These big happenings in Bollywood in year 1969 turn 50 years old

Year 1969 – the last year of the decade of 1960s is associated with some of the biggest happenings of Bollywood, which have become a part of Indian cinema history. Though the first half of the year was as smooth as usual, it was not the same in the second half. With the release of Aradhana (1969) in the late 1960s towards the end of the decade, the whole equation of Bollywood cinema changed suddenly beyond expectations. With India’s first superstar born through Rajesh Khanna, with the magical voice of Kishore Kumar, who was an under-rated playback singer till then, with the early dawn of 1970s, Bollywood cinema had changed so much. It can be said that it took many laps in a few months, though in usual case such happenings usually take so many years to achieve. Yes Bollywood was changing, with new benchmarks created. With the beginning of new decade, Bollywood was never like before. People’s taste towards music changed with more people welcoming Western music, their images about screen idols changed and much more, within a flash of a second or two. No doubt, 1969 was a path changing and milestone year in Hindi cinema, both in commercial cinema and parallel movement.

Landmark year for offbeat films with the release of Bhuvan Shome

1969 movies

It was not just the case of Bollywood; Indian cinema also witnessed a great change in parallel cinema, with the release of off-beat Hindi movie, Bhuvan Shome in 1969. Mrinal Sen’s masterpiece introduced Indian cinema to a new world that was never experienced before. The film which won many accolades including elite three awards at National Film awards (best film, director and male actor) is considered a landmark in modern Indian cinema. Utpal Dutt received National award for best actor. Suhasini Mulay marked her screen debut with this film. After that many great movies were born in this series belonging to different languages, giving a new face to Indian cinema, and many great artists. Interestingly Amitabh Bachchan who made screen debut exactly the same year was the narrator of the film. So year 1969 gave India its first two superstars, who went on to script history in the following years.  

A new star and era born through Aradhana and Rajesh Khanna in 1969

In my previous post I have explained in detail about the movie which celebrates golden jubilee year in 1969 and around 50 interesting facts related to it. Please read it here. Aradhana was the biggest blockbuster of the year, and also gave stardom to Rajesh Khanna who was a less-known actor till then, with majority of flops. R. D. Burman who served as the associate music composer of the film recorded the songs originally composed by his father, and also gave a new life to Kishore Kumar as a playback singer, who was only associated with Dev Anand till then, compositions done by S. D. Burman. Interestingly S. D. Burman who composed songs of Aradhana reserved a few songs for Rafi. When the singer was not available, R. D. Burman went on to record those couple of songs in Kishore Kumar’s voice, which scripted history in Hindi film music.

After songs of the movie turned huge chartbusters, R. D. Burman turned the most busy composer of 1970s. With the fall of great composers of 1950s and 1960s in the early 1970s, R. D. emerged as the number 1 composer, and he revolutionized Hindi film music for the next 15 years or so. Rafi also lost his supremacy in Bollywood, and Kishore Kumar emerged as the leading male playback voice. It was Khanna all over with his one-acts in the first half of 1970s, which virtually ended the careers of top romantic heroes of 1960s. Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Biswajeet and Joy Mukherjee were those leading names, followed by Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar etc. Only those actors who travelled with the change of time and accepted the change of trend sustained in Bollywood – Dev Anand, Shashi Kapoor, Dharmendra etc.

With ‘Saat Hindustani’ in 1969, Amitabh Bachchan entered the field of acting

Saat Hindustani’ marked screen debut of Amitabh Bachchan in a supporting role as one among the 7 youths. Malayalam popular actor Madhu marked his Bollywood debut in the lead role in this film, during his glorious years in professional life. Though the movie was a flop, followed by a series of flops, the movie will always be remembered in the name of Amitabh Bachchan.

In 2019 Amitabh Bachchan completes 50 years in Bollywood, and Rajesh Khanna also, for his super stardom, and the hysteria among fans. Thus year 1969 is significant to both the superstars of Hindi cinema, two great pillars. As interesting fact to add – both the actors were born in the year of Quit India Movement, and more interesting is that Big B is two months older to Khanna. Yet Amitabh had a long career in Bollywood comparing with Khanna.

We lost actress Madhubala in year 1969

When I have added so many positive things in this post, let me complete it with one unhappy incident. Queen of hearts – Madhubala left us exactly 50 years ago in February 1969, and a comparatively young age of 36. Unarguably Madhubala is the most beautiful face captured by Bollywood cameras, who owned a huge fan following crowd as well. She has been suffering from ventricular septal defect, a heart disease which didn’t have treatment then. She was fully active in the entertainment field without caring her deteriorating health, and also had turned to film direction, during the final phase of her life.

Let me conclude this topic by adding one more interesting fact here. I have never seen in mentioned anywhere else. This fact strikes my mind while I was remembering the diva. Madhubala left us at a young age in year 1969 and Kishore Kumar became the voice of the nation exactly the same year. Didn’t it influence Kishore Kumar’s life at least a little bit, who turned so busy in the early 1970s. I wonder! Yes, both these happenings complete 50 long years. What an irony!!!!!

Basu Chatterjee marked his directorial debut with Sara Akash in 1969

The acclaimed director Basu Chatterjee who created a trend of weaving realistic stories with fun-filled moments and incidents depicting the middle class of Indian society marked his directorial debut with Sara Akash in 1969. Needless to say it began a trend of mid-cap realistic and simple films, but with entertainment value. Many filmmakers have come and gone in Bollywood. But when it comes to storytelling of common and simple incidents of middle class, no other director has been as skillful as Basu Chatterjee, and the way he tells stories surprise audience a lot. Sara Akash also marked the debut of cinematographer K. K. Mahajan, who was till then associated with documentaries. The artist is best known for his work in Parallel Cinema.

Conclusion: It was in year 1969 Shammi Kapoor married Neela Devi Gohil, after the death of his first wife Geeta Bali in 1965. Veteran singer Usha Uthup started her career as a singer in a club in Chennai in year 1969. Thus she also celebrates her 50th year of profession now.

This is not one of the biggest happenings of 1969. But one of my personal favourite songs of Lata Mangeshkar, best among R. D. Burman tunes – Na Jaa Mere Humdum from Pyar Ka Mausam got released this year. It’s exactly for the same movie, same song – Tum Bin Jao Kahan was recorded by Pancham separately in the voices of Rafi and Kishore; perhaps first time ever in Bollywood. Aamir Khan’s younger brother Faisal Khan as a 3 year toddler played Shashi Kapoor’s child role in the movie. Most probably it would have been Aamir’s first screen appearance, because his uncle Nasir Hussain reserved that role for him. If that role was done by Aamir, he alongside Amitabh Bachchan would have celebrated his 50th year in Bollywood this year.

Before I conclude, let me add a few Bollywood celebrities who celebrate their 50th birthday this year. Actors – Ajay Devgan, Bobby Deol and Manoj Bajpai, and born in year 1969. Also actors like Ayub Khan, Vivek Mushran, Manish Choudhary and Mukesh Tiwari, celebrated screenwriter Abhijat Joshi who scripted several movies for Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani, and actor Vineeth who played Shashidar in Bhool Bhulayya were also born in 1969. Let me add one more thing. India’s Nightingale received her first Padma honours in year 1969. She was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1969, first ever recognition by government of India. If I come across any such striking incidents of year 1969, I shall definitely add here. Please let me know if you come across any.


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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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