Ten decades of filmmaking with ten classic films
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]part from cricket and politics, one thing that keeps our country going is Hindi Films. The impact of Indian cinema can be realized from the fact that it is world’s largest film industry with an identity that is incomparable and distinct. There is no dearth of good movies and cinematic talent in Indian film industry. Every year, thousands of movies get released featuring genres of all kinds such as romance, thriller, action, horror, sports, comedy and also stories conveying social messages.
From the period of black and white silent films to recent 3D technology, Indian cinema has come quite a long way since its first feature film “Raja Harishchandra” got released on 3rd May 1913. Following the success of this film, many other silent films got produced and by the mid of 1920s, Madras and Bombay became the central point for all filmmaking activities. However, in 1931, when Ardeshir Irani made his first talkie, “Alam Ara”, it laid the foundation for talkie era in Indian film industry. With the introduction of sound in motion pictures, Indian cinema paved a way for strong voice and melodious music in its films. At that time, actors needed not only looks but also good singing skills to make it big in the films.
By the late 1940s, various films with religious theme got made that also marked the beginning of golden era in Hindi film music. Composers like Shankar Jaikishan, O.P. Nayyar, Madan Mohan, Naushad and S.D. Burman came up with their distinctive tunes and sense of music. Soon after, 1950s and 60s were believed to be the Golden Age of Indian cinema when directors like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Mehboob Khan, K Asif, Raj Kapoor made classics such as Pather Panchali, Madhumati, Do Bheega Zameen, Shree 420, Awaara, Pyasa, Mother India and Mughal E Azam that completely awed the Indian audiences.
During this period, when actors like Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra continually enjoyed the glory of superhits, our actresses were also not far behind. Starting from Vyjayanthi Mala, Nargis, Waheeda Rahman and Sharmila Tagore to Sridevi, Rekha, Smita Patil, Hema Malini, all these heroines were the reigning queens of hindi films. While, commercial cinema garnered more attention in our country, filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Ritwik Ghatak, and Satyajit Ray took India to International level with their realistic art films.
Moving on to 1970s, films completely changed the way we look at society, economics and life. It was an age of Masala films especially with Amitabh Bachchan rising to glory owing to its angry young man image in films like Sholay, Deewar and Zanjeer. The 80s witnessed the arrival of women filmmakers like Vijaya Mehta, Aparna Sen, Sai Pranjpye, Kalpana Lajimi and Meera Nair when they went on to make masterpieces like Rao Saheb, 36 Chowringhee Lane, Chashme Baddoor, Ek Pal, Salaam Bombay respectively.
By early 90’s, Dolby Digital, advanced special effects and upgraded choreography got introduced that aided stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, and Aamir Khan to explore new ways for enriching Indian cinema and entertaining its audiences. In the recent years, a massive line up of new age filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Rajkumar Hirani, Dibakar Banerjee and Vishal Bhardwaj has emerged and changed the conventional way of filmmaking. With their modern approach towards life, they have managed to carve a niche audience for their contemporary films.
Applauding the effort and brilliance of all these filmmakers and celebrating the spirit of ten decades of filmmaking, Pandolin presents you a list of ten films that shall always remain worth remembering.
Raja Harishchandra – Released in 1913, this was the first ever full-length feature film made by Dada Saheb Phalke, popularly known as father of Indian cinema who introduced India to the world of films. This film is a landmark achievement in the history of filmmaking since it was made with all male cast as working in films was considered to be a taboo for women during that time. It was Phalke’s wife who helped him with all aspects of filmmaking including cooking and washing for the actors and production team. One can only imagine, how much passion and hard work went into the making of India’s first silent film.
Alam Ara – This was the first Indian talkie that gave a new face to future feature films. It was released in 1931 and became an instant superhit. It was more of a musical saga than a dramatic piece since there were more songs in the film compared to its dialogues in entirety.
Shree 420 – This film was released in 1955 and counted as one of the many masterpieces produced by Raj Kapoor banner that went on to receive a whooping 20 million profit during that time. Apart from the sensational Raj Kapoor-Nargis chemistry, the film’s music with songs like ‘Mera Joota Hai Japani’, ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’, ‘Ichak Dana’ and the evergreen ‘Pyar Hua Ikraar Hua’ became a roar hit.
Mother India – It’s an incredibly strong feminist film that was hugely appreciated for its brave and brilliant portrayal of woman on screen. Although, the film was a remake of 1940 film ‘Aurat’, it still reserves the cult status of an epic film. This 1957 powerful melodrama went on to receive many prestigious awards but cherry on the cake was its Nargis and Sunil Dutt astonishing pairing.
Kagaaz ke Phool – This is one of the classical cult films that is considered to be the Guru Dutt’s autobiography. Though, it flopped at the box office after its release in 1959, yet it still remains India’s most remarkable film with its beautifully portrayed tragic ending.
Mughal-e-Azam – This is an Indian epic film released in 1960 and directed by K.Asif. This film is recognized as the biggest landmark in Indian cinema since not only it immortalized the Salim-Anarkali love story but also the performances, dialogues and music of the film turned iconic. It holds the record for being the highest grossing Hindi film of all times for 15 years in continuity.
Guide – This was a Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman starrer 1965 classic, adapted from R. K. Narayan’s novel ‘The Guide’. The film was said to be a milestone in many aspects owing to its superb direction by Vijay Anand, startling chemistry between its star lead, evergreen music by S. D. Burman and melodious voices of Lata and Rafi.
Mera Naam Joker – “The Show Must Go On”, a philosophy that formed the basis for this 1970’s masterpiece. This was one of the most heartwarming movies made by Raj Kapoor, widely known as the Charlie Chaplin of Indian Cinema. This film not only introduced us to the charming Rishi Kapoor but also the sensuous Simi Grewal. “Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan” was the most popular track among all that is still hummed by present music lovers. Though, the film was a commercial failure, it was immensely liked by Raj Kapoor fans and critics.
Sholay – This is what we call a complete “Bollywood Masala” film with all ingredients of entertainment such as romance, comedy, action, revenge, music and item songs blended into one film. People not only remember its every minor and major characters but also their zingy dialogues and punch lines. Right from Surma Bhopali to Sambha, Mausi and Kaaliya, all roles are engraved into our memories. Besides, Sholay was the pioneering film that marked the era of violent cinema in 1975.
Deewar – This 1975, thriller drama was directed by Yash Chopra and scripted by the ravishing writing duo Javed and Salim. This film not only played a significant role in the stardom of Amitabh Bachchan but also gave us a “New Bolly Babe” in the form of Parveen Babi.
Here’s hoping that the Indian cinema continues to entertain and delight us, like it has been doing since past 100 years of filmmaking.