Don

Chandra Barot

Don was a big hit during the Bachchan onslaught of the 1970s. Amitabh Bachchan in his maiden double role, plays a ruthless gangster known as Don and a country bumpkin Vijay who ekes out a living by singing and dancing in the streets of Bombay. Their looking alike throws up an interesting idea from cop, D’ Silva played to perfection by veteran actor Iftekhar. This film had all the ingredients to make it a runaway hit. A thrilling script by ace writer duo Salim-Javed, and hit music by Kalyanji Anandji spawned remakes in other languages but Barot, remained a one-film wonder.

Mackenna’s Gold

J. Lee Thomson

J. Lee Thomson’s /Carl Foreman’s film is based on the book by Heck Allen, of a treasure hunt by a band of renegades led by a Mexican bandit, Colorado (Omar Sharif). Gregory Peck is Marshall McKenna who is forced to traverse the path leading to the treasure and Telly Savalas is a corrupt cop out to abandon his regiment and join Colorado for a share of the treasure. Though Peck plays the title role, it is Sharif as the quick-witted Colorado who steals the show by mouthing dialogues laced with sarcasm. Music by Quincy Jones beautifully complemented the outdoors of Arizona and the tall rocky mountains of Utah. Be it the thrilling raft chase in swirling waters, the American Indians on horseback racing down the mountains or the old buzzard hunting for prey below they all justify the tagline ‘A giant of a movie’.

Sanyasi Raja

Piyush Bose

A 1975 Bengali film by director Piyush Bose the film stars the legendary Uttam Kumar as Surya Chowdhury, an aristocratic zamindar who is loved by his people and respectfully addressed as ‘Raja’. But in his daily quest of doling out justice during the day and the pleasures of wine and music in the evenings lead to his young wife Indu (Supriya Debi) to feel neglected. This foments trouble in the form of a scheming doctor out to take advantage by bumping off the ‘Raja’ and usurping his power. Songs sung by Manna Dey based on the dadra and thumri convey vividly the opulent lifestyle of the rich and famous in Bengal before Independence. The story was said to be based on the Bhawal Prince Case of 1921.

Chanakyan

Rajeev Kumar

Kamal Haasan gives a sterling performance as a violin teacher Johnson who falls in love with his petite student (played by a very young Urmila Matondkar). This is a story of love and revenge, where he is compelled to wreak vengeance on a politician Madhavan Menon (played by Thilakan) who is father to the girl who later commits suicide. Johnson puts his grief behind to take revenge and with the help of Jayaram a mimic artist finishes off the politician’s career. Director Rajeev Kumar takes you on a thrilling ride across Kerala and Bombay, skilfully unfolding events through a brilliant screenplay. Background music by Mohan Sitharaadds to the palpable drama.

Vetri Vizha

Prathap Pothen

This is a commercial hit starring Kamal Haasan, Amala, Prabhu Ganesan and Khusboo, directed by the very talented actor-director Prathap Pothen with music by Ilaiyaraaja. The screenplay is fast and furious with action sequences making maximum impact. There is Prabhu and Khushboo who pair up to form the light-hearted moments while Amala sparkles in a brief, yet impressive role. As Vetri, an amnesiac trying to search for his true identity by sifting through his memory, Kamal Haasan danced, sang, and acted to prove that he could perform any role with aplomb.

Those that almost made it

Godfather: Francis Ford Coppola

Sholay: Ramesh Sippy

Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne: Satyajit Ray

Chemmeen: Ramu Kariat

Nayakan: Mani Ratnam

Bobby D. Ghatak is a sales manager with a textile company based in Bangalore.