Ghai’s greatest

As Subhash Ghai’s “Kisna” releases Friday, Subhash K Jha looks back at some of the Bollywood showman’s best films:

“Kalicharan” (1976):

Starring Shatrughan Sinha, Reena Roy, Premnath. USPs: bombastic confrontations between Sinha and Premnath and Lata Mangeshkar’s hit number “Ja re ja o harjaaee”.

“Karz” (1980):

Starring Rishi Kapoor, Tina Munim, Simi Garewal, Raj Kiran, Premnath; USPs: India’s first rock music on celluloid with Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s chartbusting songs “Om shanti om”, “Ek haseena thi” and “Paisa yeh paisa”. This trendsetter also boasted of the theme of reincarnation where the reborn protagonist and his predecessor (played by Rishi and Raj Kiron) were not dead ringers; Simi Garewal’s wanton-woman’s act was a hellraiser.

“Vidhata” (1982):

Starring Dilip Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Padmini Kolhapure, Sarika; USPs: the clash of the titanic trio Dilip, Sanjeev and Shammi raised this potboiler to the status of a riveting conflict-ridden tale. Notoriety was thrust on the product (particularly in the pelvic region) with the raunchy number “Saat saheliyan khadi khadi”.

“Hero” (1983):

Starring Jackie Shroff, Meenakshi Seshadri, Sanjeev Kumar, Shammi Kapoor; USPs: launched Jackie Shroff (who had earlier appeared as a junior artiste in Dev Anand’s “Swami Dada”; gave Laxmikant-Pyarelal a chance to score one of their most vibrant scores, topped by the chartbusting folk song “Lambi judai” by Pakistani singer Reshma and the delectable Lata Mangeshkar raga-romp “Neendiya se jagi bahaar”.

“Karma” (1986):

Starring Dilip Kumar, Nutan, Sridevi, Naseeruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Poonam Dhillon, Anupam Kher; USPs: a star cast that read like the who’s who of Bollywood topped by the stalwart Dilip Kumar-Nutan pair who had never appeared together before except in the unfinished “Shikast”; Dilip Kumar’s confrontation scenes with the villain Dr Dang (Kher) brought the house down.

“Ram Lakhan” (1989):

Starring Raakhee, Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Dimple Kapadia: USPs: the blockbuster was the weakest link in Ghai’s oeuvre but was saved by the belle. Madhuri Dixit in her re-launch role was a dream enacting Lata Mangeshkar’s “Bada dukh deena” to Saroj Khan’s kitschy choreography. Other highlight of the film... Anil Kapoor’s tomfoolery topped by the chartbusting song “One two ka four”.

“Saudagar” (1991):

Starring Dilip Kumar, Raj Kumar, Manisha Koirala, Vivek Mushran, Jackie Shroff, Deepti Naval; USPs: Again a titanic clash, this time between the two mighty thespians Dilip Kumar and Raj Kumar who were last seen together 32 years earlier in “Paigham”; A rich tale of valour and rivalry, the huge narrative canvas was controlled by performances that screamed drama. Manisha Koirala made a very promising debut. One of Ghai’s best.

“Khalnayak” (1993) :

Starring Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Ramya; USPs: the coming of age of the anti-hero...Sanjay Dutt shone as the bad guy just when he was put in jail for alleged terrorist activities thereby giving the film that cutting edge. Then there was the infamous song “Choli ke peeche kya hai”, superbly choreographed by Saroj Khan and performed by Madhuri and Neena Gupta.

“Pardes” (1997):

Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Mahima Chowdhary, Apoorva Agnihotri, Amrish Puri; USPs: Designed to appeal to NRIs, Pardes is perhaps Ghai’s best work to date with a truly commendable performance by Shah Rukh as Amrish Puri’s adoptive all purpose son. Mahima Chowdhary proved far less successful than Ghai’s other two star discoveries Madhuri and Manisha.

“Taal” (1999):

Starring Aishwarya Rai, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor; USP: though lacking a soul the film’s stunning cinematography and AR Rahman’s exceptional music score carried “Taal” beyond its pedestrian plot. Ghai favourite Anil Kapoor played a dude with an attitude. Some people never grow up. Fortunately Subhash Ghai did.

“Yaadein” (2001):

Starring Jackie Shroff, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor; USPs: though booed out of the theatres, this one is arguably Ghai’s most sensitive film ever; great chemistry between Shroff and Kareena as father and daughter and more specially between Jackie and Hrithik. Fabulously written scenes and great moments of lovers’ anguish between Hrithik and Kareena.