The Eighties were a fascinating time, a combination of extreme contrasts. If on one hand, patrons of parallel cinema delved into the psyche and pathos of the tormented section of society, mainstream set-ups took formulaic filmmaking to unprecedented heights.
Predictably, Amitabh Bachchan continued his reign, hitting a series of jackpots at the box-office while Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha and Shashi Kapoor settled to play the buddy or brother with everything they got.
It also marked the rise of a new generation of actors like Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Govinda as well as lavish debuts of star sons like Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt and Sunny Deol. Sensations down South, Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth vied for a wider audience taking their first baby steps in Hindi fare like Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Andha Kanoon, respectively.
Besides giving birth to fresh talent, 1980s was lined by one phenomenon after another. The post-Love Story Kumar Gaurav hysteria, Mithun Chakraborty's disco-enthused mania, Madhuri's Ek do teen craze and the beginning of a (Aamir, Salman) Khan-studded stardom.
The heroines had it good too. If the artistic trio of Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi and Deepti Naval bagged meaty roles in art house productions, Rekha hit prime time with her work in Umrao Jaan, Khubsoorat, Silsila and Ijaazat.
While Bollywood got its Bobby back in Dimple Kapadia's dazzling comeback vehicle -- Saagar, its number one star Sridevi acquired the title of female-Amitabh Bachchan only to face a potential threat in Madhuri Dixit's increasingly popular jhatkas and Juhi Chawla's giggly innocence.
Even as sensible filmmakers like Gulzar, Sai Paranjype, Kundan Shah, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani and Ketan Mehta lend substance and credibility to their beloved art form, 'Jumping Jack' Jeetendra and Sridevi forged a super hit partnership that frolicked clumsily to the tune of South Indian film remakes courtesy hits like Himmatwala, Mawaali and Tohfa. The Ramsay brothers and their creepy brand of creativity, too, gained considerable mileage with horrors like Purana Mandir, Sannata and Veerana.
Nevertheless with young visionaries like Rahul Rawail, Subhash Ghai, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, N Chandra, Mansoor Khan and Sooraj R Barjatya taking centre stage, the fate of commercial cinema looked far from doomed.
Melody wise, it rained chartbusters thanks to pulsating soundtracks from Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Rahul Dev Burman, Khayyam, Bappi Lahiri, Ravindra Jain, Rajesh Roshan, Anand Milind and Ram-Laxman.
Of side-splitting comedy, excessive masala, seething action, thought-provoking reality and rebellious romance, the Eighties, like Mumbai's bhelpuri are impossible to resist.
A look at the Ten Must-Watch Films of this eclectic decade:
PS: Believe it or not, it's impossible to keep it to a brief ten, leaving us with no choice but to let go of some truly remarkable movies. Write in to let us know about the ones you would have picked.
Text: Sukanya Verma
Also Read: Landmark films of the 60s