Lists are meant to be picked holes in,especially when they are someone elses. Faced with a bulging DVD box set of 50 Must-See Movies Before You Die,my first reaction was to go looking for whats missing and start scoffing,after,of course,pushing away morbid thoughts of death and departure: why wait till Im ready to die,why not just do the darn thing now?
Moser Baers 50 comes off quite well in that respect,because it keeps away from little-known critical gems,and plays safe with popular and blockbuster films,dividing them into five sections: Classics,Romance,Drama,Comedy and,puzzlingly,Action and Kids clubbed together.
Hindi films do not specifically stay within genre boundaries,so films like Pyaasa and Chaudvin Ka Chand would be classic and romance,Sholay would be drama and action. So would Tezaab and Ghayal. Madhuri Dixits scintillating Ek-do-teen number? Sure. Sunny Deols smoulder? Good choice. But,hang on,where are Deewar and Zanjeer? Could I pass away,without having seen these two thrillers where Amitabh Bachchans powerhouse persona was being shaped? And if you have Maine Pyar Kiya and Ek Duje Ke Liye and even as recent an entrant as Jab We Met,where,oh where,is Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak?
Also,theres been no dearth of actioners in these years,so why mix kiddies with them,poor things? In the childrens section,Chota Chetan is an obvious choice. The Blue Umbrella is perfect,a wonderful film whose lead is a completely natural little girl,a rarity in Hindi cinema,where children are meant to recite,not speak. But My Friend Ganesha,another in the line of predictable mythologicals,doesnt belong here.
The comedy section is much more of a success. Savour Kishore Kumars supremely madcap moments in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi,and the lesser known but equally wonderful Half Ticket. Plus,of course,Padosan. Of the new ones,both Oye Lucky,Lucky Oye and Khosla Ka Ghosla are fine,because they are contemporary,edgy and just a little bit dark. But where,oh where,is the best black comedy ever made in Indian cinema: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron? Get the set,nevertheless,to re-acquaint yourself with some unforgettable classics. No one can quibble with Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Or Mother India.