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Gumnaam se Ghajini tak: The evolution of Hindi movie titles Thursday, 9 April, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
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This is my first post on PFC cross posted here.

To me, one of the best things I like about Hindi movies is their title. As a kid I always tried to guess about the plot, hero and the general reason behind the title. What is the plot of Saudagar ?  Why is some are Khuddar but some are Khudgarz ? Who sacrificed what in Qurbaani ? Under what circumstances Albert Pinto ko gussa kyun aata hai ? Obviously I did not have better things to think about, during those laid back days of 70’s & 80’s. So, I simply loved movie titles & their fonts. While fonts are a huge subject altogether, let me present my interpretations on the various types of titles in this post. As this is my first post in PFC, request readers to grin & bear the (inadvertent) factual errors. Also I don’t claim to have seen even 20% of the movies listed here. I got few of the names from wiki database.

If I am asked to generally categorize the interesting Hindi movie titles, I would try as follows-

Single Word– Probably the most universal concept to title a movie to have the maximum impact. Anand, Safar, Khamoshi, Sholay, Karma, Deewar, Karz, Dostana, Sagar, Betab, Kaalia, Bobby, Mili etc are gems from the yesteryears. A single word is simple, beautiful and can be used to express multiple meanings simultaneously. Sometimes it’s the main protagonist of the film (Madhumati, Chandni, Iqbal), sometimes it represents the main emotion of the film (Dhoka, Dhamkee, Milan, Pareeksha, Parvarish). Can you think of any other name for the movie Khilona or Masoom or Gumnaam ? However this style was most prevalent during 70’s & 80’s superhits and faded during the 90’s. Few titles are Ashiqui, Daud, Satya for romance, humour and gangster genre which I liked a lot, respectively.  Ghulam, Yuvraaj, Fashion, Aamir, Jannat, Tashan, Sarkar are few of latest with one word wonder. There are few movies which I have not seen but has amazingly intriguing single word titles- Loha, Jallad, Charas.

Two Word – The most interesting cases are when, one word were necessarily an adjective and the other a noun. Few quick examples are Jaali Note, Toote Khilone, Lal Pari,  Kala admi, Amar Prem, Kala bazaar, Naya paisa, Purana Mandir, Junglee Jawani, Amar prem, Andha kanoon, Ajeeb Ladki, Safed Jhuth, Kaala paani, Oonche Log, Chhoti Ma, Bade Bhai, chhoti Bahen, Badi Didi,  Jehreela Insaan, Udan khatola, Safed Haathi, Black Friday, Roadside Romeo. Then we have twin words like Sachha Jootha, Asli Naqli, Heera Panna, Heere Moti,  Laila Mahnu, Sohni Mahiwal, Naram Garam, Raja rani,  Daana pani, Ma, baap, Baap Beta, Chacha Bhatija, Gauri Shankar, Jodha Akbar, Ram Balram, Ghar Sansar, Jung Bahadur, Naag Champa, Karan Arjun, Ram Lakhan. Few rare examples of repeat word titles are Dance Dance, Bhai Bhai, Khoon Khoon, Fifty fifty, Zindagi Zindagi, Chupke Chupke and rarest Chori Chori Chupke Chupke.  Multilingual two word titles deserve a special category and thus mentioned separately below.

Three word – Out of all I like the two words necessarily divided by “Ki”, “ka” and “Aur”. I simply adore the first two segment. The titles itself are so exciting! Hindi cinema were ruled by ‘X ki Y’ titled movies.  Yaadon Ki Baraat, Barsaat ki raat, Mehlon Ke Khwab, Mohabbat ki Jeet, Kashmir Ki Kali, Jawani ki Hawa, Shadi ki raat, Aaj Ki Baat Alladin Ka chirag, Kagaaz ka phool, Chaudvin ka chand, Baghdad Ka Chor, Choron Ka Chor, Sapno Ka Saudagar, Pathhar Ke Sanam, Raaton ka Raja, Man Ki Aankhen, Haathi Ke Daant, Sone Ki Chidiya, Bhabhi ki Chuudiyaan,  Pyaar Ka Mandir, Zamane ki Hawa, Gaon ki kahani, Khatron ka Khiladi, Pyar ka saya, Ghar Ka Chirag Gunahon Ka Devta, Daulat ki Jung, Insaniyat ka Dushman, Insaaf ka tarazoo,  Dudh ka Karz, Man ka meet, kamal ke phool, Raampur Ka Lakshman, Aaj ki awaz, Kal Ki Awaaz, Muqaddar ka Sikander, Khosla ka ghosla….and the list can go on & on. I was amazed to see Amrita Singh had acted in number  of such movies.-  Kal Ki Awaz (1992), Pyaar Ka Saaya (1991), Paap Ki Aandhi (1991), Aag Ka Dariya (1990), Maut Ke Farishtey (1990), Galiyon Ka Badshah (1989), Sachai Ki Taqat (1989), Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986)….whoa !

The ‘aur’  used to be obvious tales of twins, siblings, friends or simply things in life- Ram aur Shyam, Seeta aur Geeta, Gora aur kala, Shola aur Shabnam, Reshma aur Shera, Raat aur din, Purav aur paschim, Phool aur Kaante .

I know of only few repeat word title in this category- ‘Love Love love’ by Aamir Khan which ideally should fall under Phoren catagory. Other than that Ishq ishq ishq and cha cha cha  also  fits the  3 x names !

Angrezi – Honeymoon, International Crook, Blackmail, Boy friend, Paying Guest, Miss Goodnight, Son of Sindbad,  College Girl, Girl friend, Boy friend The Train, Coffee House, Girl’s Hostel, Flat No 9, Road No 303, Post Box 999, House No 44, Qaidi No. 911, Victoria No 203, Taxi No 9211, Dark Street, Singapore, Superman Loafer, Professor, Officer, Bank Manager, Police Detective, Jailor, Killer, Leader, Commander, Guide, Jewel Thief, Smuggler,  Bluffmaster,  Taxi Driver, Riding Hero, Fighting Queen, The Burning Train, Red , Black, Blue Umbrella, Rock On –  Is there any way you can make out these are Hindi movies ? But surely, hindi movies with angrezi names have a different flavour altogether. They have this western feel with a desi plot. For some weird reason 1958-59 has series of Angrezi named Hindi fims- 12 O clock, Taxi 555, Taxi Stand, Ten O’Clock , Trolley Driver, Virsa and the Magic Doll, Guest House, Mr. Q, Dr. Z, The World Dances !

I dunno why, but  Footpath, Boot Polish, Half ticket, Howrah Bridge, Mr & Mrs 55, Mr. X in Bombay, An evening in Paris, Love in Tokyo, Great Gambler, Tarzaan, Disco Dancer, Love Story, Love Marriage, Honeymoon Travel Pvt Ltd, Johny Walker, Red Rose, King Uncle, Plan, Race, Army, Yes Boss, Duplicate, Shootout at Lokhandwala, No Smoking, Dasvidaniya, Woodstock Villa, Kidnap, Jungle, Contract, No entry sounds very Hindi to me !

Multilingual- There’s also multi lingual titles as an offspring of English Babu Desi Mem (pun intended)- Hunterwali, Reporter Raju, Garam Coat, Johny meera naam, Raju ban gaya gentleman, Mera naam joker, International Khiladi, Johnney Gaddar, Manorama 6 feet under.

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye ! falls under multilingual repeat word titles (very very rare). atyajit Ray in one of his feluda stories ( Bombaier bombete) named  a Hindi masala movie as Jet Bahadur !!!

Long – Now there are titles which are four word long or more. Normally these are most self explanatory & simple to understand phrases or sentences. Some of such

Albert Pinto ko gussa kyun aata hai, Paap ko jalaakar rakh kar doonga, Jal Bin Machli, N ritya Bin Bijili, Yeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai, Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye, Jis desh me ganga behta hai, Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere, Door Gagan Ki Chaon Mein,   Jallianwalla Baag Ki Jyoti, Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche, Salim Langde pe mat ro,  Roop ki rani choron ka raja,  Hum hai rahi pyar ke,  Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon,   Kasam Paida karne wale ki,  Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi,  Lal Dupatta mal mal ka,  Aab tumhare hawalu watan saathiyon,  Qayamat Se Qayamat TakDil Hai Ki Maanta Nahi, Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani,  Rehna hai tera dil mein, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Dilwale Dulhaniya le jayenge, Main meri patni aur who, Rama rama kya hai yeh drama, Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon, My name is Anthony Gonsalves, Kabhi socha bhi na tha, Is raat ki subah nahin, Ek Chalis ki Last local, Jaane tu ya jaane na, Rab ne bana di jodi.

It is interesting to note, most of the recent long named movies are taken from the songs from yesteryear’s hit songs lyrics. Kabhi Alvida na Kehna may not be that long, but sounds like one!

Hybrid – An interesting hybrid of long and multilingual title is explanatory titles. There is one word in one language and it is explained by a phrase in another language in the title itself. Example- Baaz: A Bird in Danger, Dhund: The Fog, Qayamat: City Under Threat, Rules: Pyaar Ka Superhit Formula, Samay: When Time Strikes, Talaash: The Hunt Begins…,

This is observed to be a much recent trend and 2005 was rich with such names. Dosti: Friends Forever, Double Cross – Ek Dhoka, Home Delivery: Aapko… Ghar Tak, Jalwa – Fun in Love, Kisna: The Warrior Poet, Lucky: No Time for Love ( remember Sneha ullal?), Pehchaan: The Face of Truth, Sauda – The Deal, Viruddh… Family Comes First, Waqt: The Race Against Time, Mangal Pandey: The Rising…………..

Short – The shortest words in Hindi are 3 letter words- Aks, Aag, Dor. Otherwise they are necessarily English & abbreviated ones – LOC, CID.

Numeric  – This is one of the rarest. I can remember only 1920 as one of the recent films with numeric tiles. Do aur Do paanch ( 2+2=5), Nau Do  gyarah (9 2 11), Ek do teen (123), Do doni Chaar ( 2 x 2= 4) are all numbers but written in words , but can be listed under this category.

Villainous – After watching Ghajini, I was trying to remember if I have seen any other film where the title is dedicated to the name of the movie’s villain. I could not remember for any Hindi films at least. There are few movie titles which do depict negative emotions like  Krodh and Junoon, but not named after villain.

If we use the similar concept of Ghajini for giving a movie name and change the name of few known Hindi films, the outcome would be like this-

Gabbar (Sholay), Sir Juda (Karz), Shakaal ( Shaan), Dr. Dang (Karma), Mogambo (Mr. India), Maharani (Sadak), Balwant Rao (Ghayal), Loin (Kalicharan), JK (Shahenshah), Anna (Parinda), Kancha Cheena (Agneepath), Sher Khan (Zanzeer), Pinky (Daud), Katya – (Ghatak), Langda Tyagi- (Omkara), Pinky (Daud), Durga (Jungle), Amavas (Jallad), Dyslexia (Taare Zameen Par)…………

Anecdotes and additions are welcome.



1. Quirky Indian - Thursday, 9 April, 2009

That’s quite a list. Wow. Superman Loafer? What could that film be about?

And I am not sure I would have watched “Dyslexia”. Or “AIDS” (Phir Milenge). Mogambo and Kancha Cheena had a good chance, though.


Quirky Indian

~uh~: Well, I might have missed a coma between Superman Loafer. Not seen either 😦
But Superman Loafer won’t be woman friendly, for sure.
lol…Would you have seen ‘Bhaktawaar’ ?
Good to see you here 🙂

2. klima servisi - Friday, 23 September, 2011

Great post Tahnks admin 🙂 oow

3. Anand - Friday, 25 November, 2011

What about hindi movie title fonts? If you have any material to discuss it then please share your insight with us. It will really be an interesting article.
~uh~™:That’s a subject with lot of meat. But heed lots of hard work and research 🙂

4. Adhip Mandal - Sunday, 25 March, 2012

Ra One and Ravana are also examples of movies named after the villains

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