Classic Bollywood: Ten Unforgettable Scenes

Some months ago, Bawa—to whom I will always be indebted for inspiring me to watch and review films in languages other than English and Hindi—sent me an interesting article. It listed selected scenes that leading film critics pegged as cinema’s most memorable. Bawa’s suggestion: why not do a list like that for Bollywood?
It’s taken time and effort, but this is it: ten scenes from 50’s and 60’s Hindi cinema, which are for me the most memorable—for whatever reason. These are in no particular order, though the scenes that came immediately to my mind (so, I suppose, the most memorable for me) are grouped at the top.
Note: some of these have spoilers.

1. Vijay comes back from the dead (Pyaasa, 1957): This is a song, but also a scene that’s an immensely powerful piece of direction, acting, and cinematography. In an auditorium jam-packed with an adoring public, once-reviled, now posthumously feted poet Vijay (Guru Dutt) makes an (extremely unexpected) entry. In the course of the 4-odd minutes it takes him to vent his cynicism on a heartless and materialistic world, much changes. The publisher (Rehman) who has profited by Vijay’s post-‘death’ fame stares, first taken aback, then in succession, disbelieving, suspicious, angry—and beginning to search mentally for a way out of the mess Vijay’s sudden reappearance may well plunge him into. For the publisher’s wife (Mala Sinha)—once Vijay’s sweetheart, still the woman who loves him, even though she may not admit it—this is a moment of relief, sudden happiness—and yet, anguish. The heartache of knowing that he is alive, but not hers; never hers—is back.

For Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman), the whore who loves Vijay, the first notes of his voice bring an expression of utter disbelief: it can’t be! Followed by joy, contentment, a realisation that all will be well, now that Vijay is back. So what if they are poor and reviled. At least he is back.
And for the public, fickle as always, Vijay goes from being their hero to being just another man, embittered and angry and to be treated with contempt.

2. Kitty is killed (Gumnaam, 1965): Kitty Kelly (Helen) is walking through the forest, on her way to the beach for a swim, when she gets the uneasy feeling that someone’s following her. That someone—the same mysterious someone who’s been killing off the group of visitors on this deserted island—is surely there, lurking behind a tree…? But no; Kitty is alone. Or is she?

The scene starts off cheerfully, with light music as Kitty trips along. But then the camera starts moving almost as if it were stalking Kitty, watching from behind the undergrowth as she walks along. Very slowly, the suspense starts building, with quick cuts between shots of a quiet, seemingly normal yet somewhat ominous forest—and Kitty, her expression initially playful and amused. This is a game, isn’t it? Her lover, perhaps, playing hide and seek? —and then, when she discovers a cigarette butt, hears a rustling behind her, and realises that something is amiss—that expression turns to fear, and then sheer panic.
By the time her would-be rescuers arrive, there is Kitty, her legs swinging slightly as she dangles from the tree where she’s been strung up. Chilling.

3. Atma tells his father the story of his film (Pyaar Kiye Jaa, 1966): This one is, to my mind, probably the funniest scene in classic Hindi cinema. Atma (Mehmood), ambitious but penurious film-maker and owner/producer/director/actor of Wah! Wah! Production, is trying to get his father, Ramlal—played by Om Prakash— to finance Wah! Wah! Production’s maiden venture. So, as an incentive, Atma narrates what he considers the highlight of the film: a Ramsay Brothers-like scene, complete with croaking frogs, drifting ghosts, and doors that squeak open on their own. The dialogue and Mehmood’s acting (not to mention the sound effects he provides to embellish his narrative) are superb. And Om Prakash is fabulous as the initially scornful then slowly interested, and finally thoroughly spooked, audience.

4. The final scene (Anupama, 1966): A beautifully sensitive film, Anupama is the story of a father who blames his daughter for her mother’s death in childbirth. For me, the most poignant scene in this film is the last one, when a repressed Uma (Sharmila Tagore) emerges from her chrysalis and finally breaks free, taking wing… Not poignant so much for the triumph of Uma and her beloved Ashok’s love; not so much for Uma’s realisation of her own self-esteem; but for the final glimpse of her father (Tarun Bose), to whom the camera moves as the train carrying Uma pulls out of the station.

Even as his daughter goes away, this man, who’s rejected her all her life, gazes after the train with love, even benediction in his eyes.
This scene is Tarun Bose. He is so absolutely Mohan Sharma, torn between his love for the daughter whom he realises he has been unfair towards, and his pride, which even now does not let him come out and wave farewell to her. But he stands there, in the shadow of a pillar, his eyes brimming, and one can almost see the blessing he gives his girl as she steps out into the world.
One of the very few instances of acting in Hindi cinema that actually bring tears to my eyes.

5. Bhootnath meets the Chhoti Bahu (Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, 1962): From one of my favourite films, one of my favourite scenes. Awkward, shy country boy Bhootnath (Guru Dutt) is summoned into the presence of the Chhoti Bahu (Meena Kumari), the lonely wife of a philandering husband. Bhootnath enters the room, so shy that he needs to be coaxed in. And, just as Bhootnath does not dare look up initially, so too does the camera stay at floor level, focussing on the carpet, on the little rug placed on the floor, on the Chhoti Bahu’s henna-adorned feet. When Bhootnath finally looks up into the Chhoti Bahu’s exquisite face, the camera too dwells on her features: the kohl-rimmed eyes, the reddened lips. Bhootnath, still tongue-tied, is mesmerised, and the Chhoti Bahu, very sure of her own beauty and poise and status, is by turns patronising, genteel, even—almost—coquettish.

She becomes, in the few minutes in which she meets him, a confidant to whom Bhootnath talks of Jaba. And surely too, there is a flicker of annoyance in her eyes when Bhootnath talks of Jaba—is there jealousy here, for the unseen and unknown Jaba, who can command a man’s affection, when she, the Chhoti Bahu, cannot hold her own husband? It is also about that husband, and the embarrassing fact of his neglect, that the Chhoti Bahu confides to this man, almost a stranger, whose help she seeks…
A very vivid scene with brilliant subtexts and insights into characters. And, of course, superb acting.

6. The scene in the hospital (CID, 1956): In completely literal terms, this is the scene I remember best. CID was the first Hindi film I remember watching, ever. I saw it when I was about 9 years old, perhaps less; and the only thing I recall from that viewing is this scene, towards the end of the film. A girl lies in a hospital bed (I didn’t know then that this was Waheeda Rehman, in her first film). She’s unconscious, and her best friend (played by Shakila) is watching over her. In a nearby room, the hero (Dev Anand) and his boss K N Singh get ready to spring a trap for a villain—who is right now walking determinedly through the corridors of the hospital. The suspense here is good, the scene cutting swiftly between the two cops who wait, sweating and wondering if their plan will work, to the villain as he strolls along—will he fall into the trap? —to the quiet room where the girl has been shifted to keep her safe from the villain. Will he? Won’t he? Nearly 30 years down the line, and I still remember that scene.

7. Five minutes of suspense (Nau Do Gyarah, 1957): The climactic scene in Nau Do Gyarah has Jeevan playing Surjit, the villain. He has imprisoned the heroine, Raksha, and drugged her. Now, with the heroine lying senseless in a room, he locks himself in too, and shouts out an ultimatum to the hero and the police. Unless they provide him safe passage out, he’ll kill the girl. They have five minutes in which to decide what they’d rather do—allow the villain out, or let him kill the heroine.

The following five minutes are shot in real time: five minutes as the evil old lady (Lalita Pawar) wonders what’s going to happen to her now that her equally evil son is dead. Five minutes as her two younger children cower in their beds. Five minutes as the hero Madan (Dev Anand), his friend (Madan Puri) and the police plot. Five minutes as the villain paces, as the grandfather clock ticks away, and as its loud and relentless ticking fills the background of the scene. Good suspense.

8. A soldier weeps (Haqeeqat, 1964): I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Haqeeqat is the best Hindi war film there is. And this scene is one of the finest examples I know of saying a lot through silences. A group of Indian soldiers, deep in the freezing wastes of Ladakh, finds itself shattered by constant attacks by the Chinese. Many are killed; others manage to escape, trying to flee the bombardment. Among the latter are Ram Singh (Sudhir) and his friend, a quiet unnamed soldier (Sanjay Khan). Ram Singh is badly wounded, and his friend haul hims, out of harm’s way, through mile after mile of barren, waterless terrain. Ram Singh finally tells his friend to leave him: he, Ram Singh, is holding up both of them, endangering both lives.

The friend refuses, then finally agrees. He leaves Ram Singh lying there, a forgotten heap in the middle of a vast and empty plain. The camera follows as the soldier walks away, up, up, making his way through the rocks, all by himself. At one point he stops, leans back against a rock, looks around—and bursts into tears. He doesn’t say anything; there is no voice in the background ostentatiously voicing his reasons for crying. Perhaps he’s crying out of remorse for having left Ram Singh to a lonely death; perhaps he’s crying because he realises that an equally lonely death is in store for him…

9. Vicky battles the baddie (Kismat, 1968): I never said only good scenes. Memorable scenes of all kinds count, even if they’re hard to forget simply because they’re bad. Kismat isn’t the sanest of films—it takes the term ‘spy film’ to truly idiotic heights (depths?), but yes, it does have this extremely original climax. Biswajeet, as the musician Vicky, whose guitar has, unknown to him, become home to some top-secret-stuff, finally gets down to fisticuffs with one of the villains, played by Shetty. Where other films tend to have climactic fights in regulation dens with empty oil drums and crates, this one does it on a very muddy riverbank. And with a fire raging in the background. By the time they finish, you can’t tell who’s the baddie and who’s the good guy, but all that mud is sure memorable.

10. A father’s farewell (Kabuliwala, 1961): In a sensitive and well-made film, this scene stands out for being especially poignant. The Kabuliwala, Abdul Rahman Khan (Balraj Sahni) is leaving his home in Afghanistan to come to India in an effort to earn some money that will help pay off his debts. His little girl Ameena (Baby Farida), deeply attached to her father, kicks up a fuss: she will go too. Khan himself is distressed at the thought of leaving Ameena, but it must be done; he cannot possibly take the little girl all that way. It’s obvious that the parting will be utterly painful for both father and daughter. Khan’s old mother suggests a solution: Khan should leave while Ameena is asleep.

The scene when he takes his leave of his sleeping daughter is very touching. He doesn’t just hug and kiss her; he also takes a memory of her: he darkens her tiny hands with ink, and then presses them onto a sheet of paper. Khan, even when he is far away in India, separated from his Ameena by many miles, will have the imprint of her hands to look at and love.

Which scenes do you remember best?

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67 thoughts on “Classic Bollywood: Ten Unforgettable Scenes

  1. This is fantastic DO.
    I’ve enjoyed reading the narration of the various scenes.
    Pyaasa and SBAG are undoubtedly memorable for me too, and that scene with Mehmood :-D

    The ones you have mentioned are really great, but I’d like to mention a couple of scenes which stayed in my mind…or rather come to mind when I think of the film.

    From Madhumati.
    The village mela scene when Vyjayanthimala sees Dilip Kumar and recognizes him as the man whose sketches she had stolen while he stares at her trying to remember her face. They both stare from some distance (quite breathlessly I should say) when some one passes in between them with a rolled up long mat. While he’s passing by Vyjayanthimala ducks behind the bullock cart standing there and peeps through a wheel, while a perplexed Dilip Kumar’s eyes search for her.
    The very authentic village scene, the fabulous background the strains of music that starts gently in preparation for the lovely song (Zulmi sung ankh ladi) that would follow is something that leaves me with a very nostalgic feeling…for what, I have no idea. I was never in such a mela or anything.

    Dil Apna Aur reet Parai
    The scenes around the *relaxing room* of the hospital staff, late at night, when Meena Kumari prepares coffee for both of them, they drink in silence, while still standing, quite close, very conscious of each other, then talk, awkwardly, and very aware of the other’s proximity, till Meena moves back.
    Another day (after Raj Kumar is married) Meena Kumari prepares a cup of coffee, none for herself, stands away, both still conscious of each other, very aware. Suddenly the phone rings, Meena picks up, its his wife, she hands him the phone, and slowly walks away, Raj Kumar is holding the phone but watching Meena walk away (ita a long walk, and Meena Kumari’s walk is so graceful), while the wife is screeching at the other end.
    This is so subtle and beautiful.
    I love such scenes where no words are spoken yet a lot is said, and this happens to be the most memorable of them all for me.

  2. Pacifist, I’m so glad you liked the scenes, and agreed with some of them. I’ve seen both Madhumati and Dil Apna aur Preet Parayi, but don’t remember the scenes you describe… have to go back and look at them again! I have Madhumati lying around at home, so will rewatch it – or at least that scene – as soon as possible. One scene from Madhumati almost made it to this list, actually – the scene where Dilip Kumar and Tarun Bose first enter the haveli, and it’s so spooky, and Dilip Kumar starts remembering things that he couldn’t possibly have experienced himself.

  3. Yes, the scenes are not that remarkable unless its what one likes :-)

    Since you have Madhumati, here are the links for the two scenes of Dil Apna aur Preet Parai.
    The first one, from about 1.27 onwards till the part that ends the description;

  4. The second one starts at about 7.49 and unfortunately ends abruptly because of the end of the part (6), so the ‘long’ walk is cut short. :-)

    Please delete the 2 comments after you have seen the parts. I do understand it’s not practical to be posting our memorable scenes with links.

  5. Thanks for this list. I don’t think I’ve seen enough old movies to have a memorable scenes list which is why this is very useful. Sahib Bibi or Ghulam is brilliant (haven’t yet seen it –just the songs.) In Pyaasa, I like the way Waheeda entices Guru Dutt to her house. Very memorable.

    The Mehmood scene is interesting. For Mehmood and comedy, some of the Padosan songs are memorable (in that I remember them and laugh out loud when I do.)

    The train whistle heard in the backdrop in Pakeezah is memorable–mostly because I’ve not resolved what it might signify.

  6. pacifist: Thank you – and I’m going to go against your request to delete your comments, because I would like other readers also to be able to watch your memorable scenes. Why not? :-)
    Liked the two scenes a lot – there’s much left unsaid in both. By the way, that brief scene where they seem to be caught in a fishing net, just after the first scene, is supposed to signify that they’re getting caught in love, right? Not some untidy editing by a video company that’s retained part of an unconnected scene?

    sophy: I have to admit to a soft spot for Mehmood in Padosan too, even though he’s obviously pretty politically incorrect! Lots of fun, though, especially with that “Khujliwaala jhaad!” comment.
    That train whistle in Pakeezah is memorable too – I’ve always thought of it as something that constantly reminds her of the stranger who saw her sleeping on the train.

  7. Awesome awesome post. I just loved it. There are so many scenes that stay etched in memory forever. Like the scene where Rocky bombards against Sunita for the first time in Teesri Manzil. Like Vinay’s foot showing scene in Jewel Thief. Like so many scenes in Madhumati and Mera Saaya. Gosh Hindi films and their beauty never fail to enthrall me. Lovely post. Thank you so much :)

  8. The scene from Gumnaam is one of my favourites and yes the last scene from Anupama is timeless. Dad’s expression was undoubtedly heartrending but dad himself refused to take the entire credit for this scene he praised the director for the manner in which he had conceived the scene. It definitely helped dad to emote so well.
    Mehmood was excellent in this scene Pyaar Kiye Jaa and so was Omprakash with his response as you have rightly pointed out. Indeed until both actors emote well it becomes difficult to enjoy and appreciate a scene.

  9. Sharmi: I like the scenes you’ve listed as well. How about a part 2, from you? Would love to know what other scenes you really remember!

    Shilpi: In fact, when you wrote about the Anupama scene on Greta’s blog, (I had already got most of this post ready by then), I had a hard time not letting the cat out of the bag and saying how much I like that scene! It’s superb – really one of the very few scenes in Hindi cinema that I actually have seen and begun crying.

    Was just thinking: in essence, your father’s there also in the Gumnaam scene. ;-)

  10. Wah-wah, wah-wah, wah-wah!
    Kya baat hai! Kya nazakat hai! kya choice hai!
    Hum to bhai bhauchaka reh gaye!
    Madhuji, aap ke posting ka jawab nahin!
    Yeh choices bhadiya hi nahin, maha bhadiya hai!

    Great scenes, cried, laughed nostalgically through the post!
    Can’t add anything more!

    Luv you!
    Thanks a lot!

  11. @pacifist: Thanks for the DAAPP scene! Great emotions particularly loved the dialogue:
    Sushil: ek cup coffee mil sakti hai?
    Karuna: aap ke liye ghar se khaana aaya hi, lagva du?
    Sushil: nahin khana nahin, ek baje khaana kya khavunga, koffee pila do.

    Quite evident where his choices lie!

    It is so much evident in the scene before where Kusum asks him to stay behind that he would rather go to the hospital not only because of the patient but also because of Karuna. When she says: Tum mere saat picture dekhne jaaoge, he starts ‘is waqt aur… is waqt ek marij ki tabyat bahut kharab hui hai uska operation bhi karna pade’.
    Kusum: Aur bhi to doctor hai haspatal me, woh kyu nahin karte?
    Sushil: Lekin… (pause) Lekin yeh operation sirf mein hi kar sakta hu.

    That pause says volume about his real feelings!

  12. >that brief scene where they seem to be caught in a fishing net, just after the first scene, is supposed to signify that they’re getting caught in love, right?

    Unfortunately I think it ‘is’ an untidy piece of editing. The scene just appears and disappears while you are left wondering what it could have been. Perhaps they were strolling on the beach (the beach appears several times in the film) met, stood talking, and a gust of wind unleashed a fishing net and they got enmeshed…leading to more awareness of each other. :-)

  13. Interesting post and list. I haven’t seen most of them, but I have seen “2. Kitty is killed (Gumnaam, 1965).” Yes, it is a chilling scene. However, for any Helen fan, its also a very sad one, too. Every time I see that scene I feel like yelling out to Helen to run or go another way…lol. Since Helen usually meets an untimely end in most of her movies its never unexpected, but its always disheartening. Still, one is always comforted when you realize that she’ll return to life to dance, sing and smile in her next film. :D

  14. pacifist: That’s what it seemed like to me too. After that lovely understated scene in the hospital, the scene with the fishing net seemed very abrupt and confusing. The film might have been better for that to have been removed completely – or, expanded into a proper scene.

    Mister Naidu: Yes, Helen being killed – even though, as you say, her character does get killed in a lot of films – isn’t at all nice! Interestingly, another scene that nearly made it to this list also had Helen getting killed: from Teesri Manzil. I do so especially like her in that film: she’s so glamorous and gorgeous, and even though Ruby isn’t a nice girl, it is possible to understand why she behaves the way she does.

  15. Awesome post Madhu!!! Lovely and nostalgic!
    I haven’t seen Kismat and Pyaar Kiye Jaa yet, but all the others are my favourite scenes too.
    I saw Anupama last year (after ur recommendation, of course!) and loved every bit of it. The last scene left me speechless. I want to watch it once again before I can review it.
    The scene from Kabuliwala is very moving. It reminds me of the first time I left home…extremely nostalgic. It leaves me crying everytime I watch it.
    I know this blog is restricted to pre-70’s era but I can’t help mentioning few scenes –
    The climax of Anand . Amitabh enters the room after RK dies and he says : “6 mahine se tumhari bak-bak sunta aa raha hoon….bolo Anand bolo and then suddenly the recorded conversation continues : Babumoshay, zindagi aur maut upar wale ke haath mein hota hai jahanpana”. I totally love this scene!
    Next scene that comes to my mind is the way Aakhri Khat ends. I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing the scene…but when the movie ends it leaves you in awe! I kept wondering for days at Chetan Anand’s genius. So much that I forgot to get down from the bus when I reached home one day coz I was so lost thinking about the movie. Just the thought of it renders me speechless!
    The way Amitabh walks up and down the room desparately complaining : Mujhe toh koi samajhta hi nahin, koi mere baare mein toh sochta hi nahin in Chupke Chupke when he falls for Jaya and she thinks he’s the married Parimol Tripathi (not to forget the way he keeps pushing his spectacles up with his middle finger).
    Last scene of Amar Prem and Aavishkar . The list would never end.
    Hats off to you for compiling this!

    @ Pacifist : Thanks for those scenes. I love that coffee scene from Dil Apna Preet Paraya . But i had forgotten the scene from Madhumati. The climax however had left me wondering the first time I saw the movie, so that’s quite memorable and thanks to Om Shanti Om for keeping that scene afresh in my memory.
    @ Harvey : Lovely!

  16. sunheriyadein: I too like many of the scenes in Chupke chupke. And the denouement is great. And that last scene in Amar Prem too with the durga statue. And Anupama has many moments, too. It’s just that I am trying to think of a scene that is memorable in the way the Psycho shower scene is memorable. I don’t know if there is anything equivalent in Bollywood.

  17. Madhulika, you have gone beyond yourself. Sublime. Haqeeqat has tears in my eues as Kabuliwallah made my eyes go misty .

    Satyakaam the scene where finally the straightforward honest Dharmendra cracks asking for a chavanni to have a chai

  18. memsaab: I should have guessed! :-)) I didn’t even know about this film until Ted sent me a message with a link to that dance of his with Madhavi – so when Shalini offered to share Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan, I decided I wanted to see it mainly because of Ted Lyons!

    sunheriyaadein: Yes, that last scene in Anand – with the tape spooling, Amitabh Bachchan suddenly jerking out of his weeping when he hears Rajesh Khanna’s voice again – fantastic. I haven’t seen either Aavishkar or Aakhri Khat yet (they’re both on my to-watch list), but Chupke Chupke is also one of those films I can almost quote verbatim from, I’ve seen it so many times! Simply love that film. :-)

    sophy: You know, I was struck by the fact that whereas the ‘most memorable’ scenes from international cinema were often intensely action-oriented (Cary Grant being chased through the fields by the crop duster in North by North West; the bathroom scene in Psycho; the Odessa Steps sequence in The Battleship Potemkin), Hindi cinema’s big scenes tend to depend upon dialogue and acting rather than action. Of the scenes I’ve listed, the only really action-oriented one is the one from Kismat. Perhaps somewhat the killing of Kitty in Gumnaam. But nothing of the standard of the foreign films. Was it because Hindi cinema had not yet reached the standard of foreign films when it came to action sequences?

    Mr Neelakantan: Thank you so much! I have to see Satyakam again: it’s been so long, and it’s such a good film, from what I remember of it.

  19. Thanks so much for the dedication: much appreciated and enjoyed reading the list.

    Kabuliwallah, Haqeeqat and so many of Guru Dutt had memorable scenes and dialogues, although in general the most emotional scenes in Hindi often end up being in song!

    I would add any one of a number of scenes from Teesri Kasam to that list (the sun shining through tiny holes in the old fabric of the cart behind Waheeda like diamonds, and RK’s excalmation of “pari”. Also the almost dialogueless scene from Mughal-e-azam, when Madhubala snuffs out the candle using her fingertips when they hear someone coming…

    Post 70 (not allowed I know), some of the scenes from Jaya films: Mili: esp ones with Ashok Kumar- e..g. example, when Jaya is feeling ill and knows its time for a transfusion, crawling on to her dad’s bed (like we so often did!) and quietly saying, “Battery recharge karneka time ho gaya…” etc… scenes from Uphaar like when the hero is sent to look at future bride: so hilarious and most real…

    P.S. Let me see if I can get you more non-eng-hindi films next time I come over…

  20. Thank you, bawa! This was a great idea, and I’m very grateful to you for suggesting it.

    I must get around to watching Teesri Kasam soon. I always tend to avoid it because of Raj Kapoor, but enough people have told me it's worth a watch, so I'll put it on my rental queue… I love that scene in Mughal-e-Azam, by the way. I believe it had to be done in multiple takes, and by the end of it Madhubala’s hand was pretty badly burnt.

    I think among the post-70 films, the ones from which I can best remember scenes are Chupke Chupke, Amar Akbar Anthony (Amitabh Bachchan and the mirror), Khilona and of course Sholay – that train scene is one of the few action sequences in Hindi cinema that is memorable. I have seen Mili but too long back – I need to watch it again.

  21. Oh, you have to rewatch Mili: I remembered it as a good film, but in a recent rewatch I realised how beautifully low-keyed it was for a Hindi film (some cribs too) and the great attention that H Mukherjee had paid to setting up each scene and the dialogues.

    I also rewatched Piya Ka Ghar: love the scene of the opening credits and the film overall, and Uphaar courtesy the Rajshree website: I liked the latter a lot: as a teenager wasn’t allowed to see it as the sublject matter was deemed to be too “adult”, i.e. marriage and sex.

    I now must redouble my efforts to find you “The Verdugo- The Executioner” and “Thursday, Miracle”….some very very very memorable scenes.

    One of the most disturbing scenes in cinema for me always has been the “Last Supper” scene in Viridiana by Luis Buñuel.

  22. I have a subtitled version of Viridiana, from when you’d given me a list of recommended Spanish films. Haven’t got around to watching it yet, but I will, soon.

    And oh, I’m praying so hard that you’re able to find The Executioner and Thursday, Miracle!

  23. dustedoff, I had wanted to say something about the scene in Kismat 1968. I was quite tickled by the description you gave. :-D
    I think that would have actually made a wonderful subject for another post. 10 memorable scenes for not being good.

    Oh, how could I have forgotten that candle scene from Mughal-e-azam (thanks for remembering it bawa). Even after, when Dilip Kumar walks away without fear of being discovered with his royalty intact. :-)
    Love it. Poor Madhubala (about the hands).
    I think that feather scene is very memorable too. Never before or after did I find a scene as erotic as that one.

  24. Thank you, pacifist! I don’t mind masala films at all (in fact, some of my favourite films are masala) but Kismat, other than its fabulous music, was pretty ho-hum. Nothing compared to my favourite, Aankhen. Which, by the way, has another fairly memorable caught-in-trouble scene, if I remember correctly: Dharmendra imprisoned in close proximity to a tiger. And Mala Sinha in slinky orange and gold.

  25. pacifist: yes, that one was just as good, all in all, it does have many memorables scens.

    I remember reading that the film was also shot in english at the same time (would there still be a version of Madhubala and Dilip playing it out in English?) and K Asif asked for many retakes of each language, hence poor Madhubalas fingers….

  26. Oh! This list makes me want to rush out and get my hands on all these movies – I’ve seen less than half of them! I’m afraid the only scenes that I can clearly recall are ones that I’ve seen over and over again thanks to DD programs – “memorable” stuff like Ab tera kya hoga kaaliya (I can almost recite each and every one of Gabbar’s dialogues – not because I found them memorable, but because DD rammed it down our throats). But the last scene in Anupama is remarkable in a film that is full of memorable scenes – even years after I first watched it I could recall every detail. And I do recall that scene from Nau Do Gyarah as well, more because of how unusual that kind of scene is in vintage Hindi films. Wouldn’t you call it an action sequence?

    And now that I’ve gone down the what-do-I-remember lane, there are a few scenes that I do remember from films I watched as a kid (films just do not make as deep an impact, anymore!). One was from Masoom that I’ve only ever seen once, as a 10 year old – Jugal Hansraj cuts his finger and runs to Shabana calling her “Mummy” and Shabana curtly tells him that she is NOT his Mummy. Then there was a scene from another Shabana-Nasseer film – Sparsh. The blind school, where Shabana begins teaching, has one sighted kid who shuts his eyes while he fights one of his classmates. The poor boy still gets reprimanded by the teacher for taking advantage of his blind friend!

    Thanks for doing this post and taking us all down memory lane! :D

  27. bawa: According to this article, the English version never happened. But there just may be a Tamil version floating around!

    bollyviewer: You’re welcome – and thank you for sharing some of the scenes you find memorable! I saw Maasoom when I was a kid too, but even though I liked it a lot, I don’t remember any scenes offhand from it. Just frames: Naseeruddin Shah and Supriya Pathak, wandering through the wild-growing bushes… Jugal Hansraj, eyes huge, looking so innocent… Naseeruddin Shah, singing Huzoor is qadar bhi. Another film I need to rewatch.

    Oh, and I should see Sparsh. Banno, I think, had done a review of it some time back and I’d thought “This is a film I have to see.” – but I haven’t got around to it yet!

  28. I read about there being an English version in Filmfare when I wasy oung, and always wondered about Madhubala and Dilip and Prithviraj saying grandiose dialogues in english!

    Obviously that article hadn’t been researched properly.

  29. I wonder, too – somehow it’s hard to imagine the very flowery Urdu of Mughal-e-Azam being rendered into English: would it ever meet the heights the original dialogues reached?

  30. Well done Madhu, such a filmbuff you are, very interesting and passionately written post. As a person with melodramatic tastes, the more melodramatic, the more memorable, and one scene i can never forget is this one below from Dhool ka phool, one for the way she leaves the baby and her struggle plus the way the child tugs at her sari, watch how she snatches it off him, it surely had me at the edge of my seat

  31. Thank you, bollywooddeewana!

    I haven’t seen Dhool ka Phool, but that scene certainly is melodramatic – I found myself feeling very sorry for that poor baby. Incidentally, another mother-child scene I find memorable is from Sujata. When Sujata is a little girl and her foster parents try to send her off to the orphanage with the tutor. As she’s going away, her foster mother (Sulochana Latkar), though she’s always maintained that she doesn’t want Sujata around, peers out of the window – and Sujata sees her. Sujata comes running back in and clings to her ‘mother’, and though the ‘mother’ pretends to be indifferent, you can see that she feels some affection for this little girl. Not melodramatic, but very poignant.

  32. Madhu, congrats once again on an excellent post. Kudos to bawa for giving you the idea to come up with this.

    I have seen all the movies in your list though I must admit I have forgotten a few of them (Kabuliwallah, Gumnaam, Kismat). The other scenes I remember very well.

    I must say I once again agree with your choices (this is getting scary! ;-) ).

    But who can argue with Pyaasa, Haqeeqat, CID (I remember mere rongte khade ho gaye the!), SBAG, Nau Do Gyarah, Pyar Kiye Ja (I totally remember that scene!), Anupama…

    A few more scenes (and staying with the 50s/60s) :
    – Kohra (saw this only recently, so fresh in mind) :
    Lalita Pawar approaching Waheeda lying in bed
    Waheeda on top of the building almost going to jump
    Tarun Bose laugh in the movie
    – Solva Saal : The Dev-Waheeda chemistry when they are changing clothes at that dhoban’s place (for me, this is the sweetest, sweetest, romantic movie scene of all-time for me)
    – Anari: I remember seeing this movie as a kid and the scene that still remains in my memory is that “daal mein cockroach hai” scene. Found it quite funny then.
    – Mem Didi: Almost all Lalita Pawar, Jayant-David scenes, just fantastic.

    And if you haven’t seen Aakhri Khat, I would highly recommend it! Not many movies leave a lasting impression on me (Haqeeqat, Sadhna, Pyaasa, to name a few. This one did. It is just SO well-made.

  33. This is an excellent post, makes me want to go see most of these movies to refresh my memory.
    I began thinking about my favorite scenes and realized I remembered many more HWood than BWood, many of them being the action/suspense ones.
    Coming to pre-70’s BWood, I would add :-
    1) The Teesri Manzil scene where Shammi Kapoor realizes who the killer is.
    2) Waheeda Rehman with her husband Kishore Sahu in the cave in Guide, where she is demanding her career rights.
    3) The title song in Tere Ghar Ke Samne, where Nutan ducks after Dev Anand drops an ice cube in the glass.
    4) Sunil Dutt singing Jalte Hai Jiske Liye over the phone to Nutan (Sujata I believe.) The reason is a little funny & techie; if i remember correctly, analog phones would limit human voices to 2 KHz, thereby eliminating most of the higher notes.

  34. I have suddenly remembered an unforgettable scene (LOL! What a paradox :-D)
    The film is Poonam ki Raat with Manoj Kumar and Kumud Chuggani. I was young and saw it somewhere, on TV I think.

    …spoiler….

    There is this part in the film where a nurse has disappeared on the poonam ki raat (full moon night) from the house while nursing the head of the family. No body knows where she’s disappeared to.
    Then one day Manoj kumar has to jump in the well to bring back Bela Bose’s shoe and another character’s bangle…and guess what he finds there.
    This scene was a real horror for me then. The way it was filmed and the scene itself is etched upon my memory. I can always picture the nurse..swaying. *shudder*

    ***end spoiler***

  35. Raja: Thank you! I saw Kohra years ago, so don’t remember any scenes from it… the same with Mem Didi. Anari I rewatched a couple of years back, but I must confess to not remembering that particular scene. Solvaan Saal, oh yes. :-)
    One reason – and I agree it’s a silly one – that I haven’t yet bought Aakhri Khat, despite reading some very fine reviews of it, is that the VCD apparently doesn’t have one of the film’s best songs, Hai kuhh bhi nahin o my darling. Greta had mentioned it when I did my Manna Dey list, and I discovered I liked that song so much, I can’t imagine seeing the film without that song. But I will, I will.

    Samir: I love your reason for remembering Jalte hain jiske liye! So original.
    I was thinking that someday I should do a ‘most memorable frames’ list. And the first frame that came to mind was the one in which Rocky discovers who the murderer is, in Teesri Manzil… those hanging coats, the gleaming buttons, Shammi Kapoor’s expression – unforgettable!

    pacifist: Ouch, I don’t remember that – even though I did watch Poonam ki Raat a couple of years back. All I remember was that I didn’t like it much, though I’m usually very fond of suspense films. I do remember it had this very good song which the ‘ghost’ kept singing… wonderful.

  36. Even managed to find a clp with that “daal mein cockroach hai” scene from Anari. I was about 10 when I saw this movie. Somehow this scene has stuck in my head. :-) Never thought anybody else would consider it worthy enough to actually make a clip of it and post it on youtube.

    Here it is.

  37. This dal mein cockroach scene – which I had forgotten about- brought up another tale my parents told.
    They went to a wedding in the 60s in a Punjab village, and as was typical at the time, everyone gave a hand in the preparations. Their job was to shell the peas, and as it so happened, an unusually large number of them were infested with this green caterpillar like creature (soondi) – I suppose pesticide-free days- and had to be discarded.
    When the host came around to see how they were getting on, he asked about the 2 heaps! On being told about the problem, he apparently exclaimed, are you mad? throwing away peas because of some worms) and took the whole lot and they were “cooked”.
    Later on, not only did they not touch the food, but were gagging at the sight of the baraat happily eating away the “aloo-mattar-paneer”….

    • @pacifist …the host/ess said, a little bit of soondi never hurt anyone….before proceeding to shell them into the pile along with the peas….

      @dustedoff: its all those pesticides. I have a friend in Spain who swears that finding a snail among your vegetables (when cleaning them of course) is good thing, cos it means they haven’t been sprayed to death. Or it could mean those are nuclear-resistant breed of snails…

      • That sounds like a reasonable explanation. In stuff like peas, I’m okay with finding a worm or two – since it’s found before it gets cooked! In cabbages and cauliflower (especially if I’m not cooking them) I’m always a little worried… did whoever cooked/cleaned the vegetable put it in salt water long enough?

  38. I shall never eat aloo-mattar-paneer at any wedding now! Even though the days of finding worms in peas are gone now (come to think of it, most people I know don’t even shell peas any more – nearly all of us use frozen peas). Still. The very thought of those soondis…!

  39. Hello Madhu,
    Like everybody else, I have to congratulate you for such a nice and emotionally exciting post. You, know, it’s the sort which makes everyone feel he’s going to read things he likes reading about!!
    My question: can you now explain what made you remember and select these scenes? Because when I try and do the same exercise, I find myself able to select one series of passages, and then if I think again, I feel I could select another series, etc.
    I will try and answer my question, you tell me if I’m right! I think the scenes you chose are some where the climax or the intensity struck you, or where there was enough suspense or fun to make you forget time and space, as it were.
    Now there is another, perhaps even opposite, way to decide on “best scenes”: that would the scenes where the film slows down (or halts) to reach a sort of lull, a dream-like pause in the action, and where one is drawn away from it towards reflexion and beauty. I’m not saying such scenes would be better, but they would be rather different from the type you have chosen, wouldn’t they? And I’m sure you would also appreciate them!
    One example: in Sangam, the scene where Raj Kapoor is at the piano, singing Dost dost na raha, he is seen with his back turned to the estranged couple behind him, and there is the slow realization that what he is saying, and the fact that he’s turning his face in the other direction, are a harrowing comment on the tragic dilemma which the two silent people are going through behind them. I love it when the director’s art is such that he can use the art’s conventions (here the song) to create something in terms of meaning and beauty in his films!
    Another poignant scene (among so many others!) is to be found in Shree 420, when a disillusioned Raj, after having realised that his dreams of social ascent and revenge through success have failed, is walking through town and chances on the same carefree paupers he had once loved so much to join, and who had welcomed him on his arrival with simplicity and joy. Now he has lost both! He stops to gaze at their sight. But then one young girl rises and dances, and starts singing a little romance that says “I have given my heart to you”. We see on Raj’s face the understanding that will link him back to his old self, the one he had vowed to reject, and most importantly, to Vidya who was his teacher in a society where poor people remain poor but unsullied by compromise with money and power. These words “I have given my heart to you” thus resonate with a deep meaning: Raj had once given his heart to Vidya, but then after he gave it to others, to Maya and her illusions. And the realization of this awful mistake, the shame which submerges him, the pain we feel at realizing all his efforts were in vain, all this creates a beautiful portait of humanity.
    There would be so many other scenes where the pauses in the action matter just as much as their aceleration!
    One last thing: You HAVE to watch Teesri Kasam (http://www.letstalkaboutbollywood.com/article-25393179.html), Raj Kapoor or no Raj Kapoor, you cannot fail to enjoy it. If I tell you it’s one of my all-times favourites, will you not try it? (Oh, and I realize I have spoken about nothing but RK films! PLEEZE don’t beat me too hard!! (To try and deflect the blows, I’ll quote the scene which Raja mentions above, and which I so loved watching just before going to India in August – it’s that one between Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand in the dhoba’s changing room, in Solva Saal, – but as far as I’m concerned, this scene was really good for nothing else but WR’s absolute and delightful charm!)

  40. Yves, you don’t have to try and persuade me to watch Teesri Kasam!! I have had it on my rental wishlist for quite a while now, and only last night, while I was placing an order for my next lot of rented DVDs to be delivered, I checked for Teesri Kasam, because I was hoping to watch and review it this week. So many of my readers have been recommending the film to me, I HAVE to see it now. Unfortunately, it’s currently not available at my rental company’s, so I’ll have to wait till later, whenever it IS available.

    I don’t think I can really pinpoint any one reason why I would choose one scene as memorable over another. For me, a lot of it consisted of actually thinking over all the classic films I’ve seen over the years and thinking of scenes that I could recall more or less accurately without having to watch the film again. So, scenes that are literally memorable for me. Most of them, I now realise, are memorable for not dialogues but for actions, expressions, camera angles, background music, sound effects, etc – a sort of combination of all of those. In fact, looking back on my list, there are several scenes here that don’t have dialogue (Gumnaam, Kismat, Haqeeqat, Pyaasa, Anupama), or in which I remember things other than the dialogue – for instance, in the Nau Do Gyarah sequence, there is some dialogue, but I don’t recall that – I recall the building suspense, the ticking of the clock and the reactions of the people involved as they realise they’re running out of time… I suppose it’s the overall atmosphere that leaves an imprint on my mind. The scene from Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam is one of the few where everything – camera angles (the camera at floor level in the beginning, when Bhootnath is too shy to look up…), expressions (Meena Kumari!), dialogue (her attempts to draw him out of his shyness, her obvious embarrassment because of her predicament, for which she’s had to approach him… everything here stays in my mind.

    Ultimately, I’d say it’s the power of a scene to stay in my mind years after I’ve seen it. I can forget most of the rest of the film, but these scenes stay with me.

    Oh, and thank you for sharing those scenes from RK’s films. I’d forgotten the Sangam one, but remembered the Shree 420 scene. I agree: it is a good one, filled with meaning!

  41. Yes yes!! I do remember very vaguely that scene you were talking about from Haqeeqat. I have GOT to watch this film again. Thank you, thank you THANK YOU :D

  42. Just one second of directoral genius, the map of India after “dukh bhare din” in Mother India.If there is one on best picturized songs, this song must be up there!Every scene in this song is a gem!!

  43. Was the climax scene from Nau Do Gyarah seriously five minutes? (I landed up here from your review of Gumnaam!) AND. WTH.

    The radio is on right now, and then in the middle of this song, they’re like, “Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana”. Give me a moment to jump up and down.

    Has originality seriously gone out of the window? That song in C.I.D. had a PURPOSE. Waheeda was supposed to try and help Dev to get out before the villian came. (I have to admit, I’m not too fond of it, but I always crack up when I see Dev O_O’ing!)

    Anyway. Sorry for going totally OT there. I didn’t really notice that it was five minutes (To tell you the truth, I was too busy getting hyper and running all over the place because of the darn police who happily interrupted the awesome scene where Dev accused Lalita Pawar of murdering Manoharlal!), and I was like, “DEV, WHY DID YOU DITCH THE COAT?” >:( Seriously, I loved that coat.

    I love the way he took it all on himself to save the day – the police may as well have been my Playmobil figurines, because they just stood around. And Lalita Pawar was :O’ing to no end. So Dev does the awesome thing to do and goes and confronts the villian (I don’t think ANYONE would’ve seen him coming down the chimney!), but he should’ve just blasted his head with the revolver that he so convieniently had.

    And the will looked weird. xD

    • “That song in C.I.D. had a PURPOSE.

      Actually, one of the few songs even in old Hindi cinema that did have a purpose. ;-) Others I can think of include Aage bhi jaane na tu and (to some extent) See le zubaan. Also Hum tujhe dhoond lenge, from Mahal. Otherwise, even back then a lot of the songs – though they were a gazillion times better than modern fare – were really pretty pointless; just a chance to sit back and feast your senses!

      And yes, the scene from Nau Do Gyarah IS 5 minutes long; I actually timed it!

      • What about all the songs from Jewel Thief? They carried forward the plot too. :D But yeah, all the romantic stuff, even though there wasn’t a definite motive, was awesome. O.P. Nayyar, S.D. Burman, Shankar-Jaikishan… Amazing stuff back then.

        And wow, that’s cool! I’m so going to rewatch when we have our break next week, that is, if I can find time in between my homework! And that day there was a debate competition – I had fun making references to Dev’s movies in my speech. :D

        • What was your school debate all about? Sounds like fun – we had dull-as-ditchwater debates when I was in school, and the very thought of talking about popular culture was considered blasphemous.

          • Oh, it was about how alcohol advertizing should be banned. It was with another boys’ school, and we were against that. The first thing that came to mind was FILMS! Seriously, that song from Taxi Driver started playing in my head. So I wrote this lengthy speech about how films will be affected, etc, and even mentioned, “films in the 50’s and 60’s”! And the biggest reference was probably how I used all the phrases that Dev used in his interviews. Shades of gray and all that stuff!

            And once I got off the stage, I laughed so hard and fell. My teammates thought something was wrong with me!

              • I do that all the time, that’s what makes my life interesting! We won the debate, but the seniors took all the credit because they did all the seven and eight- minute long speeches, while I was stuck with five-minute ones. But it was still fun! I had a conversation with a friend backstage:
                Friend: “Oh, that movies thing was a good point. I never thought of it!”
                Me: “Well, you should know, I only think of movies!!”
                Friend: “Oh really? What movie?”
                Me: (laughing very hard by this point) “…Dev’s movie…” (falls down a second time from the laughing)

  44. The scene with the baddie from ‘Kismet’ is one of the reasons why I love bad spy thrillers, though none of Dharam’s spy thrillers were bad. ‘Star Gold’ TV channel used to have these special segments on how that scene came about. I stopped watching films on TV after they discontinued classic bollywood movie programming.
    My favourite scene is a tie between ‘Anupama’ and ‘Nau Do Gyarah’. Mehmood himself once credited Om Prakash for the success of that hilarious scene in ‘Pyar kiye jaa’

    • I’d not known about Mehmood crediting Om Prakash for the success of that scene, but I agree completely. His reactions as Mehmood’s story progresses are unbeatable. :-)

      I remember, years and years ago, Doordarshan used to show a programme called (I think) Cinema Cinema. It was hosted by Benjamin Gilani, and was a very good behind-the-scenes look at how scenes are built up. One especially good sequence I recall was from Inkaar, where in a fight scene, a man is sent sliding along a very long table. They said that the sliding was enabled by having rollerskates under his chest – and proved it by playing the shot at superslow speed, where you actually catch a glimpse of the skates falling off when the man reaches the end of the table!

  45. Bhootnath’s first meeting with Choti Bahu is really a beautiful scene and I use to watch it every time when I open my movie folder.

    • True. It’s one of those really unforgettable scenes – I remember much of it, from angles to expressions, to dilaogues to silences – without even seeing it again. Brilliant.

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