1. Insaaf Ka Tarazu(1980): B R Chopra brazenly lifted scene after scene from Lamon Johnson’s Lipstick where real-life sisters Margaux and Hamiel Hemmingway played rape survivors violated by the same man. Raj Babbar who played the rapist in the plagiarized Hindi version, confessed he was appalled by what he had to do. “In real life I can’t even raise my voice at a woman. Meri toh bolti bandd ho jaati hai. Here I was telling Zeenat Aman and Padmini Kolhapure to do the most unspeakable things.B R Chopra Saab was my mentor. I agreed and I became typecast in negative roles for a while.I was new to such attention and to the film industry. Insaaf Ka Tarazu was my first film.And I played the rapist! Women’s organizations pounced on me condemning my presence in the film as being derogatory to women.You must remember this was way back in the 1980s when concept of women’ empowerment and feminism were just emerging in the media. The aggression regarding women’s rights was new and hotblooded and I had to take the full brunt of it. It took one brave and honourable judge to put an end to the attack on Insaaf Ka Tarazu.The matter went to Justice Bhagwati who stood by the film. He was a friend of the film’s producer-director B R Chopra and Justice Bhagwati agreed to see Insaaf Ka Tarazu.I wonder what would’ve happened to our film if he had not agreed to see the film! When he saw the film he recommended it strongly as a statement against rape. He wrote a letter supporting the film.That’s why we were able to release our film.”
2. Prem Geet(1981): A tragic love story about a poet and a dancer who dances her way to her death while the poet croons songs of love to her. Raj Babbar played the poet and got to sing Jagjit Singh’s immortal Hothon se chu lo tum mera geet amar kar do. Recalls Raj, “Prem Geet was a hit. It brought me popularity in a positive role. But the song Hothon se chu lo has outlived the film. Even today it is hummed by music lovers.” The film made Babbar and Anita Raj a force to reckon with. They co-starred in another film Dulha Bikta Hai. The anti-dowry message was a hit in Bihar mainly because the film got a tax exemption in the State.
3. Nikaah(1982): Poet again! Raj Babbar played a shayar luckily not a badnaam one. “By this time the negative image of Insaaf ka Tarazu was long erased,” says Babbar. He played Haidar in love with Nilufer(Salma Agha) although she was engaged to marry Wasim(Deepak parasher). Babbar got to sing Beete huey lamhon ki kasak and Dil ki arzoon tthi koi dilruba miley. Babbar owes a special debt to B R Chopra who gave him the best roles and biggest hits.
4. Waaris (1988): Ranging from the atrocious Tajurba in 1981 to her death in 1986 Raj Babbar did approximately 8 films with his wife Smita Patil. Among them Waaris released posthumously is the only one worth mentioning. A feral tale of a woman fighting fiercely for her land, it had Smita Patil excelling as Paro in her swan song. Raj Babbar quietly took the backseat as her lover Bhinder. He has still not brought himself to watch this film. “It reminds me of my loss,” he says softly.
5. Libaas(1988): Raj Babbar and Naseruddin Shah in love with Shabana Azmi in a film set in Mumbai’s theatre world. What happened to it? In spite of Gulzar’s unmissable stamp on the film Libaas never got released. Raj Babbar counts it among his best most neglected works. It is. R D Burman’s songs Seeli hawa choo gayi and Khamosh sa afsana are popular to this day, though the film was never released.