Hindi films are mostly known for their commercial aspects and their purpose of entertaining their audiences. But some stories are not restricted to doing just that, some films speak to you, and this list is about that kind of cinema.
Pyaasa(1957): Gurudutt’s ‘Pyaasa’ is a gift to the Indian celluloid. Pyaasa is a deep observation of the dark side of human nature, the film tells a moving and timeless story of disillusionment, failure, love and passion for writing. This classic was based on a story idea called Kashmakash, written by Guru Dutt around 1947 or ’48 when he was only 22.nn To relive Pyaasa on the big screen is a special treat. It is so far from the conventional, typical love stories, and proves that Hindi film’s reach and boundaries are just not limited to just that.
Ek Ruka Hua Faisla(1986): Based on Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men, this 1986 Basu Chatterjee film is one the most beautifully adapted film ever made. This film is nothing but a treat to all those who love cinema and appreciates the literary aspects of it. Actors like Amitabh Srivastava, Pankaj Kapur, K.K. Raina, Subbiraj, Shailendra Goel, Annu Kapoor and Aziz Qureshi, are beyond excellence with their performances. This film is compelling, beautifully written and marvellously performed by the artists.
Mera Naam Joker(1970): “Jeena yaha marna yaha iske siwa jaana kaha?” summarizes our life, our efforts, our happiness, emptiness and all the empathy a human being has. This film was Raj Kapoor’s ‘dream project’. The Showman mortgaged his studio for ‘Mera Naam Joker.’ The film was a box-office failure, but now it is considered to be a cult classic. ‘Mera Naam Joker’ teaches us the importance and impact of failures and tells us, no matter what, “the show must go on”. One of those films in the list that was truly way ahead of its times.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro(1983): Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Ravi Baswani, Bhakti Barve, Satish Shah, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Kaushik, and Neena Gupta delivered spellbinding performances in this political satire. ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ holds great relevance in Indian Politics. Showing corruption and how deeply rooted it is, how media is involved in all this and most importantly, no matter what the loss will always be of common people. You will laugh out loud while watching this spectacular film with scenes like of Mahabharat and Mughal-e-Azam in one play but it will hit you hard enough to think and you will surely laud the relevance of the subject matter of ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’
Fire (1996): This 1996, Deepa Mehta directorial piece of art is one movie which was way ahead of its time. It was indeed the first film about two female leads falling in love with each other, desiring each other. Veteran Shabana Azmi portrayed the role of Radha and Nandita das played the character of Sita. The love, desire, lust, sadness, the beauty of two people falling with each other was beautifully painted on the canvas of cinema. There were many controversies around the film which gave it a hard time at cinema halls, calling it ‘against the culture’.
Maachis(1996): If you are not familiar with this film, do you remember “Chappa Chappa Charkha Chale”? this beautiful melody is from this ‘Realistic Cinema’. Directed by the legend Gulzar, ‘Maachis’ captures Khalistan movement and many atrocities related to it. The political background, the realism, and the impact it created is a great example that Indian cinema is not just about a specific style
1947 Earth (1999): Another one on our list from Deepa Mehta is loosely based on a novel, ‘Cracking India’ by Bapsi Sidhwa’. This 1999 release includes Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna, and voice of Shabana Azmi. Shabana Azmi lends her voice to a Parsee girl who is suffering from Polio, she narrates an incident that she has been a witness to during her childhood. The incident basically revolves the before and after phase of the partition of India in 1947. The film explores the upheaval and disruptions faced by people in Lahore. The film beautifully dramatizes the partition, a Hindi film based on a Pakistani writer’s novel, how beautiful does it sound?
Maqbool(2003): Vishal Bhardwaj is well known for his adaptive cinema style. Omkara and Haider are few of the adaptive cinema from Vishal’s filmography. Maqbool, which is an adaptation of the play, ‘Macbeth’ by Shakespeare is a story of an underworld sidekick, who falls in love with his boss’s mistress, who provokes him to kill the don and become the next big thing. The role of Maqbool is played by late Irrfan, Pankaj Kapur plays the role of ‘the don’ Jahangir khan, Tabu portrays the role of Jahangir’s mistress Nimmi. Others who are a part of the cast in the film are Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Piyush Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal. The film shakes you with a question, what if the one thing that you love dearly, is suddenly lost?
Ankhon Dekhi(2013): An incident in the starting of the film provokes a very simple thought of believing only those things which he sees in the head of the lead character Bauji, played by the very talented Sanjay Mishra. This Rajat Kapoor directorial creates an impact in our minds as it makes us think of, ‘What?’ and ‘Why?’. Ankhon Dekhi revolves around the basic problems of day to day life and tells us that sometimes basic is not that basic. It includes a stellar cast of Sanjay Mishra, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Pahwa, Namit Das, Brijendra Kala, Saurav Shukla, Manu Rishi.
Death in the Gunj(2016): The Konkana Sen Sharma directorial has subtle and beautiful undertones of a human who is trying to make sense out of the chaos in grief and depression and escapism. An emotional burden of a sudden attraction with a wrong person paves the way for a physical burden that conjures up many jaw-dropping moments in the film. Inner conflicts and outer conflicts of a person in chaos is written and captured in such a beautiful manner. The film includes powerful performances from talents like Vikrant Massey, Tillotama Shome, Om Puri, Tanuja, Gulshan Devaiah, Kalki Koechlin, Jim Sarbh and Ranvir Shorey.