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Bollywood's Biggest Blockbusters

July 25, 2006
To list the top Bollywood blockbusters of all time is not easy. After all, rising ticket prices and the costs of production change the entire economy of filmmaking.

But there are films considered to be the biggest money-making ventures, in the time in which they were made. takes a look at the biggest Bollywood blockbusters.

Kismet (1943)

If you factor in the multi-fold rise in the price of movie hall tickets in the last six decades, the increase in the population of India (from 40 crores in undivided India to today's 100 crores) and the distinct lack of high-priced multiplexes in the 1940s, Kismet will find pride of place among the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema.

The Bombay Talkies production was for long Hindi cinema's longest-running film -- it ran for 192 weeks at Calcutta (now Kolkata)'s Roxy cinema -- especially noteworthy when you consider that Bollywood's first silver jubilee had come just about a decade earlier (Shyam Sundar in 1932).

Kismet appealed immensely to the masses with the build-up it gave to its can't-keep-him-down anti hero (Ashok Kumar played a smoking-and-smirking crook who pulls one last trick to do a good deed); and the film's thumping success engendered several such Bollywood staples including the lost-and-found formula (Ashok Kumar is finally discovered to belong to an affluent family).

But most of all, Kismet throbbed in rhythm with the pulse of its times. It was the time of the British occupation of India and World War II was raging. And this Gyan Mukherji-directed film sang boldly: Aaj Himalaya Ki Choti Se Phir Hamne Lalkara Hain -- Door Hato Aye Duniyawalon Hindustan Hamara Hain. Whenever it was played, the song sent cheering crowds in a frenzy of patriotic fervour.

Text: Jitendra Kothari
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