New Delhi: What defines the genre of cult cinema? Does the sub-cultural appeal of once neglected films explain their snowballing into mainstream behemoths?
Experts will tell you that cult emerges out of a closed group of fan base that elevates a niche film to greatness through sustained promotion, repeated viewings, online discussions, open debates and general veneration.
These films are essentially rebellious and subvert traditional moralities to build a niche following even though they weren't appreciated or successful at the time of their release. There are several examples of cult classics in the West - 'Thundercrack', 'Eraserhead', 'El Topo', 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show', 'From Dusk till Dawn', 'The Sound of Music' and the 'Evil Dead'.
For those born in the 70s and came of age when Kundan Shah brought out his social satire 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron', you would be witness to the film's gradual accentuation to cult heights. At the time of its release, the film was largely unsuccessful in the opening weeks - much like other Indian cult classics like Mughal-e-Azam and Sholay. That was a time of saccharine endings and hard-hitting reality usually found no takers.
The blurb of author Jai Arjun Singh's book on the movie says: "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is now a byword for the sort of absurdist, satirical humours that Hindi cinema just hasn't seen enough of. This is the story of how it came to be despite incredible odds - and what it might have been. Jai Arjun Singh's engaging take on the making of the film and its cult following is as entertaining as the film itself."
A section of audiences opine that Aamir Khan's 1989 drama 'Raakh' deserves to be cult. I asked people on Twitter which films, released in the last 5-10 years they feet would go on to achieve cult status 20 years from now. The answers were fascinating.
A majority of people voted for 'No Smoking' - Anurag Kashyap's 2007 psychological thriller that starred John Abraham, Ayesha Takia, Ranvir Shorey and Paresh Rawal in the lead roles. While most critics are still undecided whether the film is purely indulgent or truly genius, it seems to have gathered quite a following over the years.
'Maqbool', that won Pankaj Kapoor a National Award playing don Jahangir Khan, was another popular choice. Anurag Kashyap was a director whose films people bookmarked for future greatness, 'Gangs of Wasseypur' (I and II) being examples. Actor Manoj Bajpayee, responding to the poll, said his 2007 war film 1971 that won a National Award will get its due over time.
Overwhelming support came in for the 2007 neo-noir, Roman Polanski-inspired film 'Manorama Six Feet Under'. Directed and co-written by Navdeep Singh, the film starred Abhay Deol as the disgruntled public works engineer Satyaveer Singh Randhawa resigned to a banal existence in an arid Rajasthan town.
Here are some of the suggestions to the poll, see if you agree.
@vivekkahn: Gulal, GoW, DevD, MKBKM, Manorama Six Feet Under
@ainvincible: One name to add would be LSD, shot all digital, found footage style. Probably the only film to have themes of its kind.
@abhishektweets: how about Road movie? By Dev Benegal
@SidKumarSingh: Pyaar Ka Punchnamaa
@kk_pelican: how about Mithya
@Psychomotu: Shor in the City
@nareshsajwani07: Please don't forget - Oye Lucky Lucky Oye
@welloffcourse: Black Friday
@dagaalti: How many films like Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola have come in
Bollywood? It's a rarity in Hindi cinema. I'm sure 7KM & No Smoking ll will be celebrated in future! I loved the audacity of VB and the subtlety of the film. No filmmaker would contemplate making a film like that, not in Bollywood
@reachpari: 7 Khoon Maaf!
@diptakirti: Matru, for starters. Shanghai. LSD. Nishabd.
@vppati: Shaurya, Firaaq, Khuda Ke Liye. Not to forget 7-1/2 Phere - More Than
A Wedding, Phas Gaye Re Obama, Ek Challis Ki Last Local, Dasvidaniya, Khosla ka Ghosla, Mithya, Black Friday, Johnny Gaddar, Manorama Six Feet Under, Aamir, Mukhbir, Fatso, Iqbal, Dil Dosti
@Koteshan: Homi Adjania's Being Cyrus. Cult movie material.
@sha2nktyagi: Paan Singh Tomar?
@niharikamidha: No Shaitan? I think that too!
@VtaminD: Manorama 6 Feet Under, Maqbool
@bodhiCHE: Will like to add #Shanghai....and A Wednesday
@bigbala: Manorama & Maqbool are already pretty well liked. Why future I wonder.
@TheHumerus: Do Dooni Char (guess it won an award but still). Also, Mirch.
@BajpayeeManoj: It's (GoW) a total game changer of our time after Satya and Lagaan.
@KapilRautela: Shor in the City!
@ayanspeaks007: DevD..did it work well in BO? Guess not
@sharewithsajan: No smoking and Rocket Singh! Both future cults for sure. Former for interpretations and latter for appreciations!
@BajpayeeManoj: 1971 which didn't get a nomination here got national award.
@BlueRioo: Aranya Kaandam
@dagaalti: SAAT KHOON MAAF! #VishalBharadwaj and obviously, #NoSmoking and #YehSaaliZindagi .Only these in mind right now
@nayeempulse: Luck by Chance, Manorama Six Feet under, Well Done Abba, Chittagong and Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
@senaditi: Aiyaa, No Smoking, Shabd (not last 5 yrs),
@hims_negi: Maqbool as well
@Abey_suno: NO SMOKING and GULAAL.
@anuragspks: Mandola, Gulaal
@Daaktru: Johnny Gaddar
@HornOkTataPls: No Smoking, Dev D, Guzarish, Dhobi Ghat
@aaliznat: aiyyaa, jhoom barabar jhoom, matru ki bijli la mandola. :D
@coolfunnytshirt: 1) Do Dooni Chaar 2) Phas Gaye Obama 3) Dor 4) Yeh Saali Zindagi 5) Chalo Dilli @Vjuneesh
@Vjuneesh: Gangs Of Wasseypur.
@thebongbabe: Oh. Also this is like 7-8 years old...but Being Cyrus for sure.
@thebongbabe: Rocket Singh Salesman.
@pooja1712: Johnny Gaddar
@rushie82: Do Dooni Char. Great family drama/humor in the category of great Hrishikesh/Amol Palekar films.
@niharikamidha: Bheja Fry (1&2)
@TheTweetThumb: No smoking: starring John Abraham n Dir: A.Kashyap
@bigbala: Raavanan, No Smoking, Aiyya, Saat Khoon Maaf.
@calmchor: No Smoking.Manorama Six Feet Under: Watch the full film