It is not tough to find at least a handful of great Bollywood thriller movies of yesteryears as there have been a good number of movies made in Hindi cinema (popularly known as Bollywood). Whodunits, thrillers, supernatural, horror and detective movies have been made by a number of Bollywood filmmakers. In fact, they have been experimenting with these challenging genres for a long time. Here is a short list of some of the most brilliant thriller movies of yesteryears ever made in Bollywood.
Kamal Amrohi’s Mahal, produced by Bombay Talkies and starring Ashok Kumar and Madhubala, is India’s first reincarnation thriller film. The film, which was a trendsetter, is about a man who moves into an ancient mansion and learns about his previous life. Things take a turn when he gets visions of a woman claiming to be his lover. The film, made on a modest budget, proved to be hugely popular among the audience and paved the way for Indian gothic fiction. Mahal continues to haunt audiences and is rightly considered a cult classic.
Madhumati is a paranormal romance film by Bimal Roy. The film, which is written by Ritwik Ghatak and Rajinder Singh Bedi, stars Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in the lead roles. Pran and Johnny Walker too can be seen in important supporting roles. The plot revolves on Anand, a man who falls in love with a tribal woman named Madhumati. But they cannot have a relationship during their lifetimes and are reincarnated.
Bees Saal Baad (1962)
This psychological thriller marks the directorial debut of Biren Nag and featured Biswajeet, Waheeda Rehman, Madan Puri, Sajjan and Asit Sen. The film is a loose adaptation of the Bengali hit thriller Jighansa (1951), which was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles as well as loosely based on Hemendra Kumar Roy’s novel Nishithini Bivishika. The film, which topped the box office chart in 1962, became a super hit. Bees Saal Baad had ‘Kahin Deep Jale’.
Biren Nag’s Kohraa (The Fog) stars Waheeda Rehman, Biswajeet and Lalita Pawar. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca, which was previously adapted by Alfred Hitchcock as Academy Award-winning Rebecca (1940), Nag added some supernatural elements to it. But this version is famous for its twist ending. The ending differs significantly from that of the original novel.
Woh Kaun Thi? (1964)
Woh Kaun Thi? is an outstanding movie and this black-and-white psychological mystery thriller film was directed by Raj Khosla. The film featured Sadhana, Manoj Kumar and Prem Chopra. Though the screenplay was written by Dhruva Chatterjee, parts were later rewritten, wherein Manoj Kumar took an active role. The film became a huge hit at the box office.
Gumnaam is a brilliant Bollywood thriller. Directed by Raja Nawathe and starring Manoj Kumar, Nanda, Pran, Helen and Mehmood, the film is a loosely-inspired adaptation of the 1939 mystery novel ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie. “Gumnaam hain koi…” haunts us even to this day.
Mera Saaya (1966)
Another Raj Khosla gem, Mera Saaya stars Sunil Dutt and Sadhana. This was director Raj Khosla’s third film with Sadhana after Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1963) and Woh Kaun Thi? (1964). Mera Saaya became a box office success. It is a remake of the Marathi film Pathlaa. The film is also a remake of Tamil film Ithaya Kamalam.
Dhund, produced and directed by B. R. Chopra, features Sanjay Khan, Zeenat Aman, Danny Denzongpa, Deven Verma, Madan Puri, Navin Nischol and Ashok Kumar. The plot is inspired by Agatha Christie’s 1958 play, The Unexpected Guest. It was indeed a massive hit.
Jaani Dushman (1979)
Jaani Dushman, produced and directed by Rajkumar Kohli under the Shankar Movies banner, features an ensemble cast including Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Jeetendra, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Mehra, Rekha, Neetu Singh and Reena Roy. The film became a super hit at the box office.
Gehrayee, a horror thriller film, was directed by Vikas Desai and Aruna Raje based on a script by Vijay Tendulkar, Desai and Raje. The film had Anant Nag, Padmini Kolhapure, Sriram Lagoo and Indrani Mukherjee with Amrish Puri in a guest appearance. The film was produced by N. B. Kamat.