Monthly Archives

February 2021

Can you hear us Nutan? – Day 1958

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Today, when I watch Nutan’s old films I am overwhelmed with her magical moments on the celluloid.  I want to turn the clock and bring her back to ask her what was she thinking when Shubha Khote was singing to her ‘Baat baat mein rutho na’ in Seema. Were they real tears or mixed with glycerin when Sunil Dutt whispered ‘Jalte hain jiske liye’ over the telephone in Sujata? What was she feeling romancing the rain with ‘Kali ghata chaye mora jeeya ghabraye’ and who taught her to flirt with the moon in ‘Mora gora aang lay le’

I want to tell her that she boarded the wrong boat in Bandini for had she chosen Dharmendra; she would have lived happily ever after. I want to tell her that she was priceless in ‘Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar’ Paying Guest because even though the song is rendered by Dev Anand what stays with me are her twinkling eyes. I want to say so many things, will you give me an opportunity Nutan?

Concluded

Nutan’s last days – Day 1957

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Another decade passed by and one day, I bumped into journalist and Nutan’s close friend and confidante, Lalita Tamhane. Lalita told me that she was writing a book on the actor in Marathi but was not sure if she would be able to complete it.

Why is that, I asked her, ‘Because she is suffering from cancer and has very little time’ responded Lalita breaking down, “She has given so many years to cinema, so many unforgettable films and isn’t it strange that nobody visits her, inquiries after her? Why is showbusiness is so cruel?’

Tamhane’s words stayed with me.  She had struck a raw nerve, ageing is cruel and ailing old people are very easily forgotten though I’m not sure if we forget them or the family does not want invaders, probably a combination of both but the fact of the matter is that is that we cherish people only after they are gone and that’s particularly true of our legendary artistes.

To be continued

Bimal Roy and Bandini -– Day 1956

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As hours went by, Nutan became refreshingly candid and discussed other journalists with me. ‘Most of them come with a set of prepared questions and never check their facts. They want controversies, make allegations and misquote you without a care in the world. “I don’t need to explain my work, my films to them’.  I told her I watched her interview on Bimal Roy on Doordarshan the previous evening and loved the way she described the crucial scene in Bandini.  She smiled, ‘Bimalda was a master craftsman and a great story teller. What Kalyani is going through before poisoning the patient is portrayed through a welding scene in the background’.

Nutan discussed Sujata and untouchability too but I’m not sure if I fully understood what she meant at that time, but the conversation and her melodious voice stayed with me for a long, long time and yet we never crossed paths. We met again, almost decade later, at a grand party organized by Subhash Ghai for Meri Jung and Nutan was there accompanied by her husband Rajneesh Bahl but they did not mingle with anyone, sat in a corner all by themselves and left early.

To be continued

Remembering Nutan – Day 1955

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Thirty years ago, today, we lost legendary actor Nutan to breast cancer. Born as Nutan Samarth in 1936 she died as Nutan Bahl in 1991. Started at a tender age of fourteen, Nutan was launched by her mother in Humari Beti, 1950. Her early films were ineffective, Samarth advised her a break and life changed forever after Seema was released in 1955.

I was fortunate to meet Nutan in the winter of 1977 when I was assigned to report on the shoot of Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki. Director Raj Khosla introduced me to her during the lunch break. She was cordial. Those days, it was normal for a nouveau journo like me to hang out on the sets, befriending a film unit and in the process learn about filmmaking.  The actors did not consider our presence an invasion as in present times. In fact, I clearly remember Nutan gently pulling my chair towards her, cautioning me to not block the field, she explained, pointing to the camera.

 I have remembered that and never made the same mistake on a set again.

To be continued

Ghar completes 43 years – Day 1954

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Forty-three years ago, producer NN Sippy made a film inspired from a true story about a housewife raped in the middle of a road outside a newly built theatre. Launched in 1977  director Manik Chaterjee  suffered a tragedy and died half way through the film and  the responsibility to complete the film fell on writer and lyricist of the film, Gulzar.

While rape is a common subject in our movies, rape of the leading lady as a victim was not that common because the hero miraculously appeared at the exact moment and always saved her from her oppressors. In Ghar, for the first time, the leading lady, a homemaker is gang raped in the presence of her husband who is helpless to save her.  The film focused on the couple and how they come to terms with the tragedy. It focused on social relationships and how they perceived a rape victim family.

The film was a turning point in Rekha’s career as an actor and remains immortal because of RD Burman’s unforgettable melodies.

Stories about cinema- Day 1953

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In the eighties, Zarina Wahab-Mithun Chakraborty’s Sitara was a letdown script while Mahesh Bhatt directed Janam, story of a filmmaker and his illegitimate family clicked in a big way because of Salim Khan’s dramatic writing. Director Ram Gopal Varma has been obsessed with the celluloid forever and contributed a trilogy on the subject: Rangeela the making of a star, Mast, escaping stardom and finally Naach a love story of a struggling actor anda choreographer. The celluloid with all its complexities continued to be a muse for the next generation of filmmakers.

IfFarah Khan was inspired to use the film world as a back drop in Om Shanti Om, Zoya Akhtar delved on the junior artistes of the glamour world, Luck by Chance. Ranbir Kapoor-Anushka Sharma starrer Velvet unfolded the dark stories of the underbelly of cinema.  Our writers are our conscience forever mirroring society and which is why we had so many films on the 2020 lockdown during the pandemic. The writers are forever hungry for an engaging story and it does not matter whether the subject is film actor, politician, rape victim, stock broker, item dancer or a farmer as long as the audience is able to identify with the protagonist, don’t you agree?

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True stories – Day 1952

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Films based on living celebrities invariably got controversial and ended in court cases, resolved after many rounds of negotiations be it Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen on the life of Phoolan Devi or Vinay Shukla’s Godmother on the life ofSantokben Jadeja, don of Jamnagar both released in the 90s.  For some peculiar reason,filmmakers have always been attracted to stories of how business, sometimes real and sometimes fictional. 

In the olden days, Nutan made her debut in Sone Ki Chidiya where the earning member is exploited by her immediate family and Guru Dutt’s Kaagaz ke Phool delved on a married filmmaker obsessed with his muse. Both these films did not work at the box-office, probably because they ended in tragedies. Hrishikesh Mukherjee presented a positive, refreshing take of the film world through the eyes of a small-town girl Guddi in the seventies that broke the myth of the glamour world.

Smita Patil’s unforgettable Bhumika was adapted from Shanta Aapte’s Sangte Aaika and explored the journey of an actress through her various relationships. Patil transforms from the gawky teenager to a woman of the world, who though empowered, is oppressed by her husband/ Amol Palekar and doomed to a life of gloom! In the same decade, Vinod Pandey’s Ek Baar Phir presented a self-obsessed superstar/ Suresh Oberoi and his sensitive, neglected wife Deepti Naval who depicts courage to opt out of a loveless marriage while Dulal Guha’s Do Anjaane was a mainstream thriller where a husband/ Amitabh Bachchan follows the rise of his actress wife/Rekha and unravels the truth.

To be continued

Society inspires cinema – Day 1951

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Watching the farmers protest on the border for the last 60 plus days, a thought crosses my mind that someone, somewhere is already planning a film on the subject. Society has always inspired cinema be it personal betrayals like Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke based on the infamous Nanavati case where the naval officer murdered his wife and her lover (his friend) to bigger tragedies like the bomb blast in Mumbai, portrayed as Black Friday and Mumbai Meri Jaan on the celluloid.

Stories of victimization be it the gang-rape of Sanwari Devi portrayed as Bawandar or Siya Dulari depicted s Lajja have raised social consciousness and initiated a moral debate. Some stories have been aspirational too. If Sai Paranjpye’s Deesha was a tribute to the Maharashtra villager, who spent a life time digging a well in search of water, Shyam Benegal’s Samar saluted the installation of a water pump in Dalit basti of Madhya Pradesh strongly opposed by the upper-caste protest. Pooja Bhatt’s Tamanna talked about a eunuch ostracized for adopting a girl-child and Gadar – Ek Prem Katha was about inter religion marriage during post partition, were all stories inspired from real life.

To be continued

Anushka-Virat Kohli: Lessons of Life – Day 1950

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Law No :6:  Marriage, work and baby: It was wonderful to see the two of them visiting the Prime Minister and soon both were back to their individual work. Time and again one got a glimpse of them in their home a new life and life and then came the pandemic in 2020. Just as all of us were hitting an all-time low, the star couple announced that they were expecting an addition in the family in 2021. Again, a right decision at the right time, life and career goes on but babies must come when they have to. The new parents have requested the media to not invade their privacy and the media respects their decision.

For a long time to come young celebrity couples will look up to Anushka and Virat as inspiration in how they handled their careers, love, family, controversies and detractors.

Concluded

Anushka-Virat Kohli: Lessons of Love – Day 1949

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Law No: 4: Follow the heart: Both immersed themselves in work and tried not to show they were hurting and when the pain became unbearable, both said to hell with the world and got back together. Their bond was stronger than they had anticipated. After a glorious victory when Virat kissed his bat and blew the epic kiss over to his lady love, it was not just Anushka in the stadium balcony but lovers all over the world stopped suffering. Year 2016 was about expressing uninhibitedly and news of their impending wedding was in the air.

Law No: 5: If committed, say yes: There is a time for attraction and a time for commitment and those who have delayed courtship will confess how rot sets into an ageing romance. Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli were riding the crest of their careers and were madly in love. Their marriage is the kind of stuff fairy tales are made of. While the duo worked hard for their break, their families strived for a perfect destination wedding at a picturesque location, stunning costumes and intimate guest list. The media got the ceremony pictures and the fans got to see the videos that went viral, in short all were happy in 2017.