Many of us have fond memories of the so-called "Middle Cinema" of the 1970s and 80s — the relatively low-budget films made by such directors as Basu Chatterji, Sai Paranjpye and Gulzar. Their virtues — the understatement, the clean humour, the "realism" — are often used as a pretext to decry the excesses of mainstream movies, to yearn for the "simple old days" (which were probably never as simple as we'd like to think), and occasionally to romanticise middle-class lives.
But many of those simple, grounded narratives also contain their own inside jokes about the different worlds that coexisted under the umbrella marked "Hindi Cinema". And this was often achieved through cameo appearances by big stars - the biggest of whom, needless to say, was Amitabh Bachchan.
As a mainstream superstar, Bachchan got plenty of flak for staying within the confines of his established vigilante image and not attempting "different" roles. For reasons that belong in another column, I don't think this is aRead More »from Bada star, chhota frame: the Amitabh cameos