Ask people about 70s Hindi Cinema and I bet you’ll get a different reaction from each person. A Rajesh Khanna fan would tell you that its the decade of the “Romance King” who brought more romance to the big screen in one head-twist than most actors do in a whole film. A Bachchan fan would tell you that its the decade of the Angry Young Man - the enigmatic vigilante who kicked everybody’s ass. To a masala lover, its the decade of Manmohan Desai’s cracktastic masala, the decade of Salim-Javed, and the glorious masala classic Sholay.
To me, the 70s stand out as the decade of infinite variety. From small budget romantic comedies and sweet little films about middle class people, to art-house fare and its exact opposite - the masala potboilers – the 70s had a movie for every mood and every taste. If Manmohan Desai came into his own in the 70s, so did directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar, Basu Chatterji and Shyam Benegal. It was my intention to concentrate on the films of the last four, since masala will be amply represented elsewhere in blogland this week. But I really cant NOT write about all the masala goodness in this decade! Considering how much masala-madness the 70s encompassed, one blog post cant really do justice to it. Such a complex subject clearly calls for a list – a top ten list of masala movies from the 70s. Simple? Not really! How does one pick and choose just 10 from that sea of masala greatness? The only way is to pick out the first ten, fun masala films that come to mind. And here are the first ten that I remembered:
10. The Great Gambler (1979)
Item one: twins separated at birth (Amitabh Bachchan times two). Item two: twins on opposite sides of the law. Item three: A secret formula and an international conspiracy to steal it. Item four: two lovely heroines (Neetu Singh and Zeenat Aman) - one of whom actually drinks, smokes, and is a proper gangster's moll. Naturally, its an excellent recipe for FUN!
9. Raja Jaani (1972)
Hema teaches Dharam Paaji to look beyond A B C D and he is a quick learner. But his gaze is focused on the treasure that is Rajmata’s wealth, not the wealth of beauty that Shanno carries! Can he remain oblivious to the ladki akeli Shanno (the lonely girl Shanno)? 'course not! That would be against the sacred tenets of Masala Pradesh, and a hero, by definition, cannot do that.
8. Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973)
If two siblings separated in childhood is good, three siblings separated thus, is even better. Right? Of course. The more the merrier! And nothing can impair the masala goodness of this film – not Dharamendra’s awful wig and not even almost-second-lead Tariq’s horrendous glasses. Aaah YKB, you’ve certainly stolen my dil!
7. Sholay (1975)
The Gabbar, he roars. The best friends forever, they hold hands and sing duets. The heroine, she dances on broken glass till the earth beneath her feet is redder than her lipstick. And they call it a “Curry Western”! No my friends, its a “tandoori Western” – nothing this well baked (in sholay, too) could be anything else.
6. Khel Khel Mein (1975)
Looky! Fatty all grown up, but still embroiled in practical jokes and mysteries. But wait, he not only leaves Enid Blyton to wander into Hitchcockian lands, he also has a teenage romance on the way. AND he is finally rescued from the mess by girl-power. Awwww… How can you not reciprocate this film’s khullam khulla pyaar (open love)?
5. Hum Kisise Kam Nahin (1977)
Rishi in spangles, Rishi in fur; so much fun, and its all for real! So what if Tariq and Kajal Kiran spoil his fun, he and his diamonds do get together in the end. So, all is right with the world.
4. Seeta Aur Geeta (1972)
Men beware: before you fall in love, check your beloved for any signs of twinliness. Failure to do so may result in serious consequences. Your demure damsel may suddenly kick your butt, your agile acrobat may suddenly develop two left feet and an unparalleled passion for domesticity. Other side effects may include lots of fun-n-games and skate-offs!
3. Sharmeelee (1971)
Let this be a lesson to all you hearts-on-your-sleeve young men. Fall for the wrong half of a twin-pair, and you are liable to land up with the right half, much against your will! Not just that, the film will change your will AND get you to save the nation from a dangerous enemy. So stay away from twins. Or NOT!
2. Anamika (1973)
Where would Devendra be without his Anamika? At his desk, writing novels, thats where! So thats why I havent been able to find a nice book to read in a while? O well, Devendra will get back to writing, once he’s got back with his amnesiac girl friend – though the saucy wench will do her best to keep him with her!
1. Blackmail (1973)
A secret formula to tap solar energy – check. International criminals after the formula – check. An absent-minded but genius scientist – check. The dreamiest romance EVER – check. A dastardly villain – check. Blackmail and dishoom dishoom – check. What more does one want? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This is pure masala delight.
So these are ten of my much-loved masala-flicks. Dont forget to let me know about all the other great masala-films that I did not remember in time!
A big Thank You to V Love Movies for designing the 70s Week Badge.