Friday, February 26, 2010


I'm doing 2 more posts for 70s Week, and they are about my 10 favourite actors from the Hindi films of the 70s… I’ve chosen 5 men and 5 women whose movies I particularly enjoyed in that decade. My all-time favourite Hindi film actors are all listed on my sidebar and show up all the time in my reviews, so these picks will come as no surprise to previous visitors to this blog. But I thought this would be a good excuse to talk about why exactly I love them so much, and of course to put up lots of gratuitous screencaps of each of them!

So I’ll start with the ladies today, and then my post on the men will be up tomorrow. I think the 70s were the last decade that women got really meaty roles in mainstreamHindi cinema (although to be fair, they got plenty of rubbish ones too). But things really nosedived for women in Bollywood in the largely trashy 80s (especially after 1983), and I think the industry is yet to fully recover from that lull when it comes to female roles. A shame. There were some great heroines in the 70s: sassy, spunky, feisty women with minds and voices of their own, and the power to make their own decisions. I miss them.

I cheated a little on the women for this list – I picked 6 instead of 5 actors, because I found it impossible to leave any of them off my list. They each, in various ways, embodied the spirit of the 70s – style, attitude, vivacity, colour, passion, adventure, glamour. Here we go, in no particular order:

• Jaya Bhaduri

I adore this woman’s acting, and although I’ve raved about her about a gazillion times on this blog, I’ll never stop raving. This award-winning actress had the extraordinary ability to disappear into the characters she played, infusing them with a life of their own that was just magical to see. She was at her best playing strong women facing down their destinies, and I just love her older performances, and for me, she is definitely the most talented Bachchan.

I’m on a quest to see all of Jaya’s movies… so far, from the 70s I’ve seen ‘Guddi’, ‘Bawarchi’, ‘Parichay’, ‘Zanjeer’, ‘Abhimaan’, ‘Shor’, ‘Kora Kagaz’, ‘Mili’, ‘Sholay’ and ‘Chupke Chupke’, and will soon watch ‘Koshish’. I’ve loved her in every one of these films, whether she was playing a street urchin, or an infatuated schoolgirl, or an unhappy wife, or a traumatized widow. She made each role memorable. In view of her prodigious talent, it saddens me that she decided to largely give up films in order to be a full-time mother, although she seems happy with her choice (see Filmi Girl’s interesting 70s Week post on Jaya for an alternate view on this).

Much as I wish Jaya had done more films in her younger days, I think she accomplished an extremely impressive body of work in her youth – absolutely great and impactful performances – and I’m grateful for that.

• Hema Malini

Hema rocked out the 70s with graceful dancing, vibrant onscreen presence and gorgeous smile. Always a classy lady, she exuded a unique confidence, elegance and poise onscreen. She wasn’t the most talented actor ever, but as a competent professional, she went for roles that played to her strengths, and she made the most of them. Apart from more conventional seedhi-saadhi heroine roles, she also took on some really fun and feisty roles in the 70s too, like her roles in ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’, 'Sholay' and ‘Jugnu’.

Sharmila Tagore

Sharmila is an actor I admire more than I love, although I do love her. I admire her stylish, glamorous looks, her great figure, and her ability to convey just about any emotion in the world with those ultra-expressive eyes and that dimpled smile. Her eyes could exude anything – from femme fatale allure, to baby-sweet cuteness, to everything in between. I admire her distinctive beauty, and I admire her strength, individuality and sophistication, and how she didn’t try to portray a false goody-goody image, either as an actress or a person. Regardless of the outcome, she did things her way, even after marriage (which may, sadly, not be true for some of the other women on my list).

To me, she was above all a style icon of the 70s (the 60s too – in fact, the 60s more than the 70s) – always so great to look at. But she was also a pretty good actress, and I’ve always found her very believable in her roles. In the 70s, from her memorable role opposite Shashi Kapoor in the masala flick ‘Aa Gale Lag Jaa’ to the challenging ‘Mausam’, Sharmila held it together and made her mark.

Neetu Singh:

How much do I love Neetu??!! She always makes me smile, with her own beautiful smile. She was so gorgeous, sassy, fun, cute and feisty in her 70s roles. I love the fact that she had curves and owned those curves! You never got the feeling that she wasn’t comfortable in her body. I love how she attacked her roles with such gusto and vivacity. I just. plain. LOVE. Neetu.

From the adorable Veera of ‘Deewaar’ to the feisty Neetu of 'Parvarish' to the sweet young doctor of ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, Neetu was always such fun to watch onscreen. As with Jaya, I do wish she’d kept working after marriage, but I’m grateful to still have her past work to enjoy.

Zeenat Aman:

More than any of the other actors on my list, I think Zeenat embodied the attitude of 70s cool. She was effortlessly cool, effortlessly stylish, effortlessly funky, effortlessly everything. Sharmila, as I mentioned before, was more about 60s chic, and my other picks didn’t really ‘own’ the unique look and ‘feel’ of the 70s. Zeenat totally did. Totally.

There always seemed to be something rebellious and restless lurking just behind Zeenat’s eyes, and that’s so 70s. No matter how cool, calm and ‘together’ she looked outwardly, you could sense a little inner turmoil, and that made her perfect for her roles in films like the hippie drama ‘Hare Raama Hare Krishna’ and of course, the iconic ‘Don’. I just loved her as Roma in ‘Don’, with her million-and-one hairdos, fabulous wardrobe, and great attitude. Just loved her. Plus (obviously) she was sexy and gorgeous (as most famously seen in 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram', a film in which I do think Mr. Raj Kapoor deployed Zeenat's potent sexiness in a very negative way). Anyway, however you look at it, 70s Zeenat just rocked.

• Mumtaz

I love Mumtaz – she was a magnificent dancer, a lushly stunning woman, and brought such irrepressible spirit and warmth to her roles. And as Memsaab has noted, she had great chemistry with just about any leading man, from Rajesh Khanna to Dharmendra. She was great in her 70s films, especially the ones she did opposite Rajesh Khanna in the early 70s.

Shabana Azmi almost made this list – she did some great masala films in the 70s, like the fun ‘Fakira’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ and of course, ‘Parvarish’. She also made great art films like ‘Ankur’ and ‘Junoon’. But I would much rather rave about her powerful and iconic performances in the 1980s, which really established her as an excellent actor.

So that’s it for the female actors (as, incidentally, Shabana Azmi would call them – she dislikes the word ‘actress’) I loved in the 70s. Who are your favourites? Will be back to talk about the guys tomorrow….


veracious said...

Hema, Zeenat & Neetu are pretty much my top 70's heroes. I should see more of Sharmila Tagore, though.

Larvee said...

I love Mumtaz, Zeenat and Hema; to me these three women made me love and appreciate everything Bollywood at a very tender age, thank you for taking me back to the beautiful memories~

bollyviewer said...

And not one actor would I change from this list - I love them ALL. :-) They were gorgeous, they were stylish in their own different ways, and such fun to hang out with on a rainy day! The only others I would add are Rakhee and Moushumi Chatterji - the first for her grave bubbliness (if one can be both, she was it!) and the second, for her vivacity.

Daddy's Girl said...

@Veracious & Larvee, thanks for sharing your favourites! Zeenat and Hema seem to be popular choices!

@Bollyviewer: Ah Rakhee... I am still learning to love her. I started out disliking her because the first movies I saw her in were 'Muqaddar ka Sikandar' and 'Trishul', and I didn't like her in those at all. But then I saw 'Sharmilee' and 'Jeevan Mrityu' and 'Black Mail' and so many others, and I finally got it. I am almost at the point where I can let go of the initial bad impression! And I know just what you mean by her 'grave bubbliness'. I need to see more of Moushmi Chatterjee....

patience said...

I completely love Zeenat Aman. The lady had style and she still does anyways. Loved Rekha then and still do now. man that lady is mysterious! Jaya was a lil too plain for me.

Anonymous said...

Awesome list - I love all of them totally! I think I'd replace Zeenat Aman with Parveen Babi though - I just think Ms Babi was so beautiful.

Kanan said...

The pictures are a treat... loved the list. Parveen Babi was just gorgeous as well, like Dustedoff mentioned. I like Tina Munim also in some films. Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi were beautiful as well, but not as famous as all the girls you mentioned.

Daddy's Girl said...

Patience, thanks for stopping by! Zeenat indeed had shovelfuls of style! Rekha was memorable but I consider her more an icon of the 1980s. Jaya was certainly no glamourpuss, you're right about that, but her acting was fierce!

Dustedoff, Ms Babi was indeed a babe! Gorgeous and always unforgettable in her roles. I almost had her on my list....

Kanan, thank you! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your faves....

sophy said...

Zeenat was on that unreachable pedestal for someone like me--her looks and her style. I haven't seen her movies really, I don't think she can act at all. But the glamour. Wow! Jaya was at the opposite end of that spectrum and really a girl next door type. Through your blog and some of her movies I've recently watched, I've started liking her. What a charming smile. But from 74/75 on, I started thinking of her as a doormat and that lasted till recently. Mumtaz is bubbly goodness. I just love her--in fact, I call her sunshine and she's usually in orange.

Daddy's Girl said...

I love your comments Sophy! Zeenat truly was that unattainable vision of glamour and style. And I love your nickname for Mumtaz - so apt!

bollywooddeewana said...

I Loved your list though i would have added Rekha she did some fab films like Ghar, Muqqadar ka sikandar, Do Anjaane etc Her work became a bit too over commercialised in the 80's but the 70's were a mix of quite art cinema type melodrama as well as major commercial pot boilers

Other of my faves would be

Parveen babi
Smita Patil (What an Intense actress she was)
Reena Roy ( My Bollywood Queen, in fact one of the first major bollywood actresses i loved after watching her fierceness in Nagin as a kid)

Daddy's Girl said...

bollywoodeewana, thanks so much for your comment! I've been thinking a lot about Rekha and realise that she did deliver some really memorable performances in the 70s. Thanks for sharing your faves!

Nicki said...

I'm with Bollywooddeewana on his recs. I adore Reena Roy too. I haven't seen much of Neetu and only seen her in Kabhi Kabhi but I want to see more of her because of your post :)

Daddy's Girl said...

I need to see more of Reena Roy - I've seen her in 80s flicks like Naukar Biwi Ka, but definitely need to see more! Nicki, please do see more of Neetu - she was great onscreen. Just saw her in Kaala Patthar tonight, and she shone as usual.

GKK said...

you completely missed out the Gorgeous Parveen babi who gave us memorable films of the 70's like Deewar and the unforgettable "Amar, Akbar, Anthony"..After the release of AAA, Parveen babi became the first bollywood personality to be shown on the cover of the Famous Time Magazine.That is no easy feat.
Her Charisma, on-screen presence and fiesty anguish in AAA became a Legend in hindicinema and for me she is regarded as one of the most influential personalities of the 70's and needless to say,she is BIG B's all-time Favorite. i think she really deserves a special mention.
Without doubt, My favorite anyday would be the enigmatic Hema malini, most especially because of Dharmendra.
No on-sreen pair/jodi ruled the hearts of hindi-cinema like they did and that was why, they were tagged, "The awesome-Twosome" from which they went on to enact one of the most remarkable on-screen Chemistry in hindi-cinema history with films like Sharafat,jugnu, dost,pratigya, raja jani, seeta aur geeta, charas, chacha bhatijah, azaad and Sholay.
Hema owned that decade and reigned supreme beyond all doubts.Needless to say, Dharmendra really played a vital tole in her insurmountable Dominance in the 70's.Hema rocks all the way!!!
Another diva to be greatly considered is The adorable Asha parekh.She also formed a very great chemistry with Rajesh khanna and most especially Dharmendra.
With dharam, she gave famous hits like Mera gaon mere desh and Samadhi.She was truly outstanding, and the 1970 film kati patang confirms that..
Lastly, the 70's decade cant just end without giving credence to the fantasti Reena Roy who churned out classics like Nagin, jaani dushman and Kaalicharan.
Lovely list although and please keep up the good work.

Daddy's Girl said...

Thanks so much for your comments, GKK! I agree that Parveen did have that 'special sparkle', and while she is not a personal favourite, I do agree that she was a wonderful actress in the 70s.

Anonymous said...

Praveen bhabi is defo on my list she was beautifuly elegant sharmila tafor and of course mumtaz, these actresses had fuller figures and were curly unlike barbie dolls of today.

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