• Rajesh Khanna
Rajesh Khanna’s film career was like a shooting star – brief but bright! In the years when he ruled the Indian box office (and hearts everywhere), it was pure mania.
I love 70s Rajesh – handsome, romantic, funny, and unique. He had a vibe that was just different from the other leading men of the time. I even love his trademark head-shake and the trademark RK ‘look’. Funky, fun and often more than a little camp, he captured ‘70s groove’ really well. He was a better actor than he’s given credit for these days. He was also usually good fun to watch, which is very important in my book.
Unfortunately, Rajesh’s lack of versatility as an actor (basically, he sucked at dishoom-dishoom), along with the rise of the ‘angry young man’ I’ll be talking about next, brought his reign as the King of Bollywood to a quick end in the 70s. And the less said about his more recent work, the better. I try very hard not to think about it!
• Amitabh Bachchan
No one can argue that the big B is a Bollywood icon. My darling mother, who was not a Bollywood fan, came across me watching ‘Do Aur Do Paanch’ a few years ago, and said to me, ‘how come that guy is in every Indian movie you watch?’ Mr. Bachchan is special to me because when I became re-acquainted with Bollywood about 5 years ago, he was one of the few Hindi film actors I remembered from my childhood. His camp action-adventure, ‘Mard’, was one of the first Hindi movies I saw as a child. And it’s interesting to think that even now, in his late 60s, he’s still going at it and dishing out great performances like his excellent turn as Auro in last year’s ‘Paa’ (he just won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for his performance).
Regardless of what one may think of him, his filmography alone is proof that his status as a legend of Hindi cinema is well-deserved. I personally love the guy – I love his passion for films, and how he flings his long limbs into every role with almost reckless abandon. I love his versatility and the intensity with which he tackles each role, even the silly ones. I love that distinctively deep voice, those lanky limbs and those dark and unconventionally handsome looks. I think he can be a little pompous, a little self-absorbed, and more than a little self-righteous, but I can live with those flaws. I may call his wife the most talented Bachchan, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the big B is very talented as well – and more importantly, he’s extremely committed to and focused upon his craft.
Anyway, Amit ji did a lot of really great films in the 70s, the decade in which his stellar career really took off. Often dark, brooding and intense, he deftly created his trademark ‘Angry Young Man’ persona. From Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Anand’ (1971), the film that really got him noticed, to ‘Kaala Pathar’ (1979), he did it all in the 70s: from OTT masala (‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ – his comedy in this is classic!), to marital drama (‘Abhimaan’, opposite his then-newlywed wife, Jaya Bhaduri), to moving melodrama (‘Mili’). He played a brooding poet (‘Kabhi Kabhie’), a tortured policeman (loved him in ‘Zanjeer’), hardened criminals (‘Sholay’, ‘Muqaddar ka Sikandar’, ‘Faraar’, ‘Deewaar', ‘Don’), a shy professor (‘Chupke Chupke’)… the list goes on and on…. He worked with the top directors, the hottest leading ladies, and some lesser-known names… and he left a lasting mark on the Bollywood of the 70s.
Now everyone knows that I adore Dharmendra… he’s the reason I started this blog! I could wax lyrical about all the reasons I love him, but I’ve done that many times before… so I’ll just point you to my post on his 70s career, if you haven’t read it yet… the 70s were my favourite decade when it comes to Dharmendra films, although as Bollyviewer commented, the quintessential Dharmendra decade is more like 1965 to 1975. Here's a funny screencap from 'Chupke Chupke':
• Rishi Kapoor
Rishi was such a sweetheart in the 70s. With those earnestly cute eyes and that impish smile, he was absolutely adorable - I always just want to hug him when I watch his 70s flicks. He had great screen presence and there was always something so sincere and likeable, so charming and personable, about him in those days. Sweetness aside though, in some of his roles, notably ‘Mera Naam Joker’, ‘Bobby’ and ‘Kabhi Kabhie’, he also captured youthful love, teenage lust and a generous helping of 70s rebellion in a way that no-one else did.
From his unforgettable debut as an awkward schoolboy becoming a man in his father Raj’s ‘Mera Naam Joker’; to his equally unforgettable role as the title character opposite a luminous Dimple Kapadia in ‘Bobby’; to his youthful and fun roles opposite future wife Neetu Singh (loved them together in ‘Khel Khel Mein’, 'Kabhi Kabhie’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, ‘Doosra Aadmi’ and others)… there are so many gems among Rishi’s 70s flicks, and I love them.
• Vinod Khanna
I like to call him sexy Vinod. Because that’s what he is! To be honest, when I watch his 70s films, the young Vinod Khanna doesn’t actually have to say or do anything to make me happy. Just looking at him – from those dark, intense, heavy-lidded, beautifully-framed, brown eyes, to the dimple in his chin, to his beautiful physique – that’s enough for me. When he doesn’t smile, he’s scorching hot. When he smiles, everything in his face lights up. He’s a gorgeous man, and as you can probably tell, I could talk about how hot he is for ages, but I’ll spare you… partly because I’ve probably embarrassed myself enough already, and partly because he’s a lot more than a pretty face.
He was a really good actor too in his heyday – from the learned and anguished friend of ‘Muqaddar ka Sikandar’; to the serious policeman of ‘Amar Akbar Anthony'; to the intensely, evil-but-hot bandit of ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’; to the stylish young stud of ‘Mere Tulsi Aangan Ki’, he just… gave all his roles that special touch… you know what, I give up - the truth is, I obviously can’t talk about this guy ‘seriously’. He just makes me melt. Sadly, I don't have many screencaps of sexy Vinod, and the pictures I've come across on the net don't do him justice; but happily, Veracious has lots of lovely ones here.
The indomitable Pran almost made this list – he was such an icon of the 70s! I love the villainous roles he played with such relish, always leaving his indelible mark on just about every film he did, even the really bad ones. I just LOVE Pran (cue gratuitous screencap)!
So, the women are done and the men are done... that’s it on my fave actors from the 70s. There are other actors from the 70s that I love: Sanjeev Kumar (brilliant actor!) and Parveen Babi (such a babe!), for example. Even Rishi’s uncle, Shashi Kapoor, who some of you are probably thinking I just forgot to mention! But hey, one must stop somewhere….
So… those are my favourite Bollywood actors from the 70s…. Who would you choose?