Monthly Archives

August 2021

Hema Malini as Radha – Day 2053

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A few years later, Hema Malini’s Dance Academy, Natyavihar Kala Kendra planned their second ballet, Radha Krishna which brings to light some notable events during Lord Krishna’s sojourn on earth, like the raas leela with all the gopikas.  This time it was a bigger production and Hema Malini says the ballet is memorable because, “Radha Krishna are eternal lovers, in fact, I have been performing them since my childhood and feel a part of their lives.”

Geet Govind is a poem of lyrical beauty composed by Jayadeva in the twelfth century and elaborates on the multiple facets of Radha-Krishna’s extraordinary relationship both, the physical attraction and the spiritual bonding of Lord accepts Radha into his fold. “The advantage of doing these ballets is that I am also reading very good content and feeling enriched. It is fascinating that while everyone loves Krishna only Radha is the recipient of his special attention. Jayadeva’s projection of madhurya rassa/ erotic love in the moonlit night with the humming bees is so consuming that of us at that moment believe that we are with Krishna in Vrindavan.”

Hema Malini as Meera – Day 2052

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For more than three decades now, Hema Malini has performed at the Radhe Krishna Utsav held at the Iskcon Temple, Juhu, Mumbai during Janmashtami festival every year. The tradition was interrupted for the first time during covid and it is something Hema Malini regrets deeply. It all began as a dream in the year 1986 when Hema Malini was introduced to a young dancer portraying the role of Ram in a dance ballet. She invited choreographer cum dancer Bhushan Lakhandri to meet her and two destinies changed that day.

Lakhandri conceived The Bride of Brindavan and offered a new platform to the actor.  So far, Hema Malini was associated with only classical dance but here was an opportunity to engage a wider audience. She says, “I’m often asked why I only chose mythological subjects for my ballets, I do it because the audience is familiar with the story and it allows me to include different dance forms like Odissi and Mohiniattam. My attraction for Meera also an extension of my love for my guruma who believed in her devotion. Meera belonged to the sixteenth century but lived life on her terms. Her love for her Lord was selfless and flawless. We choreographed the ballet in Kathak dance form because Bharatnatyam would not be appropriate for a character based in Rajasthan.”

Breaking Rules – Day 2051

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Some leading ladies however accepted the shift in the image as a challenge. Meena Kumari played sister to Dharmendra in Kaajal where her sister-in-law Padmini is resentful of the brother-sister bond. Some decades laterNaseerudin Shah played an obsessive brother to Ramya in Chahat and Shah Rukh made a dominating, over-possessive twin bro to Aishwarya Rai in Josh.

Popular cinema has always been defined by the image of the ruling superstar and from the 70s to the 90s Amitabh Bachchan identified as the family man forever fighting a moral and social battle in all his movies- Majboor, Adalat or Trishul, Shahenshah,Agneepath or Aaj Ka Arjun was responsible for uplifting the image of mother and sister in society. The mother and the sister lost significance in mainstream movies when Amitabh Bachchan stopped playing the conventional hero.

Sisters & superstars – Day 2050

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Over the decades, filmmakers strived for new stories to project brother sister equation so if Ek Phool aur Chaar Kaante was about Sunil Dutt wooing his beloved/Waheeda Rehman’s brothers then Aaj aur Kal was about separated siblings reuniting in the climax. For a long time, no wedding celebration was complete without ‘Meri pyari beheniya banegi dulhaniya…’ popularised by Rajesh Khanna in Sacha Jhootha. This was an era where actresses like Naaz and Nazima made a career out of playing sister to leading heroes in film after film.

Leading ladies were always reluctant to play sisters to their heroes because it affected their romant ic pairing so Mumtaz refused to play Jasbir (eventually played by Zeenat Aman) in Hare Ram Hare Krishna even though it was a better role and remembered for the brother sister bond projected in ‘Phoolon ka taro ka….’where a young Dev Anand piggy rides a thumb sucking kid sister. Similarly, Padmini Kolhapure refused to play Mithun Chakraborty’s sister in Pyaari Behna even though a better role and eventually played by Tanvi Kher.

Songs on brother sister bonding – Day 2049

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It was not just the story but even the songs celebrated sibling bindings. Who can forget the heart wrenching “Ab ke baras bhejo bhaiya ko babul” picturised on the jail inmates in Bimal Roy’s Bandini? Asha Bhosle has often shared the experience of recording this album in her interviews. Post her marriage, she had not visited her maiden home for more than a decade and while recording the song became so emotional that she choked every time she had to mention babul and it took several takes before the recording was okayed.

Family dramas were the flavour of the season then and South banners were masters of the genre. Yamuna played the caretaker of a large family in Beti Bete where siblings get separated in childhood and meet decades later in the climax. Baby Farida playing younger Yamuna’s rendition of ‘Aaj kal mein dhal gaya…’ brings tears to your eyes even today.

To be continued

Relevance of Raksha Bandhan – Day 2048

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 All of India celebrated Raksha Bandhan day before yesterday but while for Maharashtra and many other states it is one day festival, in Madhaya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated for an entire week. The reason being that the sister lives far away and may not be able to reach her brother on time. The other interpretation is that the festival continues as long as the sister stays with the maiden family, which is usually a week.

For a long time, it was impossible to visualise a Hindi film without the mandatory bhaiya behna song sequences. Ever since a young Nanda played the blind sister of Rehman in Choti Behen and moved the audience to tears, the brother – sister became an integral relationship in cinema story telling.

Satyajit Ray introduced us to Durga and Appu in Pather Panchali and Raj Kapoor exposed us to street children forced into begging Boot Polish was the story of oppression and empowerment, story of a brother sister who find dignity in poverty guided by an inspiring uncle called John chacha, remember the beautiful song, ‘Nanhe munne bache teri muthi mein kya hain?’

To be continued

New age India – Day 2047

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All of Raj Kapoor movies are underlined with a social message and his last film Ram Teri Ganga Maili as the milestone film of the eighties. It is sad that many of us could not see beyond Mandakini’s drenched body under the waterfall because the film was much more. This was the time VCD and VCR came into circulation and cinema halls suffered business. The audience was getting younger and bolder, ready to defy as in Qayamat se Qayamat Tak and ready to die for love as in Ek Duje Ke Liye.

Director Sooraj Barjatya presented a wedding story Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun in the nineties and family weddings became the big high where every bride wanted to dress in Madhuri Dixit’s purple sari.  Music boomed like never before and composers made and broke

singing careers. The new millennium brought new faces, new sounds. Hrithik Roshan with his sculpted body was the new hero, Aamir Khan with new ambition/ Lagaan, the new filmmaker and Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai the new age film.

The story is not over but the rest of the pages of changing India can wait to unfold on a more appropriate day.

Concluded

Voice of India – Day 2046

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The defining film of sixties India will be K Asif’s Mughal-E-Azam made at a budget of 1.5 crore at that time and took a decade to release. MughalE-Azam reflected the new, ambitious India that would defy all norms to pursue passion and following in Asif’s footsteps were many maestros like Shankar Jaikishen, SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and more. A galaxy of legendary poets combined with top singers they created melodies that we are humming to this day, ‘Pyaar kiya toh darna kya’,’ Chaudvin ka chand’ or ‘Chalo ek baar phir se’.

Does society reflect cinema or is it the other way round is a thought we have debated for years without an answer but if Sholay became the iconic film of the seventies it means India was getting adventurous to appreciate Gabbar like villain and applaud Basanti type heroine, for safety there was Radha in white, allowed to dream but not allowed to remarry as yet.

Mohamad Rafi who was the voice of India now but the urban Indians were drawn to Kishore Kumar and he altered his voice depending on the words so if he sizzled with ‘Roop tera mastna’ he haunted you with ‘Chingari koi bhadke’.

To be continued

Sound of music – Day 2045

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In 1940 Ashok Kumar in Kismet revealed that the hero can be flawed and KL Saigal discovered that it was alright to be different. Music composer Naushad Ali and Noor Jehan together weaved magic with ‘Awaz de kahan hain duniya meri jawan hai’ and at the fag end of the decadecame a nightingale/ Lata Mangekar ‘Aayega aayega aane wala’/ Mahal that wrote history

In the fifties many pathbreaking films were made by talented filmmakers like Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy and more but if I have to pick one that defines Indian mother it will be undoubtedly Mehboob Khan’s Mother India.

To be continued

Changing nation in our cinema – day 2044

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We are in our seventy-fourth year of independence and our changing nation is reflected in our movies. What began as a dream for Dada Saheb Phalke in Raja Harishchandra in 1913 was taken forward by Franz Osten in the Himanshu Rai starrer Light of Asia in 1926.

A trifle nervous but full of courage we launched our first talkies Alam Ara in 1931 director Adersh Irani had the whole nation singing ‘De de khuda ke naam pe’. We loved the sound of music in our movies and the filmmakers indulged us by packing a dozen in each film.

RC Bora introduced playback singing in the year 1935 and singer Parul Ghosh recorded ‘Main khush hona chahoon’ on the shooting location, the idea worked and soon we were planning to build a sound studio even though not all songs were released as records as yet.

To be continued