The noir of Bollywood!

Bollywood has often shied away from crime noir, the feel of crime and raw action in screen. Film-makers are often seen taking a safe route of melodramatic, comedy or formula movies. However, there are also some who have bravely ventured into noir and come up with path-breaking fares which a inspired many thereafter. We drafted a list of such movies that are worth watching at least once.

  • Hatya (1988): Arguably one of the best movies of Govinda, this could also termed as a showcase for of talent that the actor possesses… and wasted! Hatya is a thriller with many unanticipated twists and turns. Sagar (Govinda), after the passing of his wife, Sheila and his son, Raja, becomes an alcoholic. One night while returning from a party where he got drunk, he finds a child – hearing and speech disabled – in sleeping by the garbage. Sagar adopts him and names him Raja. He stops drinking and focuses on teaching him how to communicate so that he can know about his parents. One day a wealthy businessman, Kailash Nath (Om Shivpuri) comes and claims that Raja is his grandson and Sagar has abducted him. Sagar discovers that Raja is the sole witness alive to the murder of his mother. The murderer traces Raja back to Sagar and wants to finish off the trail. With that starts the hide and seek chronicle of protecting the child, while trying to uncover the crime story. The killer however, implicates Sagar in the murder of Raja’s mother and he lands up in jail. How the killers are uncovered forms the crux of the story
  • Satya (1998): A perfect rhyme to Hatya! Jokes apart, this film made Ram Gopal Verma that legend even films like Rangeela and Shiva could not. Satya (J.D Chakravarthy) , an orphan comes to Mumbai and works in a bar. One day he is humiliated by a local don Jagga. When Jagga’s men ask for hafta, Satya retaliates and finally he is beaten up by them and handed over to police. In the meantime Bhiku Mhatre( Manoj Bajpai), a gangster working for a politician, is arrested for the assassination of a film producer. Both Bhiku and Satya end up in the same jail where after fighting over a trivial issue they become good friends. Satya joins Bhiku’s gang on being released and avenges his humiliation by killing Jagga. Soon enough he becomes one of the main players of the gang. Satya is a brilliant guy who uses his intelligence to commit the crime to perfection. He meanwhile becomes acquainted to his neighbour, Vidya (Urmila Matondkar), a struggling singer.  and slowly their association grows. He even threatens a music director to give her a chance in his films without her knowledge, since she doesn’t know about his true identity. RGV tells us a story, of a criminal genius, unethical and without morals, and that worked the charm.
  • Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahi (1996): Sudhir Mishra attempts to capture a brilliant story with full of twists and turns in his camera through Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahi. This is a story about an advertising executive who gets caught in the middle of a gang-war because of his short temper. The only problem that I found was in the look of the movie. I am not sure if Mishra tried too hard to give it parallel cinema looks though the lighting or it was due to low budget but quite a few scenes could have could have been shot better.
  • Tezaab (1988): This is one of my favourite movies. This movie made Madhuri Dixit a superstar. After movies like Ankush and Pratighaat, N. Chandra delivered another brilliant movie in the form of Tezaab. Although, critics had at that time made a forecast that the movie will be a box office hit only due to the song “Ek, Do, Teen” and will last only two to three  weeks at the box-office, it went on to become Golden Jubilee! NCC Cadet Mahesh Deshmukh (Anil Kapoor) is  arrested of criminal charges. His loves Mohini who is made to dance for money by her father Shyamlal. In a revenge saga Mahesh out of his prison as Munna to finish the reason of his going to prison and also ease Mohini out of her trauma.
  • Sehar (2005): A contrast from the other movies in the list, Sehar has a feel good factor. Arshad Warsi plays the subtle character of an IPS officer SSP Ajay Kumar. Traumatized as a child by his father’s suicide Ajay grows up to become a strong man.  Ajay Kumar, on being transferred to Lucknow, finds that a criminal nexus run by a cunning underworld don Gajraj Singh (Sushant Singh). With his strong political connections Gajraj wants to prove his ‘Varchasva’ (Complete Dominance) in the underworld. Mayhem starts with ruthless gang wars happening all over the city. Ajay Kumar forms a special task force to stop this mayhem. The movie ends on sad note with the protagonist also getting killed in the final ambush. A rare mix of thrill and drama, this movie is a must watch.
  • Manorama Six Feet Under (2007): A movie of the genre neo-noir, Manorama Six Feet Under is a thriller where you are held to your seat biting your nails till the end. Satyaveer Singh Randhawa (Abhay Deol), junior engineer writes a detective novel of which only 200 copies were sold. One evening, he gets a surprise visit from the wife of P.P. Rathore, Irrigation Minister of Rajasthan who wants him to investigate about her husband’s extra-marital affairs. Randhawa gets excited at this and takes up the offer and  a series of lies and deceits is revealed thereafter. It was a well executed movie which somehow did not get the commercial success that it deserved perhaps because of its niche audience

We are sure that we missed quite a few movies in the list. Among these are movies are the likes of Encounter: The Killing, Vaastav, Parinda and Johnny Gaddaar which were extremely well received critically.

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