13 Bollywood films from the 80s you must watch if you call yourself a cinephile

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro to Masoom: 13 Bollywood classics that you ought not to miss for the love of cinema

With each year littered with 100s of Bollywood movies that either come and go without a whimper or whose sole aim is to break box office records, there was a time when the focus was more on depth. And one of those golden decades was the 80s, which gave us some path-breaking movies when the line between commercial and art-house cinema was getting blurred and audience got to see brilliant works like Masoom, Arth, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Saaransh, Chashme Buddoor to name a few.

Here are 13 Bollywood classics that you ought not to miss for the love of cinema:

1. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983)

A cult in itself and a movie that is socially and politically relevant even now, Ketan Mehta’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was a satirical comedy that took a dig at the establishment of that time. One of the most remarkable scenes of the movie, the Mahabharata scene would’ve created a huge furore if the movie was to release today.

In fact, talking about the present political climate, the dialogue writer of the movie, Ranjit Kapoor told HuffPost:

We live in pretty difficult times. I don’t think it’s possible for us to make a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaraon in the current climate. “

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro poster / IMDb

2. Masoom (1983)

Based on Eric Segal’s popular novel ‘Man, Woman and Child’, critically-acclaimed director Shekhar Gupta’s Masoom dealt with a topic that made a lot of people  uncomfortable but left a warmth in the hearts of audience across all age-groups. Talking about one of his best roles, Naseeruddin Shah in one of his interviews said:

Masoom cannot be made better. I don’t think anybody should try remaking Masoom. In this modern world of emails and mobile phones, how is it possible that a child grew up to the age of 10, and his father has no clue of his existence? “

Masoom poster / IMDb

3. Khamosh (1985)

Much before delivering hits like Parinda and 1942: A Love Story, Vidhu Vinod Chopra made a movie that almost went unnoticed much like its name —Khamosh. Taking a dig at the thrillers that Bollywood directors made during those times, this murder mystery starring Shabana Azmi, Amol Palekar, Naseeruddin Shah, Soni Razdan, Pankaj Kapur and Sudhir Mishra, is a menacing pyschological thriller.

Talking about the brilliant filmmaking craft of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, here’s an excerpt from ‘Behind The Scenes: Contemporary Bollywood Directors and Their Cinema’ :

“The plot of Khamosh is essentially a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the shooting of a movie. The world of the movie set and crew, with its tangled set of obsessions and pathologies, is as high as the plot of the movie being shot, Aakhri Khoon, and even echoes the latter in the murderer’s motivation. “

Khamosh / IMDb

4. Arth (1982)

A movie that focused on a woman trying to find her identity and the meaning (arth) of her life, after her husband has an extra-marital affair with his colleague, is what Arth is remembered for. Starring Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and Kulbhushan Kharbanda in lead roles, Arth was one of the finest works of Mahesh Bhatt.

In fact, Arth was the first Bollywood movie to be remade in Pakistan.

Arth poster/ IMDb

5. Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)

A revenge drama and a remake of the Australian TV series Return of Eden (1983), Rakesh Roshan’s Khoon Bhari Maang did not only mark Rekha’s comeback but was one of her best performances.

Khoon Bhari Maang/IMDb

6. Mr India (1987)

Shekhar Gupta’s Mr India had everything it takes a movie to be a hit. Starring Anil Kapoor and Sridevi in lead roles, Mr India gave us an iconic villain, Mogambo (Amrish Puri). Producer Boney Kapoor literally took a risk with this one as Shekhar Gupta was only one-movie-old (Masoom). Needless to say, it was worth it!

A still from Mr India / YouTube

7. Prem Rog (1982) 

Known for making movies on social issues, Raj Kapoor’s Prem Rog dealt with issues of widow-remarriage and caste taboos. The movie starred Rishi Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapuri in lead roles.

Prem Rog/ R K Films

8. Angoor (1982) 

Angoor is a lesson in how to make a clean comedy without double-meaning jokes. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors’, this Gulzar directorial starring Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma in double roles, also featuring Moushumi Chatterjee, Deepti Naval and Aruna Irani is an entertainer all the way. Something you cannot afford to miss.

Angoor poster

9. Bazaar (1982)

Set against the backdrop of Hyderabad, Sagar Sarhadi’s Bazaar portrayed a deeply disturbing social evil of bride buying  and a complex set of relationships in an extremely sensitive way. The movie starred the stalwarts of art cinema like Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh and Supriya Pathak.


Bazaar poster /IMDb

10. Salaam Bombay! (1988)

The National Award winning movie directed by veteran director Mira Nair portrayed lives of kids living in Mumbai slums and also spoke about drug addiction.

Salaam Bombay poster/ IMDb

11. Saaransh (1984)

One of best performances of Anupam Kher, where he played the role of a 50-year-old man while he was in his 20s, Saaransh can easily be counted as Mahesh Bhatt’s best work. The movie is a beautiful portrayal of the struggles of an old couple and how they overcome their grief after losing their one-and-only son.

Saaransh poster/Rajshri

12. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)

Mansoor Khan’s romantic drama starring young Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla went on to become a huge blockbuster. Two lovers going against their families and eloping for the sake of love, QSQT set the standard for all the romantic movies that will be ever made for years to come in Bollywood.

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak/ IMDb

13. Chashme Buddoor (1981)

Every studious and sincere Siddharth (Farooq Shaikh) has friends like Omi (Rakesh Bedi) and Jai (Ravi Baswani), who are always chasing women, and that’s what clicked with the audience who watched Sai Paranjpe’s rom-com Chashme Buddoor. The movie’s entertaining and rib-tickling plot is evergreen. Director David Dhawan tried a remake of this classic but couldn’t recreate the magic Farooq, Rakesh and Ravi created with Deepti Naval and with their impeccable comic-timing.

Chashme Buddoor/ IMDb