By Vidya Pradhan
For the holiday season, WNI picks movies that can be watched with the entire family as you gather around the big-screen plasma TV with cups of chai and plates of mithai. In no particular order are the following
Chupke Chupke – Long before Seinfeld and his series about ‘nothing’ came Chupke Chupke, a light and fluffy concoction that has stood the test of time. A perfect comedy, the movie relied on the humor in everyday situations to entertain. Who can forget Amitabh’s hapless English professor, forced to pretend to a knowledge of botany and answer questions like “gende ka phool, phool ho kar bhi phool kyun nahin hai?” And how Dharmedra shows up Om Prakash’s Hindi obsession with classic lines like “Bhojan to hum laupatgami sthal se karke aye hain’’ No slapstick, no innuendo, just clean fun. There are plans to remake this movie, so I suggest watching it again before it gets desecrated by media hype.
Iqbal – One of the very few Hindi movies to tackle disability without weeping sentimentality, Iqbal showcases Nagesh Kukunoor’s growth as a director. Stellar performances by Shreyas Talpade and Swetha Prasad as Iqbal’s sister Khadija and a delightful script propelled this movie to box office success in 2005. A movie about courage and overcoming disability at long odds, Iqbal also tapped into the national obsession with cricket.
Chak de India – Out on original DVD, this movie about an underdog women’s hockey team boasts a terrific script and a restrained performance from Shakrukh Khan. A sports movie in the mould of ‘Remember the Titans’ and ‘Miracle’, it managed to include themes of national integration, women’s lib and redemption without turning into a lecture fest.
Golmaal – Most Hrishikesh Mukherjee films could make this list but Golmaal is included because of Utpal Dutt’s zany performance as the moustache-loving Bhawani Shankar. Amol Palekar, whose looks can be called passable only in a fit of generosity, was lucky to be around in an era where several movies helmed by Hrishida, Basu Chatterjee and Basu Bhattacharya featured an ‘everyman’ character as the hero. Golmaal relied on split second timing for many of its sight gags and one unforgettable scene is the sporting Dina Pathak trying to climb in through a window, sari, high heels and all.
Khoobsoorat – Another Hrishikesh Mukherjee film, this charmer makes the list not for its gentle comedy and fine performances, but for the first look at the transformed Rekha. An ugly duckling by Bollywood standards, with a hooked nose, dark skin and country bumpkin style, Madame R returned from London a svelte, sexy swan. Crediting her new look to Yoga, she even created a fitness routine called 'The mind and body temple'. In the eponymous movie, she looks gorgeous, speaks Hindi faultlessly, and effortlessly carries the movie on her now-slim shoulders.
Guddi – This coming-of-age film featured Jaya Bhaduri at the height of her stardom, still cute enough to pass for a schoolgirl. Amitabh was supposed to play the role of hero Navin, but when he became too well known after the success of Mukherjee's own Anand, the director decided against casting him as the boy-next-door who competes for the affection of Guddi with reigning movie star Dharmendra. A sweet, touchingly sensitive movie, it also offers a peek into the world of film-making and its hidden pitfalls.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – While Bollywood movies have always featured outlandish sets and costumes, KKHH took fantasy to the ultimate level, setting the movie in an Indian Riverdale High with SRK, Kajol and Rani reprising the roles of Archie, Betty and Veronica. The chemistry between the leading man and his heroines was awesome and the slick pace and snappy dialogues made you forget how unrealistic and implausible the whole set-up was. A modern fairy tale with good music, KKHH launched Karan Johar’s career as a successful peddler of kitsch.
Naya Daur – A colorized version of this B.R. Chopra film was released earlier this year. Naya Daur represents the conflict between industrialization and tradition as Dilip Kumar’s tangewala takes on the challenge of racing with a bus which is threatening his livelihood. There is a poignancy to the movie because we know what the ultimate fate of the tanga is going to be, but we can still cheer for the underdog.
Lagaan – Nominated for a foreign Film Oscar, this is yet another movie pitting tradition against modernity, as humble villagers used to playing gilli-danda take on the starched whites for a rousing game of cricket. Themes of untouchability, religious tolerance and national integration are touched upon without making it a bore (unlike Swades) but the highlight is the hour long cricket match which brings out the patriotic fervor of Indians all over the world.
Bunty aur Babli – The movie received mixed review from critics but everyone I know who watched it was in splits even days after watching the antics of wannabe cons Abhishek and Rani as they travel the country capitalizing on the greed and stupidity of their victims. The chemistry between the lead pair was so strong that when baby AB went and got married to Miss Rai, a collective sigh of disappointment went around the country.
Sholay – Even though the visceral violence makes it unsuitable even for kids of the video game generation, this makes our list because this classic must be seen at least once a year, if only for the dialogues. Hema Malini is an irrepressible Basanti in a thick Southie accent and Jay and Veeru’s extreme closeness could look suspicious to modern audiences, but the relentless pace of the movie and the fantastic dialogues make it a perennial favorite.
What are your favorite family movies? We would love to know.
Thanks to Geeta Padmanabhan for the article idea.