Bollywood film with greatest cast, had 12 Filmfare winners, not Sholay, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Nagin, Jaani Dushman

Bollywood film with greatest cast, had 12 Filmfare winners, not Sholay, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Nagin, Jaani Dushman

This Bollywood film from the 80s had 12 Filmfare Award winners in its cast, the highest ever

The concept of multi-starrers is not new to Indian cinema. One of the first multi-starrers in Bollywood was released almost six decades ago. In the 70s and 80s, Manmohan Desai pioneered this genre, and of late, the likes of Karan Johar and Rajkumar Kohli have contributed greatly to it. But none of these stalwarts have directed the film with the greatest cast ever. That honour belongs to one of Indian cinema’s greatest filmmakers – Shyam Benegal.

The Bollywood film with the greatest cast

In 1983, Shyam Benegal adapted Ghulam Abbas’ Urdu short story Aanandi as Mandi, a film that told the story of a brothel caught amid internal politics and the partition of India. The film is noted for containing a heavyweight cast, filled with some of the greatest actors India has seen. In fact, Mandi has the record of having the highest number of Filmfare Award winners in its cast. There were 12 Filmfare Awardees in Mandi – Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Neena Gupta, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Saeed Jaffrey, Annu Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Pankaj Kapur, Amrish Puri, Ila Arun, and KK Raina. In addition, four other cast members – Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anita Kanwar, Ratna Pathak Shah, and Soni Razdan – were nominated for Filmfare Awards but never won.

Did Mandi’s cast dominate awards?

Despite the presence of so many stalwarts in its cast, Mandi failed to win any acting awards at next year’s National Film Awards or Filmfare Awards. It’s only win was the National Film Award for Best Art Direction for Nitish Roy. The cast individually went on to win many National Awards and Filmfare Awards for other films in the future.

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About Mandi and its legacy

But despite not winning many awards, Mandi is regarded as a seminal film in Indian history when it comes to the depiction of prostitution. A satirical comedy on politics and prostitution, the film was invited to major film festivals internationally, including the Los Angeles Exposition (FILMEX), the Hong Kong International Film Festival 1984, and London Film Festival 1983. Till date, it is regarded as one of the best Indian films ever made, and one of the pioneers of India’s ‘Parallel Cinema’ wave of the 80s.

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