Hrishikesh Mukherjee is almost synonymous with feel-good cinema. The master filmmaker could appeal to audiences of all ages. His stories don’t “age”. Doesn’t matter if one watched his film first when released in the seventies or yesterday- they have a charm that never ceases.
The director was fondly called “Hrishi da” on sets. In the biography called The World of Hrishi Da, author Jai Arjun Singh used the phrase “The filmmaker everyone loves” to describe the subject of his book.
He’s been a teacher, a cameraman, and an editor. But it was his storytelling and direction that cemented his position as a legend in the industry.
On September 30, the late Padma Vibhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner would have turned 98. Here's to honouring Hrishi Da on his birthday witha look at some of his best films.
Based on a Bengali novel, Mukherjee considered it to be one of his best works. This film is a little different than most of his later films with more serious themes and plots. The film stars Dharmendra, Sharmila Tagore, Ashok Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar.
The tragic masterpiece has probably never left anyone with dry-eyes by the end. With Rajesh Khanna’s amiable “babu moshay” to Amitabh Bachchan’s angst- everything works beautifully in the plot. The superstar Khanna gave one of his best performances ever while the rising star Bachchan showed another superstar in making.
A film that released the same year as Anand but poles apart different in its themes and plot. The Dharmendra and Jaya Bhaduri starrer, deals with innocence, fan-worship, and the naivete of youth. This film has the signature “feel-good” vibe we associate with Hrishi Da.
This movie has an interesting plot design. With no title cards, the film uses Amitabh Bachchan’s made for voiceovers voice to guide the audiences. It starts as a typical Mukherjee comedy but has themes of family, love, and trust. Watch it restore your faith in humanity.
Few directors can boast pumping out two films in a year, with both being masterpieces and both different with their themes and genre. Abhimaan deals with a topic rarely touched in Macho-hero centric Bollywood- how fragile male-ego can be. Where heroes are portrayed as invincible, most humble in almost every film, this brave take of a man on a path to self-destruction because he cannot handle his wife’s success is brilliantly directed. Amitabh and Jaya in the lead are perfect in their acting.
This was the year of Mukherjee, with three releases, all with a star-studded cast.
Mili is a tragically feel-good film. It’s an oxymoron, to be tragic and feel good at the same time; but Hrishi da’s magic makes the impossible happen. Jaya and Amitabh were definitely his favourites on and off-screen couple as the two are leads here.
Amol Palekar’s antics as he tries to fool Utpal Dutt by playing twins will elicit a laugh from the most serious people. The film has a classic Mukherjee comedy which is warm and heart touching.