I guess it was the all the blah-blah-blah about OSO being a tribute to the 70’s era og Hindi films that put me in a nostalgic mood. So, I thought to meself – what better way to raise my own little sentimental toast than to dash off a list. For example10 films in which Dharam pra-ji said “Billi-Badmash!” instead of “Kuttey-Kameeney!” Or “10 films of Ingar Berman that were actually directed by Manmohan Desai“. (Or the other way around?) Except I’m terrible at doing these list things and am deeply, eternally envious of those who can effortlessly dash off “10 Fastest Pelvic Thrusters in the World” without so much as a twinge in their oblongata. (Which isn’t what you’re thinking, but if you are, then apparently the Algerian jird - a variety of desert rat - tops the list at 120 thrusts a minute. Though we don‘t know what it will be while dancing to “Beedi Jalaile“….)
My problem is that invariably my lists have only 2 things. Or then 73.
But since I’m not one to give up easily, I hammered out a list. 10 Hindi Films That I have Watched 10 times and Plan To Watch Another10 Times. (At least).
Naturally you're thinking - is the woman nuts?
10 times? And then another 10? (At least)
Well, it's not only because they're some of the best work of people who are considered legends of Indian cinema. Or because they have between them 10 Filmfare awards, one National Award and Lord alone knows how many nominations. Or because they demonstrate that immortal cinema has got nothing at all to do with mega budgets, item numbers or swish locations in Baden-Baden. (The combined budget of half of them probably wouldn't buy one of Shahrukh Khan's “rajesh khanna” outfits in OSO.) Or because they remind us that there is no substitute for a great script.
It's also because they are the 10 best antidotes to depression.
Let me explain.
I’ve watched many of these films at least 10 times and will gladly watch them another 10 times. (At least.) And every single time, I’ve come away charmed, entranced and delighted. Even though I know the story, the scenes, even the dialogues by heart and that every road leads to only one destination. Happily Ever After. But they all go through this wonderful, enchanted forest where each time there is something that I never noticed before and what I have hasn’t dimmed even an nano-watt in its wondrous magic. It’s not only that they make me laugh, but also cry; happy-sad tears that gently slip down my cheeks and find their way into the dankest, most sub-Arctic cockle of my heart to fill it with something that’s kinda warm, kinda mushy, even a tad soppy. But that never fails to remind me that even when life, in collusion with your maid, job, boss, potbelly and hair, sucks and you’ve just caught your spouse doing that Algerian jird thing with your fat, creepy neighbour, there’s not much else that can measure up to it….
So here are my 10 best alternatives to suicide.
Anubhav (1971) and Aavishkaar (1973)
How to make rosogollas of a marriage gone sour. Or two of the most sensitive, insightful takes on the subject. Tanuja’s and Sanjeev Kumar’s superb performances in Anubhav are expected, but the rare sight of Rajesh Khanna, the actor, not the superstar in Aavishkaar is not and it won him his 4th and last Filmfare award. Geeta Dutt’s brother, Kanu Roy scored some hauntingly beautiful music for both films, including Geeta’s last two and perhaps sweetest songs - Koi chupke se and Mujhe Jaan na kaho. (She died a year later)
Parichay (1972) and Khushboo (1975)
Who cares if Parichay was a "remake" of Sound of Music because it was the beginning of one of Hindi cinema's most brilliant partnerships - Gulzar and R.D Burman. Gulzar's genius is that he dared to put Jeetandra in the same film as Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bachchan and showed us that inside Jumpin' Jack Jeetu's shiny white shoes was a very fine actor. In Khushboo, he got Hema Malini to flaunt not just her unfashionably high forehead and frizzy hair, but also that she could act….as well as Jeetendra!
Bawarchi (1972), Golmaal (1979), Khubsoorat (1980)
At the dizziest height of his success, when girls were writing him letters in blood, Hrishikesh Mukherjee made Rajesh Khanna give one of his finest performances wearing a khaki "half-pant" throughout the film - as and in Bawarchi. The film also has Madan Mohan's exquisite music. According to me it was not Umrao Jaan but Khubsoorat that was Rekha's finest hour and in Golmaal, Amol Palekar's double role won him his only Best Actor award!
This film is a celebration of so many things - love, laughter, music, but mainly that rare moment in cinema when everything comes together in perfect, flawless synch to make a classic. Obviously, Kishore Kumar and Mehmood and Pancham’s music are the stars of this show but who can forget Sunil Dutt as the bumbling, utterly adorable “Bhola”?
Masoom (1983) - Filmfare should've started a Best Child Actor award in its honour because the kids stole this magical show. And if Jugal Hansraj's baby-blues and little "Minnie" don't make you feel all achey-breaky, the song "Tujhe Naraaz Nahin Zindagi" will.
Katha (1983) - Naseer as the earnest, industrious tortosie, Farooque Shaikh as the slick, irresistibly cad hare, Deepti Naval as the dewy-eyed “prize” are only three of the superb Mumbai chawl-ful of performances in this delightful version of the Aesop‘s Fable…