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Black 'n' white films we'd love to see in colour

Last updated on: April 25, 2011 13:01 IST

Image: A scene from Awaara
Raja Sen in Mumbai

K S Asif's Mughal-E-Azam surprised us with colour. Naya Daur didn't work as well. Dev Anand's Hum Dono was an absolute delight. And now Dharmendra's Haqeeqat is apparently making it's way to theatres soon.

Purists are completely against colourisation but I don't mind it if it's done as well as in Hum Dono, and brings a great film forward for a new generation, a new audience, to discover and appreciate.

I was asked to pick 10 films I'd like to see buffed and coloured at the multiplexes today, and before you click forward onto my selection, realise that I have kept away those black and white classics it would be sacrilegious to colour. These are films more elemental than visual, and while mostly lovely, wouldn't be marred by colour.

Here, then, are my 10. Do list yours too.


Love conquers all, and in Raj Kapoor's classic Awaara, a thief rises above his lowly station because of his love for a good woman. Shankar-Jaikishen's songs are incredible Awaara Hoon and Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi shine above the rest and both Raj and Nargis look their most stellar. This is a film that would shine wonderfully, if coloured right.

Shree 420

Image: A scene from Shree 420

Several decades before Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Shree 420 told the story of a Chaplinesque happy go lucky hero who comes to Bombay and is stunned by the big city's harshness.

Nargis, playing a teacher, saves his life and wins his heart, while Nadira entices him toward the darker side. What a film, and oh, what a treat it would be to see Raj's iconic laal topi Russi in actual bright red!

Mr and Mrs 55

Image: A scene from Mr and Mrs 55

In this delightful Guru Dutt comedy, the master filmmaker plays a struggling cartoonist who meets Madhubala at a tennis match.

If it sounds ahead of its time, well, like all of Dutt's work, it is, and while it seems sacrilegious to tamper with VK Murthy's gorgeous black and white cinematography, this is the one film light enough to colourise but only if done fantastically well.

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

Image: A scene from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

In this uproarious classic, Ashok, Anoop and Kishore Kumar play brothers running a garage, the eldest a confirmed bachelor who loathes women. Then one rainy night, the most beautiful woman of all comes into the garage and changes everything.

Madhubala looked ethereal in colour in Mughal-E-Azam, and there's no reason why she won't shine here too.


Image: A scene from Andaz

This deserves a big-screen re-release simply by being the one film that united legends Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar.

Mehboob Khan's film, a progressive, smart film about friends and lovers, revolves around the woman in their lives Nargis, at her most regal. A lush, intelligently made film, this should surely be seen by current cinegoers.


Image: A scene from Yahudi

Bimal Roy's 1958 epic, set in the Roman Empire over 2000 years ago, features the fabulous Sohrab Modi as Ezra, a jew, while Dilip Kumar plays Prince Marcus.

With luminous women like Meena Kumari and Nigar Sultana playing the women Marcus is torn between, this costume drama is a deftly written classic that deserves to shine again.


Image: A scene from Madhumati

Written by Ritwik Ghatak and directed by Bimal Roy, this magnificently eerie, nearly gothic film introduced mainstream audiences to the reincarnation theme.

Dilip Kumar, Pran, Johnny Walker are all in top form, and Vyajantimala is just breathtaking, and Salil Chaudhary's music is appropriately haunting.


Image: A scene from Bandini

Bimal Roy's 1963 Bandini a film remarkably centred wholly around its female protagonist Kalyani, played by Nutan was the director's last, and one of his most acclaimed.

It is a progressive, very well written film with great performances all around, from the heroine, Ashok Kumar and Dharmendra. A must-watch indeed, this.

Half Ticket

Image: A scene from Half Ticket
Sure, none of us needs a reason to watch Kalidas' 1962 comic classic again and we all remember Kishore Kumar's insane antics through the film but imagine this smashing film, with Madhubala and Pran and Shammi having a blast, released at the local multiplex, bright and shiny. We'd all go watch it again. Oh yeah.

Chori Chori

Image: A scene from Chori Chori

A pretty faithful but wonderfully desi remake of Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, this Raj Kapoor-Nargis film is the sort of romance that just makes you smile.

Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin did the same many years later, but this 1956 version is just better moonlit, let's say. The lines are clever, the stars are bright, and all is well with the universe.