Tantarara, Dishum Dishum

Ten of the cinematic pleasures I seem to feel the guiltiest about. But they have had, in their own way, a great role to play in my growing up.
Tantarara, Dishum Dishum
Knowledge breeds taste...
And taste kills pleasure.

I don't remember where I read this line but in my love affair with films, it seems to ring quite true. So when I was asked to toss together a list of my favourite clunky films, I really had to think till I got the first name, and the rest followed. Ten of the cinematic pleasures I seem to feel the guiltiest about. But they have had, in their own way, a great role to play in my growing up.

DO GAZ ZAMEEN KE NEECHE Amjad 'Gabbar Singh' Khan's older brother, Imtiaz Khan, became a star with this film. Betrayed, killed and buried "do gaz zameen ke neeche", he comes back from the land of the dead, which is, scarily, only six feet under where we reside. Sweet revenge. Sweet suspense. And a sting in the tail, long before the likes of Murder and The Usual Suspects were thought of. Yes, now the secret can be revealed—you see, he wasn't dead to start with!

PEECHHA KARO When the world was gasping at Bruce Lee, I used to snigger like Mr Know-it-all. I happened to know his blood brother long before Bruce became a flicker on the horizon. Peechha Karo starred his big brother: bigger on action, bigger on his catcall "Keeeeyaa". The film is unforgettable for the character "Bruce Lee ka bada bhai, Choos Lee"! It also starred Satish Shah and Ravi Baswani as two escaped lunatics-cum-detectives in pursuit of a smuggler and Amjad Khan as the sher-o-shairi-spouting smuggler who actually was a cop. Pankaj Parashar, sir, what happened to that streak of crazy genius?

HER NIGHTS For me, this was the awakening of the man inside the boy! It gave me a new reason to stay awake. My first wet dream! Her Nights ran at Manoj Talkies for three weeks. A record in the only theatre in my UP hometown. Though it looks rather tame when compared to today's no-holds-barred skin flicks, it created a much bigger furore then.

JEET HAMARI My first tryst with piracy! Someone got this film on a bootleg tape and we kids saw it in our common room at Scindia school, all wrapped up in a large excited hall of clapping hands. This is how I discovered Rajnikanth. And the uninhibited joys of whistling, forefinger and thumb firmly in mouth! Ever since, I've never ever missed a single dubbed Rajni flick. Not even Fauladi Mukka.

MAKANDA KA SONA Long before my brother wrote the Hindi dialogues for Schwarzenegger's Jingle All the Way and they called it, Khilone ki Chaahat Bani Papa ki Aafat, some kind souls did the same with Mackenna's Gold, my dad's favourite film. Years later Mackenna's Gold was remade in Hindi as Zalzala with Garam Dharam playing his favourite hero Dev Anand's favourite hero Gregory Peck.

KHILADIYON KA KHILADI and AAKHRI ADALAT Two films that were separated at birth, literally. Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi had three courts—God's Court, the Supreme Court and a third one presided over by a masked Dharam paaji. Aakhri Adalat had a High Court, a Civil Court and a tennis court headed by Jaggu Da. These films sowed the seed of the caped crusader in my barren soul and I would tie a blue counterpane round my neck, wear my Dora underwear outside my pyjamas and jump from bed to bed, fly from dorm to dorm, leaping tall buildings in a single bound and catching speeding bullets between my teeth! Until I was caught, pulled out in the inspection line, named 'Super Dora' to loud hoots and brought back to good old earth with a tight resounding slap.

CHACHA ZINDABAD Kishore Kumar, the first free soul of Indian cinema, did the get-drunk-climb-the-water-tank scene much before Veeru did in Sholay. He was probably the most liberated, talented actor Hindi cinema has ever had and this film along with Half Ticket happens to be one of the most under-rated comedies of all time.

LOHA There was a certain period in the '80s when Daddu Sippy was my equivalent of Coppola on Ecstasy.Many years before the Big B had been entrusted the dangerous mission of transporting a lethal convict from one city to another in Khakee, Dharam paaji had a meaner task on hand. He had to escort a jail full of murderous, sneering, snorting, over-the-top convicts (Ranga Khush Joginder included) from prison into the hands of the villains with Madhavi and Mandakini in shorts for technical support. This was India's Wages of Fear. I was getting slowly and terribly hooked.

MAWALI South Indian sensibilities, tight disproportionate voluptuousness, mind-slapping jhatkas, sloganeering dialogues! It had completely taken over Hindi cinema. Jumping Jack Jeetu Dada was king, Sridevi and Jaya Prada the queens. Kadar Khan was God. We regressed happily. But Mawali remains my all-time favourite because: a) It was the first time Hindi cinema had taught me a new word: Mawali, and, b) My favourite song of the '80s happened to belong to this film: Jhopdi mein charpai.

KALA DHANDHA GORE LOG The original "Once upon a time in India" theme. Two brothers, separated at birth, find each other because of, you said it, identical moles on their hairy chests! They then travel together to Shangri-La to eliminate a bald-headed Fu-Man-Chu who ate live frogs much before Old Boy ate live octopuses. Through the "tantantaraaa" and the "dishum dishum", Sanjay Khan tries hard to beat elder (and more successful) brother Feroz Khan at his own game but fails.

This list is far from complete. There are many, many more. Andheri Raat Mein Diya Tere Haath Mein, Aandhi Toofaan, Purana Mandir, Darwaza, Teri Meherbaniyan.... In the years between I have never dared to watch these films again. Maybe I have become a snob. But I miss the experience.

(Anurag Kashyap is the director of Paanch, Black Friday.)

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