Nobody knows what the mode of people’s entertainment was, before the 3rd of May, 1913, the day when Indian Cinema was born. Dadasaheb Phalke, Indian Cinema’s pioneer, made our country’s first film, Raja Harishchandra, and left the door ajar for more films and filmmakers. Today, as the nation’s cinema completes 105 illustrious years, let’s have a look at what made the different eras vivid.
THE GOLDEN ERA- 1940’S to 60’s
The early 40’s were largely dominated by two of the biggest doyens of Hindi Cinema, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar. Both could swoon the audiences with their impeccable charm and palpable anguish. In a great casting coup, the stalwarts starred together in the 1949, Andaz.
Their domination continued in the 50’s as well but that era also saw the emergence of a man called Satyajit Ray, who went on to be called as one of the most fascinating voices of Indian Cinema. His films were a reflection of the India that was never explored or exploited on the celluloid before. He tapped into the other side of our country that still continues to be a stark reality.
However, there was a filmmaker who showcased his own sadness on the big screen, Guru Dutt. His Kaagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa, both had a certain unexplainable melancholy about them.
The 60’s saw the rise and rise of Dev Anand. And two of his films, Guide (1965) and Jewel Thief (1967), not only went on to become his two greatest films ever, but also two of the most memorable films of all time. This was the time when even mediocrity was far superior to today’s so called classics.
THE COMMERCIAL ERA- 70’S
By the time the nation entered into the era of the early 70’s, it was already charmed and magnetized by the aura of someone called Rajesh Khanna, who went on to become the first superstar of Indian Cinema.
However, films had become slightly more commercial and gradually moved away from the world of realism. The first brick on the heap was placed by Prakash Mehra in the 1973, Zanjeer, starring Amitabh Bachchan, who had a string of duds behind him. However, after the massive success of the film, Amitabh was rechristened as The Angry Young Man and the trend of hardcore entertainers began.
The 70’s was largely dominated by Big B, who then went on to star in one iconic masala blockbuster after another, like Sholay, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony and Don.
At the same time, hunks like Feroz Khan and Dharmendra continued to push the envelope with their action and stylish films, and also enjoying immense fan following among the masses.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY- 80’s
Largely regarded as the worst phase of our cinema, it also led to the coining of something called “ The Parallel Cinema”, when filmmakers like Govind Nihalani, Ketan Mehta and Shyam Benegal, with distinctive voices and different ideas, also forayed into the world of movies.
But a majority of the films were rehashed from those mind-numbing Madras Potboilers, and most of them starred Jeetendra and the late Sridevi. From Himmatwala to Justice Chaudhary to Maqsad, you named it and they had it.
This was also the time when the late Sridevi was quickly climbing the ladder of success and popularity, with Nagina, Mr. India, Chandni and ChaalBaaz.
Simultaneously, the likes of Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil also consolidated their positions in the industry with their provocative performances in films like Arth and Mirch Masala.
Simultaneously, the era saw the debuts and the rise of actors like Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff. All their respective debuts were huge hits and all the actors gave us memorable films like Hero, Arjun, Ram Lakhan and Naam.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE KHANS- 90’S
The 80’s ended with a BANG! It gave us Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyar Kiya, and also the Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, who left the girls drooling over them.
The one aspiring actor, who broke into Bollywood, wearing eccentricity on his sleeves and aspirations in his eyes, was Shah Rukh Khan. In Raj Kanwar’s 1992 drama, Deewana, the actor shook, if not shattered, the myth of the conventional hero. Someone who was never a hero-material, it was great to see the actor redefine romance on the screen.
After the historic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, there was no looking back for the now rechristened King Khan.
With Dil To Pagal Hai and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, he became the nation’s heartbeat.
The same holds true for Salman Khan, who delivered massive hits like Saajan and Hum Aapke Hain Koun.
Aamir, meanwhile, experimented with his roles and seldom repeated his performances. His repertoire in the 90’s saw some truly soaring performances in films like Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Rangeela and Sarfarosh.
At the same time, Govinda had his own cult and popularity among the kids and the front benchers, but he was also equally loved by the classes, because of his comic timing and unmatched dancing skills.
THE END OF THE SUPERSTAR CULTURE-2000’S
The millennium saw a disastrous beginning at the movies with Mela and Phir Bhi Hai Hindustani, starring Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan respectively. Sandwiched between these films was a debutant, with his film, Kaho Na… Pyaar Hai, Hrithik Roshan. He made the nation go crazy.
It has been 18 years since that film, and we are yet to see such a craze for a newbie.
Well, in the last few years, the landscape of cinema has changed and situations have become more real and rooted cinematically. As we sit today, in 2018, we enjoy watching Avengers: Infinity War and also start wondering what will be the future of Hindi Cinema 20 years from now. Will it be the invasion of Hollywood films in India?
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