Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sachin rocks as Krishna

The very first Bollywood movie (then known as simply "hindi fillum") I remember seeing was the 1979 Rajshri film GOPAL KRISHNA starring the adorable Sachin Pilgaonkar as Krishna and Zarina Wahab as Radha. Considering we went on to re-watch this movie 2-3x every year since then, I'd say it goes down as one of my favorites of all time.

As a kid I watched a lot of mythological films, including Hara Hara Mahadev (old black & white), Hara Hara Gange, Sampoorna Ramayana, Kumara Sambhavam etc. Somehow this one captured us more than others ... which probably had something to do with the fabulous songs by Ravindra Jain, the flute music by Hariprasad Chaurasia (woot!) and the boyish charm of Sachin as Krishna.

What a charmer Sachin-Krishna is! So rommy, ya.

I have to say I simply don't understand why Sachin wasn't a huge superstar in the 80s. He seriously had it all, looks, charisma, acting chops, dance skills ... I mean what more could anyone want? Between this movie and his character of "Sunny" in Satte Pe Satta (my ALL-TIME favorite movie), he totally had my heart.

Notably, Yashoda was played by Rajshri Pictures favorite Reeta Bhaduri! I remember thinking she was just ultimately gorgeous in this movie - even more so than Zarina Wahab's Radha. She gets two great songs in this movie, "Koi Math Jariyo" with Baby Krishna and "Tu Man Ki Athi" with the adorable Master Sandeep as Child Krishna.

The story, narrated through song, starts right from Kamsa terrorizing the countryside, capturing his father and usurping his throne, and generally looking wicked on his throne while random chicks in scanty costumes feed him grapes and fan him. He imprisons his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva after hearing a prophecy that their 8th child would be his downfall.

The scenes of Kamsa killing each of Devaki's babies by dashing them on the ground was very haunting for me as a kid, though they made it as pleasant as possible by showing it in shadow and then having the "spirit" go up into the sky and become a star.

Finally Vishnu decides to step in and take the form of Devaki's 8th child to do in the evil uncle:

So Krishna grows up as the child of Mother Yashoda in Gokul, and we get to enjoy all his childhood antics like disappearing and scaring Kamsa's dumb minions, Attacking the demon Trinavrata with his super-strength, and stealing butter from the cowherd maidens of Gokul.

One of my favorite sequences to this date is when 5-yr-old Krishna is playing his flute for Radha in a grove and they morph into adult (teenage?) Krishna and Radha, and Zarina Wahab does one of the most awkward, ungainly, ridiculously choreographed dances ever.

Once Krishna grows up, we get to see him fight possessed bulls, wrestle and dance atop a giant 5-headed snake, and so much more until he eventually ponies up and goes to defeat his evil uncle Kamsa. But all of that was just filler for the main attraction of this movie - the dance songs!

Now I grew up in a house of dancers (my mom is a Bharata Natyam teacher) and so we were obviously the most jazzed about the songs we could choreograph for stage performances ... I think I was 3 yrs old the first time we did a dance to "Oh Gopala":

And my mom taught the Holi song to a bunch of older ladies in Canada somewhere around 1983, and me and my best friend Ami learned it and danced it so much that she finally let us perform it with the older girls in 1984:

Super heart. Such great memories. My eldest sister even danced to Neer Bharan Ka on stage with her best friend. We were seriously obsessed with this movie. In fact, I need to go ransack my mom's house now to see if I can find the DVD I picked up a couple years ago!


  1. I'm sorry my comment is over a year after you originally posted this, but I just had to say that I totally agree with you concerning Sachin as Krishna. I'm not all that familiar with Bollywood movies, but Lord Krishna got my attention not too long ago, so, during the course of my online researching about Him, Sachin and the movie Gopal Krishna would come up. I was thinking of putting in a word about the actor on my blog as well at some point, just concerning how he seems to most accurately portray the qualities of Krishna over any other actor (that I have seen so far) who has done so. Great post!!

    1. Thank you! I adored Sachin in this and in Satte Pe Satta. :-)

  2. Ahh, memories! I used to rent this film religiously from the Indian video store as a kid. Great songs, moving story and excellent casting. Sachin does make a delightfully mischievous, charming and handsome Krishna. Gopal Krishna is definitely in my top three Hindi mythological films but it ranks behind Sita Swayamvar.

    1. Me too! I adored Sita Swayamvar too and my third favorite was an odd one called Har Har Gange which I still quote all the time.

  3. I forgot to add, many rare Hindi mythological movies are available on DVD at

  4. What an absolutely fun and fabulous site! Thanks for all your hard work in not just writing up the synopses, but finding all the links to videos to incorporate. I started watching Indian movies around 1979, as well -- and my brother and I used to watch Gopal Krishna at least a few times a year, too! :) Thanks for bringing back some great memories. Keep up the good stuff!