This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
This book is more of a personal account of an individual, which means there, is bound to be difference in taste and choices. With '40 Retakes – Bollywood Classics You May Have Missed', as the name suggests, author Avijit Ghosh details those films which he believes are classics. Of course they range from being vintage to modern day classics. Also, this means that instead of going through the usual choices of Mughal-E-Azam, Sholay or 3 Idiots, he picks up 40 such films that have been underrated for years in succession.
This means newer films like Sehar, Haasil and Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year find mention in this 300 odd page book where Ghosh indulges in some good detailing to narrate what makes them special. What he does well is not just coming up with a desk job of entirely narrating his own account but also bringing some facts and quotes from those associated with the film. This leads to some interesting trivia and anecdotes which makes the chapters much more interesting than what perhaps the film in itself.
As mentioned earlier, it is all about personal taste here but when some films like Gulaal, Hulla, The Stoneman Murders or Aar Yaa Paar are hailed as classics, it seems like stretching it a little too far. Really, I have seen each of these films and really liked them as well. However, even popular notion going by online rating from 'aam junta' on popular forums would reveal that they haven't quite attained a 'classic' status, despite being truly loved by most who have seen it.
Ghosh makes an interesting point by stating that most of these films were commercial no-runners and are tough to find on the DVD circuits as well. This also includes many other relatively unknown films such as 1971, Naseem, Khamosh and Janam to name a few. Resultantly, it becomes a tad pointless because after reading a synopsis and a little more in this book, it is rather disappointing not to be able to actually watch them so as to know what the hype here is all about.
Meanwhile, there are some interesting films mentioned such as Aghaat, Yeh Raat Phir Naa Aayegi and Gaddaar that truly fascinate you into having a dekko at these. For that, Ghosh deserves credit for making some unconventional choices an opening up an entirely different stream of films.
However, when one reads about films such as Mr. Sampat, Footpath, Cha Cha Cha, Kohraa etc., most belonging to the Black & White era, one does get an impression that it is director's childhood memories of watching them coming into play and that too from the times when Doordarshan was the sole provider of cinema.
'40 Retakes – Bollywood Classics You May Have Missed' doesn't quite list down the films that could have been a populist's choice. But then the irony here is that the book's title itself mentions 'classics you may have missed'. For the ones which have been missed and can't really be seen even today, it is quite a paradox for the very premise of the book.
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