I noticed that a recent trend going on in social media to share an image from ten films that impacted me, with no posters, no title, no explanation. I thought of the films and the list went on and on. So here I tone it down, to ten films that impacted me during my adolescence, and another ten after reaching adulthood. I save you the trouble of searching or asking the reason, and list down the name of the films as well as a brief description how it’s linked to me.
The last image on this blog can be classed as containing graphically violent content. Please avoid reading this in presence of minors, or anyone who you deem unsuitable to watch this content!
Childhood and adolescence
1. Amarsangi (1987)
A game-changer in Tollywood after Bengali film industry was desperately in search for fresh blood, especially to fill the vacuum left by the demise of Uttamkumar. It was not just the birth of a new superstar, but also for the first time, Bappi Lahiri gave music to a Bengali film, the soundtrack that would become an instant hit.
2. Hathi mere sathi (1971)
It was the phase when I hated films and my earliest memory of being a spoilsport. I made my dad standing outside the cinema throughout the climax scenes because I wouldn’t stop screaming.
3. Main pyaar kiya (1989)
Like Amarsangi, the arrival of a superstar with a bang that would continue for decades to come. Bhagyashree did not follow the same career path, but again, the birth of a superstar paired with an unforgettable OST. Keen to watch it, I persuaded my parents, only to watch Tum mere ho, a super-flop film as Maine pyaar kiya had its last screening on the day before.
4. Khalnayak (1993)
Most hyped trash in Indian film history. Remember buying the tickets in the black market for the first day first show on an extremely rainy day and entering the cinema halfway through the film.
5. Baazigar (1993)
The arrival of king Khan at the arena. Already a familiar face through Doordarshan, Shakrukh didn’t disappoint on the silver screen and would become the highest-paid actor in Bollywood. Also the first time I fell in love with Shilpa Shetty.
6. Operation Condor: Armour of god II (1991)
First boob on screen. Must worth special mention. Also the introduction to martial art films.
7. The Phantom (1996)
Went to watch this as cinemas those days used to put in softcore porn clips in the middle of these B-graded films. Little that I knew that a decade later I would become obsessed with Phantom, and I am still a crazy fan today.
8. Sadak (1991)
I insisted to go and watch this film so my dad took me, completely unaware of the story. Thoroughly uncomfortable experience watching this with dad, not knowing what a eunuch was, what brothels were for but having a feeling that I can’t ask this to dad and there will be no discussion about this film after we went home.
9. Nine months (1995)
First back to back films, and coming of age (me, not Hugh Grant) experiencing childbirth. That was the first time I thought of becoming a dad one day. My friend, who I went with, nearly did become one a few months later, but that’s another story…
10. Galpa holeo satti (1966)
One of the films I found hilarious and I’d never stop laughing out loud since the arrival of Rabi Ghosh in the film. I later watched the Hindi version and the role played by Rajesh Khanna, and it was a moment of utter disappointment and realisation that amongst many underrated but classy actors in Bengali cinema, Rabi Ghosh was one of them.
1. Titanic (1997)
I was late to watch Titanic but then became so obsessed that I planned to appear on mastermind with the film as the specialist theme. Hence started a visit to the cinema for ten days.
2. La vita è bella [Life is beautiful] (1997)
Many films left me speechless, and this was probably the first film where I experienced the art of cinema and storytelling.
3. Darna mana hai (2003)
Another Ram Gopal Verma masterclass on combining short stories on to a film. A novel concept in Indian mainstream cinema although the end left a lot to be desired.
4. Ya ne vernus [I won’t come back] (2014)
It was poetry on the screen, melancholic and profound. One of the best films I’ve watched. The unpredictability of life, human relationships and snow-laden Russian landscape simply wove magic with a heartbreaking end.
5. Manorama six feet under (2007)
Who would have thought that this film would become a cult classic of modern-day Indian mainstream cinema? The twists and turns in the story are no short of the other film on this list – Wild Things. Thrillers in Bollywood films, in general, are not thrillers; but this film will certainly chart high on the best thrillers post-millennium.
6. Kaho naa pyaar hai (2000)
The year 2000, post-GATE exam catharsis. A new protagonist to challenge the Khan dominated Bollywood. A star was born and Bollywood entered the new millennium with this sleek box-office hit.
7. Ringu (1998)
That walk and those eyes. Many sleepless nights. A Japanese horror film in its finest form. They braved watching the tape, I braved watching a horror film on repeat, because despite my fear, I was mesmerised by it.
8. Wild things (1998)
If you guessed at the intermission where the story was heading, you must have written it by yourself! A taut thriller with a new twist every ten minutes, definitely a must-watch for the lovers of thrillers.
9. Vantage point (2008)
My first blog on a film and one of the last films before leaving India. One story viewed from many different perspectives and all culminating to one finale. Excellent cinematography, and innovative storytelling.
10. Frozen (2013)
You can’t deny the power of Let it go. We resisted the Frozen invasion into our household until our elder child was 4. Then the floodgates were burst open, much like the voice of Idina Menzel at the peak of the song.
Tour de force
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
I heard about snippets of stories throughout the years of adolescence, that someone knew someone who watched this film. Then the childhood mysteries disappeared. Nearly fifteen years later, and suddenly, when you least expect it, it was right in front of my eyes. When I started watching this film on cable TV, it had already started, so I didn’t see the title, but had a vague idea that this could be it. Then it was this moment, with all the mythical anecdotes laid bare in front of my eyes, and it did surpass all the imagined versions I had in my mind. In this era of information overload, we have answers to everything, but in that pre-internet era, the scene must have stretched the imagination for anyone who watched it, and all you could be left thinking about — “surely that wasn’t real? But how could it not be?”