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100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time

April 17, 2013, 2:10 pm
  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • As Indian cinema celebrates 100 years this year, we explore the magic of moving images from film industries across India in our tribute to the 100 best films of all time. The films from Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali and Marathi industries among others reflect the passion, struggle and the genius of their makers in creating a cohesive history of a century of fascinating themes. This is only a qualitative list. We wish we could include the hundreds of films that deserved to be here and were left out due to space constraint. We thank our contributors in the last slide.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Naya Daur (1957): Directed by BR Chopra, the Hindi film featured Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Ajit and Jeevan in pivotal roles. The film showed how the traditional Indian society was getting influenced by rapid industrialisation. The film culminates when a horse cart wins a race against a bus.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Deewar (1975): Yash Chopra weaved a tale of two ideologically opposite brothers Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) and Ravi (Shashi Kapoor) in such a way that the society indulged in a debate about corruption and honesty. Salim-Javed's screenplay of Hindi film 'Deewar' is considered as one of the finest screenplays ever written in India.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Gol Maal (1979): Hrishikesh Mukherjee was a filmmaker who always preferred to showcase the paradoxes of the Indian middle class in a lighter manner, and Hindi film 'Gol Maal' was the perfect demonstration of his thought process. Ram Prasad, Laxman Prasad (Amol Palekar) and Bhawani Shankar (Utpal Dutt) created such an engaging triangle that the audience couldn't stop grinning.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Ankur (1974): This Hindi film gave a huge impetus to the parallel film movement. Shyam Benegal's film was very unlike the mainstream Hindi films where a hero used to fight 20 men, in fact, 'Ankur' presented a man with all his shortcomings. The film's last scene where a child throws a stone towards Surya's (Anant Nag) house is iconic because of its several 'meaningful' interpretations.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981): K Balachander directed Kamal Haasan (Vasu) and Rati Agnihotri (Sapna) in a Hindi film which is still very relevant. A Tamil boy falls in love with a North Indian girl only to realise that the path of love is not as simple as they thought it to be initially. Even the strongest of hearts would cry when Vasu and Sapna commit suicide in the end.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Mr India (1987): Later, Shekhar Kapur did acclaimed international projects like 'Bandit Queen' and 'Elizabeth', but 'Mr India' was the first film which gave glimpses of his latent potential. The Hindi film starring Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Amrish Puri was ahead of its time and formed a base for sci-fi films in India.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Padosan (1968): Did you know that 'Padosan' was directed by Jyoti Swaroop? The premise of 'Padosan' was like any other conventional Bollywood film but what made it different was the acting by Kishore Kumar, Mehmood, Sunil Dutt and Saira Banu and its super melodious songs. Kishore Kumar and Mehmood's spontaneity is still a treat to watch.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Parinda (1989): Kishen (Jackie Shroff) works for an underworld don Anna (Nana Patekar) but he wants to keep his brother Karan (Anil Kapoor) away from the world of crime. This was the basic storyline of director Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Hindi film 'Parinda', but the way it dealt with the nuances of underworld made it one of the finest films ever made on the gangsters of Mumbai. Nana Patekar's intense acting is going to remain with the audience for long.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Mera Naam Joker (1970): They say Raj Kapoor never recovered from the commercial failure of 'Mera Naam Joker', but finally the film has achieved a cult status. Director Raj Kapoor and his writer KA Abbas displayed through powerful visuals that how much guts and patience it takes to make the world laugh. Mukesh and Shankar-Jaikishan produced some magical tunes for the Hindi film which will keep expressing our most profound thoughts for years.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Satya (1998): For the first time, the Indian audience saw a Hindi film which made them think about the issues which create an underworld don. Ram Gopal Varma established a world where gangsters were living a more miserable life than the people they ruled.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Awaara (1951): Raj Kapoor was all of 26 when he made 'Awaara'- a film on stark divide that exists in the society, between the rich and the poor. Starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis in the lead roles, the Hindi film paved way for other films of this pair together. It also featured Prithviraj Kapoor, as Raj Kapoor's onscreen father.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Garam Hava (1973): Based on a short story by Ismat Chugtai, MS Sathyu's film narrated the story of a North Indian Muslim family in India post partition. The Hindi film is a poignant one as it spoke about the plight of Muslims who stayed back in India during partition.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Mughal-e-Azam (1960): There is something about unrequited love that always attracts us, no? The epic romance saga of Salim and Anarkali was brought to celluloid by two lovers who could never be together in reality- Dilip Kumar and Madhubala. Their crackling chemistry, grandeur of the sets, pivotal performances by Prithviraj Kapoor and Durga Khote makes this K Asif's Hindi film an epic saga of love.
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  • Guide (1965): The film broke several norms. Vijay Anand's path breaking film was a progressive film and broke a few myths about the quintessential heroine of Hindi cinema.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Kabuliwaala(1961): Rabindranath Tagore's story was already a classic when the film was made. But it was Balraj Sahni's performance which made this Hindi film special. A story about a father's love for his daughter, Hemen Gupta's film had some beautiful moments which till date bring a smile to one's face.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Maqbool (2003):Dark, passionate story of lust, love, power and revenge. Vishal Bhardwaj's screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth had some powerful actors in star cast. And each character played his or her role to perfection in this Hindi film.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Pyaasa (1957): The most soulful romantic Hindi film ever made. Guru Dutt's film featuring him and Waheeda Rehman was poetic and tragic tale of struggling poet, trying to make his works known and a prostitute who is in love with and eventually helps him get his poems published.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Sholay (1975): Ramesh Sippy's film had everything. Action, romance, drama, comedy- all in right proportion and perhaps that's what makes 'Sholay' a complete film. No matter how small a character was, each stood out and became a cult in this Hindi film.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Anand (1971): Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, 'Anand' is one of the most popular Hindi films of all time. Backed by some powerful performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna and a heartwarming story by Mukerhjee, the film teaches an important lesson of life.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Do Bigha Zamin (1953):Bimal Roy's classic was an important film in many aspects. The film was a neo-socialist film, which paved way for similar such films in the 1950s. The Hindi film exposed the plight of the farmers right after independence, when the country was still trying to establish itself as an independent country. The film also was the first Indian film to win an award at the prestigious Cannes film festival.
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  • Paar (1984): This was Goutam Ghose's reflective commentary on poverty and exploitation in rural Bihar. The Hindi film starred Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri and saw two of the greatest performances of all time from Shah and Azmi.
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  • Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995): Aditya Chopra gave romance a new lease of life with this romantic drama. The love between Raj(Shah Rukh Khan) and Simran (Kajol) echoed through the hearts of the youth of the 90s and became a cult. Raj refuses to elope with Simran but instead decides to win over the hearts of her family makes this Hindi film all the more memorable.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983): A dark satire on the corruption in politics and bureaucracy, Kundan Shah's Hindi film is high on comic relief. Two photographers take on a project with a tabloid to expose the dealings between a builder and a Municipal commissioner.
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  • Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959): Guru Dutt's film turned out to be a disaster at the box office. The Hindi film revolves around a film director and his relationship with a new actress whom he recruits for his upcoming film. The story of pain and loneliness helped the film achieve cult status.
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  • Mother India (1957): Taking inspiration from his 1940 film 'Aurat', director Mehboob Khan remade the film in 1957 as 'Mother India'. The film revolves around the story of Radha (Nargis) who struggles to raise her sons in the absence of her husband and survive against a money-lender. With some powerful performances by Nargis, Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar, 'Mother India' became the first Hindi film to be nominated for the Oscars.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Munnabhai MBBS (2003): The story of a goon who wants to become a doctor forms the crux of Rajkumar Hirani's 'Munnabhai MBBS'. This Hindi film which stars Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi in the lead roles provides comic relief through its story and performances.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Pakeezah (1972): Kamal Amrohi took almost 14 years to complete the shooting of 'Pakeezah' due to his changing relationship with Meena Kumari. The film turned out to be flop but with the death of Meena Kumari, the film later catapulted to success. The Hindi film revolves around the story of a courtesan and combined some popular dialogues and powerful performances. It has turned out to be a cult classic.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Saheb Biwi Aur Ghulam (1962): Based on Bimal Mitra's Bengali novel, this Hindi film by Abrar Alvi tells the story of the fall in fortune of India's zamindars. Meena Kumari's portrayal of a lonely wife who is ignored by her husband and her closeness to the servant (Guru Dutt) makes the film memorable.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Black Friday (2004): Based on the 1993 Bombay blasts, Anurag Kashyap's Hindi film attempts to recreate the event. The film ran into controversy over the subject and was stalled for two years. But, it turned out to be one of the most acclaimed films after its release in 2004.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957): V Shantaram's films were always known to make a mark for themselves and this Hindi film was no different. The story of a jailor who takes six deadly prisoners into his custody to change them into men of virtue is not just moving but also a memorable one. It became the first Indian film to win a Golden Globe Award.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Masoom (1983): Shekhar Kapur broke quite a few norms with his coming-of-age Hindi film. Apart from some brilliant performances, the film's script forms its backbone. It tells the story of a wife who decides to accept her husband's child from another woman.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi (2003): Sudhir Mishra's most acclaimed Hindi film is set in the backdrop of Emergency in India in 1970s. This film tells the story of love, betrayal and aspirations through the lives of three friends.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Pushpak Vimana (1987): Directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, the film is a silent black comedy. This Hindi film tells the story of an unemployed young man (Kamal Haasan) who takes on the identity of a rich man. The film is known for recasting the silent film form.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Raja Harishchandra (1913): Who can forget India's first feature film? Dadasaheb Phalke gave Indians their first first silent and full-length feature film in 1913. Based on the life of King Harischandra, the film was path breaking in more than one ways.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Salaam Bombay (1988): From thieves to drug peddlers, the film chronicles the life of children living on Mumbai streets. Directed by Mira Nair, this Hindi film went on to win many awards at global film festivals.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Zanjeer (1973): Who can forget Amitabh Bachchan's 'Angry Young Man' avatar in the Hindi film which made him an overnight star. The film brings to notice the underlying frustrations of the common man who is subjected to wrath of corruption and how a policeman comes to fight against all the wrongs. Directed by Prakash Mehra, the film is memorable for its powerful dialogues and performances.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Saaransh (1984): Directed by Mahesh Bhatt, the Hindi film tells the story of an elderly Maharashtrian couple who lose their only son and how they cope with the tragedy. But more than the script, 'Saaransh' is known for Anupam Kher's stellar performance.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Bhuvan Shome (1969): Based on a Bengali story called 'Banaphool' by Balai Chand Mukhopadhyay, Mrinal Sen's film was a lyrical account of a man's transformation from an strict authoritarian to a person who is more open and willing to change and adapt to a new environment. The Hindi film starred Utapal Dutta and Suhasini Mulay and is considered as one of the path breaking films of Indian cinema.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Charulata (1964): Based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore, Charulata is set in 19th century Calcutta and portrays the Bengal Renaissance. Directed by Satyajit Ray, this is the story of Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), the childless and intelligent wife of Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee), an affluent Bengali intellectual and the complex relationships bred out of loneliness. The nuanced and beautiful story is self-admittedly Ray's most flawless work in his illustrious career.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Pather Panchali (1955): Pather Panchali in 1955 is perhaps Ray's best known work to date and is the first part of his Apu Trilogy. He sees the world through the eyes of his protagonist Apu and weaves his brand of lyrical realism in the film. The Bengali film has won honours at the Cannes Film Festival and is counted amongst the best films in World Cinema.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Aparajito (1956): Aparajito is the second film in 'The Apu Trilogy'. The Bengali film charts the growing up years of Apu, the death of his father Harihar and his gradual drifting apart from Sarbajaya as emotional distance creeps in between him and his mother who was his anchor as a child.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Apur Sansar (1959): This is the third part of Ray's Apu Trilogy and charts the adulthood of Apu, his marriage to Aparna and tearing of his roots to feed the wanderlust in him.
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  • Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960): Director Ritwik Ghatak's most provocative and acclaimed film on poverty elevated Supriya, a mainstream star, to the rank of an emotive actress. Starring Anil Chatterjee and Gyanesh Mukherjee, the Bengali film revolved around the painful Partition of the nation and the struggles of the ordinary men and women thrown into uncertainty.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969): This terrific social satire was directed by Satyajit Ray and is based on a story by his grandfather Upendra Kishore Roychowdhury. It is also among one of the greatest children's films ever made in India and combines socialism with simple humour to tell a story of exploitation and casteism that existed in rural Bengal.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Padatik (1973): This is a 1973 Bengali film directed by director Mrinal Sen starring Ashish Barman, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Simi Garewal, Bijon Bhattacharya and Pravash Sarkar. The film is a commentary on the political upheavals witnessed in Bengal at the time. It won the National Award for Best screenplay for Mrinal Sen and Ashish Barman.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Akaler Sandhane (1981): Directed by Mrinal Sen and starring Dhritiman Chaterjee, Smita Patil, Sreela Majumdar, Gita Sen and Dipankar Dey, this Bengali film is a brutal recreation of the 1943 man-made Bengal famine.
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  • Aranyer Din Ratri (1970): Four friends explore the untapped wild charm of tribal Palamau in Bihar to get away from civilization. The lines blur when the so-called civilized and the uncivilized find themselves in company of women and wilderness in director Satyajit Ray's Bengali classic.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Jhinder Bandi (1961): Tapan Sinha's Jhinder Bandi marked two crucial events in Bengali cinema. It featured the two giants of the industry, Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterjee, in a single film and marked Soumitro's debut in a negetive role. The historical romance also starred Arundhati Debi and Radhamohan Bhattacharya.
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  • Shriman Prithviraj (1973): The romantic Bengali film starring Ayan Banerjee and Mahua Roy Choudhury featured for the first time the angst of teenage love. Directed by Tarun Majumdar, this is now a cult classic and is known for its humorous screenplay.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Harano Sur (1957): The film by Ajoy Kar starring Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar is one the star duo's best in the history of their pairing. This Bengali film not only established the lore surrounding their everlasting friendship but also helped build them up as a larger-than-life pair on screen and off it.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Nayak (1966): A matinee idol, on the course of a train journey, meets several characters, including a keen journalist, interested in knowing about his past and his rise to stardom. The Bengali film was written and directed by Satyajit Ray and starred Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Galpa Holeo Satyi (1966): The brilliant Bengali comedy directed by Tapan Sinha remains a cult classic even today. It starred Bhanu Bannerjee, Jogesh Chatterjee, Bharati Devi, Chaya Devi, Ajoy Ganguli, Rabi Ghosh, Rudraprasad Sengupta. The film was remade in Hindi as 'Bawarchi', starring Rajesh Khanna in the lead role.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Kshudhita Pashan (1960):The National Award winning Bengali film directed by Tapan Sinha and starring Soumitro Chatterjee, was a supernatural thriller based on a short story by Rabindranath Tagore.
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  • Unishe April (1994): One of National Award winning Bengali director Rituparno Ghosh's best works, the film portrays the emotional struggles between a mother and her daughter in the course of a day. It stars Aparna Sen, Debashree Roy, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Dipankar Dey. It won two National Film Awards in 1995 and is loosely based on the 1978 Ingmar Bergman film 'Autumn Sonata'.
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  • Devadasu (1953): Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel 'Devdas' has inspired filmmakers of all languages to come up with their interpretation of the famous character. Director Vedantam Raghavaiah chose Akkineni Nageswara Rao to bring out the complex internal anxieties of a lover who never came out of the grip of his towering ego. Savitri played the character of Parvathi while Lalita played Chandramukhi in the Telugu film.
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  • Maa Bhoomi (1980): Do you know who directed this film? Goutam Ghose. Yes, the same man who directed 'Paar' in Hindi and 'Padma Nadir Majhi' in Bengali. This Telugu film will always be credited for its realistic approach towards the rural life in the Telangana region. The original story, on which the film was based, came out of the pen of Krishan Chander.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Mallishwari (1951): Directed by BN Reddy, the film is about a woman Malleswari (Bhanumathi) who is forced by her family to live a life of seclusion, but her heart craves to be with her love Nagaraju (NT Rama Rao). Her problems get complicated when her patrons know about her hidden desires. This Telugu film is known for the subtle portrayal of the rituals prevailing in the ancient Vijayanagar kingdom.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Maro Charitra (1978): You can always expect a fantastic story from the collaboration of Kamal Haasan and K Balachander. Haasan, Saritha and Madhavi produced one of the most viewed Telugu films of all time. The film demonstrated the ugly effects of the language politics. Later, it was remade in Hindi as 'Ek Duuje Ke Liye'.
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  • Mayabazar (1957): Almost every big name of Telugu, Tamil and Kannada film industry was associated with Kadri Venkata Reddy's film. Be it cinematography or be it music, this film was a pioneer in every sense. Once again NT Rama Rao proved his calibre as a method actor. The subject of the film threw a new light on the events of Mahabharata.
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  • Narthanasala (1963): The Mahabharata continues to inspire the Telugu storytellers. This time it was Kamalakara Kameswara Rao who weaved a story based on an episode of the epic tale. NT Rama Rao, Savitri and Dhulipala played important roles in the film.
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  • Patala Bhairavi (1951): Ramudu (NT Rama Rao) is at the helm of affairs in a story which deals with everything from treacherous magicians to greedy relatives. Full of mysteries and twists, this Telugu film has a screenplay which is not only fast but is also able to engage the audiences. The way NTR manages to bring out the innocence of the character is a lesson in acting. Malathi (Indumathi) plays the much desired princess in 'Patala Bhairavi'.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Sagara Sangamam (1983): K Viswanath brings together two fabulous dancers Kamal Haasan and Jayaprada in a film which is considered to be one of the finest films made on human relationships. This multi-layered Telugu film never gives the audience a chance to feel good about the protagonist. The anxiety of Kamal Haasan in 'Sagara Sangamam' can make anyone cry.
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  • Shankarabharanam (1979): K Vishwanath's Telugu film not only gave its primary actors JV Somayajulu, Manju Bhargavi and Chandra Mohan a new identity but also provided the base for Indian classical music in films. Though the story showcases the nuances of the teacher-student relationship, its USP is the brilliant music which was composed by KV Mahadevan.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Shiva (1989): Though Ram Gopal Varma went on to make films such as 'Rangeela', 'Satya' and 'Company' later in his career, but this Telugu film announced his arrival as a unique filmmaker. On the outset, it was about the personal rivalry between Nagarjuna and Raghuvaran, but it was a completely new take on student politics and the ideologies driving it. The clear cut notions propagated in 'Shiva' found a reflection in many university elections during a later stage.
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  • Sant Tukaram (1936): The life of Tukaram, a prominent spiritual leader during the Bhakti movement in India, was noted among one of the greatest Marathi films of all time for several reasons. Directed by Vishnupant Govind Damle and Sheikh Fattelal, it was the first Indian film to be screened at international festivals and was shown in 1937 at the Venice Film Festival. It also ran in a single theatre for 57 weeks creating a box office record at that time.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Shyamchi Aai (1953): The Marathi film directed by PK Atre is based on a book by the same name written by Sane Guruji. Starring Damuanna Joshi, Vanamala and Madhav Vaze, the film won the Golden Lotus Award for Best Film at the National Film Awards in 1954.
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  • Shwaas (2004): 'Shwaas' was India's official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category and is based on a real life incident in Pune. 'Shwaas' also won a National Award. Directed by Sandeep Sawant, the film is said to have brought in the new wave in Marathi cinema. It starred Arun Nalavade, Ashwin Chitale, Sandeep Kulkarni and Amruta Subhash.
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  • Deool (2011): Directed by Umesh Kulkarni and with a star cast like Nana Patekar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Sonali Kulkarni and a cameo by Naseeruddin Shah, 'Deool' received a tremendous response from audiences. The Marathi film highlights the story of a tiny village caught in the complexities of development and the aspirations of the local youth. 'Deool' was screened at Rotterdam and Abu Dhabi film festivals as well as the MAMI festival in Mumbai.
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  • Harishchandrachi Factory (2009): The epic Marathi film, directed by Paresh Mokashi, depicts the struggle of Dadasaheb Phalke in making 'Raja Harishchandra' in 1913, India's first feature film. It was selected as India's official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film Category.
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  • Umbartha (1982): The Marathi film was directed and co-produced by renowned filmmaker Jabbar Patel and won Smita Patil wide accolade for her role. The film won a National Film Award for its sincere cinematic statement on the theme of a woman seeking to establish her identity by pursuing a career, even at the risk of alienation from her family.
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  • Vihir (2010): Directed by Umesh Kulkarni, Marathi film 'Vihir' starring Madan Deodhar, Alok Rajwade, Renuka Daftardar, Mohan Agashe, Jyoti Subhash, Sulbha Deshpande, Girish Kulkarni and Ashwini Giri, is an aspirational tale of adolescent cousins standing at a crossroad in their lives. This Marathi film was featured at the Berlinale, 35 years after Jabbar Patel's 'Saamna' (1974) was screened there.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Pinjra (1972): The Marathi film directed by V Shantaram is the tragic tale of a school teacher and a dancer. It starred Shriram Lagoo, Sandhya and Nilu Phule and won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Marathi in 1973.
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  • Manoos (1939): The romantic story of a policeman and a prostitute is considered revered filmmaker V Shantaram's best work. According to popular lore, Charlie Chaplin really liked the Marathi film and praised Shantaram for his work in 'Manoos'.
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  • Shala (2011): The Marathi film, directed by Sujay Dahake, stars Anshuman Joshi and Ketaki Mategaonkar in the lead roles. The poignant story of freedom, struggle and fulfilment won the Silver Lotus Award at the 59th National Film Awards in the Best Feature Film in Marathi category.
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  • Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (2011): What's the point of making a film if it doesn't reflect the complexities of the immediate society of the filmmaker? Gurvinder Singh chooses to present the plight of farmers in a straight forward way in a film that brings forth the other side of the coin. This Punjabi film is based on a homonymous novel by Gurdial Singh.
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  • Thoovanathumbikal (1987): The cult Malayalam film was a romantic story featuring Mohanlal, Parvathy and Sumanlatha. Directed and written by P Padmarajan, the film had Mohanlal's character falling for two women at the same time, one is his neighbour and the other is an escort.
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  • Chemmeen (1965): The Ramu Kariat film was ahead of its time - in terms of its content, the Malayalam film broke a few norms. Set against the backdrop of a fisherman colony, the film explored the bold theme of a couple involved in an extra marital relationship. The film won the President's award for the Best Film in 1965 and even won laurels at the Cannes Film festival.
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  • Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989): Actor Mammootty won the Best Actor National Award for portraying the role of a wronged Chekavar warrior. This Malayalam film was a period drama directed by Hariharan.
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  • Peruvazhiyambalam (1979): This Malayalam film marked the directorial debut of filmmaker P Padmarajan. The film is an examination of how violence or totalitarianism works in our society; it dealt with disturbing questions relating to masculinity.
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  • Anantaram (1987): Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Malayalam film was an experimental film for its time as it had a very linear narrative. The film was a monologue where the main protagonist addressed himself in first person and narrated the entire story.
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  • Manichitrathazhu (1993): Apart from being the highest grossing film in that year in Malayalam cinema, the psychological thriller had superlative performance from actress Shobhana who won the Best Actress National Award that year. Directed by Fazil, the film's success and different story line led to remaking of the film in Hindi, Bangla, Tamil and Telugu - all of which were huge Box Office success.
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  • Sandesham (1991): A black comedy, this Malayalam film was a political satire that spoke about the ever divide between the leftist and the socialist. Directed by Sathyan Anthikad, the film is till date considered a classic in Malayalam cinema history.
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  • Vanaprastham (1999): Mohanlal's superlative performance as lower cast Kathakali dancer makes this Shaji N. Karun's film a must watch. This Malayalam film explored the stark divide that exists in the society due to the caste system and narrates the anguish of a performer who is estranged from his son and who has always yearned for acceptance from his father.
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  • Pathinaru Vayadhinile(1977): This Tamil film is about the vulnerability of a young girl in a rural setting. 'Pathinaru Vayadhinile' started the trend of naturalistic rural narratives in Tamil cinema, shot invariably on location. Directed by Bharathiraja, the film was a decisive move away from the studio-bound productions and paved the way for successful integration of subaltern themes and folk arts into mainstream commercial cinema.
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  • Andha Naal (1954): Balachander's film was path breaking in more than one way. It was not only the first Tamil noir film but 'Andha Naal' was devoid of any song, which was quite unheard of at that time. Starring Sivaji Ganeshan and Pandari Bai, the film was a crime mystery and took inspiration from Japanese film 'Rashomon'.
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  • Nayagan (1987): This film clearly described Mani Ratnam's leaning towards popular filmmaking. He blended the story of a kind hearted gangster with that of the slum dwellers of Mumbai. The Karma completes a full circle when Velu gets killed in the end. Tamil film 'Nayagan' was India's official entry to the Oscars in 1988.
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  • Haridas (1944): Directed by Sundar Rao Nadkarni, it is a musical parable with the incomparable MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar in the eponymous role. Featuring a dozen eternally popular songs by MKT, the film was the first huge hit of the Tamil film industry, running for over 110 weeks in a Chennai theatre. It was also the legendary actor's last film.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Agrahrathil Kazhudai (1977): The only Tamil film of John Abraham, the iconoclastic filmmaker from Kerala, Agraharathil Kazhudai is a scathing critique of the Brahmanical obsession with purity and pollution, exacerbated by the presence of a pet donkey in a Brahmin household. Although inspired by Robert Bresson's masterpiece, Au hazard Balthazar, the film is unforgettable for its delineation of the tragedy inherent in caste and its irrational violence.
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  • Meera (1945): The story of Meera, 16th century devotee of Lord Krishna, starring the musical legend MS Subbulakshmi in the lead role. Shot on location in Rajasthan, Tamil film 'Meera' is known for its cutting-edge technical innovations and mellifluous songs. It was a major hit in both Tamil and Hindi. It was directed by Ellis R Dungan.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Thanneer, Thanneer (1981): Thanneer, Thanneer narrated the experience of drought affecting a village in southern Tamil Nadu. It was the first film to visually portray the grassroots response to several contemporary issues afflicting the rural environment, neglect of education, exploitation of unorganized labour, government apathy and ineffectiveness of the media. Through its success at the box office, it expanded the scope and possibilities of Tamil cinema in a wholly new direction. It was directed by K Balachander.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Uthiri Pookkal (1979): This Tamil film directed by J Mahendran is considered a breakthrough in the visual narration of a complex psychological situation within a family and in the wider community of the village. It explores the atrocities inflicted by a sadistic man on the women in his family and the community's ineffective response. In this film, the visual medium is used to examine a culture that is being compelled to revise and redeem its own conception of humanity.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Aval Appadithan (1978): Made at a time when awareness of feminist issues in India was still nascent, 'Aval Appadithan' directed by C Rudhraiya was way ahead of its time. This Tamil film portrays a young, single woman in urban India and her quest for a meaningful relationship.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Metti (1982): Directed by J Mahendran 'Metti' presents the perspective of women who are being relentlessly subjected to the unjust expectations and unequal arrangements of society. As a visual narrative of oppression and the profound struggle waged by women, 'Metti' has few equals in the annals of Tamil cinema.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Samskara (1970): Based on a story by UR Ananthamurthy, this Kannada film directed by Pattabhi Rama Reddy dealt with the sensitive caste issue. Considered as a path breaking film, 'Samskara' heralded a the era of parallel cinema in Kannada film industry.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Katha Sangama (1975): A compilation of three short stories, this Kannada film directed by Puttanna Kanagal featured a young actor called Rajinikanth (who later became the biggest star of south cinema) along with actors like Kalyan Kumar and Saroja Devi. The film was Rajinikanth's second one and he played an antagonist.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Ranganayaki (1981): Very few films in Indian cinema have explored the Oedipus complex. This Kannada film, directed by Puttanna Kanagal, explored the story of an actress who unknowingly falls in love with her own son.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Ghatashraddha (1977): A path-breaking film by director Girish Kasaravalli, this Kannada film is the only Indian film at the Film Archive of Paris. This is the story of a little boy who befriends a pregnant widow. The film was a poignant take on the orthodox society and how widows are treated.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Kaadu (1973): Girish Karnad's Kannada film was a violent rural drama about rivalry between two villages as seen through the eyes of a young boy Kitti.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai (1987): Considered one of Assamese film industry's best works, Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai is directed by Jahnu Barua and won a National Film Award in 1988. It was showcased at the Locarno International Film Festival in 1988.
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  • 100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time
  • Ishanou (1991): The first film from North-East to go to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, this Manipuri film directed by Aribam Syam Sharma was a tale of a family in the Valley whose harmony is disrupted by the sudden transformation of a gentle, young wife into a violent woman prone to fits of wild visions.

    Heartfelt thanks to our contributors N Kalyan Raman, MK Raghavendra, Hemanth Kumar CR, Soumik Sen and our Twitter contributors.
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