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'No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety.' Latin author Publilius Syrus could well be describing the allure of Hindi films.
Dancing stars, superheroes, historical romances, literary adaptations, indie rom-coms, revenge sagas, coming-of-age tales, snake-woman chronicles, lost and found operas, campus capers, noir thrillers, relationship struggles, reincarnation drama, resplendent musicals, B-grade horror, masala potboilers and many more -- its range is wider than it gets credit for.
This incessant mix of good, goofy and gritty represents the A to Z of Bollywood. Take a good look.
A for Awara
Considered one of the greatest Indian films ever made, Awara showcases Raj Kapoor's insightful filmmaking to explore the results of environmental conditioning of noble blood alongside his simmering, sensuous chemistry with Nargis.
'Haarke jeetnewale ko Baazigar kehte hain.'
Abbas-Mastan's sleek thriller, despite a glaringly evil role, turned out to be a win-win for Shah Rukh Khan. Viewers not just forgave his murderer act but lapped it up yet again, only weeks after Baazigar's release, with Yash Chopra's Darr where he portrays an obsessive stuttering stalker.
Sai Paranjape's small-budgeted Delhi romance about a regular Joe and his plain Jane continues to be one of the most adored of its genre courtesy a droll but believable humour and disarming cast.
Don, Don, Don!
One of Bollywood's coolest fictional characters with the sharpest punch-lines, Amitabh Bachchan's Don is simply 'namumkin' to get over.
Always the one to reinvent himself with unlikely subjects and characters, Anil Kapoor underscored his versatility by undergoing a complete makeover to play a simpleton in Eeshwar in 1989, the same year he delivered a Ram Lakhan and Parinda.
Madhur Bhandarkar uncovers the ugly face of glamour in his rise and fall story of a small-town girl turned top model in Fashion with Priyanka Chopra's National Award-winning performance as its principal USP.
Many of Sunny Deol's memorable hits begin with the letter G -- Ghayal, Ghatak, Gadar.
But it's Ghayal that marks the beginning of his glorious career as a no-holds barred terminator of all wrongdoings and social injustices in the world.
No wonder he's on to Ghayal Returns.
Subhash Ghai's entertaining take on young romance interrupted by social barriers (re)introduced Bollywood to the virtues of Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri.
But even after so many years the imagery of Jaggu Dada playing the signature flute remains unchanged.
Gulzar captures the somber and melancholic facet of adult relationships, high on compelling performances by Rekha, Naseeruddin Shah and Anuradha Patel, in the wistful dialogue of Ijaazat.
Shammi Kapoor conquers the screen with his unbound energy and yahoos to serenade a pixie-like Saira Banu in a manner that justifies the film's title.
Junglee and luvin' it.
Bollywood's superhero surge is still in its nascent stage but even hardboiled cynics won't deny Hrithik Roshan's popularity as Krrish among the tots.
Our answer to Superman is all set to adorn his savior costume in the franchise's upcoming sequel.
When India's two greatest religions come together -- cricket and cinema -- the outcome is a direct contention for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.
The grand daddy of all epics, K Asif's Mughal-E-Azam starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala is 24 karat gold that grows more dazzling and exquisite, even half a century later, in its restored, re-released state.
Bollywood's snake fetish is well-known.
And that probably explains why A-lister Sridevi agreed to be a part of one (actually two) in and as Nagina and its not very successful sequel Nigaahen.
O for Othello. O for Omkara. O for Outstanding.
Vishal Bhardwaj's big screen adaptation of William Shakespeare's dark tragedy is one of the finest instances of tribute-paid-right.
Watching Parinda makes one wish Vidhu Vinod Chopra made films more frequently.
His stylish, unrelenting take on brotherhood against the underworld milieu is a reference point for aspiring filmmakers.
If there's one man who introduced panache in Bollywood's vocabulary; it's got to be Feroz Khan.
There's no getting over Qurbani's glossy visuals, distinct melodies and unmistakable flamboyance.
Celebrating cinema and its multiple hues is Ram Gopal Varma's Rangeela that holds its viewer from start to finish with its gorgeous visuals, A R Rahman's snazzy score, escapist theme and easy-to-root-for characters.
From loony jailors to vile dacoits to blabbering tangewalis to suspecting mausis to bitter thakurs to happy-go-lucky crooks, there's a lot going for Ramesh Sippy's beloved classic.
Action, romance, comedy, revenge, rescue, rebellion, song 'n' dance and stars, lots of them -- Rajiv Rai's Tridev boasts of e-v-e-r-y single ingredient that constitutes a must-watch masala flick.
Yet, sometimes, a good film works in absence of stars too.
As proven by the sheer brilliance of Vikramaditya Motwane's directorial debut about teen angst starring newcomer Rajat Barmecha.
Sanjay Dutt has a knack for working in a row of rotten films and then astonish with a powerhouse performance.
And that is exactly the reaction he evoked for his work as a drugs addict mafia man in Mahesh Manjrekar's Vaastav.
The lost and found theme in Yash Chopra's lavishly scaled multi-starrer; Waqt doles out such large numbers of charm, splendour and cheek that it's easy to get past the implausibility of it all.
The X is the all-important factor in its title, so we'll count it as a representative for the most underused of all letters.
Long before Mr India discovered the secret to invisibility, Kishore Kumar got a taste of it in the 1964 laugh raiser co-starring KumKum.
Mani Ratnam's Yuva unique three-story structure that addresses the mindset and issues of three contemporary youngsters from different strata of Kolkata met with mixed response.
Nonetheless, its refreshing approach and idealistic ideas spruced by the Ratnam touch, nimble performances and Rahman's exquisite score engage for most part.
Last but not the least, here's to the breakthrough Zanjeer that launched Amitabh Bachchan's career into eternal superstardom.
What a marvelous oxymoron, this.