7 Days of The 70s – Day One

22 Feb

Welcome to The 70s Blog Mela in BollyLand! For the next seven days, your favorite Bollybloggers turn their back on The Golden Made- in-Bengal Age of Hindi Cinema and take time off from cribbing about modern cinema to focus on the era that taught us the true meaning of paisa vasool.

On the first day of the madness, I thought I’d kick things off with IndieQuill’s missing link… Rajesh Khanna! The man who was king for a glorious few years before The Lanky One set fire to his crown. Everybody else gets the love, why shouldn’t he?

There are those who are frightened off by his later performances (one word: yeeowtch), and others who live in fear of the outraged howls of his dedicated fan base in case they mention they don’t care for all the melodrama (of which there is plenty!).

To which I say: pooh! The Super Star (Original) is for everyone.

Eagle-eyed nitpickers will note that while this list is comprised of ten movies, it contains multiple entries from various years, skips a couple, and stops short in 1976. This is because I’ve only seen about five of the movies he made from 1977 – 79 and from what I remember of them, I wish I had not seen them. Perhaps one of the films I have not seen is a forgotten masterpiece but Chalta Purza (1977), Chhaila Babu (1977), Bhola Bhala (1978), Amar Deep (1979) and Janata Havaldar (1979) are definitely not “essential” to anybody save the dedicated Rajesh Khanna fan. Although Chhaila Babu does have sequences like the above for the twisted (I love the !sexy!cough!).

In chronological order:

The Essential Rajesh Khanna

Khamoshi (1970) – Rajesh Khanna acted in any number of melodramas. I don’t care how many times he told Pushpa in Amar Prem that “I hate tears!” – the tear duct is an important component of the RK-viewing experience. I remind you of this because I wish for you to pay attention when I say this is the saddest movie he ever acted in. An air of gentle melancholia infuses every frame of this movie as it builds to its hopeless climax.

Sachcha Jhutha (1970) – The basis for any number of Bolly-insider jokes about lame sisters and lookalikes, this early Manmohan Desai film is just building up to his later zaniness but there’s Vinod Khanna skulking around in shades, Mumtaaz in pretty outfits, a loyal hound, lookalikes, crimes, capers and fun.

Kati Patang (1971) – Madhu is a girl who gloriously gives it all up for love… only to discover that Prince Charming is a full blown toad. Next come The Consequences which take the form of cute babies, impersonations, in-laws, drunken exes, blackmailing vamps, social issues, jail and finally – true love! When I think about it, it’s pretty annoying. But thinking about it is akin to thinking about chicken soup – who wants to remember what goes into it when it feels so comforting?

Anand (1971) – Personally, I can’t stand Pollyannas so this kind of gets me down in half an hour flat but I can see why other people love it so.

Dushman (1971) – This is one of my mother’s favorite movies. The story of a man who does a terrible thing and is then forced to look it in the face everyday instead of taking the “easy” option and going to jail, Rajesh Khanna is rather un-Super Star in this.

Bawarchi (1972) – Vintage Hrishikesh Mukherjee fare about a mysterious man who shows up one day at a fractured household claiming to be a gifted cook who’ll work for a pittance. What dark secrets does he hide and can a movie this happy possibly have a happy ending?

Dil Daulat Duniya (1972) – The real stars of this movie are Om Prakash as the tramp with a heart of gold and Ashok Kumar as the millionaire with a teeny tiny heart. The two of them are hilarious. RK mainly plays the good looking youngster part but he does win points by turning into a devoted pooch-lover.

Joroo ka Ghulam (1972) – Fans of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Chupke Chupke will love this comedy about a woman who lies outrageously to her disapproving parents about her husband’s financial success and then is forced to put her mansion where her mouth is. RK as the hapless husband who silently bears the burden of his wife’s mountain of lies is hilariously heartwarming although Om Prakash steals the show per usual.

Aap ki Kasam (1974) – It takes a brave man to make his audience despise him at the height of his stardom and RK does that very well in this weepie about a man who suspects his wife of having an adulterous affair with his best friend. Mumtaaz and Sanjeev Kumar don’t get to do much other than look scornfully outraged and thoroughly decent respectively, but Rajesh Khanna not only take the role and runs with it but also succeeds in running it into the ground and stomping on its grave in the third act. Hmm.

Mehbooba (1976) – Yes, it’s terrible. And you really do want to give both of them a good shove. But look! Ghosts! Reincarnation! Haunted tanpuras! Music! It doesn’t get more essential than that when it comes to Rajesh Khanna movies. What? I never promised “good”; I said “essential”.

Honorable Mention

The Train (1970) – A good time is had by all when there is murder on a train. More filmmakers should understand this. Plus you have Nanda and Helen!

Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) – Let me be honest. I can’t stand a good portion of this film, mainly thanks to its heroine who is more than borderline cuckoo and the inexplicable love the hero has for her. The reason it finds itself on this list then is because it has some serious recall value if one of my cousins is anything to go by: the only Bollywood movie he ever saw, he not only remembers its name but the main song thirty-odd years after he’d seen it last, to his mother’s astonishment and my applause. Also, elephants! ELEPHANTS! What more do you want, you Grinch?

Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972) – “Movies like these come by only once in a lifetime,” raves one IMDB user. Yes! Yes, they do! Let us all bow our heads and pray in gratitude.

Namak Haraam (1973) – Watch the torch pass as Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan team up once more for Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

Prem Kahani – still seething about the way he treated Mumtaaz in Aap ki Kasam? Well, then this is the movie for you – Mumtaaz not only kicks him over for a delicious looking Shashi Kapoor (his natural state, obvs) but nails him in other ways as well.

For the Noob

In addition to the above, there are a few movies that will inevitably come up in every conversation about Rajesh Khanna. People will ask you again and again if you have seen them and recommend them to you if you haven’t. They are:

  • Amar Prem – Cynical, unhappily married drunk falls for religious, weepy prostitute; miserable people are miserable.
  • Safar – An emo opera waiting to happen.
  • Daag – Never marry a pretty girl. Or chivalrous men.
  • Chhoti Bahu – Immaculate conception is the medical need of the hour. Where’s Jesus when you need Him?
  • Andaaz – This is actually a Shammi Kapoor movie, but that never stopped anyone from plonking it in the middle of a Rajesh Khanna discussion. He sang a song in it, you know.
  • Maalik – Atheism is very, very bad. At least when God does you wrong, you can nag Him into doing something better.
  • Avishkaar – Some people should never get married. Two of them form the couple at the crux of this story.
  • Roti – Tales of a hungry man. Do not watch on an empty stomach.
  • Anurodh – The uplifting tale of a man whose father is horrified both by his singing and his consumptive friend. Musicians are rebellious even if they’re on AIR, kids!

The good thing about almost all these movies is that they come with excellent soundtracks. So even if you pick a dud, chances are you’re crying and cribbing along to a great tune.


Posted by on February 22, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video


23 responses to “7 Days of The 70s – Day One

  1. sophy

    February 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Amrita–first time commenting I think but this topic pulled me out of lurkerdom.

    Yes Rajesh was definitely one of the pillars of 70s Bollywood. Now if I were to make a list of quintessential RK, I’d put back Amar Prem. I’m no fan of religious weepy prostitutes since I am none of those and can’t relate, but the music in this movie can’t be beat. And RK is a big part of it. Make any list of top Bollywood songs (70s, weepy, beautiful, drunkunnes, Kishore etc…) and there will be songs from this movie.

  2. sophy

    February 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Sorry I should add that yes, I agree, when you mention Rajesh Khanna, people will mention the three A’s: Aradhana, Anand, Amar Prem. And it’s irritating especially if you haven’t been able to sit through those movies in their entirety. But the music in Amar Prem is outstanding and it surely deserves to be on any RK list.

  3. Sharon

    February 22, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Ah, Khamoshi, the film that has you dithering between (a) banging your head on your desk at the “psychology” and (b) considering suicide because of the unrelenting bleakness. 😦

    Am surprised Aradhana didn’t rate a mention, atleast because the music was wonderful.

  4. memsaab

    February 22, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I guess Aakhri Khat is my favorite film that he was in, although it wasn’t really a Superstar Rajesh Khanna endeavour. I love Shehzada and Apna Desh next to that 🙂 And he was truly a genius about music!

  5. Beth

    February 22, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I fit one of the categories mentioned above. Ahem. I’ve seen a grand total of one Rajesh Khanna movie and it mainly features Mithun and falls well within a span of years you are ignoring 🙂 I also own the elephant one – I LOVE ELEPHANTS! – but think I might need to check out the atheist one first. You KNOW how the (non-)depictions of atheism fascinate me!

    Jokies aside, I’m so glad you made this list because I know I’ll need it sooner than later.

  6. pitu

    February 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I lub Rajesh in ‘Aradhana’ and ‘Amar Prem’! I swear every time I say ‘Aradhana’, I hear “Hey…. Heyyy.. Hey…. Heyyy… humhum lala lala… hum hum hum aahaa… hehe…. aahaa….” lol. Love love love him in that 😀 Sooooooooo gorgeous!! He is also adorable in ‘Anand’ and I really like him in ‘Agar Tum Na Hote’ (although I realise that’s an 80s movie). My Kaka love vanishes in the face of semi-porno ‘Red Rose’ however 😦 Other reasons to love him: we share a birrday! And I sat next to him on a Mumbai-Delhi flight once and he was awesome and super sweet and chatted with me the whole time 🙂

  7. bollyviewer

    February 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Heavens! Your list reminds me of just how many Rajesh Khanna films I’ve absorbed in my childhood – ALL the ones on your list! Somebody on DD clearly loved the-one-and-only-superstar a LOT. Oh wait, there is one of the essentials that I have not seen and do not intend to, though I love Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Yup, I managed not to see Anand!

  8. bollywooddeewana

    February 23, 2010 at 1:30 am

    I Loved reading this i’m yet to see a lot on this list and no i’m not one frightened by his later performances, i enjoyed him in Souten and some other 80’s stuff i’ve seen him in but to quote you a lot of his work in his era was ‘yeeowtch’ compared to his 70’s stuff

  9. Kanan

    February 23, 2010 at 2:41 am

    LOL! your writeup is hilarious, Amrita. And thanks for the warnings “do not eat on an empty stomach” hehehe… I got to watch that song of Andaaz. And I too like Pitu love Amar Prem and Aradhana along with Anand. Absolutely love the songs of these films, specially Kati Patang. That reminds me I have “Mehboob Ki Mehndi” sitting on the shelf to be watched. May be this is the week.

  10. Suhan

    February 23, 2010 at 2:44 am

    Phew! You belled the cat! Was wondering whether he’d get a shout-out at all during this 70s week so thanks v. much 🙂

    I’ve always wondered why anyone would judge him for what he did post the early 80s barring that period from 76-79 as you rightly put it with stinkers like ‘Chalta Purza’, ‘Aashiq hoon baharon ka’, etc . However, some of his best is also from then except that they went unseen and unsung for the most part. One such was ‘Naukri’ directed by Hrishikesh M. with Raj Kapoor and as someone has said, the best adaptation in Indian cinema of ‘It’s a beautiful life’. The other’s ‘Palkon ki chhaon mein’–very unsuperstar like. Yet another is Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Chakravyuh’ a relaxed caper (39 Steps adaptation) which goes off the rails in the last few minutes. The 80s, post ’83 or so, did no one any favors least of all the likes of Kaka, AB, and the beloveds of the 60s and 70s who were all aging and trying desperately to cling on to their earlier personas of romantic, angry, etc. etc. and merely looking ridiculous as a result. So in Kaka’s case, for every ‘Amrit’ and ‘Akhir Kyon’ where romance wasn’t the essential angle, you had the dreadful ‘Oonche Log’ (Salma Agha redefines the whole meaning of a pathetic block of white wood, no wonder Kaka gave her a hard time!),‘Awara Baap’, ‘Bewafai’, etc.

    Love him, of course if that wasn’t apparent yet 🙂 And Pitu, you’re the luckiest. Have been threatening to stalk him outside ‘Aashirwad’ for ages but don’t have the innards to do it without the redoubtable Memsaab. Was the cause of much merriment to the v. young driver who took me around Mumbai the last go-around. Why are you interested in that “buddha” he asked! Oh, how the mighty are fallen.

    Thanks again Indiequill.

    • memsaab

      February 23, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      We are so going to stalk him! We are!!!!!! And I wouldn’t leave him out, I just made a list of my favorite 70s films and he’s in several of them!

  11. Heyman

    February 23, 2010 at 6:18 am

    7 days of 70’s and you cover all of Rajesh Khanna in day one/one day…..???

    And what you say here….

    “This is because I’ve only seen about five of the movies he made from 1977 – 79 and from what I remember of them, I wish I had not seen them.”

    this is higly Clichéd….Think of something new or better still heed to what my good friend Suhan says above….

    Nevertheless, great job…

  12. Amrita

    February 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Sophy – you’re right. And I thought long and hard about putting it back on the list and kicking Mehbooba off it because that soundtrack is really genius. But in the end I went for variety.
    Welcome to commentorland btw! 🙂

    Sharon – I had a nasty moment there when I wondered what kind of senility led me to leave Aradhana (freaking Aradhana!) off the list and then I remembered it came out in 69. Humpf.

    Memsaab – was that the one with the munchkin? 😦 That baby haunts me when I’m sad. And totally agreed on the music – I dont know how much he had to do with the choice but his movies are remarkably melodious. The best of the lot of all the stars of the 70s imo.

    Beth – I know! I thought of you when I wrote it! I do NOT recommend Maalik as your Rajesh Khanna introduction vehicle however. I’d stick to something like Sachcha Jhutha (with Vinod Khanna!) or Kati Patang (with Asha Parekh!). Baby steps.

    Pitu – awww, that makes me think better of him. Stars who are nice to the little people are nice people.

    BV – RIGHT? I was looking at the IMDB list and thinking the same to myself. And you haven’t seen Anand? *faint*

    BDeewana – The early 70s is really where it’s at for Rajesh Khanna movies. You could watch any of his movies from 69 to 74 and have a pretty good time. And there are a TON of them. So enjoy!

    Kanan – Kati Patang is one of my all time fave Hindi soundtracks. That movie is really my chicken soup. Everything in its place and in its time.

    Suhan – it’s the 70s! There HAS to be Rajesh Khanna! 😀 I think I’ve seen Chakravyuh once a long time ago but I’ve never seen Naukri – must check them out. Thanks for the recco!
    And good luck with the stalking! Memsaab will be very good company!

    Heyman – well, duh, it’s 7 Days of the 70s, not 7 Days of Rajesh Khanna!

  13. Gradwolf

    February 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    How can you not love Anand? Cha! That too with all those Mukesh gems. I’ve always believed that’s the one movie where he actually acts.

    Which is the Hindi remake of Sigappu Rojakkal(Kamal Haasan)? Any idea? I distinctly remember Rajesh Khanna trying to do a misogynist Kamal Haasan, playboy by daytime, rapist and murderer by night as a last ditch effort to save his career. The Kamal movie came out in 1978.

  14. Shalini

    February 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    One of my most traumatic childhood memories revolves around Rajesh Khanna and Mere Jeevan Saathi. I still can’t really talk about it, but it ivolves a dark Sunday night in Srinagar and the power going out just as we got to “O mere dil ke chain” on DD’s broadcast of the film.


  15. Amrita

    February 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Adithya – it’s the relentless optimism 😀 My cold dark heart cant take it! However, yes, he does give a fine performance in it. It’s a bit tainted for me though because of the way he began to fall back on it in his later years.

    Shalini – I’m now terribly intrigued! 😀

  16. M

    February 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Good Lord, RK was in a LOT of horrible movies wasn’t he? Add me to the blech-Anand crowd – though I love most of the songs of these movies – they did have lovely songs then…

    Kati Patang used to be a prime Doordarshan favourite…

    I was going to point out that Aradhana was a 60s movie, but you got it 🙂


  17. radzi

    February 23, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Aradhana is an obvious miss from the list.

    I like Ajanabee too for the simple plot yet with enough suspense plus with few good numbers.

    Mehbooba got good musics, but the storyline & the setting is “dull”.

    Thanks for writing about our original superstar and that he bravely took any roles & disregarding his superstar image.

    Suhan is right. Naukri and Palkon ki Chaon Mein are two quality gems hidden away from the public for years!

  18. kk

    February 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Bawarchi is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The “daughter-in-law” dialogue was just pure genius. I wish Gulzar would write more dialogue. Or make more movies. Or both.

  19. Lisa

    March 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Sorry, late replay,
    You mentioned ANAND above. Trivia says that Rajesh shnatched the movie from Shashi.
    After watching more than 110 Shashi movies til now and (in the beginning I started to watch Rajesh Films only to compare) nearly 100 Rajesh movies until now: I´m glad that Rajesh did that movie, Shashi wouldn´t have done the trick. Rajesh died before in his movies (Raaz, Aradhana, Andaz..) but Shashi never did (according to my knowledge, convince me if I´m wrong).
    Great movie, because of great acting (it´s not one of MY favorites), but remarkable.
    If you want to start with Rajesh Khanna movies do watch Kati Patang, Apna Desh, Aap Ki Kasam and Souten (sorry 80s movie).
    It´s well known that Rajesh was close to Kishore Kumar (“His voice”) and R.D.Burman, so when ever you come across these three it´s worth listening (and I think watching).

  20. Radhika

    March 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Hi – followed you here from your comments on baradwaj rangan’s reviews – enjoyed your ishqiya comment too. Re RK – I would credit him for at least having taken a lot of roles that clashed with his superstardom – something that LongLegs didn’t dare do – going around in shorts as a cook, or doing the jealous nasty at the height of his popularity. One of his movies that you should see (and ad to your list) is Ittefaq – it’s an unusual murder movie – like a one-act play and quite ahead of its time – and I remember it has this amazingly sexy Nanda (considering she usually played the ultra goody oh-so-sweet sister types) with a clinging blue chiffon sari, worn very low on her hips. RK, as I recall, looks stern and startled a lot and runs up and down a staircase while Nanda sashays around, so you can see the c.b.c.s. worn low on her hips).

    • Amrita

      March 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Radhika – welcome to the blog! I have seen Ittefaq: was it a 70s movie? I bet I’ve left out a bunch along the way. I really enjoyed it, especially Rajesh’s face at the end when everything is explained. 😀
      And you’re right, RK wasnt afraid to look foolish when the role demanded it.

  21. Radhika

    March 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Good point re Ittefaq – I was so sure it was a 70s movie – despite there being no sartorial sights like loud yellow polkadotted jackets and the like. I just checked – and it was 1969 – along with Aradhana

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