Top 5 Hindi mythological films
The following films are all mythological classics from the 1970s. I chose these films primarily for two reasons;(1) they are childhood favorites of mine which I used to watch religiously, as an Indian boy growing up in the USA during the 80s and(2) they are all in color!
Although this genre of films was never quite mainstream, the 40s and 50s were prolific in creating movies based on the religious epics of India. However, all of these films, including many shot into the 1960s were in black and white, as the devotional/mythological niche never enjoyed the budgets of mainstream commercial cinema.
Without further ado, I present my top five for Hindi mythological films of yesteryear.
- Sita Swayamvar(1976) starring Jayapradha and directed by Bapu, shows the events and exploits leading up to the wedding of Shri Ram and Sita according to the Ranganatha Ramayana, a lesser known variant of the epic which deviates a bit from Valmiki's version.
Although the film was shot in Telugu and later dubbed into Hindi, the movie was conceptualized as a multi-language feature by the production studio, PSR Pictures. Thus, the Hindi-dubbed character voices and songs marvelously match the opulent grandeur of the costumes and sets of this film. Sita Swayamvar reigns supreme as poetry on celluloid due to the painstakingly detailed direction and very nuanced acting.
Shri Ram Vanvas(1977) is the sequel to Sita Swayamvar and continues where it left off. This film is more of a drama and less of a musical than its predecessor, but finishes PSR Pictures' two-part Ramayan quite nicely, culminating in the coronation of Shri Ram and Sita as king and queen of Ayodhya. Highlights include a song by Mandodari in praise of her husband, the ten-headed antagonist Ravan and the interesting backstory of how Ravan was cursed to live a mortal life on earth.
Har Har Gange(1979) - the story of the sister goddesses Ganga and Uma, who are born to destroy sin on earth. Drawing from the Skanda Puran, this film magically interweaves many stories including Daksha Yagna, birth of Kartikeya and Ganesh, slaying of Tarakasur, and of course Bhagirath and the descent of Ganga. Directed by the king of Hindi mythologicals, Babubhai Mistri.
Gopaal Krishna(1979) starring Sachin and Zarina Wahab. Another classic - one of the best renditions of Krishna's childhood pastimes on film, aside from the Mahabharat teleserial. Although a number of films were made based on the Bhagwat Puran throughout the ages(ie. Neel Mani in 1957, Gopal Krishna in 1965, Shri Krishna Leela in 1970, etc) this film is memorable due to its stellar soundtrack by Ravindra Jain and captivating performance by Sachin, who portrays the mischievous Krishna remarkably.
Hanuman Vijay (1974) directed by Babubhai Mistry, tells the little-known story of Ram and Lakshman's kidnapping by Ahiravan, adapted from from the Bengali Krittivasa Ramayan(another obscure variant of the epic). A highly entertaining film with good songs
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