Thanks to the video revolution, the ’80s movies were more formulaic than ever before as filmmakers battled piracy on one hand and the dwindling footfalls in the movie theatres on the other. Romance was seen as the saviour at that point. The subject made the makers turn to fresh faces in order to entice the viewers with something unique. The storylines, however, followed the pattern set by folk tales such as Laila Majnu or Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet. The audience knew much of the story beforehand but came to see the fresh faces enact the familiar tales. Music also played a huge hand into turning these films into hits. It can be said that music acted as a saviour in this phase of transition where old was giving in to the new. It must be mentioned that the big filmmakers, like Yash Chopra and Subhash Ghai, thanks to their deep pockets and proper set-up, not only survived the video onslaught but also turned a handsome profit during the era. Presenting a list of some romantic gems from the ’80s to help you tide over the boredom during this lockdown.
Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981)
Director: K. Balachander
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Rati Agnihotri, Madhavi
Shot amidst the lush locales of Goa, this blockbuster about star-crossed lovers was a remake of K. Balachander’s own Telugu hit film Maro Charitra (1978), which had Kamal Haasan and Saritha in lead. That film had a Tamil boy falling in love with a Telugu girl. Here, while Kamal retained his Tamil persona, Rati Agnihotri was brought in to play a North-Indian girl, turning the central dilemma into a North vs South battle. Vasu (Kamal Haasan) and Sapna (Rati Agnihotri) are neighbours in Goa. While their families don’t get along, they fall in love despite not knowing each other’s language. The couple is asked to separate for a year to test their love. Vasu moves to Hyderabad and meets Sandhya (Madhvi), a widow who starts teaching him Hindi. Under the false impression that Sapna is marrying someone else, Vasu wants to marry Sandhya. She, however, reaches Goa and patches things up. Vasu’s Hindi has improved and it looks like the lovers will see a happy ending but fate has something tragic set in store for them. Kamal Haasan, Rati Agnihotri, Madhavi and playback singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam made their Bollywood debut with this film. Laxmikant–Pyarelal tunes like Tere mere beech mein, and Hum bane, tum bane are still popular today.
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Rekha, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor
The film is considered a cult classic today but didn’t do well when it was first released. The reason being that people back then considered the casting a bit too close to reality. There were huge rumours of an affair between Amitabh and Rekha at the time and while Yash Chopra supposedly signed real-life husband and wife – Amitabh and Jaya plus the rumoured paramour Rekha to cash-in on the gossip but the move kind of misfired. The film was leagues ahead of its time in the sense that it depicted an extra-marital affair in an unapologetic way. The frames look almost poetic and the chemistry between Amitabh and Rekha did burn up the screen. Amit (Amitabh) is very much in love with Chandni (Rekha) but circumstances force him to marry his late brother’s fiancee Shobha (Jaya). The two lovers meet later in life and the old flame gets rekindled. Their spouses — Sanjeev Kumar is superb as Chandni’s husband — get devastated by this when news breaks out. Fate, however, lends a hand in keeping the sanctity of their respective marriages intact. Shiv-Hari’s melodic score was just what the doctor ordered. Rang barse, remains the quintessential Holi song while Dekha ek khwaab is easily one of the most romantic songs ever.
Prem Rog (1982)
Director: Raj Kapoor
Cast: Shammi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Padmini Kolhapure
Raj Kapoor made sure that his films left behind a message. This time the message was about widow reform and widow remarriage. It struck a blow against age-old customs and preached that one should learn to move in tandem with the changing times. Devdhar (Rishi Kapoor) is an orphan brought up by Bade Thakur (Shammi Kapoor). He’s sent to Bombay for higher studies and upon coming back finds that his childhood friend Manorma (Padmini Kolhapure) has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. He falls in love with her but due to the class difference is unable to air his feelings. She’s married off to another Thakur, who unfortunately dies a day after marriage, leaving her widowed. She’s raped by her brother-in-law and later sent to live with her parents. To Raj Kapoor’s credit, the rape was shown symbolically and not with any intent towards titillation. Her vibrant personality takes a 360-degree turn and at this point, Devdhar re-enters her life in order to bring a smile back to her face. The last segment of the film is rather preachy as Devdhar is shown giving reformist speeches. But the pure love that he feels for Manorma does carry a certain appeal.
Director: Subhash Ghai
Cast: Shammi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar, Jackie Shroff, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Amrish Puri
Pasha (Amrish Puri) is a dreaded gangster. He tells his right-hand man Jackie (Jackie Shroff) to get him out of the jail at any cost. Jackie kidnaps the daughter of the police commissioner Mathur (Shammi Kapoor) and dupes her into thinking he’s from the police and she’s been placed under protective custody. The duo fall in love and inspired by her, Jackie surrenders to the police. He serves two years in jail and tries to make an honest living when he comes out. He’s still disliked by Mathur, however, who changes his mind when Jackie saves him and his family from the clutches of Pasha. The film was an action love story and Jackie Shroff’s macho looks made him an overnight star. His pairing with the gorgeous beauty queen Meenakshi too was well-liked by the audience. It was a musical hit containing songs like Lambi judaai, Tu mera hero hai and many more.
Director: Ramesh Sippy
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Kamal Haasan
Saagar was touted as Dimple Kapadia’s comeback film. Her on-screen jodi from Bobby (1973) with Rishi Kapoor was repeated here. The film was a love triangle and the real surprise of the film turned out to be Kamal Haasan, who played the man who loved her from afar since childhood. From being a film about Rishi and Dimple’s romance, it became a film about the pain of unrequited love, perhaps unintentionally so, thanks to Kamal’s superlative performance. The scene where he learns that Dimple prefers Rishi as a lover and not him is heart-wrenching. Dimple was a delight to watch and looked sexy as ever even after a gap of twelve years. There is a tastefully done blink and you’ll miss it topless scene of hers in the film. It’s far from a perfect film but the performances and RD Burman’s sublime music makes it a must-watch even now.
Pyar Jhukta Nahin (1985)
Director: Vijay Sadanah
Cast: Mithun Chakraborty, Padmini Kolhapure
It was a remake of the Shashi Kapoor starrer Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973) and followed the rich girl meets poor boy pattern. Preeti (Padmini Kolhapure) is a rich girl who falls in love with photographer Ajay (Mithun Chakraborty) who belongs to the middle class. Her father (Danny Denzongpa) doesn’t like him and sows misunderstanding among them even after marriage. She gives birth to a child but her father tells the husband she doesn’t want the child as she needs a new life and tells the daughter her child has died. She loses her mental equilibrium and later, upon meeting a child, gains some stability. It appears that her young friend is her own long-lost son and soon, she reunites with her husband and resolves misunderstandings. It was a highly emotionally charged film. Cinegoers took to it despite the melodramatic content because of stable performances by the leads. Mithun’s and Padmini’s pairing got well-liked.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
Director: Mansoor Khan
Cast: Aamir Khan, Juhi Chawla
It was a retelling of the Romeo and Juliet tale. Such was its success that the film turned both Aamir and Juhi into overnight stars. It’s love at first sight for both Raj (Aamir Khan) and Rashmi (Juhi Chawla) but at that point, they both don’t know that they belong to families which have been at war with each other. Raj does come to know of the truth later but doesn’t tell her as he has fallen head over heels in love with her. The couple runs away, earning the ire of both their families. They come close to each other in their moments of seclusion, earning each other’s trust and seem inclined to lead a happy life together. However, her father sends a contract killer after them, who shoots Rashmi. Unable to think of a life without her, he too fatally stabs himself to death with a dagger given by her as a gift. The film’s musical score by Anand-Milind was another factor in making it such a huge hit. Songs like Papa kehte hain, Akele hain to kya gham hai, Ae mere humsafar are still a hit. It’s worth noting that they were written by lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri when he was 70.
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Vinod Khanna, Rishi Kapoor, Sridevi, Waheeda Rehman
Yash Chopra has a way of showcasing human emotions and tying up the viewers in the life of his characters. The film is a classic love-triangle but told with such sensitivity that it doesn’t appear jaded. Rohit (Rishi Kapoor) meets Chandni (Sridevi) at a wedding and instantly falls for her. He woos her relentlessly and she finally says yes to being married to him. His family is against her, however, and they become antagonised when he meets up with an accident and gets paralysed from one side. Seeing that he can’t be a life partner to her any longer, he sends her away. She starts working in a travel agency where her boss, Lalit (Vinod Khanna), a widower is smitten by her. He too pursues her and after much reluctance initially, she finally says yes. Lalit goes to Switzerland where he meets Rohit, who is undergoing treatment there and the duo become friends. Rohit, upon getting completely fit, wants Chandni back in his life. When he learns she’s engaged to his friend, he suppresses that desire. He again meets with an accident and seeing Chandni distraught by the whole thing, Lalit guesses the truth that she’s still in love with Rohit. He sacrifices his own happiness for hers and she and Rohit eventually get married.
Maine Pyar Kiya (1989)
Director: Sooraj R. Barjatya
Cast: Salman Khan, Bhagyashree
This was the film which unleashed the phenomenon called Salman Khan upon the world. Like Juggernaut, Salman has refused to slow down and has been growing from strength to strength from year to year. The film was a classic reworking of the rich guy meets a poor girl with a twist. Karan (Alok Nath), leaves his only daughter Suman (Bhagyashree) with the family of an old friend Kishan (Rajeev Varma) as he’s going to Dubai to earn money for his marriage. Suman comes in contact with Kishan’s son Prem (Salman) and sparks fly. Kishan doesn’t like their growing practice and humiliates both her and her father when he returns. Prem, who cannot forget Suman, makes his way back to her village where Karan challenges him to earn some money on his own before asking for Suman’s hand in marriage. Prem starts doing various odd jobs like driving a truck to earn the amount mentioned by Suman’s father. At the end of it all, Karan’s heart does melt and the film gears towards a happy ending. Salman turned into an instant superstar after the film’s release. Bhagyashree too was flooded with offers but chose marriage over career. It was a musical blockbuster and songs like Kabootar ja ja ja, Aaja shaam hone aayi, Dil deewana, as well as the title track composed by Raamlaxman are hugely popular even today.