First of all, I sincerely thank my dear friend and esteemed reviewer and blogger Mazhar Nawaz for inspiring me to pen this review.
Rajbeer Singh Khosla, popularly known as Raj Khosla, learnt the directing skills by assisting the legendary filmmaker Guru Dutt but he did not copy the style of his guru, i.e., Guru Dutt who helped him in getting the break as an independent director through C.I.D (1956) though Milap (1955) got released prior to that. Raj developed his own style of storytelling and carved a niche for himself in Bollywood. He is credited for bringing about ‘neo-noir’ in the Indian cinema. However he tried his hand in almost all the genres including comedy, courtroom drama and love triangle. Most of the movies directed by him are highly entertaining and admirable. I have not seen all of them but out of the ones seen by me, I am giving the list of ten movies of him which I like the most.
- Mera Saaya (1966) : This is undoubtedly the best work of Raj Khosla and one of the best courtroom dramas made in Bollywood. Adorned with the immortal music of Madan Mohan and the one of the loveliest pairs of Hindi cinema – Sunil Dutt and Saadhana, this movie is a masterpiece which despite being a mystery, can be seen any number of times. Both the romance and the mystery are at their zenith in this movie.
- Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) : Four years prior to the immortal Sholay, writer duo – Salim-Javed presented the same story with the same hero (Dharmendra) under the direction of Raj. Unlike Sholay, MGMD is not loud and more impressive from the viewpoint of subtlety. The name of the villain is Jabbarsingh here which was changed by Salim-Javed to Gabbarsingh for Sholay.
- Kuchhe Dhaage (1973) : Kuchhe Dhaage (pronounced as Kachche Dhaage) is a highly underrated movie of Raj. Seldom has such level of sensitivity and humanity been seen in bandit based Hindi movies in Bollywood history as in Kachche Dhaage. Two enemy bandits (Vinod Khanna and Kabir Bedi) develop a camaraderie for a noble cause (pertaining to a young girl – Moushumi Chatterjee) and lay down their lives in the end. Raj’s direction is simply brilliant in this movie.
- Do Badan (1966) : This is one of the best love stories ever made in India. The magic of this movie can be felt by watching it. The songs penned by Shakeel Badayuni and composed by Ravi make this Manoj Kumar-Asha Parekh starrer even more beautiful and touching.
- Bombai Ka Baboo (1960) : This Dev Anand-Suchitra Sen starrer tragic love story of a thief is an unforgettable saga. Raj had a good rapport with Dev Anand and therefore, drew the best out of him. Suchitra Sen looks so beautiful in this movie that it’s difficult for a male viewer not to fall in love with her. How painful it is for a male who is in romantic love with a female but forced by the circumstances to act as her brother ! Raj demonstrates it with finesse by bringing the story of Rajinder Singh Bedi on celluloid.
- Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) : This brilliant romantic thriller is a rare blend of romance and noir cinema. The lovely romance of Joy Mukherjee and Saadhana fills the first half with the fragrance of innocent love whereas the second half keeps the audience hooked through a crime based drama.
- Woh Kaun Thi (1964) : This is that classic mystery which grips the viewer from the opening scene itself. Very less movies start with such a spellbinding scene, taking the curiosity of the audience to dizzy heights. Saadhana’s mysterious beauty mesmerized not only Manoj Kumar but also the audience. Madan Mohan composed immortal songs for Lata’s voice adding immense value to the movie.
- Dostana (1980) : This is the best movie starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha with both complementing each other perfectly. Raj and Salim-Javed wove a brilliant friendship-based drama involving two inseparable friends with gorgeous Zeenat Aman coming between them.
- Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978) : This is a very good family drama pitting two seasoned female actresses of Bollywood – Asha Parekh and Nutan against each other. Both have delivered mindblowing performances under Raj’s direction. Vijay Anand, Vinod Khanna and Deb Mukherjee also shine as male leads. This emotion-packed drama was a big commercial hit when released.
- Anita (1967) : Made in the hangover of Woh Kaun Thi, this coloured movie is special because of Saadhana’s extra-ordinary beauty, Laxmikant-Pyarelaal’s brilliant musical score and V. Gopi Krishna’s admirable cinematography. Despite the deficiencies of script, Raj made this movie watchable and it succeeded on the box office too. Sadhana is at her glamorous best in this last movie done by her in Raj’s direction.
In addition to these top ten, the following movies directed by Raj Khosla also are admirable in my view :
- C.I.D. (1956) : Raj’s debut directorial venture starring Dev Anand and Shakila with Waheeda Rehman making a debut in Bollywood through a negative role. Adorned with the great music of O.P. Nayyar, this movie is an interesting crime-thriller.
- Solva Saal (1958) : Dev and Waheeda starred again in this movie which is a damn interesting romantic thriller with amazing on-screen chemistry of the lead pair and the immortal song of Hemant Kumar written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and composed by Sachin Da (S.D. Burman ) – Hai Apna Dil To Aawara Na Jaane Kis Pe Aayega.
- Kala Pani (1958) : This Dev Anand-Madhubala starrer thriller movie is an interesting murder mystery based on A.J.Cronin’s novel ‘Beyond This Place‘. It features Nalini Jaywant also. It contains classic songs like Hum Bekhudi Mein Tumko Pukaare Chale Gaye, Achchha Ji Main Haari Chalo Maan Jaao Na and Nazar Laagi Raaja Tore Bangle Par.
- Chirag (1969) : This Sunil Dutt-Asha Parekh starrer movie is a sentimental drama. The song – Teri Aankhon Ke Siva Duniya Mein Rakkha Kya Hai is from this movie only which is unforgettable for the music lovers as well as the poetry lovers.
- Do Raaste (1969) : This family drama has Rajesh Khanna at his romantic best. Laxmikant Pyarelaal’s music is a highlight of this movie with the songs like Bindiya Chamkegi, Ye Reshmi Zulfen etc. still hummed by the romantic ones and Khiza Ke Phool Pe Aati Kabhi Bahaar Nahin by the broken hearts. It was a superhit on the box office.
- Nehle Pe Dehlaa (1976) : An underrated comedy by this skilled director which features Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna and Saira Banu. Appearing a crime-thriller from the surface, this movie has a high laughter-quotient and keeps the viewer hooked for around two and a half hours with frequent twists and turns in the narrative.
- Sunny (1984) : Sunny Deol’s second movie (after Betaab) and his most underrated emotional movie which was though a commercial failure, is worth a watch because of the great emotional performances delivered by Waheeda Rehman and Sharmila Tagore. Amrita Singh is the heroine and Dharmendra is there in a special appearance. It contains memorable nazms like Aur Kya Ahd-e-Wafa Hote Hain and Jaane Kya Baat Hai Neend Naheen Aatee composed by Pancham Da (R.D. Burman).
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