Sometime, somewhere – Day 1959

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Forty-five years ago, on 27 February, Yash Chopra released its first multi starrer, Kabhi Kabhie. The filmmaker had been obsessed with the subject for a long time and shared the idea with many heroes, including Rajesh Khanna during the making of Daag but the film was finally offered to Amitabh Bachchan.

Originally the film was to begin shooting in 1974 and release in 1975 but the combination of so many star dates was getting difficult and, in the meantime, Salim Javed shared a script with Chopra that blew his brains, Deewar.

The trio together went to meet Amitabh Bachchan on his sets and Bachchan was so enamored by the idea of the don that he suggested to Chopra that they shoot Deewar before Kabhi Kabhie and that’s what happened.

To be continued

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.