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Indian Cinema of a bygone era

I spent my teenage years entirely during the liberalization-swept 90’s and I think partly because of that I seemed to have missed out on a considerable amount of Classic Indian cinema.

In the 80’s I was too young to have strong interests of my own and pretty much watched anything my parents showed me, which ended up being just a handful of very well-known Hindi, Tamil or English films at the top of the heap. So we were generally not a family that watched a lot of movies. I’m not trying to blame my parents here or anything. It is just the way things were. I was into other creative hobbies like drawing and painting and they encouraged such talents more than say, making sure I caught up on the essentials of Indian cinema. Also, at home growing up there was generally a culture of avoiding films with too much violence or sadness. And that rules out plenty of so-called ‘essentials’ that I missed. As far as I can remember, Comedy and Romance seemed to be much more acceptable genres in my parents’ eyes.

With the advent of satellite television in India in autumn of 1991, I was a goner! I remember we were among the first families on our street to get a connection in January of 1992 and my attention was quickly diverted from anything Indian to the likes of Bob Newhart, The Wonder Years, CNN and MTV. Even though I was still fairly well clued in to the latest movies during the 90’s, I don’t remember ever catching up to classics such as Mughal E Azam, Zanjeer, Pyaasa or Yaadon Ki Barat. I have watched Sholay though, but the ones I have seen are too few and far between.

Anyway, suddenly this past weekend I found myself getting back into the mood of rediscovering or rather discovering for the first time, classic films of Indian Cinema. This was mainly my wife’s fault as she was showing me her sizeable collection of old Hindi film songs and I realized that I hadn’t heard many! So we went out on Sunday and bought copies of Zanjeer, Baton Baton Mein, Golmaal (the original one) as well as a few Raj Kapoor classics such as Awara and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. I’m pretty sure I have seen the RK ones though, albeit a long time ago. I’m really curious to watch Zanjeer in particular because I have never really given Amitabh Bachchan the time of day or tried to understand the hype of ‘Angry Young Man’ and ‘Greatest Bollywood Actor of all time’. Aamir Khan has really been more of the ‘greatest actor’ of my time. But maybe it is time to go down memory lane and experience the classic era.