roll style was a delight to watch. He is such a rock-star that you ignore his sometimes funny (read bad :D) enactment of a drummer. Asha Parekh with her tight churidars, the classic sixties bouffant, heavily made up eyes and fluttering eye-lashes wooed her fans dancing down the slopes in her sleeveless kurtas. And not to forget Miss Ruby played by none other than the ‘cabaret queen’, Helen who has some of the most memorable dances in the film. The sets were bizarre yet unforgettable. The matchless duo of Asha Bhonsle and RD Burman added punch to the sizzling numbers of Helen like "Oh haseena zulfowali" and "Aaaja Aaaja" . Not to forget the other ever romantic numbers like "Oh mere Sona re", "tumne mujhe dekha" and "Deewana mujhsa nahin". Gosh, songs which you can hum even today, and took this murder mystery to an entirely different level, a great watch !
(7) Padosan (1968)
Arguably the best Hindi comedy of all times, the mere mention of ‘Padosan’ makes you guffaw. The two uncrowned ‘Kings of Comedy’, Kishore Kumar and Mehmood are at their best. Add to this an excellent performance by Sunil Dutt as a harebrained young man and you have a super entertainer. Bhola (Sunil Dutt) falls in love with a lovely girl, Bindu (Saira Banu), his ‘padosan’ whom he admires from his window every day. Bindu flirts with her music teacher, Master Pillai (Mehmood). Bhola, with the help of his friends Vidyapathi (Kishore Kumar) and his cronies plans to win her over. Vidyapathi runs an acting school and is a singer as well. He turns into a ‘Dr. Love’ persona for Bhola and Bindu ultimately falls for Bhola. It has some hilarious numbers like ‘ Ik chatur naar karke singaar’ and ‘Mere saamne waali khidki mein’ . Kishore Kumar with paan dripping from the side of his mouth, his hair parted at the center with the edge of his dhoti in one hand and a paan box in the other is an enduring image from the film. His impeccable comic timing and the ability to generate fun even from a simple gesture and a word, is remarkable. One simple “Bhole” uttered by him sends you rolling with laughter. If this wasn’t enough , there is Mehmood too as a south Indian music teacher with a choti hanging on his clean-shaven head. The scenes where the two suitors of Bindu are competing against each other are riotous. A true masterpiece!
PS: Please free to share your other favourite movies (and view about these movies too :D), just make sure the scope of this post are the Bollywood movies released between 1960-1969. Similar kind of posts to come, covering movies from the following decades in a chronological order, stay tuned and Keep rocking!