& occasionally about other things, too...

Friday, December 28, 2018

10 most popular Hindi films

Continued from the post above

Rajesh Khanna
Some of my friends know that I’m an unapologetic fan of popular Hindi cinema, and I’ve reproduced interesting vignettes of nine most popular films of all times – roughly one films for each decade, beginning from the 1930s. 

They are 
  • Achhut Kannya (1936) 
  • Kismet (1943) 
  • Mother India (1957) 
  • Mughal-e-Azam (1960) 
  • Aradhana (1969) 
  • Sholay (1975) 
  • Mr. India (1987) 
  • Dilwale Dulhania le Kayenge (1995) 
  • Lagaan (2001) 

The book was produced before the release of Bahubali, but any list of popular Hindi films would automatically include at least the first part of Bahubali.

Achhut Kanya“questions the caste system through the doomed love story of Pratap, an upper-caste Brahman boy, and Kasturi, an untouchable, low-caste girl. Among the luminaries who saw the film were poet and politician Sarojini Naidu and the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, who came to Bombay specifically for a screening of the film at the Roxy cinema.”

Kismet “was released at a time when the country’s freedom movement was in full swing, with the Quit India Movement of 1942 still fresh in the public mind. While the film’s main plot has nothing to do with India’s fight for independence, it nevertheless reflects nationalist sentiments through its music. In a stage show, Rani (Mumtaz Shanti) performs a song with the refrain “Door Hato Aye Duniya Walon Hindustan Hamara Hai”. Normally, the British would have never allowed such words. However, lyricist Pradeep, who had to go into hiding to avoid being arrested, cleverly added references to Japan and Germany, Britain’s adversaries in World War II, as enemies of the nation, and so the Censor Board had no choice but to permit its inclusion.”

Mother India “No discussion of Mother India is complete without reference to Nargis’s highly charged performance. Not only is it one of the finest seen in Indian cinema, it also earned Nargis the distinction of being the first Indian actress to win laurels abroad for her performance. In 1958, she was declared Best Actress at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) and the renowned English-language periodical – FilmIndia exclaimed, “Nargis lives the role better than Radha could have lived it.”

Mughal-e-Azam “The film proved to be a happy ending for all involved except Madhubala. During the film’s shooting her congenital heart disease became worse by her having to drag heavy chains around – Asif had procured real iron chains to make the scenes more authentic. Yet she bore it all bravely, giving the performance of a lifetime as the doomed courtesan. However, the biggest tragedy was her parting ways with Dilip Kumar. The two completed Mughal-e-Azam under a lot of strain, not even speaking to each other during the shoot. However, none of this is visible on-screen and their love scenes are some of the most sensual and passionate to have ever been film in Indian cinema.”

Aradhana “is inextricable from the actor-playback singer phenomenon of Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar, of which songs such as “Mere Sapnon Ki Rani” and “Roop Tera Mastana” were the stepping stones. Khanna maintained, “Kishore was my soul and I his body.” Although Kishore had been in the business for almost 20 years, he hadn’t come close to displacing top playback singer Mohammed Rafi. But with Aradhana, his journey to the top gained momentum. The soundtrack of the film captured key moments and beautiful sentiments in melody. The film’s music composer S. D. Burman was ill during the making of the movie. It is said that his son RD Burman, who also went on to become a famous music composer, may have stepped in to help his father.

Sholay “The gold standard for Bollywood films, Sholay was not only successful at the time, but enjoys unprecedented longevity. The film’s iconic characters, heartwarming songs, and dramatic storyline captivated audiences of all ages. Even the dialogues in the move proved to be so famous that the producers released a record containing only the lines from the film – a first for any Bollywood movie. Such was Sholay’s popularity, that it ran at Bombay’s Minerva Theatre, which had a capacity of some 1,500 people, for five straight years, from 1975 to 1980. In fact, the terminus near the theatre was called the “Sholay bus stop.”

Mr. India “…it is the villain Mogambo who has become the film’s most iconic character. Dialogues for Mogambo were still being written when much of the shooting was completed because Akhtar was still working out the details to his satisfaction. The famous dialogue “Mogambo khush hua” became a national catchphrase, but not without a tussle. When director Shekhar Kapur felt the line was being repeated too often and suggested editing out several instances, Akhtar convinced him to keep them, saying, “Even when Kapil Dev hits a six, people will say, “Mogambo khush hua.”

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge “has now become a part of Hindi cinema lore because of its memorable scenes, hit songs, clever script, and stylish costumes... Along with Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, DDLJ shaped the language of mainstream Hindi cinema through 1990s, especially when it came to romance and family. The film’s influence can be seen in many later films, which have tried in vain to recapture its magic. Most importantly, DDLJ opened up a huge, viable overseas market for Bollywood films among the Indian diaspora the world over. In India, it had a historic run at the box office and the film continues to be screened for well over 1,000 weeks at the Maratha Mandir cinema in Bombay.”

Lagaan “All (the) effort eventually produced a film that was a great success. Winning eight National Film Awards and nine Filmfare Awards in India, Lagaan also struck gold internationally. Despite the film’s running time of almost four hours – overly long by Hollywood standards – audiences were not deterred. People were reportedly lining up around the block for tickets in London’s Piccadilly Circus. Meanwhile, the movie reviewers in the UK and US were united in its praise, heralding Lagaan as the first crossover Bollywood. It broke ground around the world, making its way onto the UK’s list of top ten films of the year. It also became the first Indian movie to secure a nationwide release in China and enjoyed an unprecedented nine weeks of screening in Paris. Lagaan was also nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.”

Bahubali is not a part of this book, and it isn’t a Hindi film (it’s dubbed from original Telugu into Hindi and other languages), but it has become a pan-India (even global) monster success.

I'd also add Dewaar to this list because, in my very humble, opinion, it is Amitabh Bachchan's best film of all times.

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