"Tera Kya Hoga Kalia?"
In 1950, when Sohrab Modi's Sheesh Mahal was being screened at Minerva Theatre in Bombay, the actor was present at the hall. Mr. Modi noticed a man sitting in the front row with closed eyes. Upset with such a reaction, he asked an attendant to let the viewer out and to return his money. The employee came back to say that the person was blind but had come just to hear Sohrab Modi's lines. Much earlier, Sohrab Modi had craved for a larger canvass, as a director, and as an actor, which propelled him to embark on an ambitious journey, wherein he did a trilogy based on the historical genre – “Pukar” (1939), “Sikandar” (1941) and “Prithvi Vallabh” (1943), wherein Modi made the most of his gift for wonderful dialogue delivery.
Perhaps Modi's greatest film was Sikander, the epic film set in 326 BC when Alexander the Great (Prithviraj Kapoor), having conquered Persia and the Kabul Valley, descends on the Indian border at Jhelum and encounters Porus (Modi), who stops the advance with his troops. Its dramatic, declamatory dialogue gave both Prithviraj Kapoor and Sohrab Modi free rein to their histrionic proclivities.
In all his early movies, Sohrab Modi re-created the look and sound of Parsee theatre by using frontal compositions and staging the narrative in spatial layers with copious use of Urdu dialogue, which was highly applauded by the audiences and attracted them again and again to the theaters for repeat watching of his films.
The title role in Sohrab Modi's Sikandar (1941) immortalized Prithviraj Kapoor. Undoubtedly, Modi's dream of making Sikander would have remained unfulfilled had he not roped in another actor with equally powerful voice, Prithiviraj Kapoor, to play the lead role of Alexander The Great. Kapoor was par excellence in the role, probably one of the best in his illustrious career. He exuded the charisma and strength of character that is the hall mark of an Emperor. His body language, the modulation of his voice, the style of his dialogue delivery are truly remarkable bringing forth the determination that would have characterized Alexander as he embarked on his mission to conquer the world. The film heightened his enduring reputation for playing royalty, enhanced further by his role as Akbar in Mughal-e-Azam (1960). The film boasts a cache of riches: high drama exquisitely verbalized through dialogues that can be shimmeringly ornate yet have the edge of a medieval sword. The regal Prithviraj Kapoor uses his booming voice to great effect that is extremely impressive, and continues to haunt movie-lovers. Dialogue like “Hum apne bete ke dhadakte hue dil ke liye Hindustan ki taqdeer nahin badal sakte” and “Mohabbat jo darti hai wo mohabbat nahin ayyashi hai, gunaah hai” became so famous that the makers of the film used them as blurbs on the film’s posters when the movie was released again recently in color.
Starting as one of the foremost leading ladies of her times, she remained active in Hindi and Marathi cinema, as well as theatre, for over 50 years, starring in around 200 films and numerous theatre productions. Durga played Ram’s fiercely resentful step-mother, Kaikeyi, in “Bharat Milap”, jealously coveting the throne for her own son. Durga Khote’s flashing verve and beauty, the fire-to-dulcet changes of voice and flame-like personification of the grasping queen made one understand, if not quite condone the old king’s doting weakness. She excelled in her craft leaving a lasting impression with her performance in V. Shantaram`s Amar Jyoti (1936) and Baburao Painter`s Pratibha (1937). The major highlights of Sohrab Modi's Prithvi Vallabh (1943) were the confrontations between Modi and Durga Khote, the haughty queen Mrinalvati, who tries to humiliate him publicly but then falls in love with him. She played royal characters and mythological roles to the hilt, thanks to her regal looks and wonderful dialog delivery. No one can forget her performance as Jodhabai, queen of Emperor Akbar, who was torn between her duty towards her husband and her love for her son, in K. Asif’s historical film Mughal-e-Azam (1960). She played this role with dignity and grace and no wonder, her role in this film was widely appreciated.
“Jaani… hum tumhein maarenge, aur zaroor maarenge, par bandook bhi hamari hogi, goli bhi hamari hogi, aur waqt bhi hamara hoga!” (Darling… I'll kill you, most definitely, but the gun will be mine, as will the bullet, and the time too will be decided by me) — Raj Kumar in the film Saudagar.
Jaani… a term of endearment, is synonymous with actor Raj Kumar, the King of dialogue delivery. Raaj Kumar’s unique style of dialogue delivery made him a darling of millions. So much so that filmmakers would instruct their dialogue writers to take extra pains to pack the dialogue meant for this actor with extraordinary punch. He made any number of dialogues famous with his effective delivery but the one that became most famous is “Sheeshe ke gharon mein rehne wale doosron par patthar nahin fenka karte, Chinoy Seth” in Waqt.
Having acted in Hindi films for over four decades, he can best be described as an unconventional hero, with a pencil-thin moustache, a deadpan face and stony eyes, but with an understated acting style that blended beautifully with one of the most forceful and iconic dialogue deliveries that Bollywood has seen. Who can forget that punchy dialogue from the hit film Tiranga, where Raj Kumar says, “Na talwaar ki dhaar se, na goliyon ki bauchaar se… banda darta hai to sirf parvardigaar se” (The sword doesn't scare me, neither does the shower of bullets… all that I fear is the Lord Almighty).
In the Hindi film industry's first multi-starrer, B.R. Chopra's Waqt, Raj Kumar towered among the stalwarts, his baritone spouting one of the most memorable dialogues in Hindi films: “Chinai Seth, chhuri bachchon ke khelne kee cheez nahin hoti, haath kat jaye to khoon nikal aata hai.” (Knives are no playthings for children; when cut, the hand bleeds.)
And, the Mother of all romantic filmi dialogues — Kamal Amrohi wrote some really flowery romantic lines for his 1972 epic, Pakeezah. In one scene, Raaj Kumar leaves a note near a sleeping Meena Kumari's feet. It says in his raspy voiceover: 'Aap ke paon dekhe, bahut haseen hai. Inhe zameen par mat utariyega maile ho jayenge." (I saw your feet, they are beautiful. Don't lower them on the ground they will get soiled.)
Living legend Amitabh Bachchan made several dialogues famous with his unique voice and style of delivery. Who can forget his rebuke to Pran in Zanjeer (Ye police station hai, tumhare baap ka ghar nahin) or his bid to put Sanjeev Kumar to shame in Trishul (Aur aap mere najayaz baap hain)? He has delivered Hindi cinema's most memorable dialogues that have stayed with us, becoming entrenched in our daily speech. In the era of action films, Amitabh Bachchan dominated the scene in his signature baritone voice. From the intense "Aaj bhi main phenke hue paise nahi utthata" (Deewaar) to comic "Munchche hon to Natthuram jaisi hon warna na hon" (Sharaabi), from romantic "Main aur meri tanhaai aksar yeh baate karte hain" (Silsila) to commanding "Rishtey mein to hum tumhare baap lagte hain, naam hai Shahenshah" (Shahenshah) and the all-encompassing "Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai" (Don) — he delivered his lines with such conviction that you not only believed what he said but also remembered his lines long after. Amitabh’s dialogues are still the USP of his films.
A superb scene from Deewaar. Amitabh: "Aaj mere paas buildinge hain, property hai, bank balance hai, bungla hai, gaadi hai. Kya hai tumhaare paas?" (I have buildings, properites, bank balance, bungalow and a car. What do you have?)
Shashi Kapoor: "Mere paas maa hai." (I have our mother.)
This scene and dialogue from Amitabh’s Zanjeer was fabulous. The scene where Pran comes to meet him at the police station and Amitabh says, “Yeh police station hai tumhare Baap Ka ghar nahi.”
"English is a phunny language," agrees Amitabh in Namak Halal before he launches on his famously breathless cricket commentary.
Big B was always famous for his screen name and no one has still forgotten this dialogue from Agneepath - Vijay Dinanath Chauhan.
Shatrughan Sinha had started making his presence felt in the film circuit within a year of his entry into the films. If the superhit Khilona brought him the much-needed recognition, Gulzar’s Mere Apne (1971) raised him to the pedestal of a star. He played the role of a street don who has bitter enmity with his rival Vinod Khanna. He was able to make that much-needed impact with his performance, particularly his powerful dialogue delivery. Shatrughan Sinha had a booming voice that instantly connected with 1970s audience. Meena Kumari, who worked with him in Mere Apne, had observed that Shatrughan punctuated his dialogue according to his whim; he placed a comma in place of a full stop, but held the audience in thrall, nonetheless. Watch this scene: Shatrughan Sinha (playing gang-leader Chhainu) to a ration shop owner: "Ghaslet, bachche ghaslet. Mitti ka tel. Agar phir bhi samajh na aaya ho toh dukaan ko aag lagakar samjhaun ..." (If you don't comprehend what kerosene is, I can set your shop afire so that you can understand.)
Shatrughan Sinha tasted major success with Subhash Ghai’s thriller Kalicharan (1976). The movie proved decisive in his career and he started doing more hero roles after this. The Ghai-Sinha-Roy trio delivered another hit right after Kalicharan in the form of Vishwanath (1976). Sinha then worked with the best directors of those times: Prakash Mehra (Jwalamukhi, 1980), Manmohan Desai (Naseeb, 1971), Ramesh Sippy (Shaan, 1980), Raj Khosla (Dostana, 1980) and Yash Chopra (Kaala Patthar, 1979). In Kaala Patthar, Dostana and Naseeb, Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan brought the best out of each other. The confrontation scene between him and Amitabh Bachchan in the movie Kala Patthar (1979) is often considered as one of the greatest confrontation scenes between two heroes in a Hindi movie.
“Khamosh!!” (meaning shut up!!!) is one of his most famous dialogues.
Director N. Chandra cast him in his 1986 film – Ankush. This film did wonderfully well and suddenly Nana was on the road to stardom. Nana Patekar has been involved in some really nice movies that have touched the audiences in one or the other way in such a manner that he will be remembered for these roles for a long time to come. What is most note worthy of his acting is his dialogue delivery. Parinda depicted him as a villain running an underworld nexus involved in money laundering, kidnapping and such activities. He played the role to perfection along with Jackie Shroff and the movie was a country wide success. The role fetched him the National Award and also the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also played major role in the 1996 hit movie Khamoshi The Musician directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and co-starring with Salman Khan and Manisha Koirala At times during his career, it was noted that he was an epitome of the "angry young man" role and that he was well suited for such roles and would carry it on as a forerunner of Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty.
The other film worth mentioning is ‘Krantiveer’ made by Mehul Kumar. It had the typical fast dialogue delivery by Nana and he said it all with such authority that those who saw the movie at the cinema halls stood up and applauded every time he said something. So metamorphic was this movie that all the people from the Bollywood fraternity, all the critics, the press, the audiences took note of his acting. His acting was vindicated when he was honored with the National Award, the Star Screen Award and the Filmfare Award for Best Actor for this very movie.
When it comes to dialogue, one just cannot afford to conclude an article without mentioning Sholay. The makers of the film were so overwhelmed by the popularity of its dialogues (penned by Salim-Javed) that they took the unprecedented step of bringing out albums of that. Whether it was Veeru (Dharmendra) or Jai (Amitabh Bachchan), the angrezon ke zamaane ke jailor (Asrani) or Soorma Bhopali (Jagdeep), their dialogues simply mesmerized the cine-goers. But the dialogues that attained the maximum popularity were those delivered by Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan). And from among his lot, the ones that continue to top the popularity charts even today are the one-liners, “Kitne aadmi the?” and “Tera kya hoga Kalia?”