Monthly Archives

December 2016

Mann Re Tu Kahe Na Dheer Dhare – Day 990

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Indian cinema is recognized by its story telling and dialogues. Talkies came into India in thirties when our films began to express in words and songs. In the following days I will travel you to the changing sound in Hindi feature films over the decades.

1931: “De de khuda ke naam pe…” / singer WM Khan/ Alam Ara

1934: “Baba mann ki aankhein khol” KL Saigal / Dhoop Chaon

“Prem nagar mein banungi ghar main tajke sab sansar” KL Saigal /Chandidas

1935: “Aaj se main hunterwali hoon…aur log mujhe hunterwali bolein” Mary Evans /Hunterwali

1936: “Balamaayo basso mere mann mein” K L Saigal / Devdas

“Jab tak ye badle ka bhaav mann mein zinda hai, tabhi tak main issanyayi samaj ke majboot pattharo se takraati rahungi” Shanta Apte /Amar Jyoti

1937: “Jya bhakti nazorawar tushodhukadhli mala, tasa mala hi majha Panduranga la shodhukadhay cha mala” Vishnupant Pagnis /Sant Tukaram

1938: “Babul mora naihar chooto re jaye…” Wajid Ali Shah’s lyrics sung by KL Saigal/ Street  Singer

1939:  “Chalo jaldi karo, prem ka bazaar shuru hua hai” /Aadmi

 

No excerpt from the book can be used without prior permission. Copy can be ordered on Amazon – http://www.amazon.in/Once-Upon-Time-India-Century/dp/0143426028/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481095973&sr=1-1

 

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

 

Book launch in New Jersey – Day 989

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Pictures by Gunjesh Desai / nayaface.com

Pictures by Gunjesh Desai / nayaface.com

They say number 13 is unlucky but it proved very lucky for me when Share & Care Foundation invited me to New Jersey to be a part of their annual gala celebrations and also launch my new book Once Upon A Time In India documenting a century of Indian cinema. The event was collaborated by three organizations namely the Share & Care Foundation, the Bhartiyavidya Bhavan and TV Asia. The launch was held at the TV Asia studio attended by cinema lovers and the following day was a music concert Sur Sangam a symphony of Indian and American maestros on a common platform. The show was arranged by Yogesh Pradhan and performed by renowned singer Parthiv Gohil accompanied by Janavi Shrimankar.

Despite the freezing cold the evenings were memorable because of the conversation in the studio and the music on the following evening. Because for those who love cinema every moment is a celebration of it.

Pictures by Gunjesh Desai / nayaface.com

Pictures by Gunjesh Desai / nayaface.com

@bhawanasomaaya 

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Cinema Today – Day 988

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Cinema remained the first love of all, the actors and the filmmakers and whenever opportunity beckoned they were willing to put everything on hold for it. Directors worked on projects for two years until they were thoroughly prepared to brave the storm without interruptions and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas is a proof of that. Our filmmakers shot period films without fuss and frills and also had the cash registers ringing.

The better our films became the more aware our audience became about the craft. The technicians were valued and honoured and expressed art with passion on television and in print.  The multi media made us aware of behind the scene experts and we yearned to know more about their genius be it costume designer Anju Modi of Ram Leela, Bajirao Mastani or Sujeet Sawant and Sriram Iyengar, art designers of Bajirao Mastani who worked tirelessly for days at stretch for that specific shade of duppatta or the picturesque 18th century set called Mastani Mahal in Bajirao’s Shanivar Wada.

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Hollywood makes a big fuss over shooting period films and bombard the internet with logistics and statistics, in India we make magnificent films with minimum budgets and never talk about how 4500 wooden planks went into shaping the Aaina Mahal or the 1000 people standing as crowd in  Prakash Jha’s Jai Gangajal. We never talk about the number of daily workers every day on the sets.

We have completed over a century and this is the best time in India to make films. Every year we have new writers, new dialects, new song writers and new filmmakers presenting their vision and changing the sound and image of India and this is necessary because India and Indians are evolving every day and this must be reflected in our cinema.

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Once upon a time in 2000 – Day 987

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The new millennium packaged a new world of entertainment and fresh new faces emerged as senior stars graduated to serious roles. Cinema was changing and young filmmakers were responsible for this. They brought in new systems, were more professional and marketing was the new mantra. In 2001 four films fought for acclaim. Karan Johar who debuted with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai made a bigger and more intricate film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. Ashutosh Gowariker made Lagaan a kind of tribute to Bimal Roy. Madhur Bhandakar surprised everybody with  a docudrama on the life of bar dancers called Chandni Bar and finally Farhan Akhtar, chip of the old block Javed Akhtar and director to define new age cinema with Dil Chahta Hai.

In the following decade if Aamir Khan emerged as the marketing king, meticulously planning his every film and promotion be it Ghajni, 3 Idiots or years later PK. Salman Khan emerged as the 100crore club emperror after Ready, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger and Prem Ratan Dhan Payyo crossed 100 plus mark.This put pressures on other actors to deliver super successes as well be it Shah Rukh, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar or Hrithik Roshan.

The actors no more did just films, they were brand ambassadors and made more money via commercials / brands/ shows than movies. Now the heroines got married, had babies and returned to arc lights and heroes spared time for hobbies and other businesses. In the year 2008 two largest sources of cultural inspiration in India joined hands to create the Indian Premier League and these teams were owned by actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty. The IPL was a great exercise in brand building. In a few hours Abhishek Bachachan became the pioneer for first Kabbadi and then football.

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@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Once upon a time in the 90s   – Day 986

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The 90s were youth driven and redefined romance and relationships. The new directors’ had a new vision of tradition reflected in films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayegaye, Rangeela,  Hum Aapke Hai Kaun…It was time for the wheel to turn again and introduce the new superstars coincidentally all Khans Aamir- Shahrukh and Salman Khan.

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They were not the only ones to watch out for. There was action director Veeru Devgan’s son, Ajay Devgan making debut in Phool aur Kaante, Akshay Kumar trained in martial arts, Sunil Shetty launched by Ram Gopal Verma and finally Sunny Deol launched in a love story but matured in action roles.  There was Govinda too but he took a while to put on wings and fly with David Dhawan be it Shola aur Shabnam, Aankhen , Raja Babu, Coolie No.1, Sajan Chale Sasural till he emerged as Hero No.1.

Nadeem- Shravan emerged as the most successful music composers of the 90’s  and the list of their chartbusters began with  Aashiqui , Saajan , Deewana, Hum hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Dilwale, Raja,Barsaat,Agni Sakshi,Jeet and Raja Hindustani.  Their fall was as sudden and controversial as their rise and with time cracks appeared in the partnership too and Shravan parted with Nadeem permanently.

The film that drove the nation and a legend crazy was Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Aap Ke Hai Kaun. The film was a celebration of more than a dozen songs, dances and a big fat Indian wedding as plot. The film was a blockbuster and the lead pair became superstars  after the release.

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Once upon a time in the 80s – Day 985

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On July 26, 1982, while filming Coolie in Bangalore, Amitabh Bachchan suffered a near fatal intestinal injury, while filming a fight scene with co-actor Puneet Issar. Bachchan was required to fall onto a table. As he jumped towards the table, the corner struck his abdomen. He required an emergency splenectomy. He remained critical ill in hospital, at times close to death. The national hysteria included prayers in temples, offers to sacrifice limbs to save him. And there were long queues of well – wishing fans outside the Breach Candy hospital where he was recuperating.

Two years later Bachchan was faced with another challenge. In 1984, Amitabh Bachchan took a break from acting and briefly entered politics in support of longtime family friend, Rajiv Gandhi. He contested the Allahabad seat of 8th Lok Sabha against HN Bahunguna, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and won by one of the highest victory margins in election history 68.2% of the votes.  Disillusioned, he resigned after three years but his problems were far from over. Plagued by a court case Bachchan was eventually found not guilty by the concerned judicial authorities.

The parallel film movement started by filmmakers like Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt  in the 50’s and flourished by Benegal brigade in the 70’s, art cinema blossomed in the 80’s providing opportunities to filmmakers and actors for immortal films and roles. Directors Shekhar Kapoor, Mahesh Bhatt, Gulzar , Shyam Benegal, Sudhir Mishra, Ketan Mehta, Basu Chatterjee, Basu Bhattacharya and Govind Nihalani made memorable films with memorable performances from  Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Deepti Naval,Amol Palekar, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and more actors and technicians.

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Every decade conjures new images and new sounds.  While Amitabh Bachchan was busy with politics and every young actor was aiming at the throne, Mithun Chakraborty defined a new space for himself. He worked with B list directors at his own terms and made them popular with Biddu and Bappi Lahiri, the flavour of the decade music .From ‘Aap jaisa koi hume…’ and ‘Laila o…’ from Qurbani  to‘Hari Om Hari…’ and ‘Ramba ho Samba…’ there was no stopping the frenzy.

 

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Once upon a time in the 70s – Day 984

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The seventies was a turbulent decade for the country and the anxiety was evident in the films. The cinegoer whose life was going through many changes was no more attracted to fairy tale romances. The paradigm shift reflected at the box office when the action hero Amitabh Bachchan gradually elbowed space from the romantic hero, Rajesh Khanna.

The transition from Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan changed the way movies were made and more important, what the country was going through. The country was going through recession. The youth was unemployed and frustrated therefore the present hero was anti establishment. The creators of this new hero were dynamic writers like Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar and directors who projected the new image were Manmohan Desai/ Amar Akbar Anthony, Prakash Mehra/ Zanjeer and Yash Chopra/ Deewar, Trishul in mainstream cinema.

This was a phase of multistarrers, of music and entertainment. Simultaneously there was a parallel movement called art cinema pioneered by filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani and ushering a host of new talent from theate and acting schools like Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Grish Karnad, Om Puri, Amol Palekar and Smita Patil from the Doordarshan.

Playback singer Kishore Kumar who began as Dev Anand’s voice, then Rajesh Khanna’s now came to be identified as Amitabh Bachchan’s voice though Mukesh and Mohammad Rafi also sang for Bachchan.

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Once upon a time in the 60s – Day 983

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The sixties was an important decade for India. The country had healed the scars of partition and in a mood for celebration and this reflected in our cinema. The youth all over the world including India was addicted to Elvis Presley and Beatles.

Colour had come into cinema and our films gradually became more glamarous. Filmmakers reserved a separate budget for costumes and sets and our leading ladies with the help of hair/ makeup and costume experts were modeled into fashion icons.While lighting was the focus in the Black and White era, the cinematographer now encouraged filmmakers to extend boundaries and shoot on foreign locations.

Shooting outside India began under the RK Films banner in 1964, when Raj Kapoor took Sangam to Switzerland to shoot his and Vyajantimala’s honeymoon scenes in Europe.  This began a trend with other filmmakers like Pacchi shooting Around the World with Raj Kapoor and Rajshri and Shakti Samanta acquainting Indian audiences with Paris in of An Evening in Paris and later Yash Chopra ofcourse decade’s later familiarized cinegoers with all the locales of Switzerland.

The decade is memorable for some pathbreaking films. K Asif’s Mughal- E- Azam conceived in the forties with Chandramohan as Salim, Sapru as Akbar and Nargis in the role of Anarkali. Dev Anand produced Guide a film about women empowerment was shot in Hindi and English simultaneously, while the Hindi was screenplay written and directed by Vijay Anand, the English was written by Pearl S Buck and directed by American director Tad Danielewski.

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Once upon a time in the 50s – Day 982

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The fifties are often referred to as the golden period of Indian cinema. Filmmakers until now preoccupied with patriotism now had other pressing issues to address. Raj Kapoor’s Awara and Shree 420 addressed socialism that struck a chord in Soviet nations too.

Dancer turned filmmaker Guru Dutt films Pyaasa and Kaagaz ke Phool spoke against social injustice and the common man was the hero.

Bimal Roy was the man from Bengal and deeply influenced by Italian neo classicism, especially De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves reflected in Do Bigha Zamin about the plight of farmers who mortgage their land and become victim of the viscious cycle.

Kundanlal Saigal is technically our first superstar who sang his own songs on the big screen followed by Ashok Kumar who debuted as a reluctant hero in the 30s and ruled the roost in the 40s till younger actors like Dilip kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor began their careers in the latter half of the 40s and blossomed in the 50s.

The trimutive stars had distinctive styles and method of acting that made them into superstars. Dilip Kumar was restrained and a natural. Dev Anand was the stylish hero western hero looked upon as a fashion icon. Raj Kapoor modelled himself on Charlie Chaplin and excelled in roles highlighting the social issues of the youth.

Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand ruled for almost two decades.  The other hero’s popularly described as actors included Balraj Sahni whose commitment to his characters particularly Do Bigha Zamin is legendary. Also Ashok Kumar who had graduated from playing lead to playing character artiste and Rehman who never played the lead but remained the first choice of all filmmakers.

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in

Why this cover? – Day 981

By | Films, Print Coverage | No Comments
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Amitabh Bachchan was the undisputed choice on the cover of the book; the conflict was which film will best represent the actor. After a lot of deliberation everyone agreed that it has to be Amar Akbar Anthony. The explanation given was it must be an image that brings a smile on everybody’s face and who better than Anthony Gonsalves coming out of the Easter egg in Manmohan Desai’s creation.

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The idea made me revisit the song and I reproduce the lyrics for you to understand the spirit of the character/ nation and cinema in that era.

 

My name is Anthony Gonsalves
Mani duniyaa me akelaa hun
Dil bhi hai khaali ghar bhi hai khaali
Isame rahegi koi qismat vaali
Haay jise meri yaad aaye jab chaahe chali aaye
Rup nagar prem gali kholi number chaar sau bees
Excuse me me please
My name is Anthony Gonsalves
Mai duniyaa me akelaa hun

You see such experiment
Sasamstas for the extra bangle

Abhi-abhi isi jagah pe ik ladaki dekhi hai
Are dekhi hai aji dekhi hai
Abhi-abhi isi jagah pe
Ik ladaki dekhi hai
Jo mujhe ishaare karati hai par kisi se shaayad darati hai
Are darati hai aahaa darati hai uf
Pyaar karegi kyaa darnevaali
Meri banegi koi himmatvaali
Haay jise meri yaad aaye jab chaahe chali aaye
Rupa nagar prem agali kholi number chaar sau bees
Excuse me please!
My name is Anthony Gonsalves
Mai duniyaa me akelaahun

You see the quiet piscent of the lending is inject
Opposition by the glowing ermeshpiyarik
Prisoner is the country today

Bade-bade log yahaan hai lekin ye yaad rahe
Are yaad rahe aji yaad rahe
Bade-bade log yahaan hai lekin ye yaad rahe
Sachchaa pyaar garibokaa baaqi hai khel nasibo kaa
Dil ki ye baate jag se niraali
Ye kyaa samajhegi koi daulatvaali
Haay jise meri yaad aaye jab chaahe chali aaye
Rupa nagar premagali kholi number chaar saubeess
Excuse me please

My name is Anthony Gonsalves
Mai duniyaa me akelaa hun
Dil bhi hai khaali ghar bhi hai khaali
Isame rahegi koi qismat vaali
Haay jise meri yaad aaye jab chaahe chali aaye
Rupa nagar prem agali kholi number chaar saubees
Excuse me please

Oh yes…
Anthony Gonsalves…

@bhawanasomaaya

My previous posts can be visited on the following link:

http://bhawanasomaaya.blogspot.in