What is the movie about? Who has made it? Most importantly, to whom is it dedicated? Look no further than this A-Z list of heartfelt dedications in Hindi cinema.

A for Anand

One could map Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s career via the dedications in his films.

His 1968 drama Aashirwad was dedicated to BN Sircar, the founder of New Theatres. It was in this Calcutta studio that Mukherjee had started out as an assistant cinematographer and editor in the 1940s. It was also here that he met Bimal Roy.

When Roy moved to Bombay in 1950 with some of his New Theatres colleagues, Mukherjee traveled with him. He worked with Roy as an editor and assistant director on films like Do Bigha Zamin (1953), Devdas (1955) and Madhumati (1958) before venturing out on his own.

Mukherjee dedicated Anupama (1966) and Chaitali (1975) to his mentor. He went on to express his gratefulness to his adopted home by dedicating Anand (1971) to “the city of Bombay”. The film was co-dedicated to Raj Kapoor, a close friend who used to address Mukherjee as Babumoshai, a term of endearment that famously made its way into Anand.

Aashirwad had been co-dedicated to V Shantaram, a filmmaker whom Mukherjee admired immensely. Anuradha (1960) was a tribute to producer and distributor MB Bilimoria, an industry bigwig. After Mukesh’d demise in 1976, Mukherjee dedicated Alaap (1977) to the singer and his inspiration, Kundan Lal Saigal.

Saigal, like Mukherjee, had started his career at New Theatres before moving to Bombay. Kissise Na Kehna (1983) was dedicated to another deceased colleague, the audiographer George D’Cruz.

Mukherjee died on August 27, 2006. Less than a month later, Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor was released. Referencing a famous line from Anand, Kukunoor dedicated his film to the departed director: “Zindagi badi honi chahiye…lambi nahi, here’s to you, Hrishida!”

Anand (1971).

B for Bali, Geeta Bali

For over a decade, Shyam Benegal shopped around the script of what became Ankur (1974), his debut film. Every producer he met turned him down. When all seemed lost, Mohan Bijalani and Fali Meherji Variava of Blaze Films, then India’s largest distributor of ad films, stepped in and backed the project. An appreciative Benegal later dedicated Bhumika (1977) to Bijalani and Variava.

Another film personality who never quite forgot his initial benefactor is producer Surinder Kapoor, Anil Kapoor’s father. He started his career as a secretary to Geeta Bali. She also acted in one of his early productions, Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963). After Bali’s tragic death in 1965 from smallpox, Kapoor Sr, beginning with Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969), dedicated his subsequent films to the vivacious star. Remarkably, the trend continued when his son, Boney Kapoor, became a producer.

Ek Shriman Ek Shrimati (1969).

C for Chintu ji

One of the quirkiest Hindi films ever made, Chintu ji (2009) sank at the box office. Rishi Kapoor, who plays the titular character, described Chintu ji as “part reality, part illusion and part fact, part fiction” and dedicated it to his father, Raj Kapoor. Incidentally, the film features a wonderful cameo from Kseniya Ryabinkina, the Russian actor who had worked in Mera Naam Joker (1970).

Chintu ji marked the directorial debut of Ranjit Kapoor, a well-known theatre personality. He seems to have been hugely influenced by Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Satyakam (1968. Kapoor dedicated Chintu ji to Mukherjee, its lead actor and the author of the book on which Satyakam was based.

D for Dwarka Prasad Mishra

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas (2002) is co-dedicated to Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and the two filmmakers who had previously brought the Bengali novelist’s story to the big screen, PC Barua and Bimal Roy. Almost two decades later, Sudhir Mishra made Daas Dev (2018), a concoction of Devdas and Hamlet, which he dedicated to Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, William Shakespeare, and his grandfather, Dwarka Prasad Mishra, a former Congress leader and Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

This was not the first time Mishra had dedicated a film to a blood relation. His 1996 film Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin was a tribute to his late brother, Sudhanshu Mishra.

E for Emergency

The first credit to roll in Aapatkaal (1993) is that of the “Thrills” guy. This encapsulates the film – and, some might say, the era. Aapatkaal is set around the time of an Emergency, which may or not be the Emergency. If it is indeed the latter, then the art director and costumes team were kept in the dark.

Anyway, as this Emergency is repealed, criminals – Nikka Shaitaan and Gullu Malai, among others – are on the loose again. No worries: a gun-toting, female vigilante arrives on the scene. When she is arrested, a doctor falsely testifies in court to get her acquitted. The film ends with the question: “Do you agree with this?”

Aapatkaal is dedicated to BR Ambedkar on his 102nd birth anniversary.

Chintu ji (2009).

F for Failure

In Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) – dedicated to “the children on the streets of Bombay” – Hassan Kutty is credited as First Assistant Director. Over the next two decades, as Bollywood became more professional in its approach, the wiry, indefatigable Kutty became the industry’s go-to script supervisor, a designation that was unheard of earlier. His credits include Lagaan (2001), Lakshya (2004) and Taare Zameen Par (2007). Kutty died from tuberculosis in 2007.

Zoya Akhtar, who had worked with Kutty on Lakshya and Don (2006), dedicated her directorial debut Luck By Chance (2009) to her friend.

Kutty’s death also meant that a documentary he had been working on secretly for years never saw the light of day. Reading about Kutty and his unfinished project reminds one of the 1983 film Film Hi Film and its poignant dedication by producer Shahab: To the “indomitable spirit and passion of those thousands of cine artistes and technicians whose films remain unfinished – ambitions unrealised, dreams unfulfilled and careers unlaunched”.

G for Gulaal

Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal (2009), arguably the director’s best film, is dedicated to “all those poets of pre-independent India who wrote songs of freedom and had a vision of free India, which we could not put together”. Nine years later, Kashyap would go on to dedicate Manmarziyaan to one of post-independent India’s best-known novelists and poets, Amrita Pritam.

H for Hulchul

This 1951 Dilip Kumar-Nargis starrer featured Balraj Sahni in a strong supporting role. Midway through the film, Sahni was arrested for his Communist Party links. The film had already been a long time in the making and had cost its producer K Asif a considerable sum of money.

Fearful that Sahni’s absence would delay the project even further, Asif managed to get special permission to allow the actor to shoot for Hulchul. In a unique arrangement, Sahni would come to the studio under police guard and return to the prison cell after the day’s shoot was over. Incidentally, Sahni played a jailor in the film.

With Hulchul finally complete, Asif let his feelings known to his detractors in the dedication. Unfortunately, he forgot to equip his dedication writer with a dictionary. Worse still, the film bombed at the box-office.

I for Investor, Stock

A web series on the 1992 stock market scam, synonymous with Dalal Street broker Harshad Mehta, is in the works. Not many are aware of a 2006 film on the subject. Debutant director Sameer Hanchete’s Gafla was dedicated to “every stock investor and stockbroker who has lost and won the battle in the stock markets”.

J for Jeevan Sangram

When a Japanese steamship ferrying Indian passengers reached Canadian waters in May 1914, it was not allowed to dock in Vancouver, bringing into sharp focus an exclusionary policy designed to restrict the immigration of people of Asian origin to the British Dominion. The Komagata Maru incident has been much written about. Lesser known is what happened when the ship landed in Budge Budge in Calcutta in September.

The Shashi Kapoor-starrer Jeevan Sangram (1974) is a fictional film set around these events. The movie is co-dedicated to Baba Gurdit Singh, who was the central figure in the Komagata Maru episode, Sohan Singh Bhakna, the founder of the Ghadar Party, Kartar Singh Sarabha, the “stormy petrel of the Indian revolution”, who was hanged at the age of 19¸and “those thousands of others, who like the hero of our film, gave of their utmost to their motherland, but whom history has cruelly ignored”.

K for K Vishwanath

Eeshwar (1989) begins with footage taken from a public event where, with NT Rama Rao watching on, Raj Kapoor speaks eloquently about South Indian director K Vishwanath. The Bollywood veteran describes Vishwanath as “not only merely a director but, I think, an acharya who puts beautiful, simple truths of human existence on celluloid” and goes on to praise three of the director’s best-known films, Sankarabharanam (1980), Sagara Sangamam (1983) and Swathi Muthyam (1986), “the most beautiful thing that I have seen”.

Eeshwar was a remake of Swathi Muthyam. By the time of its release, Kapoor had passed away. K Vishwanath dedicated Eeshwar to Raj Kapoor “who was, and always will be, the inspiration behind my creativity”.

L for Live Dedication

Deewana Mastana, the 1997 comedy produced by Ketan Desai and directed by David Dhawan, opens with what seems to be a dimly-lit photograph of a cap-wearing man seated on a chair. On it appear the words, “This film is a Live Dedication to Shri Manmohan Desai”. As you are trying to figure out the meaning of the phrase “Live Dedication”, the text disappears and the camera zooms out gently. Just as you realise this is not a photograph, the figure on the chair gets up, turns and walks towards the camera. In the darkened frame, the sound of his footsteps reverberate.

Finally, the lights come on and we see the bespectacled Manmohan Desai – in a loose-fitting, canary yellow pullover and the famous white cap, sitting slightly askew on his balding head. With the names of his numerous blockbuster films in the background, the showman dramatically points to his right and utters the magic word, “Action!”

Beat that.

Deewana Mastana (1997).

M for Mothers

Muzaffar Ali’s Gaman (1978) told the story of a jobless young man from a village in Uttar Pradesh who is forced to migrate to Bombay where he becomes a taxi-driver. Ali dedicated the film “to my mother, to all mothers”. It is co-dedicated to the people of Kotwara – Ali is the former Raja of Kotwara, a principality not far from Lucknow where the rural scenes were shot – and the taxi drivers of Bombay.

Gaman (1978).

N for Nazrana

Nazrana (1987) begins with a shot of a door opening. Smita Patil smiles out at us, an expectant look in her eyes. The shot freezes and the following text appears on screen: “She will always live in our hearts”. As the text fades, the actor’s face morphs into an animated star that joins other stars in the firmament.

The opening was typical of the effusive dedications Patil received from producers and directors of films that released after her death, at the age of 31, in 1986. Galiyon Ka Badshah (1989) begins with a dedication to “the greatest actress of our time”, while Aaj (1986) pays tribute to “the greatest actress of all times”. The makers of Waaris (1988) had “no words of gratitude, greatfulness, thankfulness [to] express the feelings of our dedication to the immortal favourite Smita Patil”.

In contrast, Aruna Raje’s dedication to her late friend in Rihaee (1988) is austere. Accompanied by Gautam Rajadyhaksha’s now-iconic photograph of the actor, the text simply reads, “Dedicated with love to Smita”. Rihaee was not only supposed to star Patil, she had also expressed a desire to assist on the film as she had plans to become a director.

O for Om Prakash, J.

As he was leaving the studio after recording the song Sheher Mein Charcha Hai for the Dharmendra-Hema Malini starrer Aas Paas (1981), Mohammad Rafi was accosted by J Om Prakash. The veteran producer-director wanted the singer to record a couplet to be used in the film. Rafi readily complied. This was the last thing he would ever record. J Om Prakash went on to dedicate Aas Paas to Rafi, “a great friend, a great human being and a great singer.” Lyricist Anand Bakshi’s words acquired a whole new meaning:

Tere aane ki aas hai, dost, shaam phir kyon udaas hai, dost

Mehki-mehki fiza yeh kehti hai, tu kahin aas pass hai, dost.

Rihaee (1988).

P for Parsis

In Saeed Mirza’s Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980), a character named Stella rants against the treatment of Christians in Hindi movies. “They are always shown to be singing, eating or drinking,” she says. “Why? They are not like other people or what?”

Long reduced to caricatures, the Parsis could make a similar complaint about the depiction of their community in Hindi films. Basu Chatterjee’s Khatta Meetha (1978) was a notable exception. A “Turkish and Hollywood inspired plot”, it told the story of two elderly Parsis, a widow and a widower, both with grown-up children of their own, who decide to get married. The plot was unconventional and the producers, perhaps fearful that there might be some sort of a backlash, decided to dedicate the film to the Parsi community “to commemorate their achivment”.

Q for Qurbani

This is the mother of all dedications. Producer-director-actor Feroz Khan’s Qurbani (1980) begins with an extraordinary tribute to “The Prince”, Sanjay Gandhi, who had died in an air crash on June 23, 1980. In his monologue, which runs for almost two minutes, Khan consoles Indira Gandhi, “the Iron Lady of our Nation…in this hour of your grief” and dedicates “my loyalty to the living memory of The Prince whom I never met but who I salute and hope to meet in judgement before the Almighty”.

Bollywood kowtowing to power did not begin in 2014.

Qurbani (1980).

R for Red Rose

No, this has nothing to do with the 1980 film of the same name where Rajesh Khanna plays a serial killer. Long before Qurbani, there was Naunihal (1967). Raju, an orphan, is told that the prime minister is his uncle, prompting him to make an arduous journey to Delhi to meet his Chacha Nehru. The film was dedicated to “The Blossoms in the Dust and The Red Rose”.

Naunihal was not the only movie dedicated to Nehru that year. Mohan Kumar’s ambitious Aman was dedicated to “the esteemed memory of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, apostle of peace”. Another film came out that very year dedicated to “the apostle of peace and non-violence”. This, of course, referred to Mahatma Gandhi, and the film was Nasir Hussain’s Baharon Ke Sapne.

And, of course, 1967 also saw Manoj Kumar’s Upkar, “humbly dedicated to the sacred memory of one of the greatest sons of India, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastriji”.

S for Street Singer

Chandrashekhar Vaidya (born 1922) worked as a leading man in many films of the 1950s and ’60s before moving on to play supporting roles. In the ’60s, he also directed Cha Cha Cha (1964) and Street Singer (1966), movies remembered today more for their soundtracks. Street Singer is dedicated to “the late Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian film industry”.

T for Transcendental Meditation

Sometime in the early ’70s, producer LV Prasad fell under the spell of Mahesh Yogi. Dedicating his 1974 film Bidaai to his new guru, he wrote, “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s world plan to achieve the spiritual goals of mankind in this generation through Transcendental Meditation and the science of Creative Intelligence…has given me new life to serve Mother India better”.

Prasad’s next four productions – Udhar Ka Sindur (1976), Jay-Vejay (1977), Yeh Kaisa Insaf? (1980) and the blockbuster Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) – were all dedicated to “The Technique of Transcendental Meditation” and featured an image of Mahesh Yogi and an appropriate quote from him. The producer’s subsequent films, however, made no mention of the guru.

Tarachand Barjatya’s relationship with his spiritual guru was more durable. Being a huge devotee of The Mother from Auroville, most of the films produced under Barjatya’s banner, Rajshri Films, including two of its biggest hits, Dosti (1964) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), were dedicated to her. Since Barjatya’s death in 1992, all films produced by Rajshri have been dedicated to its patriarch.

Udhar Ka Sindur (1976).

U for Uniform, Men in

When director Chetan Anand set out to make a film on the Chinese aggression of 1962, he approached Nehru’s sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit, who was then Governor of Maharashtra, to help him get an audience with the Prime Minister. The meeting was arranged and Nehru gave his go-ahead to the project. Provided with unprecedented access, Anand was able to meet many of the personnel involved and visit the battle sites. “So well researched was the movie,” historian Srinath Raghavan said on Twitter, “that years later when the Ministry of Defence commissioned an official history of the 1962 war (unpublished as yet), Chetan Anand was among those interviewed by the historians.”

By the time Haqeeqat (1964) released, Nehru was no more. Anand dedicated the film to Nehru “and to those of his soldiers who laid down their lives in defence of their country fighting against the aggressors in Ladakh in October 1962”.

Almost a decade later, Anand made another war movie, set around events of the 1971 conflict with Pakistan. Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973) was dedicated to “the brave ones who gave their lives in the defence of the country”.

Another film set during the 1971 war was JP Dutta’s Border (1997). Dutta dedicated Border to his late brother, Squadron Leader Deepak Dutta, who had participated in the 1971 war. (He had died in a MiG crash in 1987.)

And then there’s Samar Khan’s Shaurya (2008), a copy of Rob Reiner’s A Few Good Men (1992), which was dedicated to “the men who protect not only our borders…but also our freedom.”

V for Viju Khote

Hardik Mehta’s Kaamyaab tells the story of a character actor, played by Sanjay Mishra, who comes out of retirement to play his 500th role. It is only fitting that a film about character actors was dedicated to one – Viju Khote, famous for playing the bumbling dacoit Kalia in Sholay (1975) and the bumbling sidekick Robert two decades later in Andaz Apna Apna (1994). Khote, who had a small role in Kaamyaab – where, like many other veteran character actors, he plays himself – had passed away on September 30, 2019.

Khote wasn’t the first character actor to have a film dedicated in his memory. The Dev Anand-starrer Ek Ke Baad Ek (1960), a bland film propagating the virtues of family planning, was dedicated to Radhakishan, a respected supporting actor of the era. The more recognisable Tarun Bose, a familiar figure in films from the ’60s, was the co-dedicatee in J Om Prakash’s Aankhon Aankhon Mein (1974).

Some years later, the immigrant drama Gehri Chot (1983) was dedicated to the endearing David Abraham, who passed away in Toronto while shooting for this film. More recently, Anurag Kashyap dedicated Ugly (2013) to Abir Goswami, a young actor who had suffered a cardiac arrest in a Mumbai gym.

Ek Ke Baad Ek (1960).

W for Worrell, Frank

“A film dedicated to the spirit of sports and sportsmanship.” Prakash Jha’s dedication in his debut film Hip Hip Hurray (1984) would have earned a nod of approval from Sir Frank Worrell. Loved and respected throughout the cricketing world, Worrell, the first black man to captain West Indies, is especially fondly remembered by Indian fans of a certain vintage for donating blood when Nari Contractor had to undergo emergency surgery in 1962 after being struck on the head by a Charlie Griffith bouncer. The injury ended the Indian captain’s playing career, but he survived to tell the tale. Worrell, sadly, passed away in 1967 from leukemia. He was only 42.

Shortly after Worrell’s death, the Raj Kapoor-starrer Around The World was released. Billed as “India’s first 70 mm Technicolor film”, it featured a cameo by the late West Indian cricketer. Producer-director Pachhi dedicated his film to “the loving memory of Sir Frank Worrell, world famous Test cricketer, Dean of the Trinidad University, a good friend, the wittiest of men and guest-star of this film. His death deprives us of a friend, philosopher and guide”.

X for X, the nameless

Liar’s Dice (2013), Geetu Mohandas’s riveting debut, tells the story of a tribal woman who comes to Delhi with her three-year-old daughter to find her missing husband, a migrant labourer. The film is dedicated to “the vast multitude of nameless people who are recognised only as a mere statistic”.

Y for Yatra

Vidhu Vinod Chopra was surely aware of the irony of dedicating a film titled Khamosh (1985) to a sound recordist. The legendary Mangesh Desai remains among a handful of technicians who have had films dedicated to them.

Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005) and Calcutta Mail (2003) were dedicated to his late editor, and partner, the brilliant Renu Saluja. The famed art director Bansi Chandragupta, known for his close association with Satyajit Ray, was the dedicatee in Aparna Sen’s debut film 36 Chowringhee Lane (1981) and Shyam Benegal’s Arohan (1982).

The 1974 Rajesh Khanna-Mumtaz starrer Roti, too, was dedicated to its art director, the late AR Kakkad. Among cinematographers, the great Fali Mistry (Ram Balram, 1980), Nariman A Irani (Don, 1978), and KG Koregaonkar (Mashaal, 1984) have been thus remembered.

It bears pointing out that all of the above were quite high up on the food chain, as it were, on a film set. In this context, Goutam Ghose’s Yatra (2006), a film dedicated to focus-puller A Kamlakar, stands out. Kishore Kumar would have approved of Ghose’s gesture. After all, the legendary actor-singer’s directorial debut Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964) opened with this heart-warming show of gratitude:

Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964).

Z for Zakhmi Aurat

Zakhmi Aurat made quite a splash when it released in the late ’80s. It featured Dimple Kapadia in the role of a cop who becomes a victim of rape. When the rapists are let off, she takes the law into her own hands.

Songs had a limited part to play in proceedings. Yet, Zakhmi Aurat was dedicated to “the everlasting memory” of Farooq Kaiser, a lyricist who had been plying his trade in the industry since the ’50s. Kaiser was in illustrious company: Shailendra (Diwana, 1967), Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke, 1969) and Sahir Ludhianvi (Dhanwan, 1981) have had films dedicated to them.