Cinemania 6: Birthday Movies (’81 & ’82)


Another bonanza year for AB fans. “Shaan”, “Barsaat Ki Ek Raat”, “Naseeb”, “Laawaris”, “Silsila”, “Kaaliya”, “Yaarana”. What a bunch!

Shaan”: An under-rated movie like “Kala Patthar”. I think this movie was too classy for its times. And can you forget the “Shakaal” act by Kulbhushan Kharbanda? And the menacing manner he caresses his shaven pate and menacingly mutters in a low tone: “Yeh jazeera bam ki tarah phoot padega”.

Barsaat”…” was directed by Shakti Samant going downhill pretty rapidly, while “Naseeb” (MKD) and “Laawaris” (Prakash Mehra) were representative of their director’s forte. “Yaarana” was an uncommon pairing of AB with Neetu Singh but thoroughly enjoyable. “Kaliya”, I remember not only for AB but also for  the Radio Ceylon jingles for the film which started and ended with the echoing slogan “kaaliya, kaaliya, kaaliya, kaaliya”.

Silsila”! How heart-breakingly gorgeous did Rekha look! I was a big, big fan of Rekha; the walls of my hostel room were adorned with posters and picture cuttings of Rekha. And the brooding AB, the poet. The tulip fields. The songs. Everything about the movie was perfect!

My birthday movie, and the movie of the year was, “Ek Duje Ke Liye” at Kanhaiya Chitra Mandir. Tragic story of geography coming in the way of two lovers. A Madrasi pitted against a North Indian. This K. Balachander movie starred Kamalahasan and Rati Agnihotri. Besides the tragic tear-jerker of an ending and the super-super hit songs, I remember one scene from the movie. Kamalahasan challenged to prove his love for Rati burns her photograph, stirs the ash into a cup of tea and quickly proceeds to gulp down the concoction. A case of Rati na sahi to “ash” sahi? Not a bad choice!

One of the last movies of the year was the gorgeous Rekha’s “Umrao Jaan”. What times those were, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha in full bloom!



The birthday movie was seen under fairly unusual circumstances, parts of Varanasi was flooded and the area around the university campus (Lanka, etc.) had a couple of feet deep water. However the cinema halls in the city were operational. There was no way I could miss the annual ritual on my birthday. With two brave-hearts for company, I set out to see AB’s “Khuddar”, a rollicking story with such bizarre scenes like AB’s taxi flying over the traffic on busy Marine Drive of Bombay. We would have  done well to possess such a taxi in those times of flooding in Varanasi! The song “Angrezi mein kehte hain ki I love you” topped Binaca Geet Mala that year, surprisingly beating “Pag ghungroo” of “Namak Halaal” to the second place! Which song do you still remember? And which song do you join in chorus during a drunken evening even now?

And that brings me to the other AB films for 1982: “Satte pe Satta”, “Namak Halaal”, “Desh Premee” and one of my all time favorites, “Shakti”. I remember the first time I saw “Satte pe Satta”. The movie was released while I was visiting parents in Jamshedpur. Jamshedpur those days rarely had the privilege of screening the latest movies. I was dying to see this latest AB movie. So I did the next best thing possible. Immediately upon reaching the Varanasi Cantt station, a group of us landed at the cinema hall (Anand), suitcases/ hold-alls and all and thoroughly enjoyed the movie!

What a time it was to be living in, with AB’s movies being released nearly once in two months!

1982 was the last year I saw a movie on my birthday. No particular reason, just that all quirks need to die some day!

Movies still remain a passion for me!




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