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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The glorious 70s – my masala top ten

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)?
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.


  1. Hilarious, awesome post as usual. I agree about variety; even though I'll be mostly focusing on the masala variety of the 70's, I'll have to also spare a moment to cover the rest of the great variety. Looking forward to you covering the directors you mentioned - I especially have a soft spot for Gulzar (partly because he gave Hema Malini a chance to do something different).

  2. Fab list, I have seen all with the exception of Raja Jani, Blackmail & Khel khel mein i need to see Blackmail especially Asap, its been raved about soo much around the blogosphere that i think i should actually see what the fuss is all about

  3. I'll be looking out for your Hrishida posts. Just watched Chupke chupke again last night. Wrt masala, Dharmatma, which I have not seen, would probably be on my top 10. I just know it's crazy.

  4. You're bang on about the infinite variety of 70s, even in the masala genre. One could do a top-ten list every day without any cross-overs. I love your list, but would probably swap out "Carvan" for "Raja Jani" - it's even more fun and has better music.:-)

  5. Yes Shalini, agree about Caravan--my brand new discovery. The weren't kidding about jumping jack. The songs were so popular that even wee me (I might have been 4 at that time) heard them in far-off Nigeria.

  6. Great list!!! but I would include Golmaal somewhere in it. Agree it's more of a comedy, but it was full of Deven Verma's filmy masala too and I agree on Caravan as well :-)
    It's such a tough job to choose just 10 films from such a huge collection of masala and drama madness.
    I would have spent more than a day just deciding which movies to include in the list and which not to.

  7. Ooh I just made my list (well sort of) and we have three three three in common!

    I knew I liked you.

  8. ps and one same screen shot, LOL :)

  9. veracious, Gulzar coming up next. He did give Hema some of her best roles in the 70s, and even tamed the Jumping Jack for a while!

    bollywooddeewana, Blackmail is a must for any Dharam fan and more especially, any masala-buff!

    sophy, Hrishida did his best work in the 70s. Cant wait to write about Chupke Chupke, Mili and Golmaal... And yes, Dharmatma is completely crazy - you can always count on craziness when Feroze Khan is involved!

    Shalini, you're so right about Caravan - it has superb music. Now why didnt I think about it? 70s is a tough decade to choose from!

    sunheriyaadein, I am saving Golmaal for my Hrishida post! And I couldnt decide on what to choose either, so it just had to be the first 10 of my favorite films that I could recall. I'll probably regret not including more than a dozen other films, by the time this week is over!

    memsaab, great minds think alike! Off to check your post, now...

  10. Oh, I do love all the films you've listed (I initially typed in 'lusted' - just shows!). Mmmm. Fab choice - though I guess I'd have chosen Chupke Chupke or Golmaal too. And two more, though they're no strictly masala, more suspense than anything else: Inkaar and Majboor.

  11. dustedoff, Inkaar was bumped off the list because I decided that it wasnt masala enough. I'll save it for my favorite thrillers list! Same with Chupke Chupke and Golmaal - they go on my Hrishikesh Mukherjee post. Is Majboor good? I havent heard complimentary things about it in blogland, so its been lying unwatched on my shelf for a long time.

  12. *sigh*
    There I go sighing again.
    A great list!
    not one film on the list that I would strike out! Except may be HKKN!
    I want to see all of then!
    AND NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. YES! We need a moviethon!!! :-)

    Dont you like HKKN?

  14. Majboor is one film I ended up liking quite a bit - it has a dumbish sort of premise (man is diagnosed with brain tumour, and goes frantic wondering what he's going to do for his family, which depends on him)... but it picked up pace and became pretty interesting.

  15. > Dont you like HKKN?
    When you get bombarded by its songs throughout the year even panchamda can get on your nerves. Moreover when guys from your neighbourhood, whom you hate are apeing the film, then it is a closed chapter, I think!
    I need a therapy before I watch that movie.

  16. dustedoff, I liked the premise a lot, thats why I got the film. There was a Vinod Khanna film with a similar premise that I remember liking a lot, too. (Vinod K is suicidal, instead of terminally ill, and gets helped into financially remunerative suicide.) But Majboor kept coming up in blog posts as bad, so it never made it to my DVD player.

    harvey, that would be enough to ruin any film for me, and I wouldnt even try to get over my dislike. Similar things did ruin most 80s and 90s films for me (not that they werent bad even without that!).

  17. Gosh this is eerie - all the movies listed here are my fav too from the 70s!

    Dunno, how I missed ur 70s posts. I did read other blogs. Am glad found yours atlast!

    Oh no, pls don't chase the men away coz of twin confusion - says filmbuff an identical twin herself

  18. Identical twins?! Please tell me you had some twin-ly adventures. :D

  19. Plenty of adventures!

  20. I hope they involved Shashi and Dharam! ;D