Bollywood 101 -- Classicsby RRHowell41 | created - 22 Dec 2010 | updated - 10 Feb 2011 | Public
Older movies that are recommended if you want to understand the Bollywood scene. I am no pro, but these are ones that I like, and that are still well worth watching.
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1. Do Bigha Zamin (1953)
131 min | Drama
In the hope of earning enough money to pay off his debts and save his land, a poor farmer becomes a rickshaw puller in the Calcutta and faces many difficulties.
A very special movie about poverty and struggle and family life.
2. Shree 420 (1955)
168 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Wearing torn Japanese shoes, English trousers, a red Russian cap, and a Hindustani heart, orphaned Ranbir Raj comes to Bombay to make his fortune. He pawns his gold medal, gambles with the ... See full summary »
B&W classic starring Raj Kapoor, in a comic and sweet parable of the temptations of the big city.
3. Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957)
143 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
Progressive, reform-minded young warden gets permission to take six surly murderers from prison to dilapidated country farm, to rehabilitate it and themselves through hard work and kindly guidance.
Six prisoners are rehabilitated by a prison warden seeking to put the principles of his faith into practice.
4. Pyaasa (1957)
Not Rated | 146 min | Drama, Musical, Romance
A talented but indigent poet Vijay struggles for love and recognition in this selfish world.
This is a major classic. HOWEVER, if you do not speak Hindi, you are at a huge disadvantage in appreciating this movie, as it is the life of a poet and the songs are not translated. Good enough that it is worth tracking down the translations online.
5. Mother India (1957)
172 min | Drama, Musical, Family
In this melodrama, a poverty-stricken woman raises her sons through many trials and tribulations. But no matter the struggles, always sticks to her own moral code.
This was not my favorite movie, but it is a classic, and one which had a large impact on people.
6. Mughal-E-Azam (1960)
Not Rated | 197 min | Drama, Romance, War
A 16th century prince falls in love with a court dancer and battles with his emperor father.
Votes: 4,931 | Gross: $0.16M
A tragic love story of one of the early Mughal Emperors.
7. Bandini (1963)
157 min | Drama, Musical, Romance
During the British Raj of the 1930s, a prison-doctor falls in love with a convict who eventually reveals the story of her past and her connection to a freedom fighter.
A black and white movie about the history of a female prisoner. Beautiful cinematography and strong story.
8. Saraswatichandra (1968)
156 min | Drama, Romance
A man regrets his decision of refusing to marry the woman he loves.
A tragic love story, tragic in ways that only an Indian story could allow.
9. Amar Prem (1971)
Not Rated | 143 min | Drama, Musical, Romance
A village woman abandoned by her husband is forced into prostitution in Kolkata and forms nameless yet strong relations with a wealthy patron as well as an abused boy in the neighbourhood.
Very different from what we think of today as a Bollywood movie. The story of a woman whose marriage goes wrong and who winds up as a prostitute (though there is an implication that perhaps she manages to live as a chaste courtesan). Lyric songs, and a story that is somewhat like a happy take on a Devdas-style set of relationships.
10. Abhimaan (1973)
Not Rated | 122 min | Drama, Musical
A popular singer convinces his new wife to enter show-business, but his pride is wounded when she outshines him.
Gentle story about a successful singer who marries a woman who sings better than he does.
11. Sholay (1975)
Not Rated | 162 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
After his family is murdered by a notorious and ruthless bandit, a former police officer enlists the services of two outlaws to capture the bandit.
This is a western set in India. It was a classic in terms of being a movie that became extraordinarily well known. Dialogs and scenes of this movie are part of the shared cultural history of many modern Indians.
12. Deewaar (1975)
174 min | Action, Crime, Drama
Vijay struggles as a dockworker. Eventually, he becomes a leading figure of the underworld, while his younger brother, Ravi, is an educated, upright policeman. This divide causes problems in their relationship.
Two brothers are raised in poverty against a history of injustice--one becomes a gangster and one a policeman.
13. Mausam (1975)
156 min | Musical, Romance
A medical student, Amarnath meets and falls in love with the daughter of a herbal medicine healer, Chanda while preparing for his exams in Darjeeling. He returns to Calcutta to sit his ... See full summary »
A doctor returns to the scene of a medical school romance.
14. Khushboo (1975)
132 min | Musical, Drama, Family
Kusum and Brindavan are two small children living in a small village in India. Both love each other, and decide to marry when they grow up. Kusum has his name tattooed on her arm. But fate ... See full summary »
This is a classic Jeetendra/Hema Malini piece. Childhood sweethearts separated by vicious parental arguing at a young age meet in later life. The woman has considered herself married to the man all her life, but there are complications.
15. Swami (1977)
129 min | Drama
Shortly after Saudamani's birth, her dad passes away, leaving her in the care of her widowed mom, who re-locates to live with her elder brother in a small town. It is here that Saudamini ... See full summary »
A woman grapples with a marriage that is not to the man of her dreams.
16. Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)
184 min | Action, Comedy, Drama
Three brothers are separated and united after many years - one is brought up a Hindu, another a Muslim and the last (and most memorable) a Christian. Hilarity and adventure ensues.
A classic comedy, on a par with something like Duck Soup. Three brothers are separated at an early age and adopted into three families (Hindu, Muslim and Christian). Now events bring the family back together.
17. Thodisi Bewafaii (1980)
Not Rated | 150 min | Drama
Weekly 4pm visits? According to the film the son never met his father until toward the end of the film.
A marriage that does not go smoothly.
18. Saaransh (1984)
Not Rated | 137 min | Drama
An old couple lend a room on rent after recent death of the bread earner of the family, their only son. A budding actress starts living with them, who is in love with a local politician's only son. The movie shows what later ensues.
An elderly couple coming to grips with the death of their son.
19. Main Azaad Hoon (1989)
Not Rated | 160 min | Drama
A newspaper reporter exploits an ordinary man for few rupees to pose as a man who is fighting against the corrupt politicians and prints imaginary stories in his name to improve the ... See full summary »
A newspaper reporter talks a poor drifter into posing as a voice for justice in society, and gets more than she bargained for.
20. Khuda Gawah (1992)
Not Rated | 193 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Baadshah Khan falls in love with Benazir, a member of a rival clan who has defeated him in a game of buzkashi. Benazir will not marry him unless he brings back the head of her father's ... See full summary »
Votes: 1,432 | Gross: $0.00M
An Afghan love story.