There are very few movies that remain fresh and as relevant in today’s world as they were when they were made decades ago. Movies you can actually label as ‘timeless classics’ because their settings, characters, well-scripted dialogues and situations are so real that they could practically happen to anybody.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one such filmmaker who injected the true meaning of reality in his drama films. Bragging a huge cult following, his films could best be described as socio-dramedies as situational comedy played a huge if not always the main role in a majority of his everyday plots. His family-oriented films included huge ensemble casts of a handful of his favorite actors and depicted strong cultural and family values. A message, no matter how big or small, was always weaved in the layers of the uncomplicated and simple art that he painted on screen. Not to forget, Hrishi da (as he was lovingly called by juniors) had the knack of bringing out the best performances out of all his actors resulting in a real visual treat.
If you have never watched a Bollywood film before or are simply not a fan of old classic Bollywood, I can guarantee you that I will be able to convert you into a fan (at least a Hrishikesh Mukherjee one!) by showing you any or all of these priceless gems :
- Anupama (1964) – This movie was the first film of actress Sharmila Tagore who plays Uma, a young woman who has received no love from her father ever since he lost his wife while giving birth to her. She is extremely beautiful but very quiet, withdrawn and has no self-confidence. It is Dharmendra’s character of a young author/teacher who shows her how to be free from the bondages of your inner fears and to embrace happiness.
Starring: Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Deven Varma
- Aashirwaad (1968)- Portraying the unconditional love of a father for his daughter, this movie is a beautiful tear-jerker. Ashok Kumar plays Jogi Thakur, the free-spirited landlord of a village where everyone loves and respects him. His only true loves are his music and his 8 year old daughter. When he tries to save a young village girl from being raped and ends up killing the rapist, he is sentenced for life in jail where his love for poetry and the memories of his little girl keep him alive for many years. Will Jogi Thakur ever meet his daughter again? Keep those tissues ready, Ashok Kumar’s heartfelt acting will fill your eyes with constant tears.
Starring: Ashok Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Sumita Sanyal
- Anand (1970) – Rajesh Khanna played this iconic lovable and effervescent character who knows that he does not have more than six months on earth but still chooses to live everyday as if it’s the best day ever. A huge message to everyone that life is meant to be lived in each and every moment because it could be gone in a second.
Starring: Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Sumita Sanyal
- Guddi (1971) – This film was the launch pad of Jaya Bachchan née Bhaduri’s first ever film as an actress in which she played the title role of Guddi ‘aka’ Kusum, a vivacious school going movie fanatic who is obsessed with the actor Dharmendra and his films. In her naivety, she vows that she will never get married to anyone because she is in love with her movie idol. It is up to her family (and Dharmendra himself!) to subtly change Guddi’s viewpoint by showing her the real side of the movie business. A film which every fangirl will definitely be able to relate to.
Starring: Jaya Bachchan, Dharmendra, Utpal Dutt, Sumita Sanyal, A K Hangal
- Bawarchi (1972) – Another great family movie where the focus is on a big family who live together in the same house but bicker and fight all the time. Because of their irritable nature, no cook lasts with them for more than a couple of months. One fine day, a man comes to their home and changes their lives forever. But who is this man? Is he really a cook? The multi-talented chef who can sing, dance, clean, teach life lessons and make a mean meal was played by Rajesh Khanna, the superstar of the 60’s and 70’s.
Starring: Rajesh Khanna, Jaya Bachchan, A K Hangal, Asrani
- Abhimaan (1973) – What happens when the overnight success of an unknown classically trained singer overshadows the career of her famous Bollywood singer husband? A huge male ego is hurt, of course. The famous real life husband-wife duo Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan play a celebrity couple whose new marriage is torn apart because of his raging jealousy of her growing success. Will their marriage be saved or be broken forever?
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Asrani, A K Hangal
- Chupke Chupke (1975)– A hilarious and deliberate comedy of errors which will keep you on your toes and rolling in laughter. In this film, Dharmendra plays the role of a young and recently married botany professor who is tired of listening to his new wife (played by Sharmila Tagore) brag about her ‘genius jijaji‘ (her sister’s husband) who she claims is not easy to fool as he can detect a lie from far off. Determined to prove her wrong, he decides to play an intricate prank on his wife’s ‘genius’ brother in-law by applying for a job as a pure Hindi speaking driver and purposely getting on his nerves. What poor jijaji doesn’t know that everyone in his circle of family and friends is in on this big practical joke.
Starring: Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Om Prakash, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Asrani, David
- Mili (1975) – Mili is a bubbly and charismatic college girl who lives with her father and her aunt. Everyone in her apartment building loves her especially all the kids. When a new neighbour moves into the penthouse upstairs, everyone is scared of his anti-social behaviour. Can Mili mend his ways before it’s too late?
Starring: Ashok Kumar, Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan
- Golmaal (1979) – Another great comedy of errors where a fresh graduate with a crazy love for watching football has to pretend to be a simple nerd with no hobbies to get his very first job at a prestigious company. His pretense is based on the fact that the owner believes that today’s young generation is interested in all sorts of things except their careers. A hilarious must-must-must-watch for Amol Palekar’s acting especially where he has to keep up the charade in front of his boss by playing two completely opposite personalities of twin brothers where one is a nerd and the other is a good-for-nothing ruffian!
Starring: Amol Palekar, Utpal Dutt, Bindiya Goswami, Dina Pathak, David, Shobha Khote
- Khoobsurat (1980) – This movie proves that rules, routine and discipline are great but having a little fun in life is very important too! Rekha plays a fun-loving girl Manju, whose only sister gets married in a home where everything works like clockwork and even laughing is not allowed thanks to the strict lady of the family! When Manju goes to visit her sister for a few days, she begins to inject a little fun in the family’s lives by allowing them to secretly indulge in their favourite hobbies. A beautiful movie and so much fun to watch!
Starring: Rekha, Rakesh Roshan, Ashok Kumar, Dina Pathak
- Rang Birangi (1983) – This movie shows what happens when romance takes a backseat after many years of marriage. Amol Palekar plays a workaholic husband who loves his wife very much but is so focused on his work, that he doesn’t spend any quality time with her anymore. His best friend starts encouraging the workaholic husband to engage in a little harmless flirting with his secretary to bring a bit of fun in life. Will the husband cheat on his wife or rekindle his romance with her? You have to watch this masterpiece comedy of errors by Hrishi da to find out!
Starring: Amol Palekar, Parveen Babi, Deven Varma, Farooque Sheikh, Deepti Naval, Utpal Dutt, Om Prakash
These are my absolute favourite films which I must have watched countless number of times. If you get the opportunity to watch them, please do let me know if you liked them. In fact, I challenge you not to fall in love them. 🙂 Some of them are subtitled on YouTube and other sources.
Do you have a favourite director whose movies you can keep watching over and over again? I would love to know in the comments below.
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