As some patrons of this blog may agree, the humanist ideals professed in literature, lyrics and cinema of mid 20th century Hindustan perhaps seem a little anachronistic in the modern plug and play notion of good living. Sentiments like “All men are created equal” or “Everyone is entitled to happiness” don’t really wash in a period so firmly fragmented on multiple fault lines and entrenched in sharp class, caste and religious distinctions.
Perhaps it is time to send a powerful rebuke to the persistent tyrannies of contemporary India by celebrating cinema of our past humanism. With unmistakable thematic resonances, these forgotten films demonstrate how compassion can overcome the forces of hatred and oppression while remaining decent and humane in an inhospitable world. The coexistence of optimism, tragedy, mysticism, magic and transcendence is responsible for profoundly moving art. That they entertain while remaining honest to their original vision fits like cherry on the cake.
With gratitude, we proudly present the abandoned roll of honor.