We seek newer and better depictions of subjects and fresh narratives from the new-age cinema. There’s no denying that in the age of OTT, we got to witness a lot more experimental films and truly engaging storylines.
However, there are a plethora of films from Bollywood’s earlier era, which were much ahead of their time and depicted crucial subjects beautifully and brilliantly. These films have withstood the test of time and continue to be relevant today.
Here are a few classic Bollywood films, some true masterpieces, that delved into comparable issues yet did it much better than the most recent movies.
1. If you’re keen on watching a film that maturely depicts marriage and extramarital affairs, rather than watching Pati, Patni, Aur Woh, you should be watching Ijaazat instead. Despite the fact that it was released in the 1980s, the film exhibited an evolved approach to the subject.
2. Both the Salman Khan and Varun Dhawan-starrer Judwaa weren’t at all funny, but the twin comedy, Angoor, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma, will surely keep you entertained.
3. The coming-of-age drama Guddi, with Jaya Bachchan as the protagonist, not only reinvented the concept of a Hindi film heroine in the ’70s, but it is also easily one of the best “fan films” of all time. In fact, unlike Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan, this film sympathetically portrays the celebrity worshipping culture.
4. You’ll be drawn by the mystery in Teesri Manzil, and the love story between Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh will keep you fascinated. Unlike Haseen Dillruba, this classic stands out as a memorable thriller from the golden era of Bollywood.
5. The Kartik Aaryan-starrer, Dhamaka, which is an adaptation of the Korean thriller The Terror Live, fell short of the expectations set forth in the trailer. The thriller delves into subjects including corruption, politics, and modern media.
The 1983 black comedy Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro handled similar issues, but it did it in a more nuanced way. The film’s main strength is its powerful ensemble cast, which includes Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Neena Gupta, and a slew of other renowned actors.
6. Atrangi Re, which probably worked solely for Dhanush’s performance, lacked in its major storyline and failed to have a strong, or even sensible, take on mental illness. On the contrary, Kamal Hassan and Sridevi’s Sadma, which is based on the same premise, took a far more sensible approach than making a mockery of it.
7. If you’re looking for a lighthearted family comedy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Chupke Chupke is the one to watch. It’s far more entertaining to watch Dharmendra (Parimal Tripathi) try to impress Om Prakash (Raghavendra Sharma), his wife’s brother-in-law, than it is to see Vikrant Massey (Sunny) woo Yami Gautam (Ginny) in Ginny Weds Sunny.
8. Jawaani Jaaneman, featuring Saif Ali Khan, may be a modern perspective on single fathers, but Mehmood’s Kunwara Baap raises a bigger question about fatherhood. The former film is about a father abandoning his child, while the latter is about a man fostering an abandoned child.
9. Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal 2, which is about love changing with the times, couldn’t quite match the charm of its original. To some extent, the romantic drama depicts a modern woman’s struggle with the internalised notion of her identity in relation to her partner. But if you want to see a woman’s narrative on relationships and sexuality, Basu Chatterjee’s Rajnigandha is far superior.
10. The Accidental Prime Minister, based on Dr. Sanjaya Baru’s book, sheds light on Gandhi’s familial grip on the PMO during the 1990s. However, the film still stayed in the safe zone while talking about the political environment. On the other hand, Kissa Kursi Ka, a political satire about the Indira Gandhi government directed by Amrit Nahta, left no stone unturned.
11. Housefull 4, a comedy film directed by Farhad Samji and starring a huge star cast, has proven to be as annoying, and four times as problematic, as the prequels. Rajesh Khanna‘s Bawarchi, on the other hand, is a completely engaging family comedy-drama with a fantastic ensemble. A true laugh riot.
12. Kalank, a period drama with a hefty budget, a stellar cast, and stunning cinematography, fell flat on its face when it came to the plot. The Alia Bhatt starrer seemed hollow as a story of forbidden love. But Meena Kumari’s Pakeezah, based on the story of a courtesan’s forbidden love, has stood the test of time because of its central message of love and the desire to be accepted.
13. Rohit Shetty’s cop universe has expanded over the years, but the logic in his films, like Sooryavanshi, has shrunk at the same time, be it the storyline or the action sequences. With a comparatively lower budget and fewer resources, Ravi Chopra’s action thriller The Burning Train had special effects that stood out. Although it may seem dated now, the film gets kudos for pushing the boundaries.
14. Another Rohit Shetty-directed cop drama, Simmba, follows a dishonest cop’s fight against corruption. However, turning it comical didn’t quite work in the film’s favour. Ardh Satya, starring Om Puri, took a chance and gave a glimpse into the grim world of Indian law enforcement. The film can at times seem distressing for the hopelessness depicted in some scenes.
I bet you that all these retro films deserve a place in your binge list.