Bollywood is the biggest film industry in the world, churning out an average of 1000 films a year, and over time many have become classics. But which ones are the best? Several Canadian Indian fans took part in a survey and were asked to name their favorite classic Hindi films, and here are the top five.
Numerous films were mentioned, but at the end of the day the 1975 action adventure film Sholay came out on top. my friend a Mississauga electrician, says Sholay is her favorite because of the straightforward narrative and the soundtrack, and this view was shared by many of the poll participants.
When the film first came out the reviews were negative, but strong word of mouth led to increased interest, and Sholay would break box office records in India. Adjusting for inflation, it’s probably the highest grossing Indian film ever. The film starred Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan.
Next to Sholay came the 1957 classic Pyaasa starring Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha. The film centers on the life of Vijay, an aspiring poet who’s having difficulty getting his poems published, and Gulabo, a prostitute who helps him, and many Canadian Indian fans consider this one of the greatest films of the classic Bollywood era in the 1950s. Apart from the superior performances of the two leads, Pyaasa is also notable for its use of song lyrics as dialogue extensions. Dutt, who starred, directed, produced and wrote the film, will forever be remembered for this classic.
Number three on the survey is Mughal-e-Azam, the 1960 historical epic starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, and Durga Khote. The film chronicles the story of Mughal Prince Salim and his love for Anarkali the court dancer against the wishes of his father. One of the highest grossing Bollywood films of all time, Mughal-e-Azam is also famous for its soundtrack which features Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Lata Mangeshkar.
Landing at number four in the survey is Pakeezah. James of Vancouver, a lifelong fan of Bollywood films, considers this his favorite because of the songs, and it’s hailed by critics as one of the finest musicals ever. The performance by lead actress Meena Kumari, who died after filming, is considered one of the best in her career.
Rounding out the top five is the epic melodrama Mother India. Directed by Mehboob Khan, the film tells the story of Radha, an impoverished woman who defies odds to raise her children. The film was a box office success and had a profound impact on Hindi filmmaking. Even today, Canadian Indian fans hold Mother India in high regard. Other films definitely deserve to be on this list, but as far as Canadian Indian fans are concerned, these are the best.