I was pleased to see that the first of several posts that I wrote a little over a month ago on Shree 420 was linked by someone during a conversation at the BollyWHAT? Forum. This is a good conversation, definitely worth a view.
During the conversation, there was some discussion over whether Shree 420 was the greatest of the classic Bollywood movies (which generally means the greatest of the Bollywood movies overall, at least from what I can tell). There have been a few movies I know of that have been labeld as such. I know that Mughal-E-Azam has that reputation, and I did enjoy it quite a bit. I even proclaimed my love for the film during a discussion at The Bolly Blog. However, I have to say that I loved Shree 420 much more. From the Bollywood movies that I’ve seen so far (which admittedly isn’t a whole lot, but the number is rising quickly), I would have to cast my vote for Shree 420 as the greatest. (I am glad, though, that we are only talking about Bollywood and not Kollywood too, because then the choice would be more difficult. Some of those old Kollywood movies seem so wonderful to me for the performances alone – but I think everyone here already knows that.)
I’ve mentioned that the social messages have a lot to do with this. I wish that more contemporary Bollywood movies contained the sort of social messages found in some of these old Raj Kapoor films. And to me, there also seems to be something profoundly moving about this combination of Raj Kapoor with Nargis and the music of Shankar Jaikishan. When I started watching Chori Chori, I didnt’ expect it to be as great as Shree 420, and it wasn’t quite as great, but I still loved it. After watching Chori Chori, as with Shree 420, I just kept thinking about the film, and I played some clips from it many times.
I’ll have to get to Awara soon. I have already watched some clips from that a whole number of times. (All on its own, I think this scene has to be one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.) I’ve also listened to the soundtrack quite a lot. But I’m almost certain that if I have a chance to watch the whole movie, it will turn out to be an even better experience – that is, another great one.