1. The Golden Age of Indian Cinema dawned in 1947 with Indian Independence. The period between 1947 and 1961 is called ‘The Golden Age’ because it ushered in new ideas and values without ignoring the basic characteristics of Indian cinema, a splendid combination of the old and new, which also passed into the 21st century and has continues to this day.
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2. More and more films began to be made with every passing year. In the process, landmark moments and films began to be created and linked with those years. 1949 was one such revolutionary year that gave rise to several landmark films. The topmost among them being Andaz (1949), the first big-budget love triangle starring Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Nargis.
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3. Mahal directed by Kamal Amrohi and released in 1949 was the first suspense thriller made in India. Originally planned with singer/actress Suraiya, the film finally went to Madhubala who became a star with the haunting song ‘Aayega aayega aayega anewala aayega…’, along with its playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. Lata reinforced her position in 1949 with R.K Films – ‘Barsaat’, which revolutionized the world of film music with the entry of the musical duo – Shankar Jaikishan.
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4. Mohd. Rafi emerged as a prominent male playback singer in 1949 with another Madhubala starrer Dulari with the hit number “Suhani raat dhal chuki…”. The last year of 1940s proved to be a watershed year for film music, as it prominently gave rise to the playback system wherein professional singers sang for the actors on screen who just had to move their lips without worrying about the ‘sur’ and ‘taal’ of the songs.
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5. Raj Kapoor’s Awara (1951) not only signaled a change in the grammar of film-making but also brought India prominently on the world map. He grabbed the script of Awara from under the nose of the legendary Mehboob Khan and launched it on a big scale. With “Ghar aaya mera pardesi…” shot on a massive set, Awara became the mother of all dream-sequences.
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6. Bimal Roy started his career in Calcutta and introduced Bengali Literature to Hindi Cinema and transformed the latter in many ways. Greatly influenced by the neo-realist Italian films and other post-war films he saw at India’s first international film festival in 1952, Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen (1953) remains a landmark film that has influenced several films including Lagaan (2001). One can find echoes of “Hariyala sawan shol bajata aaya…” from Do Bigha Zameen in “Ghanan ghanan ghir aayee…” from Lagaan.
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7. Debonair Dev Anand used to model himself on the lines of famous Hollywood star, Gregory Peck. During the making of Taxi Driver (1954), Dev Anand proposed marriage to his heroine, Kalpana Kartik. Both walked across to the registrar of marriages during a shooting break. Both signed the register and came back to resume work. Hardly anybody was aware that they were now husband and wife. Kalpana Kartik decided to quit films after marriage but not before doing 2 more films with her husband Dev – House No. 44 (1955) and Nau Do Gyarah (1957).
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8. Saratchandra’s Devdas has always been a favourite with film makers. The silent version was made in 1927 by Naresh Mitra with Phani Burma in the lead. P.C.Barua made it in 1935 with himself in the Bengali version and with K.L.Saigal in the Hindi version. Bimal Roy directed his version with Dilip Kumar in 1955 while Sanjay Leela Bhansali had his own interpretation of the novel in 2002 with Shahrukh Khan.
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9. Chandramukhi’s role in Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955) was rejected by Nargis, Bina Rai and Suraiya. Vyjayanthimala, who finally did the role refused to accept Filmfare’s Best Supporting Actress Award for Devdas, stating that her role was as important as Paro’s. Years later, Reena Roy too, rejected Filmfare’s Best Supporting Actress trophy for Apnapan (1978), citing that her role was leading and not supporting.
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10. Truly Chaplin in form, content and treatment, Raj Kapoor’s Shree 420 (1955) remains his most socially significant comedy to date. It was a tremendous hit in India and overseas, especially in Russia, Egypt, Middle-East etc. “Ichak dana…” and “Mera joota hai japani…’ were rewritten in the languages of various countries and sung as local songs.
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11. V. Shantaram’s Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957) was inspired by the story of an ‘Open Prison’ experiment in Satara. The film portrays a young jail warden, Adinath, who rehabilitates six deadly prisoners released on parole into persons of virtue. During the shooting of the film, V. Shantaram battled with a bull and hurt his eyes and affected his vision. During the period of temporary blindness, he visualized some unseen colours of life which resulted into the making of his colourful Navrang (1959).
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12. Dilip Kumar initially refused to be part of Naya Daur (1957) but then, his friend Ashok Kumar, who heard and loved the story, convinced him to accept it. Madhubala was the female lead in this movie but when B.R. Chopra decided to shoot the movie in Bhopal, Madhubala’s father, Ataullah Khan, refused to let her go citing personal reasons. Finally, Madhubala had to be replaced with Vyjayantimala who entered a new phase of her career with the super hit – Naya Daur.
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13. Guru Dutt wanted Dilip Kumar to play the leading role in Pyaasa (1957). The Tragedy King declined because he thought this role was similar to his Devdas (1955). So, Guru Dutt himself decided to play the role. Similarly, Madhubala and Nargis were his first choices for the leading ladies, which were eventually played by Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman. Pyaasa went on to become a cult film in the history of Indian cinema.
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14. Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), was the colour remake of his own Aurat (1940) which featured his wife Sardar Akhtar. Aurat was inspired from Pearl S. Buck’s novel “The Mother”. Nargis got the role of her lifetime in Mother India which fetched her the Best Actress Award at the Karlovy Vary festival. Mother India was nominated for the Oscar as the best foreign film but it lost to Fellini’s Nights of Caberia (1957) by a single vote.
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15. Kishore Kumar apparently made Chalti Ka Nam Gaadi (1958), hoping it would fail commercially. He wanted to show losses in his income, to avoid paying a huge tax to the authorities. So he made two films – Lukochuri (Bengali) and Chalti Ka Nam Gaadi, and waited eagerly for them to collapse. However, both went on to become box-office successes. Kumar was so disgusted with this that he gifted Chalti Ka Nam Gaadi and all its rights to his secretary Anoop Sharma, who retained the copyright.
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16. Anari (1959), directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, brought together the sublimity of Raj Kapoor’s pairing with the timeless Nutan, celebrating the rich-poor divide through a story that saluted Raj Kapoor’s own Shree 420 (1955). Incidentally, Raj Kapoor’s brother Shashi Kapoor also starred in a film called Anari directed by Asit Sen in 1975. Later, Raj Kapoor’s grand-daughter Karisma Kapoor did another Anari in 1993 with the southern star Venkatesh.
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17. India’s first CinemaScope film Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) was directed by Guru Dutt who also played the lead in the film. Apparently, Guru Dutt was so upset by the poor (box office) response to his film, that he thereafter never took credit as ‘Director’ for any of his later films such as Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), or Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam (1962) even though they retain the unmistakable stamp of his direction. Though Kaagaz Ke Phool was a disaster in its time, it was later resurrected as a cult classic.
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18. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anuradha (1960) was a movie much ahead of its time and featured debutante Leela Naidu in the title role with Balraj Sahani. A relative of the national leader Sarojini Naidu, Leela Naidu, was crowned Femina Miss India in 1954, and was featured in Vogue along with Maharani Gayatri Devi in the list of ‘World’s Ten Most Beautiful Women’. The film’s classical-based music was composed by Sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar.
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19. K. Asif’s Mughal – E – Azam (1960) was actually planned in the 1940s. The political tensions surrounding India’s partition and independence in 1947 stalled the film’s production. Shortly after The Partition, financer Shiraz Ali migrated to Pakistan, leaving Asif without finance. Subsequently, the film’s lead Chandramohan suffered a heart attack and died in 1949. Ali had previously suggested the name of business tycoon Shapoorji Pallonji for financing the film. Pallonji did not know anything regarding the production of films, but he took a keen interest in the project and agreed to produce it due to his strong interest in Akbar’s history. Thus, began the saga of the magnum opus – Mughal–E–Azam!
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20. The Song “Pyar kiya to darna kiya…”, from Mughal – E – Azam (1960) has an unusual history to it. Naushad rejected 2 sets of lyrics made by Badayuni. Late in the night, Naushad remembered a folk song from Eastern Uttar Pradesh with the lyrics going as “Prem kiya, kya chori kari hai…”. The song was converted into a ghazal and subsequently recorded. As there was no technology to provide for the reverberation of sound heard in the song, Naushad had Lata Mangeshkar sing the song in a studio bathroom.
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21. A female-centric movie, based on a Bengali novel by Jarasandha, Bandini (1963) is the last directorial venture of Bimal Roy, a master of realism and regarded by many as his crowning achievement. Bimal Roy persuaded Nutan, who had given a magnificent performance in his Sujata (1959), to come out of her post-nuptial retirement and play the strictly raised, poetry-loving village girl, ‘Kalyani’. He convinced her to do Bandini, which went on to sweep all the top awards then, and is still considered a landmark movie of all time.
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22. Dosti (1964), a non star-cast film directed by Satyen Bose was made under the Rajshri banner and was biggest surprise hit of the year. The film focuses on the friendship between two boys, one blind and the other a cripple. Despite being released with Sangam, a blockbuster hit, Dosti was amongst the top ten grossers of 1964. It stands as a landmark in the career of Laxmikant-Pyarelal as this won them their first Filmfare Award and also made them popular in the film industry. Incidentally, R. D. Burman has played the harmonica throughout the film, which Ramu (one of the characters) plays throughout the film.
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23. Initially, Dilip Kumar was approached by Raj Kapoor to play the role of ‘Gopal Verma’ in Sangam (1964). Dilip Kumar agreed to play either one of the two male roles, with the condition that he was given the right to edit the final copy of the film. Since Raj Kapoor could not accept Dilip Kumar’s condition, he then approached Dev Anand for the role. The latter also declined the role citing date problems which ultimately went to Rajendra Kumar. Sangam ranked as the second highest grossing film of the decade.
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24. Brij Katyal’s script for Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) was turned down by three top Producers. However, Director Suraj Prakash felt it was a beautiful story and accepted it, which went on to become his greatest hit. To prepare for his role as ‘Raja’, Shashi Kapoor would spend days with the boatmen in Kashmir to study their lifestyle. Sometimes, he would have meals with them. The original climax from the script had Raj beating up the bad guys. However, Suraj Prakash rejected it, and after watching Love in the Afternoon (1957), settled with Rita (Nanda) leaving everything behind to go back to Kashmir with Raja. Incidentally, Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965) got remade 3 decades later as Raja Hindustani (1996).
25. B.R. Chopra had originally planned Waqt (1965) with Prithviraj Kapoor and his three sons, Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor. Eventually, only Shashi Kapoor was cast, along with Raj Kumar & Sunil Dutt as his elder brothers, while Balraj Sahani played the father. Waqt pioneered the idea of a multi-star cast in Indian cinema and re-introduced the lost and reunite formula, originally made popular in Kismet (1943). Waqt also showcases some of the top dialogues spoken by Raaj Kumar like “Jinke apne ghar sheeshay ke hon, woh doosron par patthar nahi phenka karte” and “Jaani, yeh bachchon ke khelne ki cheez nahi, haath kat jaye toh khoon nikal aata hai”.
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26. Guide (1965) was made in two versions – an English version in collaboration with Pearl S. Buck and directed by Ted Danielewski and the Hindi version directed by Dev Anand’s younger brother Vijay Anand. It had never happened anywhere in the annals of cinema that the same story was filmed twice from two different perspectives with the same actor, one immediately after the other. Another striking feature about Guide is the Song ‘Kaaton se kheench ke ye aanchal…’ which begins from the ‘Antara’ instead of the ‘Mukhda’, a rare innovation unlike most Hindustani compositions.
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27. Teesri Manzil (1966) produced by Nasir Hussain & directed by Vijay Anand was originally planned with Dev Anand in the lead. Due to some reasons he could not do it & Shammi Kapoor replaced him in the film. However, Shammi Kapoor was not happy with Nasir Hussain’s choice of the music Director, R. D. Burman. He wanted Shankar Jaikishan to score the music but agreed to give Pancham a hearing. A nervous Pancham was ready with all the six tunes. The moment he heard Pancham sing “O Haseena Zulfonwali” and “Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyar Tera”, he jumped out of sheer joy & gave his approval for Teesri Manzil that soon revolutionised the world of Hindi Film Music.
28. Around The World (1967) was India’s first film to be released in 70 mm and was extensively shot all around the world. The major of the film was shot on a cruise ship. It featured Raj Kapoor as an Indian who traveled around the world in 8 dollars. V.Shantaram’s daughter Rajshree played the romantic lead in the film. She met her future husband, American student Greg Chapman in America during the shooting of Around The World and married him as per Hindu marriage rituals that lasted 5 days and was attended by 15,000 guests.
29. Jewel Thief (1967), will always be remembered as one of the best crime thrillers of Indian Cinema. While Dev Anand and Ashok Kumar vied with each other for the title of Jewel Thief, the girls did too. Vyjayanthimala was roped in to play the main heroine as Saira Banu, the original choice could not do the film because of her marriage with Dilip Kumar. The film also featured four Bond Girl-like actresses portrayed by Tanuja, Helen, Faryal and Anju Mahendru. A sequel of Jewel Thief was released in 1996, named Return of Jewel Thief with Dev Anand and Ashok Kumar playing their original roles.
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30. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri praised his earlier film Shaheed (1965) and enthused Manoj Kumar to make a film on the ‘Jai Jawaan Jai Kissan’ slogan. The slogan helped Manoj Kumar’s official debut as a Director for Upkar (1967), where he believably played both a Jawan and a Kisan. A huge hit, Upkar made Manoj Kumar an authority on screen patriotism. Manoj Kumar started his Mr. Bharat persona and his brand of patriotism & fearless courage with this film. The script for Upkar (1967) was written in less than 24 hours on the train journey between Delhi and Mumbai.
31. The tragedy king Dilip Kumar had to take psychiatric advice after playing melancholic roles like Devdas (1955). It was suggested that he play roles with lighter shades and the result was Azaad (1955) & Kohinoor (1960). An opportunity to play lighter roles again arose for him with Ram Aur Shyam (1967), wherein Dilip Kumar played a double role. Interestingly, Vyjayanthimala, who was to play one of the heroines, was replaced with Waheeda Rehman. Mala Sinha, who was approached for the other lead, rejected it paving the way for Mumtaz, who rose to the top league after doing Ram Aur Shyam.
32. While rehearsing for ‘Babul ki duayen…’ from Neel Kamal (1968), Rafi Saab was continuously crying. The Music Director Ravi was puzzled and went to Mr. Hamid, (Mohd. Rafi’s brother in law and Secretary) & asked him the reason for his outburst. Hamid Saab revealed that just a day before, his daughter had got engaged and Rafi Saab became emotional as the song also suited the real life situation. This inspirational song went on to win a National Award for Mohd. Rafi.
33. Kishore Kumar’s performance in Padosan (1968) where he becomes Sunil Dutt’s voice to woo Saira Banu was a precursor to his becoming a full-time playback singer. The very next year, Shakti Samanta offered him to sing for newcomer Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana (1969) and the rest is history. Before, Aradhana, Kishore Kumar had only sung for himself and occasionally for Dev Anand, with the exception of Padosan, as the story demanded it. Aradhana was a musical blockbuster and Kishore Kumar was here to stay, in the new role of a Playback Singer, right until his death in October 1987.
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34. While recording the soundtrack of the film Aradhana (1969), S.D.Burman took ill after composing the two Rafi duets. The responsibility of finishing the soundtrack fell on his son R.D. Burman, who took charge and decided to use Kishore Kumar to record the solos, as Rafi was away on a tour abroad. The sizzling song from Aradhana – “Roop tera mastana…” – made Bollywood history as the first song picturised in one shot without a single cut. Aradhana went on to win Filmfare’s best film award while Sharmila Tagore won her first Best Actress trophy.
35. Do Raaste (1969), a film directed by Raj Khosla, emphasizes the sanctity of the joint family and the supremacy of relations that are stronger than ties of blood. Rajesh Khanna appeared unshaven throughout this movie because he was simultaneously shooting for Ittefaq (1969) which required him to be unshaven. Rajesh Khanna created havoc at the box office with Aradhana and Do Raaste. What’s more in Bombay, the two films had their main theatres right across the road from one another, Aradhana at Opera House and Do Raaste at Roxy.
36. The character of Anand (1970) was inspired by Raj Kapoor, who used to address Hrishikesh Mukherjee as “Babu Moshay”. Hrishida informed writer Gulzar to open the movie in such a way that the audience knows in the first scene itself that ‘Anand’ (Rajesh Khanna) is dead. He did not want the audience to be in a state of suspense till the end and keep guessing whether ‘Anand’ will survive or not. By doing that Hrishikesh Mukherjee wanted to concentrate on how ‘Anand’ wants to live life to the fullest and make the best of the time he has. The movie went on to become a ‘super hit’ and made the character of ‘Anand’, immortal.
37. Johny Mera Naam (1970) directed by Vijay Anand is considered a Dev Anand classic. It also became Dream-Girl Hema Malini’s first superhit. Though the movie dealt with the simple “lost and found” theme, what stood apart was its brilliant treatment by Director Vijay Anand. Various tracks were intelligently integrated in the movie including the triple roles of comedian I.S. Johar. The song “Husn ke lakhon rang…” picturised on Padma Khanna was considered so bold that it faced a lot of censor problems. The film went on to become a cult movie, and the highest grosser of 1970.
38. Mera Naam Joker (1970) is the second hindi film to have two intervals, the first one being Sangam (1964). The magnum opus of Raj Kapoor, Mera Naam Joker was divided into 3 chapters, each depicting a different phase in a joker’s life, played by Raj Kapoor. Six years in the making, Mera Naam Joker turned out to be much ahead of its time was not a commercial success. However, it acquired cult status later and it is now regarded as a landmark film of Indian Cinema.
39. From its opening montage of a young village girl, watching her indifferent husband bring home another wife, to the final moments, when the woman in her twilight years, is taken away by her foster-son amongst the festivities of Durga Puja, Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem (1971) is a glorious homage to womanhood. A masterpiece dealing with 2 parallel tracks, one of the platonic relationship that Pushpa (Sharmila Tagore) shares with Anand Babu (Rajesh Khanna) and the other of Pushpa’s relationship with a motherless child, Amar and Prem, touched the emotional chords of the audience to the fullest. It is still remembered for R.D.Burman’s melodious music as much as it is remembered for Rajesh Khanna’s famous dialogue “Pushpa, I hate tears”.
40. The story for Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) actually came to Dev Anand’s mind when he saw hippies and their fallen values in Kathmandu, Nepal. He wanted to cast Mumtaz as his Nepali girlfriend and Zaheeda, his co-star of Prem Pujari, in the sister’s role. Zaheeda declined and insisted on playing Mumtaz’s part. She ultimately lost the role to sensuous Zeenat Aman who hit big time with this film. This musical family drama has an anti-drug message and also depicts problems associated with Westernization such as divorce and alienation.
41. Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah was launched in 1958 but took 14 years to complete. It was launched in black-and-white, but when colour came in vogue, Amrohi scrapped the portions already shot and decided to start again. Later, CinemaScope came into vogue, and Amrohi acquired a CinemaScope lens from MGM and scrapped the plain colour portions too. Finally, it was released in 1972, just a few weeks before Meena Kumari’s death. The film had a slow start at the box-office but went on to become a major hit as it turned out to be the swan song of the legendary Meena Kumari. Late Ghulam Mohammed’s music in Pakeezah caught the fancy of the entire nation.
42. Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) was the female version of Ram Aur Shyam (1967) but with a difference. Director Ramesh Sippy had his own unique interpretation of identical twins which he presented to the audience interestingly. Initially, Mumtaz was offered the double roles of ‘Seeta’ and ‘Geeta’ but she could not do the film. So it was offered to Hema Malini who lapped up the opportunity and zoomed to the top spot with its grand success. It not only earned her the first Filmfare award but till date remains the best film of her career.
43. Bobby (1973) a film directed by Raj Kapoor was very popular and widely imitated. It also represented the film début for Dimple Kapadia and the first leading role for Raj Kapoor’s son, Rishi Kapoor. The movie is known to be a trend-setter in its own right which introduced the genre of teenage romance with a rich-vs-poor clash as a backdrop. The film became a blockbuster and was the top grosser of 1973. Incidentally, Dimple Kapadia married superstar Rajesh Khanna before the release of Bobby and waved good-bye to films for almost a decade.
44. Yash Chopra branched out from his brother B.R. Chopra’s production house, B.R. Films to start his own company Yash Raj Films in 1973 and launched Daag: A Poem of Love. He signed the reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna along with the Bengal Tigeress- Sharmila Tagore and Rakhee. A love triangle with a difference Daag: A Poem of Love showcased the intricacies of human relationships which were to become Yash Chopra’s forte in subsequent films. An adaptation of the novel “The Mayor of Casterbridge”, the film also had interesting situations for Laxmikant- Pyarelal’s superhit music.
45. Just as the established film-maker Raj Kapoor adopted a modern approach for Bobby (1973), so also Nasir Hussain, the maker of musical love stories did an about turn with the multi-starrer lost-and-found drama, Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973). Despite, its action oriented theme, this movie is still remembered for its unforgettable music by R. D. Burman, especially the evergreen romantic “Chura liya hai…” which is still the most favourite song of the remix artistes. This movie also features Aamir Khan in the title song as the youngest kid.
46. Amitabh was the fifth choice after Dev Anand, Raj Kumar, Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna for the lead role in Zanjeer (1973). Dev wanted the actor to be allowed to sing a couple of songs and asked Prakash to direct under his Navketan banner. Dharmendra could not fit into schedule. Rajesh feared the role might tell upon his romantic image. It was Pran who suggested Mehra to see Bombay to Goa (1972). The film had a fight scene, and the moment Prakash saw the fight scene, he screamed “Mil Gaya!!”. The movie changed the trend from romantic films to action films and pioneered Amitabh’s new image of a brooding yet explosive person who fights back when cornered.
47. After Zanjeer (1973) was declared a hit, Amitabh and Jaya got married. By the time, the critically acclaimed Abhimaan (1973) released, the reel-life couple had become husband and wife in real life too. Abhimaan (1973), directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee was originally named as Raag Ragini. Abhimaan was even popular in Sri Lanka and was screened continuously for two years in the same movie theater, New Olympia, Colombo.
48. The film Naya Din Nayi Raat (1974) was known for Sanjeev Kumar’s nine-role epic performance, which was earlier played by Sivaji Ganesan in Navarathiri (1964)(Tamil) and by Akkineni Nageswara Rao in Navarathri (1966)(Telugu). This film had enhanced Sanjeev Kumar’s status and reputation as an actor in Hindi cinema. Years later, Kamal Haasan appeared in ten distinct roles in Dasavathaaram (2008), making it the first time that an actor has appeared in so many roles in world cinema. A year later, this record was broken by Priyanka Chopra, when she essayed twelve different characters in Whats’s your Raashee? (2009), each character, representative of a zodiac sign.
49. Shyam Benegal is rightly called The Father of New Wave Cinema in the Seventies. While Mrinal Sen kick-started the movement in 1969 with Bhuvan Shome, Benegal put it firmly on tracks with his Directorial debut Ankur (1974). He took forward the feudal fable of Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955) or Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zameen (1953) in his own style. Till this day, Shyam Benegal has’nt stopped making socially relevant films that touch a chord in the human heart. Shabana Azmi made her debut in Ankur in a role originally offered to veteran Waheeda Rehman. Her performance was so mesmerizing that even Satyajit Ray commented, “In two high-pitched scenes she pulls out all stops and firmly establishes herself as one of our finest dramatic actresses.”
50. While Upkar (1967) was inspired by Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”, Manoj Kumar’s Roti Kapda Aur Makan (1974) was inspired by Indira Gandhi’s “Garibi Hatao” slogan. The basic idea for the film also stemmed from a recital Manoj Kumar had heard at a school function while the scene where he throws his degree in his father’s funeral pyre was inspired from a newspaper report in 1972. Manoj Kumar deftly handled the ensemble cast balancing the strong social undercurrents with the necessary commercial elements. It continues to be topical even after 38 years of its release.
51. The character of Gabbar Singh in this action adventure film – Sholay (1975) was modeled on a real-life dacoit of the same name who menaced the villages around Gwalior in the 1950s. Any policeman captured by the real Gabbar Singh, had his ears and nose cut off, and was then released as an object lesson to other policemen. Initially, the producers approached Danny Denzongpa for the role of the bandit chief, but he was committed to Feroz Khan’s Dharmatma (1975), hence character actor Jayant’s son Amjad Khan was roped in. He prepared himself for the part by reading a book titled ‘Abar Abhishapta Chambal’, which told of the exploits of Chambal dacoits. Amjad Khan played the role so convincingly that he made the character of Gabbar Singh immortal.
52. The concept of Kabhi Kabhie (1976) came to Yash Chopra while he was reading a poem penned by his long time friend (and also the film’s lyricist) Sahir Ludhianvi. The movie was shot in Kashmir and Yash Chopra recalled the production as a “honeymoon”, since the entire cast worked together as a family. The film also led to the reinvention of Amitabh Bachchan as a romantic poet who loses his love, which was a major departure from his earlier “angry young man” roles such as “Deewaar” and “Zanjeer”. The film had been written with Raakhee in mind but by the time the production started, she had married Gulzar and had announced her retirement from films. But Yash Chopra managed to persuade her to make a come back and be a part of his poetic blockbuster.
53. One of the earliest films merchandising strategy started with Golden Jubilee blockbuster – Amar Akbar Anthony (1977). Three large erasers with the photographs of Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan, was sold in the market. It was a rage among school students. Posters, postcards and song booklets of the film adorned the shops. Men started sporting a metal cross around their neck. Even colourful vests worn by Amitabh Bachchan in the film became a rage after the film’s release.
54. The song “Khaike paan banaraswala…” from Don (1978) was originally written for the Dev Anand movie Banarasi Babu (1973). Director Chandra Barot showed the movie Don (1978) to his mentor Manoj Kumar, who felt that the film was too tight and needed a song in the midst of the action-filled film, and so “Khaike paan banaraswala…” was recorded. It was shot after the film was complete and was added after the intermission to balance the action-packed pace of the movie. The film was released without any promotion. Within a week, the song became a big hit, and with the word of mouth, the movie was declared a big hit in the second week.
55. Meera (1979) a film by Gulzar is based on the life of ‘Meera’, a Hindu saint-poet. The film portrays the life and times of ‘Meera’ from Gulzar’s philosophical perspective rather than a mythological one. Through Meera’s life, Gulzar has shown a woman’s struggle to find her independence, dignity and spiritual satisfaction in a society where women are supposed to be taking care of the household chores. He went against the tide and cast Dream-Girl Hema Malini in the role of saint poet, Meera. He wanted Pancham to compose the music but the distributors were not convinced. Finally, Pt. Ravi Shankar composed the music, who opted for the fresh vocals of Vani Jayram.
56. Karz (1980) a film directed by Subhash Ghai is inspired from an American film – The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. Though this critically acclaimed film was ahead of its time, the concept of this movie was such, that it gave inspiration to several hit remakes. This movie has unique things about its songs. There are six future movies titled after five of the songs in the film. They are “Om Shanti Om”, “Main Solah Baras Ki”, “Paisa Ye Paisa”, “Ek Haseena Thi”, “Dard-e-Dil” and “Aashiq Banaya Aapne”.
57. Major changes have always been witnessed in Indian Cinema at the turn of every decade and the 1980s was no exception. 1981 saw the emergence of ‘Star Sons’ – the rise of the second generation. Love Story (1981) & Rocky (1981), films belonging to different genres were released in quick succession. While, Kumar Gaurav achieved instant stardom with Love Story, Sanjay Dutt too stole hearts with his vulnerable persona in Rocky. Unfortunately, Nargis Dutt passed away just four days before the release of Sanjay’s debut film, Rocky.
58. This rags to riches story of Disco Dancer (1982) was one of the most successful Indian films in the Soviet Union, drawing an audience of 40 to 63 million viewers there. The film established Mithun as a household name in Southern Asia as well as the Soviet Union. The fashion for disco dancing forced young Russians to view Indian cinema differently after the release of Disco Dancer (1982). In China, the film’s soundtrack was a success and received a Gold Award there.
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59. The film Ardh Satya (1983) was shot as per the script written by Vijay Tendulkar. During the climax, Govind Nihalani somehow had a different vision. But Vijay Tendulkar was too senior a person and Govind Nihalani did not want to let him down. So Govind Nihalani shot two ends for the film – one that was written by Vijay Tendulkar in the script and other that was his own vision. He showed both versions to the writer and finally Vijay Tendulkar gave Govind Nihalani the consent to retain the other ending. This movie is still considered to be one of the best cop-films made in India.
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60. Film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) was made on such a shoestring budget that Naseeruddin Shah, the most well known actor, was paid only Rs 15,000/- for the movie. The budget was so low that actors could not be served tea on location. Naseer also had to bring his own Nikon camera to the shootings to use as a prop for his character, who was a photographer. Towards the end of the shooting, this camera was stolen! The entire unit wouldn’t have imagined then that they were actually working on a cult film which would acquire a Classic status later.
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61. Masoom (1983) was the first directorial venture of critically acclaimed Director Shekhar Kapur. The plot was broadly based on ‘Man, Woman and Child’ written by Erich Segal. While Jugal Hansraj played the protagonist in Masoom, Urmila Matondkar also acted as a child star and played Naseer’s & Shabana’s eldest daughter. Two decades later, a grown-up Urmila played Shabana’s revolutionary daughter in critic Khalid Mohamed’s Tehzeeb (2003).
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62. Chota Chetan (1984) directed by Jijo was India’s first 3D film. It was a dubbed version of Malyalam film My Dear Kuttichathan. Though, the film didn’t have any known faces, the children’s film became popular with all age-groups because of the novelty of third dimension added to it. Few more Bollywood films made in 3D but the trend failed to catch up. To revive the popularity of the genre, the makers of Chota Chetan re-released it again in 1998 with an additional track featuring Urmila Matondkar and the film did catch the fancy of the next generation.
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63. Sai Paranjpye’s Sparsh (1984) is the story of two people living on the fringes of the society, tentatively reaching out to each other. Naseeruddin Shah played a blind man Aniruddh, who is fiercely independent and very sensitive about his disability. Shabana Azmi played Kavita, a widow who had become a recluse after her husband’s death. Naseer’s character was based on Mr. Mittal, the Principal of a blind school, who used to say that he was not disabled, just differently abled. Sparsh is a rare subject that is very sensitively handled by the Director and superbly enacted by its protagonists.
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64. Mirch Masala (1987), directed by Ketan Mehta is an excellent thriller about a group of women who try to save their dignity. This movie happens to be Smita Patil’s last film as she died before its release. It was also the first and only time that Dina Pathak and her daughters, Ratna and Supriya Pathak acted together in a film. An interesting fact is that Director Ketan Mehta had to pre-pone his shooting on location to ensure that there were chillies in the fields which formed the crux of the story.
65. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak(1988) – its music, romance and young actors shifted the momentum away from the violent and aging ethos that were prevalent in the films at the time. It brought back melody to films which had got lost amongst disco and breakdance influenced soundtracks. Towards the end of the superhit song “Papa kehte hain…”, Raj approaches a girl and sings “Aankhon Mein Jaadu, Hothon Mein Pyaar”. That girl is none other than Reena Dutta, who was then Aamir Khan’s wife. They were newly married and she had casually come on the sets to meet Aamir.
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66. Sooraj Barjatya had short listed Deepak Tijori & Salman Khan for the role of Prem in the romantic musical drama Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). Salman Khan was finally cast in the movie along with Bhagyashree. This was the first film in which the costumes & accessories worn by the lead actors became so popular that they were up for sale. Also, the Antakshari track, a medley of various Bollywood songs based on the Antakshari game became much popular with the film’s release. Salman became a star after Maine Pyar Kiya while Bhagyashree preferred marriage over stardom.
67. Many times in Bollywood, it so happens that films with a similar theme are made simultaneously, as it happened in the case of Shakti (1982) & Farz Aur Kanoon (1982), or Toofan (1989) & Jaadugar (1989). A similar scenario emerged in the case of two songs with identical tunes – “Tamma tamma…” from Thanedar (1990) and “Jhumma chumma…” from Hum (1991), both vying for the top spot. Incidentally, Hum (1991) scored over the other as it turned out to be a box-office hit.
68. The critically acclaimed film Lamhe (1991), released on the same day as Phool Aur Kaante, and was expected to break records. Unfortunately, the relationship between Anil Kapoor and the second Sridevi was considered incestuous by purists & the moralists, and the film was rejected by the Indian audience. However, it became one of the biggest hits ever in the Indian overseas market. Over the years, Lamhe has been hailed as a cult classic and Yash Chopra’s finest film.
69. Saroj Khan was the choreographer for sports drama, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), but due to some reasons she could not do the film and had to be replaced with Farah Khan. With fresh moves, came fresh ideas. Interestingly, “Pehla nasha pehla khumar…” became the first song in the history of Hindi cinema to be shot entirely in slow motion. The novel idea did have its share of hiccups as lip-syncing to a song in slow motion was an arduous task but the technical crew managed to resolve it and made it a visual delight on big screen.
70. Bollywood thriller Baazigar (1993), was initially offered to Akshay Kumar for the lead role, but he turned it down due to its negativity. Arbaaz Khan turned it down for the same reason and then went on to do a full fledged negative role later in Abbas-Mastan’s Daraar (1996). Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan rejected it for the same reason. Finally, Shah Rukh Khan agreed to do it as it turned out to be his breakthrough role as the solo lead. The success of Baazigar took Shah Rukh Khan’s career to new heights and established his Bollywood career as an acclaimed actor.
71. Meenakshi Sheshadri silenced her detractors with Damini (1993), which brought her a lot of critical and commercial acclaim. In the thought provoking title role of Damini, she effortlessly played the ‘Bandini-like’ role like Nutan. Though Sunny Deol’s was a supporting role, he made an impact with some hard-hitting dialogues especially “Jab Yeh Dhai Kilo Ka Haath Kisi Pe Padta Hai Na, Toh Aadmi Uthta Nahi, Uth Jata Hai” Or “Tarikh Pe Tarikh, Tarikh Pe Tarikh, Milti Hai To Sirf Tarikh”. Sunny Deol’s role as an advocate gained him a Filmfare as well as the National Film Award for the Best Supporting Actor.
72. Action thriller Khal-nayak (1993) was controversial right from the day it released. While the lyrics of “Choli ke peeche kya hai…” were considered vulgar by some, others defended the song on the ground that it was based on folk traditions. The song eventually set off protests all over the country and a potential ban on the song was debated in the Indian Parliament. Such turn of events, however, only helped the song and the film become more popular, as many came to the movie just to see Madhuri Dixit perform the song.
73. Rajshri Productions have always believed in the tradition of making clean wholesome films. Sooraj Barjatya stuck to their unique strategy of releasing their films with limited prints. In fact, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994) was initially released only at Liberty cinema, Mumbai. It was a remake of Rajshri’s earlier movie Nadiya Ke Paar (1982) but set in an urban set-up. When Hum Aapke Hain Koun ! was shown before its release to its distributors and trade analysts, they wrote it off calling it a ‘Chayageet’ and a ‘Marriage Video’. They thought that this movie would be a complete washout. But it ended up being the biggest grosser of 1994 and a source of inspiration for future directors like Aditya Chopra & Karan Johar.
74. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) marked the directorial debut of Aditya Chopra, who had lots of trouble filming the scene where Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) jokes with Simran (Kajol) about the previous night. The reason was that every time Shah Rukh Khan would open his shirt, Kajol would not stop laughing. The imprint of the lips on the chest of Shah Rukh Khan were drawn by Kajol. This movie also marks the acting debut of future hotshot Director, Karan Johar who plays Shah Rukh’s friend in the movie.
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75. Before starting as an Independent Director, Madhur Bhandarkar was an assistant to Ram Gopal Varma, on the film Rangeela (1995). While assisting, Madhur also played a small role in the film. Interestingly, his onscreen role too was that of an assistant to the Director, played by Gulshan Grover, and his dialogue was “Sir Aapka Shot Ready Hai”. Also, in the movie, while one half of Urmila’s chartbuster song “Tanha tanha…” was shot in Goa, the other half was shot in Madh Island, Mumbai, but no one could tell the difference!
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76. The role of ‘Nisha’ in the musical blockbuster Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) was turned down by Juhi Chawla, Kajol and Urmila Matondkar, before it was finally accepted by Karishma Kapoor. The other actresses had reservations about playing the second lead to Madhuri Dixit. Karishma Kapoor was so mesmerizing in this movie that she won both the National and Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actress for this much-rejected role.
77. Karan Johar first wrote a story, which was a love triangle between a tomboy, a very pretty girl and a slightly insensitive boy but he shelved the idea because he wasn’t satisfied with it. Then he wrote another plot about a widower and his child, which he shelved as well. Eventually, he decided to merge the two stories into one and the result was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). The role of ‘Tina’ was initially offered to Twinkle Khanna, so the script was written keeping her in mind and that’s how the character was also called ‘Tina’ which happened to be Twinkle’s nickname. But Twinkle rejected it and the role finally went to Rani Mukherjee.
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78. After Khamoshi (1996), Sanjay Leela Bhansali was looking for a new film concept. Around this time, a Gujarat fan of his named Pratap Karwat started making calls to him, claiming he had an interesting story for him. Bhansali kept on evading him until the man flew into a rage and forced him to listen to his story on the phone and Bhansali loved it enough to want to meet him the next day. And thus the Silver Screen witnessed the magnificent riot of colours with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999).
79. Before directing his first film Sarfarosh (1999) at the age of 38, John Mathew Matthan assisted Sir Richard Attenborough on the epic movie Gandhi (1982). John went on to assist Govind Nihlani on several of his films and then started out on his own and made a name for himself as an independent maker of Advertising films. The precision and perfection with which Advertising films are made was evident in his treatment of Sarfarosh, which featured Aamir Khan as ACP Ajay Singh Rathod.
80. For Taal (1999), Subhash Ghai wanted a sound that was completely different from his previous films. He signed A. R. Rahman,with whom he had earlier joined hands on a film called Shikhar, which was subsequently shelved. The song “Ishq bina…” was initially composed for Shikhar. Govinda was the first choice for the role of Vikrant Kapoor and Mahima Chaudhary was supposed to enact the role of Manasi. However, Anil Kapoor & Aishwarya Rai were ultimately signed to play the respective characters. Incidentally Taal was also the first Indian film to be insured.
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81. The new millennium gave rise to a new star on the horizon of Bollywood – Hrithik Roshan. He made his debut in his father’s film Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000) and played the double role of Rohit & Raj. It was Hrithik’s idea to give eyeglass for Raj’s character with a clean shaved persona. Also, Hrithik Roshan, who has 6 fingers in his right hand, tried to cover it in every scene wherein he played Raj. He did so by using hand gloves and playing the character as left handed.
82. Aamir Khan was initially offered the role of Sid in Dil Chahta Hai (2001), but he opted to play the role of Akash, for which he grew a goatee. Abhishek Bachchan was also offered the role of Sid in the film. Finally, Akshaye Khanna accepted the part. Farhan Akhtar convinced actress Dimple Kapadia to come out of retirement to play the role of divorcée Tara Jaiswal. After 15 months of extensive pre-production, the film was shot over a four month period in Mumbai and Sydney, Australia & the rest is history.
83. It all started in 1990, when Aamir Khan’s Dil released along with Sunny Deol’s Ghayal on the same day. Both the films went on to become big hits. This was followed by Aamir Khan’s Raja Hindustani and Sunny Deol’s Ghatak releasing very close to each other in November 1996. History repeated itself yet again when in 2001 Aamir Khan’s Lagaan hit the screens on the same day as Sunny Deol’s Gadar- Ek Prem Katha. While Lagaan had the honour of reaching the Oscars, Gadar- Ek Prem Katha went on to become an all time blockbuster at the Indian box–office.
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84. Bollywood heist film Aankhen (2002), directed by Vipul Shah was originally called ‘All The Best’ but was later changed for numerology reasons and to suit Indian audiences. The film is an adaptation of Shah’s own Gujarati play Andhalo Paato (Blindman’s Buff). The film had two endings – the ending for the Indian audience had Amitabh repenting and being locked away by the police, while the overseas ending shows Amitabh bribing the police and on the loose chasing Akshay Kumar and Arjun Rampal.
85. The war flick LOC- Kargil (2003), directed by J. P. Dutta, had real ammunition & weapons in the movie. Real Bofors FH-77B artillery was shown but the firing sequences were stock footage. J.P.Dutta’s ode to the fallen heroes was the King of all multi-starrers, practically featuring half the film industry. This movie which lasted 4 hours 25 minutes is the longest Indian film to date.
86. The comic-caper Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003) was Director Rajkumar Hirani’s Directorial debut. The casting for ‘Munnabhai’ went through several changes. First it was offered to Shah Rukh Khan, but he declined due to his neck injury. Then it was offered to Vivek Oberoi. Finally the Producers roped in Jimmy Shergill for the part but they later cast him in the role of the patient ‘Zaheer’ & signed Sanjay Dutt for Munnabhai’s role. The comedy has Sanjay sharing screen space with his father and veteran actor Sunil Dutt for the first & the last time.
87. Set in modern day India, Swades: We, the People (2004) was first offered to Hrithik Roshan. The film was inspired by the story of Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi, the NRI couple who returned to India and developed the pedal power generator to light remote, off-the-grid village schools. Shah Rukh Khan finally did the film and played the role of protagonist ‘Mohan Bhargava’ very convincingly. It is one of the rare films where he does not come across as Shah Rukh Khan, the star, but looks every inch, the character. Swades was the first Indian film to be shot inside the NASA research center at the Launch Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
88. The critically acclaimed movie Black (2005), was named after Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s favorite colour. The movie’s title was registered with Kumar Gaurav, so Sanjay Leela Bhansali requested him to relinquish the title. Kumar Gaurav appreciated the path breaking theme of the film and immediately agreed. Incidentally, Rani Mukherjee was not confident enough to play a deaf-blind girl initially, but once Bhansali reinforced his faith in her, she agreed and intensely studied the sign language with professionals at the ‘Helen Keller Institute’ in Mumbai. Black was a major success and Rani Mukherjee received unanimous acclaim for her performance.
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89. Initially, Aamir Khan was uncertain about taking on the role of ‘DJ’ in the movie Rang De Basanti (2006), as he was in his 40s and DJ was a 25 year old Punjabi guy. He eventually accepted it, and hired a tutor to aid him in Punjabi speech and accents. Shah Rukh Khan was the original choice for flight lieutenant Ajay Rathod’s character, but he couldn’t do it owing to his busy schedule. This cameo turned out to be the best bet for Madhavan. Rang De Basanti was successful to a certain extent in changing the grammar of film-making in Bollywood.
90. Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara (2006) was the Indian film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. Vishal deftly adapted the story to the political milieu in the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh. The title of the film, Omkara (2006), was decided by a contest that was open to the public and was decided by a popular vote. Moviegoers had a choice among Omkara, Issak and O Saathi Re, all of which had already appeared in the ‘mukhdas’ of its songs.
91. The title of the romantic comedy film Jab We Met (2007), too, was decided by a popular vote. The other choices were ‘Punjab Mail’ and ‘Ishq Via Bhatinda’. As part of the film’s promotion, the producers painted two full local trains in Mumbai from the Western and Central lines with imagery from the film, with Shahid Kapoor present to chat and inform them about the movie. Dehli’s PVR Cinemas held special screenings on Valentine’s Day 2008 to celebrate its 100 days run at the box office.
92. In the award winning flick Taare Zameen Par (2007), Aamir Khan refused to start the shooting till he found the right child to play Ishan`s role of a dyslexic child. They even looked at kids in Shyamak Dawar`s summer workshop. They auditioned a lot of school children until they found Darsheel Safary, who had a mischievious look….sure enough to play his part in the movie. Taare Zameen Par raised awareness of the issue of dyslexia, and prompted more open discussions among parents, schools, activists, and policymakers.
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93. Producer-Director Ashutosh Gowariker hired a research team of historians and scholars from New Delhi, Aligarh, Lucknow, Agra and Jaipur to guide him on his magnum-opus Jodhaa Akbar (2008). Over 80 elephants, 100 horses and 55 camels were used in the movie. The song “Azeem O Shaan, Shahenshah” featured about 1000 dancers in traditional costumes, wielding swords and shields at a grand location in Karjat. The movie used much gold and ‘kundan’ jewellery made by Tanishq, including 2 kg of gold for the sword case alone. The film made at a budget of Rs. 40 Crore had a run-time of a whopping 213 minutes.
94. Paa (2009) was based on a rare genetic condition known as ‘progeria’ and placed emphasis on a father-son relationship. Amitabh Bachchan played the 12 year old progeria affected son of his real-life son Abhishek Bachchan. It used to take 4 to 6 hours to apply make-up to Amitabh to give him the Auro look & another 2 to 3 hours to remove it. Amitabh took this pain everyday during the shooting of Paa which required him to stay still without talking, eating or drinking. Amitabh Bachchan, who has always been admired for his professionalism and performances set yet another example for everyone in this industry with Paa.
95. The black comedy thriller Ishqiya (2010) created a record of sorts, not only for its cast, but also for its musical team comprising of a young-at-heart lyricist Gulzar (Dil To Bachcha Hai Jee…), Music Director Vishal Bhardwaj and singers Rekha Bhardwaj & Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The film opened to a positive critical response and the box-office collections grew from glowing reviews and strong word-of-mouth from the audience. A critic rightly mentioned “You can’t help but fall in ‘ishq’ with Ishqiya. Tired of sherbat? Try this spicy jaljeera for a change!”
96. The film Rockstar (2011), was shot in reverse as the crew didn’t want to break the continuity of Ranbir Kapoor’s hairstyle who played the title role. Ranbir had to transform himself into a rockstar, so he practised guitar at A. R. Rahman’s studio in Chennai for many days, read Kurt Cobain’s biography and familiarised himself with Jats to get into the skin of his character. The climax with long hair was shot first. Rockstar also turned out to be Shammi Kapoor’s last film, as he died on 14th August, 2011, a few months before the release of Rockstar.
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97. The La Tomatina festival shown in the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), was re-created in Bunol, Valencia, Spain with almost 16 tons of tomatoes specially flown in from Portugal for the shoot as the tomatoes in Spain were not ripe enough for the Tomatina sequence. For the scene, 24 tons of tomato puree was used. Tomatina is extremely helpful to the fields in Spain and the waste was thrown into the filed – as it is bio degradable.
98. The Dirty Picture (2011) had a scene where Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi had to insult each other. It was shot impromptu and the actors didn’t have any prior knowledge about the scene. The Director wanted to catch the discomfort and awkwardness between them and hence never disclosed the idea. Incidentally, Vidya Balan was initially sceptical about taking up the role of ‘Silk’, as she was uncomfortable with the kind of dresses she had to wear and was also required to gain about 12 kilos for the role. But the moment she accepted it as a challenge, there was no looking back and the rest, as they say is history.
99. Vidya Balan had a narrow escape while shooting for the unconventional thriller, Kahaani (2012), where she almost fell on the railway tracks while filming for one of the scenes. She was supposed to run backwards and unfortunately hit a weighing machine and tripped. In the same film, the cell-phone proves to be a tool for Bob Biswas, as his prospective victim’s photo is sent to him via MMS. Ironically, in real life, Saswata Chatterjee (Bob Biswas) doesn’t even use a mobile and has only a landline number as a point of contact.
100. Yash Raj Films, since their incorporation have managed to keep themselves abreast of the changing times and the same is depicted in the choice and treatment of their subjects. From Daag (1973) to Ek Tha Tiger (2012), they have managed to keep their viewers glued and remain loyal to their brand. They roped in Salman Khan & Katrina Kaif for their mainstream film Ek Tha Tiger and created history at the box-office with its widespread distribution and a bumper opening.
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