10 Hindi Movies you must watch before you die.

by Rajat Sharma

Little time to spare, but wan’t to explore the best of hindi cinema, Bollywood… whatever. Here are some of the best Hindi movies that guarantee to make your blood boil, and I have to check it out just to see how wrongheaded i am. It’s actually pretty interesting in that it leans a bit away from old black & white classics toward recent art-house fare. Still, no list of indispensable movies that dispense with Guide, Devdas(55), Mother India, Junoon (79), Kaliyug (81), Dil Chahta Hai, 3Idiots, Peepli Live, Udaan or the all time favorite Sholay is worth any serious consideration. Not sure who’s to blame for this abomination from my best 10. May be I am inspired by the five C’s —camera angles—continuity—cutting—close-ups—composition, not to forget the script, its narration and performance by the actors. Music may score some points too. The list is necessarily in that order.

1. Teesri Kasam

Raj Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman directed by Basu Bhattacharya. Hiraman and Hirabai creates the magic with every passing reel. Music by Shankar-Jaikishan still remains the best with numbers like Sajanwa beri ho gaye hamar and Dunia banana wale. Said to be based on a story ‘Mare Gaye Gulfam’, it’s an unconventional film that portrays the society of rural Bihar.

2. Do Bigha Zameen

The legendary Bimal Roy directs another legends Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy. A perfect blend of art and commercial cinema. The story deals with the migration of labour and their plight, a sort of socialist theme. The USP of the movie was the scene where Shambhu pushes himself to the limits of pulling a hand rickshaw while competing with horse pulled carriage. A benchmark in Indian cinema.

3. Kaagaz Ke Phool

With Kaagaz Ke Phool, Guru Dutt proved that he was a one man army. Written by Abrar Alvi, Guru Dutt both produced and directed the movie besides acting as a lead in it. The sparks of his personal life chemistry with Waheeda Rehman showed on screen too and till date Kaagaz Ke Phool remained one of the most romantic films in its genre. This movie can also be termed as a turning point in Indian cinema as it was the first to be shot in anamorphic cinemascope by VK Murthy. SD Burman’s music was the soul of the film with still favorites Dekhi Zamaane Ki Yaari and Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam. The dark side and isolation of the otherwise glamorous film world was the theme.

4. Mughal-e-Azam

A remake of an earlier movie ‘Loves of a Mughal Prince’ , Mughal-e-Azam is a treat to both eyes and ears. Though it took a long nine years in making, the movie never lost its continuity. Produced lavishly, this melodramatic movie broke box office records in India when released. The confrontation scenes of Emperor Akbar and Prince Salim enacted in style of the famous Parsi Theatre by Prithviraj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar creates overall impact on the viewers. If possible, watch it in its original black and white format. Three cheers to K.Asif for this wonderful piece of work.

5. Garam Hawa

Garam Hawa pioneered a new wave of art cinema movement in India. Directed by MS Sathyu, the film deals with the plight of a north Indian Muslim family post partition, as film’s protagonist played by Balraj Sahni, deals with this dilemma of whether to move to Pakistan or stay back. It is one of the most poignant films ever made on India’s partition. The movie ends with a Shayari giving a message to all other Indian Muslims facing a similar dilemma.

Log door se toofan ka karte hein nazara,

unke liye toofan yahan bhi hai wahan bhi hai…

dhare mein mil jaayoge ban jaayoge dhara,

yeh waqt ka elaan yahan bhi hai wahan bhi hai.

6. Shatranj Ke Khiladi

With Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Oscar winner maestro Satyajit Ray tried his genius with Hindi cinema. It may not be as best as his Bengali stuff, but its fair enough to be included in top 10 Hindi movies of all times considering the fact that Ray didn’t know much about the language. Based on a same story by Munshi Premchand, the film shows in parallel the historical drama of the Indian kingdom of Awadh and its Nawab Wajid Ali Shah who is overthrown by the British, alongside the story of two chess-obsessed rich noblemen of this kingdom, Mirza Sajjad Ali and Meer Roshan Ali who preferred to fight over the chess board instead of battleground against the forces of East India Company. Sanjeev Kumar at his best.

7. Bandit Queen

When released in 1994, Bandit Queen was an absolute shocker. It tested the maturity of the Indian cine goer in terms as to how much he can actually digest. The movie was another turning point in Indian cinema from art to reality. Though packed with offensive language, graphic images and nudity, the movie was never meant to titillate and it succeeded in portraying the plight of warring castes in North India. The narration was simple and to the point lacking any filmy gimmicks, and so was the cinematography. Based on real life story of lady bandit Phoolan Devi, it was director Shekhar Kapoor’s way of showing a mirror to the society.

8. Black

Black is a movie every Indian must be proud of. Unarguably the best work till date of director Sanjay Bhansali and for actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee. The story of Black is inspired by the true life story of Helen Keller and further graduates into the relationship of a blind, deaf and mute girl with her teacher who himself later suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. It guarantees the viewers teary swollen eyes when they leave the auditorium. Watch out for Ravi Chandran’s cinematography and the colour continuity among the scenes. What makes this movie to be listed at number 8 is the extreme use of artificial sets, else it would have been in top three. It’s where Bandit Queen scores over Black.

9. Lagaan

Lagaan is a movie that keeps you engrossed for approximately quarter to four hours without compromising on the details and silent cinematographic transition. It is one of the few period films made that out performs in every department of film making. The theme is quite unconventional about common men, led by a determined individual to overcome resistance and differences within and standing their ground for a cause against a powerful opposition. What appeals most is its characterization. Lagaan is a perfect example of complete film, a classy entertainer, with superior technical execution. A teamwork that showed up both on screen as well as off screen.

10. Omkara

An adaptation of ‘Othello’, Omkara is very Shakespearean to its core in spite of its Indian milieu. It isn’t a candyfloss film and defies the set rules of commercial cinema. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, not everyone’s idea of entertainment and that’s what makes it watchable. Omkara is a work of cinematic brilliance, translating and transforming with conviction the characters of Shakespeare’s book into a Hindi movie. Interestingly, that doesn’t bore you even a single minute.

There is no dearth of good Hindi movies. Good arty films but bad entertainers or very bad illogical films but terrific entertainers. It’s all about choice, but the above ten are those movies that are both good as well as entertainers.