There are 100-crore hits, there are classics, there are even personal favourites. Then there are films you never imagined would be this popular even today. From critically acclaimed to cringe-worthy, here are movies we simply can’t forget.
|KAL KA CULT?|
Aag (2007): The benchmark for everything bad in Bollywood today. Ram Gopal Varma, the director of the movie, has himself accepted that remaking Sholay was a mistake. Karan Johar among other filmmakers have jokingly flamed Aag on various occasions on Twitter. Bachchan as Gabbar, Ajay Devgn as Veeru... Ewww.
These films made us laugh when they released and are making us laugh even harder today, perhaps because the joke’s also on us now
Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008)
You know those “Delhi” movies like Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), Fukrey (2013) and Do Dooni Chaar (2010)? Well, this one started that wave. Lucky is a charming conman who gets arrested and, in flashback, relives all his cons.
“Dibakar Banerjee showed Delhi in such a new light,” says Richa Chaddha. The movie evoked humour with typical north Indian characteristics like the Haryanvi language, and the over-demanding, strict sardar father. A sleeper hit, it’s now regarded as the director’s best by his fans.
Bheja Fry (2007)
It was Vinay Pathak’s defining role. He plays Bharat Bhushan, a cloyingly overpleasing wannabe singer, who’s invited to a party only for his comic relief, but ends up turning the tables on his host.
The cast also has Rajat Kapoor as an elitist music producer, and Ranvir Shorey as a suspicious IT official. Full of smart one-liners and great characters, it was the surprise hit of 2007, which made Pathak a star.
There are two Sanjeev Kumars (as the masters) and two Deven Vermas (as the servants), separated at birth and having the same names. All hell breaks loose when the characters get involved in each other’s lives.
Directed by Gulzar and based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy Of Errors, it could have been entirely confusing, but is entirely hilarious. Chaos at its best.
Gol Maal (1979)
Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s comedy is probably the most consistently remade and referenced film in Bollywood. Achcha?
Count with us:
* There have been regional remakes in ’81, ’90, ’95 and 2013. Rohit Shetty’s 2012 comedy,
was also a remake.
* In 2000’s
, Sunil Shetty’s character hears the title song of this film whenever something is about to go wrong.
* In 2004’s
Main Hoon Na
, the two protagonists are named Ram and Lakshman as a nod to Amol Palekar’s two roles from
* And then of course, the title has been reused by Rohit Shetty for his comedy-of-errors trilogy:
Endearing, often painful love stories that became cult films for rewriting the idea of love itself
It is a cult film for one major reason: Yash Chopra managed to make Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha and Jaya act together. Rekha and Amitabh were rumoured to be lovers before he married Jaya, and the movie was allegedly inspired by their love
In the movie, Amitabh marries Jaya when his brother (Shashi Kapoor) who was involved with her dies. He then has an affair with his former lover.
“In the movie actually, Jaya is the other woman, because Amitabh loves Rekha,” says Somaaya. Another reason for its cult status is the song Amitabh sang.
is still the Holi song, 34 years later, and this bizarre love triangle (onscreen and offscreen) continues to fascinate us.
Emotions run high in some movies but decades on, few hit the same spot for the same reasons
Mera Naam Joker (1970)
Raj Kapoor’s ambitious project took six years to make and fewer than six days to flop. Within a week of its release, people complained about its length (over three hours, with two intervals), its pace and its story.
Kapoor tried to tell the story of a lonesome clown, who gets his heart broken by three women at three stages of his life.
Some details and themes stand out: how Raju, the protagonist, gives a rose to each of the women right before they break his heart; the iconic song, Jeena Yahaan Marna Yahaan which made people think that the film was a metaphor for Kapoor’s life in cinema.
The film flopped in India, but it multiplied Raj Kapoor’s popularity in Russia (from where half of the cast hailed). Those who love Indian cinema, have to watch Raj Kapoor. And those who love Raj Kapoor, have to watch Mera Naam Joker. Because Jeena yahaan, marna yahaan, etc.
Old school horror or a dose of reality, these movies are still giving us the chills
There can’t be a list of cult movies without Ram Gopal Varma. He reinvented the horror genre with
, featuring Revathi as a college-going girl possessed by the ghost of a woman who was murdered in her house.
Varma showed us that you don’t need a blood-spewing monster to give you the chills. He also changed the horror locale – from a bhoot bangla to an everyday home. He continued his horror movie streak with
remains a masterclass in the fear of yourself.
Veerana, directed by Shyam and Tulsi Ramsay, is glorious for these reasons:
* The ketchup-variety blood and gore
* The barely-clothed heroine, who once possessed, uses sex as a tool to lure her victims
* The tantrik and all the screaming
* The idea that rich people are secretly batty
Give the Ramsays props for their old-school approach. Want to see 200 horror movie clichés in one fun film, lock yourself into
Small films that made a big impact. They changed the plot, they changed society, they changed the game, while shaping the ‘other’ Bollywood
Mirch Masala (1983)
Ketan Mehta’s fiery drama was a slap in the face of the neon-clad airhead heroines of the ’80s. “There had been movies about female protagonists, but they were few and far between,” says Chaddha.
Mirch Masala tells the story of a spice factory worker (Smita Patil) who refuses to give in to the subedar’s (Naseeruddin Shah) sexual advances. “It depicted a woman standing up for herself, other women supporting her, and together becoming a force against the subedar. It’s a reference point for filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Sudhir Mishra even today.
In fact, SLB’s brief to me for my character in Ramleela (2013) was Smita Patil’s role.” Titled The Touch Of Spice, the film premiered at the 15th Moscow Film Festival alongside Federico Fellini’s Intervista and Francis Ford Coppola’s Gardens Of Stone. Watch it till its heated climax and we guarantee your eyes will water. And not in the way you think.
Ardh Satya (1983)
A cop drama, removed from the false vigilantism of Bollywood, it tells the story of Anant (Om Puri), who discovers that it’s difficult
to survive as a morally upright inspector.
In the time of Amitabh Bachchan potboilers, with a clear distinction between the hero and the villain, it gave us the anti-hero whose intentions were unclear. “It served as a reality check on
(1973),” says Rajabali.
A lot of later crime dramas (Shool, Kurukshetra, Ab Tak Chappan, etc) relied on this anti-hero for their narrative. The film looked as real as the problems it portrayed. “It was another one of Vijay Tendulkar’s terrific scripts,” says Rajabali.
“It is as much marked by Puri’s superlative performance as it is by its depiction of the despairing helplessness of our law-enforcement institutions. Govind Nihalani handles the searing internal and external violence without compromise.”
From gritty mob dramas to flamboyant thrillers, some films still manage to keep us at the edge of our seats
“Mumbai ka king kaun? Bhikhu Mhatre!” echoes Bhiku’s (Manoj Bajpayee) voice, as he shouts into the sea. Little did the cast and crew know that the echo would not die down for years to come.
Ram Gopal Varma’s movie follows the turf war between two gangs and the innocent outsider, Satya, who gets sucked into it. It showed Mumbai’s underbelly like no crime film had. It gave the industry Anurag Kashyap – people went back to the movie after realising he had written it.
Satya also started the bitterness between Karan Johar and RGV, as the former won all the awards that year for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The rivalry still rears its head in the form of Twitter battles.
“It’s arguably, Ram Gopal Varma’s best film,” says Rajabali. “It humanised goondas and killers without shying away from their inevitable personal doom.” It also brought a rare thing to gangster films – poetic storytelling.
Amitabh Bachchan was neither too young to play the angry man, nor old enough for character roles. So he tried to play the tormented protagonist in Mukul Anand’s Agneepath, with a deeper baritone and much more angst than his ’70s roles.
The film flopped – only to be touted as a cult film later. The line “Vijay... Deenanath... Chauhan” has been referenced in several films: Bunty Aur Babli, Jab We Met, Bombay Talkies, Bhootnath Return and Hasee Toh Phasee among others.
HIT BHI, CULT BHI:
They set the box office on fire when they released and they are still doing well today. We can’t get enough of these superhits
“It’s the evergreen historical movie,” says Rauf Ahmed. Madhubala and Dilip Kumar play out the doomed love story of Salim and Anarkali. And then there is that song, Jab Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya, which was written by lyricist Shakeel Badayuni 105 times before music director Naushad approved it.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
* Because it’s 2015 and Raj and Simran are still the ideal couple.
* Because you still go to Switzerland and buy the bell.
* Because 1,000 weeks later, a new generation loves it the same way.
* And badi badi filmein bhi cult ho sakti hain.
Mother India (1957)
In a country where people are obsessed with their sons, this movie has a mother killing her wayward son because he disrespects a girl. Mother India starred Nargis, Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar. Fifty eight years later, first-time viewers are gobsmacked by the ultimate sacrifice.
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From HT Brunch, June 7
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