Hundred Years Of Indian Cinema (Part 1)


100 years of Indian Cinema


1913…a film is made about a king who is  the epitome of truth. But how would one judge if the KING ON SCREEN spoke truth or told a lie? That was the Indian Cinema – beginning with a silent movie… then.

Today after 100 years we stand here and go back all these years and travel again this beautiful journey of a few decades… Also, umpteen times we have heard these lines but have we ever thought what all goes behind making a movie! Actually, there’s so much that goes into the making of a movie and I’m not talking only about the finances. So much time, effort, imagination, so many emotions put together, so much hard work by all the people involved in making a movie — right from the grass root level to the top notch.

Dadasaheb Phalke AwardAnd on a certain Thursday night it is put in front of the jury and the critics — so the fate of the movie is decided in a span of mere one hour. It either holds the Box Office of it fails. I think this is very unfair. So much hard work is just washed away in a few hours by a bunch of people. But such is life. There’s no second chance.

What started with Raja Harishchandra (a silent movie) being released on April 21, 1913, Indian feature films entered their 100th year this April 2012. A 100 years have gone by — what an amazing achievement! Since then, both the journey and the list are unending. Then came the breakthrough in 1931, with the first talking movie Alam Ara, which had some good music too.

And the best part is that in all these 100 years nothing else has come even close to being a part of our hearts and minds as the Cinema Industry. When one thinks of entertainment one thinks of Indian Cinema and nothing else.

All the glamour, fashion, glitterati, gossip, falls and rises, trends of lifestyles, big cars to bigger bungalows, music, dance, drama, storylines, action … everything has been the same… only multitudes have changed. That’s what makes Bollywood Bollywood. And that’s what draws us to it.

There are so many unforgettable milestones in all these years. All of which can’t be mentioned thought some have indeed left behind concrete dreams.

Presenting here few unforgettable masterpieces the way I remember them in no particular order:

• “Marco, main jeena chahti hoon,” is what she said to him and so she let out all her desires, broke all her chains and sang: ”Aaj phir jeene ki tammana hai, Aaj phir marne ka irada hai.” And so she danced and danced. This was Waheeda Rehman in Guide (1965)… koi na roko dil ki udaan ko

• His voice in full command said, ”Aisi kaun si Firdaus hai is poore Lucknow sheher mein jisse hum nahin jaante” — Raaj Kumar in Waqt (1965, again).

• Shanta Apte in Amrit Manthan (1934) by V. Shantaram supposedly made some 2,00,000 people cry.

• “Aapke paon dekhe, bahut haseen hain. Inhe zameen par mat utariyega, maile ho jayenge…” as she sleeps in a moving train, he writes a note for her and leaves her wandering… looking for him everywhere and each time the train whistles she runs, a very beautiful Meena Kumari and Raaj Kumar in Pakeezah (1972).

• Prithviraaj Kapoor’s best in Sohrab Modi’s Sikandar (1941), a power-packed performance that coincided with World War II and the nationalistic quest for independence through Quit India Movement.

• Mother India (1957) — “Tu mujhe nahin maar sakti, Tu meri maa hai” – a magnum opus by Nargis-Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar and not to forget the Sukhilala.

• Bimal Roy magic in Do Beegha Zameen (1953), which had Balraj Sahni as a peasant who comes to Calcutta and turns into a rickshaw driver.

• “Salim tumhen marne nahin dega aur Anarkali hum tumhen jeene nahin denge” – the iconic Prithviraj Kapoor with the ever so beautiful Madhubala and the handsome Dilip Kumar as Sheikhu in Mughal-e-Azam (1960) by K. Asif created a magical extravaganza.

Sholay’s kitne aadmi thhey…!!!

• Guru Dutt….!!! A league apart… the one who created a different genre by making movies like Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) and Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960).

• Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962), an Abrar Alvi creation in which the Indian heroine drinks alcohol to please her straying husband. An matched beauty till now, Meena Kumari touches different shades of emotions portrayed in this as Chhoti Bahu… unparalled she reigns as the Indian tragedy queen.

• Who can forget… “Arey o Sambha, kitne aadmi thhey” – a roaring Gabbar Singh in monstrous form like a demented beast casts an unmatched  shadow of evil which has been Amjad Khan’s best by far in Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay (1975). The friendship of Amitabh Bachchan and Dharamendra is still quoted and so it became the most popular film from then to now… Ye dosti hum nahin todengey…

• Raj Kapoor’s Shri 420 (1955) saw the wet romance of Raj Kapoor himself and Nargis as they sang under a black umbrella, ”Pyar hua ikraar hua hai, Pyaar se phir kyun darta hai dil”. Oh… how they entranced everyone by their romance!!!

Bobby - the craze of its time
Bobby – the craze of its time

• Pony tails, polka dots, short skirts, Goan beaches, young Dimple Kapadia, cute Rishi Kapoor sang — “Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho…” and a hamper of romance loaded with numerous tingling songs was Bobby (1973) by none other than Raj Kapoor — a movie which changed the trend of the Indian film industry. Should I say, B for Bollywood, B for Bobby…!!! …beginning of teenage romance… rich versus poor clash…

• “Babu Moshaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiii, Yeh rangmanch hai,” said Rajesh Khanna in Anand (1970) and the rest is a legend in itself — one movie which touched a sensitive topic in a very subtle manner.

• “Munshiji, yeh subah itni jaldi kyun ho jaati hai…..” – a very sloshed Amitabh Bachchan asks in Sharaabi (1984) — a legend who started the Angry Young Man image in Zanzeer (1973) and then he never looked back. Till now there is no one who can match upto his calibre… Nashey mein kaun nahin hai mujhey batao zara, Kissey hai hosh mere saamney to lao zara… Nasha sharaab mein hota to, Naachti botal… Log kehte hain main sharaabi hoon…

• Karz (1980) by Subhash Ghai – a breakthrough movie which tackled re-birth in never seen before manner. I still have goosebumps when I see this movie. Rishi Kapoor as Monty Oberoi (Ravi Verma re-incarnated) with the ever so graceful Simi Gerewal as Kamini swept the whole movie on their shoulders.

• “Sara sheher mujhe Loin ke naam se jaanta hai…” growled the most wicked Ajit in Kalicharan (1976).

• Then came three movies in a row which had romance from top to bottom – Tezaab (1988), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). Madhuri Dixit sizzled and Anil Kapoor rebelled for love. The innocent love stories of Juhi Chawla and Bhagyashree created history with Salman Khan and Amir Khan in lead roles. Together they changed the love stories and brought a fresh breeze of romance and rebellion we all were so hooked too.

Thus in all these years we saw so many ups and downs and various changes, all of which we accepted and enjoyed to the hilt.

It’s amazing what movies can do to our lifestyles and how they decide the trends and the styles. We breathe movies, eat movies, smell movies, talk movies, walk movies… and what not.

jaaney kya paa ke meri zindagi ne, hans kar kaha… ha ha ha ha ha ha ... To be continued…

  • I loved it Gee……A little suggestion: Please also mention the great “Riches to Rags” stories about some of the greats like Bharat Bhushan and Bhagwan dada… When Bharat Bhushan sold his bungalow in Pali Hill, no single person could afford to buy the whole plot… it had to be divided into 3 parts… He himself died in a rented one room-flat in the distant suburbs of Bombay… Aisa bhi hotaa hai… in this glitzy glamour world…

    • bhanu

      “Babu Moshaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiii, Yeh rangmanch hai,” ….. wow!!! , that was beautiful written piece, another aspect which comes to my mind is all the unsung hero’s… the writers and stunt men and the rest.
      looking fwd to Part II :))

      • G


    • G

      That was a good input……….. and a great suggestion….I shall add on in PART2 soon……… Please do e mail me if there are any more which come to your mind………… many a million thanks…..:)))))))))

  • ashish

    My favourite is Shaan and Lamhe.
    Also Mera Naam Joker I never miss.
    Late praveen Bobby I will always miss.

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