Paradesi

Bala

This period movie portrayed the travails of villagers who move from a drought-affected dusty village in search of an illusory greener pasture, a commercial tea plantation, only to learn that all that glitters is not gold. The earthy, bawdy dialogues, the sentiment and lifestyles of the era and the moulding of the young artistes by the inimitable Bala makes the film a world-class one. Though the film has characteristics of a documentary, the synchronisation of the characters and the camerawork has raised the standard of Tamil films. In that process, the film also brought the travails of tea garden labourers who contributed sizably to the economies of the Eastern Ghats, Sri Lanka and Mauritius, to the fore.

Life Is Beautiful

Roberto Benigni

This 1997 Italian film portrays the travails of Guido Orefice, a Jew who is arrested along with his son, for internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Though he knows that he may face execution by the Nazis, he decides to make his son unaware of the political environment of the day by turning every happening in the camp into a comedy. This film, told from the perspective of the hero’s son, is an intelligent comedy about the tragedy of the period.

Maro Charitra

K. Balachander

This 1978 Telugu film portrayed the love story of a Tamil boy and Telugu girl, portrayed by Kamal Hassan and Sarita, whose cultural differences are the reasons for the opposition to their marriage. The screenplay, apt dialogues and acting by the stars made it a commercial success. Beautiful picturisation of the Vishakapatnam coast and the story’s tragic end made the film memorable.

Sholay

Ramesh Sippy

This 1975 Hindi film is a simple story of revenge by a wounded police officer against his adversary, a no-nonsense dacoit, by using petty criminals. Adept screen play, the right star cast, and the Bangalore suburban Ramanagaram canvas made the film a magnum opus. The villain, Amjad Khan’s dialogue deliveries became a craze. The movie was in the making for more than two years and in the process Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri, Dharmendra and Hemamalini and Salim and Helen, became husband and wife.

Chemmeen

Ramu Khariat

This 1965 Malayalam film did justice to the novel by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai by aptly portraying the beliefs of the fishermen community and emotional travails of a fisherwoman, Karuthamma, portrayed by Sheela, who is torn between her husband Palani (Madhu) and lover Parikutti (Satyan). This technically and artistically brilliant film, aided by soulful songs, raised Malayalam films to the level of world cinema.

Those that almost made it

Arth: Mahesh Bhatt

Chomana Dudi: B.V. Karanth

Thavamai Thavamirunthu: Cheran

Thulabaram: A. Vincent

P. Esakki Muthu is a retired bank officer who enjoys watching good cinema.