Lovers of Indian parallel cinema are in for a treat! With its proposition of ‘Woh Zamaana Kare Deewana’, the acclaimed Hindi movie channel Zee Classic brings to you ‘India’s Finest Films’. And with this, it endeavors to recreate the magic of iconic classic and new age cinema by showcasing not just the films that shaped Indian cinema, but also acquaint viewers with the creative talent who were a part of that timeless era.
Bollywood movies have always been the most popular mode of entertainment in India. We are all familiar with the on-screen running around the trees, high-octane action sequences, twins separated at birth reuniting decades later with a sprinkle of romance and lots of mirch masala. We leave the theatres after watching these movies wanting our lives to be a perfect film story with a happy ending.
But sometimes, we want to experience something historical, contemporary, something more deep rooted and intense. This is when we wish to watch movies which leave a greater impact on the society as they entertain leaving an impactful message that concerns all of us living together in a society. Some of these movies actually change our mindsets while some fill us up with emotional turmoil and some others, give our life a new direction. Indian Cinema, over the years, has beautifully transformed and re-invented itself. From socially relevant topics of child marriage, dowry, female foeticide, re-marriage to a simple love story, film-makers have done it all.
Zee Classic boasts of an outstanding library of Indian cinematic classics and it has recently associated with National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). Starting 16th July, every Saturday at 10 PM, Zee Classic will premiere ‘India’s Finest Films’, a distinguished property showcasing masterpieces like ‘Mirch Masala’, ‘Ek Doctor kiMaut’, ’27 Down’ and ‘Salaam Bombay’ amongst many other such gems from the NFDC library. These movies mark the debut of icons like Irrfan Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah and many more. This festival kickstarts with ‘Salaam Bombay!’ directed by Mira Nair on Saturday, 16th July at 10 PM.
Here is a list of 14 movies you cannot afford to miss:
In 1988, Mira Nair made her directorial film debut with Salaam Bombay!which chronicled the lives of a group of street children in Mumbai. Inspired by the actual street children of Mumbai who starred in the movie, the film won awards across the globe for its authenticity and unwavering portrayal of the life of Mumbai’s abandoned and homeless youth.
The list of achievements is a long one for this movie. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, the National Board of Review Award for Top Foreign Film, the Golden Camera and Audience Awards at the Cannes Film Festival, and three awards at the Montréal World Film Festival. ‘Salaam Bombay!’ was India’s second film submission to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was among the list of “The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made” by the New York Times.
For some Ketan Mehta will always remain the man who made Mirch Masala. An attention grabbing film, it rotates around the gender divide in the society. It is the story of Sonabai (SmitaPatil) and her struggle to protect her sanctity from the evil Subedar (Naseeruddin Shah) and a village full of sexist men. The dusty and dried surroundings of Kutch shown in the movie probably are an illustration for the values of a male and class-dominated Indian culture.
Amongst other things Mirch Masala has gone down in history as one of SmitaPatil’s finest performances with Forbes including her performance in the film on its list, ‘25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema’.
Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro
Salim LangdePe Mat Ro is a rare film and an attempt to showcase the dilemmas faced by urban Muslims thoughtfully but boldly. In addition to the portrayal of Bombay’s mohalla life, it also shows the joys of friendship and camaraderie and pleasure of loafing around. Salim Langda(Pawan Malhotra) is a confident petty thief. Salim earns his livelihood by doing odd jobs for the big bosses of Bombay’s underworld. His final ambition is to ape these underworld kings whose status he envies.
Saeed Mirza, the director, has a long history of making films which have ridiculed stereotypes to which minorities are subject to in popular Hindi films and this movie is one of his finest creations. The film won the 37th National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and the National Film Award for Best Cinematography in 1989.
Ek Doctor Ki Maut
Ek Doctor Ki Maut is an award winning film by the noted Bengali director Tapan Sinha, which depicts the ostracism, bureaucratic negligence and insult of a doctor and his research, instead of recognition and credit. This movie is loosely based on the life of Dr. SubhashMukhopadhyay, an Indian physician who pioneered the IVF treatment just around the same time when another leading scientist, Dr. Robert Edwards was conducting separate experiments in England.
The film won the 38th National Film Award for Second Best Feature Film, National Film Award for Best Direction and National Film Award – Special Jury Award awarded to the male lead, Pankaj Kapoor.
The name says it all!
Gandhi (1982) was produced and directed by Richard Attenborough and written by John Briley. Starring Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Roshan Seth and Martin Sheen, it is one of the most iconic films of all times.
Gandhi is the highest Oscar winning film of all time – claiming eight awards from 11 nominations, including Best Film – although it almost never got made! The late director Richard Attenborough revealed in of his interviews “It took me 20 years to get the money to get that movie made. I remember my pitch to 20th Century Fox. The guy said: ‘Dickie, it’s sweet of you to come here. You’re obviously obsessed. But who will be interested in a little brown man wrapped in a sheet carrying a beanpole?’ I would have loved to have met that guy after the Oscars!”
Attenborough knew that he would be telling one of the 20th-century’s most remarkable stories, that of the Indian lawyer who returned from racially segregated South Africa to drive the British out of his home country through successive acts of non-violent protest.
ArdhSatya is directed by the very talented Govind Nihalani. The film is based on a short story by D.A. Panvalkar and the script is written by Vijay Tendulkar. It has Om Puri, SmitaPatil, AmrishPuri, Naseeruddin Shah and SadashivAmarpurkar in lead roles. It is the story of AnantWelankar, son of a retired constable in Maharashtra Police, who is forced to let go of his dream of pursuing an MBA and join the Police force.
After Aakrosh, ArdhSatya is the second film made by Govind Nihalani. It is brutally honest in the depiction of the trials, tribulations, character and conflicts of its protagonist. In times when everything and everyone has a price, it is a hard hitting journey of an honest man… a part of which remains back to haunt you long after the credits have rolled.
Pestonjee is a film directed by Vijaya Mehta, starring Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in lead roles. The film is an intimate look into the life and mannerisms of the Parsi community especially those living in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1950s and 60s.
‘Life is for living, not for complaining.’ says the cover to ‘Pestonjee’. Phirohshah aka Phiroj (Naseeruddin Shah) and Pestonjee aka Pesi (Anupam Kher) are the best of friends. They are almost like twins. There is no life without one another and they also hope to get married at the same time. But destiny has something else stored for them.
All of us have grown up with different kinds of stories that were narrated to us. Some of them will be overlooked while some will be lost with the passage of time. But, the story of Qissa is timeless. Irrfan Khan as Umber Singh, Tisca Chopra as Mehar, Tilotama Shomeas Kanwar Singh, Rasika Dugal as Neeli are the main protagonists of the movie.
Anup Singh’s Qissa is a powerful, haunting, superbly crafted film about the complexities of character and sexuality. Does personality stem from a society or nation you were conceived in, your sex, sexuality or just the environment you were brought up in and situations that formed you? The film packs these profound inquiries into a simple story.
27 Down is a film directed by Awtar Krishna Kaul, featuring Raakhee and M.K. Raina in lead parts. The film is description on 27 Down, the Bombay-Varanasi Express. Sanjay (M K Raina), the son of a railroad employee, gives up on his dreams of becoming an artist when his father demands he come back to the family occupation. He gauges life in train sounds and journeys. The requests of congruity influence his connection with a young lady Shalini (Rakhee).
27 Down is one of those rare gems of the Indian silver screen that merited more credit than what it really received. Despite it being made 40 years ago, it manages to remarkably portray the relationship between two young adults as they get together and try to discover themselves in each other through their conversations, meaningful connections and silent solitude!
“Apne pasand ki cheez milna badi baat hai.
Agar sab kuch mil gaya, lekin apne pasand ki cheez hi na mili toh matlab kya hai jeekay!”
(“It is a big thing, to get what one desires.
If you have everything, but cannot get that one thing you desire, then what is the point of living!”)
Directed by Priya Krishnaswamy, Sarita Joshi is the main protagonist in Gangoobai. The story revolves around an elderly maid who strives to accomplish her dream of buying a costly Gara sari and changes the lives of individuals she comes in contact with while in Mumbai to purchase the sari.
Mammo (1994), a film by ShyamBenegal, is the first film in the series of Muslim trilogy including Sardari Begum (1996) and Zubeidaa (2001).
The film portrays the flinching truths frequently confronted by the powerless, post-partition. It reminds of the emotional torture of being torn far from one’s roots over and over; in spite of one turning a blind eye or making a noise for change in the circumstances which they have no control over. It makes one appreciate something which is frequently is taken for granted until it is lost or gone for good. The character of Mammo (Farida Jalal), abandons her family and home behind for love and moves to Pakistan. They live in peaceful co-existence until her husband leaves Mammo defenseless and desolate.
Even though the motion picture is named after Mammo, the film tells two stories, one of Mammo, obviously, and other of youthful Riyaaz…His life and companions, his trysts with cigarettes, adult films, his shame that he is not as affluent as his companions, him trying to find himself, his bothering on seeing a stranger trying to be a part of his family and his ambition of turning into an author in the future.
This movie is also the recipient of National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance by Farida Jalal and National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress by Surekha Sikri.
Massey Sahib is a 1985 film directed by Pradip Krishen, featuring Raghuvir Yadav in the main role. It was Pradip Krishen’s first film, and was based on a novel Mister Johnson written by Joyce Cary in 1939. The film also has stars like Arundhati Roy, who was yet to pen down her first novel and win the Man Booker Prize, alongside Barry John and Veerendra Saxena.
This story revolves around a man who is stuck in the crossfire where British Frontier principles smothered Indian freedom and colonializes it. This is a story told from an Indian perspective. Francis Massey (Raghuvir Yadav) works as a secretary for a British government officer in central India. Francis tries to out-do his employer in an attempt to be more British than him. He dresses British and even has a church wedding. He is not the most productive or gifted specialist, and his supervisor, the Commissioner Charles Adam (Barry John), regularly mediates on his benefit. But, Massey’s unexpected fate is entirely past the Commissioner’s mediation.
Even though Raghuvir Yadav has never won a National Award…he did win two International Awards for the Best Actor for Massey Sahib, FIPRESCI Critic’s Award, Venice Film Festival, 1986 and the Best Actor Silver Peacock, IIFI, 1987.
Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan
Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastan (ADKAD), a film dear to Saeed AkhtarMirza’s heart, was a masterpiece of the parallel silver screen development that was a tribute to Indian producers. The motion picture revolves around the internal clashes of a person born and brought in a city, who battles to comprehend the significance of his life and those encompassing him, including family and companions. It stars Shreeram Lagoo, Rohini Hattangadi, Satish Shah, Suresh Oberoi (in a cameo), Om Puri and Dilip Dhawan.
Arvind Desai (Dilip Dhawan) is a single child of a rich specialist (Shriram Lagoo) who deals in extravagant luxury handcrafted products. His has conflicting emotions for his dad. While he detests his commanding nature, he respects his aura, power and sharp mind. He has long examinations on workmanship and governmental issues with a Marxist companion (Om Puri). Much against his desires, his marriage is orchestrated to a young lady from a high-class family who has quite recently returned from Paris.
It’s a film about the trans-generational exchange of qualities and the repercussions of the prevalent legacy influencing the value system in the future.
The Good Road
The Good Road is a 2013 Indian drama film written and directed by Gyan Correa. The film won the trophy for Best Gujarati film at the 60th National Film Awards. Also, it was the first Gujarati film ever chosen to represent India at the Oscars. The motion picture is described in a hyperlink arrangement, where a few stories are interwoven, with the focal point of the story being an expressway in the country terrains of Gujarat close to a town in Kutch.
A family on a holiday lose their child… A truck driver’s last rid… A young lady in search of hope… This is an adventurous journey, across a national highway, and into the heart of a concealed India, where demonstrations of extraordinary sympathy are shown to outsiders.
To acquaint the youth of India with parallel cinema and enhance their movie-viewing experience, Zee Classic has also curated an hour long special feature called ‘India’s Finest Films – A Parallel Journey’. It includes views of stalwarts of Indian cinema like ShyamBenegal, Mahesh Bhatt, Saeed Mirza, Kundan Shah, RohiniHattangadi amongst others. It is available on the Zee Classic YouTube channel. Audiences can also catch it on television as a prelude to ‘India’s Finest Films’. Excerpts of this feature along with additional exclusive interviews will be showcased during the telecast of movies on Zee Classic.
~Watch ‘India’s Finest Films’ every Saturday at 10 PM only on Zee Classic~
This festival kickstarts with ‘Salaam Bombay!’ directed by Mira Nair on Saturday, 16th July at 10 PM.