3. Holi (1984)
Another early gem from Aamir’s repertoire, Holi was directed by Ketan Mehta, and was full of young guns who’d go on to make a name for themselves. The film was so star-studded, one wonders what it’s doing in this list! Sample the cast: Aamir Khan (debut, credited as Aamir Hussein), Paresh Rawal (debut), Ashutosh Gowariker (debut), Amole Gupte (debut, the guy who was behind Taare Zameen Par, and whose second outing as an actor was as Bhope Bhau in Kaminey), Neeraj Vora (debut), Kitu Gidwani (debut), Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Deepti Naval, Mohan Gokhale, Sreeram Lagoo. Need I say more?
[P.S.: Did you note that most people on the list have collaborated with Aamir in future, one way or the other? For example,
Ketan Mehta – Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Amole Gupte – Taare Zameen Par
Ashutosh Gowariker – Baazi, Lagaan]
4. Neecha Nagar (1946)
The first Indian film to attain international acclaim was not Pather Panchali. And it was not Mother India. No, n0t even Do Beegha Zameen! It was a film called Neecha Nagar, directed by the prolific Chetan Anand, big bro to Vijay and Dev Anand. The surprises don’t end here. The film was based on a Hindi reworking of Maxim Gorky’s Lower Depths. “What’s so surprising in that” You ask?Before this, Lower Depths was adapted by giants of world cinema like Jean Renoir in French (Les bas-fonds – 1936), and Akira Kurosawa in Japanese (Donzoko – 1957) [for those who’re interested, both movies are available through Criterion Collection here] but… here it comes… the only adaptation to get a Palm d’Or (Golden Palm) at Cannes was this Hindi film by an Indian director, that too, one full year before we could call ourselves an independent nation! Predictably, you can’t get this glorious piece of film history anywhere in India, apart from a deplorable quality VCD available online.