A movie usually depicts the prevailing thoughts and ideas of the time in which it is created. Film-makers also prefer to err on the side of caution, and make movies which are generally considered safe for that period of time. Thus one sees similar type of movies in an era, such as “lost and found era”, “angry young man era”, “romantic era” and so on.
However once in a while, we come across unconventional movies where the makers decide to experiment and come up with something new. While the movie may sometimes be a success, it may be a financial disaster as well. Be that as it may, the makers come across with movies which are ahead of their time where the country as such is probably not yet ready for the concept or idea.
Lets look at five such movies:
Mera Naam Joker
Mera Naam Joker at 255 minutes with two intervals is one of the longest movies in the history of Hindi Cinema. The Great Showman Raj Kapoor intended it to be his masterpiece and termed it his favorite film.
Raj Kapoor won best director award for the movie, while Manna Dey got best singer award for “Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo”. Shankar Jaikishan got best musician award while Radhu Karmakar got the best cinematographer award.
The movie is about a joker who had a sad life himself but but made others laugh for his living. Mera Naam Joker at the time of release was a flop, though over the period of time it has acquired cult status. Raj Kapoor reportedly wanted to make a part 2 of Mera Naam Joker, but dropped the idea.
For Lamhe, Sridevi won the best actress award. She plays a double role and many consider this as one of her finest performances. The idea which was unusual and ahead of its time was Anil Kapoor being in love with an older Sridevi who marries someone else, and ironically Sridevi’s daugher, played by Sridevi, falling in love with obviously the much older Anil kapoor, who was her mother’s friend. The conservative Indian audience found it difficult to accept and it was a commercial failure. However it was highly acclaimed critically and Yash Chopra, among all movies made by him cites it as his as personal favorite.
Lamhe was supposed to be released on same date as Akayla but Yash Chopra did not want to compete with a Ramesh Sippy-Salim Khan-Amitabh combo. Therefore he released it with debutant Ajay Devgn’s Phool aur Kaante, which he thought would be no match for Lamhe. Ironically Akayla did not do well and neither did Lamhe, while Phool aur Kaante was a huge hit
Most film analysts agree that Lamhe was ahead of its time and if it had been released later, it would have been commercially successful.
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
Karan Johar handled the complex theme of adultery very delicately. He got the idea of this film on a visit to London when he saw the movie Before Sunset about a parting couple and later when at a restaurant he overheard a married couple amicably parting ways.
For the promos of the film, there were tee shirts with the phrase ‘married or happy’. This has become a popular tee shirt phrase ever since but the origin is due to this movie.
While most “ahead of time” movies were flops, this was a commercial success. Abroad and especially in the USA it was highly appreciated.
Many would not agree with the concept of Ra-One but i feel this SRK starrer was ahead of its time. Currently one witnesses the huge success of Super hero movies, so much so that International giants like Marvel are releasing movies in India the same day as in America. Some would say that Ra-One could have been better made, but thats a different logic altogether.
In my view the movie did not do as well as expected as it was ahead of its time.
This Mani Rathnam starrer made a bold attempt to tackle the complex subject of insurgency in the north-east and tried to discuss and analyze why someone becomes a terrorist. It also boldly stated that it is perfectly ok to fall in love with a terrorist.
The idea was not acceptable in 1998, and the movie was probably two decades early as at that time the acceptable themes were over the board patriotism. Maybe now, with audience more willing to accept unconventional love stories, such as RAW agent Salman falling in love with ISI agent Katrina in Ek Tha Tiger, Dil Se would have been a hit. It was however critically acclaimed.
There are many other notable mentions such as Jaane Bhi do Yaaro and Kya Kehna. However these five are what came to my mind first. Do you agree with the list? Share you thoughts in the comments section below.