2013-05-05

100 years of celebration, entertainment and joy of movie-making


100 years in a history of the silver screen is a long time to hark back upon! On May 3, the Hindi film industry celebrated a century of entertaining zillions of views and as we retrospect on the stars we love and the movies we cherish, there is no doubt that Hindi cinema has come a long way and today, there are new talents zooming their way ahead and film-makers are ready to experiment and explore with new talents and subjects. Certainly, the best time to be in the film-industry where 100-crores plus movies dominate but at the same time, small and meaningful cinema exist side by side.
The 1950s and 1960s saw a host of memorable actors to the likes of Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and so many who shine through the film industry and I feel that this era has produced many classics such as Mother India, Shree 420, My Name is Joker, Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam, Madhumati, Guide, Kashmir Ki Kali, Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zameen and of course, the cinema of Guru Dutta where he churned out master pieces like Pyaasa. At that time, movies were made in Black and White and many believed that the 50s and 60s was the best time in the history of Hindi cinema where movies were subject centric. The best and memorable songs were composed during that time. We were also exposed to movies like Pakeezah that saw the birth of a performer like Meena Kumari and Manoj Kumar's patriotic movies.
Dilip Kumar was the tragedy king and it is nearly impossible to forget memorable roles in movies like Devdas, Madhumati, Leader, Shakti and Vidhaata, among others. He is an institution of acting that is considered unparaled and gave tragedy a new definition. Certainly, one of the greatest actors of all time who is still a model to the young generation.
The late 60s and 70s saw the birth of the first superstar in the history of cinema, Rajesh Khanna and the epithet was coined for him. Rajesh Khanna was a phenomena and it was said that young girls married to his picture and slept with his image under their pillow. As we celebrate 100 years of cinema, it makes sense to pay a tribute to Rajesh Khanna who passed away last year. It was the death of a man who spread havoc among the crowd and Kaka, as he was known, contributed immensely to sensitive cinema such as Anand, Safar, Namak Haram, Aradhna and Amar Prem, just to name a few. Rajesh Khanna was a phenomena that got bigger and bigger. He made romance soft and love endearing. This is a phase in the history of Hindi cinema that cannot be obliterated.
Come the 70s, the angry young man, Amitabh Bachchan was born in Zanjeer and after facing rejection where 15 of his movies flops, a new star was born. The success of Zanjeer at the box office gave Amitabh Bachchan, the name 'angry young man' who went to rule the silver roost for more than 30 years and beyond. Bachchan was the star, the companion and the actor may dreamed to be and he was a dream to so many of us. He gave us memorable movies like Sholay that is considered to be the biggest success in the history of cinema, Deewar, superhit entertainments like Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb, Don, Muqquadar Ka Sikandar, Shahenshah, Agneepath and Hum, among others. Bachchan turned the way in which we looked at TV with the game show, Kaun Banega Crorepathi that sent waves of ripples across the country. Today, we no longer look at TV with contempt and it won't be unfair to say that actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Govinda, Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit took to TV but nobody came an inch to the Bachchan persona and charisma. Bachchan is the only actor to star in four superhits movies in a year in the 1970s and it is a feat that he managed to repeat in 2005 with movies like Black, Sarkar, Waqt, Bunty aur Babli. He is also the only factor whose career graphs has much more hits and flops and trade pundits, says that even today his movies that doesn't to well at the box office manage to get an initial opening that ensures that distributors doesn't lose their money. 
In the 1990s, Bachchan took a five-year break from the film industry and it was the time when new heroes such as Shahrukh, Amir and Salman saw successed in romantic movies. The 1990s were the era where action movies took a back seat and romance was the flavor of the season. Actors like Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor and Sunny Deol also thrives during the era where India opened its economy to the world and India became rich through globalization. The face of cinema changed.
But, legends are legends. Bachchan came back and met with failure which was a reminder that he cannot remain a cliche of his own image and re-invented himself with movies like AKS, Sarkar, Ek Rishta, Ankhen and Kaante and of course, Kaun Banega Crorepati. This paid off big time as he not only paid back debts from the failure of his corporate company, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited but ruled the roost again. There was only one Amitabh Bachchan who even today donning the father's role to young stars is seeing young producers and directors making a beeline at his doorsteps and where roles are being written for him. One has the impression that his young co-stars are being rendered insignificant and despite being the hero of the film, the latter is seen as secondary to Bachchan. That is the power he wields among the audience. This is why I feel that the history of cinema cannot be written, re-written or scripted without Amitabh Bachchan. I often wonder what will happen if Bachchan didn't take the five-years long break and perhaps the Khans, had to wait for another ten years to make it big.
The year 2000s saw a host of new talents such as Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan, Irfan Khan, Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan, Kariena, Sonam and Deepika Padukone as well as actors like Ranvir Shorey, Rahul Bose, Ayushmann Khuranna, Parineeti Chopra, Rajat Kapur, Konkona Sen-Sharma who made a fortune in the small budget movies.
The future of Hindi cinema is brilliant where new subjects are being explored and there is whole lot of possibilities with new age directors such as Abhinav Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Sujoy Gosh and many more. It is the best time for the film industry as one doesn't need to crores to make a movie but a good subject is needed and a small budget will do. Good cinema shall always prevail. The perfect example of a good film for me is Bheja Fry that was shot in one apartment on a medium budget. Similar, subjects exploring relationships will always have a medium, so will rom-com and out and out commercial movies.
On the occasion of 100 years of Hindi cinema, one do not have the right not to mention Dadasaheb Phalke, the pioneer of the Hindi film industry, who made a dream come true. One should always chase their dreams.
Long Live the Silver Screen.
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