Since the beginning of the last century, Hindi cinema has mostly been about pretty routine & comfortable subjects with quite rare exceptions to the rule and that too more towards the last few decades post the 90s. But surprisingly one of the most controversial and shocking subject of INCEST (objectionable relationship between close relatives, also considered as a serious crime) was adapted in an indicative way even before the independence in the early 40s and since then has been a part of few mainstream projects too mentioned below.
1. BAHEN (1941) - Directed by one of the best directors of Indian Cinema Mehboob Khan, the film is about an obsessive brother who doesn’t wish his sister to leave him even after her marriage. Though the film didn’t deal with the subject being discussed here directly (as my personal conception). Still it is considered to be one of the first films indicating towards the same by many. However its quite possible that the reference of 'Incest' might have surfaced in the later decades with the so called development of our questionable social structure.
2. BAMBAI KA BABU (1960) - Written by Rajinder Singh Bedi, this had a storyline similar to O’ Henry’s short story “A Double-Dyed Deceiver” having an imposter living with a family posing as their son. But as an added plot the musical masterpiece had Dev Anand romancing the gorgeous Suchitra Sen desperately, who otherwise supposed to be his sister being the daughter of the same family.
3. PREM SHASTRA (1974) - Dealing with the theme of incest in a much bold and at the face manner, PREM SHASTRA once again had Dev Anand having physical relationship with Zeenat Aman who later turns out to be the daughter of his cunning wife, but from a different person who is none other than his own elder brother.
4. MAUSAM (1975) - Had only a subtle indication towards the subject when Sanjeev Kumar finds his young daughter working at a brother having a face exactly similar to her dead mother. And now he is in dilemma about how to deal with this disturbing fact and bring her back to his house saving her from that ugly hell.
5. ZAMEER (1975) - Based on an almost identical storyline of the above mentioned BAMBAI KA Babu (1960), ZAMEER had Amitabh Bachchan playing the imposter son in a rich businessman’s (Shammi Kapoor) house. But reaching there he is introduced to Saira Banu as his sister, with whom he was earlier having a romantic relationship in the film’s first hour.
6. MANDI (1983) – Based on a classic Urdu short story 'Anandi' by Ghulam Abbas, MANDI is about the life lived by several women in a brothel running in the center of a small city. Interestingly the young boy of a local politician falls in love with a beautiful girl of the brothel (Smita Patil), who in reality is her own sister as the father of that girl is the politician himself.
7. EK NAI PAHELI (1984) – Talking about love between different age groups, this is a complex tale of few unusual relationships formed when the hero (Kamal Hassan) leaves the house (after an argument with his father) to live with a beautiful middle aged lady (a singer). And the young rebellion daughter of that singer lady accidently starts having a live-in affair with the hero’s father only at the other end, heading towards a marriage. No doubt, complex enough to understand in just a few lines!
8. TRIYACHARITRA (1994) – In this offbeat venture based on Shiv Murti’s novel with the same title, a poor & innocent girl is not only raped by her cunning father-in-law but also blamed for the shameful act by the village Panchayat ignorantly, proving the sad state of women in the rural areas.
9. FIRE (1996) - Deepa Mehta's famous upsetting movie which was widely opposed in India at the time of its initial release, had lonely wives of two brothers living in the same house, moving into lesbian relationship without feeling any kind of regret whatsoever breaking the society’s norms.
10. HUM DEEWANE PYAR KE (2001) – A confused mother cannot approve the girl selected by her young son as she doubts that the father of that girl might be her husband only whom she assumed to be dead many years ago in the havoc witnessed during a political upset.
11. EVERYBODY SAYS I’M FINE (2001) – A young man running a unisexual parlour accidently gets the power of listening his client’s thoughts running in their minds. And during one of his sessions comes to know about a beautiful girl having an incestuous relationship with her sick father.
12. MATRUBHOOMI (2003) – One of best realistic films from Indian cinema, focusing on the alarmingly serious problem of ‘Girl Foeticide’, this award winning gem sarcastically portrayed the issue talking about a sick family. A family of all men (five brothers and their father) who mutually decide to share the wife of their elder brother, taking turns assigning each day of the week to an individual member……….shockingly also including their father. A film, which can easily make the sick Indian mindset feel the disgusting shame like never before.
13. JANANI (2006) – A young boy is denied the approval of marrying a middle class girl because in reality she is his sister. Reason being, the girl’s mother had served as the surrogate mother for the young boy’s family and it was him only, getting birth from the girl’s mother in the past.
14. UNDERTRIAL (2007) – Reportedly based on a true incident, it revolves around a poor man who was accused of raping his three young daughters with the charges filed by his wife only. A debut attempt by the director, the film did manage to raise many eye brows but couldn’t reach majority of audience due to its quite dark & sadist theme.
15. THANKS MAA (2009) – A worth watching thoughtful film about an infant child left alone by his mother, who is later found and taken care of by a group of street kids. But when the leader of that street boys gang somehow finds the real mother then he comes to know that the girl had left the child to die, since he was the result of the sick & helpless relationship with her own father.
16. THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW BOOTS (2010) – A bold film revealing the shocking truth found by a girl, who was desperately searching for her father since long. A father, who was a sex maniac abusing his daughters in their early childhood and now looking for some kind of spiritual solace in various cities, ashrams and even a massage parlour, where incidentally his daughter only was working as the masseuse.
Now expectedly none of the above mentioned films could witness any kind of success at the box office due to their unpleasant and dark themes showing the society its real face, often put under the carpet out of shame, disgust and regret. May be that is the reason, a few films in the above mentioned list tried to justify the weird storyline making some sane adjustments in the end to make it more acceptable for the Indian audiences.
But still, it was indeed a daring act by their respective makers to go ahead with such experimental projects showing their guts, which were bound to meet a negative fate at the ticket window due to many obvious reasons.