Bollywood Cinema 1960-69 Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Bollywood Cinema 1960-69

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Bollywood Cinema up to 1949 | 1950-59 | 1960-69 | 1970-79 | 1980-89 | 1990-99 | 2000-10

The 1960s saw some major changes taking place in Bollywood and these included the complete phase-in of colour in films, filming in foreign countries and more memorable songs and music.

Chaudvin Ka Chand

One of the first films to be released in the early 1960s was Guru Dutt's Chaudvin Ka Chand (The Moon of the Fourteenth) with Waheeda Rehman, but because his previous movie had been a disaster and he was no longer directing, this one was directed by M Sadiq. The title song, with the playback by Mohd Rafi, was the only one performed in colour. The only other song that was in colour was 'Pyar kiya to darna kya' ('If you are in love, then why are you scared') from the Mughal-E-Azam, which was released in the early 1960s. This was an indication that colour was slowly being introduced but it would be some time before it would be completely phased in as it was expensive to do this at the time.

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

In 1962 Guru Dutt released another well known movie of his - Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (The Gentleman, the Wife and the Servant) - in which he again starred with Waheeda Rehman, his friend Rehman, Johnny Walker and Meena Kumari. The film was directed by his assistant, Abrar Alvi.

A low caste, educated man reaches the city of Calcutta seeking employment. He witnesses the colonial rulers looting stores and also notices that the old feudal system is decaying and a new one is coming into existence. The man, Atulya Chakraborthy, also known as 'Bhoothnath' (Ghostly-looking one), finds employment in a mansion which belongs to an immoral landlord family who have fallen on hard times. The bride of the youngest son, known as 'Chhoti Bahu' (Young daughter-in-law), gains his attention as she seeks solace, while her husband gets involved with dancing girls, squanders the family fortune and is drinking heavily. Soon Bhoothnath is forced to leave and years later, when he returns, he finds a skeleton in the ruins of the mansion and is informed that the skeleton is that of Chhoti Bahu, and that she had been murdered.

After the disaster of Kaagaz Ke Phool, Guru Dutt was so devastated and disgusted that he wanted to quit but was unable to do so due to financial constraints. When Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam was being planned, he refused to act and the role of Bhoothnath was offered to Raj Kapoor's youngest brother Shashi Kapoor, who turned it down, as did another well known actor, Biswajeet. Guru Dutt eventually took on the role himself.

Dutt's first choice for the female lead role of Chhoti Bahu was Nargis, who was by now married to actor Sunil Dutt (no relation to Guru Dutt), who Guru Dutt had previously dropped from one of his earlier films. But it didn't materialise and the role went to Meena Kumari, an alcoholic. The other problem that Guru Dutt faced was that his affair with Waheeda Rehman had wrecked his marriage, and his wife Geeta Dutt refused to sing for Meena Kumari in the film. But the movie went on to become a success; today it is known as one of Guru Dutt's best films, as well as a classic which portrays one of the greatest characters on the screen.

Meena Kumari

Meena Kumari, whose real name was Mahajabeen Bano, was born on 1 August, 1932, to Ali Baksh and Iqbal Begum. Though she wanted to go to school, she started to work in films at the age of seven, effectively becoming the family breadwinner. The film that made her a household name was Vijay Bhatt's, Baiju Bawra (Baiju is Mad), released in 1952. It starred actor Bharat Bhushan in the lead role as 'Baiju'. Meena Kumari was also known as 'The Tragedy Queen' because of the characters she portrayed in films such as 'Chhoti Bahu' in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.

In the 1960s she worked on some of the most memorable films such as Kohinoor (Diamond) (1960), Dil Ek Mandir (Heart is a Temple) (1963) and Kaajal (1965). However, it was while filming in 1952 that she fell in love with the director, a married man, Kamal Amrohi, who was 15 years older than her. Soon after they got married, she produced a film entitled Daera, based on her and Kamal Amrohi's love story. Amrohi and Meena Kumari also planned another black and white film, Pakeezah, but it was not released until 1972 and when it was, it was in complete colour. Noticeably, there were parts of the film where she looked much younger than in others.

Due to their strong personalities, the marriage to Kamal Amrohi fell apart in 1960 and the two got divorced in 1964. Though they did re-marry, it was too late because she abused alcohol and had become similar to her character in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam  — a complete alcoholic. She also relied on intimate relationships with her younger male colleagues such as Dharmendra, who had acted with her in Kaajal. Though Meena wrote some poetry and was considered an Urdu poet, she drowned her senses with alcohol. Three weeks after the 1972 release of Pakeezah, which opened to a lukewarm public viewing at the Box Office, Meena Kumari became seriously ill with cirrhosis of the liver and on 31 March, 1972, she passed away.


The year 1964 witnessed a major change in Bollywood in more ways than one. Raj Kapoor released his film Sangam1 (The Confluence) — not only was this in complete colour, but it was also filmed in France and Switzerland, thus making this the first Bollywood film to be filmed outside India.

A lower class boy, Sunder, is friends with upper class boy, Gopal and also with a girl, Radha. As the three grow up, Sunder and Gopal fall in love with Radha but she loves Gopal, who, unlike Sunder, is not able to tell her that he loves her. To overcome his problems of being a lower class person, Sunder joins the Air Force and is soon required to go into action, but during this, his plane is shot down and he is considered missing. In the meantime, Gopal gathers courage to write an unsigned love letter to Radha and one day, as they are planning to get married, they receive the news that Sunder is alive and is returning home as a hero. Soon Sunder and Radha get married and go on their honeymoon to Europe, where, after he receives an invitation from Sunder, Gopal also joins them. But in order not to ruin her marriage to Sunder, Radha asks him to go and forget their relationship and friendship. He leaves them and returns home.

One day, after they return to India, Sunder, unaware of the request made by Radha to Gopal, informs his wife that he bumped into Gopal but when he called him, he was ignored. But soon Gopal and Sunder meet again and this time the friend is invited to dinner. The story takes a twist as Sunder begins to think that Radha is being unfaithful to him, and he finds the unsigned love letter from Gopal. Sunder talks to Gopal about his thoughts and suspicions, and Gopal is unable tell him that Radha isn't being unfaithful, and doesn't inform him that the unsigned love letter was from him to her. This leads to tragedy when Gopal takes his own life, after he reveals the truth to his friend.

The film starred a very young Randhir Kapoor, who plays the part of the 'younger Sunder'. The film's location and photography, along with the songs, were considered to be one of the best. One particular song that is still considered as most haunting and emotional is 'Dost dost na raha, pyar pyar na raha' ('I have no friend and I have no love'), sung by Mukesh for his friend, Raj Kapoor. While listening to the song at the time of the recording, Raj Kapoor, who was producing, editing and directing this movie under his own banner, had tears in his eyes. The emotions shown in the film as the song is sung are real. Raj Kapoor had always said that Mukesh was his voice when singing in films. This song hit the target with the audience as many had tears in their eyes, and it still has the power today when they hear the song on TV or DVD. There were other songs as well such as 'Mein Kya karoo Ram mujhe budha milgaya' ('What do I do lord, I am married to an old man'), sung for the actress Vyjayantimala by the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar. The other was 'Yeh Mere Prem Patra' ('My Love Letter') for the actor Rajendra Kumar by Mohd Rafi.

Sangam, being a love triangle story, had an ending that audiences love, and it is considered to be one of the best Raj Kapoor films. It is remembered for its filming on locations in Switzerland and France, the acting, the story, the directing, the songs and the music. But besides this, Raj Kapoor was able to portray his fascination with sexuality in more than one scene. But what really gained momentum in the story and which came across very well were emotions. The actors used their facial expressions in such a way that it made the audience feel those emotions.

Shammi Kapoor

With black and white films being slowly phased out, the Industry saw India have its own 'Yahoo' before the event of the Internet and the famous search engine. This was in the form of Shammi Kapoor, who was considered to be India's Elvis Presley because of his looks and his style of dancing. The second son of Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor's younger brother, Shamsher Raj Kapoor was born on 21 October, 1931. Shammi was noticed when Nasir Hussain released his film Tumsa Nahin Dekha, but it was Dil Dekhe Dekho (Look and See With Heart), which was released in 1959, that earned him the image of a light-hearted playboy. The one film that attached the nickname 'Yahoo' to him was Junglee (Wild One), which was directed by Subodh Mukherjee and released in 1961. This was the biggest hit of the year and had one song, sung by Mohd Rafi for Shammi Kapoor, 'Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe' ('Let anyone call me the wild one'), which began with the word 'Yahoo'.

One thing for sure was that Shammi Kapoor's image was similar to that of Elvis Presley, and this could be seen in the 1966 movie Teesri Manzil, which was directed by Dev Anand's brother, Vijay Anand, known to many as 'Goldie'. This film featured two of the most popular songs at the time. The first, 'O Haseena Zuflon Wali', had the sensational Helen as Shammi Kapoor's dancing partner and a very catchy tune. If any films in those days did not have Helen dancing to a catchy tune, the audience would consider it an unworthy song. But in almost every film that Shammi Kapoor acted in, there would be at least one song in which Helen would make an appearance as his dancing partner. The second song, 'Aaja aaja mein hoon pyar tera' ('Come here, I am your lover'), had the lead actress, Asha Parekh, as Shammi Kapoor's dancing partner. The song had dance beats and the steps were that of twist along with a catchy tune. During the filming of this movie, tragedy struck when Shammi Kapoor's wife, Geeta Bali, passed away. Shammi Kapoor later romanced another actress — his co-star in the 1968 movie, Brahmachari. This relationship failed, and a year later he married again. His career as a leading actor soon began to fizzle out as he began to put on weight, and his last film as a hero, Andaz, starring the actress Hema Malini, was released in 1971. Shammi Kapoor went on to work on many films, but in 2009 he started to use a wheelchair as his health has began to deteriorate. He passed away at 05.15am on 14 August 2011, aged 79. The cause of death was renal (kidney) failure.


The mid-1960s saw another change being introduced in Bollywood films and that was what many consider to be Hollywood-style influence and also the luxurious, deliciously dissolute lifestyle of the rich kids in Mumbai (Bombay). This was clearly shown in the film Waqt, (Time), which was directed by Yash Chopra and released in 1965.

A rich family, consisting of a father, his wife, and their three sons, are split up after an earthquake. The father tries to find his family, when he is informed that one of his sons has been physically abused in an orphanage. He then murders the warden at the orphanage in an act of revenge, and is sent to prison for 20 years. In the meantime the three sons, who now live separately, grow up. One becomes a lawyer, the second a burglar, and the youngest is at college. Still living at home with his mother and struggling, in order to survive, the youngest son takes up employment as a chauffer to a criminal.

This film had a multi-star cast: Balraj Sahni, Raaj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Achala Sachdev, Sadhana, Sharmila Tagore, Madan Puri, Rehman and Sunil Dutt. It featured a song which became very popular and is still remembered today, 'Ai Meri Zohrajabeen', sung by Manna Dey for Balraj Sahni, who sings to his wife, played by Achala Sachdev. The song, which was recorded in mono with the other songs, was later briefly sung by actor Amrish Puri in the 1990s super hit film Dil Walleh Dulhaniya Lejayenge (One With The Big Heart Will Take The Bride) to his wife, Farida Jalal. Amrish Puri's mother's role was played by Achala Sachdev. The other song, that is still remembered today and one which moved the story along, was 'Aage bh jaane tu' ('You don't know what the future holds'), a solo tune sung by Lata Mangeshkar's sister, Asha Bhonsle.

BR Chopra, the producer, was fond of the Golden Age of Hollywood but was unable to get the cast to work on a weekly wage. Instead it was on start to finish schedule. The film was extensively shot in the studio which had pink and blue walls, fountains in the bedrooms, circular beds, mirrored ceilings, uniformed chauffeurs, sports cars and motor boats — the sort of style that had never been seen by the general public.

Rajesh Khanna

As the 1960s was coming to an end, another star rose to fame. He would go on to be the first superstar ever since KL Saigal and this was Rajesh Khanna. Born Jatin Khanna, in the North Indian city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab in 1942, he was soon orphaned and was adopted. He joined the industry in the 1960s after winning an 'All India Talent Contest' and went on to make his acting debut in a film entitled Aakhri Khat (The Last Letter). But it was Shakti Samantha's film, Aradhana (Sacrifice) that really turned him into a romantic hero as well as one of the most sought-after stars.

Rajesh Khanna passed away on 17 July 2012, aged 69, from liver infection. His funeral took place the following day. Millions of people gathered on the streets of Mumbai to pay their respects. There was traffic chaos as well and it meant that actors, such as Amitabh Bachchan, had to walk to the crematorium.


Released in 1969, this film told a story of a handsome young Indian Air Force Pilot, 'Arun', who falls in love with a doctor's daughter, 'Vandana'. The two get married in a temple and he returns to his duties, but before he can marry Vandana officially he is killed in an outbreak of conflict. Vandana learns that she is pregnant, but Arun's parents reject her as their daughter-in-law. She then gives birth to a son, and puts him up for adoption. But then her maternal instincts take over and she finds the family who have adopted him, taking a job as his nanny. Living under the same roof, she gets unwanted attention from a male family member, who attempts to rape her. The little boy witnesses the incident and kills the attacker. Vandana takes the blame for murder and is sent to prison, but upon her release she is informed by the warden that her son's family have moved. The warden offers her a job to look after his daughter, who is in love with an Indian Air Force Pilot who looks similar to Arun, who, Vandana later finds out, is her own son.

Aradhana received three filmfare awards (Indian equivalent to the Academy Awards), which included Best Song for 'Roop Tera Mastana' by Kishore Kumar, Ashok Kumar's youngest brother. Rajesh Khanna didn't receive any awards for Aradhana but it made him into a superstar. Wherever he went he would be mobbed, mostly by female fans. His popularity began to increase to an amount that had not been seen before. During the filming of Amar Prem (Immortal Love), (not released until 1971), there was scene that needed to be filmed at Howrah Bridge in Calcutta. A boat carrying Rajesh Khanna and his co-star Sharmila Tagore was required to go under this bridge. However, the authorities ruled this scene out as they realised that if the public found out that the hero of the film would be there, it may create problems on the bridge itself, and even that it might collapse due to the amount of people trying to get a glimpse of their favourite actor. It was then decided that a set would be erected inside the studio, with a fullsize replica of the Howrah Bridge. Rajesh Khanna's popularity was to last until well into the 1970s, when he would be overtaken by another actor, Amitabh Bachchan.

1Sangam is the name of the area at which the rivers Ganga (Ganges), Jamuna (Yamuna) and Saraswati meet.

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