Who doesn’t need Period Dramas on screen after reading so many books, myths and all with the desired effect of sound, visuals and characters? The case is not only in India but everywhere! Where we just want to see and enjoy our past, deep-rooted in our soil come beautifully on screen…and then invest time on accuracy!
Well, in India…we have had the distinction of churning out some of the finest period drama classics in all languages which are remembered for their lavish sets, music score, performances and over the top dialogues mostly. Here is the list.
1. MUGHAL-E- AZAM (Hindi/ 1960/ K. Asif): ! Set during the 16th Century Mughal Empire, the film follows the love story between Salim and Anarkali which doesn’t go well with the then Mughal Emperor Akbar. The film’s production itself went so long and large which comprised of craftsmen coming from all parts of the country to match the accuracy of that times and even the Indian Army was called to take part in the fight scenes! Thankfully there was not PETA during that time…but yeah, along with the sets, the song picturization was so beautiful that even a legendary Hollywood filmmaker David Lean once came on sets to advice Asif! The cast, direction, music, sets, vocals, dialogues, cinematography….damn, enough said!
2. BAAHUBALI (Telugu/2015/ SS Rajmouli): Shot in about 3 years, the film revolves around a youngster who falls in love with a girl who is in a mission. How this mission includes him and lands him in a different situation forms the rest of the story…well with the second part keeping the entire world at bay as it’s undergoing production at present and releasing next year in April! . Though the film had it’s half work done on the post-production, the film’s sets and props went extensive research and planning and the lead actors Prabhas and Rana Duggabati had hardly any time to breathe as they had to pump and chisel their bods and every actor was undergoing training in warcraft! The film was equally marketted well where it went all nooks and corners within the country and was embraced by critics and public alike.
3. LAGAAN (Hindi/ 2001/ Ashutosh Gowariker): Kurosawa+ Ford+ Patriotism+ Cricket. That’s what sums the film. With the story written in 1996 within 5 months, the film underwent a struggle in finding a producer which Aamir Khan, the lead actor took the initiative. The film was shot over six months in the Kutch region, braving personal problems as well as chilling cold and the scorching heat, with temperatures going till 45 degrees! Set in the British Era in 1893, the film revolved a group of villagers fighting the British in their own game of cricket for abolishing the tax they had to pay. From all corners, the film won the hearts of many people largely where it also got the Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival and became the 3rd Indian film to be nominated in the Best Foreign Film Category of the Academy Awards!
4.ORU VADAKKAN VEERGATHA (Malayalam/ 1989/ Hariharan): One of the greatest Period films in Indian Cinema, the film revolved around one of the legendary warriors of North Malabar Chandu Chekavar which depicted an alternative version of how he was as a person and how he was betrayed (which was rarely known by that time) in a battle. The film won praises for the depiction of the legend, the narration,scoring and technical brilliance.
5. KERALA VARMA PAZHASSI RAJA (Malayalam/ 2009/ Hariharan): The same combo of Hairharan and Mamooty returned in this film too which revolved around a Hindu ruler of Malabar (erstwhile Kerala) who fought against the East India Company. The National Award winning film took about a year in pre-production and 2 years in production itself! The scoring by Maestro Illayaraja had the famous Hungarian Orchestra lending background vocals for the film’s score!
6. BAJIRAO MASTAANI (Hindi/ 2015/ Sanjay Leela Bhansali):If our parents and grandparents had “Mughal-E-Azam”, then we the young generation have “Bajirao Mastaani”.Its incomplete to imagine the list without this film. Initially being started with Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 2003, the film now had Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in the lead where an already married Maratha chieftain marries a Muslim princess and how their chemistry faces circumstances breaking barriers and so. The accuracy in the production design, scoring, performances, stunt sequences and dialogues…no wonder it swept the Filmfare Awards well and gained acclaim at the Nationals as well!
7. AAYIRATHIL ORUVAN (Tamil/ 2010/ Selvaraghavan): This cult-classic revolved around a team of archaeologists who are led by a crooked porter and the rest of the story revolves around the unknown part of the Chola Dynasty as well as its
unexplained connection with the present generation. Shot in various locations in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan with about 2000 extras, the film underwent many problems during the production, yet the film had its release and managed some decent success too, enjoying cult following at the present.
8. VEERPANDIYA KATTABOMMAN (Tamil/ 1959/ B.R. Panthulu): Another period classic in the Indian Cinema, the film revolved around a local Tamil ruler Kattaboman who fought against the East India Company. The first Tamil film being shot on technicolor, the film is remembered for it’s lavish sets which were mostly set in Jaipur, the performance by Sivaji Ganesan and the supporting cast, the music score which even now is fondly heard. The film’s shoot too underwent trouble due to extensive shoot during peak summers with so many lights for correct exposure due to slow speed of the film camera during that time. The film had it’s showcase in London, won awards in India and even at the Afro-Asian Film Festival 1959, as part of the Non-Aligned Movement.
9. UMRAO JAAN (Urdu/ 1981/ Muzaffar Ali): The film revolves around a courtesan who falls in love with a local ruler. Known for it’s score, production design, lyrical dialogues and specially the performance by Rekha, the film remains as one of the best period classics which had a female lead.
10. HARISHCHANDRACHI FACTORY (Marathi/ 2010/ Paresh Mokashi): A beautiful and subtle film based on the life and times of Dadasaheb Phalke and the making of first Indian motion picture “Raja Harishchandra” in 1913. The highly acclaimed film was shot without any movements, except few and in the same way Phalke’s films were shot. Highly embraced by the critics and audiences alike and praised for it’s accurate depiction on the times of the filmmaker, editing and the performances too, the film’s direction was called to be as the main highlight.