No matter what kind of new technologies are used in modern day films, it can’t beat the charm and the simplicity of classic Bollywood films that rocked the cinema theaters since the 1950s until the 1970s.
Apart from the great actors and filmmakers, these films actually set so many trends in Bollywood that are popular and widely used within the industry even today. Whether it’s the lost and reunited formula or the rich girl and poor boy trend, all those became famous just because the audience expected these trends in the yesteryear classic films of Bollywood between 1950 and 1980.
This era between 1950 and 1980 can also be termed as the golden era of Bollywood as it produced some of the best veteran actors in Bollywood, few of whom also earned international fame. These few names include Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Madhubala, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Rekha, and many others.
So, without taking much time now, let’s check out the best classic Bollywood films of that Golden era:
Table of Contents
Top Classic Bollywood Movies between 1950 and 1980
Awaara is a 1951 Classic Hindi film directed and produced by Raj Kapoor. The film also marked his debut in the trademark Little Trump character inspired by Charlie Chaplin. Awaara is also credited as the first film that brought the first ever iconic Romantic Jodi of all times on the silver screen, Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Kapoor’s real life father Prithviraj Kapoor portrays his father in the film, whereas Shashi Kapoor, his younger brother, donned the role of his younger version in the film.
Baazi is a 1951 Neo Noir Hindi feature film starring Dev Anand in the lead role. The film was produced under Dev Anand’s own banner Navketan Films and he roped in Guru Dutt to direct the film to fulfill the promise he made to Dutt during their days of struggle. The film was basically inspired by 1946 Hollywood film Gilda. Alongside Dev Anand, the film also stars Geeta Bali and Kalpana Kartik in pivotal roles.
Also Read : Best Neo-Noir Films in Indian Cinema
Baiju Bawra (1952)
The 1950s was an era when Indian audience was most often adjusting to the world of cinema and all they expected was a good story portrayed nicely on the big screen with some of the best-looking actors in it. However, Baiju Bawra was different from other films as it was the first musical film of Bollywood. Although many other filmmakers and critics showed skepticism, in the beginning, the film went on to become one of the biggest hits of that year merely because of its music. The film starred Meena Kumari and Bharat Bhushan in the lead roles.
Do Bigha Zameen (1953)
Do Bigha Zameen is a 1953 emotional drama film directed by famous Bengali film director Bimal Roy. Do bigha Zameen is a Bollywood Film about Farmers and their Problems. The film stars Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy in the lead roles, who are thriving to save their 2 bhiga (land measurement metric in Hindi) land from the hands of landlord and his business partners. The landlord and his partners plan to construct a mill on a huge land, but the only problem is that Shambu, the owner of the 2 bhiga land in the center, is not ready to sell. In order to save his family being deprived of their ancestral land, Shambu and his family face a lot of atrocities as the fate brings one hurdle or the other for them. Whether they are successful in saving the land or not forms the rest of the film.
Boot Polish (1954)
Boot Polish is yet another tragedy drama that focuses on two siblings, a brother and a sister who are orphaned and then mistreated by their aunt. The aunt forced them into begging, while the kids after learning a lesson from John Uncle decides to never beg again. They save some money to get a shoe-polish kit and start earning a livelihood from it. However, as people no more need shining their shoes during monsoon, both brother and sister are left starving. Due to some circumstances, both brother and sister are separated and the rest of the film is about how they cope with their lives individually. They get reunited once again, in the end, to offer a happy ending to this emotionally driven film.
Shree 420 (1955)
Shree 420 is a 1955 romantic Hindi film produced by, directed by, and starring Raj Kapoor. The film’s title refers to the Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, which refers to the punishment for the offense of cheating. This was also Raj Kapoor’s second film, where he tried to mimic Charlie Chaplin’s little tramp character and later on became his trademark persona in several other future films.
There’s no other story in India that has been remade so many times as Devdas. However, the best of the lot was undoubtedly has to be Bimal Roy’s Devdas starring Dilip Kumar in the titular role. Adapted from the highly famous Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay novel, Devdas, this 1955 film actually established Dilip Kumar as the tragedy king. The film also stars Vyjayanthimala as Chandramukhi, whereas Suchitra Sen as Paro. In addition, the film also starred Motilal, Nazir Hussain, Murad, Pratima Devi, Iftekhar, and Shivraj in other important roles.
Mother India (1957)
Mother India is undoubtedly one of the iconic films in the Indian film industry merely because it tries to display the atrocities faced by and the power of an Indian woman. Although a remake of Khan’s earlier film Aurat, Mother India is renowned and recognized as a legendary film merely because of the brilliant acting and direction throughout the film. With an ensemble cast of Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar, and others, the film even went on to become India’s first submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, only to lose by one vote in 1958.
Pyaasa is a 1957 romantic tragedy drama film produced by, directed by, and starring Guru Dutt. The film focuses on the budding romance between a poet, who is trying to make his works acknowledged in the post-independence India and a prostitute, who helps him getting his poems published. The film also stars Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Johnny Walker, and Rehman in important roles.
Naya Daur (1957)
Naya Daur is a film set in the post-independence era when industrialization was slowly extending its wings in India. The story of the basically follows the life of Shankar, played by Dilip Kumar, who is a tonga walla (horse cart driver). While everything is going smooth, the basic livelihood of tonga wallas in the village is challenged, when the son of the landlord decides to start a bus service intending to run the tonga wallas out of business. Shankar, however, raises his voice against the injustice and the end result is the race between the tonga and the bus, which also becomes the thrilling climax of the film. The film also stars Vyjayanthimala, Ajit, and Jeevan in important roles.
Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957)
Directed by V. Shantaram, Do Ankhen Barah Haath is considered as one of the iconic classic films of all time in Bollywood, which didn’t have any major star of that era. The song “Aye Maalik Tere Bande Hum” from the film is widely popular and was used in many films later on. The film was inspired by an open prison experiment and features a jail warden, who decides to rehabilitate 6 dangerous prisoners with a mission to make them good men. The legacy of the film can be noted by the fact that it was the first Indian film to win a Golden Globe Award.
Also Read : You can’t Remake these Epic Bollywood Films
Starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in the lead roles, Madhumati is a 1958 drama film produced and directed by Bimal Roy. Madhumati also marks as one of the earliest films made on the concept of reincarnation, a theme that was later widely used in several Bollywood films and is trending even today. The film also marked as one of the earliest female-centric films after Mother India.
Kaaghaz Ke Phool (1959)
Although a box office disaster at the time of its release in 1959, Kaaghaz Ke Phool went on to become a cult classic film and is even today noted among finest Bollywood films of all times. Directed by Guru Dutt, who also plays the lead role in the film, Kaaghaz Ke Phool is a romantic drama film set at a time when India wasn’t ready for extra-marital love stories. India isn’t ready to accept it even today as it is considered as highly immoral in the country. However, Guru Dutt took the bold step and directed a film that would come out as an image of Bollywood in the later years, as we have seen and read about so many love affairs within the industry that resulted in divorces and separation through media.