Saturday, June 11, 2011

A movie a year (volume 1)

Never ask me what is my favourite movie or my favourite food. I can’t simply answer. (Favourite book is easy- Pride and Prejudice, and yes I know I am an Austen-cliché, but that’s just the way it is).

But favourite food...that’s tough man! Fried pomfret or sindhi curry. Aloo paratha or chilly crab with fried bun. Thai green curry or gambas de ajillo. Bhel puri or Pizza Margarita. And I have barely begun. I love my food and don’t expect me to choose. I get very stressed when I see a man on death row in the American crime shows. And the poor guy is given the choice to have whatever he wants as his last meal. I feel sorry for the guy- not because he is soon going to be sitting on an electric chair, but because he has such a difficult choice to make at this critical time.

And same goes for favourite movie. I hardly ever agree to the ‘best film’ award on any of the popular shows as it’s very unlikely that the popular choice would be mine. And there are just way too many fabulous Hindi movies. How can anyone just choose one?

So here is what I thought. I will pick my favourite film for each year since I was born. Brilliant na? Except now everyone will know my exact age. Which frankly is not a state secret (as much as I would like it to be one)

So here goes decade one of my existence. 1974 to 1984

1974: Ok. I reached a stumbling block on year one itself. Did not find a single movie which I have seen that year, let alone liked. So I shall cheat here and select from 1973- I was conceived that year, so it’s justified.

And I will cheat one more time and pick 2 films. Which is going to be a pretty much ongoing scenario throughout this post, as in most years I have more than one favourite film.

In no particular order my 2 picks for 1973/1974 are: Abhimaan and Zanjeer. Zanjeer shot Amitabh to overnight fame. Brilliant portrayal as Inspector Vijay (his favourite screen name). Also the movie which catapulted his ‘angry young man’ image. While with Abhimaan he made his mark as an emotive actor. He played the role of an established popular singer who found it difficult to deal with his wife’s success. Abhiman also gave us the successful Amitabh-Jaya jodi and beautiful songs like “Tere mere jeevan ki raina” and “Teri bindiya re”

1975: This is tougher than I thought. How can anyone choose between Deewar and Sholay? They both are just awesome!! I still cry even today when I see Jai die in the end in Sholay. And Basanti is one of the most iconic female characters in the history of Indian cinema.

The scene in Deewar where Amitabh buys the building where is mum worked as brick carrier (is that even a word?) is etched in my memory. And the dialogue “Maaf kijiye Daaga saab, lekin business karna aap no nahin aata. Aap agar is building ki doogni keemat maangte, toh bhi mein de deta”. And “Mein aaj bhi phenke hue paise nahi leta”. Salim-Javed! You gotta love them! What writing! And another reason I am partial to Deewar is that it had my favourite Shashi Kapoor- who I loved more than Amitabh. He had the most winning smile!

And to add to the confusion, there is Aandhi to consider. A Gulzar film supposedly based on Indira Gandhi. Best-ever songs! “Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa”. And Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar were just stunning.

I can’t resolve this. 1975 goes to Aandhi, Deewar and Sholay.

1976: This year has a clear winner-Kabhie Kabhie. Directed by Yash Chopra with Amitabh, Rakhi (never looked better), Shashi Kapoor (played such a charming and adorable character in the film and fav profession- architect) and Waheeda Rahman. It also starred the next generation stars (and my favourite on and off screen couple- Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh. A beauty love triangle and one of the best music compositions ever by Khayyam**- a music director extraordinaire but sadly underrated. Who can ever forget the title track and beautiful shayari by Amitabh?

However I would like to mention another lovely film from this year- Chitchor. I used to be a big Amol Palekar fan and loved almost all the films he starred in- until he started making them and Paheli happened-seriously dude what were you thinking? A Rajshri production back when their movies were heart warming but still socially relevant. Rajshri remade this film in 2003 with Kareena, Hrithik and Abhishek in a shameful ‘Main prem ki deewani hoon’. Again guys, what were you thinking?

1977: Amar, Akhbar, Anthony was released this year, and though it deserves a mention for a lot of reasons- the key one being the magic of Amitabh and Praveen Babi on screen, it is not my favourite film of that year. Oh and it also deserves a mention for Vinod Khanna- the most handsome star at that time. His sons are not remotely as handsome, though I always liked Akshaye Khanna very much. Big crush! But not sure where he is nowadays...since the hair loss.

I vote for Hum kisse se kum nahin. I love Nasir Hussain movies (this was even before I knew he was related to Aamir Khan). An out and out commercial plot with fabulous music by R D Burman- I still prefer Rishi’s version of Bachchna ae hasino to his son’s. Other popular songs from this movie were “Chaand mera dil” and the crown gem “Kya hua tera vada”

1978: This year I will pass up a great Amitabh movie- inspite of the fab chemistry with Rekha which was unmistakable especially in the ‘kotha’ number ‘Salame ishq meri jaan’. Yes am talking about ‘Muquadar ka sinkandar’. My favourite movie for this year is Ankiyon ke jharokon se. Loosely based on Eric Segal’s Love story- one of my much-loved books- the movie was so heart-warming and beautiful. And just makes me wonder again what beautiful films Rajshir Productions used to make. The film got nominations for Best Actress, Best Film, Best Direction categories in 1978 Filmfare Award but missed them all. And which makes me realized that Filmfare awards even then danced to the popular beat while ignoring true talent.

1979: Hriskesh Mukherjee is one of my favourite directors. And Golmaal is one of his best movies. But 1979 was also the year that Kala Pathar was released. And its undoubtedly one of my favourite Amitabh movies of all times. Again a Yash Chopra direction- wish he made such movies again instead of only the romantic ones. And Kala Pathar had Shashi Kapoor too- looking so handsome as the young architect (my most sexiest profession ever! Have I mentioned that before?). The heroines Rakhi, Parveen Babi and Neetu Singh played their parts beautifully too. I love multi-starrers! But you don’t see as many of them now. May be today’s actors are simply too insecure to share screen space with each other. And the other important bit of news from this movie is that it’s THE ONLY movie where Shatrughan Sinha was remotely tolerable.

1980: Qurbaani was the highest grosser this year and great masala movie. But I have never been a big fan of Feroz Khan (though I used to find his son Fardeen super hot but marriage has ruined him completely). My biggest gripe against Feroz Khan- besides the arrogance and the weird westernized accent- was that he always kept himself alive in the end of the film and killed the other hero. In this movie it was the handsome Vinod Khanna (in Janbaaz it was Anil Kapoor, in Yalgaar it was Sanjay Dutt). Arrey just because you are the director does not mean you kill the other guy off even if the script does not demand it?

But still a must watch simply for Vinod Khanna and Zeenat.

1980 also was the year of another huge multi-starrer- The burning train. Love it! And in fact recently I saw it on TV when I was in Bombay and even made Sanil watch it. He seemed semi-impressed. But 1980 can only go to Karz! One of Subhash Ghai’s best and needs simply no introduction. The only thing I did not like about Karz was Tina Munim- could not stand her! Actually still can’t do. (And she needs to go her sis-in-law’s way and loose that fat!). And I have to mention here that Himesh Reshamiya needs to be publicly lynched for remaking Karz as Karzz! I will forgive Ram Gopal Verma for the similar sacrilegious behaviour in remaking Sholay- as Amitabh was his partner in crime and I can only attribute it to temporary insanity on both their parts.

1981: gave us the next super star in Sanjay Dutt with Rocky. Teen girls watched Rocky 50 times over and swooned and gushed. I never saw the fuss and don’t see it now either. Manoj Kumar gave us Kranti and being the patriotic person I am, I love that film. Yash Chopra gave us Silsila- a film that was not a big box office success, but was one of the most poignant love stories ever made. The plot, the music, the lyrics by Javed Aktar- "Mein aur meri tanhayi", the cast, the story line everything was just splendid. Another beautiful film that year was Basera- simply worth watching for Rekha’s restrained yet powerful performance and Shashi’s dashing looks.

But my 2 favourite movies of this year are in Naseeb and Kalyug. Poles apart but etched in my memory for completely diverse reasons. As kids we watched Naseeb on loop- I don’t think there is any other movie and my cousins and I watched as much. A dhamaal Manmohan Desai masala entertainer.

And Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug. Based on Mahabharat- from where my fascination of the epic started- and who should play my favourite Mahabhrat character- Karna- but Shashi Kapoor. Rekha made a very convincing Drupadi. Kalyug was my foray into the parallel cinema world. Then called ‘art movies’.

1982: My attraction towards art movies propelled with Arth. It was a life changing film for me. The last scene when Shabana refused Raj Kiran even though she knew he loved her so much, and instead chose to be a mother to her maid’s child was one of my first ever understanding of woman’s liberation and independence. I was 8 when Arth was released, I assume I watched it much later in life, but it left an ever-lasting impression on my mind.

1983: launched 2 other big heroes who became Sanju baba’s contemporaries. One was star son Sunny Deol with Betaab. And one a middle class chawl dweller- Jackie Shroff with Hero. I saw ‘Kishen’ on screen and I found my first true crush*. I still remember going to a cinema in town (South Bombay) with my whole family to watch this movie. And my cousin Sandy who was from Switzerland and did not understand Hindi also sat through the 3 hours of this Subhash Ghai’s masterpiece.

This year also saw the advent of Sridevi with her ‘thunder thighs’ in full glory in Himmatwala and Justice Chudhary. Also known for Jeetu bhai’s most innovative and entertaining dance steps (and white shoes)

But Hero is not my only film for that year. Because 1983 was the year one of the best movies in the history of Indian cinema was released- Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom. Adaptation from another Eric Segal novel “Man, woman and child”, Masoom showed us another side to motherhood. I have never been a Shabana fan- Arth was the only exception- and I think it has its roots in this film. I could never relate to her character in this film. Though technically her character is not really her, but I simply could never forgive her for rejecting Jugal Hansraj- which heartless person can resist the big brown sad eyes of that child as he says “Meri mummy bhi phoolon wali sari pehenti thi”. Even at young age, I was very clear in my head. I was not sure if I could forgive my husband for adultery, but I could never turn away the child. I still tear up when I hear “Tujhse naaraz nahin zindagi”. (And yeah I LOVE Shekhar Kapur- he is at the Aamir Khan level for me)

1984: My love affair with Mahesh Bhatt art movies continued with Saaransh. Anupam Kher’s debut film where he played a man of 60 years coping with his son’s death. He was only 28 years old then! A brilliant film which makes me wonder what happened to that great story teller and film maker?

This year also gave birth to 2 stars who would rule Indian cinema (and my heart) for years to come. Madhuri Dixit in Abodh- she was merely 16. And Aamir Khan in a miniscule role in Ketan Mehta’s Holi.

Another movie that just has to be mentioned is Jaane bhi do yaaron- a hilarious laugh riot! Satish Shah- one of the best comedians this industry has given us and Naseer- one of the finest actors this industry has ever given us, coupled with Pankaj Kapur and Ravi Baswani lead to one of the funniest movies of all times. Best dialouge: "Mein ne cheerharan ka idea drop kar diya hai"

* 13 years later, I was doing my MBA summer internship at Sony Entertainment (where Jackie used to have a stake holding) and one day when I was sitting at my desk, Jackie walks in and looks at me and says “hello sweetheart”. I am not a swooner, but boy did I swoon. And when we went back to college, and everyone exchanged their summer internship experiences like the projects they worked on, the important people they presented to, etc, I just said “Jackie said ‘hello sweetheart’ to me”. Yeah it was extremely bimbotic...but hell he was Jackie Shroff!(and yes I am fully aware he does not look like that now!)

** Khayyam lives in my building in Bombay. As kids, when we played on the building terrace, he used to come up and scold us for disturbing him as his apartment was just below the terrace. Our revenge was to ring his door bell and rung. I feel semi-bad now.

So that ends my top picks for the first decade of my life. And now I can only think how I want to watch each and every of these films again!

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