100 YEARS OF INDIAN CINEMA & ROLLING…
…SO WE ROLL AGAIN
[…continuing from where I left my journey down 100 years of cinema]
Cinema has been part of my life since my teenage years. Those days it was a taboo and many did not appreciate it as an intelligent act. As I grew up and rolled into college, cinema lovers somehow multiplied into volumes and I met so many more like me who were cinema lovers. Shops started selling video cassettes and later compact discs and the market was flooded. This is what made movies a household affair. And then I saw the rise of multiplexes all over, like an epidemic. All big cities and their suburbs were loaded with high-design theatres running movies of all kinds.
In the 1980s we saw a lot of good movies and action booming on the big screen … An epic which made history was ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’, released in 1981. A young Rati Agnihotri and the extremely talented Kamal Hassan created ripples and made a culture in love. Songs made history and are favourites even now… “Ek dor kheenche duja dauda chala aaye, Kachche dhaage se bandha chala aaye…”.
1987 saw Mr. India … more famous for “Mogambo Khush Hua…” than being a science fiction film. The ‘Mogambo’ dialogue is embedded in Bollywood till date. The all powerful-and-dashing Amrish Puri rolled his fat fingers on the golden ball and became the villain no.1. ‘Mogambo’ rose after ‘Gabbar‘ and everyone knew his name. Though I feel Gabbar Singh from ‘Sholay’ was a bigger name, but Mogambo did make history. This was India’s first super hero movie by Shekhar Kapoor. A brilliant combination and a superhit movie. Sridevi’s ‘Hawa Hawai’ is still rocking. The invisible man in Hindi films made history in this movie. Anil Kapoor touched a million hearts. Now its 3D version will also be available.
“I can talk English, I can walk English, I can run English… because English is a very funny language”. Who can forget Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Namak Halal’ (1982) !!! Before this he swooned over Rekha in ‘Silsila’ (1981), a chemistry never seen after this made history. Their romance burnt the screen and stories sizzled off screen too. As he sings … “Main aur meri tanhai, Aksar ye baatein karten hain”… she swoons. “Ye tanhai, ye main aur tum… Zameen bhi ho gayee gumsum… Neela Assman so gaya….!” Shiv-Hari’s music in ‘Silsila’ still rules our minds and lives in our heart. Tulip Gardens of Kuekenhof in The Netherlands left a mark on our memories.
‘Ardh Satya’ in 1983 by Govind Nihalani was a benchmark in Indian cinema in those times and is still considered the best cop movie. It won many awards and we saw Sadashiv Amrapurkar, a Marathi theatre personality for the first time, in one of his best roles. 1980 saw a cult comedy – Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, by Kundan Shah, that presented a dark satire on corruption in India in those days. A comedy, which rung many a bells and won a few awards too, remains the Bible for many a modern actors. The cast was very powerful and so was the result. Ravi Baswani won the best comedian award for his role in this movie though he went unutilized in Bollywood a la Manish whose Saraswatichandra (1968) saw Nutan touching the sky while he going down unsung. [Saraswatichandra was also the last Bollywood movie to be made in black and white.]
As flamboyant as he could be Feroz Khan – the Clint Eastwood of India – rose to fame and success and he changed the look of the Indian hero. He revolutionised the style quotient and flamboyancy was his forte. Feroz Khan gave us ‘Qurbani’, in 1980 – a landmark movie and the best of his career. It also saw Nazia Hassan, the Pakistani singer, rise to fame forever with ‘Aap jaisa koi, Meri zindagi mein aaye…’. Feroz Khan also did wonders in Dharmatma (1975), Dayavan (1988) and Jaanbaaz (1986) – all blockbusters.
One movie I still remember watching… which at that time I thought was scary… was ‘Shaan’ – one of the biggest successes of the 80s, and I so loved the opening title song … ‘Doston se pyar kiya … Dushmano se badla liya… Jo bhi kiya … Humne kiya… Shaan se… Shaaaaaan se…’ …what a vibrant song by Usha Uthhup! The magic of R.D.Burman shone all through the movie with unmatchable music and grooves. In the 1980s, Shaan was the biggest hit for a long time. All Box Office records were broken on the opening day itself. Huge humungous posters of Amitabh Bachchan were to be seen all over the country. And the bald ‘Shakaal’ (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) emerged as the next most powerful villain after Gabbar Singh. Stunts, glamour, sharks, under water sets, crocodiles, and the tall man Amitabh Bachchan … wow an awesome combination which stayed with us for years.
Amitabh Bachchan, who made his debut in 1969 as a voice narrator in Mrinal Sen’s award winning ‘Bhuvan Shome’, went on to acting in ‘Saat Hindustani’ the same year. We also saw his rise and fall with hits and flops like Andha Kanoon (1983), Namak Halal (1982), and Lawaris (1981) in which the song “Mere angne mein tumhara kya kaam hai…” had such bold lyrics that it was sung everywhere and became a crowd puller. It also proved a well known fact that Amitabh Bachchan can carry a movie all by himself – HE the hero, comedian, villain and the heroine as well. He was shining as we saw ‘Yaraana’ (1981), in “Saara zamana haseeno ka deewana…” in which his costume created was an eyesore for his competitors. Inspired by an Elvis Presley outfit, the song costume with lights on was a very bold experiment in those times.
When we talk of 100 years of Indian cinema, a lot of parallel cinema needs special mentions. A lot of movies were made during all these years, out of the league and in so many languages. And as I explore them, I walk along with many a big, small, known and unknown names like Adoor Gopalakishnan, Shyam Benegal, N.T.Rama Rao, Ritwik Ghatak, Mira Nair, Shekhar Kapoor, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Nagesh Kuknoor, M.G.Ramchandran, Sivaji Ganeshan and so many more.
[To be concluded]