Monday, June 27, 2011

More opening credits: Jaal, Chhupa Rustam and Bombay Talkie

(A follow up to this post)

I had a memory of seeing the 1986 film Jaal in a movie hall, probably Green Park's Uphaar: it was a standard-issue potboiler starring Rekha, Mithun Chakraborty and (surprise surprise) Jeetendra in yet another Special Appearance. But what I didn’t remember – until reader Ahmad Tookhi brought it to my attention – were the opening credits of that film. I won't go so far as to say this sequence represents the acme of creativity and artistic ambition in 1980s Bollywood, but it comes close enough. Watch for yourself (it goes on till the 3.40 mark).

Vinod Mehra was a dependable actor at most times, but I think he deserved a special Filmfare Award just for keeping a straight face during these scenes. What must it feel like to see “Colour Consultant”, “Dress Designers” and “Makeup” neatly printed on a door that’s just been slammed in your face? I also enjoy the way he subtly draws the curtain aside so that “Anand Bakshi” is fully visible, and how he appears to have a breakdown on seeing “Annu Malik” written on the wall. (And I wonder how Tanuja felt about having her name written on the road and then coolly stomped on.)

But here’s another inventive title sequence, from Vijay Anand’s 1973 film Chhupa Rustam. (The “money shot” begins a little after the 5-minute mark.)

Have to admit, this is a one-note concept compared to Jaal. Besides, watching it made me dizzy. (It also made me think of Dev Anand’s train reminiscences, as described here.)

Finally, on a less corny note, here's the video of one of my favourite title sequences ever – the beautiful opening of Merchant-Ivory’s Bombay Talkie. Do keep the volume turned up; Shanker-Jaikishan’s music is ethereal.

(I wrote about the sequence, and the film, in this old post, but the video wasn’t online back then.)


  1. thanks for this gem! had completely missed this aspect of Jaal.
    The merchant ivory title sequence has always been a favourite, though among more recent films i thought Luck By Chance had a neat title sequence as well :)

  2. Jai, Here is a totally unconnected observation. You may or may not have realized but the background score that accompanies the opening credits in 'Chhupa Rustam' eventually became the song 'Mera pyar Shalimar' by R D Burman.

  3. Ok, how did you manage, while posting the first video, to forget mentioning Rekha's gorgeous fusion dance right after the opening credits? I'm no expert in dance moves and styles, but this stuff merits a mention!

  4. Very Eisner-ish. Brilliant finds.

  5. Wonderful, Jai! Can we have sequels of this post?

  6. Totally unrelated.

    Wes Anderson used the same track as the the one in the opening credits of Bombay Talkie for the ending credits in The Darjeeling Limited. Of course, most of the music in that film was either from Merchant Ivory Productions or composed by Ray. This particular track, though, had me bowled over almost immediately.

  7. Great fun! Thanks! I too wondered how those people felt about having their names walked on. The Rekha dance was a bonus - I especially loved the part where she chest-butted the drunk guy out of her way. And the face! She's wonderful.

    Isn't there an award for best titles, or did I just read a discussion somewhere in the dim past that there should be?

  8. I was expecting Mithun to say 'Dekh seth, apna na to koi father hai na godfather, hai to sirf ek mother (instead of maa)'! Disappointed! :-D

  9. The start credits of Rohan Sippy's Kuch na Kaho (2003) was quite innovative. Shot inside a bathroom, they used the props to show credits.

  10. I actually loved the END credits of both Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om.

  11. the opening credits of each movies of V. Shantaram are out of this's the surreal things.
    None can copy it.

  12. Nice. The opening credits of Bombay Talkie reminded me of the credits in La Cava's My Man Godfrey. Somewhat similar with credits displayed on lighted street billboards in the dark.

    I prefer the Orson Welles style of crediting artists though. Both in Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, we don't have any opening credits. However, at the end of the film, there is a very intimate introduction to the artists who played characters we cared for!

    I find that more appropriate too. Why flaunt one's identity to strangers? Introduce yourself only to people who have liked you well enough to sit through the whole film.

  13. Funny !
    Lmao at Deepti's comment. It really is a "gorgeous fusion dance" . Lets call it KabaddiNatyam?

    Seriously Jai, how could you miss it?

  14. First time commenter. Was drawn to your blog by your brilliant "Whorism in film writing" article, and commented on it just now. Not sure if you receive notifications on every comment (even on older posts), so leaving a small note here regarding the same. Cheers!

  15. Hi Jai,

    Why don't comments on your blog display the date as well along with the time of posting? For older comments, what's the point of seeing just the time?

  16. Having a mad time trying to remember a movie presumably starring (again) Jeetendra which opens with credits written in multi-colored chalk marks on a wall of some historical monument.

    At first I thought it was Lok Parlok, but YT proved me wrong (side note: for a zany movie such as Lok Parlok, the credits are very bland).

    Does any one know which movie this is?

    Please do tell me if you figure out!