My favorite Opening Title Credit sequences from Bollywood.

Bollywood is synonymous with Thrill. Way back in 70s & 80s, cinema-lovers would feel the adrenaline rushing through their bodies, the moment lights went dim in the cinema hall. The opening sequence of the film, accompanied by the audio-visual credits unanimously gave a feeling of “I am finally watching it!” to all the crazy fans; fans who would pile up the monthly/weekly issues of film magazines & newspaper cuttings to gather all information accessible to them about the forthcoming movies. The era belonged to blockbusters, show-mans & super-stars.

The biggest directors had their own individual signature style of rolling the credits of their dream projects. Music directors like R.D Burman, would compose special melody tracks to summarize the story of the movie. Punchamda was an expert in such compositions as he presented the entire theme of “Sholay” [1975] [Ramgarh, Dacoits, friendship, revenge, love & tragedy] with a haunting melody. He evoked a western feeling, within an Indian set-up, through purely Indian instruments. He presented the audience with a rare “Bond-ish” thrilling ambiance in “Shaan” [1980], with husky vocals by Usha Uthup & sauntering female-figure “silhouettes” in the background. These are two iconic films by Ramesh Sippy. Previously Shakti Samanta gave us our first musical blockbuster “An Evening in Paris” [1967] where he rolled the credits with Shammi Kapoor dancing in the streets of Paris. We saw him gambol in his unique style amidst French beauties, zipping past the landmarks of the lovely city, singing the title song. Sooraj Barjatya, the creator of the century’s biggest Romantic-musicals MPK & HAHK, began his magnificent show with title tracks. In “Maine Pyar Kiya” [1989] he had to compromise with the two-silhouettes, instead of Salman & Bhagyashree, who danced on the song “Aate Jaate Hanste Gaate”. The sequence was picturised after the completion of the film and Bhagyashree was in the family way by that time. He re-created the magic, as per his vision, in “Hum Apke Hain Kaun” [1995]. He showed Salman & Madhuri swiftly lip-syncing the title song in “Ada” & “Tehzeeb” with “Jhuki Nazar”. The sequence mesmerized the viewers even before it began its historical show. “Yash Chopra” carried the style ahead by bringing all the artists associated in the making of “Dil To Pagal Hai”[1997] together, along with their spouses/partners, for the song “Ek Dujje Ke Waaste”. He appeared himself with Pamela Chopra towards the end of the credits. Aditya Chopra gave his own vision to “Jab takk Hai Jaan” [2012] where SRK  began the show on a bike with an incredible poem .

The Mozart of Madras A.R Rehman, created a musical extravaganza for Rangeela[1995]. Eros cinema hall would present the audience with a special 5 minute smoke & sound show before the movie started. [5 times was less for me to witness this spectacular offering]. It had World-class orchestra comprising of a medley of tunes from all the songs. The credits rolled immediately with a projector reel of famous Bollywood personalities & street-sound effects. Ram Gopal Verma’s name appeared along with a blow up of Sridevi [no prizes for guessing why]. The sweetest introduction came with “Khatta Meetha” [1978]  where the entire cast from the two warring families was presented with a song.

The innovations in the form of caricatures/cartoons came into light with “Do Aur Do Paanch” [1980]. The title sequence was in typical “Pink Panther” style about two cons who were outdoing each other in competition. Director “Rakesh Kumar” gave a spy v/s spy feel from the famous “MAD” comic series through his beautifully crafted opening credit scene. Sai Prajpai’s “Katha” [1983] represented the tale of tortoise & hare – two friends, one who is simple & honest while the other is cunning & crafty. The titles appeared in Hindi in the form of an animal fable. Indian animation veteran “Ram Mohan” created them as he had done in the past for “Shatranj Ke Khiladi” & “Pati Patni Aur Woh”. Recently we had “Ishaan’s” imaginatory world come alive in a wonderful animated sequence in the titles of “Taare zameen Par” [2007]. His drawing book reflected his hyperactive world like magic. But nothing can beat the perfect comic mayhem of “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi” [1958]. The three brothers created ample chaos through an animated sequence which impeccably reflected the theme of the film.

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Another fine example was given by “Bombay Talkie” [1970] made by James Ivory. It was like a documentary on Bollywood where Shashi Kapoor played an actor with Jennifer Kendall as a novelist in research. Shankar-Jaikishan composed the track for the opening sequence where the credits were put up as posters, placed against various iconic places of Mumbai. The city was treated like a gallery. “Jaal” [1986] is credited with having one of the most innovative credit sequence in title design history. The film opens on a stone wall from a jail from where Vinod Mehra emerges on screen; there were hand painted titles in blood red color, a co-passenger had a newspaper with the name of the writer, doors & signboards had other credits mentioned; in all it was perfectly synchronised with the thriller/suspense theme of the movie. Zoya Akhtar showcased the journey of a boy, who arrives in the city of dreams to be an actor, in “Luck By Chance” [2009]. The opening credits focused on all the people who work with the main team, in all departments, behind the camera. It featured stuntmen, prop assistants, hairdressers, canteen-waalas etc. Rohan Sippy opened the film “Kuchh Na Kaho” [2003] in Abhishek Bachchan’s room in a rather bizarre manner; credits appeared on cd covers, scissors, credit card, books, toothpaste, soap, steamed glass etc.

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A rare example is credited to the Bachchan Seniors Amitabh & Jaya Bachchan. In Bawarchi [1972] we had AB give his voice over for the credits where he read out all respective credits in a mixture of Hindi & English. While in “Paa” [2009]  Jaya reciprocated by reading the credits in her warm/graceful smile.

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M.F. Hussain created an amazing series of paintings as a tribute to the legendary Raj Kapoor for the titles of  Randhir Kapoor’s “Henna” [1991]. Raj Kumar Santoshi took inspiration from the maestro while he introduced “Damini [1993] with portraits of Meenakshi Seshadri in various themes.

The extravagant 7 hour bonanza of the year 2012, “Gangs of Wasseypur” 1 & 2, began in a true Filmi style. We faced a T.V set playing the “Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thhi” title song [the famous television soap opera] followed by a chase scene with shooting in the alleys. The Indian “Quentin Tarantino” vendetta tale by Anurag Kashyap began with “paisa vasool” thrill.

“Dhoom 2” [2006] presented the titles in “The End” with the sultry “Greek God” of Bollywood making the fans wait till last for his unmatchable Dance.  Same goes for “Ek Thaa Tiger” [2013] where we had to wait for the item song “Maashallah” after the ending.

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Now I present my personal favorite credit /roll/ sound/ camera/ action moment. I have two to name. My ultimate favorite movie in recent times “Tanu Weds Manu” series began with a Vividh Bharati announcement from the Great “Ameen Sayani” , who read out the names of the lead characters of the film in his signature style. While the credits rolled, he announced “Is gaane ki farmaish ki hai Dilli se Manoj Sharma urff Manu, Kanpur se Tanuja Tiwari urff Tanu, Lukhnow se Raja Avasthi aur Azamgarh se Pappi Tiwari ne” while the family was busy arranging for Tanu’s setting with Manu. In the sequel “Tanu Weds Manu Returns” we had a wedding ceremony as a reminder of our own times. “Sun Sahiba Sunn” song plays in the background while Tanu & Manu pose for their wedding album as per the rituals demand. The wedding feast, the iconic poses of the bride & the groom mixed with typical Indian middle class wedding “emotional atyachar”, gave this Masterpiece of a movie, a tasteful start.

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But nothing can beat the phenomenon created by Manmohan Desai in “Amar Akbar Anthony” [1977]. It is a unique style which is termed as “Pre-Credit backstory compression”, a term coined by Rajorshi Chakrabarti. The entire story of a 3 hour extravaganza was shrunk in a short sequence at the beginning of the movie. The family separated, father became a don, mother lost her vision, 3 sons were adopted by a Hindu Police Officer, Muslim Tailor & a Christian priest, they grew up and came together to donate blood to their own mother – bound by the similar blood group. When asked their names they said “Amar” “Akbar” “Anthony”!

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