Film historian Dhruv Somani writes on the phenomenon of filmmakers often selecting lengthy film titles.
Of late, lengthy titles appear to back in vogue. Karan Johar announced his upcoming film with a rather long title Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani starring Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt with Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi and Jaya Bachchan.
Karan Johar has always been synonymous with long titles right from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001), Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006) and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016). This is not an uncommon practice though. Time and again we have had films with longish names.
It is believed that before the Rajshri Productions registered the title Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye (1977) they had tentatively named the film, starring Rameshwari, as Phoolwali. But since Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye clicked in a big way, lengthy titles were considered auspicious.
Their next film Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se (1978), starring Sachin and Ranjeeta, became a major hit as well. Hence size seemed to matter again for the production banner’s Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin (1978), Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun..! (1994), Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999), Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003), Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi (2008) and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015).
Producer Director B.R. Chopra made his film Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978), starring Sanjeev Kumar, Vidya Sinha and Ranjeeta, which was a big hit. Followed R.K. Nayyar’s announcement of Daku Aur Woh, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Ranjeeta.
B.R. Ishaara announced the rather strange title Woh Yeh Aur Woh. Another announcement made around then was Khoon Khooni Aur Woh? Plus, Maut Wohi Jo Duniya Dekhe, starring Mahendra Sandhu and Dimple Kapadia, which had gone on the floors. In addition, there was the rather tongue twisting Wohi Hota Hai Jo Manzoore Khuda Hota Hai. Years later, Rajkumar Kohli made Pati Patni Aur Tawaif (1990) starring Mithun Chakraborty, Farah, Salma Agha and Sumeet Saigal.
Raj Kapoor usually opted for small titles but also produced Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957) and produced-directed Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960). It is said that Raj Kapoor had planned to make Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) with the title Soorat Aur Seerat. But the title already belonged to Nutan whose husband Rajnish Bahl had helmed a film with the same title hence he wasted no time and registered Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Raj Kapoor had also registered the title Shriman Fu Fu, for a comedy. And Rishi Kapoor directed his first and only film for the R.K. banner which was again a long title – Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999). Before that Raj Kapoor, also, of course made Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985).
Dada Kondke, the popular personality from Marathi cinema made some films in Hindi too with long, double entendre titles like Tere Mere Beech Mein (1984), Khol De Meri Zuban (1985) and Andheri Raat Mein Diya Tere Haath Mein (1986).
Dev Anand’s Jaaneman (1976) was initially called Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani. Not many are aware that his Des Pardes (1978) was initially called Jullundur Se London but on second thoughts he went for brevity.
Superstar Rajesh Khanna had suggested the title Aap Ke Deewane to J. Om. Prakash while working with him for Aakraman (1975). J. Om. Prakash was quick to register the title. Later, he launched a film starring Rajesh Khanna opposite Hema Malini called Aap Ke Deewane circa 1975. However, since Mehbooba (1976), starring the jodi bombed at the ticket counters, he developed cold feet and shelved the project.
Nevertheless, when his son-in-law Rakesh Roshan decided to take up production, the superstar graciously offered him the title Aap Ke Deewane. Curiously enough, Aap Ke Deewane was eventually made with Rishi Kapoor, considered an arch-rival of Rajesh Khanna. Rakesh Roshan had initially registered the title as I Love You. It was when the distributors protested and convinced him that the smalltown audience wouldn’t relate to an English title that he opted for a desi one and called it Aap Ke Deewane (1980).
Rajesh Khanna had also registered the title, Dhoondte Hain Hum Dil Ko, keeping in mind his romantic image. It never took off. Manmohan Desai had registered the title Maang Saja Do Meri starring Sanjeev Kumar, Waheeda Rehman and Rishi Kapoor. Again, it never materialized. Desai was very keen to change the title of Suhaag (1979) to Maa Kasam. But a film with the same title with Vinod Mehra, was being made, which made him retain the title Suhaag.
Some titles were changed because of the fear of bad luck. When Rajesh Khanna’s Maha Chor tanked, Maha Guru, which was under-production, starring Dharmendra and Zeenat Aman, directed by Shakti Samanta was changed to CID. It’s another story that it was shelved, luck or no luck.
Shakti Samanta’s Bachchan starrer Barsaat Ki Raat was changed to Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1981). Producer director Ramanand Sagar too would change titles. His film Prem Pujarin became Hum Tere Aashiq Hain (1979). And Pyar Ki Amar Kahani, starring Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Reena Roy and Amjad Khan, eventually released as Baghavat (1982).
Other lengthy titles, which come to mind in chronological order are: Shin Shinaki Boobla Boo (1952), and the V. Shantaram oeuvre Doctor Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Do Aankhen Barah Haath, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne (1969), Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli (1971).
Nasir Hussain too made his musical films with long titles like Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai (1961), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1964), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977) and Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (1982).
Besides V.Shantaram and Nasir Hussain it was a known fact that screen writer, director Saeed Mirza was known for his fetish of keeping long titles for his films like Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (1978), Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980), Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho (1984), Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989) after all of which he went and opted for a small name Naseem (1995).
Moreover there are Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi (1966), Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974), Dhoti Lota Aur Chowpatty (1975), Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1963 and 1993), Sone Ka Dil Lohe Ke Haath (1978), Do Ladke Dono Kadke (1979), Aap To Aise Na The (1980), Guru Suleman Chela Pahelwan (1981), Teri Maang Sitaron Se Bhar Doon (1982), Aurat Pair Ki Juti Nahin and Murde Ki Jaan Khatre Mein (1985), Sasti Dulhan Mehenga Dulha (1986), Paap Ko Jalakar Raakh Kar Doonga and Ghar Mein Ram Gali Mein Shyam (1988), Sachche Ka Bol Bala (1989), Thodasa Roomani Ho Jayen and Maa Kasam Badla Loonga (1990), Mehandi Ban Gayi Khoon (1991), Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000), Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar (2001), Pran Jaaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye and Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon (2003), Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009), Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi and Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (2012), Once Upon a Time In Mumbai Dobaara and Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (2013), Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018) and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga (2019).
What’s in a film’s name you might ask? Yet the finalization of the title is considered vital as it could make or break a film at the box office. Some producers consult numerologists and their gurus for the number of letters, which should go into a title. After all, luck matters.