Down Memory Lane: Top Films Of Master Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee

Genius director, editor and writer Hrishikesh Mukherjee gave us many memorable films. He directed 42 movies in his illustrious career. My top Hrishi-da movies are Satyakam, Chupke Chupke, Anupama, Anand, Abhimaan, Guddi, Golmaal, Aashirwad, Bawarchi, Namak Haraam and Khoobsoorat.

Let us go on a nostalgic journey to find out some rare and relatively unknown trivia about these gems.


Based on Narayan Sanyal’s Bengali novel, Satyakam was considered by the master director himself as his best work. We saw the soft side of he-man Dharmendra in arguably one of his best ever performances as Satyapriya Acharya, a man of very high principles. Sharmila Tagore, Ashok Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar feature in Satyakam as well. The movie won the National award for best feature film in Hindi. Rajinder Singh Bedi won the Filmfare award for best dialogue.

Compromise hi corruption ka doosra naam hai” is one of the memorable dialogues from this movie.


Chupke Chupke

It was a comedy classic in which Dharmendra and Amitabh complemented each other superbly. The movie is a remake of a Bengali movie Chhadmabeshi, which was itself based on a Bengali story Chhadobeshi. Uttam Kumar and Madhabi Mukherjee had played the roles played in Chupke Chupke by Dharmendra and Sharmila Ji.

SD Burman’s music was superb and so were Anand Bakshi’s lyrics. Kishore Kumar and Rafi Saab had one of their best ever male duets, “Sa re ga ma“, while Lata didi had two terrific solos, “Ab ke sajan saawan mein” and “Chupke chupke chal ri purvaiya”.

In a special episode of KBC, Dharmendra had asked Amitabh to tell the audience who was the director they were scared of, like a headmaster or schoolmaster and Amitabh had replied, “Hrishida ke saath hum dono kaampte thay kyuki unka ek rutba hee aisa tha (We would tremble before Hrishi-da, such was his aura).


Dharmendra and Sharmila star in this critically acclaimed movie with soulful music by Hemant Kumar. Lata didi’s “Kuchh dil ne kaha” and “Dheere dheere machal” are amongst her best solos ever, while Hemant Kumar himself comes up with the haunting number, “Ya dil ki suno duniyawalo”. Anupama means incomparable and indeed Hrishi-da is incomparable as a director.

It was during Anupama’s shooting that Hrishi-da had told Sharmila Ji, “Dont mind your make up, make-up your mind”. The disagreement was regarding Sharmila’s hairstyle. She wanted it to suit her smart image, while Hrishi-da felt it did not suit her role. Later Sharmila ji said she felt guilty since the smart hair-do indeed was in contrast to the role her character needed to portray.


This was Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh’s first of two movies and showed glimpses of the talent of future superstar Amitabh. Rajesh Khanna of course was the reigning superstar and at the peak of his career.

It was destiny that Rajesh Khanna played this role. Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor had originally been kept in mind. In fact Raj Kapoor used to call Hrishi da “Babu Moshay”, and this is what Rajesh Khanna called Amitabh in the movie. Kishore Kumar and Mehmood too had been thought of for Rajesh Khanna’s and Amitabh’s roles.

Salil Choudhry’s music and Gulzar’s lyrics were a formidable combo and “Kahin door jab din”, “maine tere liye” was fantastically sung by Mukesh, while “Zindagi kaisi hai ye paheli hai” was one of Manna Dey’s best songs.

Recently, Gulzar revealed that Rajesh Khanna liked the role so much that he took only a token nominal fee for the movie.


This continued the trend of Hrishi da’s movies having excellent acting, perfect direction and amazing music. Lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri complemented SD Burman’s music. Songs /music played an important part of the movie which was about two singers and how the husband gets jealous when his wife becomes more popular. Lata didi sang all songs picturised on Jaya Bhaduri, while Kishore Kumar, Rafi and Manhar Udhas sang for Amitabh. The song “Loote koi man ka na nagar” was supposed to be sung by Mukesh. However Mukesh not being free, the demo version was sung by Manhar Udhas. Later when Mukesh heard it, being a perfect gentleman, he said that since Manhar Udhas had done such a nice job, let his version continue. Amazing.

In his Facebook page, Amitabh has said that Abhimaan is special to him as he and Jaya got married that time. To quote the megastar, “40 years of ‘Abhimaan’… that is like 40 years of our marriage…the last shot of the film of Jaya and me coming out of the theatre after singing the climax song, and the crowds mobbing and applauding us, was done the day after we returned from our honeymoon in London.”

In fact, after their parents, Hrishi da was the 1st person who came to know that Amitabh and Jaya were getting married. He told Jaya, ‘I will not attend the wedding from your side, I will attend from my son’s side”. This was his affection for both of them.

Amitabh also says that Abhimaan was Hrishi-da’s gift to him for pulling him out of Guddi. The movie was produced under the banner “Amiya” productions


This movie which set Jaya Bhaduri on the road to super-stardom had the unusual storyline of a young girl in love with filmstar Dharmendra who refuses a marriage proposal from a normal person (played by Samit Bhanja, known for his work in Bengali movies), and finally she realises the difference between reality and illusion after she meets Dharmendra who plays himself.

Hrishi da had seen her diploma film, Suman, during a visit to FTII Pune. Highly impressed, he called her over to the Principal’s room and offered her the role of Guddi.

Interestingly, the role played by Samit Bhanja was supposed to be played by Amitabh Bachchan, but Hrishi-da, who directed Anand too, realized that Amitabh was made for bigger things and hence removed him from the secondary, lesser important role in Guddi.

The movie was also unique for having cameos by several stars including Dilip Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Amitabh, Vinod Khanna, Pran and many others. It had the lovely song, “Boley re papihara” , where Vani Jayram made her mark.

Gol Maal

This is a laugh riot. Nowadays Hindi movies are copied from South movies. However Gol Maal was remade in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and even Sinhala. It is one of Amol Palekar’s best movies and Utpal Dutt too has a memorable role as well. “Aanewala pal”, “Gol maal hai bhai sab gol maal hai”, “Ek baat kahu agar mano tum” and  “Ek din sapne me dekha sapna” are the four lovely songs of the movie.

Lata Mangeshkar had a rare guest appearance in this movie. Amitabh, Rekha, Hema, Zeenat and Keshto too had guest appearances in this movie.


This was one of Hrishi-da’s earlier movies. It starred Dadamoni Ashok Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar. Ashok Kumar won the Filmfare best actor award and the movie too won the National award for best film. The movie had the memorable song “Rail gaadi” , possibly India’s 1st rap song.


This has Rajesh Khanna in a light role. The movie showcases the superstar’s confidence as entire movie he is dressed as a cook wearing a white cap and does not have a romantic interest opposite him. Narration is by Amitabh Bachchan which once again shows how close the megastar and Hrishi da were. The movie has no title credits, either in beginning or the end and it is only Mr Bachchan who tells us who all are there in the movie. Rajesh Khanna plays the role of a chef who goes from house to house with the noble intention of preventing families from breaking up.

Manna Dey showcases his incredible singing skills with “Tum bin jeevan” and “Bhor aai gaya aandhiyaara”.

Govinda’s Hero No 1 is based on Bawarchi.

Namak Haraam

This film starred superstar Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh. By virtue of his superstar status, Kaka got all the top songs , namely, “Main shayar badnaam”, “Diye jalte hain” and “Nadiya se dariya”, all three beautifully sung by Kishore Kumar. Reportedly he changed the ending of the movie, and instead of Amitabh’s character as was originally supposed to be, it was Rajesh Khanna’s character who died as Kaka felt that it would get him more mileage and audience sympathy.

This movie set Amitabh up as a future superstar. Even Rajesh Khanna on watching his performance said that someone had finally come to replace him.

In the song “Diye jalte hain”, Amitabh is seen with a video recorder. This is the 1st time a video recorder is seen in Hindi movies. Rajesh Khanna had got it for his personal use and master director Hrishi da used it for the movie. This rare info/trivia was tweeted by Amitabh Bachchan.


Khoobsoorat won the best film award for 1981. Rekha plays a role which can be described as “refreshing” and she won the Filmfare best actress award as well. Dina Pathak’s role of a strict disciplinarian was memorable and Dadamoni played the perfect hen-pecked husband who loves his strict wife. “Sun sun sun didi tere liye” is a chirpy Asha Bhosle song which will always be remembered.

The movie was remade in 2014 and Sonam kapoor played Rekhas’s role.

Hrishi da will always be remembered as one of our greatest directors ever.

Pics credit; Hindu, youtube, India Today, Amazon, Saregama, Shemaroo.

(The writer is a Mumbai-based columnist. The views expressed in the column are his personal views.)

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