An ‘Adults Only’ film doing business comparable to normal films, when their restricted certification, in theory, cuts off a sizable chunk of the audience is considered almost phenomenal as an index of mass endorsement. Though occasional films of diverse genres like Ram Teri Ganga Maili or Nagina have also come in this category (as the biggest hits respectively of 1985 and 1986), the ones that stand out are the ‘Angry’ films.
With the anti-corruption saga Satyameva Jayate notching up a record Rs. 20.52 crore as its opening-day collection (humongous for not only a solo John Abraham film but also for a movie certified for Adults Only), it is time to look back at ‘angry’ films tackling ‘universal’ issues like corruption at all levels and of every kind).
The 1980s phase was perhaps considered the peak phase of corruption as a social sickness. By the 1990s, a lot of the populace had become inured to it, accepting it as a part of life. In recent years, the quantum of this evil has decreased and the anti-corruption movement has spiked manifold, but this hydra-headed evil does exist. In that sense, Satyameva Jayate reminds us that we have a long way to go to free society of this many-headed evil.
Meri Awaaz Suno (1981)
Directed by: S.V. Rajendra Singh
This S.V. Rajendra Singh-directed film based on the Kannada film Antha (1981), which was also remade in Telugu as Antham Kadidi Aaramdham had graphic violence (the sequence in which the pregnant heroine – Hema Malini – is murdered stood out). The South banner Padmalaya acquired its reputation in Mumbai with this hard-hitting, if (definitely) crude film starring Jeetendra as the avenging cop. It ranked among the year’s top ten grossers and was a super-hit all over, reflecting the common man’s angst and their fantasy of a bloody end for evil.
Andhaa Kaanoon (1983)
Directed by: T. Rama Rao
If Rajinikanth (in his Hindi debut) was the cop, Amitabh Bachchan was the avenger. This cerebral film based on a Tamil film Sattam Oru Iruttarai was directed by T. Rama Rao. It exposed two loopholes in the Indian Penal Code that Bachchan’s character took full advantage of as Nemesis to the evildoers who had destroyed his family. The novel angle got the audiences roaring with applause and the film stood out for its crisp script, crisper editing and superb climax. It ranked among the top three hits of the year despite the ‘Adults Only’ tag.
Aaj Ki Awaz (1984)
Directed by: Ravi Chopra
Ravi Chopra’s sole saving grace as director before Baghban was a super-violent revenge drama that also took on the system and the corrupt forces. Raj Babbar was the exterminating machine here, when his family goes through hell. The 1980s is generally considered a dark phase in Hindi cinema, and nothing can be bigger proof than the fact that this film emerged as the biggest hit of that year and 1984’s only super-hit.
Directed by: Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma’s violent opus saw a cop versus criminal saga with the latter being a dictatorial businessman so evil that he seemed like a terrorist. As with such strongly emotional films that needed to connect with audiences, a twist was brought in to give a personal angle. The Dharmendra film clearly had elements that are used in Satyameva Jayate and Sadashiv Amrapurkar as the villain made a breakthrough here. Outclassing better and universally-certified films like Mr. India and Khudgarz, Hukumat thundered on to become the biggest hit of that year.
Directed by: Mehul Kumar
Nana Patekar was the fiery revolutionary here, a son of a freedom fighter, and K.K. Singh’s story and screenplay and high-voltage lines packed a mega-punch. This was strictly not an Adults only film but certified U/A. But its intensity was huge and the premise so solid that it romps in here as the only exception. The best part of the film was that this hero who kills all the corrupt ministers and is sentenced to death, gets a last-minute pardon.
This Mehul Kumar film would have topped 1994 had it not been for the release of Hum Aapke Hain Koun!… that year! And unlike many South remakes in this list, this cult film was, instead, remade at least twice in the South!
Directed by: Prabhu Dheva
The action was interpreted as violence and the 2009 film that flagged off Salman Khan’s Eid connection was then certified for Adults only – never mind if the film is a blockbuster on satellite today! A remake of the Telugu Pokkiri that was skillfully adapted for pan-Indian audiences, it had a very cerebral plot with a massive twist. Superb punch-lines and a whopper climax made this film a hit in times when Eid was not considered a favourable box-office phase. Released today, it would have sailed probably past the 200 crore mark, as its freshness and appeal are timeless.