Raj's top 100 films

Bandit Queen
Chupke Chupke
Ganga Jumna
Teesri Manzil
Kaagaz Ke Phool
Purab Aur Paschim
Mera Gaon Mera Desh
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jahenge
Phool Aur Patthar
Reshma Aur Shera
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Shatranj Ke Khiladi
Jab Jab Phool Khile
Mother India
1942 A Love Story
Ardh Satya
Kabhi Kabhie
Shree 420
Umrao Jaan
Amar Akbar Anthony
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar
Roti Kapada Aur Makaan
Ek Duuje Ke Liye
Ram Aur Shyam
Mera Naam Joker
Kala Patthar
Hum Dil DE Chuke Sanam
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
Prem Rog
Johny Mera Naam
Khamoshi - The Musical
Do Bigha Zamin
Dil Chahta Hai
Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam
Original thread
Mr. India
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
Jewel Thief
Seeta Aur Geeta
Hum Aapke Hain Koun

1. Mughal-E-Azam (1960, K. Asif)

It took nine years and enormous expense to complete this historical based in the closing years of Akbar's reign (1556-1605). The film narrates the story of Prince Salim's (later Jahangir 1605-1628) love for Anarkali, a singer. A love his father strongly disapproves of. But so strong is Salim's love for Anarkali that he goes to battle against his father. Akbar defeats Salim in battle and orders him to be executed. However, according to the royal decree, the Salim can be saved from dying if Anarkali dies in his place. Anarkali, spunky woman that she is, however does her own thing by defying Akbar in his palace. The song 'pyaar kiya to darna kya' went on to become one of the most popular songs ever recorded and the sheesh mahal created for the song was a major attraction for the crowds.

2. Guide (1965, Vijay Anand)

Amongst Dev Anand's best known films, Guide to date remains a sentimental favourite for many of us. Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai, gaata rahe mera dil and other very popular songs from the film are still frequently heard by audiences all over the country, more than 30 years after the film released.

3. Awara (1951, Raj Kapoor)

The plot deals with Raju, who was kidnapped as a child by a thief, Jagga. Jagga had been told by the judge who sentenced him that 'chor ka beta chor hi hota hai'. To prove him wrong, Jagga brings up Raju to be thief too. The film has a spectacular dream sequence at the end, distributor demands being the same even then.The film, set in Bombay, has court scenes where Raju's childhood sweetheart, Rita defends him - one of the first court scenes of Raj Kapoor and Nargis.

4. Devdas (1955, Bimal Roy)

No doubt the movie is considered a masterpiece of Indian Cinema. Even though the movie is nearly half a century old, it has the power to captivate the audience. The superb acting by all the actors further enhances its value. It has more than mere entertainment value. Like "Gone With The Wind", it deals with an era that has gone forever. Pre-independence Bengal and Calcutta come alive in this movie. In short, A must see for all those who have always wondered why every broken heart self-destructive lover is called a Devdas.

5. Madhumati (1958, Bimal Roy)

Probably the most effective reincarnation film ever made in the world.

The film uses the conventions of early ghost story films or gothic noir as hollwood called the genre:decrepit mansions,thunderstorms with fierce lightning and lashing rains,desolete jungles at night,shadows creeping across walls,all the techniques of the form were used here. yet "madhumati" took all these conventions and made them seem unique and original once more. that is often the hallmark of a great film,to use cliches in away that seem fresh. Today as sanjay leela bhansali films his remake of bimal roy's other classic "devdas" on what's believed to be the most expensive set in hindi film history,you can't help wandering what would happen if roy's madhumati were to be remade as well.

6. Deewar (1975, Yash Chopra)

Nothing could be better and more real depiction of a real life than this movie! Excellent performance of Amitabh which proves that his acting is near real and momentarily you forget that you are still only watching celluloid. Great script encapsulating how the wishes of rags to riches ruin a fine, brave man!

ITS SHOCKING BUT TRUE. Everyone associated with this hard-hitting action-drama won awards---Shashi Kapoor, Yash Chopra, Salim-Javed, even Nirupa Roy - but not Amitabh Bachchan! such are the ironies that overtake cinema's historic happenings.

"Deewar" is the ultimate Angry Young Man Saga full of soundless fury, its protagonist's anger is so inward-drawn that you fear for his metabolism and blood pressure. fists clenched,nerves on-edge and ever itching for a fight with the scum of the earth, Vijay in "deewar" is the most wounded hero since Guru Dutt's "pyaasa".

7. Lagaan (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker)

The rains have failed, and the people of a small Indian village in Victorian India hope that they will be excused from paying the crippling land tax that their British rulers have imposed. Instead, the capricious British officer in charge challenges them to a game of cricket, a game totally alien and unknown to them. If they win, they get their wish; if they lose, however, the increased tax burden will destroy their lives. The people are terrified, but one man thinks the challenge is worth staking their entire future on. Will he convince the villagers to give it their best shot?

The emotion that Indians share about cricket is effectively taken advantage of (the cricket match played between villagers of Champaner and the British officers which forms the climax ,extends to about an hour and a half).

The best part of the movie is the characterization of the eleven players (villagers).Aamir Khan is at his best in this movie and Gracie Singh lives the role of Gauri.The acting talents of the British actors esp. that of the officer Captain Russel(played by Paul Blackthorne) is notable.

There was never a boring moment in the film, the dialogues and songs' lyrics are very meaningful.And lastly I must appreciate the work behind the entire cricket sequence as it covers most of the aspects of the game and not to mention - match fixing, sledging, body line bowling, making it gripping till the last ball! A must see for Indian cricket fans!

8. Shakti (1982, Ramesh Sippy)

A scrupulously honest cop refuses kidnappers' demands at grave risk to the life of his son. The son is rescued but lives forever scarred by his father's willingness to sacrifice his own son for the sake of his principles. This works out to devastating effect when the son grows up to be a Mafia don, and his father is assigned the job of bringing him in.

Amitabh Bachchan returns one more time to play Salim-Javed's Vijay. In a way, "Shakti" extended the character from "Zanjeer" and "Deewar" thereby making this the third monument in salim-javed's trilogy.

In most vital ways, sippy succeeded in going beyond "sholay" in "shakti". salim-javed have admitted that "shakti" was almost flawless as a script.ramesh sippy never floundered in delineating the central relationship.though the media spent a lot of time and ink comparing father dilip kumar's performance with son bachchan,the two performances complemented each other perfectly.

Ramesh Sippy's direction never over-stated the case.the confrontations were always controlled and therefore doubly compelling. The climax on the runway of an airport, where the self-righteous father guns down Vijay, was stylish and energetic.

9. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jahenge (1995, Aditya Chopra)

This film is brought from the stables of Yash Chopra. As you may have guessed it is a 3 way story. Raj (Shahrukh Khan) is a modern Indian guy living in London with his father (Anupam Kher). He decides to go on a Eurorail holiday with a couple of his friends and easily gets his rich father's approval. Simran (Kajol) also lives in London but is of much more traditional upbringing, in part due to her strict father (Amrish Puri). Her father starts to reckon that it is time for her to get married. She has no option but to agree. However, she asks her father for the chance to see Europe once with her friends and he is not keen on this at all. Much persuasion follows and reluctantly he agrees.

As luck would have it, Raj and Simran and both of their sets of friends end up on the same train and visiting the same places in Europe. At first she detests him. However, she eventually becomes stranded in a remote part of Switzerland with him. All their friends are in the next location. Time passes, songs are sung and lo and behold the two begin to fall in love.

The first part of the film ends as the two characters are back in London with their respective families.Her father overhears Simran talking about the events of the holiday and hits the roof. He packs the bags and takes his family back to the small village in Punjab where they come from. Raj is spurred on by his father who says if something is worth having, he must chase after it.

The second part of the film consists of Raj trying to win the trust and confidence of Simran's Punjabi family. It consists of several excellent comedy and song scenes.

This film does not really warrant superlatives. It is better than excellent. It is as near perfect as we are likely to ever see. The soundtrack is classic. Everyone knows the words to "Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam" and "Mehndi laga ke rakhna."

The performance of the actors is first class. This really is the film that took Shahrukh to superstardom. Kajol also gives an incredible performance. This is the role that really made her name and deservedly so. Anupam Kher does a top comedy role and all the other actors have put in a magnificent performance.

10. Parinda (1989, Vidhu Vinod Chopra)

Why do so may people swear by Parinda as one of the great cult classics of our times. The answer lies in watching the film. Vinod Chopra's magnum opus (many consider this the last good film he made before lapsing into megalomania) was an extremely stylish presentation, delving into life in the Mumbai underworld.

Kishen (Jackie Shroff) is the chief henchman of psychotic gangster Anna (Nana Patekar). The two are completely unscrupulous and go about their daily routine of boom-bang with ruthless efficiency. Karan is Kishen's much educated brother, who Kishen makes every attempt to keep as far away as possible from the murky underworld.

But when Anna uses Karan to draw out and kill his police inspector friend, Karan finds out about his brother's devious dealings and enters the underworld. The action picks up steam right from the first frames and never lets off right till the chilling climatic sequence.

The buildup is excellent: the psychological game between Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor, the strained relationship between two brothers torn by circumstance and the star-crossed affair between lovers trapped in a violent world.

Characterizations are brilliant: Jackie Shroff came up with an award-winning performance as the gloomy gangster, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri kept from being overshadowed with good performances, but it was undoubtedly Nana Patekar's film all the way. In his chilling portrayal of a deranged gangster who fears nothing but fire, Patekar put in one of his best performances, winning the National Award.

Chopra got work not just from his lead cast, but also from the supporting cast. The film also rates as one of the best performances of Suresh Oberoi as a flute playing hitman, and Tom Alter as the calculating villain of the piece, rival gangster Musa Bhai. Excellent music by R D Burman is understated, melodious and stolen from the West.

But the reason why most consider this a cult film is that at the time of its release, it was a completely different offering. Not a single performance in the film is a ham job. There are practically no acting or dialogue cliches and no pointless melodrama that one seems to associate so much with Hindi films. Action sequences in the film were among the best ever in Hindi movies, but there wasn't a single act of superhuman work by any of the protagonists. No fistfights, no mass destruction, no acts of outstanding courage by the heroes. Chopra defied many of the standard rules associated with Hindi cinema, and that is perhaps why the film failed commercially (though it did very well in Bombay).

Chopra's use of slow motion, fast cuts and close-ups has long set a benchmark for filmmakers in recent years. It was also this stylish direction that earned the film such accolades, and its cult status. And what with Hindi films crowned by elaborate climatic sequences in vast open grounds or huge villains' dens; when Chopra suggested doing his climax in one room with two people, everyone said he was committing professional suicide. And till date, the climax of Parinda is considered one of the greatest scenes in the history of Hindi cinema.

11. Kanoon (1960, B. R. Chopra)

A young lawyer (Rajendra Kumar) accidently witnesses his prospective father-in-law(ashok kumar), a respected judge, murdering a moneylender. A burglar who stumbles across the body is then arrested for the murder and is put on trial before the same judge's court, leaving the lawyer with a moral dilemma. "Kanoon" was not the first film to do away away with the songs completly,but it was certainly the first major hit. take into account that the film was all of 150 mins in running lenth-exactly 2 1/2 hours and that seems even more impressive today. consider that the film was a serious,intense thriller,not one of todays all-in-one timepass mishmashes and its unthinkable.

how did b.r chopra manage to hold the audiences interest for 2 1/2 hours without songs,comic relief and without even the benefit of a strong love story track? the answer then,as any director would tell you even today.lies in the three vital ingredients of any good film: script,script and script! or to put it differently,story,screenplay and dialogue.

12. Satya (1998, Ram Gopal Varma)

What makes 'Satya' a cult classic is a razor sharp script plus outstanding histrionics by a team of thoroughbred 'actors' albeit with unattached market value underlying their names. Of course one cannot ignore a fabulous cameo performance by Paresh Rawal as the disciplined and straight - forward police commissioner Amod Shukla. Ironically, while the film did close to nothing for the box-office standing of actor Chakravarthy but flung Manoj Bajpai to the starry heights of recognition. One really wonders if Bajpai himself will ever be able to outshine himself after this one. Scriptwriter Anurag Kashyap had struck bull's eye with his sharp understanding of the crudeness that goes with being a bhai in Mumbai. One couldn't miss the brackish street humor where Chandu Mote ribs Satya about his nascent courtship with Vidya, ("akkha Mumbai blast ho gaya pan Satya apna fast ho gaya") or even a matter of fact "ab karna hain to karna hai" delivered with spot-on accuracy by Bajpai as he gives Satya early lessons in executing a 'supari' (mafia jargon for murder.)

In the gory underbelly of Mumbai's underworld, Ramu touches a raw nerve. An underbelly where women serve as an adornment, merely functional - or as distractions rather than distractions where it is better to watch your back for that stray bullet rather than the object of your affection. Urmila Matondkar, as the scared, questioning middle class woman does justice to a small but well etched role. The scene of her as a struggling singer having to deal with the lewd advances of a music director and how the musician is later threatened by Satya's mafia to give her a 'break' is shockingly stark.

The power games are shown up as how they really are probably for the first time. Where there are no friends and if there are, the bullet in the head will probably belong to that very friend. But Bhiku's blind loyalty to his friend Satya is touchingly displayed. As is his own attachment for his wfe (Shefali Chhaya).

The gunfights now common in every street of India, especially Mumbai, are shown with much graphic. The chases, the story telling, the harshness - with that touch of emotion too - are beautifully shown. Ram Gopal Verma, the director, paints a thought provoking canvas of terror and trauma in the underworld almost as if he were there himself, an invisible first hand spectator to the events. The visuals are simply stunning. The performances, particularly of Manoj Bajpai, as Bhiku Mhatre, are simply electric.

Interestingly what Ram Gopal Varma also had with him besides a tightly worked out script was of course outstanding histrionic support and minimal audience expectation thanks to it being marketed as 'just another 'gangster film'. In making as a volatile film as this Ramu hardly knew he was setting a benchmark in realistic, well-narrated commercial cinema. Suffice to say that the bloody truth hasn't been told better. Yet. Words aren't enough to describe this wealth of a movie, a landmark on celluloid. It is a cult film all right as it sets its own ground rules. Much like the 'godfather' had done in Hollywood so may years ago.

13. Mother India (1957, Mehboob Khan)

It is the tale that is constantly repeated in real life. When Radha was married, her mother-in-law borrowed five hundred rupees from the village money-lender, Sukhilala. The payment plan was simple: each year, Sukhilala would get one-fourth of the crop they grew. That was what Radha's mother-in-law thought was the deal. Sukhilala had actually taken advantage of her lack of education and written in the contract that he would receive three quarters of the crop. When his evil came to light, the village elders, not wanting the police to come to the village, ruled in Sukhilala's favor. Mother India is the evergreen story of a family's struggle to survive against the evil of Sukhilala.

What more can you ask for in a movie? A rich story, excellent acting, great songs, technically superb. The story is about Radha played by Nargis who works hard to bring up her two children, played by Sunil Dutt and Rajender Kumar, after her husband goes away. Birju played by Dutt is the more flamboyant one who gets in trouble with the village Lala's daughter and runs away and becomes a dacoit. The end is the most unexpected part of the movie.

Made on a large canvas, this movie runs like an epic. This Mehboob Khan's effort came very close to winning the Oscar for the Best Foreign Film. During the shooting of this film Dutt saved Nargis from a fire and soon after that they were married.

Naushad's music is another highlight of the film with some great songs like "Duniya Mein Hum Aaye Hain", "Nagri-Nagri Dware-Dware", "Holi Aayi Re Kanhai", "Tan Rang Lo Ji" etc.

14. Qurbani (1980, Feroz Khan)

* feroz khan, vinod khanna, zeenat aman, amjad khan, shakti kapoor, amrish puri

Three of the best looking stars in the movie business came together in one of the most stylish films ever made-"qurbani"

It was with this movie that feroz khan's excellance over the medium came to the fore. his conceptualization of scenes,his shot-taking,his deft way of handling even emotional scenes was all proof that he was indeed inspired from the west.

Looking back ,when one thinks of "qurbani", one is instantly reminded of alluring stars, cool action,fast-paced cars,pulsating music, magnificent locales and in general-style at its best.

15. Kabhi Kabhie (1976, Yash Chopra)

* waheeda rehman, shashi kapoor, amitabh bachchan, raakhee gulzar, rishi kapoor & neetu singh.

Yash Chopra is undoubtedly one of the most successful filmakers of hindi cinema and part of his enduring appeal lies in surprising the audience with every new film.

Today top stars would balk at playing parents at the peak of their career as lead stars. only yash chopra could have persuaded a whole lot of them to agree-especially Amitabh Bachchan who was at his angry young man stage A large part of the credit for the films successs would go to Khayyam who set Sahir Ludhianvi's superb lyrics("kabhi kabhie mere dil mein khayal aata hai","tere chehre se nazar nahin hat ti",main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon") into memorable songs.it won awards for the lyricist,composer and singer Mukesh.

16. Haqeeqat (1964, Chetan Anand)

* balraj sahni, dharmendra, priya rajvansh, jayant,vijay anand, sanjay khan.

The main strength of "haqeeqat" is its rugged landscape and authentic battle scenes,seldom ever captured in indian cinema until J.P Dutta made "Border" more than three decades later. Shot in Ladakh,the entire cast braved climatic and dare one say,climatic hardships as the the perfectionist within chetan anand set out to make a gripping and scathing film.

Haqeeqat ignited a sense of oneness and a patriotic pride among indians at a time when the nation's marole had hit rock-bottom. chetan anand later made another war film "Hindustan ki Kasam", in 1973 with the indo-pak war as the backdrop.

How do we explain the mythical aura of "Haqeeqat"? Besides a cast that seems born to battle for the country,the film is also a lyrical love
story about two people who find each other during stressful and trying times.

17. Waqt (1965, prod: B. R. Chopra, dir: Yash Chopra)

Sunil Dutt,Raaj Kumar,Sadhana,Sharmila Tagore
Shashi Kapoor,Balraj Sahni,Shashikala,Motilal
Rehman,Achala Sachdev,Madan Puri,Jeevan.

A lost-and-found melodrama. Not the original, Kismet (1943), occupying that slot, but definitely the best known in the genre today. Yash Chopra's third film, and one of the longest as well, Chopra establishing that part of his legacy quite early.

An earthquake destroys the home of a rich trader, Kedarnath. His wife and three sons get separated and go their own ways. While Kedarnath is handed out a life sentence for murder, the three sons, Raja, Ravi and Vijay get separated. While Raja, played by Raaj Kumar, becomes a thief, albeit one who robs the rich winning their trust at parties, Ravi is adopted by a rich household and becomes a lawyer. And covet the love of the same girl, Meena and try to win her over with their contrasting charms. Vijay meanwhile stays with his mother and coincidentally becomes a driver in the house of the woman he cares for, Renu. As is decreed, their paths cross when Raja is framed for murder and all the family come to the court room where they recognise each other and fall weeping for joy in each other's arms, a pattern that was to get repeated endlessly in mainstream Indian cinema.

The film went on become a major success at the box office and established the director. The songs, aage bhi jaane na tu, din hai bahar ke, ai meri zohrajabeen and others were popular as well and helped draw in the crowds.

18. Amar Akbar Anthony (1977, Manmohan Desai)

*Amitabh Bachchan,Vinod khanna,Rishi kapoor,
parveen babi,shabana azmi,neetu singh, pran,nirupa roy,jeevan,ranjeet.

Time plays strange tricks.Today when you say the name Amitabh Bachchan,the associations that spring to mind for most young filmgoers are that of a 'mature' screen legend with an imposing personality and voice,and an unshakeable paternal dignity.This is the result of the big B's "kaun banega crorepati" and his "mohabbatein"/"k3g" screen image.

But before this new avatar of the screen deva was moulded,the name Amitabh Bachchan conjured up a very different image.A virile, imposing superhero who played larger than-life characters capable of risking life and limb to achieve their impossible goals. A combination of great personality,physical agility,romantic charisma,drunken humour,and that totally unique dancing style that's copied by baraatis in wedding processions even today. India has never seen such a living legend dominate the scene for so long and so successfully as Amitabh Bachchan. And that historic AB avatar was set by a single film,"amar akbar anthony". Although manmohan deai's superhit entertainer starred three male leads and a host of other stars,the historic value of the film rests on its creation of the Bachchan persona.That was its greatest contribution to hindi cinema.

19. Bandani (1963, Bimal Roy)

*Nutan,Ashok Kumar,Dharmendra Raja paranjpe, Tarun Bose,Asit Sen,Chandrima Bhaduri
Bela Bose,Iftekar,Hiralal,Moni Chatterjee

One of Bimal Roy's best known films, this 1963 classic remains on the all time favourite lists of many a Hindi film aficionado, as much for its haunting music and storyline and a powerhouse performance by Nutan.

Set in 1930s undivided Bengal, Nutan plays Kalyani, a village girl who stays with her father. She comes in contact with a revolutionary, Bikash, actively involved in the ongoing freedom struggle, and is soon in love with him. Circumstances lead Bikash to declare that Kalyani is his wife, and he promises to marry her as soon as he can. But he disappears, putting Kalyani in an awkward situation. Forced to emigrate to the town, she works in a hospital. Asked to look after for a mentally unstable woman, she is shocked to discover that the woman is Bikash's wife. Upset, the news of her father's death reaches her. Unable to bear this double shock, and the tantrums of Vikas's wife, Kalyani kills her and is imprisoned for life. All this is told in flashback to the jailor, Deven, a doctor who is taken in by Kalyani's nature and dedication to duty. Deciding to marry her, Deven gets Kalyani's sentence commuted. On the way to Deven's house, Kalyani runs into a terminally ill Bikash...

A brilliantly shot film, there are many passages in the film that leave a deep imprint on the watcher - a classic example being with the final conflict between love and security as Kalyani is deciding between Bikash and Deven. S D Burman's music for the film recieved widespread acclaim. As for the songs - mere saajan hain us paar, o panchhi pyare, ab ke baras bhej, mora gora rang, jogi jab se tu aayaa mere dware - there has rarely been a film with a greater number of memorable songs. The cinematography is especially brilliant, and combined with Roy's genius in using subtle yet evocative imagery, the film seems to be straight from the heart.

20. Pyaasa (1957, Guru Dutt)

'Pyaasa', or 'Thirst'. Thirst for answers, for recognition, for understanding, for redemption and salvation of the human spirit. When we think of 'Pyaasa' we can virtually see Guru Dutt framed in the shaft of light, or is it Vijay the young poet who is looking for recognition? 'Pyaasa' is Guru Dutt's masterpiece. Relating the story of the thirst for love, for recognition, and spiritual fulfilment. There is a strong parallel between the hero, a poet, an outsider trying to make a place for himself in the society he inhabits; and the director, the outsider, trying to leave his independent stamp in a world of formulaic cinema. It is in 'Pyaasa' that we really see Guru Dutt transcend way above the ordinary and succeed in totality. Many individual shots and scenes have become impressionistic images extolling his lyricism as a director and artist.

The story of a poet whose poetry speaks of human suffering, which has no makings of the superfluous fluff and romance that is purported to be saleable in the mainstream. At home, his brothers are angered by his refusal to take on an ordinary job and contribute to the family expenses, and retaliate by selling his poems as waste paper. This acts as the catalyst and Vijay leaves home in desperation and lives on the streets of Calcutta. Thus begins the poet's search for his manuscripts. After great pains, he learns that a mysterious woman, recognising the worth of the poems, has bought them from the paper vendor. Roaming the city, he hears the voice of a woman singing one of his poems. She is Gulab, the prostitute, who lures Vijay in, thinking him to be a client, but throws him out on realising he is not there to give her business. Later Gulab realizes that Vijay is the author of the poems that have won her heart and, full of remorse, tries to befriend Vijay who now spurns her. When misunderstandings are cleared, a rare friendship blossoms between them.

One day, at a reunion at his college, Vijay meets Meena, the girl whom he used to love. She is now married to a successful publisher, Mr. Ghosh, whose wealth proved more attractive to her than the love of a struggling poet. Suspicious of Meena's relationship with Vijay, and curious to know more about her past, Mr. Ghosh gives Vijay a small job in his office. However, soon, humiliated by Meena at a party, and sacked by her husband, he starts drifting once again. On hearing about his mother's death, along with the depression of his own failure, he aimlessly wanders through brothels and bars till he decides to end it all. But Gulab intervenes and tries to give him solace. Only to one day find that he has disappeared without trace. The newspapers announce Vijay's death by accident and Gulab, the only person who has believed in his talents, spends her life's savings to get Vijay's poems published by Mr Ghosh. But Vijay is not dead. On his way to eternity that night, he had stopped to give away his coat to a beggar. When he attempts to throw himself in the path of a speeding train, the beggar, in an attempt to save his benefactor, is killed. His body was identified by Vijay's coat. Recovering in a hospital, Vijay learns about the great success of his book; but when he claims to be its author, his brothers and his publisher, who are reaping the profits, refuse to identify him and he is sent to an asylum for the mentally ill.

It is only with the help of an old friend, a poor masseuse, that Vijay escapes from the asylum. Attending a meeting in the city hall to pay homage to the supposedly 'dead' poet, Vijay is struck by the irony of the situation, and is provoked to denounce the organizers as hypocrites. Beaten up as a gatecrasher, he is rescued by one of the publishers who had earlier rejected his works, and now has hopes of future profits. Another meeting is called to prove that Vijay is alive, but despite Meena's pleas to admit the truth, Vijay now claims to be an imposter, embittered by the mercenary attitude of the people around him. Rejecting the world that has so long refused him recognition, Vijay decides to go away, taking Gulab with him.

The movie is a classic example in its cinamatic treatment, and direction. The musical score brings to mind the passion portrayed by the baul singers which in fact voices the prostitute's passion for the poet. The earthly love she feels is uplifted and given a spiritual dimension through the words. And the amazing rendition of the song by Geeta Dutt further reinforces this. The last scene of the film shows the prostitute, overcome with joy at seeing the poet at her doorway, running down the steps of her house into his arms. They are one. What is most interesting to note in their relationship is that the prostitute shares with the poet a greater attraction for spiritual fulfilment rather than materialistic fulfilment.

Guru Dutt's films usually have him caught between two women - like in 'Baazi', 'Aar Paar', 'Kaagaz Ke Phool' and 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam'. In 'Pyaasa' too there is another woman , his ex-girlfriend from college who leaves him and marries for security. Her priority for materialistic fulfilment adds to the negative shades of her role making it a more difficult and challenging in the film as against the standard prostitute with a heart of gold. The role has its shades of grey and counts as one of actress Mala Sinha's better performances, who was otherwise considered a rather mechanical and melodramatic performer. Waheeda Rehman is outstanding in the role of the prostitute and Guru Dutt himself is perfect for the role of the poet. Perhaps the parallels between him and the character help him in coming out with his best ever screen performance.

Interestingly, 'Pyaasa' has that rare element in a Guru Dutt film which stands apart - the song treated like a fantasy. An idyllic daydream of the hero, the song 'Hum aapki aankhon mein' is picturised amongst clouds as the heroine descends from the moon. It stands out when viewed against the whole film. Perhaps it was picturised to catet to the distributors who felt that an 'item number' was needed! As usual, the music by S.D. Burman is extraordinary, as is the rendering of the songs. The background music helps to create the necessary atmosphere for a number of individual scenes. Mala Sinha's character has her own signature tune - a simple yet haunting melody played on the harmonica. Whenever the poet sees her, the tune is repeated representing for him the love he has lost.

But if one person is the soul of 'Pyaasa' it is lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi on whose poems the lyrics were based. Sahir's words seem to articulate Guru Dutt's own view of the world and experience of tragedy. 'Pyaasa' sees some of Sahir's best work. 'Yeh mehlon, yeh thakhton', 'Jaane woh kaise log the jinke' and 'Jinhe naaz hai Hind par woh kahaan hai' - the last looking at the disillusionment that had set in a decade after the giddy euphoria of Indian Independence. It was taken from his poem Chakle (Brothels). A fine example of political comment combined with humanitarian compassion.
To sum it up simply, a classic!

21. Ram Aur Shyam (1967, Rabi Chanakya)

* Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rahman, Mumtaz, Pran and Nirupa Roy.

There had been 'double roles' before. But mostly B-grade or tackily done subjects with not very well-known stars. And then came 'Ram Aur Shyam' with Dilip Kumar and it went on to became the benchmark of all double role films ever. It was a germ of an idea. But the germination soon became the gigantic beanstalk on which Jack climbed. With a cast that was mammoth in the very fact that the great actor himself was to do a double role, the star status of Waheeda Rehman only added on more value. The choice for the other heroine was also her big break and shot her to instant star status. Mumtaz, till then used to doing not very big projects and confining her talents to a song and a dance in mythologicals with Dara Singh, became a hot star overnight. With the supreme villainy of Pran added to the many shades of this classic film.

Released in the 1967, the film only reinforced the versatility of the Thespian. And his prowess at the till then uncharted-by-a-hero territory of comedy. Yusufsaab's earliest films had not exactly shot him to superstar status. In fact his early attempts at tragedy had suffered 'tragic' consequences at the box-office. Not to deny his performances in his earlier 'devdas' stuff, but it took an Azaad' to smash home the awesome talent and his versatility. It was in that film that his timing and undeniable prowess for the comic had the critics in raptures. The most vaunted and the most feared critic of the time, Baburao Patil, known for his poison pen, was the first to say in print that Dilip should stick to comedy and reinforce that aspect more.

It probably encouraged the actor to experiment with the 'double role'. The director of the film was the currently unheard of Tapi Chanakya for all practical purposes, but those in the know insist that it was Yusufsaab's baton that did all the direction for this pathbreaking film. The actor was actively involved in the project from day one, and the result was one of the most entertaining films ever made -- to be emulated and enjoyed to this day. The two characters Ram and Shyam don't actually meet till post interval, and the happenings till then were hilarious to say the least. The scared, intimidated rich lad on one hand. Bearing all humiliation and even violent beatings at the hands of his brother-in-law, Pran, only so that his sister and niece (Nirupa Roy and Baby Farida) do not suffer at his hands. The evil saala tries to usurp the wealth of the young man by forcing him to sign over his jaydaat and has plans to bump him off. Overhearing his nefarious plans, Ram flees the house.

Cut to Shyam. The rogue of the village. The bane of the women. The tough guy. His pranks and cracks drive the villagers up the wall. Even the village belle, Mumtaz, is exasperated by the goon and is constantly complaining to his guardian, Leela Misra. Until one fine day he flees to the big city to make his fortune.

The scene in the restaurant, where the rogue orders two dishes of everything in the house and then slinks away; only to be replaced at the same table by the simpleton who has one cup of tea and ends up paying for the entire 'banquet' is hilarious.
Even the scene where the rogue surprises Waheeda with his Bam! Pow! Smash-up of the baddies (she, of the modern disposition, had earlier turned down a marriage proposal from the wimp and now mistakes the superman as the earlier man transformed) is fun-tastic. The developing love relationship between the two and Dilip's encounters with his forever-laughing a-in-law-to-be, Nasir Husain, are extremely funny. But funniest of all are the rogue's encounters with Pran, who suddenly realizes that he can intimidate 'Ram' no more. The scenes where Dilip Kumar eats a leg of tandoori chicken and then pops entire boiled eggs in his mouth, all the while making faces at Pran; is a classic. Then he goes to Ram's house and on discovering the anarchy there, vows to set the wrongs and the injustices right. The scenes where he stands up to the villainous team of Pran and his mother and their coterie can only get applause from a strongly identifying audience.

On the other hand the simpleton lands up at Shyam's village and his newfound 'godly' ways are mistaken for yet another nautanki of the charlatan. But eventually, Mumtaz falls for this simple soul. However, the evil gang discovers the 'double role' and holds everyone to ransom in a crazy climax where, encouraged by his reunited, long-lost brother, Ram too unearths his hidden strength and courage to beat up the baddies.The strong point of the movie is the riveting script, the superlative music and songs and above all, the mind-boggling performance of one of India's greatest actors -- coming TWICE as good. The novelty factor of two heroes rolled into one also contributed to the film's super success. It was a trendsetter alright. And many followed its novel path. 'Seeta aur Geeta' and 'Chaalbaaz' being among the most memorable clones.

What makes 'Ram aur Shyam' a so great is its pathbreaking approach to 'double' comedy. It was the first to understand the tussle between the Ego and the Alter Ego within the confines of the self. The conflict between what we are and what we strive to be. It was a conflict captured most recently in the Jim Carrey starrer 'The Mask'. Where the dreams and aspirations and desires of the strait-jacketed-by-society citizen are lived out by donning the 'mask'. In a double role, the other fella simply becomes the mask. The Alter ego lives out the fantasies of the sober. Reminiscent of the truth that we are all schizophrenics, dying to live out separate, dual lives, without being responsible for our actions. The basic thing that gives us the thrill is the absolution from responsibility of our actions. The basic germination of schizophrenia.

Dilip Kumar was up there on screen, living out our fantasies and we clapped at everything he did that we could identify with.
It made a cult figure out of an intelligent actor and a cult film out of 'Ram Aur Shyam'. That is why the movie shall be forever young. Forever evergreen. Because the idea is young, even if the film itself is twenty-two years old.

See it again and you will know what i mean, if you can stop laughing and clapping that is.

22. Mera Naam Joker (1970, Raj Kapoor)

SIX YEARS IN THE MAKING,4 hours long in its final cut, and taxing the resources of the Kapoor family and R.K Studios to their limits, this was the film Raj Kapoor intended to br his epic,the film by which he would be remembered forever.

"Mera Naam Joker" had all the ingredients that a movie needs to classified as a good entertainer.Wonderful songs by a galaxy of lyricists -shailendra,hasrat jaipuri,neeraj,prem dhawan,shailey shalendra. A great scor by Shankar-Jaikishan. A script by K.A. Abbas.An all-star line-up that included Simi,Manoj Kumar,Dharmendra, Dara singh,Rajendra kumar,Padmini,Om prakash, the entire Soviet state circus and the Gemini circus, and of coarse Raj Kapoor himself. It even had a chubby young Rishi Kapoor playing the young raju in the first part, making his screen debut just as his father made his own debut at the tender age of 11. But like most films that set out self-consciously to be epics or masterpieces, "Mera Naam Joker" bombed at the box-office and is remembered today as a magnificent failure.

Inspired by Chaplin's "Limelight", "Mera Naam Joker" is actually three seperate films rolled into one. Even today,you can see the three distinct parts. The firstpart depicts the young hero,Raju, the son of a trapeze artiste who becomes infatuated with his schoolteacher and dreams of becoming a famous clown. The second part shows grown-up Raju joining a Russian circus, falling in love with the trapeze star Marina and ends with him forced to continue performing even after his mother collapses. The third part is about his romance with a young poster artiste who is actually a woman masquerading as a man who wants to become a filmstar. ...The climax links all three films together as well as the three different women in Raju's life,coming together to witness his final performance as a clown.

With the movie crashing at the boxoffice it put rest to any plans of Raj Kapoor making a sequel,where he was to die in the end. But today As Rishi Kapoor and R.K Productions are having great problems in finding which script and story to use as their next film. The script happens to be there right in front of them....... Yes the sequel to "Mera Naam Joker" with Rishi Kapoor in the role of the ageing Joker!

23. Hum Dil DE Chuke Sanam (1999, Sanjay Leela Bhansali)

*Salman Khan,Ajay Devgan,Aishwaria Rai,Helen.

"In this world... where desire rules the heart, you will discover... love is the flame that lights up the soul"

SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI conceives his films in unique fashion."I design my soundtrack first, because i love music.Thats how i worked on my first film, "khamoshi". I conceived the idea of making a film based on Gujrat's music,folk culture and rituals. Similarly after "Hum dil de chuke sanam", i looked towards the music of Bengal, and thus was born "Devdas".

In the original story, the husband comes to know that his wife loves someone else and sends her to look for him. Bhansali then remembered another story by Zaverchand Meghani,a big-name writer,in which the husband himself takes the wife back to her lover. Bhansali's next step was the casting. He was strongly advised not to take Aishwaria Rai as Nandini,the headstrong gujrati girl.he was told that she was a flop star, a bad actress and looked anything, but the character in the story. But Sanjay promptly took it up as a challenge to prove that she was Nandini incarnate!

Ajay Devgan as Vanraj,who marries Nandini, and Salman as the Italy based Sameer,who loves her like crazy even as he learns Indian music under her father were obvious choices and also won accolades for their performances, Salman outclassing himself in the climatic breakdown scene. The supporting cast in word, was perfect.

Conceptually and commercially, the film would have been lost minus a meticulous music score. Enchewing the big names who could not of given him the time and complete involvement he needed for his film,Bhansli signed Ismail Darbar, a promising musician who was recommended by a friend.

Bhansali and Darbar spent a full two years on the music of the film! The mad passion and interaction paid off in the fabulous results,with Darbar incorporating mukhdas from Gujrati and Rajasthani folk("Nimbuda"), adapting a traditional bandish ("Albela sajan aayo ri") and even composing a garba song ("Dholi taaro") set to the 2-4 rather than the conventional 6-8 beat.

For lyrics,Bhansali wanted majrooh, but Ismail convinced him to take on his close friend, Mehboob. Bhansali was initially reluctant,because he had heard only his lyrics for films like "Bombay" and "rangeela". But Mehboob's superb poetry like "Aankhon ki gustakhiyaan maaf ho",Tadap tadap ke iss dil se",Man mohini", (the song that introduces the heroine and in which Mehboob's brief was to inculate all the four elements-Fire,Water, Air and Earth-in one song), the title-track and "jhonka hawaa ka aaj bhi" was the soul of the outstanding music score.

As Bhansali says, "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" was all about everything falling into place and going just right. The passion and pain that went into its making by a man out to excel in cinema and yet 'connect' with the audience oozed out of every frame and word that went into this beautiful painting on celluloid.

24. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983, Kundun Shah)

(Path-Breaking Comedy Of Errors)

In the middle of the night on a deserted road in Mumbai if you were to see a coffin with a dead man in it holding a wreath and you, drunk as you were, thought of it as a man in a car with the wreath for a steering wheel, I'd know where you got the inspiration. Bizarre, na? Of course not, for this and more such pranks were played on us by debutante director Kundan Shah, in what is now considered to be a path-breaking film in Indian cinema, 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.'

Nearly two decades later, the film finds acclaim amongst audiences and critics alike as one of the most inspiring comedies in recent times. And we couldn't agree more. With its wry humour and wit, it proved to be an uproariously hilarious experience (as exaggerated as it might sound).

Apart from its dark humour, the film was also a farce on the bureaucratic system of which the common man ultimately was the victim, not that we needed to mention it. So, with characters like the 'commissioner' (note the pun on the word) D'Mello played by the rotund Satish Shah and the ubiquitous builders, Tarneja and Ahuja played by Pankaj Kapoor and Om Puri respectively, the film became a cult classic in its portrayal of the failing system three decades after independence. (It released in 1982) Remember this one telling scene? Tarneja is trying to woo D'Mello in granting him permission to construct two additional floors on his building illegally, (not without a little 'womanly' help from Neena Gupta) and D'Mello denies it, asking them, "Kya BMC mere baap ka hai?" in an American twang. To which, Tarneja's assistant, Namboodiripad, played by Satish Kaushik, scriptwriter of the film, promptly replies, "Nahi, Sir, aapka hai." They then go on to celebrate a phoney birthday for D'Mello as an excuse to bribe him. And there you have it. Two additional floors ready! (BTW, may we mention, that the names of the builders add up to the name of a well-known builder, Raheja.) Sound familiar even today na? Yeah, well, we know. FSI is not just about some letters thrown in. That's exactly what makes this film a cult film. It's universal appeal. And the fact that it also lives up to the standards of what make a cult film. Tell me the truth, you would go back and watch the film for the 40th time and still go into peals of laughter, wouldn't you? I rest my case!

With its fabulous cast, most of them fresh from NFDC and FTII, including director Kundan Shah himself, the film still proved to be a dampener at the BO, at a time when parallel cinema was just about beginning to lose its hold over audiences in India after the peak it had seen in the seventies. Naseeruddin Shah was not a star then and Ravi Baswani was just another geeky looking youngster wanting to make it big as an actor. Look at Neena Gupta, now popular for her weepy soaps and you wouldn't believe she ever started out as a girlfriend to a diabolical boss. Then, of course there was Satish Kaushik who, happy with the script-writing never dreamed of playing the foolish doormat Namboodiripad who exchanged telephone receivers with his "secret caller" who is in the same room as him.

Ask Kundan Shah about this and he will say," It took seven years for my film to be acknowledged as a cult film. But by that time, I was crucified. If the film were to release today, it still wouldn't do well. The thing with my subjects is that they are so fresh." Hmmn! Makes you wonder, na? Hey, this is the man who gave us the refreshing 'Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Naa' which found no distributors until Shah Rukh Khan released it himself and also the its'-high-time-we-acknowledged-teenage-pregnancy-runaway hit in 'Kya Kehna.'

Besides that, the film is like a virtual who's who of Bollywood today, repeat, today. Then, they were just filmmakers, who believed in the art of filmmaking. (Pardon the sarcasm! Here's some dope on the characters. The names of the principal characters are based on two of Kundan Shah's filmmaking colleagues. Production Controller of the film, Vinod Chopra (Naseer) is aaj ke mashoor film-maker of 'Parinda' fame, ironically now facing threats from the underworld, and Sudhir Mishra (Baswani) who helped write the screenplay with Shah and later made films like, 'Yeh Who Manzil To Nahin' and more recently 'Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin.' Then, there was Binod Pradhan who shot the film. Incidentally, Pradhan had teamed up with Vidhu Vinod Chopra and worked on 'Mission Kashmir' with Chopra. Some more trivia. Vidhu Vinod Chopra had a small appearance in the film too. He played a press photographer at the conference hosted by Tarneja to defend himself after the collapse of the flyover.

Oh, the flyover! Incidentally, the crash of the flyover in the film was inspired by the crash of the Byculla flyover which collapsed just before the film took shape, or so we are told. And how could we forget the fact that the character of the spunky editor of 'Khabardaar, Shobha Sen, played by the late Bhakti Barve who made goofy photographer Vinod Chopra undertake the most risky assignments by placing his head on her breast was inspired by that of the former editor of film gossip magazine, 'Stardust,' Shobha De. (She is all over the place, isn't she?) Hmmn! Whatever happened to all characters and places in this film are fictional and all resemblance is co-incidental. Some co-incidence, huh?

With all the kali kartoot happening right under the noses of the goofy photographers, Vinod and Sudhir who hope to make a decent buck out of model portfolios, little do they know that they are to be framed for the collapse of the flyover when the builder bribes the other commissioner, the policewala this time and get away with it, with of course, the editor getting her share for gathering all the evidence against Tarneja, who has bumped off D'Mello. And what was the theme song of the film? Right! 'Hum Honge Kaamyaab' or 'We Shall Overcome.'! What can we say, except, brilliant? And how can you even forget that fabulous 'Mahabharata-cum-Anarkali' drama sequence that had many a viewer rolling on the floor, with Om Puri playing a very Punjabi Bhishma, knocking all and sundry out to take charge of the corpse of D'Mello with a very dead Satish Shah all dressed up as Draupadi, even as Prince Salim enters to claim what is his, his very own Anarkali.

Ask Om Puri, who played the perpetually drunk Ahuja, about the film and he will say, "It was shot at such a low budget, it's not funny. I mean, the atmosphere on the sets was like that of the shaadi of the daughter of a lower-middle class man who is desperately cutting down on the expenses. Hey, nine Lakhs at that time. That's not funny, if you think of it from the point of view of a budget these days that runs into crores." NFDC was being generous, huh? Anyways, see what we mean about this being a cult film. I don't need to justify that, do I now? 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron' was certainly an extraordinary film shot under extraordinary circumstances with some extraordinary people.

25. Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Rajesh Khanna,Amitabh Bachchan,Sumita Sanyal,
Dara Singh,Ramesh Deo,Seema Dev and Johnny Walker.

Ask watchers of Hindi films to name their favourite film, and a fair number will name this early 1970s Hrihikesh Mukherjee-social, which popularised words like babumoshai and jahanpanah as perhaps never before.

Anand starred the then present and future superstars of Hindi cinema, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan respectively - as the jolly cancer patient and his ultra serious doctor. The film became a kind of homily on staying happy in spite of the clouds that darken our lives. Anand, the title role, played by Khanna, is a very bouyant character, whose cheerfulness is very infectious and leaves none affected apart from his taciturn doctor, Bhaskar Banerjee, who just cannot fathom how somebady whose remaining lifespan can be measured in weeks can be so cheerful.

Anand went on to become one of the most widely appreciated film ever and even cameo roles in the film like those by Walker and Deo are fondly remembered to this day. Its dialogues, eg - hum sab to rangmanch ki kathputlian hai...' are still oft repeated and its songs kahin duur jab din dhal jaaye, maine tere liye hii saat rang ke sapane chune, jiyaa laage naa, zindagii, kaisii hai paheli, haay - were all very popular when the film released and helped consolidate lyricist Gulzar's reputation considerably.

26. Abhimaan (1973, Hrishikesh Mukharjee)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Asrani,Bindu, A K Hangal,David.

Hrishikesh Mukharjee once said."Its more more difficult to portray simple emotions on screen than complex ones.And that's why i try to delve more into such themes. After films like 'Anupama', 'Ashirwad', 'Satyakam','Anand' and 'Guddi', Hrishikesh tackled a subject that revolved around the most basic human emotion-jealousy.

'Abhimaan' is all about a famous singer Subeer Kumar (Amitabh Bachchan in great form) who fall in love with Uma, a simple, village girl (Jaya Bhaduri) and gets married to her. The one facter that has drawn Subeer to Uma is her melodic voice.Uma comes to the city with her husband and things are great between them. Soon after, at a party, Subeer persuades her to sing along with him. There many important guests around and they all take note of her vocal talents. Sometime later,Uma gets an offer to do some professional singing.She refuses outright but Subeer convinces her to go ahead with it. And thats when it all begins. She makes a name for herself and starts getting loads of work.Reputed companies and music direactors want to sign her on. In the meanwhile, Subeer stops getting his regular quota of work.Slowly, the cracks develop and the husband starts feeling threatened by his own wife's success. Subeer stops communicating with Uma and begins to treat her with disrespect.A time comes when he stops spending any time at home.His frustration is tearing their relationship apart. Not being able to take the pressure, Uma suffers a nervous breakdown.That's when Subeer realises his folly and they finally come together in a rather tearful, emotional reunion.

Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri excelled themselves as the couple in distress. The film was so well-balanced that at no point did one character feel overburdened by the other.

27. Aan (1951, Mehboob Khan)

*Dilip Kumar,Nimmi,Premnath and Nadira.

Costume dramas have always maintained a special place in Indian movie history. The adventure, the spectacle and the grandeur that's usually seen in this genre of movies is quite unparalleled. Hindi cinema has witnessed many such breathtaking blockbusters. But one film that stands out is obviously Mehboob Khan's 'Aan'.

The film attains significance for many reasons. To begin with,it was Mehboob Khan's first attempt in colour.Also, it was also one of the first films to have been shot on 16 mm format and then successfully transferred to 35 mm. The impact was so colossal that overawed critics from the west termed it as India's answer to Hollywood magnificents like 'Ben Hur' and Quo Vadis'. The canvas of the film was so enormous and that's what made this film look so extravagant.

Though 'Aan' was not as big a success as Mehboob's forthcoming classic 'Mother India' was, it still remains one of his landmark movies. The film was like a virtual showcase of screen histrionics. The sets were lavish, the look of the film was grand, there were horse-chases, sword-fights and battle scenes galore in this extraordinary screen adventure. Just a movie maniac's absolute delight.

Everything about 'Aan' was imposing, including the outstanding music score by Naushad. Incidentally, for the first time ever, Naushad used a 100-piece orchestra; something that was unheard-of in those days. In fact, while recording the songs of 'Aan', Naushad put special rugs covering the walls of the studio so that the sound had better bass. The mixing for all the songs was done in London, which was again a novel feat.

'Aan' won accolades all over the globe. It was one film that made the world take note of the fact that India could come up with some equally striking extravaganzas. The biggest compliment of all came from none other than the legendary filmmaker Cecil B. Demille (of 'Ten Commandments', who wrote to Mehboob Khan after seeing the film, "I found it an important piece of work, not only because i enjoyed it but also because it shows the tremendous potential of Indian motion pictures for securing world markets. I believe it is quite possible to make pictures in your great country which will be understood and enjoyed by all nations and without sacrificing the culture and customs of India. We look forward to the day when you will be regular contributors to our screen fare with many fine stories bringing the romance and the magic of India". Need one say more?

28. Prem Rog (1982, Raj Kapoor)

Shammi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure, Nanda,Kulbhushan Karbanda, Raza Murad, Tanuja and Sushma Seth.

Padmini Kohapure had worked in Kapoor's 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram' as the young Zeenat Aman, and he had been bowled over by her talent. He is supposed to have said that he made 'Prem Rog' to give her a role worthy of her. Even though he screen tested her with three scenes costumes-that of a carefree young girl, a bride and a widow-before he saw the results,he had chosen his Manorama. There was no doubt about Rishi Kapoor being the perfect Deodhar-sensitive and strong.

As could be expected from Raj Kapoor with his showman reputation, he added grandeur, colour (the song among the tulips) as set pieces to a simple story. Shammi Kapoor acted in an R.K film for the first time, and Nanda made a rare appearence after retiring from films - both lending their roles tremendous dignity and intensity.

An R.K film could not but have great music, and Laxmikant Pyarelal excelled with numbers like: "Bhanvare ne khilaya phool", "Mohabbat hai kya cheez" and "Main hoon prem rogi. 'Prem Rog' may not have been in the same league as Raj Kapoor's earlier films, but it had its heart in the right place,and even now it succeeds in reducing audiences to tears.

29. Pakeezah (1972, Kamal Amrohi)

*Ashok Kumar,Meena Kumari,Raaj Kumar,Nadira.

Without question, this film has to be one of the greatest ........ in cinematic history.

'PAKEEZAH' remains the last word among films revolving around the nautch-girl,right from its symbolic title, which means"the pure one" Meena Kumari's central performance is undoubtedly one of the finest of her career, followed closely by Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and Phool aur Pathar. Each movement and nuance of her performance, makes any other Bollywood heroine pale into significance. Her masterly interpretation of Kathak coupled with her grace, tragic vulnerability and poetic delivery of Urdu,is like nothing ever seen on the bollywood screen.

Pakeezah is perhaps the most stylised interpretation of the human condition; the photography, sumptuous cinematography and mise en scene, are so charged with symbolism and meaning, that the viewer is left breathless. Naushads music, is unsurpassed, his knowledge of the music of the courtesan gharanas is incredible, and the way in which he punctuates the narrative with dark atmospheric motifs and overwhelming romantic melodies is indeed remarkable.

30. Do Bigha Zamin (1953, Bimal Roy)

*Balraj Sahni, Nirupa Roy, Master Ratan, Nana Palsikar.

This unforgettable masterpiece by Bimal Roy is known for its stark imagery and the legendary portrayal of a Calcutta rickshaw puller, Shambhu by Balraj Sahni. It is said that Balraj Sahni who is known as a method actor actually rehearsed on the roads of Calcutta pulling a rickshaw with his son, Parikshit sitting in it. Do Bigha Zameen is a story of a poor farmer, Shambhu, living in a small village of Bengal who owns two acres of land and leads a tough yet happy life with his family. The twist in the story comes when the zamindar (landowner) decides to sell the land of the villagers to the outsiders who want to make a factory in the village. His two acres are coming in the way of the landlord who wants to make profits in this deal. Shambhu doesn’t want to sell his land but the zamindar warns him that if he doesn’t sell the land he’ll have to pay the already mounting debt. He comes to the city to earn quick money to pay off the debt. Thus begins the cruel tale of desperation to earn as he becomes a rickshaw puller and his son a shoeshine boy. The film won critical acclaim internationally at Cannes and Karlovy Vary and won two Filmfare awards for best film and director at the first awards function. Made almost five decades back, Do Bigha Zameen still has the power to hit you with its realism and pathos when you watch Shambhu pull a rich fat man in the rickshaw, running faster and faster as if trying to leave his poverty behind. Truly one of the best films in the history of Hindi cinema and maybe the best of Balraj Sahni, Nirupa Roy and Bimal Roy.

31. Zanjeer (1973, Prakash Mehra)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Pran, Ajit, Bindu.

In 1973, in search of a "different" script, Prakash Mehra found an unusual revenge melodrama written by two talented but relatively unknown writers named Salim and Javed. The film was 'Zanjeer'. Mehra cast the talented but unstarry Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role, and the rest is history.

'Zanjeer starts out with Vijay as a cop tormented by nightmarish recollections of his parents' murder by an unknown killer. In the first half of the film, he teams up with friend Sher Khan - played by Pran who had completely turned his villain image around into a superb player of character parts - to root out crime and evil in the big city. But once he identifies the man who murdered his parents, by recognizing the horse on the chain he wears around his neck, he gos berserk and both the script and the director throw all the conventions out the window. Vijay takes the law into his own hand becomes obsessed with revenge.

Salim Javed's team-up was traditionally believed to consist of Salim as screenplay writer and Javed as a dialogue writer. Whatever their arrangement, their pairing was unique in Hindi films. As for Bachchan himself, his portrayal of Vijay and his mesmerizing performance gave birth to the most famous persona in Hindi film history. As Mehra and Bachchan proved in their next megahit 'Mukaddar Ka Sikandar', a hero could be a hero even when he wasn't a hero. 'Zanjeer' was the missing link that changed the chain of film history.

32. Sarfarosh (1999, John Matthew Matthan)

'Sarfarosh' emerged as a tour de force that worked at several levels - a patriotic thriller, a gripping entertainer and as a message film that pushed aside the cobwebs, and through terse sequences (the Ajay-Salim clash and reunion). The film had eloquent punch lines and evocative visual means, looked at a real problem that endangered India's integrity with crystal clear vision, and made valid points or suggestions with direct candour. It even seemed to uncannily prophesize a contretemp like the Kargil fiasco, which happened coincidentally within days of its release. Finally, 'Sarfarosh' was a textbook on how a mainstream commercial film should be crafted to win adulation from the masses, the classes, the critics/connoisseurs, and finally, those who are themselves part of the creative departments of filmmaking.

The background score was composed jointly by Dheeraj Dhanak (a veteran musician with Shankar Jaikishan who passed away in 2000) and Sanjoy Choudhary, the son of the legendary Salil Choudhary. In a culture where nostalgia is the biggest opiate of the masses, 'Sarfarosh' will get its complete share of
acknowledgement as a celluloid classic only after a decade or two has passed. But with a Silver Jubilee run and some prestigious awards in its bag, it has already proved that bollywood can make a world-class film that speaks the language of cinema with conviction and commitment.

33. Mr. India (1987, Shekhar Kapoor)

*Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, Amrish Puri, Satish Kaushik and Ashok Kumar.

Shekhar Kapoor's 'Mr. India' must be one of the very few films which is immediately associated with the name of its villain - Mogambo and his cute catchline "Mogambo Khush Hua". To battle such a cartoon villain, a film needs a cartoon hero, and he is Arun, permanently dressed in a tweed jacket and funny hat, and running a household full of too-cute orphans and an even more cute cook Calendar (Satish Kaushik). Into his house steps a journalist called Seema (Sridevi) who hates the brats and loves Arun's alter ego Mr. India. Mogambo plans to evict these rent-owing orphans and turn their house into an arms warehouse.

But as things look hopeless, Arun discovers an invisibility wristband, left to him by his scientist father. Enter Mr .India, "an ordinary Indian" who promises to destroy all exploiters of the Indian people. Eventually, Mr. India, Seema and the kids destroy Mogambo's empire - as Arun says,
"All it takes is one ordinary Indian to stop you".

34. Jewel Thief (1967, Vijay Anand)

*Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Vyjayathimala and Tanuja.

Rarely has a director-star team consisted of two brothers as talented as the Anands. Two years after the immense critical and commercial success of 'Guide' and a year after their hugely entertaining 'Teesri Manzil', director Vijay Anand and star, Dev Anand teamed up for the jewel in the Navketan crown.

Even today, 'Jewel Thief' remains a cult film for its use of song picturizations, stylish direction and production design, and for its use of gadgets and gizmos galore that set a techno-trend that lasted well in to the 80s and was spoofed as recently as 1999's 'Badshah'. The novelty of this superb crime thriller starts with a script by Vijay Anand himself. A gifted writer,"Goldie" as he was affectionately known in the industry, wrote virtually all his own films as well as scripts for a variety of other directors, including such memorable films such as 'Hindustan Ki Kasam', 'Kora Kagaz', 'Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki' and 'Hum Rahe Na Rahe'.

In 'Jewel Thief, he excelled himself . The wildly imaginative plot centers around a police commissioner's son who finds himself mistaken for a famous jewel thief named Amar. A woman accuses him of having promised to marry her and her brother supports her claim. To clear his name, the hero masquerades as Amar, while the notorious Amar seems to be masquerading as the commissioner's son! Just when you think that the answer lies in that old staple of Hindi films - duplicate lookalikes - the script does a u-turn. The famous jewel thief dosn't exist at all! It was all a plot by the hero to try to nab the gang of thieves. Amazingly, the film manages to resolve this ingenious plot twist neatly enough to satisfy any Agatha Christie fan, something that you rarely find in a Hindi film.

35. Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994, Sooraj Barjatya)

* Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan, Mohnish Behl, Renuka Shahane, Anupam Kher, Alok Nath, Reema Lagu, Bindu, Satish Shah, Laxmikant Bherde, Ajit Vachchani.

This film serves as a fad with a permanent shelf life, a benchmark for the future progeny to refer to. The title of ‘CULT’ is bestowed upon only the very fortunate few. In cinema especially, where groundbreaking ideas are many, but the lot climbing to ‘pinnacle point’ are few and far between.

It is that one idea that clicks, that one thing different from the rest of the ‘feign gang’ that makes a cult out of a movie or a figure. A personality out of a persona non grata. Except that the now idolized ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun’ was never non grata ever. The young director of the much established ‘Rajshri Films’ clan, Sooraj Barjatya, had already proved his mettle with his very first swipe of the directorial baton. ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ had Indian movie lovers worldwide wanting to fall in love. The music was a rage. And in the floppy-haired young and sinewy Salman Khan, a superstar was born. In the melee of excitement the industry didn’t fail to register the arrival of the quiet, soft-spoken genius of a director, Sooraj. That was in the year 1989. But his best was yet to come. Sooraj began shooting for his next film with the long-winded title, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun’, with his very first star, Salman Khan, along with a few others from the earlier cast; like Mohnish Behl, Alok Nath, Reema Lagu, Laxmikant Bherde, Ajit Vachchani, and some. The biggest star of the film was of course, the baton-wielder, Sooraj himself. Besides the gorgeous Madhuri Dixit going through her best period yet. The other addition to the film was the lady with the terrific smile, Renuka Shahane. And the famous kabutar of the earlier was replaced by a dog, a white Pomeranian called ‘Fluffy’!

Huge sets were put up at Filmistan Studios, resembling the innards of lavish havelis. There was a flurry of activity with the huge starcast matching dates for the extensive combination shots. It was obvious that a magnum opus was in the making; but no one knew, at that point, how huge it would really turn out to be.

For the release of the film, Bombay’s Liberty theatre was renovated and multi track stereophonic sound was put in. The huge distribution network of the Rajshris swung into action to ensure that there was no piracy or copying of their product. Every theatre across the length and breadth of the country had a Rajshri Films staffer incognito, to oversee that there was no piracy. The video rights were withheld for over a year and in the summer of 1994, the movie was released amidst much fanfare.

The movie industry, who had managed to see a sneak preview of ‘HAHK’, swore by the superb story-telling style of the young Barjatya. They were quick to proclaim him the new Tinsel Emperor of moviemaking. It was not an epithet bestowed without justification. The movie went on to smash every record set previously, by any motion picture made in India, ever. The first movie to smash the Rs.1,000,000,000/- (Hundred Crores) mark in a straight run. The figures are still not exact due to the mind-boggling number of zeroes at the end, the likes of which had never been seen by the movie industry in India. It set Sooraj apart not only as a director par excellence, it also established him as a marketing genius. It was a trendsetting bit of movie marketing all right.

So what was it that made a cult film out of a seemingly light, frothy, well-knit story of a joint family and all their sorrows, joys and events? Replete with songs, vibrant colours, the mandatory love-story, the comic touches, the tragic moments, the emotions? Why did we want to laugh at the ‘umpiring decisions’ of Fluffy in the family cricket match? Why did we cry with Laxmikant Bherde on the tragedy in his family? Why did we wait with bated breath to see the love story between Salman and Madhuri develop? Why did we want to sing along with Mohnish Behl and Renuka Shahane, not to add the rest of the huge family, in their fun-filled moments? Or cry at the demise of the lovely Renuka and the sacrifice of the doting Salman?

Why did we leave the theaters with moistened eyes and blink away unabashed tears of a movie experience as we left the theaters? WHY? Simple. Because the movie reminded us of our very own real life experiences. It brings alive those same experiences on celluloid, lighting up the dark recesses of our memory with its projection lights. Making us relive them as though they were fresh moments. That’s what makes ‘HAHK’ so special. Its simplicity and its imitation of real life as the purest art form.

There is drama in real life too. With all its various hued emotions and sentiments. We laugh, we cry, we fear, we suffer, we thrill, we enjoy... every possible nuance of life. And the more real an onscreen drama is, the more it touches our core. The more we cherish a movie experience. Sooraj was intelligent enough to understand that and capture life on film.

It was the same delightful experience of watching a wedding video, over and over and over. Spotting a new character in the background each time. Reliving the moment. Sooraj’s use of lights running around the screen added to the wedding, festive feel of the film, sweeping the family-oriented Indian public along in a tidal wave of shaadi celebrations. It was a landmark all right in the annals of Indian Cinema.

Some say that it were the real life instances (some of them at least) of Sooraj’s large joint family that inspired a lot of the screen moments of the film. Something that the reclusive director has denied. But true art is often an amalgamation of the thoughts and experiences of the artist. And Sooraj as artist, painted every Indian’s dream on the large canvas of a Cinemascopic screen. Every little touch a delightful stroke of his celluloid brush.

The purple sari worn by the heroine. The red bandanna, the suspenders, the slingshot used by the heroes are still used in large Indian weddings to the day. The ritual of teasing the ladkiwale, the song’n’dance in the antakshri, the nok-jhok between the lead pair are all that happens in large Indian weddings to the day. The bride’s side hiding the shoes and demanding a large sum of money is a regular point of mock warfare, now considered a lucky ritual, in our extravagant culture. The series of exotic ceremonies, spanning a week or more are as much an event in the lives of us emotional Indians as the feature film on screen. Sooraj realized that, and delicately captured all the moments on film. Like a grand drama of Bhartiya sanskruti or Indian Culture. The result was electric.

Every Indian, or anyone with India in his or her blood, went to see the film. Not once or twice, but several times over. Does one see a wedding video just once? No way! It broke several records. And by now it is history about how painter famous artist M.F. Hussain saw the movie 64 times or more and made Madhuri Dixit his muse. It was the reason for his foray into film direction as well with his favourite Ms Dixit.

Salman only established his position as a leading star of the Indian movie marquee. And Sooraj began to be referred to as the man with the golden touch. The best part is that even the character artists of this film went down in the memory of a fond audience. Most famous of all being the ‘potent’ slap on Bindu’s face given by a henpecked husband (Ajit Vachchani) in a ‘last straw’ reaction to her nagging. She is pregnant in her next scene itself. And this drew a round of applause from all the ‘persecuted’ and the ‘chauvinistic’ among the males in the audience.

What worked with the film in a big way was the sense of identification among the viewers with the events on screen. It clicked.

Today ‘HAHK’ is a cult films by all means. It tells an everyday story through song and music and drama and a wedding, Indian style. An everday story told with the panache of a great moviemaker. It had to work. And in the years to come, it will always be referred to as a bookmark in entertainment.

36. Lamhe (1991, Yash Chopra)

*Waheeda Rehman, Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Anupam Kher.

IN SPITE OF 'Waqt', 'Daag', 'Chandni' an 'Darr'. In spite of 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge' and 'Mohhabbatein', Yash Chopra still thinks this is the best film he ever made.And he has apoint.'Lamhe' is like a long and satisfying swig of cognac. 'Lamhe' is that moment in time which defines our commercial cinema's spasmodic derringdo. Written by Honey Irani, 'Lamhe' is certainly Yash Chopra's most daring film.

'Lamhe' was a story of a man caught between two women, though one of the women is dead. However, her lookalike daughter (Sridevi in a double role) whom the man brings up like his own daughter, nurses a crush for the man who loved her mother. "Incestuous!" screamed the purists and moralists. Yash Chopra had been advised to change the ending whereby the daughter convinces her mother's lover to stop sleeping with a ghost, in a matter of speaking. But the visionary-filmmaker was adament. "If i had changed the ending, 'Lamhe' wouldn't have been the film i had set out to make."

Released on the same Friday as Kuku Kohli's 'Phool Aur Kaante', everyone expected 'Lamhe to break records. Its failure demoralized Yash Chopra. To this day, he laments its initial rejection by the audience. But wait. Don't go away. There's a footnote to the box-office fortunes of 'Lamhe'. The film went on to become one of the biggest hits ever in the overseas market.

Contradictory? Yes. But therein lies the tragedy of audiences in India. They cannot look into the man-woman relationship as anything but a telescoped formula. Yash Chopra has always been a master craftsman whose visuals are tonic to the eye. 'Lamhe' dosn't have a single ugly frame. Whether it's Sridevi bursting into a folk dance among the sand dunes, to the sound of Lata Mangeshkar's "Morni bagha ma boley", or Anil Kapoor's look of hurt and rejection when the love of his life runs into another man's arm's, 'Lamhe' makes you fall in love...with love!

37. Bandit Queen (1994, Shekhar Kapur)

IF SHEKHAR KAPOOR NEVER made another film and if Seema Biswas never acted in another one, they would still be remembered for all times to come for their collaboration over 'Bandit Queen'.

Put simply, this is the film that put Hindi cinema on the world map. Brutal,honest,searing and haunting, its upfront rawness makes Mahesh Bhatt's 'Arth' appear futile in comparison. From the opening montage of the amazing little Sunita Bhatt being forcibly married to an unfeeling brute, to her initiation into a life of subversion crime and outlawry, the remarkable and disturbing story of Phoolan Devi comes to life like no other biographical picture in cinematic history.

If by defination, High art is elevating, then 'Bandit Queen' dosn't qualify. It is too grim, too grave in its socio-political resonances to qualify as cinamatic entertainment. And yet, there's a redeeming streak of genius, that spark in the dark, which is preserved within the dark and grim story. The film's strong language and content evoked severs censorial recrimination. But it isn't the gaalis that make Shekhar Kapur's world of caste and gender prejudice go around. It's the unrelenting and disturbing honesty of the presentation.

38. Trishul (1978, Prod: Gulshan Rai. Dir: Yash Chopra)

*Waheeda Rehman,Sanjeev Kumar,Shash kapoor,Amitabh Bachchan,Hema Malini and Raackee Gulzar.

After the phenomenal success of 'Deewar', it was only natural for Yash Chopra to bring the same talented team together for another powerful drama. In doing so, he raised obvious comparisons between the two films. And if one was to campare them, there's no question that 'Deewar' emerges as superior on many counts. But despite the comparison, 'Trishul' is no less a great film. Screen writers Salim-Javed were at the peak of their talents, Amitabh Bachchan was at the height of his popularity, and Yash Chopra was finally finding his own groove as a producer and a director. In fact, its hard to believe that the same man who made the memorable, gentle and romantic film 'Kabhi Kabhie' could also make a film like 'Trishul'.

Amitabh Bachchan's image as a brooding angry young action hero had been cemented with the success of 'Deewar' and 'Sholay' among other films. His Vijay persona had become a legendary character that had taken on a life of its own. Embodying the angst and frustration of lower class and middle class youth in those repressive Emergency and post-Emergency years, Vijay was already a symbol of rebellion and self-empowerment for millions of struggling young men.

'Trishul' added a new chapter to the Vijay saga. While repeating the mother-worship that had been the crux of 'Deewar' and which had become a crucial part of the Hindi film formula since 'Mother India', 'Trishul' introduced an important new element. Vijay's relationship with his father, played by Sanjeev Kumar.

Salim-Javed's powerful screenplay and dialogues unfolded scene after scene of dramatic conflict between father and son. Sanjeev Kumar's impressive talents were more than a match for Amitabh's smouldering intensity. The scenes between the two actors remain some of the greatest father-son scenes in Hindi cinema even today and have rarely been equalled. 'Trishul' still ranks as one of the top ten AB films, and one of the greatest father-son screen dramas made in India.

39. Ganga Jumna (1961, Dilip Kumar)

*Dilip Kumar, Vyjanthimala, Nasir Khan,

'Ganga Jumna' is one of those classic films that combined hard-hitting realism and strong story telling within the popular format. The film, produced and written by Dilip Kumar (some say also ghost directed by him), used the Bhojpori dialect to great affect - the character of the village bumpkin Ganga has been aped by actors down the ages. And the story of two brothers on opposite sides of the law repeated over and over again but never with so much power. Only Salim-Javed managed to update and urbanise the story in 'Deewar' to match the success of the original trendsetter. The strength of the film, apart from its script and skillful direction is Wajahat Mirza's dialogues (his lines keep popping up in films till today) and Naushad's brilliant folksy music. The performances are also impeccable. Ganga is unarguably one of Dilip Kumar's finest and most detailed performances.

40. Bobby (1973, Raj Kapoor)

*Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia ,Pran, Premnath.

After incurring heavy losses with his semi-autobiographical and rather self-indulgent 'Mera Naam Joker', Raj Kapoor had to make a small budget quickie to make up. Who'd have expected that a cult youth film would emerge from the collective minds of three not-so-young men - writers K.A Abbas, V.P Sathe and director Raj Kapoor.

Half the battle was won with the correct casting - a cherubic Rishi Kapoor paired with the very young and very sexy Dimple Kapadia. The story, well-defined characters (even the small parts were memorable - like the funny parsi women played by Piloo Wadia and the amorous older woman played by Aruna Irani , even the villainess Prem Chopra), the whiff of youthful rebellion and Laxmikant-Pyarelal's music score appealed tremendously to young audiences.

'Bobby' turned Rishi Kapoor into a teen idol, and millions of Dimple Kapadia fans were heartbroken when she married the then superstar Rajesh Khanna and gave up films (only to return a decade later). Dimple had been screen-tested for 'Bobby' at R.K Studios in 1971 when she was just 14 years old and was immediately selected. Her beauty and talent shining through in arole that was tailer-made for her. In a way, her retirement preserved the image of 'Bobby' in the minds of audiences as the eternal disirable nymphet. Incidentally, the first film that Dimple was ever offered was 'Guddi', which her father turned down. And interstingly, one of the girls auditioned for the role of Bobby was Neetu Singh, who lost the role but went on to become Mrs. Rishi Kapoor.

41. Teesri Manzil (1966, Vijay Anand)

*Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh, Prem Chopra and Helen.

Near-perfect blend of mystery, humor, romance and music.

Always fond of the crime genre, Goldie made 'Teesri Manzil' a memorable murder thriller while retaining the successful Nasir Hussain elements of light musical romance. 'Teesri Manzil' is remembered for much more than its murder mystery. It was the movie that gave R. D Burman his first major Breakthrough, and the music was truly outstanding. Asha Bhosle's classic "o mere sona re" later became her signature tune and was the title track of her personal tribute to her beloved Panchamda, R.D Burman, who composed some of his best hits for her. And glam-girl Helen was never as vivicious and sexy as in her "Aaja Aaja" number.

While the filmmakers may have been trying for a Hitchcock-like blend of suspense, humor and romance, the eye-popping pastels of the film's Eastmancolor cinematography and outlandish, energetic musical numbers blend to create a delightful Bollywood concoction. Lead actor Shammi Kapoor is wonderfully fruity in what is probably his best performance, and dancing queen Helen is in classic bad girl mode. Not to be missed by anyone interested in 1960's Indian pop cinema.

42. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959, Guru Dutt)

*Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman, Johnney Walker and Mehmood.

The movie begins in the dying moments in the life of a famous film director, played by Guru Dutt. The movie then moves to the beginning of his career where he meets Shanti, only a debutante and unsure of everything she does. His growing fascination for her prompts him to cast her in his movies. Her growing independence and stature and his subsequent decay into mediocrity, the tension between their personal feelings and their professional goals sets the stage for the rest of the movie. The movie has several generally acclaimed songs by Geeta Dutt which are inextricable from the movie plot itself.

This Guru Dutt film had distinct autobiographical notes and the intensity with which the director bared his soul just may have discomfited audiences. But this film, along with 'Pyaasa', is now considered a masterpiece. Technically, the film was brilliant. V.K Murthy's camerawork in black-and-white was magical in its luminosity - it was India's first cinemascope film and won Murthy a lot of acclaim and awards. Like the doomed hero of 'Pyaasa', Guru Dutt's work was valued more after his death, as he was rediscovered by the West and given a place in the pantheon of cinema greats.

43. Daag (1973, Yash Chopra)

*Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Raakhee and Prem Chopra.

This is one more gem of a movie made under "Yash Chopra" banner. An unusual, partly forced love triangle which is a result of a series of tragic events in the life of three characters in this movie. The original story was written by Gulshan Nanda who pioneered writing Hindi romantic novels in the seventies and early eighties. Raakhee was the surprise package of this movie who looked far better than seasoned actress Sharmila Tagore. Rajesh Khanna was at his usual best.

The Fruits of severance were sweet. Yash Chopra's first independent production, 'Daag', was 'The Fire' that set the box-office afflame.It also brought Rajesh Khanna back into the race, putting to rest all the speculation regarding his shaky box-office standing after his marriage with Dimple Kapadia in 1973. Based on Thomas Hardy's 'The Mayor Of Casterbridge' and Gulshan Nanda's novel 'Maili Chandni', 'Daag is the story of a man named Sunil (Rajesh Khanna who's seperated from his wife Sonia (Sharmila Tagore) on their honeymoon when he kills his villainess boss(Prem Chopra). Considering both the leading man and director had lately returned from their own honeymoons, such murderous thoughts regarding the romantic vacation seem rather strange. In many ways, 'Daag' was the true and proud precursor to Yash Chopra's 'Kabhi Kabhie'. Dreamy, poetic, snow-capped and serene, every pore of 'Daag' suggests love,romance and music.

44. Phool Aur Patthar (1966, O.P Ralhan)

*Meena Kumari, Dharmendra, Madan Puri and Jeevan.

The minute Dharmendra took off his shirt and stumbled towards Meena Kumari's bed in a drunken stupor, a blockbuster was born.

'Phool Aur Pathar' was the film that gave Dharmendra, the garam Dharam image. He was tough yet vulnerable. Most of his subsequent hits cashed on those personality traits. 'Phool Aur Pathar' was the biggest success of Ralhan's career. After playing staid, sober, shy guys in women-oriented films like 'Bandini', 'Anpadh' and 'Anupama', Dharmendra suddenly acquired superstar status with the role of the toughie who enjoys his drinks and dames without feeling like the typical leery villain. Dharmendra's antics with the vampish Shashikala as she tries desperately to seduce the He-man with Asha Bhosle's "Sheeshi se pee ya paimane se pee" and "Duniya mein pyar karna seekh le", brought the house down. Ravi's music and songs were an asset. But it was Dharmendra's hunky heroism that made 'Phool Aur Pathar' one of the biggest hits of the year. This was the first time that a top leading man undressed for the camera. While Meena Kumari remained swathed in spotless white from head to toe, beefcake finally came out of the closet.

45. Reshma Aur Shera (1971, Sunil Dutt)

*Sunil Dutt,Waheeda Rehman, Amitabh Bachchan, Raakhee, Vinod Khanna, Sanjay Dutt.

As an Actor, Sunil Dutt did all kinds of films - commercial as well as artistic. And as a filmmaker, he experimented with offbeat films. 'Yaadein', for instance, was a solo-actor film about a man whose wife has left him. 'Mujhe Jeene Do' was agrim story about a dacoit's life. 'Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke' was inspired by the sensational Nanavat murder case in which a naval officer was tried for killing his unfaithful wife. 'Reshma Aur Shera' was a colourful and imaginative reworking of 'Romeo And Juliet' set amidst the sand dunes of Rajasthan. The film also introduced three actors to Hindi cinema - Amrish Puri, Ranjeet and Amitabh Bachchan ( though K.A Abbas' 'Saat Hindustani' is believed to be his first). Bachchan, in a role of a mute young man, gave ample proof of his talent right at the start. There was no doubt that this actor would go far - just how far nobody could have predicted.

Though Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rehman were a little overage playing young lovers, the film worked at every other level. It had great visuals and gorgeous costumes. The performances were excellent and Jaidev's music was brilliant with songs like "Tu chanda mein chandni", Ek meethi si chubhan" and Jab se lagan lagai hai re".

46. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998, Karan Johar)

*Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Salman Khan, Rani Mukarjee, Anupham Kher.


No one thought Karan Johar to be anything more than the rich and spoilt heir of a filmic empire.He surprised everyone by making a film that tugged intently at the heart strings. Kajol and Shahrukh were the best of friends. Their presence in Karan Johar's directorial debut was a foregone conclusion. Karan admits that the film's characters live in a completely make-believe world. But the film had heart. The Directorseemed to believe in the power of love to heal a wounded heart and soothe a sobbing soul.

The human relationships in 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' were refreshingly new-fangled. The hero's mum (Farid Jalal) ganged up with her granddaughter to get a new wife for her grieving son. In the second half, Karan introduced the other man, played with heartwarming rakishness by Salman Khan, thereby stretching the trianguler love story into a simmering quadrangle. Even the slight bond between Salman and his future mother-in-law Reema Lagoo was full of warmth and urbane wit.

Sure, we knew the outcome of the mismatched alliances from beforehand. But did that stop us from warming up to the fabulously flush songs and music and Farah Khan's Swinging choreography? Scenes such as the one where Rahul's motherless daughter speaks on the topic of what a mother means to a child, or the one in the park where Rahul runs to tell Anjali that he loves Tina, filled the heart with pleasurable pain. Transparently sentimental and designed to wrench tears and laughter out of us, 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' was constructed as a spiral with every consecutive sequence, consciously constructed to build a harmony between emotion and technique.

47. Shatranj Ke Khiladi (chess players) (1977, Satyajit Ray)

*Sanjeev Kumar, Sir.Richard Attenborough, Amjad Khan, Shabana Azmi, Saeed Jaffrey, Tom Alter, Victor Banerjee and Farida Jalal.

Amitabh Bachchan(Narrator)

Wazed Ali Shah is the ruler of one of the last independent kingdoms of India. The British, intent on controlling this rich country, have sent general Outram on a secret mission to clear the way for an annexation. While pressure is mounting amidst intrigue and political manoeuvres, Ali Shah composes poems and listens to music, secluded in his palace. The court is of no help, as exemplified by nobles Mir and Mirza, who, ignoring the situation of their country and all their duties towards their families, spend their days playing endless parties of chess.

Satyajit Ray was already an acknowledged world master when he decided to make 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi', his first Hindi film. It was based on Munshi Premchand's allegorical story on two men engrossed in a game of chess as disaster knocks at their door. It began with an animated piece about the British annexation policy, with the voiceover by Amitabh Bachchan. Scripted by Ray himself, the film had a difficult subject treated at various layers with delicate irony and humour. Set in the mid-nineteen century, when the decadent Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan, perfectly cast) ruled Awadh, even as the British look for ways to annex his kingdom. The Nawab has relied on the treaty of friendship with the British to indulge in his artistic passions instead of maintaining an army. His prime minister (Victor Banerjee) looks on helplessly.

Wajid Ali Shah is more interested in music, dance and poetry than in protecting his lands. In the capital city of Lucknow, two rich zamindars, Mirza Sajjad (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey) who do nothing but play chess all day. Mirza's neglected wife, Khurshid (Shabana Azmi) tries to wean him away, but he is obsessed with the game. Mir's wife, Nafeesa (Farida Jalal), however, is quite happy if her husband stays out, since she is having an affair with her cousin. Even when her husband finds out, he does nothing, since he dosn't want to disturb his game. When Wajid Ali Shah is faced with the unpleasent choice of giving up his throne or fighting with East India Company forces, he chooses the easier of the two alternatives. He agrees to hand over his crown to the British, and go into exile, singing a Thumri - "Jab chhod chale Lucknow nagri, kaho haal Adam par kya guzri". Mir and Mirza hear that the Company's troops are marching towards Lucknow. Afraid of being summoned to help the Nawab or of being forced to take some active part in the turbulent goings on, they abandon their families and go to a quiet village to continue their chess game in peace. They fight,shoot at each other and shamefully make up,but are still quite indifferent to their responsibilities.

48. Padosan (1968, Keshto Mukherjee/Jyoti Swaroop)

*Sunil Dutt, Kishore Kumar , Mehmood, Om Prakash, Saira Banu and Mukri.

It's no coincidence that the zaniest musical comedy in Hindi film history featured the original yoodle-master Kishore Kumar in amajor role. It was one of the first major hits to feature a macho action hero, Sunil Dutt, in an out-and out comic role, and certainly the first major Hindi film to stick stubbornly to comedy, full comedy, and only comedy for its entire 2 hour 37 minutes in length. What took this simple film and elevated it to the status of an all-time classic were three elements. The first, the brilliant casting, to put a major box-office star in the lead role was a coup. No hero ever changed his look and his image as drastically as Sunil Dutt did in this film, throwing himself so wholeheartedly (and whole headedly) into the role. But the second element which really added a fantastic boost to the movie was the casting and performance of Kishore Kumar. Still not at the peak of his success as a singer (that phase would start only a year later with the release of 'Aradhana', Kishore was still hungover with his early madcap acting style that we saw in films like 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi' and 'Jhumroo'.

Kishore Kumar's performance in 'Padosan' both when singing the wonderful songs of R.D Burman (himself a master of zaniness! and when acting onscreen, was more than inspired. It was superlative. The jugalbandi sequence, done so well by everyone involved, was one of the greatest in our industry's history. And there's no question that Kishore Kumar steals the show. When you consider the fact that the film was produced by Mehmood himself and that the star comedian allowed himself to be upstaged by his rival in the story, its even more creditable. And finally, the third and most crucial element that made this film deserve its superhit status were the superb songs. Panchamda, as R.D Burman was affectionately called, turned out a marvellous score, with songs such as "Ek chatur naar karke singaar" and the all-time hit "Mere saamne wali khidki mein".

49. 1942 A Love Story (1994, Vidhu Vinod Chopra)

*Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Manisha Kiorala, Pran, Anupam Kher and Danny Dengzongpa.

Lavish Filmmaking......A Romantic Saga of Epic Dimensions

The trio of Anil, Jackie and Vidhu Vinod Chopra joined hands once again for this love story set against the backdrop of the Quit India Movement. As the love struck Nandu, Anil Kapoor exuded freshness as he sported a crew cut, a thin moustache and the trappings of an English lad. With its huge canvas, the climax shoot required thousands of artistes. Chopra therefore employed the services of fellow directors Govind Nihalani and Shekhar Kapur to execute these sequences. 1942-A Love Story was the second film in history, which had more than one director for a special sequence; the first being Lawrence of Arabia. Blending musical poetry with epic spectacle, "1942: A Love Story" stands as a definitive work of Indian filmmaking. As the film follows a pair of lovers through the Indian uprising against imperialist Britain, traditional Indian song is used to juxtapose the harsh realities of an oppressed people. Though the film is grand in size, the fact that a small core of characters inhabits the plot makes for an easily understood picture, even while reading subtitles.

"1942" celebrates the people of India and their struggle for independence. When compared to traditional American films dealing with political revolt, this film wins over in heart. When compared to traditional American musicals of the 1950s and 60s, "1942" displays a deeper social conscience and a more solid grasp on narrative storytelling. Above all, "1942" provides entertainment with a rich cultural tapestry.

Director.....................Vidhu.V Chopra
Written......................Vidhu.V Chopra
Music........................Rahul Dev Burman
Lyricist......................Javed Akhtar
Cinematography........Vinod Pradhan
Editing.......................Renu Saluja...
Song Direction......... Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Lata Mangeshkar
Kavita Krishnamurthy
Kumar Sanu
Shivaji Chattopadhyaya

Kavita Krishnamurthy (Best female singer....Filmfare) for "Pyar hua chupke se"
Javed Akhtar (Best Lyricst....Filmfare) for "Ek ladki ko dekha"
Rahul Dev Burman (Best Music Director....Filmfare)
Kumar Sanu (Best male playback singer....Filmfare) for "Ek ladki ko dekha"
Jackie Shroff (Best Supporting Actor....Filmfare)

50. Sholay (1975, Producer: G.P Sippy, Director: Ramesh Sippy)

*Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri and Amjad Khan.

Supporting Cast: Satyen Kappu, A.K Hangal, Iftekhar, Leela Misra, Macmohan, Sachin, Asrani, Keshto Mukharjee, Helen, Gita, Jairaj, Jagdeep, Jalal Agha, Om Shivpuri, Sharad Kumar.

Screenplay: Salim-Javed.
Camera: Dwarcha Divecha.
Music: R.D Burman.

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi.
Playback: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey and R.D Burman.

Art Direction: Ram Yedekar.
Editing: M.S. Shinde.
Sound: S.Y. Pathak.

'Sholay' : mention the name and you will be greeted with a volley of well-rehearsed dialogues...'Arre O Samba…Kitne Aadmi The?…Sarkar Maine Aapka Namak Khaya Hai… Ab goli Kha…Hum Angrezon Ke Zamane Ke jailor Hain…Soorma Bhopali A1…Yeh Haath Mujhe Dede Thakur…Chal Basanti, aaj Teri Basanti Ki Izzat Ka Sawal Hai…

' The list is endless. Every dialogue is a moviegoer's delight. Today it is impossible to see the film in a theatre, what with the crowd delighting in repeating the dialogues along with the characters. Therein lies its strength. Sholay is the greatest, if not the highest money-spinning movie of all times in India. (For the simple reason that the tickets in 1975 cost a mere Rupees Four! But at today's rates, the six year run (not to add the repeat runs) of the movie would ensure returns that would be unfathomable. Producer: G.P. Sippy | Director: Ramesh Sippy | Screenplay: Salim Javed | Camera: Dwarka The very mention of the film, 'Sholay' produces an automatic response of fear and trepidation. One tends to conjure up intimidating images of dhamakedar dacoits and dashing damsels,who incidentally are in a fair ammount of distress. The film is fraught with high voltage drama and tension enough to make a grown man weak-kneed.

As a movie, it is difficult to categorize into any single genre. It could well be clubbed as action or drama, musical or romance. It was also seen by some as the curry-western, a milieu of Indian spice and western machoism. In fact many a parallel has been drawn between 'Sholay' and John Ford's 'Stagecoach' (1939). Whatever it classifies as does not interest us because this Ramesh Sippy - Javed Akhtar brainchild blew the collective minds of an entire generation of Indian moviegoers. And is still doing so.

The tale is one of Thakur Baldev Singh, played by the late Sanjeev Kumar, once a senior police officer. In an attempt to fight the evil dacoit Gabbar Singh (the dynamic debut of Amjad Khan), he joins hands with two local smalltime crooks, who despite their criminal records have hearts of gold. The Thakur is quick to recognize the underlying humanity beneath their fearless, tough-as-nails exterior.

These two outlaws, Jaidev and Veeru (played to perfection by Amitabh and Dharmendra respectively) procede to Ramgarh, the Thakur's estate. In an exceptionally poignant moment of the film, the two while trying to break into the Thakur's safe at night and escape with the loot are seen by Radha, the Thakur's widowed daughter-in-law, who offers them the keys on the grounds that at least it would open her father's eyes to the fact that they are crooks, and not the brave fighters he perceived them as.

Through the device of the flashback, the viewer is let into the traumatic past at the same time as Jaidev and Veeru are enlightened by the Thakur. It is here that we are introduced to the character of Gabbar Singh played by the invincible Amjad Khan. Who, on being caught by the Thakur and unceremoniously being sent to jail, swore revenge. Gabbbar Singh escapes soon after and guns down the Thakur's entire family ruthlessly. This scene of carnage and relentless massacre went down in the annals of history as the goriest bloodbath in Indian cinema at the time. The only one to escape the carnage was the youngest daughter-in-law, Radha, who was away at the temple. Coming home to this devastation, the Thakur in a violent rage, rode unarmed to the ravines where Gabbar Singh reigned. Finding him helpless and ironically vulnerable, Gabbar Singh chose to hack off the Thakur's arms which had once held him prisoner.

Gabbar Singh went on to become yet another iconic figure-head of terror. His opening exclamation "Suar ke bachchon!!! " is a classic example of his irreverance. He was the kind of man who wouldn't lose sleep over feeding golis to his namak consuming chelas. He delivers one hundred percent of the quintessential villian, one who pursues evil as an end in itself. On the more romantic front, Veeru falls in love with the gregarious tangewali Basanti, while the more serious Jaidev feels drawn to the young and lonely Radha, who watches him silently from a distance. When Veeru goes to keep a rendezvous with Basanti, he discovers that she's been kidnapped by Gabbar's men. To add fuel to the fire, Gabbar orders Basanti to dance on splinters of glass if she wishes to see her love-interest alive. This time it is an all out war, and the men fight it out desperately. Fatally wounded, Jaidev pretends he is mildly hurt, and sends Veeru back to the village with Basanti. He manages to heroically blow up a bridge and kill most of the bandits. At this point Thakur arrives on the scene and insists on fighting Gabbar alone.

What follows is a rather dramatic display of footwork, enough to give Ronaldo a run for his money. Thakur hits out with his hobnailed shoes at a wily Gabbar, who without the protection of his gang becomes a cowering beast. With Jaidev dead, Veeru decides to leave Ramgarh, but in the empty compartment of the sleepy train he finds … Surprise!!! A coy Basanti waiting for him in heated anticipation. The film is groundbreaking because of it's unabashed display of violence and gore as well as for it's repertoire of catch phrases, which have inspired many a free spirited rebel who wished to talk tough. Several wannabe Gabbar Singhs spouted daku-lingo merrily, much to the displeasure of all mild mannered gentry. Interestingly enough, when the film was released it didn't open very well. This was attributed to the fact that it was way ahead of its time. But its six year uninterrupted run at the box office gave it enough time to catch up with its swashbuckling style. Thus it is safe to say that emerging as a brilliant little spark of superlative filmmaking, 'Sholay' built up enough punch to rewrite movie history. It continued to gather momentum as it went along the rugged terrain of time and transformed into a raging orb of fire, destroying all conventions that came across it's path.

The film has made use of several interesting innovations. This included, spectacular cinematography, with shots panning over rocky heights and barren landscapes, often under the menacing shadow of a threatening cloud. It was also the first film to be shot in the large-screen, 70mm format with stereophonic sound. This gave the film most of it's pulsating tension. Although in present times of desensitization, one would not even bat an eyelid at the most gruesome of murders, for its time, 'Sholay' was a revolutionary film, which inspired many film makers to continue its trend of imaginative cinema. To date 'Sholay' remains a cult film by any standard. Many clones followed, but the original will always stay fresh in the minds of all movie lovers. It's doubtful whether any will ever surpass the sheer canvas and magnitude of 'Sholay'. Maybe in terms of money spent or money earned. But in completeness? In script? In cohesion of a story well told or a project well received? Doubtul.

As Gabbar would say, "Pachas kos door jab bachcha rota hai to maa kehti hai, bete soja, warna Gabbar aa jaayega.." However it goes without saying, that the fame of Gabbar and thereby 'Sholay' goes way beyond the pachas kos margin.No one could of have imagined the spectacular degree of SHOLAY's success. The film changed lives, transformed careers, and even twenty-five years after its release it remains the box office gold standard, a reference point for both the Indian film-going audience and the film industry. Over the years, 'Sholay has transcended its hit-movie status. It is not merely a film, it is the ultimate classic; it is myth. It is a part of our heritage as Indians. The film, still as compellingly watchable as it was when first released (in 1999 BBC-India and assorted internet polls declared it the Film of the Millenium), arouses intense passions. Its appeal cuts across barriers of geography, language, ideology and class: an advertising guru in Mumbai will speak as enthusiastically and eloquently about the film as a rickshaw driver in hyderabad.And the devotion is often fanatical. 'Sholay' connoisseurs - to call them 'fans' would be insulting their ardour - speak casually of seeing the film fifty, sixty even seventy times. Dialogue has been memorized. Also the unique background music: the true 'Sholay' buff can pre-empt all the sound effects. He can also name Gabbar's arms dealer who is on screen for less than thirty seconds (Hira), and Gabbar's father who is mentioned only once as Gabbar's sentence is read out in court ('Gabbar Singh, vald Hari Singh...'.

Bollywood buzes with 'Sholay' stories: how a Jaipur housewife obsessed vith Veeru convinced her husband to assume the name of her beloved screen hero; how Prakash bhai, a black marketeer at Delhi's Plaza Cinema, sold tickets for the film at Rs 150 for five months and eventually bought himself a small house in Seelampur, which he decorated with 'Sholay' posters; how a tough-looking immigration officer in New York waved actor Macmohan through because he had seen 'Sholay' and reconized Sambha, 'The man on the rock with a gun'. There are autorickshaws in Patna named Dhanno, and potent drinks in five-star bars called Gabbar.

'Sholay's dialogue has now become colloquial language, part of the way a nation speaks to itself. Single lines, even phrases, taken out of context, can communicate a whole range of meaning and emotion. In canteens across the country, collegians still echo Gabbar when they notice a budding romance: 'Bahut yaarana hai.' The lines come easily to the lips of Indians: 'Jo dar gaya, samjho mar gaya', 'Ai chhammia', 'Arre o Sambha', Kitne aadmi the?', 'Hum angrezon ke zamaane ke jailer hain'.

Nothing in Indian popular culture has matched this magic. Critics might argue that 'Mother India' or 'Mughal-e-Azam' were better films, and trade pundits might point out that in 1994 'Hum Aapke Hain Kaun' broke 'Sholay's box-office record. But none of these films can rival 'Sholay' in the scale and longevity of its success. 'Sholay' was a watershed event. Director Shekhar Kapur puts it best: 'There has never been a more defining film on the Indian screen. Indian Film history can be divided into 'Sholay' BC and 'Sholay AD.'

There is more to Kapur's statement than just the passion of a hopeless admirer. 'Sholay' is, in fact, the Indian Film industry's textbook. The film married a potentially B-grade genre narrative to the big budget of a mainstream extravaganza, and taught the industry how formula can beget a classic.'It is,' says adman and scriptwriter Piyush Pandey, 'undoubtedly the best film made in this country.' 'Sholay' transformed action into high art. Stylized mayhem replaced the sissy 'dishum-dishum fist fights of the past. Violence became a Hindi-movie staple for nineteen years, until 'Hum Aapke Hain Kaun' flagged off the feel-good era.'Sholay' also set standards for technical excellence. Other films of the seventies seem shoddy and dated, but 'Sholay' is a masterpiece of craft.To this day,directors quote 'Sholay' in their films,allude to it in their frames

What is it about 'Sholay' that works on us still? When people watch 'Sholay' today, certain aspects of the film seduce them all over again: the soaring imagination of the story and the way it is told; the vitality of the scorching rocky landscape, charging horses and falling men; the gritty directorial conviction that allows an unhurried tale to be developed, full of texture and rhythm. The elements fall into place perfectly:a marvellous chemistry between the actors; a fable like story detailed into a superb script; unforgettable dialogue and fine performances. The film skillfully blends traditional and modern elements. It has, as author Nasreen Munni Kabir says, 'Differences in lifestyles which co-exist without appearing illogical.' The steam engines, the horses, the guns and the denim give the film an ageless quality, a feeling of several centuries existing next to each other.

Producer G.P Sippy and Ramesh Sippy dreamed big, and they had the courage to follow their instincts. Money, market, box-office - all these commercial considerations became, in the final analysis, secondary. The prime motive was to make a mega movie, the like of which had never been seen before on the Indian screen. Ramanagaram was a vast emptiness, a blank canvas waiting to be fashioned into fantasy. A crew of nearly a hundred people worked round the clock to construct an entire village.

Ramanagaram, an hour's drive from Bangalore, has a varied topography. Building-sized black boulders arch toward the sky. Small knolls seque into grassy flatlands. It is austere but textured. Ramesh loved it. He flew in the next day with his cinematographer, Dwarka Divecha, and two assistants from the production and direction departments. 'It captured my imagination,' he says. 'I was facinated.' Divecha cast his eagle eye on the landscape, and confirmed his decision.

Pleasing Divecha wasn't easy. He was a crotchety old curmudgeon with a painter's eye and a sailer's mouth. He could be extremely difficult, but if you wanted the best for your film, you put up with it. He had experienced the ugliness of life, and he hadn't survived by being soft. Divecha had started his film career in 1936 as an assistant cameraman and gradually worked his way up. Top directors like Kardar, H,S Rawail and L.V Prasad all swore by him. His reputation was fierce. Dressed in a white bosky bush shirt, white pants and black shoes, Divecha saab was a Hitler on the sets.A stickler for punctuality, he would let loose on assistants even if they were late by a minute: 'Aadmi ho yah janwar,' he would scream, 'tumko timing samajh nahin aati kya? If he happened to arrive at the set early, he would wait in the car and walk into the set only at the exact minute the shift was scheduled to start. But the temper wasn't reserved for underlings alone. Even top stars rarely escaped Divecha's wrath. He made the stars stand in place while he lit shots - subsitutes weren't allowed - and shouted if they fidgeted 'Hema, itna kyun hilti hai? (Why do you move so much Hema?).

But off the set, Hitler thawed into a colourful, affectionate man. He was a shaukeen aadmi, with a taste for the good things in life. When he wasn't shooting, Divecha would be at home, ensconced in his favourite chair, holding a glass (always whisky) and a cigarette (Chesterfield or Camel) either listening to music (ghazals) or reading a book. When he spoke, he might have been a scholar, except that he swore incessantly. Divecha had no children but kept a large Alsation dog, whom he called his son. Like Ramesh, Divecha was a rigorous perfectionist.

'Sholay' grew from paper into plans, and it gained weight and size and ambition.The Sippy's wanted to make 'Sholay' the biggest and the best adventure film ever, and they would make no compromises. The traditional 35mm format, they felt, wouldn't do justice to their vision. They were aiming for epic grandeur. So a decision was made: 'Sholay' would be India's first 70mm film with stereophonic sound. The 70mm film format offered double the size. The major Hollywood action movies at the time, such as 'Mckenna's Gold', were shot in this format because it gave the viewer, quite literally, a big movie experience. But the decision to do 'Sholay' in this format added another layer of compliations. Shooting in 70mm wasn't easy. It required huge camera's which could take 70mm film. Importing the camera's was an expensive proposition. The most practical solution was to shoot on 35mm and then blow it up for 70mm. The format was screen-tested. Divecha suggested putting aground glass in front of the camera lens, on which Kamlakar Rao, a young but technically skilled cameraman, made markings so the margins of the 70mm frame could be identified. Ramesh's brother Ajit, who lived in London, forwarded the test to Paris, where a 70mm print was made. The print came back with further instructions on how to perfect the technique. A 70mm film also required bigger screens, and most theatres in India weren't equipped for it. The Sippy's decided to have two sets of negatives, one in 70mm and the other one in 35mm. In practical terms, this meant that every shot would have to be done twice. Each decision added to the cost.

Amjad Khan filled the doorway. He was not a particularly large man, but his lumbering gait, thickset face and curly hair gave him the appearance of one. Director Ramesh Sippy was lying on the diwan with his back to the door. From the low angle, Amjad loomed larger. Something clicked. 'He had an interesting face,' says Ramesh. 'I felt very positive.' Panic had set in after Danny's departure. Shooting was less than a month away. And Gabbar Singh was no ordinary character. It was a pivotal role. The actor had to have both talent and charisma to hold his own against the galaxy of stars. Bad casting could destroy the film. Amjad was the younger son of character artiste Jayant. His home production, Patthar ke Sanam,which was supposed to launch him, was announced but never made. He had assisted K Asif in Love and God and also done a bit role in the film. The credentials were hardly impressive. But in theatre Amjad had a strong reputation. A few days after Danny left, Salim bumped into Amjad. Salim knew Amjad's father, and had been visiting their home since Amjad was a little boy. A polite conversation ensued in which Salim asked Amjad about work. There wasn't much, just bit roles and theatre.

Salim had heard about Amjad's skills as an actor, and physically he seemed to fit the role. 'I can't promise you anything,' he told Amjad, 'but there is a role in a big film. 'll take you to the director. Agar aap ko yeh role mil jaaye, aap ki koshish se yea aapki kismat se (If you get this role, whether by luck or effort),I tell you, it is the finest role in this film.' Amjad seemed to fit the part, but he was unknown. Could he carry the film? He was asked to grow a beard and come back. Meanwhile, Ramesh and Salim-Javed pondered. Salim-Javed were convinced that Amjad was the right choice.

A screen test was done. They shot pictures in the office garden. Amjad had grown a beard and blackened his teeth. His diction was right, his language was perfect. He was confirmed for the role. Amjad hurried ecstatically to hospital to break the news to wife Shaila. The date was 20 September 1973. His son Shadaab was born that afternoon. Amjad prepared for Gabbar. Normal life took a back seat; this was clearly the best role fo his career. Amjad devoured Abhishapth Chambal, a book on the Chambal dacoits written by Jaya Bhaduri's father, Taroon Coomar. He marked out the pages on the real-life Gabbar, insisting that his wife Shaila read it too. He rehearsed his lines and fleshed out his character. He remembered a dhobi from his childhood days who used to call out to his wife: 'Arre o Shanti.' The lilt in Gabbar's 'Arre o Sambha' came from his dhobi.

Amjad was enthusiastic but insecure, and badgered his wife constantly: 'Do you think I'll be able to do it?' 'Of course,' she would say, 'you're a good actor. I've seen all your plays.' 'But this is a different ball game' 'So what? You've been part of 'Love and God'... your father is an actor...' 'All that dosn't matter. Do you think I'll be able to do this?'

The morning Amjad was to leave for Bangalore, he put the Quran on his head and prayed. Shaila was surprised. Amjad was a spiritual person but he rarely prayed. As abruptly as he had started, he stopped. He placed the holy book back in its place, said, 'I think I'll be able to do it,' and drove to the airport. The flight didn't reach Bangalore. There was a hydraulic failure, and the pilot was forced to keep circling over Mumbai. After dumping fuel for hours, the plane landed back in Mumbai. Amjad sat at the airport but didn't call home. After five hours, it was announced that the technical faults had been fixed and the plane was ready to take-off. Not many passengers had the stomach to get on that plane again mjad was among the four or five who finally flew on it. He had to reach Bangalore. Through the flight, he wasn't thinking about his wife or his one month-old son. His only terror was: 'If this plane crashes, Danny gets Gabbar' (the first choice for the role but lost out to date commitments).

Gabbar Singh was not having a good day. It was Amjad's first day of shooting. They were starting with the scene in which he is introduced. His first line was, 'Kitne aadmi the?' All his life had led to this moment. The years of theatre rehearsals, knocking on doors for acting jobs, sweating it out as an assistant -- the Gabbar role had made all that seem worthwhile. His army fatigues, picked up from Mumbai's Chor Bazaar, had the right weathered look. His teeth were blackened. His face was appropriately grimy. He had lived the part for the last few months. But now, when it was time to deliver, he just could not get it right. Gabbar had to mince tambaku (tobacco) as he talked. The motion of one hand grinding against another added to his menace. It was supposed to be his habit. But Amjad could not make it look casual. He would grind the tobacco, speak a few lines, look around awkwardly and then return to grinding. He was nervous and it showed; his hands were stiff, his movements seemed rehearsed, and his dialogue delivery was shaky. There was nothing natural about his performances; Gabbar was a stranger to Amjad.

Ramesh kept talking to him, trying to help him get his lines right. They struggled for two days. After forty-odd takes, both Ramesh and cameraman Dwarka Divecha decided the actor needed a break. Divecha told Amjad to keep his costume on and just sit on the sets. 'Tu apne aap ko season kar de (Season yourself).' Amjad cried that night. His father was in hospital fighting cancer. His son was only a month old. His family's hopes were pinned on this film. For the rest of the schedule, Amjad lived in the fatigues, trying to become Gabbar. He wrote often to his wife, but never shared with her the extent of his trauma. All he wrote was: 'I'm very impatient… I don't know… I hope I can do it.' Since he didn't drink, he would spend the evenings nursing endless cups of tea. Through the entire schedule, he didn't do a single shot.

In the next schedule, Amjad was more prepared. He got it right in the first few takes. He was living his character, and would stay in costume even when he was not shooting. But some members of the unit, unable to forget his earlier awkwardness, didn't seem to think this was enough. Besides, Amjad was the only new face in a sea of superstars and slowly talk started in the unit that perhaps Ramesh had made a mistake. The murmurs grew, till it became impossible even for Salim and Javed, who had been the most keen to have Amjad as Gabbar, to ignore them. Anxious, perhaps, to not be seen as people responsible for ruining the film, they spoke to Ramesh. 'If you aren't satisfied with Amjad, change him,' they said. For a few days the unit was rocked by rumours that Amjad was getting the boot. But Ramesh finally put his foot down. Only Amjad would play Gabbar.

Amjad found out about the rumours much later. But the incident sowed the seeds of misunderstanding between him and Salim-Javed. He could not understand why two people, who had ardently recommended him for the role, had then tried to get him thrown out. He saw it as a move to sabotage his career. The hurt stayed with him till his death. Salim-Javed gave birth to the Amjad myth, but they never worked with him again.

The 'Sholay' unit had a ten - to fifteen-day schedule in Bangalore every month, from October 1973 to May 1974. Each time they managed to get some work done, but not enough. The delays were further compounded because 70mm required that each shot had to be taken twice. After seven months work, hardly one-third of the film had been shot. 'Sholay' had been planned as a six-month project. Nobody imagined that eventually it would take so long that Macmohan, playing Sambha, one of the smallest roles in the film, would travel twenty-seven times from Mumbai to Bangalore.

Ramesh retained his famous cool. He had a grand vision of 'Sholay' and wasn't going to let delays force him to make compromises. As the budget soared beyond the original one crore, G.P Sippy did make the occasional noise. 'What the hell is going on?' he would ask. But he never pulled the plug. He was a gambler going for the big one. The funds kept flowing.

Yet, despite all the planning, things started to go wrong. The first schrdule was ten days long, but very little work got done. Some days they managed to get ten shots right, and on others, none at all. In the November schedule, Ramesh completed only one scene. The No Compromise resolve was set in stone. Ramesh and Divecha were like painters trying to perfect their canvas, with G.P. Sippy, a patron of the arts, bankrolling their dreams, budget and timetables took a backseat.

'Sholay's centerpiece - the massacre sequence in which Gabbar obliterates the Thakur's family - was shot in twenty-three days over three schedules. It was a complicated scene with several parts: establishing the family, Gabbar's arrival, the shootings, and then the Thakur's arrival on the scene after Gabbar and his men have slaughtered his family and retreated. Half the scene had been shot when the weather changed and the bright sun was replaced by an overcast sky. For two days, the unit waited for the sun to reappear. Then Ramesh realized that the dark clouds were a celestial signal: the overcast look was perfect for the scene. It underlined the tragedy and heightened the sense of doom. It also logically led to the point where the wind starts to build up and dry leaves are blown over the dead bodies. He onferred with Divecha. 'It won't just look good,' Divecha said, 'it will look very good. But what will we do if the sun comes out tomorrow?' Ramesh was willing to take he chance. 'Let's shoot,' he said.

They shot furiously for the next two days. And then the sun popped out again. After a week of work, they had two versions of the same half scene, one against a bright sky and the other against an overcast one. But Ramesh was determined. It was going to be clouds or nothing. So they waited for the gods to do the lighting. With the sun playing hide and seek, there were days when they managed to get only one shot and some when they simply stared at the skies. Filming came to a complete halt. To speed up the process, Divecha asked Anwar to make a screen to bounce the light off. The screen had to be bigger than the house. Anwar ended up buying all the white cloth in the vicinity to create a seventy-foot-by- hundred-foot screen. He stitched it himself with strong canvas thread. With the huge screen in place, shooting was resumed, but there were shots for which the effect created by the screen wasn't good enough. The gods had to intervene and bring back the clouds. But it wasn't just the clouds. Nothing seemed to go right. As they neared the end of the sequence, the little boy playing Thakur's grandson, Master Alankar, had exams. He would lose an academic year if he didn't sit for them. Ramesh let him go. Then the propeller, which worked up an appropriate wind to blow dry leaves onto the dead bodies, decided to do its own thing. It wouldn't start when they needed it to. And once started, it would just keep going. Finally, an aeronautics unit near Bangalore built another propeller. It worked perfectly. The wind blew yellow-brown leaves onto the bodies and the white shroud off them, Thakur mounted his horse in a raging fury, ready to look for Gabbar.

Almost as time-consuming were the sequences of Radha extinguishing the lamps while Jai played his harmonica and watched. These sequences establish the gradual, wordless bonding between the widow and the thief - the sympathy and admiration slowly turning into love. Capturing the right mood was critical. These were two sequences, only about a minute each in the final film, and it took twenty days to shoot them. Ramesh and Divecha decided to do the scenes in 'magic hour', a cinema term for the time between sunset and night. The light that falls during magic hour is dreamlike in its warm golden hue. The director and cinemtograher wanted specifically the velvety dusk which arrives at the tail end of the golden hue. A shadowy darkness precedes nightfall, but it is still light enough to show the surrounding sillhouettes. Essentially, they had only a few minutes to capture the shot. The preparations for the shot would begin after lunch. The lights and the camera set-up would be in place well before time. At around five in the evening they would rehearse the shot and the camera movements.Then between six and six-thirty as the sun started to set, there was total pandemonium. Everyone ran around shouting, trying to get the shot before darkness. sometimes they would get one shot, sometimes two and very rarely with great difficulty, a third re-take. But there was never any time to change the set-up. Ramesh wouldn't settle for anything less than perfection. Invariably there was always some mess-up. The sun set earlier than expected, a lightman made a mistake, the trolly movement wasn't right, some object was lying where it shouldn't have been. There were times when Jaya lost her cool: 'Ramesh, no one can see me,' she would say. 'It's a long shot, no viewer on the planet is going to be able to see the mistakes in continuity.' The answer always was: 'No, no, one more take.' Ramesh dressed each frame. The Lady-of-the-lamps shot became a kind of a joke. It took several schedules to get it right.

In fact, in terms of time taken, each sequence seemed to compete with the next. Ahmed, the blind Imam's son (played by Sachin), for instance, took seventeen days to die. It was a long and complicated sequence, and originally it also included the actual act of killing: meat is roasting in the foreground; Gabbar points a red-hot skewer at the boy and with a gleeful look tells his gang, 'Isko to bahut tadpa tadpa ke maroonga.' But this never made it to the final cut. Instead, the scene cuts from Gabbar killing an ant to Ahmed's horse carrying his dead body into the village.

The songs were as hard to execute as the scenes. They took several days over many schedules and involved hundreds of dancers, special camera devices, a tanga and even a train. As usual, Ramesh pulled out all stops. 'Yeh Dosti was a twenty-one-day endeavor. The song establishes the friendship between Veeru and Jai. Its easy camaraderie is the foundation of the film. The cheer of the happy version perfectly offsets the dirge-like version at Jai's death. It was decided that a motorcycle with a sidecar would capture the spirit of the male-bonding anthem. But to shoot the entire song from a moving vehicle was static and limiting. So they built a special contraption, which would enable the crew to use different kinds of camera movements. The contraption allowed for varied camera angles. Divecha could start on a tight close-up of one character, pull back, move around to include both and then turn almost 180 degrees to the other side. Shots like these would make the audience feel that they were traveling with Veeru and Jai. But they weren't easy to get. First the bike would be fitted onto the contraption, and then the whole paraphernalia would move along with the camera and tracks and a low trolley moving up and down. Coordinating the elements - reflectors, sun-guns, speakers - needed minute organization and the patience of a priest. There were frequent mechanical faults: the towing hook would come off, or the pulling vehicle would get so heated up that it woudn't start. None of which stopped Ramesh and choreographer P.L Raj from planning even more intricate moves. 'Yeh Dosti', they decided, would end with the sidecar breaking away, doing a short solo run and then coming together with the motorcycle again. It was a neat gimmick. If only they could make it work. The sidecar had to be pulled away from the motorcycle without making the pulling obvious. And then there was the toughest part: the two had to reunite after separating on the fork on the road. They attached the sidecar to the camera on a trolley and rehearsed the shot with Amitabh, who was riding the motorcycle. It all depended on his sense of timing, because he was on a moving vehicle while the camera was on a fixed trolley. Amitabh would have to time it to perfection - start at the right moment, and accelerate or slow down according to the movement of the camera. Amazingly, he brought in the motorcycle for a smooth, perfect docking on the very first take. It was a miracle. The unit broke into a spontaneous applause and even the normally reticent Ramesh jumped off the camera stand and hugged Amitabh.

In the climax sequence, Gabbar holds Basanti's arm and menacingly delivers his lines: 'Dekho chhamiya, zyada nakhre mat karo humse, nahin to ye gori chamdi hai na - saare badan se khurach khurach ke utaar doonga.' By now, Amjad had settled in. The insecurities of the early schedules were replaced by confidence and he wore Gabbar's persona like a second skin. In the heat of the performance, Amjad gripped Hema's arm a little too tightly. It hurt. But the shot was canned and the crew moved on to the next one.

By the evening, Hema's arm was sore and the bruises showed. At the dinner table, Dharmendra could barely control his anger. Dharmendra, or paaji, as everone called him, was in love with Hema Malini. Hema, professional to the core, gave little trouble. But Dharmendra wore his heart on his sleeve. When he and hema shot romantic sequences, he paid the light boys to make mistakes so he could embrace her again and again. Dharmendra and the light boys had a perfectly worked-out code language: when he pulled his ear, they would make a mistake - mess up the trolly movement or make a reflector fall - but when he touched his nose, they okayed the shot. The fee was Rs 100 per retake. On a good day, the light boys returned from the day's shooting richer by Rs 2,000.

Like Sanjeev, Dharmendra rarely turned mean with alcohol. In fact, he became more affectionate and child-like. He caused a few delays and some chaos but was never difficult. Quite the opposite, in fact. The climax shot required him to throw the counterfeit coin - which Jai used to arrive at decisions - in anger and sorrow after Jai's death. Production had made six conterfeit double-headed coins for retakes. But in that rocky terrain, once a coin was thrown it was almost impossible to retrieve it. Dharmendra was a little tipsy, and it became apparent that he might require more than six retakes. Khalish, growing more nervous by the minute, quickly collected as many twenty-five paise coins as he could find. He asked Dharmendra to be careful. For the long shots Khalish would hand Dharmendra the twenty-five-paise coins, and for the close ups, the special double-headed ones. Dharmendra was all co-operation, and the shot was canned with one counterfeit coin to spare.

All this passion wasn't Dharmendra's fault, really. As Hema says, 'It was such a beautifull atmosphere that everyone was in love... even the old camera man.' Pran, whom was in Bangalore for another shoot, had introduced Divecha to a local girl. She was seventeen. Divecha, in his mid-fifties, fell hopelessly in love. But it wasn't the typical film-industry 'it-doesn't-count-on-location' fling. Despite extreme stress on the home front, Divecha remained commited to the girl till he died in 1978.

The hardest part was the editing for the final cut. Ramesh spent hours sitting at the editing table with his editor, Madhav Rao Shinde, affectionately called Dada. Shinde had a gargantuan task. Salim-Javed's script was brilliant, and so many of the cuts were suggested by the script itself, but the film was simply too long. Ramesh had exposed over 300,000 feet of negative. It had to be whittled down to less than 20,000 feet. Shinde had edited all of Ramesh's films and by now had an instinctive feel for what Ramesh wanted. But he had never had so much material to work with.

Entire sequences ended up on the Film Center Floor. Among the best that didn't make it was a comedy sequence that preceded the Soorma Bhopali section. Maruti, a popular comedian of the day, played a dhaba owner in it. Veeru and Jai eat at the dhaba, gargle and spit vigorously, and have a fight with Maruti when he objects to their doing quli in his premises. Mushtaq Merchant playing an eccentric Parsi gentleman had a scene in which Veeru and Jai steal his motorcycle. He was reduced to a figure ebbing into the horizon just before the 'Yeh Dosti' song.

Saachin's death scene was also cut. Shinde kept the brutal lines of dialogue out, slicing from Gabbar killing an ant to the horse carrying Ahmed's dead body into the village. The edit fit with the overall tone of the film, in which violance is more often suggested than seen. The audience never sees Thakur's arms being hacked off. Like the cut from Gabbar raising the sword to an armless Thakur, Ahmed's unseen death had far greater impact. 'Sholay' was finally ready in July 1975. Two and a half years labour lay spooled in tins. Looking at the film, Ramesh thought he had turned the curve, that the hardest part was behind him. He did not know that the battle had just begun. Gabbar dies in 'Sholay' Or at least does in the original 'Sholay' that Ramesh had shot, Salim-Javed had written. The Thakur kills Gabbar with his feet, wearing shoes that the servant Ramlal has fashioned with nails fitted in the soles. The armless Thakur first crushes Gabbar's arms. Then they stand face to face, two armless warriors, two equals. And then the Thakur pounds Gabbar to death as if he were a venomous snake; he does not stop till the dacoit is a bloody mess under his shoes. Then he breaks down and cries. He weeps long and hard: his life's mission is complete, but all he feels is a vast emptiness. It is a apyrrhic victory. Revenge begets loss.

The Central Board of Film Censors hated this ending. The board objected to the suggestion that a police officer - even one who was no longer in service - would take the law into his own hands and commit a murder. They also objected to the film's balletic violence. It wasn't graphic, but it was so finely choreographed that it had far greater impact than actual gore. The audience wouldn't see Thakur's arms being chopped off, but the visual cut from Gabbar raising the sword to the Thakur standing with his empty shirt sleeves flapping in the wind was unforgettable. Ramesh had made violence aesthetic and attractive. If passed, 'Sholay' would open the floodgates for lesser filmmakers. There would be cuts in 'Sholay.' But first, the Sippy's would have to change the end.

Ramesh was incensed. It was almost as though he was being penalized for being talented. Every nuance in the film had been carefully considered and crafted. Not a frame was superfluous. The board wasn't just asking for cuts, it was asking for a totally different conclusion - an ending that would have the police intervening at the crucial moment to prevent the Thakur from killing Gabbar. It seemed like a parody of what had been done in a hundred other films. It had none of the bleakness or tragedy of the original. With a conclusion so feeble, 'Sholay' would no longer be Ramesh's vision. It would become another film altogether.

In the resolutely repressive environment of the Emergency, fundamental rights did not exist. Neither did artistic freedom. Compromise wasn't a choice, it was the only option. But Ramesh was adamant. He hadn't toiled for two years to cop out now. He wasn't going to change the end. Ramesh tried to reason with the members of the Board, pointing out to them the flaws in their own argument. But the Board would not budge. Increasingly frustrated, Ramesh did something most uncharacteristic of him - he raised his voice.

The Sippy's called on every connection they had. G.P Sippy was a resourceful man with considerable clout. He worked the phone for hours, arranging high-powered meetings. Anyone who might have influenced the Board got a call. Father and son also had bitter rows. Ramesh argued as an artist who was watching his work being mauled, and G.P as a realist who knew that compromise was inevitable. At one point, Ramesh even considered taking his name off the film. But eventually the producer prevailed. G.P explained ground reality to Ramesh: If they were stubborn, the film woudn't get released. Being a lawer himself, he knew better than anyone else the futility of going to court. In an Emergency they had no rights. And at the of end three years of production, they had very little money. They couldn't afford to take the higher ground.

The release date had been fixed for 15 August 1975. As was the practice then, Ploydor had released the music two months earlier. In a extraordinary display of comfidence, they had released 30,000 records, double the usual film launch. They had also offered the dealers a special scheme. At the end of the year, dealers could traditionally return 7.5 per cent of the goods that they had not managed to sell. Polydor told the dealers: Take as many records of 'Sholay' as you want, but return the unsold ones before the film's release. After the release, if the music ran and dealers wanted records they would have to pay more. Any delay in release would adversely affect Polydor's business. There really was no option; Ramesh would have to re-shoot the end.

It was a Herculean task. It was already July 20. Within the following week the ending would have to be re-shot and re-dubbed, the background music redone and remixed in London, and the film printed for release. The cast was hastily summoned. Sanjeev Kumar was attending a film festival in the Soviet Union. He flew to India immediately. For two days, the cast and crew assenbled in Ramanagaram. It seemed like old times again. They were back amidst the giant boulders, in the harsh sunlight, all commited as before to the ambitious project that had brought them together.

With the cuts implemented and the new ending inserted, the Board of Film Censors was satisfied, and the final 70mm prints were then made in London. The negative for the 35mm was brought back to Mumbai and printed at Film Centre. And so 'Sholay' was ready for release-a weaker version of 'Sholay', with a new, lesser ending.

But apparently, somewhere in the world, rumoured to be impossible to trace now, a few prints survive of the original, untouched film, with all its final bleakness intact. Occasionally, videotapes and dvds of the original film surface, copied from copies of copies. Those who have seen these nth-generation copies say that despite the fuzziness and the bad sound, the Thakur's hopeless weeping is chilling, and it becomes clear to the viewer that all the visceral of power and violance lead inevitably to this agony, this loss. In those long-ago days of the seventies, this was the moral vision that Ramesh Sippy and Salim-Javed tried to bring to the Indian viewer. Due to the wisdom of our censors, what we got instead was an easy pabulum about the virtues of following the law, and a film that least in part had an aesthetic clumsiness forced into it.

'Sholay' flopped. The critics were harsh, the performance at the box-office was mixed, and the industry, waiting for the smallest hint to knock the mega project of the brash young director, was merciless. For the first time since Salim-Javed narrated the four-line idea two and half years ago, Ramesh panicked. The weeks leading up to the release had been a blur. Ramesh was bug-eyed from lack of sleep. The climax re-shot and re-mix had increased the birth pangs ten-fold. Prints and negatives were flying between Mumbai and London. There was no time to savour the finished product. Meanwhile the hype had assumed a life of its own. The trade could talk of little else. Every day there was a new rumour: the film was being offered an 'Adults only' certificate; the censor board wanted further cuts; the 70mm prints were not ready, so the Sippy's postponing the release date... and on and on. A column in 'Trade Guide', the industry trade magazine, wrote: 'Wherever we went, we heard nothing but 'Sholay'... sometimes we also thought we would get allergic to it. Everyone wanted to see nothing but 'Sholay.' Many people in the industry preffered to discuss 'Sholay' to their own film.

Minerva, on Mumbai's Lamington Road, had been selected as 'Sholay's main theatre. Minerva was known by its tag line: 'The pride of Maharashtra.' It was the only theatre at the time with a screen big enough for 70mm and six-track sound, and with 1500 seats it was also the largest cinema in the country. The theatre was dressed up like a bride for the release. Outside stood 30-foot cutouts of the star cast: Dharmendra, Amitabh, Sanjeev, Hema, Jaya and, of course, Amjad Khan. Inside were rows of photographs from the film, and garlands of flowers.

The premiere night was a glittering affair. On 14 August, two premieres were held simultaneously, one at Minerva and one at Excelsior. For the cast and crew, it felt like life had come full circle. It was pouring outside, just as it had been on the first day of the shoot, and Jaya was glowing again - this time pregnant with Abhishek. The industry's top names, all spiffed up and shiny, walked into Minerva to see what the fuss was about. But there was a problem - the 70mm print hadn't arrived yet. It was still stuck at the customs.

The 70mm saga was a plot worthy of Salim-Javed. A senior bureaucrat in the finance ministry had declared war on the Sippy's. Since a large part of the post-production work was done in London, several permissions were sought. The bureaucrat felt he hadn't been given adequate importance and was still simmering. He decided to use every ploy to throw 'Sholay'off track.

When the unit went to London, he wrote to the Indian High Commission there to keep close tabs on them. The Commission obliged. When the 70mm print came out, Ramesh decided to have a screening for friends and family. It was fixed for 10 one morning at the Odeon at Marble Arch. Ramesh also rang up the High Commissioner. 'But how,' said a senior secretary at the commission, 'can you have a screening? You don't have permission for that. Your contract says materials must go straight from Technicolour to India.' Then suddenly the secretary changed track: 'Okay, we'll come.' Ramesh had an intuition that all wasn't well and at the last minute cancelled the screening. It was fortunate. Because at exactly 9:50, people from the High Commission turned up to seize the print. Orders were sent out to stall the Sippy's at every level. When Ramesh landed in Mumbai, he was stripped searched. When even that didn't produce anything, the bureaucrat simply told the custom officials not to clear the print. On the morning of 14 August the prints were still lying in tins at the customs.

G.P Sippy, never a man to take a beating lying down, went into action. He organized a high-level meeting. Attending on G.P's terrace were Rajni Patel, a noted lawer and a close confidant of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and V.C Shukla, minister for Information and Broadcasting, who was also the chief guest at the premiere. Shukla simply called Delhi and blasted into the bureaucrat: 'What are you trying to do? Tell them to release the prints now.' The bureaucrat, taken aback by the reach of the Sippy's, mumbled a quick 'Yes sir.' But he managed to delay the prints by a few more hours. By the evening they still hadn't reached the theatre, so 'Sholay's premiere audience saw a 35mm print.

Through the screening; there was little reaction. The audience seemed unmoved. There was no laughter, no tears, no applause. Just silence. 'It was very scary,' recalls Geeta (Sippy). In the stalls sat Prakash Mehra, who had once been one of the contenders for the four-line story. 'Maine yeh kahani kyun cchod di? he asked himself aloud. After the film, as the audience streamed out of the hall, Pancham, who had been sitting next to Mehra, whispered to him: 'Log to gaaliyan de rahen hain.' 'Don't worry,' Prakash replied, 'this film is a hit. No one can stop it.'

The morning-after-the premiere grapevine dripped poison. The film was dubbed 'Chholey', and the main cast, 'Teen maharathi aur ek chooha (Three warriors and a mouse)'. Everything was wrong with the film. Why would women and family audiences want to see so much gore? The friendship was in such bad taste. Amjad had no presence, and no voice... 'Hindustaniyon ko aisi picturein nahin achhi lagti hain (Indians don't like films like this),' pronounced a prominent industry figure. The critics agreed. Taking off on the title of the film, K.L Amladi writing in 'India Today' called it a 'dead ember'. Thematically, its a gravely flawed attempt,' he wrote. Filmfare's Bikram Singh wrote: 'The major trouble with the film is the unsuccessful transplantation it attempts- grafting a western on the Indian milieu. The film remains imitation western-neither here nor there.' The trade magazines weren't gushing either. 'The classes and families will find no reason for a repeat show,' said 'Film Information.'
'Trade Guide' called it a milestone but qualified the praise with a negative comparison with 'Deewar' Now it was upto the audience. On 15 August 1975, 'Sholay' was released in the Bombay territory with forty prints.

Dispite the notorious Mumbai ki barish which was coming sown in torrents, the crowds turned up; in fact, many people had started queuing up outside the theatres the night before the advance booking had opened. The demand for the tickets was so high that in some theatres the managers just put the phone off the hook. Looking at the advance, trade pundits were predicting that the film would cross a business of eleven lakh rupees in its first week.

But the buoyancy was balanced by the legions of cynics. After the premiere, the critics and indusrywalas had already given their verdict, and their had been more brickbats than bouquets. Even the black marketeers- those most knowledgeable of critics - were a little apprehensive about the film. Sure, it was the Midas touch of the Sippy's and Salim-Javed, and yes, the film had an impressive starcast, but the story sounded strange: Sanjeev was playing a handicapped man and Jaya a silent widow, and there was some new villain who wasn't in the mould of the suave smugglers of the day like Ajit and Pran.

The Sippy's only hope was that the audience would prove them all wrong. There was no reaction. On Friday, 15 August, the first day of 'Sholay's release, Ramesh drove from one theatre to another to assess the reaction of the audience. As on the premiere night, there was only silence. Over the weekend, panic set in. The theatres were full but the reports were mixed. Pundits were now predicting disaster. No one told Ramesh that, but he could see it in their faces of all those he met. Every one wore that peculiar expression of pity and awkwardness. They met him like he was a man in mourning.

The Sippys moved into damage-control mode. On the weekend, a hurried meeting was convened at Amitabh's house. G.P Sippy, Ramesh and Amitabh put their heads together to try and come up with solutions. Since there was no fear of piracy at the time, the release of the film in the major territories was being staggered. They could make substantial alterations before 'Sholay' hit the rest of the country. One suggestion was re-shooting the end again. Amitabh, post'Zanjeer' and 'Deewar', was too big a star to die. Jai was just a petty thief, he hadn't done anything to deserve death. Perhaps an ending in which the two couples walk into the sunset would salvage the film. Salim-Javed were vehement that the film shouldn't be touched. Ramesh considered the suggestion for a new ending, but not for long. His head said he should do it but his heart wouldn't allow it. He went with his heart A happy end would compromise his film even further. It was important that the audience leave the theatre with a feeling that something had been left unfinished. That slight ache in the heart was part of the film's appeal. Not a frame would be touched. He would swim or sink with the film.

As the week wore on the anxiety of the crew turned into depression. On Monday morning, when the second week advance booking opened, there were modest queues outside Minerva and Excelsior where the 70mm prints were showing. At other theatres, hardly two or three people stood for tickets. In most of the suburban theatres, matinee shows had less than fifty per cent collections. For Ramesh, this was confirmation that all was lost. He was devastated. That evening he walked into Film Center, where more prints were being made, and told Anwar, 'Printing band kar do. Abhi kuchh samajh main nahin aa raha hai (Stop the printing. I don't understand what's going on.)' At home the unflappable demeanour cracked. It was the first time in his remarkable career that he was facing a flop. 'I think I've failed,' he told Geeta.

At the Sippy house the tension was palpable. G.P Sippy stood rock-steady and characteristically optimistic. He was sure that the film would turn around. But at the back of his mind sat unpleasant thoughts: The film had gone way over budget and creditors had to be paid back. They might never be able to make another film again. This was one gamble that could put them back years. There were even rumours that the Sippys were packing up and leaving the country. One week later, on 22 August 1975, 'Sholay' was released in Bangalore in six theatres. Suresh Malhotra, the distributer, organized a grand premiere. The entire main cast and crew flew in for the night. Suresh loved 'Sholay'. When interviewed by 'Film Information' in July, he had predicted that the film would do a business of one crore. But it didn't look like the business would bear his claim. Even before the first week was over, collections took a dip in Bangalore.

But the worst affected was Amjad. As negative feedback filtered in, Amjad became more and more silent. The normally effusive and volatile man retreated into a shell. His house was enveloped in gloom. An equally disheartened Asrani visited him in the first week. Asrani had been shooting at the nearby Mehboob Studio with Aruna Irani and she had suggested dropping in at Amjad's. 'Maine dam laga diya, ab nahi chali. kya kar sakte hain (I gave it all I had, but it hasn't worked. There's nothing to be done now),' Amjad told them mournfully. 'Lekin aapki taareef to bhut ho rahi hai (But theres great things being said about your performance),' Asrani countered. Praise was little consolation. 'What's the use, yaar?' Amjad replied, fighting back tears. 'Salim-Javed have told Ramesh that my voice ruined the picture. Sorry folks, I've missed the bus.'

In all the sound and fury, Salim-Javed stood firm. 'Nothing doing,' they said to re-shooting proposals. 'This film will run.' It was the cockiness of youth and the confidence of a job well done. The following week, the two put an advertisement in the trade papers. The ad said, 'Salim-Javed predict that 'Sholay' will be a grosser of rupees one crore in each major territory of India.' The trade sniggered. Going by the response, the Sippys would be lucky if 'Sholay' managed forty lakh per territory.

Salim-Javed were wrong. As it turned out, one crore was a conservative estimate. Mid-week, a curious thing happened: there was little advance booking, but the theatre's were full. The proprietor at Geeta cinema in Worli told Ramesh, 'Don't worry, your film is a hit.' It was the first time Ramesh had heard the word used in connection with his film. 'How can you say that?' he asked. 'Because the sales of my soft drinks and ice-creams are going down,' the man replied. 'By the interval the audience are so stunned that they are not coming out of the theatre.'

Finally Ramesh understood why there was no reaction. People were overawed by what they were seeing. They needed time. Now, clearly 'Sholay' had found its audience. Word of mouth spread like a juicy rumour. The visuals were epic and the sound was a miracle; when Veeru threw the coin in the climax, people in the 70mm theatres dove under their seats to see where it had fallen. By the third week, audiences were repeating dialogues. It meant that at least some were coming in to see the film for a second time. Polydor noticed this and was quick to act. Record sales weren't good and the music company was in a panic. Even though people came out of the theatres with smiles on their faces, they didn't buy the music. The music men were bewildered. What was the problem here? Some key managers were dispatched to the theatres to see the film with the audience. They realized that the reaction to the dialogue was extraordinary. Obviously 'Sholay's visuals and dialogue were so overpowering that the music barely registered. If Polydor wanted to sell more records, it would have to give the audience what they remembered when they left the theatre: the dialogue. The strategy succeeded. Polydor couldn't keep up with the demand as records flew off the shelves.

The tide had turned. 'Sholay' was beginning to prove all doomsayers wrong. As the film caught on, tickets became priceless. The lines at Minerva stretched a few kilometres, from the theatre to the nearby Tardeo bridge. The bus stop outside was renamed 'Sholay' stop'. The Minerva manager, Sushil Mehra, could barely keep up with the demand. He stayed at the booking window from 8 a.m to 8 p.m and finally just moved his family into a two-room apartment at the theatre; going home seemed pointless.

The Sippys stopped listening to the trade. As the collections mounted, it became obvious that they were looking at something big. In September, Ramesh left for London to take his much-deserved holiday. But every week the collections were given to him over the phone. Ten weeks after its release the film was declared a super hit, and on 11 October 1975 'Sholay' already a blockbuster, was released in the territories of Delhi, U.P, Bengal, the Central Provinces and Hyderabad to a record-breaking box office.

Several months later, Asrani ran into Amjad. Both had been invited to inaugurate a studio in Gujarat. On the flight, Asrani laughed: 'Haan ji, did you miss the bus?' Amjad broke into a broad grin. The studio was about forty kilometres away from the airport. While driving there, Amjad's son felt thirsty, and they stopped at a small roadside stall. It was a ramshackle place selling cold drinks, biscuits and cigarettes. There was no other building or even a hut to be seen for miles. As they entered the shop, a voice crackled on a rickety gramophone:

'Kitne aadmi the?'

Gabbar Singh's dialogue boomed through the shop. The stall owner served the group drinks but did not recognize the star. For a minute, Amjad stood absolutely still. His eyes squinted in recognition of his own voice. Then, listening to his voice playing in a shanty on a dusty, deserted road in the middle of nowhere, Amjad Khan sat down and cried.

Sanjeev Kumar

Hari bhai died in 1985. He was only forty-seven, but a lifetime of unhealthy eating and drinking habits had caught up with him. Sanjeev never achieved the status of 'phenomenon' as Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan did. In fact, toward the end, he had become increasingly careless about his looks. But his name was a standard for good acting. And unlike other stars, he wasn't bound by commercial considerations. He enthusiatically donned a gray wig to play the Thakur. For Sanjeev, always, the role was the prize.

Ddharmendra/Hema Malini

Dharmendra and Hema Malini married in 1980. Amma's strict admonitions were no match for Paaji's charm. But Hema's image as a dignified dream girl was so strong that even though she became Dharmendra's second wife, she escaped vilification from both the press and public. The couple have two daughters.

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan held on to superstar status for two decades. The uncharismatic underdog who couldn't get a film left his rivals eating dust. Nobody else even came close. He was ranked number one to ten. Amitabh survived a near-fatal accident on the sets of Manmohan Desai's 'Coolie', the debilitating disease myasthenia gravis, and a scandal-ridden plunge into politics. By the late 80's and early 90s, Bachchan's films were propelled purely by star appeal. In 1992, the 'one-man industry' took a long holiday from films and returned three years later.

Jaya Bhaduri

The lady of the lamps was among Jaya's last roles. Engrossed in her children and marriage, she abandoned her career soon after 'Sholay'. She returned in 1981 in Yash Chopra's 'Silsila' and has since done the occasional challenging roles.

Amjad Khan

Amjad died on 27 July 1992 at the age of forty-eight. Amjad was candid enough to acknowledge that a role like Gabbar happens only once in a career. 'From here,' he often said, 'the only place i can go is down. This cannot be repeated.' But Amjad became a leading villain and character artiste, playing parallel roles in hits such as 'Mukaddar Ka Sikandar', 'Suhaag', 'Lawaaris' and 'Mr Narwarlal. He also turned in a critically acclaimed performane in Satyajit Ray's 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi.' On 15 october 1976, Amjad met with a near-fatal accident on the Mumbai-Goa road. Swerving to avoid hitting a boulder, he drove the car into a tree. The steering wheel went into his chest. He recovered from the serious injuries, but the drugs administered to him caused a serious weight problem. He ballooned dramatically, and soon the roles coming to him were comedies. But Amjad rarely complained. 'I've come with nothing and whatever i've made in this life is profit,' was his philosophy till his untimely death.

G.P Sippy

Gopaldas Parmanand Sippy was the right man at the right time, he was a man who felt these changes in the air and responded to them in his films. His mind was keen and his instincts impeccable. He was a lawyer by training and a gambler by nature. He had run a restaurant, constructed buildings, produced films, directed films and even dabbled in acting. G.P had the knack for spotting an opportunity, and the guts to run with it. In 1947 the Sippy's had migrated to Mumbai from Karachi with only their shirts on their backs. Stories of how G.P built back the family fortune are now industry folklore. Legend has it that he was eating in a restaurant in Colaba when he noticed that there was a long line outside the door. He asked his neigbour the reason and was told that the offices in the area had just halted work for lunch. So G.P decided to open a restaurant. He located an appropriate shop, but he did not have the Rs 5000 required to rent it. In fact, he had hardly any money at all. But in the morning he opened a bank account with Rs 100, and wrote out a cheque to the landlord. The shop was his. G.P then promptly mortgaged the shop for Rs 5000 and deposited the money in his bank.

Ramesh Sippy

Ramesh Sippy Couldn't escape 'Sholay'. But Ramesh never capitulated to 'Sholay's success. He defied audience expectations, and instead of rehashing the 'Sholay' formula, chose to always experiment. The team followed 'Sholay' with 'Shaan', an urban James Bond style caper about two petty thieves. 'Shaan' was a technically polished product, which recovered its money but fell short of expectations. Ramesh's next film, 'Shakti', an intimate portrait of a tragic father-son relationship, was praised for its craft and award winning performances. As was the next venture, 'Saagar', a lyrically shot romance. Ramesh then moved his sights to television and created the small classic 'Buniyaad'. A partition soap opera, 'Buniyaad' was so popular that streets from Lahore to Mumbai emptied out when the show was aired.


Salim-Javed split. Through the seventies and early eighties, they fashioned the trends in Hindi cinema, churning out hit after hit. Though none of their later works could recreate the magic of their early films like 'Zanjeer', 'Deewar' and 'Sholay', they had already made the Hindi movie writer one of the central figures in the movie-making business. Their names were prominently displayed on hoardings, and their payment ultimately reached an unheard-of sum of Rs 21 lakhs per film. In some projects, Salim-Javed shared up to twenty-five per cent of the profit. No other writer in the business has ever matched their success. But eventually the egos grew too big for the hyphen. In 1981, they parted ways and pursued individual careers as writers. Javed's creativity found expression in songs. His name can still be seen on hoardings. only now it's an award-winning lyricist. Salim eventually married Helen and retired. His sons, actors Salman and Arbaaz and director Sohail, carry forward the torch.

R.D Burman

The most innovative, futuristic and trail-blazing composer of all time, Pancham alias Rahul Dev Burman Intregrated Western and Indian music into a synergistic blend.
His highly individualistic style was evident from his earlier films like 'Teesri Manzil'. Later 'Aandhi', 'Amar Prem', 'Caravan', 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna', 'Jawani Diwani', 'Kati Patang' and 'Padason' proved his class and mass appeal. As a singer, he was indeed unique (Duniya mein logon ko, Mehbooba mehbooba). Ditched by fickle producers, he went into a decline in the 80s only to leave this world with a daz'zling burst of final gloryin '1942 A Love Story'.

Anand Bakshi

Anand Bakshi was the most disheartened when the qawwali sung was not used in the film. The writers decided , for a qawwali in the comedy track of the film. But then, instead of the qawaali, Javed suggested the chaar bhaand of Bhopal. Chaar Bhaand, a dying art, is a composition sung by four groups, instead of the qawwali's traditional two, with the audience enjoying the exchange sitting in the middle. Through Javed's contacts, a chaar bhaand group was found in Bhopal, They came to Mumbai and played for Pancham in his music room. He developed a qawwali along chaar bhaand lines - an eight-minute-long musical interplay of words and wit between four singers. The qawwali was recorded but never shot - the film was already longer than the requisite three hours. 'Perhaps if they had kept it, i might have had a career as a singer', Bakshi said.

Dwarka Divecha

Dwarka Divecha died on 5 January 1978. He had been drinking all night, and in the morning his wife found him dead. He was sixty. At an age when most men transit into comfortable retirement, Divecha found himself in the middle of a scandalous love affair with a woman young enough to be his granddaughter. 'Sholay' had enhanced Divecha's professional reputation and ruined his personal life. While shooting 'Shaan' at Rajkamal studios, Divecha bumped into Kamlakar Rao, who had done second unit camerawork for 'Sholay'. 'Have you heard anything about my personal life?' Divecha asked Rao. Out of sheer respect, Rao said, 'no'. Then, seeing through Rao's politness, Divecha added, with an air of defeat, 'I only wanted a child.'

A.K Hangal

A.K Hangal, who had done extensive work with IPTA, was also a veteran actor, but he was a newcomer to films - before 'Sholay', he had only done a few, select films like 'Guddi' and 'Namak Haraam', preferring instead the rigours of theatre. But he had already earned a formidable reputation and prominent directors turned to him when they had a important character role in their films. Hangal had prepared extensively for his role as a blind man, using what he calls 'psycho-technique'. He magined the feeling of blindness by going millions of years to the beginning of evolution, when all life that was to come was contained in sightless single-celled organisms swimming in the dark waters. Once there, he would grope and search for light. He kept the seaching movement through the scene of Ahmed's death. Tarachand Barjatya was on location when they shot the scene and was greatly impressed by what he saw. So much so that he wrote Hangal a letter saying that he had never seen another scene like it.


The team had one mantra: No Compromise. Ramesh was a methodical and organized man. Even the peripheral characters were fleshed out in detail. Asrani, a popular comedian of the time, was called in for the jailer's role. While Javed narrated, Salim explained the characterization: this man was an eccentric jailer, a blow hard man, hollow from the inside. Asrani agreed, wondering whether he would be able to deliver the goods. At a second meeting, Javed brought a World War II book, which had several pictures of Hitler posing. The jailer's get-up would be Hitler-inspired. Akhtar Bhai from Kachin's made the outfit and Kabeer the wig maker was brought in to fix the hair-do. 'Itne chhote se role ke liye itna detail,' Asrani says, 'yeh log to kamaal kar rahe the'. The jailer's lines were perfected by Asrani himself. He would tart at a high pitch and only go higher. It was the perfect ploy to stir passions. To this Asrani added Jack Lemmon's 'Ha Ha' from a film called 'The Great Race'


Saachin became a director himself. 'Sholay stayed with him, literally. When he refused payment for his work, Ramesh gifted him an air-conditioner, the first one Saachin ever owned. 'Jab AC ki thandi thandi hawa aati hai,' he says, 'mujhe 'Sholay' ki yaad aati hai'. Two decades later, he paid tribute to his early mentor by making a parody of 'Sholay' for a television programme. Saachin wasn't the only one who took home a Sholay momento. On the film's diamond jubilee, the Sippys gifted a Fiat car to Dwarka Divecha. The main cast received gold bracelets crowned with a diamond stud. It was a fitting gift Like the stone, 'Sholay' is forever.


The character of Soorma Bhopali had been gestating for years. Finding the right actor here proved easy. Actor Jagdeep had been starring in Sippy productions since he was a nine-year old child. Jagdeep had never been to Bhopal, Soorma's hometown. But while working in 'Sarhadi Lootera', he had met Javed, and they hit it off well. Both were excellent mimics. One evening, during a post-shoot mimicry session, Javed imitated the way some women speak in Bhopal. Jagdeep picked it up and it became a running joke between them. Years later, when Salim-Javed were crafting the screenplay, Javed remembered Jagdeep.


Gabbar would follow a weapon-buying spree with a decadent night under the stars. Gypsies would do 'Mehbooba'. It was the perfect way to squeeze in a sexy Helen number. Javed hated it. It was a completely generic situation, the villain watching a semi-clad dancer. It was too filmi, and out of character for Gabbar. This was perhaps the only time that he and Ramesh had heated discussions. But when he heard the song he did a volte-face. Since no other singer could match the raunchy beat, Pancham decided to sing it himself. And the rest is history.


Sambha, the bit role that would immortalize character actor Macmohan, was factored in only as the dialogue was being written. The writers wanted to say that Gabbar Singh had a Rs 50,000 reward on his head. But they thought that a man of Gabbar's arrogance would probably order a flunkie to boast for him. So the following lines were written: 'Arre o Sambha, kitna inaam rakhe hain sarkaar hum par'? 'Poore pachaas hazaar'. Sambha, Gabbar's echo, was then intregrated into the screenplay.

Viju Khote

Viju Khote became Kaalia for life. Viju's son was only three when the film released, and sometimes when people on the road reconized Viju and shouted, 'Hey, Kaalia,' the little boy would get angry. And Viju would patiently explain: 'Its okay, beta, we are eating our bread and butter because of that.

Facts on Sholay.

    1. Released on 15 Augast 1975.
    2. Real Bullets were used for the close up action scenes.
    3. Amitabh was almost killed at the end of the movie when a stray bullet from dharmendra missed him by inches.
    4. First scene shot for the movie was Amitabh returning the keys to the safe to Jaya.
    5. There are two sets of negatives, one in 70mm and one in 35mm as every shot/scene was done twice.
    6. The last shot done in the village was Jai's death scene.
    7. Basanti's chase sequence was shot over twelve days.
    8. Jim Allen,Gerry Cramton,Romo Commoro,John Gant...some of the foreign technicians who worked on the action sequences.
    9. The train sequence took seven weeks to shoot.
    10. The last scene shot for Sholay was the Thakur meets Veeru and Jai outside the jail and offers them the job.
    11. Sholay took nearly two and half years to complete (450 shifts)
    12. Amjad's voice was nearly dubbed as there were whispers it not being strong enough for a villain.
    13. The background music took a whole month to complete.
    14. Sholay's Budget was close to three crores.
    15. Jaya was pregnant during the shooting of the film with Shweta Bachchan.
    16. Jaya was glowing again during the premiere of Sholay...this time with Abhishek Bachchan.
    17. Sholay's premiere audience saw a 35mm print as the 70mm one was stuck at customs.
    18. Sholay was released in Bombay with 40 prints.
    19. Saachin was a veteran film actor with 60 films behind him from 1962.... but A.K Hangal was a newcomer to films.
    20. Amjad's first scene shot was his introduction scene .....his first lines "Kitne Aadmi The"?

The deleted 'Chaar Bhaand' qawaali. (8 mins)

Playback: Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Bhupinder and Anand Bakshi, with chorus.

Chaand sa koi chehra na pehloo main ho
To chandni ka mazaa nahin aata
Jaam peekar shraabi na gir jaahe to
Maikashi ka mazaa nahin aata

(There is no joy in moonlight
Without the moon-faced one by my side.
There is no joy in wine
If having drunk I do not stumble and fall)

51. Masoom (1982, Shekhar Kapur)

*Naseeradin Shah,Shabana Azmi,Saeed Jaffrey,
Urmila Matondkar,Jugal Hansraj and Aradhana.

Written by:Gulzar
Music by:R.D Burman

Maybe once in 50 years, a celluloid adaption transcends its source material. In his directorial debut, Shekhar Kapur chose to film Erich Segal's heavily melodramatic tearjerker 'Man,Woman and Child' Kapur went beyond both the novel and the Hollywood adaptation to make a film that's sad, and yet uplifting, elitist and yet universal. A lot of the credit for the film's fabulous impact('Masoom' achieved that rare synthesis of critical acclaim and mass acceptance)must go to the actors who don't just live their roles. They breathe life into every pore of the narrative so that there isn't a single unbelievable moment in the narrative.

Masoom is the story of a family crisis that can affect anyone. G.K. Malhotra was on a business trip when he met a very attractive woman. She was tempting. He was already married and had a baby on the way. But he could not resist the temptation... Years have past. Malhotra has two young daughters. Then he receives the dreadful phone call. His then-mistress is dead. She has a young son that Malhotra will have to care for. Rahul, the young boy, is completely innocent. He can not help being an illegitimate child. But his presence is tearing his father's family apart. What will happen next? Will Rahul have a new chance at life? Will his new family accept him?

Naseeraddin Shah as architect D.K.Malhotra, who watches his carefully constructed life come apart brick-by-brick, is stunning. His interactions, not just with his wife and his newly discovered son, but also with his Punjabi friend (Saeed Jaffrey) are brilliant. Naseer has gone on record to single out this as one of the most satisfying films of his career.

And Shabana? Well, what do we say about her that hasn't already been said? As the wife whose well-ordered home is thrown asunder by the arrival of her husband's illegitimate child, she exudes anguish, anger and a suppressed fire. It couldn't have been easy for her to play this sulking mother who snubs every effort of the wide-yed cherubic moppet (jugal Hansraj) to reach out to her.

Weeping women in the audience could have easily ended hating Shabana's stoic resistance to her maternal instincts. Surprisingly, women all over the country empathized with Shabana's character and her dilemma as the seed of her husband's past infidelity comes to haunt her home. The children were a delight. Urmila is the all-knowing too-mature-for-her-age elder daughter and Aradhana (what happened to her)is the precocious younger Malhotra heir, both peering anxiously and apprehensively at the angelic stranger (Jugal Hansraj) who has dropped in their midst. In the sequences with the kids, notably in the song "Lakdi ki kathi", Shekhar gave us an inkling of what he planned to do in his next ambitious film, 'Mr.India'. Lekin abhi ke liye, Mogambo khush hua.

52. Umrao Jaan (1981, Muzaffar Ali)

*Rekha, Naseeradin Shah, Raj Babbar, Farooq Shaikh, Leela Mishra and Dina Pathak.

"IN AANKHON KI MASTI KE mastane hazaron hain" Welcome to the Lucknow of the 1890's, into the court of the beautiful tawaif Umrao Jaan Adaa, who lived her life in solitary splendour, surrounded by fawning fans and drooling admirers, 'Umrao Jaan' was the jaan of all, but the mistrees of none except her own will. When Muzaffar Ali set out to film the life of this legendary kothewali, as chronicled in the novel by Meer Hadi Hassan Ruswa, he knew exactly what he was getting into. First, he got the composing maestro Jaidev to record the ghazals and mujras. And then, he scrapped the whole score beause it didn't sound like what Ali's 'Umrao Jaan' would sing. Next, he got Khayyam to do the tunes for Shahryar's exquisite poetry about searching and never finding love Rekha certainly 'looked' the part. With her chiselled expressions, mysterious smile and subtle adaas, she was sufficiently able to cover up her inadequacies as a dancer. Cinematographer Pravin Bhatt (director Vikram Bhatt's father) did an outstanding job of catching Rekha's face in the light of of approaching evening. She never looked more dusky, inviting and sensuous. The beautifully crafted story begins and ends with a song. In the beginning, we see the child Umrao frolicking to the sounds of the traditional bidaai song "Kahe ko biyahe". The child is then abducted and trained to be a sophisticated tawaif. At the end, Umrao is back at her long lost home, revisiting her childhood memories through the song "Yeh kya jagah hai doston".

53. Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978, Prakash Mehra)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Raakhee, Amjad Khan and Rekha.

This was a 5-angled love tale about misplaced affections, which seem to have written itself out on the sets. Bilawal (Amjad Khan) loves the stunning kothewali Zohrabai (Rekha) who loves Sikandar (Amitabh Bachchan) who loves Kamna (Raakhee) who loves Vikas (Vinod Khanna).

The film today is recalled mainly for Amitabh Bachchan's powerhouse performance, and Rekha's smouldering intensity as the kothewali who pines away to death for her beloved. Looking at 'Muqaddar Ka Sikandar' today, we still find the film fresh and appealing in the chemistry among the characters. Everyone loves passionately in he film, whether it's the villainous Bilawal or the intense Sikandar. All their crimes of excesses are excused because everyone is a lover. The only namby-pamby charactor is Vikas, who dosn't seem to have the same grip on the grammar of love as the other characters.

Prakash Mehra's other successful collaborations with Amitabh and Vinod like 'Khoon Pasina' and 'Hera Pheri', and even the solo Bachchan starrers, 'Zanjeer' and 'Lawaaris', were predominantly action films. 'Muqaddar Ka Sikandar' and later 'Sharaabi' were the only two Bachchan-Mehra collaborations where love made the world go around.

The long film, edited swiftly and efficiently, moves through the roads and highways of Mumbai linking the 'Devdas'-theme to an urban setting. The ghetto and gallis were prominently created on studio floors. The film looked big in size and emotions. The opening scenes, where the junior Sikandar is shown to be slavishly devoted to the junior Kamna, as she sits by the piano singing "O saathi re tere bina bhi kya jeena" in Asha Bhosle's voice, is linked to the later version of the same song that Amitabh Bachchan sings on stage in Kishore Kumar's voice, as a moving tribute.

Rekha's long death sequence mid-way through the film announces Amitabh Bachchan's impending death. It's almost as though the two characters were doomed from the start. 'Muqaddar Ka Sikandar' was the tale of Sikandars's muqaddar. It changed the muqaddar of the movie industry. It vied with the other Bachchan-Raakhee blockbuster that year, Yash Chopra's 'Trishul', and emerged a bigger success in several centres.

54. Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974, Manoj Kumar)

*Manoj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman.

'Roti Kapada Aur Makaan' was the biggest hit of 1974. It established the multi-starrer trend that got consolidated in the following year with 'Deewar' and 'Sholay'. It also established Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman as a popular team that went on to do ten more films, none of which did as well. Even more important, it was the first of the many Shashi Kapoor-Amitabh Bachchan multi starrers.

The story-line, as was usual for Manoj Kumar, was simple. It dealt with an educated but unemployed youth, Bharat (Manoj Kumar) who find out the harsh reality that in 20th century India, his academic degree is not worth the price of the paper it is printed on as it does not even help him get the three basic necessities of life-food, clothing and shelter. His mercenary girlfriend ditches him to marry a tycoon, while his younger brother is equally disillusioned.

"'Roti Kapada aur Makaan' followed the tradition of 'Upkar' and 'Purab aur Paschim' in focussing on a major national problem. It was like a huge sugercoated pill and remains my biggest hit to date as s filmmaker," says Manoj Kumar, actor, writer, editor, producer and director of the film. According to Manoj, the basic idea was always floating in his mind as one of his seniors in scholl had a habit of saying 'Maang raha hai Hindustan, Roti kapada aur makaan' which was incorporated in the song "Mehangi maar gayi". Shortly after 'Purab Aur Paschim', he read a news item where a girl had torn her degree at the invocation ceremony itself because she was unable to get a job and provide basic comforts for her family members who were dependent on her, despite graduation. "The citizen in me was touched very deeply," he recalls. "I had always remained in touch with the common man in various ways, and having tackled other problems in my previous films, I decided to write a story about the unemployed son of India - Bharat. I wrote the script in five days."

The issues highlighted in the film are probably even more relevent today than when the film was released 26 years ago. That is why 'Roti Kapada Aur Makaan' will always remain topical. As an exercise on celluloid, it remains one of those rare films that showed all round cinematic and technical excellence and yet emerged as a mega-hit that, along with its brilliant music, endures to this day.

55. Border (1997, J.P.Dutta)

*Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Sunil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Raakhee, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Puneet Issar, Pooja Bhatt and Sudesh Berry.

'Men At Their Best. War At Its Worst.'

While Hollywood is seen to be quite obsessed with war-movies, when it comes to our film industry, the only two significant films we can talk about Cheten Anand's classic, 'Haqeeqat' and J.P. Dutta's 'Border'. Though 'Haqeeqat' was based on the 1962 Indo-China war and 'Border' inspired by 1971 Battle of Longewala, that comparisons would br drawn was a foregone conclusion. But both films are classics in their own right.

According to Dutta, the distinguishing factor between the two films is that 'Haqeeqat' was defeatist in nature, 'Border' signifies victory in battle - triumph in the face of bitter adversity, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, so to speak. He promised that this film would have people elated with joy, something rare as far as war films go. Having seen it once, so sure was he of a repeated viewing from the public.

The story revolves around a small Indian battalion at the border region of Longewala, merely fifty in number, which withstands the enemy's attack to capture it - a force of two thousand men with their tanks and ammunition. The Indians emerge triumphant with the dawn of the next day when the Air Force arrives in the nick of time to gain losing glory. A very well-researched script, the film was gripping in its narration and was even approved by the Ministry of Defence.

As is the norm in all his films, J.P. went in for a star-studded parade for this film as well. He cast star-actors like Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Sunil Shetty and Akshaye Khanna to play the main lead in this war epic.

One of the most significent aspects of the film is that it was shot on actual locations amidst the vast deserts of Bikaner. Not only that real armymen particpated in the shooting of the film and genuine equipment including tanks, armed jeeps and other ammunition was used to realise this dream of the filmmaker. For The stars of the film too, the shooting was almost like an adventure, though without any fills. Sunil Shetty recollects how every time they opened their mouths to speak lines, small insects would make their way in their mouths.

Sunny Deol, playing a Sikh commander, brilliantly essayed his part, delivering some of the bset lines of his career. A performance par excellance, he realistically inspires his men to fight the enemy to the finish. Jackie Shroff, who played an Air Force pilot states that he is proud to be a part of this landmark film. Though his role was short in terms of footage, his character brought a sunshine of hope at a time when India was almost on the verge of losing the post to the foe. 'Border' in a way, also brought glory to Akshaye Khanna who was struggling on shaky ground after a bad start.

The film's music scored by Anu Malik is easily considered among his best, with instant chartbusters like 'Sandese aate hain' and ' Aye jaate huhe lamhon' besides other sensitive numbers penned by the poet-lyricist, Javed Akhtar. 'Border' remains a benchmark film, which will go down in history as one of the only two highly successful war films made in India. And like 'Haqeeqat', it will ever serve as a yardstick for any filmmaker attempting to make a film on this theme.

56. Aandhi (1975, Gulzar)

*Sanjeev Kumar, Suchitra Sen, Om Shivpuri, Manmohan, A.K Hangal, Om Prakash and Rehman.


A combination of marital romance and political intrugue.

A woman politician, Aarti Devi (Suchitra Sen), fights an election against the powerful Chandersen. Her headquarters are in a hotel owned and managed by her estranged husband J.K (Sanjeev Kumar). Their memories of life together are intercut with the election campaign, the opposition turning her nightly meetings with her ex-husband into a scandal.

She eventually wins the election following an impassioned speech from Chanderson's platform in which she proclaims the man to br her husband and insists on her right to marital privacy. The Bengali musical superstar Suchitra Sen's last Hindi film role is controversial because of her character's obvious references, during the Emergency, to Indira Gandhi (e.g the streak of white hair; the reference to an ambitious father who caused her marriage to break up), producing some mild censorship problems. There were also some popular Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar duets such as 'Is mod se jaate hain', Tere bina zindagi se and Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai.

57. Kala Patthar (1979, Yash Chopra)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Raakhee Gulzar, Shatrughan Sinha, Neetu Singh, Prem Chopra, Parveen Babi, Poonam Dhillon, Parkshit Sahni, Iftikhar, Madan Puri, sp: Sanjeev Kumar.

Script: Salim-Javed
Music: Rajesh Roshan/Salil Choudhury
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi

A coal-mining tale about three main characters who try to avert a mining disaster in a colliery owned by Seth Dhanraj (Prem Chopra). Vijay (Bachchan) is a court-martialled merchant navy officer who abandoned his ship during a storm and is riddled with guilt. He works as a miner to forget his past. Mangal (S.Sinha) is a dacoit hiding from the police among the miners. Ravi (S.Kapoor) is an engineer working for Seth Dhanraj. He discovers his greedy employer's scheme that will endangour the lives of hundereds of miners in a coal-rich shaft. The men meet women who transform their lives. Vijay falls in love with Sudha (Raakhee), a doctor. Mangal flirts with a bangle seller (Singh) and then rescues her from rapists. Ravi meets his old flame Anita (Parveen Babi) who is now a journalist and has come to do a story about mines.

The wall of the mine shaft collapses and there is a deluge, leading to a long disaster-movie sequence as Mangal atones by sacrificing his life for his fellow miners. Vijay and Ravi survive after rescuing many workers. The film refers to several mining disasters in Dhanbad and Chasnala where organised criminal gangs, often masquerading as trade unions, had become major political issues in the pre-Emergency period. Despite these references, most of the script is largely subordinated to the necessity of providing each of the several stars with equal footage and a hand in the action.

58. Ghulami (1985, J.P.Dutta)

*Dharmendra, Naseerudin shah, Smita Patil, Mithun Chakraborty, Reena Roy, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anita Raaj, Om Shivpuri, Mazhar Khan, Bharat Kapoor and Raza Murad.

Dialogue: O.P.Dutta
Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Lyrics: Gulzar

Violent ruralist melodrama about Rajput oppression in the dessert of Rajasthan.

The hero Ranjit Singh (Dharmendra), son of a jat farmer, leads a popular rebellion against the corrupt zamindar (Shivpuri) and his three nephews. Dharmendra is aided by a policeman (Kharbanda) whose son had been killed by the nephews, and an army officer from the Jat regiment (Chakraborty) who decides to use his military skills to defend his community from the rapacious Thakurs. On the side of the zamindar is his son-in-law, the police officer Sultan Singh (Shah). However, the cop's wife Sumitra (Patil) is sympathetic to Ranjit Singh's cause. The jat's objective is to capture and burn the account ledgers of the moneylending thakur community to free themselves from bonded labour. Rajasthan's arid desert landscape, its vultures and shots of the famous folk fair at Pushkar (a major tourist attraction) give the film both an exotic and primitivist atmosphere. However, it went beyond poetic metaphor in several inflammatory scenes addressing the region's charged communal situation. The scene where the hero's mother rushes into the villain's house to save her son without taking off her slippers, and is then humiliated by being forced to put the slippers on her head and walk out, led to riots in several small cities in Rajasthan.

59. Mahal (1949, Kamal Amrohi)

*Ashok Kumar, Madhubala, Kumar, Vijayalakshmi, Kanu Roy.

Music:Khemchand Prakash

Amrohi's debut is now considered a Hindi classic.

It is a complicated ghost story psychodrama choreographed by Lachhu Maharaj and featuring hero Shankar (Ashok Kumar), who moves into an abandoned mansion that has a tragic history. He notices his resemblance to a portrait of the mansion's former owner and sees the ghost of the man's mistress Kamini (Madhubala) who tells him he must either die if they are to be united or that he must marry her reincarnation, the gardener's daughter, Asha. His friend Shrinath (Kumar) tries to break the obsession by arranging Shankar's marriage to Ranjana (Vijayalakshmi). However, Shankar's obsession continues to the distress of his new bride who is expected, among other things, to live in a snake- and bat-infested hut.

Ranjana commits suicide, accusing Shankar of the deed, but the truth comes out in the courtroom drama when the gardener's daughter admits to having masqueraded as the ghost. Shankar is nevertheless condemned to death for Ranjana's murder but in a strange reversal of fortunes, transfers his obsession to Asha: instead of being fascinated by a dead woman, he is now the near-ghost fascinated by the living Asha.

The deep-focus photography is perhaps German cameraman Wirsching's best work in his career at Bombay Talkies. It is complemented by a remarkably advanced soundtrack. The film includes the song hit, 'Ayega aanewala' (sung by Lata Mangeshkar and regarded as a turning-point in her career), used as a leitimotif for the ghost.

60. Agneepath (1990, Mukul S. Anand)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Danny Denzongpa, Madhavi, Neelam, Tinnu Anand, Alok Nath, Rohini Hattangadi and Archana Puran Singh.

Music:Laxmikant Pyarelal
Lyrics:Anand Bakshi

The hero Vijay Chauhan aka 'Bhai' (Bachchan) witnesses his schoolmaster father (Nath) being falsely implicated in a scandal with a prostitute and lynched by the villagers. Bhai grows up to become a gangster and encounters the main villain Kancha Cheena (Denzongpa) in a luxurious place in Mauritius. He joins the villain's gang only to have him arrested by the police. When Cheena is released (by arranging to have a key witness killed), the hero murders Cheena after negotiating the 'path of fire' referred to in the film's title.

The most violent of Bachchan's later films, it was also the most sustained effort to rehabilitate the politically discredited star. The title and opening sequences borrow from a poem by Amitabh's Father Harivanshrai Bachchan, and show today's New Man walking through the fires of hell to redeem a brutalised world and make it into a new utopia. The mother obsession of Bachchan's previous films is still in evidence. In spite of Mukul Anand's usual fast-moving camera and distorted perspectives, the film occaisonally lapses into earlier cinematic idioms (e.g the foot stomping-song picturisation of Archana Puran Singh's Alibaba song)

Anand's familiar anachronisms suggest that very different historicalm epochs are 'actually' very similar: an exotic James Bond-type tourist resort and blood and stench of Mumbai's gang wars. Although still playing the vigilante hero, Bachchan initially abandoned his well-known baritone voice to suggest an older man speaking in a heavy 'Mumbai Hindi' accent, but later had to re-dub the voice when the experiment proved unpopular.

61. Barsaat (1949, Raj Kapoor)

*Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Nimmi, Premnath, K.N.Singh.

Raj Kapoor's 'Barsaat' remains a watershed movie for Hindi cinema. The title literally means 'rain' but Raj Kapoor's interpretation was different. The film's theme was the flow of human desire that resembled the constant fall of rain, drenching the earth that symbolized man and woman. Raj played Pran, who loves Reshma (Nargis), and his love is reciprocated. Reshma, a poor girl, defies her father who opposes their romance. On the way to meet her lover, she drowns on the way - or so it is thought. Pran's friend Gopal (Premnath) has a more casual approach to love and he jilts the village girl Neela (Nimmi) who kills herself. Gopal is repentant. A short while later, pran and Gopal are driving through the countryside when they stumble upon Reshma, who is being married off to a fisherman (K.N. Singh). Pran deliberately crashes his car, and love triumphs at the eleventh hour.

The thundering success of this simple love story put R.K.Films on the road to glory as Bollywood's premium production company of all time. After the lukewarm reception to his maiden venture 'Aag', Raj Kapoor became a commercial-cum-artistic force to reckon with as a filmmaker with this film. His leitmotif - the depiction of love as pure passion with just the right mix of physicality and sublime spirituality - was first seen in this film, to evolve as the stamp of a titanic filmmaker all the way to his 1985 swan song, 'Ram Teri Ganga Maili'.

'Barsaat' signalled the coming together of the greatest team ever in Hindi films - Raj Kapoor, Mukesh, Shankar Jaikishan, Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra. After 'Aag' Raj had already signed music director Ram Ganguly again but due to some problems with Kapoor, Ganguly's two assistants with whom he had already formed a distinct tuning, the tabla player Shankar and the harmonium player Jaikishan were signed as composers. Raj's father Prithviraj Kapoor had introduced him to a bus conductor whose simple shaayari at a mushaira had impressed him- Hasrat Jaipuri. A little later, an Indian Railway employee who wrote poetry and needed the money - Shailendra - came in.

The result was some of the most fantastic music that Hindi film sangeet buffs have ever heard - including nuggets like Lata's "Jiya beqaraar hai", "Hawa mein udtaa jahe", "O mujhe kisise pyar ho gaya", "Ab mera kaun sahara", "Barsaat mein humse mile tum sajan" and the Lata-Mukesh duets, "Chhod gaye baalam" and "Tirchhi nazar hai", besides the plaintive Rafi gem "Main zindagi mein hardam rota hi rahaa roon." 1949 was the brakethrough year for Lata Mangeshkar and 'Barsaat' led her parade of hits that year to make her emerge as Hindi cinema's supreme female singer.

With 'Aag' and 'Andaz' as predecessors, Raj and Nargis had already established an on-screen chemistry that made the distributors ecstatic. But 'Barsaat' clinched the team that was to do 15 more films and emerge as the icons of screen romance in Hindi cinema. The film also marked the debut of cinematographer Jal Mistry and the entry of actress Nimmi and writer Ramanand Sagar into the R.K fold.

The film has one more significance for R.K. Films - the famous RK emblem of a man holding a woman by her waist in near ballet pose was derived from a still of Raj and Nargis from this film. Launched on the day of Dassera in 1948 within weeks of the release of 'Aag', 'Barsaat' was completed in nine months - with shoots in places like Kashmir and Mahabaleshwar - and premiered on 30th September 1949. As one critic opined, 'Barsaat' is a creation in totality.

62. Upkar (1967, Manoj Kumar)

Manoj Kumar, Asha Parekh, Pran, Madan Puri and Prem Chopra

It was at a special screening of 'Shaheed' that Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri told writer-actor Manoj Kumar, "Why don't you write something on 'Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan'?" That was Shastri's clarion call in the year of the 1965 Indo-Pak war, and something in the impassioned way Shastri said those words inspired the writer in Manoj - and 'Upkar' was born.

With 'Upkar', Manoj plunged into (official) direction for the first time. Well-meaning friends advised him to lay off - "Everyone cannot be a Raj Kapoor!" they told him. But Manoj had tasted blood in the ghost direction he had done earlier. And of the compliments that came his way after the films release, the one he most treasures is Raj Kapoor's remark after watching the film - "I was competing only with myself every time. Now at last I have someone else!" It was 'Upkar' that made Raj also ask Manoj to be creatively involved as more than a mere actor in the first chapter of Kapoor's 'Mera Naam Joker'.

Another point of reference to Raj Kapoor lay in the plethora of well-meaning and almost panic-stricken warnings to Manoj Kumar about casting Pran in a major positve role, complete with a song! "All my friends, Nari Sippy, Raj Khosla, Kalyanjibhai even made trunk calls to me if they were out of town! They told me that even Rajsaab had failed in depicting Pran in a positive role in 'Aah'. I argued that the film had failed and that Pran - like Premnath, was the Anthony Quinn of India, a man who could do any role, a man you could sign if you could not think of an actor for any role. And I was proved right."

Pran himself recollects how Kalyanji was the first person to call him up and congratulate him after watching his song "Kasme vaade pyar wafaa" on screen. "I was wrong in trying to discourage Manoj," the composer told him gracefully. "Other actors sing our compositions with their lips, Aapne gale se gaaya!.

After 'Upkar' the positive feedback that Pran received was so intense that he decided to switch to positive roles, and earn his greatest fame in later years. And the stupendous box-office success of the film (it competed with 'Milan', 'Farz', 'Shagrid' and 'Ram Aur Shyam' in the box-office sweepstakes) facilitated the switch. It was also thanks to 'Upkar' that a song with Pran too ended up as a commercial compulsion and the precursor of today's 'item song in more than 20 later films.

For Manoj Kumar however, music has always been a part of story telling, as he firmly believed that a song should not halt the flow of his screenplay. The music of 'Upkar' was a rage as big as the film, and "Mere desh ki dharti" is unmatched to date as a patriotic anthem, and won Mahendra Kapoor a National award. Lyricist Gulshan Bawra had written the original song years ago and would hum it often to himself. Manoj thought that the song suited his film, provided that the lyrics were (considerably) modified.

A Golden Jubilee, 'Upkar' picked up several awards as well - and the encomiums never stopped coming. "'Upkar gave me the love and affection of the masses," says Manoj. "There was no hysteria, as is there for a star sensation. Instead, there was dignity." The publicity line, 'Story Of A Man And Land Both Named Bharat' had hooked the populance. Manoj was accorded a civic reception and an award in Pune city. An admirer wrote a letter saying, "Now there are two MKGs in India - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Manoj Kumar Goswami."

63. Johny Mera Naam (1970, Vijay Anand)

*Dev Anand, Hema Malini, Pran, I S Johar, Sulochana, Padma, Iftekhar, Sajjan, Premnath, Jagdish Raaj and Jeevan.

Music: Kalyanji Anandji

OH, BROTHERS! That's the first reaction to seeing this mazedaar classic again. Brothers Dev mand Vijay "Goldie" Anand team up yet again for a story about two brothers played by Pran and Dev Anand.

Pridictably one brother becomes a criminal, the other a cop. Scriptwriter Goldie Anand repeats the trick he used so brilliantly in 'Jewel Thief', making the hero masquerade as a criminal named "Johny" to infiltrate his brother's gang.

The film revolves around Mohan (Pran) and Sohan (Dev Anand), who witness tragedy early in life when Ranjit (Premnath) murders their father. Mohan disquises himself as Moti and joins hands with Ranjit, not knowing that the latter is responsible for his father's death. Sohan, on the other hand, becomes a cop and he too changes his identity to 'Johny'. Johny also becomes a part of Ranjit's gang; the objective being to expose his dirty deeds. In this mission, Rekha (Hema Malini), who also has an axe to grind with Ranjit, assists him. Then there was the groundbreaking quadruple role by comedian I.S. Johar, a hilarious spoof on filmi double roles.

'Johny Mera Naam' also forshadowed the exposure of fake religious Godmen in films (as well as real life) with the scene in which Pran and Hema Malini diguise themselves as a sadhu and a jogan to rob a twmple, inspiring a spate of later films and characters. And who can forget that utterly seductive Asha Bhosle song, "Husn ke lakhon rang", picturised on Padma Khanna and Premnath. Very few songs can match the oomph of this tempestuous number. And finally, there's a certain simplicity in the film that's endearing to watch today. The villains in drainpipe trousers and greased back hair rushing around pillars and ruins after the hero, the vivacious beauty of Hema Malini in her prime and a Dev Anand, whose typical mannerisms were still lovable and unique, all this was terrifically passtime stuff, taken to the nth degree. A fun entertainer whose box-office smash success still seems well deserved, even after thirty years after its first release. You can't say the same for most old hit films.

Filmfare awards won:
Best Commedian: I S Johar
Best Editor: Vijay Anand
Best Screenplay: Vijay Anand

64. Naseeb (1981, Manmohan Desai)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Rishi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Reena Roy, Kim, Prem Chopra, Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor, Jeevan, Lalita Pawar, Amjad Khan, Pran,Amrish Puri.

Music:Laxmikant Pyarelal
Lyrics:Anand Bakhsi

An all time classic!

Manmohan Desai's most extravagantly plotted film and one of the most costliest for its time 'Naseeb' (Destiny) Namdev (pran) a waiter, a band musician (Jagdish Raj), Damodar (Amjad Khan) the photographer and Raghubir (Kadar Khan) the hack driver jointly win a lottery ticket. After being framed for the murder of the musician, Namdev is presumably killed by Damodar and Raghubir who use the money to set up a criminal empire.

The story then switches to the second generation: John Jani Janardan (Amitabh Bachchan) and Sunny (Rishi Kapoor), are the sons of Namdev; John's buddy is Damodar's son Vikram (S. Sinha). The dead band musician had two daughter's: the singer Asha (Hema Malini) and and schoolgirl Kim (Kim). Namdev was not killed after all and later resurfaces as the henchman of the ultimate crime boss, Don (Amrish Puri).

Unlike Desai's other Bachchan films ('Amar Akbar Anthony' etc) the convoluted plot and the multitude of characters overwhelms the superstar along with everyone else in the film. The dialogue accompanying the surfeit of physical action merely conveys information as quickly as possible. Desai's virtual abandonment of narrative structure is complemented by innumerable references to his own as well as to other films and commercials. Bachchan sings at a celebration of Desai's earlier 'Dharam Veer'. Charles Bronson's 'Hard Times' aka 'The Streetfighter' is replicated in Bachchan's secomd profession as boxer. 'The Towering Inferno' is evoked as a revolving restaurant goes up in flames; In the last song the heroes are dressed as matador (Bachchan), a cossack (Sinha) and as Chaplin (Rishi Kapoor).

All in all, Its one of the all time best commercial movies of Hindi cinema. Its a good combination of both Western and Indian ideas. Due to its good action scenes, comedy and great music. Other stars who made cameos in the Mohammad Rafi Song "John Jani Janardan" were, Raj Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Randhir Kapoor, Raakesh Roshan, Sharmila Tagore, Shammi Kapoor and Mala Sinha...

65. Rangeela (1995, Ramgopal Varma)

*Aamir Khan, Jackie Shroff, Urmila, Reema Lagoo and Gulshan Grover.

Music:A.R. Rahman

"Rangeela re" - The magic mantra that waltzed Urmila into the hall of fame.

It was probably one of the greatest comebacks Hindi cinema has ever witnessed. Here was an actress who had been launched with great fanfare by a maker like N. Chandra in 'Narsimha'. She worked with stars like Shahrukh Khan and producers like Boney Kapoor. But somehow, success continued to elude her.

It was one film that changed all that. Ramgopal Varma's 'Rangeela'. The film not just gave Urmila a brand new glamorous image but also skyrocketed her into the top rung of heroines. What most actresses hadn't managed even after a dozen odd films, Urmila achieved with just one strike.

'Rangeela' could actually draw parallels with Urmila's real life story. The film features around a junior artiste (Urmila) who dreams of making it big as an actress. Aided by her childhood 'tapori' friend Munna (Aamir Khan), she keeps her struggle going in the big, bad world of films. Finally, one day, due to a top heroine's sudden ouster from a project, she gets the opportunity to work opposite a bigtime hero (Jackie Shroff), who eventually falls in love with her. But theres a catch here unaware to her , Munna is also in love with her. Ramgopal Verma weaves a beautiful story with just three characters and still manages to hold the interest of the audience. The characterizations are so apt that it's difficult to establish whom Urmila should choose between the two men who love her.

For Aamir Khan, who played the role of 'Munna' in the film, this was a film that established his credentials beyond doubt. The general feeling was that Aamir could only excel in the lovey-dovey romantic roles. This was the first time that a director had experimented with his existing image. And the gamble worked. 'Munna' of 'Rangeela' is perhaps one of Aamir's best-ever characterizations.

One of the major highlights of the film was its electrifying music by A.R Rahman. Tracks like the title song, "Tanha Tanha", "Yaaron sun lo zara", "Pyar yeh jaane kaisa hain" and the spirit of 'Rangeela' were simply exceptional. Varma did complete justice to the songs with his picturizations. The choreography by Saroj Khan and Ahmed Khan was exemplary and even fetched them a few awards. 'Rangeela' was also Ramgopal Varma's first major hit in Hindi. Earlier he had made some dramatic and remarkable movies like 'Shiva', 'Drohi' and 'Raat' but none of them was as big a success. 'Rangeela' put him in a different league. Varma was so enamoured by his protagonist of 'Rangeela' that he tried repeating the formula again in his next film 'Daud', where the emphasis was totally on unadulterated passion-power. But that experiment failed. However, that didn't deter Varma from giving Urmila a huge variety of roles in following films like 'Satya', 'Mast', 'Kaun' and 'Jungle'.

66. Sangam (1964, Raj Kapoor)

*Raj Kapoor, Vyjanthimala, Rajendra Kumar, Lalita Pawar, Achala Sachdev,Raj Mehra, Nana Palsikar, Iftekhar

Music:Shankar Jaikishan

With 'Sangam', Raj Kapoor finally came into the modern era. Both in terms of technique, by using colour for the first time in an R.K Film. as well in terms of locales, by shooting extensively abroad, a trend that's become a part of virtually every Hindi film now but was almost unknown then. In many ways, 'Sangam' was his first attempt at a modern subject in a modern style. The story was a classic love triangle: Two childhood friends Gopal and Sundar are in love with the same woman. Sundar wins the woman, marries her and tries to live happily ever after. But here's where the story takes a modern twist. Sundar is plagued with doubts about his wife's infidelity, and its even implied that he becomes impotent as a result.

What makes 'Sangam' memorable is its understated yet sharp depiction of sexual tensions of many kinds. The initial part of the film where Sundar woos Radha clearly underlines how passionately attracted he is to her, while she very definitely doesn't find him attractive. There's also the classic correlation between attractiveness and wealth, especially in the scenes where she comments on how small his boat is and refuses to sit in it while admiring Gopal's large, expensive motorboat. Immediately after this scene, when Sundar tries to kiss her, she resists in a way that clearly shows she's interested in much fatter fish.

Filmfare awards

Best Director Raj Kapoor
Best Actress Vyjantimala
Best Sound Recordist Allaudin
Best Editor Raj Kapoor

67. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962, Guru Dutt)

*Meena Kumari, Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman.

Bhoothnath (Guru Dutt), a middle-aged architect wanders through the ruins of an old haveli. Flashback to end of the 19th century. The lower-class but educated Bhoothnath arrives in colonial Calcutta looking for work. He lives in the grand haveli of the Choudhury's, a family of zamindars while working beyond its compound at the Mohini Sindoor factory run by Subinay Babu, a dedicated member of the Brahmo Samaj. Subinay Babu's young daughter Jabba (Waheeda Rehman) is amused by Bhoothnath whom she considers an unsophisticated rustic. Bhoothnath becomes fascinated with the goings-on in the haveli and every night observes the decadent lifestyle of the Choudhury bothers. One night the servant, Bansi, takes Bhoothnath to meet the younger zamindar's (Rehman) wife Chhoti Bahu (Meena Kumari) who implores him to bring her Mohini Sindoor believing it will keep her unfaithful husband home. Bhoothnath is struck by her beauty and sadness and inadvertently becomes Chhoti Bahu's secret confidante. A bomb explodes in the market place and Bhoothnath is injured in the ensuing crossfire between Freedom fighters and British soldiers. Jabba looks after him. Bhoothnath becomes a trainee architect and goes away to work on a training project. Chhoti Bahu's repeated attempts to appease her husband have failed till she becomes his drinking companion in order to keep him by her side. Bhoothnath returns some years later to Calcutta to find that Subinay Babu has died and that he and Jabba were betrothed as children. He returns to the haveli and is shocked to find it in partial ruins. Chhoti Bahu is now a desperate alcoholic and her husband, paralyzed. She asks Bhoothnath to accompany her to a nearby shrine to pray for her ailing husband. Their conversation is heard by the elder zamindar, Majhle Babu. He orders his henchmen to punish her for consorting with a man outside the Choudhury household. As Bhoothnath and Chhoti Bahu travel in the carriage, the carriage is stopped. Bhoothnath is knocked unconscious and Chhoti Bahu, abducted. When he wakes up in hospital, Bhoothnath is told Chhoti Bahu has disappeared and the younger zamindar is dead. The flashback ends. Bhoothnath's workers inform him a skeleton is found buried in the ruins of the haveli. From the jewellery on the corpse, Bhoothnath realizes it is the mortal remains of Chhoti Bahu...

Though compared to Satyajit Ray's Jalsaghar (1958) as a commentary on Bengal's decaying feudalism, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam is a romantic and somewhat nostalgic tale of a bygone era. The film is a magnificent and sombre work with heightened atmosphere, rich dialogues, haunting cinematography, extraordinary song picturizations and brilliant performances. The decadent lifestyle of the zamindars at the end of 19th century Bengal is shown through the two Choudhury brothers who seldom work but spend most of their time in pigeon racing or in the company of dancer-prostitutes while their wives are left to distract themselves by having jewellery made and remade! While the servant Bansi, acts as chronicler of the Choudhury's history, Bhoothnath is a witness to the ravages of time and change in the haveli. The narrative is told largely from his perspective with other events being relayed by Bansi whose on-screen explanation of events provides the continuity between the various time periods in the narrative. Bhoothnath's own history is in sharp contrast to the zamindar class. With no special privilege beyond his Brahmin status, he rises from humble rural beginnings to become a successful architect who ironically oversees the destruction of the very haveli which had so overawed him when he came first to the big city. Chhoti Bahu is the pivotal character of the film. Her personality is ambiguous and perceived differently by different people. For her obese sister-in-law, Chhoti Bahu is a simple and foolish woman who has not learned to enjoy her new status and wealth. For her husband, she is an ordinary bland woman from a poor background whose traditional upbringing teaches her to be the perfect wife and to regard him as god. For Bhoothnath, she is an ethereal being who is always beyond his reach

The build up to the moment when we first see Chhoti Bahu is reminiscent of Carol Reed's introduction of Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in The Third Man (1949). In a marvelously staged sequence, the camera takes Bhoothnath's POV and follows the pattern of a rich carpet on which he walks to enter the room. His eyes are lowered and he is terrified of meeting her. We hear Chhoti Bahu still off-screen telling him to be seated. Then we see a pair of feet adorned by alta vermilion colour walk across the room. As Bhoothnath sits humbly on the floor, he is asked his name. As Chhoti Bahu asks him what sort of a name is Bhoothnath, he looks up. The camera tracks in dramatically and holds on a close-up of Chhoti Bahu. Her aura startles Bhoothnath (and us) and from that first look, he (and us) becomes forever her 'slave.' It is a magical moment in the film and shows cinema's wonderful ability to mythify its own characters. Chhoti Bahu is actually a woman ahead of her times. She is not content to be a subservient and docile wife and fights for her husband's attention, demanding her own sexual needs be met. She even dares to suggest that Chhote Babu is probably impotent despite all his masculine bravura. However she too cannot escape the decadence of the zamindari era and when she ventures out of the haveli for the first and only time, it costs her her life.

As usual Guru Dutt had a different cast and crew in mind before starting work on the film. He considered Shashi Kapoor and then Biswajit before taking on the part of Bhoothnath. Nargis and then Jitendra Arya's wife Chhaya were considered for the role of Chhoti Bahu. He wanted S.D. Burman and Sahir Ludhianvi for the music and lyrics but S.D. Burman was unwell and Sahir declined the offer. While each of the performances are spot on, if there is one person who is the heart and soul of the film, it is Meena Kumari Her portrayal of Chhoti Bahu is perhaps the greatest performance ever seen on the Indian Screen. The sequence where Chhoti Bahu dresses for her husband singing Piya Aiso Jiya Main is a poignant exploration of a woman's expectations and sexual desire. And later on when she has become a desperate alcoholic, you cannot help but cry with her in the sequence where she pleads with her husband to stay with her and then angrily turns on him to tell him how she has prostituted her basic values and morals to please him. However the common factors between the actress's life and Chhoti Bahu are too dramatic to be merely coincidental - The estranged marital relationship, the taking of alcohol, turning towards younger male company, the craving to be understood and loved - all elements evident in Meena Kumari's own life.

Hemant Kumar's evocative music particularly Chhoti Bahu's songs give the film a haunting quality. rendering of the three Chhoti Bahu songs - Koi Door Se Awaaz De Chale Aao, Geeta Dutt's Piya Aiso Jiya and Na Jao Saiyaan represents some of the finest singing she has ever done. Her voice with all its sensuality and pain complements Meena Kumari's performance perfectly. Chhoti Bahu's 'signature tune' - the melancholic music played each time Bhoothnath meets her adds enormously to the aura of tragedy surrounding her. Mention must be made of Bhanu Athaiya's costumes and Biren Naug's Art Direction and above all V.K. Murthy's stunning cinematography with masterly use of light and shadow, none better than the mujra - Saaqiya Aaj Mujhe Neend Nahin Aaegi, where the lead dancer is always in the light and the dancers in the background lit up in a manner that no light falls on their faces. This when often there is both character movement and camera movements being coordinated in the course of the shot! And rarely has the Indian screen seen better use of close-ups particularly those of Meena Kumari who looks absolutely stunning.The editing rhythm with its many dissolves and fades adds to the film's mysterious feel. The film was a modest commercial success dividing audiences. The more traditional just couldn't accept a pious Hindu wife taking to drink or the friendship (even though totally platonic) between Bhoothnath and Chhoti Bahu. The film was however a huge critical success. To quote the review featured in the Times of India dated June 24, 1962...

"The well-knit screenplay, achieving an effective balance between the various characters and emotional phases, provides a neat dramatic pattern. It appears to be a specially successful job considering the verbosity and digressiveness of the novel of Mr. Bimal Mitra who, though often brilliant, writes in a highly disorderly way."

However the last song of the film, Sahil Ki Taraf Kashti Le Chal sung by Hemant Kumar was edited out of the film. The song had a shot which showed Chhoti Bahu resting her head on Bhoothnath's lap in the carriage. Audiences reacted sharply to this so Guru Dutt removed the song and the 'offending shot' changing the carriage scene to a dialogue exchange between Chhoti Bahu and Bhoothnath. He also shot an additional scene with the paralyzed husband repenting his sinful and debauched lifestyle. Hemant Kumar reused the tune for Sahil ki Taraf for the song Ya Dil ki Suno from Anupama (1966). Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam went on to win Filmfare Awards for Best Film, Director, Actress and Photography. Shockingly Hemant Kumar lost out the Award for Best Music which went to Shankar - Jaikishen for their populist score in Professor (1962). The film also won the President's Silver Medal and the 'Film of the Year' Award from the Bengal Film Journalist Association. The film was also screened at the Berlin Film Festival in June 1963 and was India's official entry to the Oscars that year.

The controversy about who actually directed Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam has increased over the years. Since the film is characteristic of Guru Dutt's feel and style, it is difficult to think that he did not direct the film. However Guru Dutt never denied Abrar Alvi's role in the film nor did he make any counter claims when Alvi won the Filmfare Award for Best Director for the film. Abrar Alvi has stated that Guru Dutt did direct the songs in the film, but not the film in its entirety. The editor of the Film Y.G. Chawan however says that for the film it was Abrar who sat with him. To quote him... "Abrar worked so hard on that film but he never got any credit. People say it was produced by Guru Dutt so it had to be Guru Dutt's film."

68. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988, Mansoor Khan)

*Aamir Khan, Juhi Chawla, Dalip Tahil, Goga Kapoor, Alok Nath, Asha Sharma, Zutshi, Shehnaz

The subject was trite. But its timing, perfect. QSQT (as it is more popularly known) is attributed cult status for resuscitating back into commercial cinema, a life that was choking under the revenge and gunpowder cloud, which loomed large right through the eighties.

Released in 1988, the film put on the upswing the budding careers of several names associated with it. To begin with, its lead pair - Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla. Both grew to be the teenage heart- throbs of a movie-crazy nation that was waiting to experience fresher cinema. One distinctly remembers the mania Aamir had whipped-up among the fairer sex. A case in point being a QSQT publicity poster that read "Who's Aamir Khan? - Ask the girl next door". It is even believed that as part of marketing strategy, to heighten the romantic appeal of the lead pair, Aamir went to the extent of concealing his marriage to long-time girlfriend Reena.

As for Juhi, despite former success with the Miss India crown and several prestigious modeling campaigns to her name, success in Bollywood eluded her thanks to an inconsequential debut in an action flick called "Sultanat" (another lame stag from the revenge - and - gunpowder stable). But life changed post-QSQT. Her radiant freshness and charm as Rashmi put her in the running as a top lead for a long, long time to come.

Second, and probably more importantly, 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak' revived the hallmark of a commercially viable Hindi movie - good music. Music duo Anand - Milind were unheard of until they got Udit Narayan (another nobody then) to render "Papa kehte hain". A number that turned out to be a chartbuster as did the other lilting melodies of the film.

But the single most distinctive element about QSQT was its presentation. In fact, debutante director Mansoor Khan's work ethos and young-blooded perspective on filmmaking could be singled out as the push-factor that swung the floodgates open for a young and 'rarin' to go' breed of filmmakers like Sooraj Barjatya, Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Ramgopal Varma.

Mansoor had a set belief about the feel his film would carry and ensured that the hackneyed story idea sustained itself for well over two hours. A chocolate - faced Raj (Aamir Khan) is besotted by the innocence of Rashmi (Juhi Chawla). Their love tale blooms within the backdrop of a bitter family feud and continues through a series of meetings, separations, an eloping into the distant hills and finally a tragic climax where both lovers die in the arms of each other. What lent credibility to a story that had hitherto been milked dry was the convincing honesty of the actors who narrated it. A supporting cast comprising Dalip Tahil, Alok Nath, Goga Kapoor and debutante Zutshi (who plays Aamir's friendly cousin Shyam) knitted itself well together to portray the burning rivalry of two 'thakur parivaars' refusing to call it a truce.

In creating a "formula" film the director had extracted appropriate emotional content in terms of mush, drama, sop. Remember the scene where a crying Rashmi receives a tender kiss from an equally emotional Raj while their lost in a jungle? Or a scared, timid Raj pleads with Rashmi's infuriated father, Ranbir Singh (Goga Kapoor), to keep their discovered tale of romance under wraps only on promising never to meet Rashmi again? This was mush and drama all the way. But the cream of the sop was reserved for the climax where a shocked Raj weeps over the bloody, dead body of Rashmi and finally stabs himself to death as well. The acting was far from exaggerated but the intensity sufficed to keep the drama alive. It ensured that a weeping audience went home fully convinced of the power of unflinching love. Only to return to watch several reruns of the love tale. QSQT had undoubted repeat value. And Mansoor Khan never complained. For he knew that all he had was an un-refreshing story. Very refreshingly told.

Filmfare awards

Best Movie Nasir Husain
Best Cinematographer (Colour) Kiran Deohans
Best Director Mansoor Khan
Best Screenplay Nasir Hussain
Best Playback Male Udit Narayan
Best Music Anand Milind

69. Seeta Aur Geeta (1972, Ramesh Sippy)

*Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Hema Malini,Roopesh Kumar, Manorama, Pratima Devi, Honey Irani



SIBLINGS SEPERATED AT BIRTH. Twins with opposite personalities. The mix-ups that result when these two seperated sibs exchange places accidentally.
These may seem like staple fare in movies now. Even back in 1972, it was already a plot device as old as story-telling itself. Dilip Kumar is still remembered for his scene-stealing antics in 'Ram Aur Shyam'.

But young dynamic director Ramesh Sippy brought a new element to the mix. Instead of brothers, he made the lead pair sisters. And this changed everything. After the long-past days of fearless Nadia and her death-defying stunts and action set-pieces, Hindi film heroines had been relegated to glamorous showpieces, used mainly for singing songs and melodramatic histrionics, with the occasional comic misunderstanding thrown in for variety. Cabaret dancers and vamps handled dances, comedy was handled by full-time movie comedians or by the hero himself, and heroines were a passive lot, good only for romancing or rona-dhona.

One of the films that broke this mould was 'Seeta Aur Geeta'. In her dual role as identical twin sisters seperated at birth by a gypsy, Hema Malini got the meatiest role of her time. Comedy, drama, romance, action, she got to do it all. And she did it with style too. The action stunt pieces, although done with the help of a professional stuntwoman, amazed audiences who were used to seeing women portrayed as docile damsels in distress.

The sequences in which the two twins are mistaken for one another by their respective beaus - Dharmendra and Sanjeev Kumar - are classic examples of situation comedy at its best. For once, brilliant actor Sanjeev Kumar was forced to play second fiddle to a heroine in a comedy sequence, and he rose to the challenge admirably. Dharm also extended his range by playing one of the first and best "drunk hero" sequences that later prompted every director to include a similar scene in his films. Including Ramesh Sippy who used the device again in his own 'Sholay' three years later.

'Seeta Aur Geeta' excelled in every department. R.D.Burman's songs were a melodic hit, especially the then famous "Hawaaa ke saath saath" sequence featuring Sanjeev Kumar and Hema on roller skates and Dharm's drunken song. Incidentally, this was one of star-writers Salim and Javed's early films and they were only relegated to penning down the dialogues of the movie. But there was hearsay that they had a major hand in the screenplay of the film as well, even though they weren't given due credit for the same. But above all, Ramesh Sippy's ability to develop a heroine-oriented premise so strongly and entertainingly, surprised the industry as well as fans. Inspiring a legion of less successful attempts over the years, including the remake 'Chaalbaaz', which was the only one to come close to the original, mainly due to star Sridevi's career-best performance. Even today not many commercially successful films can claim to have been based on heroines. 'Seeta Aur Geeta' was one of the first eye-openers that pulled this stunt off brilliantly.

Filmfare awards

Best Cinematographer (Colour) P Vaikunth
Best Actress Hema Malini

70. Ghayal (1990, Raj kumar Santoshi)

*Sunny Deol, Meenakshi Sheshadri, Raj Babbar, Moushami Chatterjee, Amrish Puri, Annu Kapoor, Shafi Inamdar and Om Puri.

Produced by Dharmendra, and designed to create a definitive screen image for Sunny Deol as the urban Rambo-style vigilante (like Stallone, Sunny Deol has in every film, at least once and sometimes on several occasions, a scene where he is chained, insulted and physically tortured as the camera lingers over his sweating and bulging muscles).

Here Sunny Deol plays Ajay, whose elder brother Ashok (Raj Babbar) becomes involved with drug-dealing villains led by politician Balwant Rai (Amrish Puri). When the politician collaborates with legal top brass to convict Ajay for murdering his own brother, Ajay becomes a one-man army against the state. He kidnaps the police commissioner (K.Kharbanda), informs Balwant Rai that the day of judgement is at hand and finally gets his man in a huge Coney Island style amusement park.

The film established Raj kumar Santoshi, the son of P.L.Santoshi, song-writer and director of C. Ramchandra musicals, as a director in his own right. Ghayal is one of the few good action films of the 90's but it is beyond good. Ghayal is one of the best action films ever. Raj Kumar Santoshi has made a hard hitting film. What is especially notable is Sunny Deol's Filmfare and National Award winning performance.

Filmfare awards

Best Director Raj Kumar Santoshi
Best Editor V N Mayekar
Best Cinematographer (Colour) Rajan Kothari
Best Actor Sunny Deol
Best Art Director (Colour) Nitish Roy
Best Movie Dharmendra

71. Dharam-Veer (1977, Manmohan Desai)

*Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Pran, Zeenat Aman, Neetu Singh, Ranjeet, Indrani Mukherjee, Jeevan, Sujit Kumar, Dev Kumar, Chand Usmani and Pradeep Kumar.

Music:Laxmikant Pyarelal

A Manmohan Desai-style fairy-tale adventure story freely mixing elements from different film genres and historical periods.

A lone hunter (Pran) secretly marries the maharani (Mukherjee) of a princely state. In a scene crying out for a psychoanalytic reading, a wild tigress manifests herself during their wedding night. The bride believes her husband to have died as a result and marries a more powerful man,a prince (P.Kumar). Before the maharani gives birth to twin boys, her husband is killed; his dying wish that the boy's parentage be kept secret. The twins are seperated: Dharam (Dharmendra) is raised by a woodcutter while Veer (Jeetendra) becomes the heir-apparent to the throne.Unaware of their relationship, the two become buddies and go through a series of adventures. Dharam woos the haughty princess, (Zeenat Aman) of a neighbouring kingdom and Veer falls a gypsy girl (Neetu Singh).

The maharani's evil brother (Jeevan) provides complications to the plot and the key action scene, presided over by the haughty princess, is a jousting tournament won by Dharam. When the victorious knight is captured, Veer, disguised as a gypsy, rescues him. The end of the film includes a spectacular battle between two pirate ships. The film also features a trained hawk, which was responsible for saving Dharam as a child and which intervenes several times on behalf of the good guys.

72. Arth (1982, Mahesh Bhatt)

*Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rohini Hattangadi and Raj Kiran.

MAHESH BHATT'S ONGONG process of cinamatic cannibalization began with 'Arth' where he ripped off chapters from his own life to make a turbulent raw and never-before marital drama about the safe-and-secure Pooja Malhotra (Shabana Azmi) who wakes up one day to realize that her husband, ad filmmaker Inder Malhotra (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) has left her for the clingy neurotic mistress Kavita (Smita Patil).

Seen entirely through the wife's point of view, thereby making itself vulnerable to charges of blinkered honesty, 'Arth' was a ground-breaking film. It broke through taboo topics such as infidelity and domestic violence to depict urban lifestyles as hypocritical and ugly. Sequences such as the one in which a sodden Shabana drops her pallu to confront the cowering mistress at a cocktail party, have now become part of cinematic history.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Bhatt's semi-autobiographical narration got its emotional and spiritual sustenance from Shabana Azmi's powerhouse performance.

As the wife whose illusion of domestic bliss comes crashing down, Shabana recorded every sound of her character's crashing heart in minute and memorable detail, making this one of the most accomplished performances of Indian cinema. Smita Patil, as the mistress was deliberately portrayed as a wreck, wrecking havoc on a seemingly perfect marriage with her toxic neurosis. In a thankless, role Smita did her best, often rising above the inherent restrictions of playing a unidimensional homebreaker.

The film received more than a fare share of the media glare, thanks to Bhatt's rooftop declarations of autobiographical ambitions. Parveen Babi naturally took great offence to being portrayed as a shrieking whining harridan. But wife Kiran Bhatt's reactions were never divulged.
While Shabana rightfully and inevitably walked home with the second National Award of her career.

73. Chupke Chupke (1975, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

*Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Om Prakash, Asrani and David.

music: S.D. Burman

An all time classic and one of the great comedies to come out of Hindi cinema.

Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra team up together once again after 'Sholay' to deliver another sterling performance as a team well supported by Sharmila Tagore, Jaya Bhaduri and Om Prakash. Dharmendra plays the role of a professor of Botany, and due to circumstances has to impersonate first as a 'chowkidar' and then later as a chauffeur. Which in turn bounds him to some hilarious chaos and a few sensational confusions.

The chowkidary dosn't last long as Sharmila soon comes to know of Dharmendra's true identity and falls in love with him, and he himself falls in love in adoration of her smartness and marries her. But Dharmendra, the professor, was confronted with the image of Sharmila's genius 'jijaji'
(Om Prakash). And so Dharmendra feels an urge to challenge the unseen foe and win for himself a respectable status in her mind.

Dharmendra conspires against the jijaji and plans to be a driver at his jijaji's residence, Enter his friend Amitabh Bachchan as the fake professor of Botany and a fake husband to Sharmila Tagore who goes and falls in love with Jaya Bhaduri while trying to teach her Botany. And this is when all the fun starts.

This is vintage Hrishikesh Mukherjee for you. His forte is light comedies which can be watched with your entire family right from your great-grandfather to great-grandkid. And this one in particular is very funny.

The film starts off slow, but builds up to a hillarious pace as the story unfolds in the second half. Music dosn't play too much of a part in this film though. But a good story, good dialogues and very good performances by the entire starcast makes it a movie worth watching again and again.

74. Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

*Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha, DevenVerma Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Sudha Chopra.

Music:Shiv Hari
Lyrics:Javed Akhtar,
Harivanshrai Bachchan,
Rajendra Krishan,
Hassan Kamal,
Nida Fazli.

Shobha (J.Bhachchan) is in love with air force officer Shekhar (S.Kapoor). Shekhar's younger brother Amit (Bachchan) writes poetry and plays and woos Chandni (Rekha). Shekhar dies in the war, leaving Shobha pregnent. Amit sacrifices his love for Chandni to marry Shobha and save her reputation. Chandni marries a doctor (Sanjeev Kumar) in the same town where Shobha and Amit live. Soon the ex-lovers meet in an accident in which Shobha loses her baby.

Amit and Chandni have an affair while there marital partners suffer in silence. The lovers elope after a highly stylised confrontation between the two women (the two rivals standing back to back).

The film features Amitabh's alleged offscreen lover Rekha and his wife Jaya Bachchan (who came out of retirement to play the part). Several scenes appear designed to fuel or exploit the gossip journalism which underpins and surrounds film careers.

In the end, the sanctity of marriage triumphs and the original married couples are restored. Amitabh mostly sang his own songs in this film and declaimed numerous poetic couplets addressed to Chandni, fully exploiting a key aspect of his star persona: his deep baritone voice. And songs picturized in Dutch tulip fields helped to promote Rekha's image as a glamorous but unattainable object of desire.

75. Saagar (1985, Ramesh Sippy)

*Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Hasan, Dimple Kapadia, Nadira, Saeed Jaffrey, Shafi Inamdar A.K. Hangal and Madhur Jaffery.

Producer:G.P. Sippy

Music by: R.D. Burman

Saagar is one of the best movies ever made in Hindi Cinema on love triangles.

'Saagar' is the story of a peaceful little village by the sea where a tavern's daughter Mona (Dimple Kapadia) stirs up a fierce storm of passion, romance and turbulance that engulfs the entire village.

The story is also about Raja (Kamal Hasan), a simple fisherman who as all other village folks, visits the local restaurant of Mona and her father (Sayeed Jaffery). Raja and Mona are childhood friends and he is secretly in love with Mona.

Not far from the village lives the haughty millionairess Kamladevi (Madhur Jaffery) whose sole heir, her grandson Ravi (Rishi Kapoor) comes to live with her. On a memorable dawn, Ravi stumbles upon a venus-like beauty arising from the sea, and time stands still. Ravi mingles with the fishermen and becomes a good friend of Raja, and a well wisher of the village, much to Kamladevi's dislike.

Ravi and Mona attain new heights of romance and ecstasy. Little does Raja know that Ravi, his friend, is also dreaming of the very same Mona - his Mona, his only reason for living. Then fate takes a cruel turn, Raja decides to sacrifice his love and life for his friends Ravi and Mona.

The movie explores the comic in Kamal with laughs at opportune moments. A sterling performance by Kamal Hasan won him the Filmfare award for best actor. He is ably supported by the rest of the starcast. The camera work is breathtaking and Dimple Kapadia's wardrobe is well chosen and the general feel of the movie is updated for the times. Dimple also takes a daring move with a brief and well executed nude scene.

Directed superbly by Ramesh Sippy, it adds to the illustrious list of films made by this film-maker. 'Saagar' also marked the return of Dimple Kapadia after her debut in 'Bobby' several years back. Another highlight of the film is superb music by R.D. Burman. And above all, powerhouse performances by all the lead Actors.

Filmfare Awards Won:

Best Cinematographer (Colour): S M Anwar
Best Actor: Kamal Hassan
Best Actress: Dimple Kapadia
Best Playback Male: Kishore Kumar

76. Andaz (1949, Mehboob Khan)

*Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Nargis.

MEHBOOB KHAN'S 'ANDAZ' had many distinctions to its credit. It remains Hindi cinema's first significant love triangle. It was the first major Naushad - Lata Mangeshkar collaboration. It was also the film that brought together two men who were to become titans in the acting field - Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.

The Raj Kapoor - Nargis team tasted big success with both this film and 'Barsaat' emerging as major hits in the same year, 1949 and thus went on to do 15 more films.

Neeta (Nargis playing the path-breaking role of a modern, educated lady who wears Western style dresses in neo-independent India) inherits the huge business empire of her tycoon father. At one point Dilip (Dilip Kumar) had saved her life and in sheer gratitude, she entrusts its management to him. And Dilip mistakes the gesture for her reciprocation as he has fallen in love with her.

Neeta is actually engaged to be married to a spoilt playboy called Rajan (Raj Kapoor) who has a very immature outlook on life. After they are married, the trauma that Dilip suffers sees a rapid decline in his efficiency as a manager. Rajan suspects that his wife and Dilip are having a affair and threatens to beat Dilip with a tennis racquet. Embittered and angry, Neeta shoots Dilip and is jailed for his murder.

Mehboob Khan's tight grip on the narration saw this romantic tragedy achieve huge success, armed as it was with the sheer charisma of its three principal players, each of whom was to grown individually into a legend. As Neeta, the girl who has to bear the brunt of Fate's blows, Nargis was stunning and looked ethereally beautiful.

The film is replete with passionate romantic scenes as well as the memorable screen confrontation between Dilip Kumar as the loser Dilip, and Raj Kapoor as the irretrievably spoilt playboy who pays for his stupidity with his life. Both the actors put in stupendous performances.

77. Purab Aur Paschim (1971, Manoj Kumar)

*Ashok Kumar, Manoj Kumar, Pran, Saira Banu, Vinod Khanna, Madan Puri and Om Prakash.

Music: Kalyanji Anandji

Once 'Upkar' established Manoj Kumar as Bharat, the symbol of an Indian citizen, the actor-filmmaker was not really keen to break a screen image that gave him respect, love and dignity. His roots lay in the immense hardships and tribulations of life at refugee camps after the Partition.
And Manoj could never really break off his connection with the comman man in general and the farmer in particular.

Even after he became a top star and a writer-director to watch, Manoj would often go and live on farms and in villages near Delhi and interact with the locals, and the only reading he did was devouring newspapers, periodicals and other non-fiction. His films thus tended to revolve around the comman man and to present a possible, even idyllic, solution to one of his problems.

Shortly after 'Upkar', Manoj's wife Shashi narrated how a relative of hers had gone abroad for higher studies and then shocked the family by settling down there. The writer in Manoj picked up and developed this germ instantly and the story and screenplay of 'Purab Aur Paschim' thus highlighted a national concern of major consequence - brain drain. That the issue is of even greater relevance today probably explains why 'Purab Aur Paschim' does even more business and gets more appreciation today than it did when first released 30 years ago.

'Purab Aur Paschim' had many unusual firsts to its credit. For the first time ever, a huge set comprising of a temple, streets and houses was constructed at Raj Kapoor's farm Loni. The film was shot in multiple locations around the country (Mumbai, Kanyakumari, Shimla, Pune, Badrinath, Benares) and abroad (Germany, U.K and Italy).

Always the innovative technician, Manoj conceived the idea of shooting the pre-independence sequences in black-and-white, just as he had introduced the freeze shot to Indian cinema in 'Shaheed'. "For the first time," says Manoj, "the title was split by a few reels! The word 'Purab' appeared in the second reel and 'Paschim' in the 4th reel!". As always, Manoj's keen music sense extracted the best from his good friends, Kalyanji and Anandji. The perennials from the film include "Hai preet jahaan ki reet sadaa", "Dulhan chali ho pehen chali", "Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de" and Purvaa suhani aayi re".

A strong ensemble cast led by Ashok Kumar helped in making the film Manoj 's second consecutive directorial triumph. But the backbone of the film and its success was its powerful theme and the incisive dialogues by Manoj himself. In short, the message-oriented story was packaged by a master craftsman as a superb entertainer whose topicality and appeal will only be enhanced with the passage of the years.

78. Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971, Raj Khosla)

*Dharmendra, Asha Parekh, Jayant, Vinod Khanna and Laxmi Chhaya.

The title 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh' immediately evokes the image of Laxmi Chhaya dancing circles around Dharmendra and Asha Parekh, singing the evergreen hit "Maar diya jaaye ya chhod diya jaaye, bol tere saath kya sulook kiya jaye". As the audience holds its collective breath, the sexy vamp cuts the ropes that bind the hero's hands.

Raj Khosla's films are studded with memorable moments like this one. For some inexplicable reason, the director of such great entertainers has not been given his due. Except for some of today's filmmakers like Raj Kanwar and Karan Johar who acknowledge their debt to Khosla - especially in his expertise at song picturisations - his name does not figure among the creme de la creme of filmmakers as it should have. Some of his films include 'Jaal', 'C.I.D', 'Kala Pani', 'Solva Saal', 'Ek Musafir Ek Hasina', 'Bambai Ka Babu', 'Woh Kaun Thi', 'Do Badan', 'Mera Saaya', 'Anita', 'Do Raasta', and of course the all time favourite dacoit drama, 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh'.

The story of 'Mera Goan Mera Desh' goes like this. The hero is an ex-con who gets drawn into the problems of innocent villagers harassed by bandits. The setting is a Rajasthani village, where people are living in terror of Jabbar (Vinod Khanna) and his band of dacoits. One day, city guy Ajit (Dharmendra), just released from prison comes to the village at the invitation of a lame old armyman (Jayant), who sees him as an apt foil for Jabbar. But Ajit turns out to be a layabout who gets drunk and enjoys an idle life. He meets and falls in love with Anju (Asha Parekh), but doesn't want to get involved with the problems of the villagers. He ridicules them for their cowardice for letting Jabber ride roughshod over them. When he plans to marry Anju, the dacoits strike and her father is killed. Provoked by Anju, he swears to stand up against Jabber. Jabber's moll Munni (Laxmi Chhaya) is attracted to Ajit and offers to help him capture the bandit. When there is an encounter between cops and dacoits, an enraged Jabber attacks the villagers again. Ajit goes after the gang and manages to kill several of Jabber's men. In retaliation, the bandits kidnap Anju.
But Ajit comes to the rescue and they escape with Munni's help. Now, its all out war, in which the villagers also join in to defeat the dacoits.

Apart from its well written script by G.R. Kamat, the film had fabulous songs penned by Anand Bakshi and composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal - "Sona le ja re chandi le ja re", "Aaya aaya atariya pe koi chor", "Kuch kehta hai yeh sawan", "Hai sharmaoon kis kis ko bataoon" and of course, the sizzling "Maar diya jaaye". What Raj Khosla always managed to do was take tried-and-tested commercial ciname elements and put a fresh spin on them. 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh' remains as enjoyable today as it was over thirty years ago.

79. Khamoshi (1969, Asit Sen)

*Waheeda Rehman, Rajesh Khanna, Nazir Hussain, Lalita Pawar, Snehlata and Dharmendra.

WELCOME TO THE UNREAL world of mentally disturbed people.

Here, long before Hollywood's 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Girl Interrupted', we encounter the heartbreaking predicament of those who have lost touch with reality.

Produced by composer Hemant Kumar (Mukherjee), (who earlier made two very highly acclaimed suspense thrillers 'Kohraa' and 'Bees Saal Baad' with the wondrous Waheeda Rehman in the lead, 'Khamoshi' cast Waheeda as Radha, the nurse in a mental asylum who commits the mistake of falling in love with her patient Dharmendra. When, after being cured, he walks away with a smile of thanks, Radha is shattered.

Enter patient no.2 Rajesh Khanna (doing another psychotic star-turn within months of B.R. Chopra's 'Ittefaq' and history repeats itself. Radha after resisting all temptations, finally succumbs. This time she breaks down completely. The closing sequence where the sobbing head nurse (Lalita Pawar) is shown reading out the numbers of the asylum inmates to finally arrive at Radha's number is nerve-shatteringly tragic.

Uncompromised, untainted and unspoiled, 'Khamoshi' is a great film with excellent black and white photography by Kamal Bose, which captures Waheeda's tragic beauty in incandescent shades. The storytelling possesses a certain psycho-spiritual resonance, still rare in Hindi cinema. The work dosn't dilute Ashutosh Mukherjee's story. Rather, it heightens the impact of the plot by using the major stars in the cast as characters rather than crowd-pullers. Dharmendra is never shown with his face to the camera. We only see his back facing us, exuding a faceless, nameless aura that bathes Waheeda's sensitive character in unspoken tenderness.

Most important of all, this is Waheeda Rehman's great moment of glory. Speaking volumes through her silences, she epitomizes the inner strength and indomitable resilience of the Indian woman. Strong and yet fragile, Waheeda Rahman's Radha was her proudest achievement since Rosy in 'Guide'.

80. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958, Satyen Bose)

*Ashok Kumar, Madhubala, Anoop Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Sajjan, Veena

"Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si". Madhubala looking fashionably helpless drops into 'Mannu' Kishore Kumar's motor garage to get away from the goons (K.N.Singh, Sajjan and gang). Mannu's sleep goes for a toss. But there's only one hitch. Bade bhaiyya Ashok Kumar is a misogynist. That's the gist of director Satyen Bose's second film in two successive years featuring the Ganguly brothers Ashok Kumar, Anup Kumar and Kishore. The previous year, Bose had made the grim and socially relevant 'Bandi' with the three brothers. This time, he pulled out all stops to fashion, a farce thar's timeless in its humour and mindless in its disregard for rules of time and place.

If we look at 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi' we see its zany disregard for chronological order. The film moves at a breathless zigzag pace of a typical Charlie Chaplin silent film, with Kishore and Anup whooping it up on screen, eating up screen time as though there was no tomorrow. The fun never stops from the minute Bose's film takes off. Portions of the farce are so impromptu that they make the director's job look redundant. Clearly, Kishore Kumar is the leader of the overgrown bratpack. But hey, middle brother Anup, as the bumbling stumbling rumbling and tumbling Jaggu, is also a laugh riot.

What really makes 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi' a sparkling comedy ensemble is the actor's impeccable timing in the comic sequences. Take for instance the motorcar race in which the Ganguly brothers participate in their jalopy, or take the celebrated "Paanch rupaiya barah aana" sequence - these are hardly related to the main event. And yet, yhey do not stick out like sore thumbs or make us wince in distraction. Putting the director in the back seat of the run-down 1928 Chevrolet in which the three brothers loved to move around, the three principal actors simply and stylishly let their hair down. Though Kishore Kumar did a number of exceedingly well-crafted comedies like 'New Delhi' and 'Half Ticket', 'Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi' remains his best known and most popular comic vehicle.

Ashok Kumar, Anup Kumar and Kishore Kumar gave so much to our cinema. Now that the three brothers are gone, this celebration of sibling togetherness seems more of a picnic than ever before.

81. Betaab (1983, Rahul Rawail)

*Shammi Kapoor, Sunny Deol, Amrita Singh, Prem Chopra, Nirupa Roy, Sunder, Rajiv Anand, Goga Kapoor and Annu Kapoor.

Producer: Dharmendra.

Music: Rahul Dev Burman.

Star sons have always enjoyed spectacular debuts. Sunny Deol was no exception. Superstar father Dharmendra's earthy business savvy and wide knowledge of the industry convinced him that he needed to mount a star vehicle to establish his eldest son once and for all. To achieve this, he needed certain key ingredients: A hero-oriented script that would showcase beta Sunny's physical personality while covering up his limitations as a dancer, a fresh new heroine who wouldn't steal the show away, good publicity management and promotion, and a first class director who would see to it that the Deol's interests took priority over any artistic idealism.

The first three, he was confident he could manage through his own resources. And he did. Shakespeare's famous romantic comedy 'The taming of the shrew', copied and adapted a dozen times on the big screen and the stage, was a perfect 'subject' to showcase his son's manly abilities. The story of a spoilt rich young beauty who had to be tamed like a wild horse by a strong and macho young man was just what he was seeking.

For his heroine, he found another star-child the fresh and vivacious Amrita Singh, daughter of a well-known politician whose name would help get the film the publicity it needed. And finally, for a director, he picked another starson, Rahul Rawail, son of H.S. Rawail. As a classmate of Rishi Kapoor, Rahul Rawail had been given the opportunity to assist Raj Kapoor for seven years, grounding him firmly in the difficult art of Hindi filmmaking. In 1981, he had directed yet another star son debut, 'Love Story', which launched Kumar Gaurav so successfully.

Rawail was known as a difficult man to work with - he refused to take credit on 'Love Story' after it was delayed allegedly due to papa Rajendra Kumar's 'interference'. But at that point in time, he was hot property. Even his script work on his father's megaflop 'Deedar-e-Yaar' (1982) was appreciated, despite the film's failure.

So papa Dharam chose Rawail, and a star-director partnership was born that would result in at least three enjoyable and reasonably successful action flicks - 'Betaab', 'Arjun' and 'Dacait'. In a sense, this pairing paved the way for Sunny's much more successful team-up with director Raj kumar Santoshi, another short-statured and short tempered perfectionist who knew how to bring the best out of the Deol scion.

'Betaab' was shot largely on a stud farm, and exploited the same outdoorsy, man-of-action, bare-chested scenes that Dharam himself had become famous for. Sunny had a good body and it was shown at every possible opportunity, starting with a stunning screen 'entrance' that became a 'highlight' of the film.

Strangely, while audiences accepted Sunny at once, loving his strong-angry-young-lover persona from the very first shot, the critics and media were less appreciative. Perhaps it was that pehelwan physique that put them off. Or maybe they just didn't have the vision to see beyond the fixed stereotypical hero moulds. Whatever the reason Sunny struggled for years to prove his merits as an actor and it took a National Award for Best Actor for 'Ghayal' to convince them.

Today, Sunny's recent disastrous foray into direction with the incomplete 'London' and the disastrous 'Dillagi' makes it easy to forget that he remains a true Bollywood original: A superb physical actor who carries his own chaap-style, a combination of earthy Punjabi machismo and an intense good-country-boy-in-the-bad-city persona that is uniquely his own. And it all began with a lasso, a horse, a young spoilt rich brat of a girl, and a film named 'Betaab'

82. Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965, Suraj Prakash)

*Shashi Kapoor, Nanda and Agha.

Thirty-five years down the line, the magic of 'Jab Jab Phool Khile' hasn't dimmed a whit. (Shashi Kapoor), a young and poor Kashmiri boatman falls in love with Rita (Nanda), a beautiful heiress from the city. Her nears and dears are obviously against the match and make things difficult for her suitor. But in the end, in a memorable climax, the hero pulls his beloved into the train that's taking him back home to his shikara on the Dal Lake. A fairy-tale romance with a fairy-tale ending, the film met with the kind of success producer's dreams are made of.

Looking back, this was probably because the film was paradoxically made up of flesh-and-blood characters, not cardboard ones. 1965 was the year of major hits like 'Kaajal', 'Guide', 'Khandaan', 'Himalay Ki God Mein', 'Gumnaam', 'Shaheed' and 'Waqt'. But none of these films were the kind of milestone 'Jab Jab Phool Khile' was as a film for its team. It was the career first Golden Jubilee for its producer Hiren Khera, director Suraj Prakash, lead pair Nanda and Shashi Kapoor, lyricist Anand Bakshi and composers Kalyanji Anandji, though all of them had collaborated earlier on the 1962 success 'Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath'. Much is being made today of 'feel-good' entertainers, but 'JJPK' was undoubtedly one of the earliest Hindi films in that genre. Its freshness is perennial; its appeal transcends generations.

"The script by Brij Katyal was turned down by three top producers including N.N. Sippy," recalls director Suraj Prakash. "But I instinctively felt that it would be a jubilee film. It was my first colour film, and to date, no film has exploited the splendour of Kashmir as completely and extensively as 'JJPK'. We worked very hard on the film. Shashi would spend hours with the locals and the boatmen in particular to study how they interacted. We would even eat food with them after work, in the same shabby cups and saucers".

Recalling the climax of the film, Suraj says, "We shot the sequence at Bombay Central, where shooting was allowed between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. I had given Shashi detailed instructions on how and when to pull Nanda into the train for the last shot. But when the time came, he so literally followed my instructions that it turned out to be a hair-raising cliffhanger. There were scarcely a few feet left for the platform to end when he pulled her in! I had covered my eyes by then, convinced that Nanda's end had come!" And incidentally, the climax turned out to be the highlight of the movie.

The music was undoubtedly the other major highlight of 'JJPK'; the songs still live on. It was with this film that Kalyanji Anandji first outgrew the tag of being the 'poor man's Shankar-Jaikishan' to evolve their own distinct style. "Pardesiyon se na ankhiyaan milaana", Na na karte pyar tumhi se kar baithe", "Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul", Yahan mein ajnabi hoon" and "Yeh samhaa samhaa hain yeh pyar ka" are timeless beauties that established KA as frontrunners. Incidentally, the brilliant arrangements were entirely done by Pyarelal (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal fame). And Anand Bakshi's career took off on a roller-coaster that hasn't flagged till today.

83. Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)

*Waheeda Rehman, Rishi Kapoor, Sridevi, Vinod Khanna, Anupam Kher, s/p Juhi Chawla.

Music: Shiv-Hari

Yash Chopra returns to his familiar brand of romances (Silsila 1981) in exotic locations with this tale of Chandni (Sridevi). She is seen - and for a large part of the film, also imagined - only through the eyes of her lover Rohit (Rishi Kapoor), who decorates the walls of his room with the countless snapshots he takes of her.

Against the will of his parents Rohit decides to marry her. Later, while showering his beloved with flowers from a helicopter, he falls and is partially paralysed, prompting to break off his relationship. Because of his inability he wants Chandni to leave him. In this process she leaves that place and comes to Bombay where she meets Lalit (Vinod Khanna) in a dramatic situation...... Lalit falls in love with Chandni and wants to marry her. However, Rohit's sexually charged fantasies of Chandni eventually rekindle his desire to live. After an expensive operation in a hospital abroad, he is cured and re-enters Chandni's life just when she is about to marry her boss, Lalit.

The film and its marketing campaign revolve entirely around Sridevi, confirming her as India's top female star. Arguably, the whole film can be seen as an extended advertisement promoting Sridevi as the Indian film consumer's ideal fantasy of womanhood. The movie, as is expected from a Yash Chopra film has outstanding songs, including the popular hit song sung by Lata Mangeshkar, "Mere haathon main nau nau churiyan."

The highlight of the film is excellent performances by Sridevi, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna and it is ably supported by Waheeda Rehman and Anupam Kher. And above all the outstanding music by Shiv-Hari. The movie won the National Award for the Best Commercial Film of 1989.

84. Ardh Satya (1983, Govind Nihalani)

*Om Puri, Smita Patil, Nasseruddin Shah, Amrish Puri, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shafi Inamdar.

IF THE MARK of a contemporary classic is that it infuences films and filmmakers down the years, then Govind Nihalani's 'Ardh Satya' would surely count as one. Recent films like 'Shool' and 'Kurukshetra' have been directly influenced by the film and Vijay Tendulkar's masterly screenplay; scores of others have borrowed scenes, characters and lines from the film as well as its grittily realistic style.

The Success of the film turned Om Puri into a star of the parallel cinema movement. It won him several awards and it remains one of his and Nihalani's most memorable works. It also introduced Sadashiv Amrapurkar to the Hindi screen as a new villain and the character of the south Indian don Rama Shetty that he played has been copied ad nauseum by other filmmakers.

Prior to 'Ardh Satya', Om Puri was regarded as just another good actor, with some decent performances to his credit. But this movie made him a star actor. Om even mentioned in one of his interviews that the industry was forced to take notice of him due to this film. "I remember driving down with the producer and staring unbelievingly at the 'House-full' sign at the Amber-Oscar-Minor theatre. The film changed my life".

There were many cops-and-criminals films before 'Ardh Satya', but this one took characters from life and brought to the fore things that everyone knew about but did not want to face - like the gangster-politician-police nexus.

Om Puri played Anant Welankar, who is forced by his brutal father (Amrish Puri) to join the police force. Welankar is still idealistic about his work and his duty to society. He soon gets frustrated with the corruption of the system, which his colleague Haider (Shafi Inamdar) excepts with equanimity. When Welankar arrests three of Rama Shetty's men for attacking a constable, Shetty a mafia don and a rising politician, merely rings up someone in power to get his men released. Welankar is outraged by this and at his own helplessness. A lot of many confrontations later, in a starkly realistic climax, a desperate Welankar, realising he has nothing left to lose, kills shetty and surrenders.

Govind Nihalani had made it clear that he wasn't here to please the masses. The protagonist in his film wasn't a hero, who fought the villains single-handedly. He was just an ordinary man fighting the system. And Nihalani managed to convey this so effectively that the film managed to appeal to all segments, thereby turning out to be a major grosser. Everything about 'Ardh Satya' was real - the people, the situations, the dialogues, the locations.

The performances by the lead players were simply outstanding. Om Puri, with a tailer-made role, established his credentials as an actor to reckon with. Smita Patil, playing the part of Welankar's soul mate, gave one of her career-best performances. Naseeruddin Shah, in a special appearance, was brilliant even in the few scenes he had. As was Shafi Inamdar, portraying the character of a corrupt cop. But the scene-stealer was quite obviously Sadashiv Amrapurkar, cast as Rama Shetty, who added in just the right amount of mystery, fear and humour to the role. He brought alive the persona of Rama Shetty so effectively that the character was even looked upon by some as the 80's equivalent to Gabbar Singh. Amrapurkar, despite being an accomplished stage actor himself, was never able to recapture the same magic in any of his future roles.

'Ardh Satya' was a fine example of meaningful entertainment, the success and impact of which not even Nihalani could repeat; though his films remain as socially committed and hard hitting as ever.

85. Tezaab (1988, N. Chandra)

*Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Anupam Kher, Suresh Oberoi and Chunky Pandey.

IT WAS DESTINED TO HAPPEN - and so it did.

Madhuri Dixit was to emerge as the female superstar, so when a busy Anil Kapoor signed 'Tezaab' he suggested to N. Chandra that the leading lady and supporting cast be comprised of not-too-busy artistes who could adjust to his dates.

"Anil was an extremely busy artiste," recollects producer-editor-writer-director N. Chandra. "I was told that getting his dates would be next to impossible, but for me, Munna was Anil Kapoor. I knew him very well from the days when I assisted Southern director Bapu, and had edited his home production 'Woh Saat Din' as well as 'Mohabbat'. When he heard the script, he was booked for the next 12-15 months, but he wanted to do my film at any cost. So he told me that I would get first priority whenever a schedule got cancelled. We shot 'Tezaab' in this fashion!"

The fact that the film was shot almost entirely on real locations - and mostly on roads and streets - enabled Chandra to arrange shoots even after 48 hours notice, a fact that would not have been possible with sets that had been erected. N. Chandra had observed and met Madhuri on various occasions and intuitively sensed her star and acting potential. The fact that she and Anil shared a common secretary, Rakeshnath, clinched matters as dates could be juggled at short notice. Of the character artistes, none were too busy - Anupam Kher (who was then mainly known for 'Saaransh', 'Karma' and 'Kaash' Kiran Kumar (who had just staged a comeback as villain) and Suresh Oberoi led the roster along with Achyut Poddar, Mahavir Shah, Annu Kapoor and Mandakini in a special appearance. Chunky Pandey too was a newcomer.

'Tezaab' told the story of Munna (Anil Kapoor), a naval cadet who turns against the system due to society's misdeeds. It also narrated the saga of Mohini (Madhuri Dixit) who becomes a nightclub dancer at the behest of her debauched father (Anupam Kher). The two stories coalesce as Munna and Mohini fall in love. But before they unite, the evildoers have to be vanquished. Violence was there, both in actuality and as a consistant emotional undercurrent, explaining the popular blurb of the film - 'A Violent Love Story'.

"At two different points, Kher wants to disfigure his wife and daughter's faces with acid to make them toe the line," says N. Chandra. "So, some people took a very shallow interpretation of my title, which means 'Acid'. Actually, the title had a double dimension - of the acid that has corroded today's social fabric, and of the erosion of Munna's soul."

In 'Tezaab', the director points out, the hero does not turn into a anti-social vendetta machine even after his parents are killed. He still wants to become a naval officer and serve the country. But the later incidents, like his sister's rape, finally make him abandon his noble intentions and ecome a criminal. And yet his ex-superior officer (Suresh Oberoi) believes in Munna's innate goodness and leaves no stone unturned to bring his derailed character back on the tracks.

It was Oberoi's role that had been earmarked by Chandra for none other than Dharmendra, then a major star. Chandra had delivered critically acclaimed hits like 'Ankush' and 'Pratighaat' and Dharmendra had agreed to work with him even without hearing his script. But as the complete screenplay evolved, Chandra felt that the role would be an injustice to the actor's stature and calibre. "Distributors were aghast that I was dropping Dharmendra", recalls the filmmaker. "But I felt that I could not take undue advantage of such a fine actor and human being. He was very sweet about it, though when I went to meet him and explain, my well-wishers thought that Dharam would beat me black and blue!

"Tezaab' emerged as the biggest hit of 1988 and as N. Chandra's third consecutive hit. It proved that a well-made film with superb visuals and chart-topping music could cock a snook at the then-prevalent video era and magnetically lure the audiences into the theatres to watch it in all its cinemascope glory. Madhuri Dixit was catapulted to stardom and soon eclipsed the reigning queen Sridevi to settle down for a decade-long reign at the top. Chunky Pandey, then barely three films old, proved he could act as well. His intense yet casual performance as Anil's street-smart friend made a strong impact.

One of the biggest draws of the film was its music by Laxmikant Pyarelal, and the film once again had a major hand in the success stories of singer Alka Yagnik and lyricist Javed Akhtar. "Ek do teen char" was how Laxmikant hummed out the tune to Javed as the metre on which to write the song. The lyricist kept those very words all the way to "terah" (thirteen) and worked it out as a romantic song that was to create history as one of Hindi cinema's three all-time biggest hits.

"Keh do ke tum ho meri varna" and "So gaya yeh jahaan" - superbly picturized on the barren streets of Mumbai at night with the keyed-up emotions between Munna and Mohini at flashpoint - were two more musical and visual highlights of an all-hit score. But like all memorable films, both the success and the strengh of 'Tezaab' lay more in its core than in the packaging. The taut screenplay with the hard-hitting dialogues, the direction that held you in a relentless grip and the brilliant editing formed the three-legged stool on which 'Tezaab' still sits tall among the more purposeful and cinematically-satisfying entertainers of Hindi cinema.

86. Shree 420 (1955, Raj Kapoor)

Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Nadira, Iftekar, Lalita Pawar, Jaikishan.

With 'Aag', 'Barsaat' and 'Awara' behind him, the filmmaker Raj Kapoor was ready to explore more avenues. In 'Shri 420', he further built on his image of the Chaplinesque tramp that he invented in 'Awara'. As Raju, the country bumpkin, migrating to the big bad city to seek his fortunes, Raj Kapoor paved the way for Shahrukh Khan in Aziz Mirza's 'Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman'. Mirza's film was directly inspired by 'Shri 420' in plot, execution and characterizations.

Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, who wrote a large number of R.K. Films, including 'Awara', 'Mera Naam Joker' and 'Bobby', unfurled the red flag of socialism in 'Shri 420'. The film's crowded gullis and bazaars, with absent-minded passerbys giving the funny tramp strange looks, were all recreated on the floors of R.K. Studios.

The film is a marvel of architectural and emotional design. The sets and props suggest a close bond between a lost Arcadin world of innocence and growing corruption in urban areas. The two women in the protagonist Raju's life - Maya, the seducer, played by Nadira and Vidya, the nourisher, played by Nargis, represented corruption and purity in the script. When Maya gets on the dance floor and implores Raju, "Mud-mud ke na dekh mud-mud ke", she's actually seducing him into a world of illusion and deception. Briefly, Raju succumbs to a life of corruption and vice. But he finally returns to Vidya and the innocence of the duet "Pyar hua ikraar hua hai" that the two sang in the rain. Incidentally, the three children who pass by in the rain as Nargis sings the lines, "Tum na rahoge, hum na rahenge phir bhi rahengi nishaniyan" were Raj Kapoor's own children making their screen debut.

The music score by Shankar Jaikishan acquired mythic proportions, with numbers like, "Mera joota hai japani" and "Ichak dana bichak dana" becoming a rage in the USSR. The long film features some of the most lively song-and-dance sequences of the 1950s like "Ramaiya vasta vaiyya" and "Dil ka haal sune dilwala". In the latter, Raju joins the street people (like the banana seller Lalita Pawar), who represents the 'good' souls as opposed to the 'evil' rich who are shown to slumber on a steep mountain above the humble slums.

Other than the intense romanticism of Raj Kapoor and Nargis, the film's main claim to fame is Nadira's intense vamping. The film typed her, once and for all, as the flaming femme fatal - an image that has stayed with her to this day. As she seduces poor innocent Raju away from a life of uncorrupted poverty, Nadira becomes the voluptuous epitome of materialism.

87. Aradhana (1969, Shakti Samanta)

*Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Sujit Kumar.

Music: Sachin Dev Burman

Aparna Sen's loss was Sharmila's gain. Too chicken to play the hero's mom, Aparna sen said no to Shakti Samanta's path-breaking melodrama about an unwed mother's travails and tribulations to bring up her son with rare care.

Sharmila Tagore, who had earlier played the fabulous floozie in Samanta's 'Kashmir Ki Kali' and 'An Evening In Paris', pulled out all stops to play Vandana, a simple sweet middle-class girl who's wooed by the suave and irresistibly charming army captain Arun (Rajesh Khanna) with Sachinda's "Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu".

The nation's heartbeat quickened as Khanna tilted his head and grinned romantically into Aloke Dasgupta's eloquent camerawork. For Rajesh Khanna, 'Aradhana' proved fifth-time lucky. His first four starrers 'Aakhri Khat', 'Aurat', 'Baharon Ke Sapne' and 'Raaz' were all flops.

Sharmila was warned against playing mom at the peak of her career. It was family friend and writer Sachin Bhowmick (who wrote the screenplay of 'Aradhana' who convinced Sharmila to take the wizened plunge. The film gave a new performance oriented fillip to her career. She even won a Best Actress award for her fine portrayal in the movie.

Remarkable in its own right was the fact that Sachin Dev Burman scored such youthful music in his late 60s Son R.D. Burman gave a helping hand. The seduction song "Roop tera mastana" - filmed in one lengthy 4-feet shot - became a critical point of attraction in this passionate melodrama about the fruits of a socially unacceptable congress.

88. Junglee (1961, Subodh Mukherjee)

*Shammi Kapoor, Saira Banu, Shashikala, Lalita Pawar, Helen and Anoop Kumar.

"Yahoo" went Shammi Kapoor as a nation of stuffed shirts and repressed prudes flung off their invisable chastity belts and visable moral fungi to swing to the new 'Yahoo' Hero's zing-thing. Though Kapoor had done the 'Yahoo' role earlier, no film epitomized his free-spirited rebellious persona as effectively as 'Junglee'

Belting out Mohammed Rafi's "Chahe koi muhje junglee kahe" and "Ai-yay-ya main kya suku suku" (the opening portions of this number were done by composer Shankar), Shammi Kapoor rocked the nation as Shekhar. the Vilaayat-returned stuffed shirt whose feudal mother (Lalita Pawar) finds singing, dancing and merrymaking to be vulgar. What this relic of the Victorian era dosen't know is that her daughter (Shashikala) has been gallivanting all over town with her beau. Son too steps into the sun when he meets the Kashmiri beauty Saira Banu.

'Junglee' introduced Ms. Banu to Hindi cinema with a fanfare that was hitherto unknown. Pre-empting Hema Malini's launch 8 years later as the "Dream Girl", Saira Banu as the "Beauty Queen" had the nation drooling in delighted anticipation. She was the second heroine after Asha Parekh in 'Dil Deke Dekho' whom 'Yahoo' Kapoor brought screamingly to the screen. A third - Sharmila Tagore in 'Kashmir Ki Kali' - soon followed.

Inspite of Saira's glamour and beauty, 'Junglee' was Shammi Kapoor's show all the way. He was killingly comic as the killjoy who loosens up when love is in the air. The film ushered in an era of Eastmancolour photography as the accepted code of visualization for mainstream Hindi cinema.

Remarkable for its use of music, colour, glamour, machismo and beauty, 'Junglee' was released during the same year that Nasir Husain foisted a similar mooded musical romance 'Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai' on the audience. The swinging 60s had arrived.

89. Guddi (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

*Jaya Bhaduri, Samit Bhanja, Utpal Dutt, A.K. Hangal, Asrani, Keshto Mukherjee, Vijay Sharma, Sumita Sanyal and Dharmendra.

HRISHIKESH MUKHERJEE'S 'GUDDI' will go down in movie history as the film that introduced Jaya Bhaduri.

'Guddi' takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of films through the eyes of a movie-mad young girl. Kusum (Jaya Bhaduri) is convinced she is in love with the film star Dharmendra and much to the annoyance of her family, she won't agree to marriage with any other man.

Navin (Samit Bhanja), the brother of Kusum's sister-in-law, comes visiting, and everyone is convinced he is right for Kusum. But Kusum is appalled when, on their first 'date', Navin takes her to visit historical monuments instead of the cinema. For her, the make-believe world of film is more real than life.

When Kusum goes to Bombay and Navin expresses his wish to marry her, she tells him that like Meera Bhai, she is in love with another man. Since "he" is married with kids, her love must remain secret. Navin's uncle Professor Gupta (Utpal Dutt) sees that Kusum is just immature, and decides that something must be done to make her see reason. Professor Gupta meets Dharmendra (playing himself), who sportingly agrees to help in getting Kusum over her obsession with him. So Kusum is taken to the studios where she is exposed to the ordinariness of stars and the artifice involved in shooting. She realises that the real heroes are not stars but behind-the-scenes people and that ill-paid stuntmen take the falls for pampered stars. Dharmendra and Professor Gupta stage a few scenes to fool Kusum. The star allows Navin to beat him at a game of tennis, and also arranges for Navin to fight ruffians (he and the uncle in disguise) who tease Kusum. The scales fall from her eyes and she starts to value the simple Navin, also managing to convince him to forgive her foolishness and marry her, using the 'statue' gimmick that has been copied in so many films after this.

Jaya Bhaduri, fresh out of the Film and Television Institute of India, was perfect as the impressionable young girl, and what a find she turned out to be. She has always maintained that among all her films, 'Guddi' remains her favourite. "Apart from that being my first film, it was also one which I could identify with completely. The entire houshold drawn by Hrishikesh Mukherjee was very tangible for its Indianness. There was no gap
between the audience and the characters on screen. This was a complete film."

Based on a story by Gulzar, the screenplay of 'Guddi' was one of the glorious collaborations between Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Gulzar, which also produced such unforgettable films like 'Anand' and 'Namak Haram'. 'Guddi' is a rare film that took such a matter-of -fact look at the industry, and also exposed its workings to a nation full of film crazy youngsters like Kusum. But above all, it is a quintessential Hrishikesh Mukherjee film - wholesome, innocent, funny and meaningful. They don't make directors like Hrishda any more.

90. Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981, K. Balachander)

*Kamal Hassan, Rati Agnihotri, Shuba Khote, Madhavi.

After K. Balachander's inauspicious debut in Hindi cinema with the well-intended 'Aaina' (which he remade from his Tamil hit 'Arangetram', the doyen of the South Indian cinema bounced back with one of the biggest musical romances of the Hindi cinema.

The story of a Tamil boy and a Punjabi girl who communicate through Laxmikant-Pyarelal's universal language of love, was so endearingly suffused with moments of romance, it just couldn't have failed.

And it didn't. 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye' was one of the biggest successes of the 1980s, setting a pattern for future 20-somethings lovers as an alternative to the teenybopper togetherness celebrated in Raj Kapoor's 'Bobby' and its innumerable spinoffs. Kamal Hassan was hugely entertaining as the prankish Tamilian. Spinning tops on the giggly Rati Agnihotri's jelly belly and shrugging his shoulders to her shuddh Anand Bakshi-penned lines,
"Hum bane tum bane ek duuje ke liye" with the cutely Tamilian-English retort, "I don't know what you say. But I want to sing and dance." Kamal Sang and danced into Hindi moviegoer's hearts and Rati followed right behind.

'Ek Duuje Ke Liye', with its haunting Gaon locales and Lata Mangeshkar and S.P. Balasubramaniam's raga - driven voices, suggested a depth and feeling beyond the superficial romances of Indian cinema. Songs like "Tere mere beech mein kaisa hai yeh bandhan anjaana" and "Solah baras ki baali umar ko salaam" made the onscreen lovers look mature, passionate and simply unforgettable. The tragic doom-laden finale whereby the lovers committed suicide triggered off a chain of self-annihilating love stories in the South. Balachander was advised to change his screenplay. But he stuck to the original ending. The love scenes in the film, such as the one when Balu sings a whole song based on mukhdas of Hindi film songs to Sapna (Rati) in a lift, or when Sapna burns Balu's photograph and defiantly drinks the ashes with her coffee in front of her hysterical mother (Shubha Khote) were symptoms of a passion never before seen in Hindi cinema, except perhaps in Raj Kapoor's 'Awara'. The very idea of a couple being asked by their respective parents for a trial seperation of one year fired the romantic imagination of the viewers.

Thanks to Laxmikant-Pyarelal's music and Anand Bakshi's poetry, the couple seem to communicate by telepathy. From 'Laila-Majnu' to Bobby-Raja (in 'Bobby', we had seen screen lovers do everything conceivable and inconceivable for each other. But we had never seen anyone quite like Balu and Sapna. 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye' competed with two Bachchan biggies. 'Naseeb' and 'Satte Pe Satta', and still emerged as the top money-maker of 1981.

Filmfare Awards:

Best Screenplay K Balachander
Best Lyricist Anand Bakshi
Best Editor K R Kitoo

91. Kudrat (1981, Chetan Anand)

*Raaj Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Vinod Khanna, Priya Rajvansh, Aruna Irani and Deven Verma.

Music:Rahul Dev Burman

Chetan Anand's 'Kudrat' is set in Shimla, and is a story of rebirth and miracles.

Chandramukhi (Hema Malini) visits Shimla with her parents and her life is never the same again. Here she meets Dr. Narendra (Vinod Khanna) and they soon become good friends. Soon complications arise when chandramukhi starts to have nightmares and wakes up in a cold sweat shouting 'Maadho', 'Maadho'. Chandramukhi's parents call on Dr. Narendra when these nightmares happen once too often.

Dr. Narendra hypnotises her to find out what's disturbing her mind and accidently takes her back to her previous life, she mentions that her name is Paro and that she's with Maadho. Sensing that he's in a dangerous situation the doctor quickly brings back Chandramukhi to the present day and explains to her parents that whats disturbing her is related to a past life.

Chandramukhi soon comes across Mohan (Rajesh Khanna) and this is when the movie goes into flashback mode, and we are shown the love story of Paro, who was deeply in love with Maadho. But this love story never had a happy ending as Paro was raped and brutally murdered.

But who murdered her and what happened to Maadho are the questions that need answering, and as Chandramukhi starts to fall in and out of her Paro-Maadho trances more frequently it becomes obvious thats she's losing her mind. The only solution being, to bring the murderer to justice in this life and to free the spirit of Paro before its too late.


Dukh Sukh Ki----------------Mohd. Rafi.
Toone O Rangeele-----------Lata Mangeshkar.
Hamen Tumse Pyar Kitna-----Kishore Kumar.
Sawan Nahin Bhadon Nahin---Asha Bhosle & Suresh Wadkar.
Chhodo Sanam---------------Kishore Kumar & Annette.
Hamen Tumse Pyar Kitna------Parveen Sultana.
Sajti Hai Yun Hi Mehfil---------Asha Bhosle.
Dukh Sukh Ki-----------------Chandrashekher Gadgil.

Filmfare Awards Won:

Best Cinematographer (Colour): Jal Mistry
Best Playback Female: Parveen Sultana
Best Story: Chetan Anand

92. Shor (1972, Manoj Kumar)

*Manoj Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri, Nanda, Premnath and Master Satyajit.

Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal

'SHOR', considered by many to be Manoj Kumar's best film ever, had the actor-filmmaker taking a break from his Bharat routine. A moving depiction of love between father and son, it told the story of a mazdoor who moves heaven and earth to make his dumb son regain the power of speech that he has lost in an accident. He finally succeeds in raising money for an expensive surgical operation, but when his son regains the power of speech, he himself has a mishap at his factory and loses his sense of hearing.

Manoj Kumar's 'Shor' was a perfect example of how a good, well-made film with a powerful story could blur the dividing line between art and mainstream cinema. 'Shor' would have been the first film of the late actress Smita Patil if she had accepted the film. Manoj Kumar offered the T.V newsreader the role that Jaya Bhaduri was to play. As for Jaya herself, he frankly told her that the film revolved around a father and his son
(Master Satyajit), and she accepted the film on the sets of 'Guddi' during lunch break.

The character of Manoj's wife who dies while saving her son was offered to Sharmila Tagore then at her 'Aradhana' - 'Safar' - 'Amar Prem' peak. But La Tagore had some reservations about appearing as a photograph in most of the film! Since it was a special appearance, Manoj hesitated to call up any top heroine. Finally, his wife Shashi suggested Nanda's name, but Manoj was reluctant to offer a guest role to her. His wife took the initiative and called up the actress, who heard the role and agreed to it on the sole condition that she would not be paid a single paisa for it.

"She stole the show, and to date I am ashamed that I could not repay this debt to her," says Manoj. The crucial role of the Pathan went to Premnath, who staged a magnificent comeback and ruled as a character artiste for a decade, thanks to 'Shor'. Manoj wanted Pran for the film, but Pran declined because he had already signed for a Pathan's role in 'Zanjeer'. Manoj reportedly was upset enough with his 'Anthony Quinn' that he never worked with Pran again as a filmmaker.

'Shor' also marked a change in Manoj Kumar's team. His cinematographer, V.N. Reddy, told him that he found himself too old to cope up with Manoj's style of direction and camera angles. Reddy recommended Nariman Irani, who needed the money to pay for the family of an assistant who was no more. With 'Shor', Nariman Irani went on to become a fixture with Manoj, and fate linked them together so much that Irani died due to complications following a fall on the sets of Manoj Kumar's 'Kranti', which the actor-filmmaker then dedicated to Irani.

With 'Shor', Manoj also made his debut as a film editor. His earlier films had helped him in mastering the craft under the redoubtable B.S. Glaad, and with this very first film as editor he picked up the trophy for Best Editor, an award that he specially cherishes because an ace editor like Hrishikesh Mukherjee was on the jury.

An innovative feature of 'Shor', a film technically way ahead of its times, was its mood -camerawork, that heightened the sombre narrative. In 'Shor' more than any other film, Manoj exhibited how enamoured he was of Guru Dutt's style of filmmaking, where every frame eloquently reflected the atmosphere, unlike the trend in those days. Flashback as a technique was not new, but few films have woven it so skillfully and masterfully into the narrative as 'Shor' did.

If silence is golden, so was 'Shor', and Manoj Kumar tellingly proved that there was much more to him as a writer-filmmaker than Bharat.
To date, it remains one of the most sensitive Hindi films ever made on the intimate relationship between parent and child.

93. C.I.D. (1956, Raj Khosla)

*Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman, Shakeela and Johnny walker, KumKum and K.N. Singh.

Producer: Guru Dutt

Dev Anand did a great service to the industry and his own career when he saw potential in a young post-graduate student named Raj Khosla.

Trained as a classical singer under Pandit Jagannath Prasad, Khosla was 21 and singing at All India Radio when Dev Anand spotted him and made him an assistant to Guru Dutt. Several years later, Dev's ability to spot talent was vindicated when that young assistant, now 27 years old, directed the smash hit 'C.I.D', still acknowledged as one of the best crime thrillers of Hindi cinema.

'C.I.D' is a purebred Navketan movie. Steeped in the trademark style of the Anand brothers and a perfect example of their unique style: Stunningly photographed heroines, sensuously picturized song sequences, haunting melodic music, and an intelligent stylish hero who triumphs by flexing his mental muscles rather than the physical ones.

Dev Anand played a C.I.D. inspector investigating the murder of a press editor. His rakish charm makes investigating look like so much fun!
Producer Guru Dutt made sure that Khosla was armed with an excellant script by veteran Inder Raj Anand who took ideas freely from Hollywood crime films while coalescing them into a wholly original screenplay - an ablity that today's copycat film writers would do well to study and learn from. The result is a plot that actually keeps you guessing whodunit, while thoroughly enjoying the scenery along the way.

And rising tall above that scenery and the film itself is a mysterious young woman played by newcomer Waheeda Rehman. Surprisingly, this beautiful, sensuous young actress made her feature debut in a Telugu film and was already established as a hit-heroine for her excellent dancing. But it was in 'C.I.D.' that she appeared first to Hindi audiences and it remains one of the most seductive and memorable roles of her career. Waheeda's stunning beauty was never captured so evocatively until this film; cinematographer V.K Murthy's soft-focus close-ups set a trend that became a hallmark of Waheeda's screen picturizations, most unforgettably in producer Guru Dutt's later film 'Pyaasa'.

In 'C.I.D.', the appearance of Waheeda adds a thrill to the entire film experience. From the moment she appears on screen, she steals the show. At times, even camera-hogging hero Dev Anand seems to actually be giving way to her, as if in tribute to her performance and her beauty. And in that famous climatic song sequence "Kahin pe nigahen" when Waheeda tries to seduce the crime boss to help the hero escape safely, every member of the audience, male and female, are seduced by her pure, flawless sensuality. It was one of the most stunning debuts by a heroine in Hindi films.

As always in Navketan films, the music score was superb. O.P. Nayyar's catchy melodies and Majrooh's apt lyrics added glamour to the plot rather than taking away from it. The technique of turning each song into a scene or sequence of scenes integral to the plot was a hallmark of the Navketan style, beautifully realized here.

'C.I.D.' also became a launching pad for director Khosla. After one previous unsuccessful film 'Milap' the previous year, 'C.I.D.' started him off on one of the most legendary careers of any Hindi film director. After working in the Navketan stable for several years, making memorable thrillers and films like, 'Kala Pani', Bambai Ka Babu' and 'Woh Kaun Thi', he branched off on his own.

One of the few directors who possessed an original style and creative vision, Khosla's song picturizations were legendary, as were his alleged ability to script scenes minutes before shooting them! The song picturizations came from his years working with Guru Dutt, the original maestro of song picturization. Today, techniques may have improved hundred-fold. Modern budgets allow for lavish crime thrillers like Rajiv Rai's 'Gupt' to be made far more slickly than was possible than in those days. But even today, watching 'C.I.D.' again proves one thing: Whether in the department of acting, direction, scripting or music, talent always wins out over technique. This is the evergreen charm of 'C.I.D.'

94. Shaan (1980, Ramesh Sippy)

*Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Raakhee, Shatrughan Sinha, Parveen Babi, Johnny Walker, Bindiya Goswami, Kulbushan Karbanda, Mazhar Khan, Mac Mohan, Sudhir, Yunus Pervez and Bindu.

Producer: G.P. Sippy.

Written By: Salim-Javed.

Music: R.D. Burman.

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi.

'Shaan', released in 1980 came from the Sippy family quite close on the heels of Sholay. The only probable reason it did not do too well was because people compared it with 'Sholay'. 'Sholay' is one of the masterpieces of Indian cinema, but 'Shaan' is also an excellent movie from the great era of Indian cinema (1960s - 1980s).

The movie revolves around two brothers Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) and Ravi (Shashi Kapoor) whose eldest brother (Sunil Dutt) is an honest policeman. These two brothers operate as small thieves in the big brawl that is Bombay. Shiv Kumar (Sunil Dutt) is assigned a special mission of putting an end to the activities of an arch criminal Shakaal (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) However everything changes when the eldest brother (Sunil Dutt) is held captive by the mafia king Shakaal and finally killed.

The death of Shiv Kumar triggers off a complete change of personality in his brothers Vijay and Ravi. In their search for the dreaded Shakaal, they team up with another young man (Shatrughan Sinha), who too has a personal score to settle with Shakaal as his wife was killed by him. All this leads to one of the most thrilling climaxes in Indian cinema full of technical wizardly. The movie has a good combination of action, comedy and music. It has an outstanding musical score by R.D.Burman who is at his peak here.

The action sequences are worth noting. Ramesh Sippy wisely chose to use the same style as in his previous blockbuster, 'Sholay'. This adds a touch of realism to the fights, as opposed to the norm in Indian films, where we get to see the hero beat-up about 20 guys on his own. Another highlight of the film was the music. Sippy had an original music soundtrack created for this film, as opposed to stealing bits and pieces from other films. This really does help to increase your enjoyment of the movie.

The cast is excellent, with everyone performing well in their roles.A lot of films with all-star casts suffer problems as the director tries to give everyone equal screen-time to the detriment of the plot. However, in this film, the whole cast gels. Shatrughan Sinha's character is wisely introduced half-way through the story, thus avoiding trying to introduce too many lead-characters at the start of the film. Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor play well off each other as always. As usual, the female characters don't have much to do in the film, with the possible exception of Raakhee Gulzar.

The villain is brilliantly played by Kulbushan Kharbanda. It's blatantly obvious that this character (Shakal) is modelled on Blofeld from the James Bond movies, as is much of the film itself. One gets the feeling that the Sippy's were trying to create a villain that would be remembered in Indian Cinematic history in the same way as his earlier creation, 'Gabbar Singh'. Although Shakal is not remembered as fondly as Gabbar Singh by many people, he's still one of Indian Cinema's more memborable villains.


Doston Se Pyar Kiya--------Usha Uthup.
Naam Abdul Hai Mera------Mohd. Rafi.
Pyar Karne Wale------------Asha Bhosle.
Dariya Mein Jahaz Chale----Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar.
Janu Meri Jaan--------------Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar.
Mittua-----------------------Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle & Chorus.
Yamma Yamma-------------Mohd. Rafi, R.D. Burman & Chorus.

Filmfare Awards Won:

Best Cinematographer (Colour) S M Anwar

95. Asoka (2001, Santosh Sivan)

*Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Danny Denzongpa, Ajit Kumar, Hrishitaa Bhatt, Rahul Dev, Suraj Balaje, Subhashini and Gerson da Cunha.

Costume Designer: Anu Vardhan Manish Malhotra (Kareena Kapoor) Naresh Rohira (Shah Rukh Khan)
Action: Sham Kaushal
Art Director: Sabu Cyril
Editor: Sreekar Prasad
Dialogues: Abbas Tyrewala
Background Music: Sandeep Chowta
Lyrics (San Sa Nana): Anand Bakshi
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: Anu Malik
Screenplay: Saket Chaudhary, Santosh Sivan
Assoc. Executive Producer: Mark Burton
Executive Producer: Sanjiv Chawla
Cinematography & Direction: Santosh Sivan

Asoka is a movie by acclaimed cinematographer and director Santosh Sivan, and it is clearly evident from his latest venture that he is about to change the celluloid world forever.

The film begins with the young Prince Asoka (Shah Rukh Khan) as a boy who watches his father accept Jainism, a peaceful religion that encourages him to toss aside his sword, which has caused much bloodshed. The young boy is intrigued by the weapon and picks up the new toy, masters it and soon learns that with the power of yielding this sword comes a great price. A warrior is born who fights many battles yet it is quickly established that this young man is very much fighting human wars, quenching a thirst for power and balancing this with his love for his family, particularly his mother. His mother renounces her son's violent ways and requests him to undergo the greatest education any person can: a journey.

On his journey as an ordinary traveller, he meets Princess Kaurwaki (Kareena Kapoor), whose eyes mesmerise one moment and warn off invaders in a blink. She is the embodiment of beauty and the prince introduces himself as Pawan to her, only to find there is a price on her head and she, accompanied by General Bheema (Rahul Dev) and young Prince Arya (Suraj Balaji), are on their own journey to make it alive to Kalinga where their destiny awaits them.

The journey of Asoka continues with trials and love, jealousy and betrayal, all making up cornerstones of what Prince Asoka experiences along the way. He falls flawlessly in love with Kaurwaki, and she becomes his soul and purpose of living, but destiny strikes a blow only to begin a mission born in rage and spread by blood.

Asoka is separated from his Kaurwaki. He believes she is dead and she believes he is an ordinary soldier in the Magadh army. He marries a Buddhist, Devi, and ascends the throne of Magadh after shedding the blood of his own brothers. His unquenching thirst for power finally culminates in the bloody battle of Kalinga.

Shah Rukh goes a long way in ensuring that, even though he is rarely challenged as an actor in the first half. The film picks up its pace in the second half, the editing is also a lot less jarring here, and Shah Rukh rises to the occasion as the power-hungry King devastated by the magnitude of suffering after the Kalinga war. Speaking volumes with his melting brown eyes, Shah Rukh manages to shed his endearing mannerisms in the second half and capture the transformation of Asoka to Emperor Asoka, and finally Dharmraj Asoka. The charming lover boy of the first half becomes the devastated lover of the second half, the power-crazed man, who would not hesitate to shed the blood of his own kin for the throne till the battle of Kalinga awakens the human being in him. Shah Rukh gives the role his usual energy and passion. And his charismatic presence does the rest. Kareena Kapoor is well suited to the role of Kaurwaki. She manages to impart the right amount of vulnerability and pride to the role. One of her most outstanding scenes is when she spots Asoka in the battlefield of Kalinga. With the right director and more control of her craft, Kareena is definitely the actress to watch out for.

At the end of the day, what holds your attention is Santosh Sivan's camera, the entire design of the film and Shah Rukh Khan. Sivan's magnum opus has a stunning opening with the child Asoka watching his grandfather King Chandragupta Maurya throwing his sword into the river and taking up the robes of a Jain monk. He runs and retrieves the sword. The film ends with King Asoka throwing his sword into the same river and beginning his journey anew. It's wonderful the manner in which Sivan gives his film a sense of completeness. There are many scenes in the film which move you, stun you into silence, and not just by their visual brilliance but by the fact that the image is powered and imbued with emotions. The film is not just a cinematographer's pride but a director's labour of love.

The war sequence towards the end of the film is both beautiful and intense. The sands of 'Samodh', 50 Kms from Jaipur (Rajashtan) gave the war sequence a harsh, bare, dusty feel. The harshness of the desert sun worked well to portray the physical hardship of the people fighting the 'Kalinga' war.

A team of about 500 fighters under action director, Sham Kaushal traveled to Samodh and the rest of the team comprised of 'Kallari' and 'Paiko' fight groups, a traditional fight form from Southern India. On the days that required long shots of huge armies on either side of the battlefield, around 5000 villagers were packed into buses and rushed into the shooting area from all the neighboring villages around Samodh. With only a few hands in the Costume Department and thousands of people to dress, it was a mammoth task accomplished in record time.

During the day Santosh continued shooting the actual war, at around 4:30 in the evening two of the Assistants from the Direction team would demarcate an area facing the setting sun and set up the post-war shots, for Asoka's walk through the bloodied battlefield after the war was over. The sand was a blessing as the dummy arms; legs, heads and bodies could be fixed effectively in the sand in about 15 to 20 minutes. The torn limbs sticking out of the sand gave a gory and a very real feel of the aftermath of the war. Dead bodies of soldiers half covered in sand and with bloodied armor glinting in the sun made the post war sequence intense and gripping.

Camel carts carried all the art direction props required for the evening, 'magic sky' shots. Chariot wheels, pools of blood, torn, tattered flags, broken armor, dummy heads, bodies and hundred's of gallons of blood. All these elements were put together every evening for the post war sequence.

At the end of the war, when there are no more soldiers left to fight and the horses run bare back, it is a touching sight. Almost as if they have gone crazy with rage. With the Kallari and Paiko fighters in the foreground and the larger war ensuing in the background, the action seems synchronized and choreographed, rather than just action. The charge of fifty elephants and the spectacular Magadha army is beautiful. The indigo blue turbans of the Kalinga army look stark and bright in the harsh desert sun. The inter cuts of the long shots of the war and close ups of 'Chandasoka' killing ruthlessly are very effective. The grassy patches of the desert sand ('Kaans' plant) with cotton like ends shimmered like glass in the hot sun and looked even more beautiful and soft against the evening sky. Sometimes in the evenings the sun hadn't gone down completely and the moon was already clear in the sky above, these shots of the desert moon were a gift to 'Asoka'. As 'Asoka' stood against the evening sky holding a dead child with the moon behind him, it rendered a soft, calm peaceful disposition to him. As though he had realized, achieved salvation.

The second unit continued shooting in a separate area, shots such as the burning pyres, wailing widows etc. There were six camera's rolling at one time to shoot the war from varied angles. The Jimmy Jib and the Akela crane also took some unforgettable shots of the war (long shots - Akela). At the end of each shooting the day, there was a lot of creative input on the post war sequence from all members of the crew i.e. the Buddhist monks rushing to help the wounded and dying soldiers, the boy threatening Asoka with the flame, the dying man refusing water from Asoka's hands etc. Within fifteen days of chilly three o clock mornings and burning afternoons, the war sequence was over but the memories would live on.

Santosh Sivan's camerawork and direction are par excellence, as his unique flash-technique and use of many shots to accentuate a minor detail in a scene all add together to create a cleverly woven story immortalised on film. In some sequences the camera cuts like a sword with flashes of residue left lingering both on screen and in the viewer's mind, yet in others following, he uses less shots and still manages to maintain rhythm. A film such as Asoka cannot be appreciated on a single viewing alone as upon initial contact one is simply bombarded with an onslaught of visual delights, spellbinding sounds and a story that emerges from our past but still reaches into the depths of every man's soul.

Performance wise Shah Rukh Khan is the life of the movie. His acting prowess is detailed to the fullest in emotional gut-wrenching scenes, that portray innocence, rage, peace and longing all through his demeanour and eye-language. Asoka's arrogance and clarity of his every action, coupled with the consistent river of flowing energy is evident through the actor's performance which to his credit leaves one finding the line which ends with the character and turns into actor. Asoka could not only be Shah Rukh's greatest screen incarnation, but also a clear message to international cinema of his screen presence, dedication and mastery of his art.

Kareena Kapoor, as the warrior princess who acts as sister and mother figure to Arya, a cautious then enduring lover to Asoka and emerges as someone on her own personal journey, in search of her identity and sense of belonging while juggling her duties, heart and mind in a three ring circus, Kareena gives what is by far her finest performance to date. After her innocent and natural debut in 'Refugee', she is finally allowed to once more realise her potential and play a character that only she could do justice to. Her look sans make up, except a few lines accentuating her eyes as the window to her soul, is as pure as the princess herself and the image of her going to get milk, fully wrapped except for her eyes is of sheer cinematic delight. Kareena has mastered the art of acting with her whole body in a short span of time and her performance in Asoka proves this. One hopes her potential is continually unlocked and her future holds many more performances and films of this calibre.

A story of a traveller's travels, his education that is the journey, the loves and losses and wars and redemption all encompass this epic, that grips the viewer from the moment the camera pans down onto Asoka, as if indicating it is descending onto a mountain full of riches within, up until the deeply disturbing ending, which leaves the viewer with a ray of hope before the credits flash to announce not the end of the story but the beginning.

96. Don (1978, Chandra Barot)

*Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran, Om Shivpuri, Iftekhar and Helen.

Writtin By: Salim-Javed
Music By:Kalyanji Anandji

It is not at all surprising that Amitabh Bachchan got the best actor award for this movie, he is tremendously brilliant and rightly deserved this award. When asked to name Amitabh's best movie the names 'Sholay' & 'Deewar' spring to mind, however after serious thought, you will realise that the movie 'Don' is right up there with the best of Amitabh's most watched films.

Think of 'Don' and the words 'cool' and 'cult-movie' come to mind, a film you can watch again and again because there is not one single scene that you want to fast foreward - in other words it is one of the most entertaining movies ever. In the 70's it captured the essence of everything which was Bachchan- comedy,suspence,action.... this one has it all. The backround musical score stands out in memory as a dynamic reminder to that cool era where Amitabh Bachchan reigned supreme.

The plot follows the cat and mouse trails of Don and the continuous pursuit of the police to put him behind bars - but Don is no easy catch.
After a chain of linked events, Don is entrapped and killed by a high-ranking police officer. As this police officer is the lone witness to the death, he keeps it a secret and hatches a plan to bring down Don's entire gang. Enter the replacement decoy don, of coarse played by Amitabh Bachchan in a double-role, to infiltrate the gang and find the mastermind behind it. But the life of the humble and streetwise Don's replacement is further complicated as the only person who knows his true identity is killed, and is stuck in the middle of a battlefield where the gang and the police are all out to get him - not to mention the beautiful and glamorous Zeenat Aman who too is out to destroy Don!

One great scene mentioning: After Vijay's true identity has been revealed to Don's cronies they are jointly transported to another prison in the back of a police van & Vijay throws a memorable array of insults to Shaakal (Shetty)which results into a tremendous fight ..... from that moment on the film accelerates at such a high octane pace & doesn't look back. An adrenaline blast of the highest order !

The co-stars of Don also gave memorable performances, Zeenat Aman as the crazed avenger and Pran are instrumental to the story of 'Don'. Technically the film is just short of brilliant, for its time it displays excellant camera work and superbly filmed stunts and action sequences.

Amitabh Bachchan is at his best; delivering totally different performances as a Don and as the simpleton, the storyline is simple, but the movie is made memorable by great dialogues, great songs ("Yeh mera dil", "Main hoon Don", "Khaike paan banaaraswaala", "ei hai bambai nagaria") great action and above all fantastic acting from all the starcast.

The movie 'Don' like the man himself, Amitabh Bachchan is a legend in Indian cinema--its a showpiece for some of the best dialogues written and one of the most gripping tales.

Filmfare Awards Won:

Best Actor Amitabh Bachchan
Best Playback Female Asha Bhosle
Best Playback Male Kishore Kumar

97. Roja (1993, Mani Ratnam)

*Arvind Swamy, Madhoo, Pankaj Kapoor.

Music:A.R. Rahman.

Cinematrography:Santosh Sivan

'Roja' is a film that has cast a formidable influence over the Hindi film industry and its trend-setting essence is not to be overlooked.

Most young filmmakers of the day like Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, John Mathew Mathan and even seniors like Subhash Ghai and Vidhu Vinod Chopra have claimed that if there has been one director who has motivated their work, it's the technical wizard, Mani Ratnam.

The talented filmmaker has a vast variety of films to his credit. Though 'Roja' was the film that established his status in the Hindi film industry, it was not his first exemplary effort. He had already churned out some benchmark Tamil films like 'Nayakan', 'Agni Nakshatram', 'Geetanjali', 'Anjali' and 'Dalapathy' before he embarked on 'Roja'.

Mani, in most of his movies, shows a weakness for subjects inspired by real life characters and events. With 'Roja', the Southern virtuoso decided to tackle the Kashmir issue, which most Hindi film directors had avoided like the plague. Once again the film was based on a real event - the kidnapping of an employee of the Indian Oil Corporation by Kashmiri militants. In the film, Rishi Kumar (Arvind Swamy) is abducted by the terrorists while on a assignment in Kashmir. He is accompanied by his newly-wedded wife, Roja (Madhoo). The rest of the film focuses on Roja's desperate attempts to get her husband back in a state that dosen't speak her language. The role of the terrorist head was essayed by Pankaj Kapoor.

A simple story, Mani executed it with great technical finesse, making each scene look like a virtual classic. There was no attempt on the filmmaker's part to paint a disdainful image of the terrorists. The highlight sequence in the film is the one in which the terrorists attempt to burn the Indian tricolour and Rishi, the protagonist, rushes to salvage the national flag, rolling on it to extinguish the fire. This memorable scene holds the viewer spellbound even today. The film had a very unpridictable feel to it, right till the end and one could never know what was going to happen next. Though the film wasn't made on an exorbitant budget, Mani made it look very lavish and extravagant. With most of the first half shot in the picturesque locales down South, the rest of the film was canned amidst the rich and abundantly beautiful Northern India.

Dubbing the film in Hindi did lose a bit of the impact, because the focal point in the original Tamil version was the fact that Roja did not know a single word of Hindi. Which is why, after the kidnapping of her husband, her helplessness is very disturbing as she happens to be in a place where no one speaks any language other than Hindi. The Hindi version, obviously, could not convey her plight as effectively. But except for this solitary point, the film remains a masterpiece by all standards. The film was also a turning point in Mani Ratnam's career. After the stupendous success of 'Roja', he has deliberately pickied up such controversial political issues and woven a script around them. The most notable being 'Bombay'. Based on the commercial riots that shook the city, 'Bombay' created a major political controversy and was even to be banned from being screened. Mani himself bore the brunt when his house was attacked by a mob and he also became a victum of a bomb-attack. The third of his trilogy, 'Dil Se' was based on the assassination of a political leader by a human bomb.

One factor that drew the crowds in the theatre initially was the 'simply superb' chartbusting music composed by the supremo A.R Rahman, who 'arrived' with this film, so to speak. The film also served as a platform to showcase the genius of talented cinematographer Santosh Sivan who beautifully captured the rustic locales of South India and brought to life the radiance of the snow-capped mountains of North India.

Many filmmakers from Bollywood have taken a cue from 'Roja' and made films on similar lines - the most recent one being Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 'Mission Kashmir'. But none have seen the kind of success and euphoria of Mani Ratnam's classic.

98. Kaun (1999, Ram Gopal Varma)

*Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai and ? and ? and ? and ? and ? and.....

Music:Sandeep Chowtha

Nightmarish experience of a girl who suspects of a psychopath entering her house. It's a rainy day and a young woman is all alone in the house. She is shown talking to her family on the phone, anxious for them to come back to the house. Adding to her anxiety is the television, which announces that a killer is on the loose. And then, the doorbell rings. Who could it be?

Hindi suspense movies are a rare commodity. This is probably one of the best. It has very good acting by Urmila Matondkar as the girl alone at home. The movie will keep you at the edge of your seat till the end. Kaun is a brilliant thriller directed by Ram Gopal Verma, and written by Anurag Kashyap (co- writer of Satya & Shool). The film keeps you on the edge of you seats through out its 1 hour 40 minutes film length. Like M. Night Shamalyan's "The Sixth Sense", Kaun too has a surprising ending. As always, Manoj Bajpai contributes to great acting, Urmila is at her best performance in this film as well. Its definitly one of the best dark "thrillers", even superior to Yash Chopra's "Ittefaq"

To give the movie due credit (and discredit), the director makes the viewer think a little too much to answer the question - Kaun; and think for most of 90-long minutes. It makes you think a little more than you would like to - and I wonder if people really like to think while watching a whodunit potboiler.

The movie - still remains eminently watchable and close, if not comparable to some of the best whodunits Hindi cinema has seen. It may be a shot at Ittefaq (one of the best in this genre) in many ways, be it songlessness, fewness of characters, similarity in plot (girl home alone) and more. But it would feel like a movie made 35 years before in terms of maturity of the narrative, though it may look and sound like one made 35 years after Yash Chopra crafted that wonderful songless movie.

Kaun does have some huge positivies going for it. Remarkably consistent performances by the few characters who come on screen. Urmila is her usual self - good or bad - as you like it - and has an expression of fear pasted on her face for most of the movie. Manoj Bajpai doesn't quite have a role like Bhiku Mhatre (Satya), but does exceedingly well with the sketchy characterization he has in Kaun. And you also experience the wonderful costume design credited to Manish Malhotra. He averages for the many (un)dresses he gave Urmila in Rangeela and Daud, by going in for one simple white home robe here. Given the brevity of the titles (less than 8-10 screens), I am surprised that designing one little outfit got him a full screen of credit.

It is the visual and sound effects, perhaps the forte of Ramgopal Varma, that really hold the movie together and create any moments of fear that are, and there are quite a few. Mazhar Kamran uses the camera effectively, given that all he can play around with is one house. Thankfully for him, or by his design, the house is quite huge, has stairs that go around, lots of glass, the fish pond, and a whole many of statues, dark alleys, and the like. Visually appealing - Sandeep Chowta makes sure the sounds are right too. And he uses all the wrong sounds to make the movie sound "right" - lightning and thunder, rains lashing, cats mewing, glasses shattering, doorbell ringing, and the wonderful use of the sounds of silence.

The movie, had a lot more potential with the way it started. The first few solo acts by Urmila bring out the fear of being home alone on a rainy day, though a little exaggeratedly. At the same time, these very sequences also convey the humor underlying the fear most brilliantly. The silliness of your own fear - when you look back at it, can bring out a smile if not a laugh. With a girl alone at home, telling mother that she will be careful - comes a stranger (Manoj Bajpai) knocking (rather, ringing the bell) at the door. The TV announcement also talks of a mentally deranged killer in the town who finds an excuse to get into a home and kills the lone inhabitant. The girl also fears that someone else has also broken into the house.

Ramgopal Varma keeps the integrity of the plot exceedingly well - though some situations are quite cliched. He keeps you puzzled if there is a third person, inside or outside the house, and if so, who (the obvious question of Kaun) and why? This is one place where the movie surely succeeds. It also succeeds in bringing out the humor underlying the situations. The performers sure contribute to some humor in the movie (good lines of dialogue), and the humor in the situation itself.

The movie would perhaps have made a classic - if it had tried to be a comedy, with a mysterious backdrop rather than the other way around. Now, you really have to look through the mystery to appreciate any comedy or even realism in the situations. And then, the movie seems to be building up well - when things somehow seem to go awry. The climax in the end, really makes the 90 minute movie feel long and the effort perhaps wasted. But lets not hold the end against the movie - it had its moments, and many of them, until that point. Even the classic Ittefaq had a cliched climax, and atleast this one isn't cliched - though it is a little too far-stretched.

99. Khamoshi - The Musical (1996, Sanjay Leela Bhansali)

*Salman Khan, Manisha Koirala, Nana Patekar, Seema Biswas, Helen and Raghuvir Yadav


FEW WILL CARE TO remember the beautifully conceptualized-and-shot songs of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's '1942 - A Love Story', directed by his assistant, the talented Sanjay Leela Bhansali. That was his first stroke of genius.

His full-fledged offering, which also happened to be his directorial debut, 'Khamoshi - The Musical', was a subject very close to his heart. Normally, a debutant director will always take on a tried and tested story as a safety measure, but not Sanjay. He chose to make a different film, and went ahead with single-minded dedication to his goal.

With his debut, Sanjay broke many a rules of the game. He cast Nana Patekar in a role of a deaf and mute man, a direct contrast to his then image of a fiery, volatile protagonist. Quite unexpected from a newcomer and also a very risky move when he was aware that people thronged to the theatres to hear Nana deliver his lines in his inimitable style. Bhansali also gets the credit for bringing back yesteryear's graceful danceuse, Helen, out of retirement.

The film revolved around this Catholic family comprising of a deaf-mute couple, Joseph and Mary (Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas) for whom their daughter Annie (Manisha Koirala) is the only way of communication with the outside world. Annie, who is inclined towards music, falls in love with Raj (Salman Khan), a music composer and gets married to him, despite opposition from her father who considers music to be a kind of noise, a disturbance in the coarse of their life.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali made his directorial debut with a sensationaly complex piece of work. The film faired moderately at the box office and one wonders why?? This is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of commercial entertainment merging with what is referred to in India as "Art Cinema." Yes, the film is an out and out musical, but never do the songs hamper the narrative even once. Bhansali's ability to weave the songs in order to progress the narrative was also wonderfully displayed in his film "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam."

One would wonder how it is possible to leave two characters who are both deaf and unable to speak, to develop themselves on their own. But Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas (Bandit Queen) have given their most impressive and sincere performances yet. Manisha as the girl stuck between her love for music and her love for her parents portrays the multiple complexities of the character very effectively. However, the real winner of the film is the script also written by Bhansali himself.

The story is simply wonderful, and as is characteristic of Bhansali, instead of making the story complex, he makes his characters complex. To watch Patekar and Biswas play their roles is simply a lesson in acting.

And alas - the music. Jatin and Lalit who have tended to focus on very Indian sounds in their previous works have somehow managed to fuse in the feel of Portuguese folk sounds into their very Indian tunes - characteristic of the entire feel of Goa. The lyrics are well thought out and simple to progress the narrative. Bhansali's grip over his subject is impeccable and he displays his mastery in the art of mainstream Indian filmmaking to the fullest. This is a man to watch out for in the future.

What sets this film apart from the usual churns is that the film actually has a STORY. It actually has CHARACTERS rather than just STARS and celebrities in it. It packs in a lot of meat. This is how entertainment and art should be blended. It is good to see yet another filmmaker joining the band of contemporary directors like Mani Ratnam, Shekhar Kapur, Ramgopal Varma and Mahesh Bhatt who have succeeded in their quest to erase that line separating commerical and "Art" cinema.

For a debutant, Bhansali's dream was not realised so easily. He wrote the role of Annie with Madhuri Dixit in mind and approached her, but she turned him down, doubting his directorial abilities. It was then that he approached Manisha who jumped at the offer instantly.
Getting Nana Patekar to sign on the dotted line too wasn't easy. After endless apprehensions and discussions, Nana agreed to do the film and gave one of the finest performances of his career.

Seema Biswas, who had earlier worked in Shekhar Kapur's 'Bandit Queen', played the role of Nana's deaf-mute wife with great conviction.
It is to Salman's credit that Helen agreed to essay the role of the loving Mariamma and made a great comeback. And of coarse, Salman too gave one of the best performances of his career. Who can forget his moving expressions in the song, "Yeh dil sun raha hai" and the scene in the church where he interprets Nana's sign language to the audience.

There remains no doubt at all about the talent and genius of Sanjay Bhansali after viewing the film. In the "Yeh dil sun raha hai" song, Raghuvir Yadav taps his fingers to the tune on Nana's lap who taps the tune on Seema Biswas's shoulder. Thus the couple 'listen' to the music and the song where Manisha conveys the meaning to them via sign language. Which other director would have looked into these detailed nuances of the characters? Also, there's plenty of symbolism in the film. Annie, whose life is dull, is forever wearing black and other dull colours, till she meets Raj, who comes as a breath of fresh air in her life. She also bigins to wear vibrant colours which reflect her change of outlook towards life.

Though in some parts, the film did get grim and full of despair, it brought back memories of Manoj Kumar's 'Shor'. But despite being a remarkable debut, in terms of quality and technical brilliance, Sanjay failed to draw the audiences into the theatres in large numbers. The film flopped at the box-office. The critics panned the film left, right and centre, which irked Bhansali to such an extent that he vowed that his next film would wow the audiences and critics in such a manner that they would worship his genius. And he kept his word with the stupendous success of 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', which went on to vindicate his stand as one of the most talented filmmakers in India today.

The music of the film was a surefire chartbuster, what with hits like "Aaj mein upar", "Gaate the pehle akele", "Aakhon mein kya" and of course "Baahon ke darmiyaan". Rich poetry penned by the legendary lyricist, the late Majrooh Sultanpuri, and set to the versatile score by Jatin-Lalit, the cassettes and CDs of the film sold like hot cakes. Anil Mehta's sensitive cinematography, too, deserves a special mention, for bringing out the many moods of the film.It is simply brilliant, effectively creating the carnival like atmosphere of GOA along with a noir-ish feel that compliments the dark complexity of the characters.

Bhansali, a rebel filmmaker, is known to make films with the passion one associated with makers of yesteryear. After the super-successful 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', he's now involved in the making of 'Devdas' which no one else would risk to make. For the aspiring directors of the future, he will remain a role model, an idol, known to make his own roads, not the one to blindly follow the beaten path. And to those who crave for a different film, 'Khamoshi - The Musical' will always be a cherished masterpiece.

100. Dil Chahta Hai (2001, Farhan Akhtar)

*Dimple Kapadia, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni, Ayub Khan and Suhasini Mulay.

Produced by:Ritesh Sidhwani

Screenplay and Dialogue: Farhan Akhtar
Production Design: Suzanne Caplan Merwanjee
Sound Design: Nakul Kamte
Editing: Sreekar Prasad
Cinematography: Ravi K. Chandran

Lyrics:Javed Akhtar

Music:Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy

The story of 'Dil Chahta Hai' revolves around three friends: Akash, Sameer and Siddharth.

Akash is a non believer. He thinks the whole concept of love is created to ruin perfectly healthy two week long relationships. Sameer is a believer. He wants to be in love, and he loves being in love. Unfortunately for him though, he hasn't quite grasped the concept of it yet. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, he is out their persevering, believing that he will find that 'special her', as long as he keeps searching. Siddharth is mature, sensitive and understanding, Siddharth aka Sid knows the true meaning of the word. He feels it everyday, every hour, every minute. He has, in a manner of speaking, reached modern day enlightenment.

The film takes a look at the friendship of three graduates Akash (Aamir Khan), Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Siddharth (Akshaye Khanna) and their efforts to find love. Farhan gives us a much more warm, witty, poignant and humorous portrayal of young friendship treated in a refreshingly candid manner without bowing to the dictates of loud melodrama and self-sacrifice. The three boys are characters one could have met at any St. Xaviers or Sydenham College - Akash the incorrigible flirt not believing in long term relations, Sameer the one who falls in love with any girl he meets and Sid - the more serious and most mature of the group and also the most creative - an aspiring painter. The film works best when it sticks to the three of them - their scenes together are truly heartwarming and a great representation of what friendship is all about as they laugh and holiday together - All for one and one for all!

The romantic interludes of the three lads even though treated well enough in their own manner actually takes away from the film because whenever the film goes off on the individual tracks you miss the easy rapport that the three obviously shared even off-screen which translates remarkably well on screen.

So Akash falls for Shalini (Preity Zinta), an orphan, who is to be married off to the obnoxious son (Ayub Khan) of the couple who have brought her up as 'gratitude', Sameer for Pooja (Sonali Kulkarni) a girl who has been 'arranged' for him after resisting the whole concept of arranged marriage and Sid falls for an older woman who moves in next door - a divorcee and an interior designer, Tara (Dimple Kapadia). While the tracks of Sameer (the romance is treated in a comic manner culminating in a superb parody song) and Siddharth, the latter tender and poignant, work well enough the most boring and hackneyed track is that of Akash and Shalini like a typical filmi romance with a villainous third party redeemed only to some extent by the expert performances of both Aamir Khan and Preity Zinta.

The film is strictly modern, young and urban in its look. All the characters are from the hip side of society and thus all pretty much moneyed in designer clothes and swanky cars without having to worry about trivial things like careers - they conveniently don't have to think about it if they don't want to. Only after a fall out with Sid does Akash go to Australia under his father's order to look after the family business.

Full credit must go to the director Farhan Akhtar who has broken many of the Bollywood production norms in order to make a technically perfect and enjoyable film. The splendid performances of Aamir, Saif and Akshaye carry the film through. Aamir, manages to let go and infuse Akash with a zany sense of fun thus endearing him to audiences while Akshaye scores in the more introspective and intense role of the creative artist. Yet it is Saif Ali Khan who is the surprise packet of the film. Dil Chahta Hai sees the actor's finest performance yet - he is spot on with his sense of comic timing and is equally at ease in the more dramatic moments of the film. It is a remarkable performance coming from totally unexpected quarters.

Coming to the women, it is refreshing to see Dimple Kapadia on the screen after a considerable period and she expertly and effortlessly plays the much misunderstood Tara to perfection. Preity Zinta too rises above the script and has perhaps never looked better. While the film is aided by its fine, sharp and funny dialogues, picturesque cinematography, fine sound design and a hip and trendy production design the music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy is another plus point.

One cannot help but feel pleased after viewing Farhan Akhtar's debut feature - 'Dil Chahta Hai'. The film is refreshingly different from the standard run of the mill fare one is accustomed to in mainstream Hindi Cinema and establishes Farhan Akhtar as a director to look out for.

Screen Awards Won:

Best Supporting Actor Saif Ali Khan
Best Music Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy
Best Lyric Javed Akhtar
Best Male Playback Singer Sonu Nigam
Best Choreography Farah Khan
Best Dialogue Farhan Akhtar
Special Jury Award Farhan Akhtar
Special Jury Award Akshaye Khanna
Best Special Effects Ritesh Sidhwani (Beeps)

Zee-Cine Awards Won:

Best Supporting Actor Saif Ali Khan