|A Bollywood Primer
|Oldies But Goodies|
The highest-grossing Bollywood blockbuster ever, this 1975 action-drama costars Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra as Jai and Veeru, two small-time crooks recruited by former cop Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) to take out uber-villain dacoit Gabbar Singh (a classic turn by frequent baddie Amjad Khan), who murdered most of the cop’s family and left him unarmed (pun intended). Along the way, both fall in love—Veeru with chatterbox taange-wali Basanti (played by his real-life bride Hema Malini) and Jai with Baldev’s widowed daughter-in-law (played by his real-life bride Jaya Baduri).
Classic Quote: “Kitne aadmi the?” or “Tera naam kya hai Basanti?”
Loosely based on the 1975 American horror flick The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, this 1980 Rishi Kapoor-classic follows popstar Monty, who has been having nightmare flashes about a murder, back to Ooty, where it turns out he was murdered in a previous birth. The film has a very memorable award-winning soundtrack, including hits like “Dard-e-Dil,” “Ek Haseena Thi” and “Om Shanti Om.” Check out the Shah Rukh Khan remake, Om Shanti Om, in theaters next month!
Classic Quote: “Ooty Ooty, pyar ki booty!”
It’s classic tortured-rich-boy meets enigmatic-poor-girl (with fabulous hair), but this 1973 drama—the adult debut for future Bollywood biggies Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia—defined the genre. It features some fun ‘70s fashion—short-shorts for Dimple and a form-fitting purple velvet tracksuit for Rishi, along with aviator glasses. And the music is classic—from “Jhoot Bole Kawa Kaate” to the very-hummable “Hum Tum.”
Classic quote: “Dibbe ram.” Or “Mujse Doosti Karoge?”
This multi-layered multi-starrer, featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Waheeda Rahman, Rakhi and others, explored love in many forms—romantic, familial, and between friends. Beautiful but cold Kashmir serves as an apt backdrop for this 1976 drama, in which a young, newly-engaged girl (Neetu Singh) discovers she was adopted and runs off to find her birth mother, whose now-husband (Amitabh Bachchan) was once the poet-love of her fiancé’s own mother.
Classic Quote: “Paani geela hai!”
|RAM TERI GANGA MALI
Starring Raj Kapoor’s least-known son—and Rishi’s brother—Rajiv, this 1985 melodrama paired the classic tortured-rich-boy with an orphaned pahaharan—a Himalayan mountain-wali who used any excuse to flash some flesh. Still, its heart was in the right place—the film self-righteously masqueraded as a film about the corruption in India’s higher ranks.
Classic Quote: “Ram teri Ganga meli hogayee, papio ke paap dhote dhote.”
Southie Kamal Hassan plays a charming third wheel in this 1985 rendition of tortured-rich-boy meets enigmatic-poor-girl—set on a beach. But this repairing of Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia revels in titillating—with a surprise boob shot from Dimple, along with some full-on kisses and the obligatory wet sari scenes. There’s also some significant tuneage here—the classic weeper “Saagar Kinare.”
This 1986 drama’s most memorable moment is when all-out whore (by Desi standards) Dimple Kapadia hits the hay (quite literally) with an uber-hairy Anil Kapoor, whose beer-guzzling horse watches, smirking. But the rest of this Feroz Khan manifesto on sex, drugs and rock-n-roll is no sloucher either. Also starring Khan, Amrish Puri and Sridevi, it features a very racy item number by a gold lame-clad Rekha. Memorable music: “Jaane-Jaana” and “Tere Saat.”
A film with history—the success or failure of this 1981 weeper about infidelity was supposed to determine whether Amitabh Bachchan would stay with his long-suffering wife Jaya or move on with his mistress Rehka. If it was a hit, he and Rekha would split for good. And though it flopped, Bachchan stayed with his wife while Rekha disintegrated into a desperate, often gold-lame wrapped old lady. Classic songs include “Neela Aasman” and the Holi-anthem “Rang Barse.”
Classic Quote: “Mai aur meri tanhaai, aksar ye baatein karte hai….”
Who can forget naïve Arjun Singh’s reaction the first time he spies stunning Smita Patil in this 1982 classic? Amitabh Bachchan is at his best as innocent but gangly Arjun, a village idiot who ends up in the big city working for Shashi Kapoor’s richie Raja, who in reality was switched at birth with Arjun. But Arjun’s namak halali (faithfulness) is tested when he discovers his newfound mother may be involved in a plot to murder Raja. Classic tracks include “Aaj Rapat” and “Jawane Jaaneman.”
Classic Quote: “Aare babu, aisi English aave that I can leave Angrez behind. You see sir, I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English, because English is a phunny language. Bhairon becomes Byron, and Byron becomes Bhairon because their minds are very narrow.”
This 2007 drama by Gangster director Anurag Basu takes a page from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s layered Amores Perros, focusing on the interlinked lives and loves of several Mumbai-ites. There’s Shikha and Ranjeet, a married couple who are roommates at best. Ranjeet is sleeping with his secretary Neha, who is also Shikha’s sister Shruti’s roommate. Shruti’s puts her self online for love—and forms a love-hate relationship with Irrfan Khan, who steals the show as self-deprecating Debu, a 38-year-old virgin who’s resigned himself to an arranged marriage.
Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s debut film, this 1996 weeper centers on the musically-gifted daughter of two deaf-mute Christians in Goa who understand the world through only her. The film shines with subtle performances from Manisha Koirala, Nana Patekar, Seema Biswas and even Salman Khan. Quality music (though A LOT of it) is used practically here, often conveying the thoughts and feelings of the deaf-mute parents.
This 2002 spoof-of-sorts blends elements of Pretty Woman with classic Bollywood structure. Tortured-rich-boy Rahul Khanna hires enigmatic-poor-girl Lisa Ray to pretend to be his fiancé—and they fall in love as she wins over his relatives, one by one. Arthouse director Deepa Mehta, who’s behind the oft-banned and much-lauded trilogy of Fire, Earth and Water (also starring Lisa Ray) melds tongue-in-cheek dialogue with deft, if sometimes over-the-top, use of song-and-dance.
|DIL CHAHTA HAI
The first (and decidedly foremost) of several hip, urban, modern movies coming out Bollywood, this 2001 film focuses on three very different friends who are all exploring love on different levels. Aamir Khan’s Akash doesn’t believe in it, Saif Ali Khan’s Sameer is in love with the idea of love, and Akshay Khanna’s Siddarth falls hard—for a much older woman, Dimple Kapadia, as scandalous as ever. The friends are divided over Sid’s May-December relationship, but reconnect years later to dissect what they’ve learned about love and life in their time apart.