My Top Ten Hindi Movies of the Centenary
The hundred years of Indian cinema is an occasion to try and remember the top ten movies I have seen over the years and live the experience and good time they have given me over these years. The ranking is purely my own and readers can have different opinion. The purpose is to recall these great movies and mention their salient features which made them all time favourites with movie fans both in India and abroad.
Ten : Do Aankhen Barah Haath
At number ten is the V Shantaram produced and directed film Do Aankhen Bara Haath in which he also starred. The 1957 movie is now seen as a classic Indian movie. It is based on a true story - an experiment conducted on 'open prisons' in the princely state of Aundh now in Sangli district of Maharashtra State. Shantaram was already a force to reckon with in Hindi and Marathi films for making socially relevant films when this movie was released. It told the story of a jailer who tries to reform six convicted for murder prisoners by keeping them in an open jail. He works by their side on a dilapidated rural farm to produce a great harvest. The process of rehabilitation of these criminals by the young warden named Adinath is the core of the movie.
The end is tragic as Adinath is killed by corrupt persons who do not want competition in their markets from the open jail prisoners.The irony of prisoners getting reformed and free persons plotting the murder of the reformist jail warden is not lost on the viewer.
The movie had excellent music by Vasant Desai and one of its songs 'Aaye Maallik Tere Bandhe Hum' has gained an almost iconic status. Another popular song sung in the movie by its heroine and Shantaram favourite Sandhya is "Sainyyan Jhootoon Ka Bada Sartaj Nikla'. Both songs are sung by Lata Mangeshkar and lyrics are by Bharat Vyas.
Besudes V Shantaram in the main lead it also starred Sandhy and Ulhas.The story and screen play were by G.D. Madgulkar.The length of the movie is 143 minutes. In a shooting sequence for a bull fight Shantaram got injured in one of his eyes but did not lose his eyesight.
It went on to win acclaim in both Indian and foreign countries. In 1957, it won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and Best Feature Film in Hindi. In 1958, it went on to win the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury and the OCIC award at the 8th Berlin International Film Festival. It was nominated for the Golden Globe Award at the same Festival and in 1959 for the Golden Globe Award at the Samuel Goldwyn Awards.
A moralistic movie worth watching even more than fifty years of its release.
Nine : Do Bhiga Zamin
This Bimal Roy directed film is rightly hailed as a trend setter for neo realistic movies in India.It was a story ahead of its time.Today we are seeing in many parts of India the story of the film repeated again and again. Land from farmers is taken away for industrialization. The owner of land is turned into a beggar who has to struggle for a living all his life. The pathetic story is of a farmer who owns two bhigas of land which the rich landlord wants along with other adjoining lands for setting up a profitable industry. The farmer has often borrowed money from the landlord who now tells him to return all the borrowed money along with interest within three months otherwise his land would be auctioned off. The poor farmer goes to Kolkatta to earn the sum so that he can save his land which is his only source of livelihood. The travails he faces while pulling rickshaw in the big city is shown in detail. he collects the required sum only to be told by the landlord that he is late and his land has been sold off. He is not allowed even to take a handful of mud from his land and the movie ends by showing the farmer and his family walking away from what used to be his land once.
Balraj Sahni the ace actor portrayed the role of Shambu the farmer with great finesse. He actually learnt how to pull rickshaw in Kolkatta from actual pullers many of him told him they were indeed victims like Shambu in the movie. Nirupa Roy was in the female lead. Salil Choudhury was the story writer as well as the music director.
Some of its songs are popular today also like Mausam Bheeta Jaye, Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke and Aaja Ri Aa Nindiya Tu Aa.
The movie went on to win the first Filmfare Award for Best Picture and for Bimal Roy the Best Director Award in 1954. It won the Prix International Prize at the 7th Cannes Film Festival and the Prize for Social Progress at the Karlov Vary International Festival.
Do Bhiga Zamin has become a cult movie and is recommended by Indiatimes Movies amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films.
Eight : Jagriti
Independent India's first movie to have classic patriotic songs written by the eminent poet Kavi Pradeep, one of India's greatest poets and lyricists. The 1954 film is produced and directed by Satyen Bose. The story revolves around a teacher who tries to install values in his students by unorthodox ways. He tells them about Indian culture and wants them to be patriots. Into his boarding school comes a student who is stubborn and the teacher does not seem to be succeeding in mending him. The student befriends a handicapped student who also tries to reform him but without success. One day the student decides to runaway from he hostel and the handicapped friend chases him to stop him. However in the process he meets with an accident and dies. The stubborn student realizes the sacrifice of his friend and mends his ways under the guidance of his teacher to excel in his studies and sports.
The movie went on to win the Best Feature Film in Hindi from the National Award and the Best Film Award from Filmfare in 1956 and for Abhi Bhattacharya who plays the role of the teacher the Filmfare Best Supporting Award.
The movies patriotic songs are evergreen and music was by Hemant Kumar. The immortal songs are Aao Bachon Tumhe Dikhaye Jhanki Hindustan Ki, De Di HAme Azadi, Hum LAye Hain Toofan Se Kishti Nikaal Ke and the mournful Chale Chale Ma sung by Kavi Pradeep and Asha Bhosle.
This 1961 film was a trend setter in many ways. It lifted the Hindi movies to new heights of pure entertainment. It was produced and directed by Subodh Mukherjee and had Shammi Kapoor in the male lead. It was the movie which introduced Saia Banu into Bollywood. Backed by fantastic music by the evergreen music duo of Shankar-Jaikishen it had hit songs which are popular today also. Its Yahoo song became the symbol of the young generation and its cry for freedom.
It also started the trend of Bollywood films shooting in Kashmir. It was the first film to bring the natural beauty of Kashmir on the silver screen. Film after film followed with shooting in Kashmir. Tourism to Kashmir received a big boost because of Junglee.
The story of the movie is about a strict mother played by Lalitha Pawar who considers love and laughter to be the vices of poor families and not virtues of aristocratic families. Shammi Kapoor goes to Kashmir with his sister, who dares to laugh and fall in love, to try to keep her away from both. But he himself falls in love with Saira Banu in the role of a Kashmiri girl. How both the couples manage to convince Lalitha Pawar that love and laughter are basic and natural to human nature is the plot of the story.
The evergreen songs some of them sung in scenic Kashmir locales are Kashmir Ki Kali Hoon Main, Nain Tumhare Mazedar, Din Sara Guzara Tore Angna, Yahoo Chahe Koyi Mujhe Junglee Kahe, Ja Ja Ja Mere Bachpan, Aaiyya Aaiyya Sukoo Sukko and Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par.
The 150mminute movie is a treat to watch today also.
Six : Ardh Satya
Ardh Satya directed by Govind Nihalani and screenplay by noted playwright Vijay Tendulkar was a defining film in many ways.The 1983 film rightly identified the growing unholy nexus between the mafia, police and the corrupt politicians and the marginilization of the honest cop. The powerful portrayals by its cast raised the movie to heights of realism. It hit the audiences hard and brought out how society would be harmed by such unholy alliances between corrupt persons. The 130 minute length filmwas released in 1983.
The story revolves around a honest cop played by Om Puri who finds himself gradually becoming impotent due to the nexus between local goons, corrupt politicians and the police. The idealism with which he joined the police force evaporates wen he sees the real world of deals within deals. His zeal to book the wrong doers brings him into direct clash with the powerful local mafia boss, played to perfection by another fine actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar. He rejects the advances of the mafia boss but soon is in trouble again. He arrests three persons who are the local MLA's supporters. The MLA wants him to be suspended as he refuses to release the arrested persons. He does not find support in his police force. He gets frustrated and takes to heavy drinking. One day he beats up a prisoner mercilessly and causes his death.
The ideal policeman is now in real trouble of being arrested and losing his job. He is advised to go to the local mafia boss who can help him. Reluctantly he goes to him. The boss is waiting for this day. He puts dirty conditions for helping him. This infuriates the police man and he just gets up and kills the gangster and surrenders himself to the police.
The movie was ahead of its time and rightly predicted what we see very commonly these days. Om Puri in the role of a copwas superb and his career took off with it. The movie had actors like Amrish Puri, Smita Patil, Amrapurkar,Shafi Inamdar, Satish Shah and Naseeruddin Shah. With such galaxy of trained actors the movie was bound to make a deep impact on the audiences. The growing anger of the helpless honest Indian was brought out very effectively bu Nihalani.
Ardh Satya went on to win seven National. Filmfare and International Awards. It won the Filmfare Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor(Amrapurkar), Best Screenplay and Best Story. Om Puri went on to win the National Award and the Karlov Vary International Film Festival Best Actor Awards, in 1983/ 84.
Itis truly one of Indian cinema's landmark films and still one of the best movies on Indian police.
Five : Guide
Guide was released in 1965 and went on to become not only a commrercially hit movie but got acclaimed as a classic masterpiece in Indian cinema. It is based on the novel of same name by the famous author R. K. Narayan. Time magazine has placed it at number five in its list of Best Bollywood Classics. The unusually long 183 minute film went on to win a number of Filmfare and other Awards
It is directed by Vijay Anand, brother of Dev Anand the lead actor and Waheeda Rehaman plays the lead female role. The music was by S. D. Burman and songs were written by Shailendra. The movie was shot by the ace cinematographer Fali Mistry. It was produced by Nav Ketan International the home production company of Dev Anand.
Raju guide played by Dev is a happy go lucky person in the historic city of Udaipur. In comes Rosie played by Waheeda Rehman along with her archeologist husband Monto played by Kishore Sahu. The husband dumps her in a hotel and immerses himself in a cave which he wants to discover and write upon. He neglects Rosie who turns to Raju gude for comfort. They fall in love. She is an accomplished dancer. She dumps Marcos and with help of Raju builds up a successful dancing career. Her success makes Raju insecure and he cheats her accounts .He is caught and jailed. Upon release he does not want to go to his family or Rosie. He sets of for nowhere. He reaches a village and takes night shelter in its temple. The village is suffering from draught and everyone is praying for rains. In the morning the villagers see him and take him to be a godman. They request him to bring rains. He pleads with them that he is not what they think he is. But the simple villagers are not convinced. He undertakes a fast for rains. Everyday he is in stress but soon becomes spritual and transforms into a superior being.
His publicity reaches far and wide. His mother and Rosie both see his photo in the papers and go to see him along with thousands of persons for whom he has now acquired a saintly status. When they reach him he is about to die. As he lay dying it starts raining bringing joy to the village people but sorrow to mother and Rosie. The movie tries to convey that soul never dies it is the body that does as per the message of Gita.
The powerful performances by both Dev and Waheeda fetches them the Filmfare Best Actor Awards.The film goes on to win the Best Film Award from Filmfare. Vijay Anand gets the Filmfare Best Director and Best Dialogue Awards. S D Burman gets the Filmfare Best Music Director Award. Lata Mangeshkar gets thr Filmfare Best Play back Singer Award for the now iconic son Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamana Hai. R K Narayan gets the Best Story Award and Fali Mistry The Best Cinematographer Award.
It was the first Indian movie to show a married woman walking away from her marriage and falling in love with another person. Waheeda was advised against taking up the role of Rosie for the theme was supposed to be very bold for its times. However the movie was not only well recieved but went on to be a box office success and a trend setter.The picturisation of the song Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamana Hai aptly conveys the breaking away of Rosie from a disinterested husband and a failed maririge.
The movie is a fulsome entertainer which uplifts the viewer and the experience lives with you for very long.
The India- China war of 1962 had left the nation demoralized. Valiant soldiers had fought the hordes of Chinese intruders and laid down their lives but not before inflicting heavy losses on them. The defeat was a stunning blow to national prestige.It was betrayal by a nation considered a friend by Indians.
It was left to Chetan Anand to bring out the true story of the debacle and Haqeeqat managed to do it realistically in a truthful manner. It starred a galaxy of fine actors like Balraj Sahni, Dharmendra, Priya Rajvanshi, Sanjay Khan, Jayant and Vijay Anand. Shot on actual locales it tells the story of Indian troops placed in small numbers on the Indo-China border with very limited ammunition and rations and inadequate winter clothing. Communications are alsoapoor as tre the border roads.
In October 1962 the Chinese cross the border in wave after wave which the Indian soldiers with limited fire power are unable to stop. The only thing they do is fight valiantly and lay down their lives for the motherland. The helplessness of the front line soldiers to receive command or amminition is aptly brought out in the movie. The 184 minute length movie was released in 1964 and was well accepted by the audiences.
The realistic and touching songs written by Kaifi Azmi are supported by excellent and soulful music by Madan Mohan. The Mohammed Rafi sung song Kar C hale Hum Fida, Jaano Tan Sathiyon, Ab tumahare Hawale Watan Sathiyon has become a cult patriotic song in the country. Other touching songs are Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bholaya Hoga and Main Ye Sonchkar Uske Ghar Se Utha Tha.
It was the first war film which brought out the harsh reality of neglect of our troops resulting inoue defeat and humilition.
Three : Pyasa
This 1957 film by Guru Dutt has becomea cult film the world over esp. in Germany and France. The story is of a failed poet who is shunned by relatives and friends but finds solace in the arms of a prostitute played by Waheeda Rehaman. His poems ae rejected by publishers and this disheartens him. However the prostitute appreciates them. One day he meets his college girl friend who is now married to a publisher only for leading a comfortable life. He feels she can help him get his poems published. Her husband employs him only to keep an eye on him and find out the truth between teir relationship with his wife played by Mala Sinha. However one day he gives his coat with his address to a beggar who is run over by a train. The publisher then declares that the poet is dead and agrees to now publish his poems and make profit. The poet fails to convince everyone that he is very uch alive. He is put in a mental assylum.
Meantime his poems have become a hit and the publisher is holding a felicitation function in a hall. The poet escapes from the assylum and reaches the hall. People recognize him but the publisher buys out his brothers to disown him. With a broken heart he leaves the hall with the prostitute disowning his own poems to lead a new life somewhere else.
The film had mesmerising and stirring songs written by Sahir Ludhianvi and music by S. D. Burman and sung by Mohammed Rafi and Geeta Dutt. These songs are popular today also. The film is overall pessimistic in nature but captures the evil side of humans and relationships beautifully. Guru Dutt excelled in the role of the poet Vijay and so did Waheeda in the role of Gulabo.
The movie has now attained the position of a classic in world cinema and is frequently screened and discussed in seminars and festivals abroad. It is a movie which should be seen for its picturisation, songs, music and acting. Its famous song Jinhe naaz Hai Hind Per Woh kahan hai is apt today also. Another popular song is Sar Jo Tera Chakraye filmed on Jhonny Walker. Hemant Kumar has sung the song Jane Woh kaise Log The and the songs of Geeta Dutt are all a treat to listen
Pyasa is a movie to be surely seen at least once.
Two : Mughal-e-Azam
Mughal-e-Azam was a magnum opus directed by K Asif and released in 1960 to great acclaim and commercial success. It brought out the splendour of the greatest Mughal Akbar and his Court in all its splendour. No cost was spared or cut to make all sets of the movie grand in scale. It was a visual delight to watch the movie. Starring powerful actors like Dilip Kumar, Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala ,Durga Khote and Ajit, its dialogues and their deliveries by all the actors wrere of a very high order.
If Prithviraj Kapoor looked every bit the king Akbar so did Dilip look a perfect Salim. Madhubala as Anarkali was simply too beautiful on the screen. Supported by classical music by the master Naushad and excellent songs written by Shakeel Bhadayuni its songs are a rage today also. Especially the song Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya sung by Lata and filmed on Madhubala in the exotic Sheesh Mahal set, it has become a cult song of love and defiance for generations thereafter.
A story of Prince Salim falling in love with a courtesan Anarkali and the refusal of Akbar to reconise it is the simple story. She is then walled up on orders of Akbar but releasd and banished from his kingdom so that Salim believes she is dead and concentrates on matters of State and upholds the kahndani ijjat of the eat Mughals. Thec story is not true but is by now a legend of romance.
The movie was made on a budget of Rs 1.5 crores and went on to gross Rs 5.5 crores a record very difficult to beat. The 191 minute film was recently re-released as a 177 minute movie and the original black and white was converted into coloour digitally. The coloured version brings out the sets superbly and is a treat to watch. The movie ran 90% houseful in all the theatrers. It was re-released in 2003.
The movie brought acting laurels to bothh Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. It was hailed as India's answer to grand Hollywood mega movies. Its dialogues were a rage upon its release.
Mughal-e-Azam is one of India's top movies from all view points of movie making and this has made it into a legendary film. Imagine a lakh people were outside Maratha Mandir theatre wanting to buy its ticket upon release in Mumbai.
ONE : Mother India
Mother India is one of India's most revered films. Producer director Mehboob Khan's opus magnum is one of India's highest grossing films ever. It was released in 1957 and was in continuous distribution till mid nineties when satellite and channels altered the movie goers taste. Even today it is one of the handful of movies which are repeatedly watched all over the country. it has got identified with Indian culture in the minds of the masses.
It was produced as an answer to a book written before Indian independence by Katherine Mayo for American audiences. In her book also entitled Mother India she ridiculed Indians liberally and wrote all sort of trash. The film thus acquired a nationalist touch. It was in fact a remake of Khan's earlier movie named Aurat andcmade in 1940.
Mother India tells the story of rural India where for sake of dowry a mother borrows a sum of Rs 500 from the local money lender. The married couple then try to work on their fields to pay off the loan. Dissaters strike and they are not able to pay off the loan. The money lender true to their reputation make life difficult for the couple. One day the husband feeling inadequate goes away leaving the wife with two children to fend for themselves. The moneylender proposes marraige to the mother which she refuses. She struggles to bring up her family and life is obviously tough. One of the children is normal and well behaved. But the other one is full of revenge for the moneylender and also ikeeps troubling the village girls. The mother's efforts to straighten him fail. He also threatens the moneylender whom he has seen insulting his motherand taking away her ornaments. On the day of his daughter's marraige he stikes at the moneylender and takes away his daughter. The mother tries to stop him but in vain. She then shoots him dead to rescue the girl.
In the role of the mother Nargis played her best role winning accolades all round. Sunil Dutt as the bad son was only a film old but got recgnised as an actor of potential. Rajendra Kumar was the good son whose career also took off positively. Raaj Kumar as the weak husband also came into recognition. The moneylenders role was played to perfection by the ace character artiste Kanhayalal and his utterance of the name Radharani (Nargis's name) is simply superb.
Mother India was the costliest movie till Mughal-e-Azam overtook it in 1960. The movie also made record collections all over India and abroad except in USA and England. It won a host of Filmfare Awards for Best Film ,Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematographer and Best Soun. Nargis also won the Best actress award at the Karlov Vary Internatinal Film Festival in 1958.
The music of Mother India is by Naushad and lyrics are by Shakeel Bhadayuni. It has 12 songs sung by Rafi, Shamshad Begum, Lata and Manna Dey and each song is popular today also. Its holi song Holi Aaye Re Kanhai by Shamshad Begum is immensely popular and very pleasing to hear. So is Duniya Main hum Aaye Hain to Jeena Hi Padega by the sisters Lata, Meena and Usha Mangeshkars.
Mother India became a base for movies that followed. THe battle between good and bad. The sacrificing mother fighting the evil forces to save her family. Sunil Dutt's character gave rise to the angry young man's image.
The 172 minute film is an eternal Hindi movie watched for its strong portrayals and wonderful classical music.
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