Wondering what to watch while in isolation? Find these hidden Hindi cinema gems from the 70s, all of them quality stamped by top industry names.
Kaala Patthar (1979) Prime
Before Yash Chopra went rogue with romance in the 80s, with the exception of Mashaal (1984), he belted out all-round, thoughtful dramas with a social tinge such as Deewaar (1975), Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and Trishul (1978). They were all multi-starrers, Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor were common stars in all of these. Chopra finished off the decade with the rough cut diamond Kaala Patthar, inspired by the Chasnala mining disaster. Shatrughan Sinha played to the gallery with a crackling performance. Raakhee, Neetu Singh, Parveen Babi and Poonam Dhillon had limited presence. It had a taut screenplay by hit writer-duo Salim-Javed however it had an average run at the box office. The movie is the full package though, it never misses a beat.
Gol Maal (1979) Netflix Prime
This Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic is double trouble and multiple shots of fun for all moods, times and tides. Just give in to the craziness of the Gol Maal world where Ramprasad/ Laxmanprasad (Amol Palekar in his elements) fools his boss Bhavani Shankar (Utpal Dutt, outstanding) for a live hockey match and is caught in a web of lies to cover up his first one. Both actors won Filmfare Awards (Best Actor and Best Comedian). Dina Pathak shines as the fake mother while Bindiya Goswami charms as the actor-girlfriend. Those were the times when highly respected Mukherjee could easily swing walk-in guest appearances from Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman and Lata Mangeshkar. Definitely a winner!
Doosara Aadmi (1977) Prime
Yash Chopra produced Doosara Aadmi for his assistant director Ramesh Talwar, who directed his independent debut. It comes with some glaring gender-biased morality flaws but is still a refreshing take on the complex nature of frayed relationships before marriage, after marriage, during romance and in offbeat quieter friendships. Raakhee plays reclusive Nisha, an advertising professional who falls for Karan Saxena (Rishi Kapoor) as he reminds her of her late boyfriend, Shashi Saigal (Shashi Kapoor). However, Karan is newly married to Timsy (Neetu Singh) and Nisha has a close friend Bhisham who loves her. It is laced with stunning, blockbuster music by Rajesh Roshan, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi. Sample the myriad moods of love with Chal Kahin Door Nikal Jayein and Aao Manayen Jashn-E-Mohabbat, Jaan Meri Rooth Gayi, Nazron Se Kah Do and Ankhon Mein, Kajal Hai. It’s worth a watch or two.
Kabhi Kabhie (1976) Prime
Kabhi Kabhie tops my list of the Yash Chopra romance. It covers all seasons of love in its full glory. Amitabh Bachchan’s Amit Malhotra plays a poet to Raakhee’s pristine beauty as Pooja Khanna. Their love remains unrequited as parental love leads them to arranged marriages. Pooja marries the boisterous Vijay (Shashi Kapoor), a man with a conscience and ability to question his own flaws. In an exact opposite scenario is the quiet marriage of Amit and Anju (Waheeda Rehman). In a twist of fate, the hopeful love of the younger couple, Vicky (Rishi Kapoor) and Pinky (Neetu Singh) brings the two older pairs together. It has the usual elements of romance, drama and entertainment along with poetry, poignance and humour. The performances and music are cherry on top. Khayyam and Sahir Ludhianwi won Filmfare awards for Best Music and Lyrics. Pyaar Kar Liya To Kya remains my favourite capture of the Rishi-Neetu romance. You can’t help but shed a tear when Pooja sings Kabhi Kabhie on her wedding night even as Vijay delicately removes her wedding jewellery. I do wonder about that song though, the definition of consent has walked a considerable distance since.
Chupke Chupke (1975) Netflix Prime
For those feeling trumped and beaten, there is always a fun movie around the corner to watch. Hrishikesh Mukherjee recycled Bengali fare Chhadmabeshi to create Chupke Chupke, an all-time classic comedy for Hindi cinema. Newly married couple Sulekha Chaturvedi (Sharmila Tagore) and Parimal Tripathi (Dharmendra) fool their family, Raghavendra Sharma (Om Prakash) and Sumitra Sharma (Usha Kiron), into believing they are “not married”. Joining the fun of the scheming couple are bumbling Professor Sukumar Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan) and sweet Vasudha Kumar (Jaya Bachchan), navigating their own new romance, and Lata Kumar Srivastav (Lily Chakravarty), Prashant Kumar Srivastav (Asrani) and Haripad Chaturvedi (David). The lyrics and music by Anand Bakshi and S. D. Burman fit in perfectly. Ab Ke Sajan Saawan Mein ticks all boxes of situation, performances, music, lyrics and singing. Sharmila Tagore is devilishly divine. So is the movie.
Abhimaan (1973) Prime
Hrishikesh Mukherjee in Abhimaan directed this compelling take on professional rivalry between a singer couple, Subir (Amitabh Bachchan), professionally successful, and Uma (Jaya Bhaduri), a newly born star. Along the way, Subir’s career dives as Uma soars, becoming more successful, throwing him into a jealous despair and straining their marriage. A definitive masterpiece, in terms of its subject and ensemble of mature performances. And of course, the terrific music which blended beautifully into the movie, by Sachin Dev Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics. Amitabh and Jaya were newly married and absolutely adorable.
Namak Haraam (1973) Prime
While Anand (1971, also on Prime) is definitely the better known tragi-classic starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna, I thought Namak Haraam was more layered and compelling as a subject. Two warring friends are caught amid rising unions of Bombay‘s textile mills and inflation in the early 1970s. Ironically, the two superstars were at opposite ends of their fates and journeys, Khanna handed the success baton to Bachchan unknowingly with this movie. Fresh from the success of Zanjeer, Amitabh had sealed the deal with the audience and together the stars made the 5th highest grossing film of 1973. Khanna’s performance was not in question at all, he excelled as loyal friend Somu (Rajesh Khanna) who agrees to help out Vicky (Amitabh Bachchan) and then realises he is on the wrong side of his own ideals after closely experiencing the plight of factory workers. RD Burman’s music was right on note with Diye Jalte Hai, Nadiya Se Dariya and Main Shayar Badnaam and lyrics by Anand Bakshi.
Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) Prime
Salim-Javed’s feminist take on double roles, inspired by Ram Aur Shyam, resulted in Seeta Aur Geeta, Ramesh Sippy’s second directorial venture. Hema Malini landed the role quite by chance after Mumtaz said no. She was a dynamite and an absolute hoot, winning the Filmfare Award for Best Actress that year. A pair of identical twins (played by Hema Malini) lose their parents at birth and are also separated, they are raised by different sets of people and have distinct personalities. When they swap places, fun and madness ensues. For once, both heroines got the centre stage to do things as they pleased while the men indulged and supported them from the sideline. Sanjeev Kumar matched Dharmendra, dimple to dimple, charm on charm, both looked dapper, adding their own candid takes to the comic explosion.