The biggest difference between old movies and new is the runtime. Filmmakers (and editors) have realized that modern audiences have a shorter attention span and thus movies are completed within two hours. On the contrary, movies that were made in the ‘50s through the ‘70s were exhaustingly long. Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker, which marked the late Rishi Kapoor’s debut as a lead actor, had a running time of 255 minutes with two intervals. That’s almost 4.25 hours long! Due to these films’ long runtime, they have not found much appeal in the audiences of the streaming era. Fortunately, the quarantine has given us the gift of time, which we must now use wisely. Here are a few movies of the baby boomer era, which every millennial should watch:
Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)
This action-comedy starring Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, and Amitabh Bachchan focused on three brothers who were separated as kids and adopted by three families of different faiths – Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The film’s main theme was religious tolerance in a secular and diverse nation and the modern film-going audience could do with a dose or ten of that.
Available on: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube
Mother India (1957)
‘Unconditional love’ is a hoax and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. This film revolves around a mother (played by Nargis) who is forced to kill her villainous son (played by Sunil Dutt), putting an end to the notion that a mother must sacrifice herself for her child. This movie was so popular that it was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 30th Academy Awards.
Available on: YouTube, Airtel Xstream, MX Player
Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1961)
This action drama was highly realistic for its time when films were meant to be only for entertainment. It blurred the lines between “good people” and “bad people” by showing bandits who would distribute looted wealth among the poor and policemen who stoop low and break the law to make arrests.
Available on: Netflix, Airtel Xstream
This epic drama is one of the first stories around forbidden love. It follows the love affair of Prince Salim (played by Dilip Kumar) and the courtesan Anarkali (played by Madhubala). Their class and status did not stop them from falling in love but the lovers did not get their “happily ever after” either. Need a sad movie to watch during these upsetting times? This is the one!
Available on: Hotstar, YouTube, Google Play
Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)
Unlike many Bollywood films of old (as well as new), this drama had strong female characters who would speak their minds and decided their own destinies. Even the conflicts portrayed in this film were more realistic in nature, and not limited to the stereotypical family dramas. This movie also glorifies the lives of “singing girls”, who were not regarded very highly in society back then.
Available on: YouTube
Marriages between older men and younger women used to be common in India when this Hindi/Urdu drama decided to portray the vulgarity of such relationships on the big screen. Not only did it made a commentary on the social issue but also addressed the problem of suicides among such young brides who were married forcefully against their wishes.
Available on: SonyLiv, YouTube
Guru Dutt’s drama starred him as an unaccomplished poet who is surrounded by greedy vultures. When his poems become a success, his brothers make a buck off him while his publisher tries to have him killed. Sick of the hypocrisy and corruption, he finally leaves to start a new life. The realistic part about his film is that it is not centered on revenge but on moving on.
Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube
Films that were highly progressive for their time would make wonderful remakes even today. Here are a few more Bollywood films that should be rebooted for modern audiences.