1973—A Golden Year for Hindi Cinema

Rishi Kapoor became the loverboy with few equals from Bobby for the next 20 years. Photo: Publicity Photo

Yes, the year 1973 was all of 50 years ago, and celebrates its Golden Jubilee, But more importantly, the year was also a golden one for Hindi cinema and audiences.

For starters, it gave us Bobby, the year’s biggest hit, Rishi Kapoor as the eternal lover-boy and Dimple Kapadia. It gave us Zanjeer, Salim-Javed and Amitabh Bachchan. It gave us Daag and Yash Raj Films, today’s topmost banner. It also gave us much more by way of talents and movies, besides many cult songs.

Last but not the least, it saw three big marriages: Rajesh Khanna wed Dimple Kapadia six months before Bobby released, Amitabh Bachchan-Jaya Bhaduri tied the knot on June 3, and Tanuja, by then all of 30, married filmmaker Shomu Mukerji. Needless to say, these unions were to later give us Twinkle Khanna (also producer and author) and Rinke Khanna, Abhishek Bachchan, Kajol and Tanisha between them.

Prem Chopra at the wedding of Rajesh Khanna with Dimple Kapadia. Photo: Publicity Photo

Here are the year’s highlights:


Few movies in Hindi cinema history created the storm that Bobby did. Released on September 28, and now one of the highest earners of that decade alongside Sholay, Jai Santoshi Maa, Amar Akbar Anthony, Muqaddar Ka Sikander and Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, the movie became an epidemic in a way as everything from shirts and shops to pencil boxes were named Bobby with even the logo of the title copied. In Leicester, London, there is even an Indian restaurant, 40 years old now, named “Bobby’s” after the owner’s favorite film!!

Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s entry into the RK fold was spectacular. It was an all-popular score with outstanding chartbusters like Main shaayar to nahin, Jhooth bole kauva kaate, Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho, Beshak mandir masjid todo, Mujhe kuch kehna hai and Na maangoon sona chandi going, in today’s terms, viral. The score won a Gold Disc, said to be the first awrded in India (later, the 1972 films Pakeezah and Hare Rama Hare Krishna won the honor). But in 1973, as per a news item in The Economic Times, India’s top financial daily, the soundtrack was among the all-time Top Ten-selling albums in the world at the time!

Dimple’s clothes (including the bikini and short skirts) and hairdo, and Rishi Kapoor’s dresses and hairstyle were also imitated. Prem Chopra won eternal fame with his epic one-liner that was his only dialogue in the film—Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra. And Raj Kapoor, who had even mortgaged his studio (purchased with remuneration for a small role in a V. Shantaram film!) after the losses incurred by Mera Naam Joker and Kal Aaj Aur Kal, was back with a bang!

Dimple quit after her wedding, but was back seven years later. Rishi remained the eternal romantic even as multiple romantic heroes came and faded away after him—all the way until 1992.

Amitabh Bachchan in Zanjeer. Photo: Publicity Photo


The film was not sold even after completion as distributors did not want a flop actor (Amitabh Bachchan until then!) also playing a cop who did not even do conventional romancing or sing songs. Filmmaker Prakash Mehra released the film himself, and when it did whopping business, did not have to share the humongous profits with distributors! The film was a breakthrough for Salim-Javed as solo writers, Amitabh Bachchan (who then decided to marry long-term girlfriend Jaya Bhaduri) and for them as a combination. It set trends of the Angry Young Man and vendetta dramas, male bonding in Hindi movies (Amitabh-Pran) complete with a friendship song, and also qawwalis (which Yaari hai imaan, declared as Top Song of 1973 on the only countdown if the time—Binaca Geet Mala).

Two more nuggets: Salim-Javed were so confident of the film that when they found their names missing from hoardings outside cinema theatres, they went on their own with hired painters at night to add ‘Written by: Salim-Javed’ on them. Also, Anandji (of the Kalyanji-Anandji music duo) unofficially edited the long film, which ironically went on to win the Filmfare Best Editing award for R.D. Mahadik!


Daag was the debut of Yash Chopra as producer. As director, he had made five films for his elder brother, B.R. Chopra, of which four had succeeded. The banner of Yash Raj Films is now known for introducing a whole cavalcade of talents, and also making TV shows and web series. Rajesh Khanna was back in the game after an array of flops. The unconventionally bold-for-society ending was not liked by the distributors but the film caught on soon enough, with hit Laxmikant-Pyarelal music to boost its opening.

Yaadon Ki Baraat

Remembered even now for its peppy and then teenybopper music by R.D. Burman, it consolidated the separated family formula, the revenge drama (again with Salim-Javed as main writers), helped by a common-to-Zanjeer villain, Ajit. It also reinforced the new Westernized heroine of the 1970s—Zeenat Aman. Dharmendra, as the eldest brother, put in one of his most intense turns.

The others

Loafer, Kahani Kismat Ki, Keemat, Jwar Bhata, Jheel Ke Us Paar and Jugnu, along with Yaadon Ki Baraat, consolidated Dharmendra’s position as the Numero Uno hero; he had only two flops this year—Blackmail and Phagun (in a cameo).

Abhimaan was noted for its touching story of marital discord and is soothing music by S.D. Burman. Amitabh-Jaya scored a hit again, and this Hrishikesh Mukherjee directorial was also their home production. It showed that Bindu, henceforth known for negative roles and cabaret numbers, could also excel in positive roles. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna also struck it rich with Namak Haram, the story of two estranged friends.

Dharma, which had Pran in a pivotal role again after Victoria No. 203 and even Zanjeer, was a super-hit. The song, Raaz ki baat, sung by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle, written by Verma Malik and composed by Sonik-Omi, confirmed the qawwali trend, and its hit quotient was such that people threw coins at the screen when it came on, adding to the repeat value of the film as well.

Dhund marked a success again after major flops like Aadmi Aur Insaan and Dastaan for veteran filmmaker B.R. Chopra. It launched Danny Denzongpa on his journey with lasting fame. In the whodunit genre in which Dhund fell, we also had the modest-budgeted Anhonee, which was superbly crafted but became most famous for its cult classic song, Hungama ho gaya, filmed on Bindu. This was the first-ever song actually shot in a discotheque—India’s first, which was located inside the 5-star Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

Hanste Zakhm was another memorable social drama from veteran director Chetan Anand. Gulzar’s twin directorial projects for producers Romu N. Sippy and Raj N. Sippy, Koshish and Achanak, both inspired by foreign films, were successful, and marked powerhouse performances from Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bachchan (then Bhaduri) and—in the latter and songless film—Vinod Khanna.

Shashi Kapoor, after a long career of 12 years studded with some hits among multiple flops, finally came to roost as a saleable star with Aa Gale Lag Jaa, which also began Manmohan Desai’s track-record of 11 consecutive hits until Mard, 12 years later. The film also established, along with another hit, Samjhauta, Shatrughan Sinha as a hero rather than villain.

Kucche Dhaage, a moderate success, showed Raj Khosla’s mastery over the dacoit drama. The film, along with Anuraag, also gave Hindi cinema the gift of Moushumi Chatterjee, who had made a name for herself in Bengali cinema as a teenage actress with Balika Bodhu and Parineeta. Mehmood and Dev Anand clicked in double-role capers Do Phool and Banarasi Babu respectively. Another film with a daku as protagonist was Heera, which marked the passport to lasting fame for veteran hero Sunil Dutt after a small bevy of flops: the 1955 hero continued his career for almost a decade after that.

Other successes

Sweekar, Khoon Khoon, Anamika, Jaise Ko Taisa, Anokhi Ada, Bindiya Aur Bandook

Aamir Khan, seen here a few years ago with son Azad Rao, was himself 7 years old when he appeared in Yaadon Ki Baraat as a kid. Photo: Publicity Photo


Aamir Khan appeared for the first time as child artiste in Yaadon Ki Baraat. The same film saw Padmini Kolhapure and Shivangi, her sister, make debuts as child singers. Shivangi is Shakti Kapoor’s wife and mother to Shraddha Kapoor.

Nitin Mukesh made his first appearance on screen, being shown as a song recording engineer in Abhimaan—he was assisting director Hrishikesh Mukherjee then.

Sweekar and Khoon Khoon introduced Mahendra Sandhu, who became famous a few years later as Agent Vinod. The latter film also marked the debut of composer Vijay Singh, father to future actress Bhagyashree.

Moushumi Chaterjee’s husband, Ritesh, made his acting debut in Kucche Dhaage as her reel hero. He is the son of composer-singer-filmmaker Hemant Kumar.




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