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Birthday special: The era when Subhash Ghai delivered 9 consecutive hits

Although the filmmaker hasn’t made a film in a long time, his hit record at one time was very impressive.

Keyur Seta

After Raj Kapoor, only Subhash Ghai has been honoured with the title of ‘Showman.’ Although the filmmaker hasn’t delivered a hit since long, his record at one point of time was very impressive. In fact, there was a time when he had as many as nine consecutive hits!

On Ghai’s 72nd birthday, let’s have a look at his period which spans from 1982 to 1999. 

Vidhaata (1982)

The film had an ensemble cast of Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt (just his third film), Amrish Puri and Padmini Kolhapure. Vidhaata was a revenge saga but it didn’t have a tried-and-tested storyline and treatment. The manner in which Dutt’s character gets to know his real story and identity is what makes this film different from the regular films on the subject. After his debut Rocky (1981), Sanjay Dutt reinforced his image as a promising young actor. 

Hero (1983)

Hero was the launch of Jackie Shroff. Before this film, he had made a small appearance in Dev Anand and TK Desai’s Swami Dada (1982). But the journey of his first film as a prominent character didn’t start off well. Hero didn’t take off at the box-office initially. In an old interview, Ghai shared that he had advised Shroff to return to modelling as he didn’t see any hope for the film. However, it picked up after the first two weeks and went on to become a success as the audience was impressed with the action-romance saga. 

Meri Jung (1985)

Anil Kapoor was in the initial years of his career when he did this film and was appreciated for his act as a lawyer. The film had all the elements of a commercial potboiler — injustice, revenge, emotions, family values, courtroom drama and romance. But, as is his usual style, Ghai succeeds in blending these elements in a family entertainer. Meri Jung also boasted of an interesting supporting cast of Girish Karnad, Khushboo, Nutan, Amrish Puri, Javed Jaffrey and Meenakshi Sheshadri. 

Karma (1986)

This was yet another family entertainer with a number of elements in the background — terrorism, patriotism, romance, redemption and action. Starring Dilip Kumar, Anupam Kher, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor, Sridevi and Poonam Dhillon, Ghai once again succeeded in giving enough footage to everyone. People still associate Kher with Dr Dang’s character. Ghai’s strong music sense was also seen here. ‘Dil Diya Hai Jaan Bhi Denge’ continues to be one of the premier patriotic songs even today. 

Ram Lakhan (1989)

Ghai continued his winning ways after a three-year gap with Ram Lakhan. Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff had featured in a few of his films before this one. So, it wasn’t a surprise to see them appear together in a two-hero project. The two of them showed great chemistry while playing two starkly opposite characters. Despite the film being a revenge drama, it scored high in the emotional quotient as well. Even almost 30 years since the release, Kapoor is still associated with his iconic ‘My Name Is Lakhan’ song from this film. 

Saudagar (1991) 

By this time, Ghai had become an expert in casting older and younger stars together and giving each generation a good amount of importance. Saudagar had Dilip Kumar, one of his favourites, and Raj Kumar pitted against each other. The dialogue baazi between both is iconic, to say the least, with some lines still being recalled by film lovers. The film was the launch pad for Vivek Mushran and Manisha Koirala. Their pair and the song ‘Ilu Ilu’ had become popular back then. 

Khal Nayak (1993)

Subhash Ghai tried an unusual trend of casting a bad guy as the protagonist in Khal Nayak. Needless to say, the film was a family entertainer despite that. He cast Sanjay Dutt after a long time and the actor was terrific in the titular role. Jackie Shroff and Madhuri Dixit too played their parts well, with the latter’s ‘Choli Ke Peechhe’ song turning out to be a rage. The film was also helped by the controversy of Dutt being arrested for possessing illegal arms just before the release of the film. 

Pardes (1997)

Shah Rukh Khan had worked with Subash Ghai in the dud Trimurti (1995), but the latter was only its producer. Pardes was his first and only film with the actor. The film was a love story, emotional drama with a dose of patriotism. As per his habit, the maker provided with another famous track — ‘Yeh Mera India.’ The film also boasted other hit numbers like, ‘Do Dil,’ ‘Yeh Dil Deewana’ and ‘Nahin Hona Tha.’ Pardes reinforced Shah Rukh's image as the superstar. 

Taal (1999)

Starring Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and Akshaye Khanna, Taal added yet another musical entertainer to Subhash Ghai’s filmography. The songs of this film, composed by AR Rahman, still play in the minds of the audience. Like Ghai’s favourite trend, this film too had a long supporting cast with each doing what was required perfectly. The musical story of a singer torn between her lover and a person who can help her fulfil her dreams worked well.