One more month is gone. Gradually days and months are passing by with alacrity and ferocity. When I contemplated writing film diaries, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I have to write obituary every month. It is sad to know that people, whom once you watched on the silver screen, are leaving this world one by one. It is sad that the idols of your adolescent age have embarked silently on their celestial journey, and sometimes you are not even aware of it. Here I am writing about few people, who left this world in July.
JOGINDER : He died last month, June 14, 2009 precisely. His death was not widely reported in the daily news papers and I was not even aware of it. I read about his sad demise in the IMPPA bulletin of this month, and immediately flood of memories came rushing to my mind. I was studying in the Government Inter College, Allahabad and used to frequent cinema halls along with my friends. We thoroughly enjoyed Joginder’s films. He used to act in the B grade movies, which he produced and directed as well. Some of the films, which I still remember are; “ Daku Aur Jawan ”, “ Pandit Aur Pathan ” and of course his most famous, well remembered one and a massive hit of it’s time “ Bindia Aur Badook ”. I have no qualms in accepting that I used to love his films for sheer entertainment value. I know, intellectuals and connoisseurs will be appalled, but during those days I use to watch all kind of films. There were no limits or choices. In acting, I liked Dilip Kumar the most but I liked Dara Singh and Joginder also. In direction Satyajit Ray was my favourite but I used to like films directed by Dara Singh and Joginder too. I enjoyed “ Bindia Aur Bandook ” and his other films as an actor and a very fond remembrance of joginder was consigned in my memory. Now after his death, he shall always be there in my memory, permanently.
NILU PHULE : On July 12, it was the final and permanent curtain call for Nilu Phule. He was an actor of amazing capabilities. After a very successful stint in theatre, he rose to dizzy heights in films. Saamna, Jaith Re Jaith and Sinhasan, all Marathi films directed by Jabbar Patel, are his extremely famous films. During his long, illustrious career he did 130 Hindi and Marathi films. Hindi film connoisseurs are not very familiar with him, though he acted in couple of Hindi films. Saaransh, Mashaal, Prem Pratigya, Coolie, Woh Saat Din and Naram Garam are notable among them. Those who have seen his play Sakharam Binder, a controversial play written by Vijay Tebdulkar, still vouch for his brilliant performance. Nilu Bhau, as he is fondly called by Marathi film fraternity, is gone to stage some other play in some other unknown world.
BHASKAR CHANDAWARKAR : A very little known name out of his sphere, he gave music for “ Khandahar ”, “ Paroma ” and Amol Palekar directed “ Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jayen ”, a film starring Nana Patekar. In Marathi he gave music for films like “ Rao Saheb ” and “ MatiMai ”. He won National award and Sangeet Natak Academy award for his brilliance in music. He was also a music teacher in FTII, Pune for several years.
LEELA NAIDU : On Tuesday night July 28, 2009 came the news of death of Leela Naidu. Only last month I mentioned Ismael Merchant and Merchant-Ivory production’s film “ Householder ” in my film diary. Leela Naidu was the leading lady of that film, which also starred Shashi Kapoor. It was the first Hollywood film with Indian stars and Indian music director. So it stayed in my memory. It’s music director Ali Akbar Khan also died last month. I still remember the day, when I saw her on the screen for the first time. I am still finding it difficult to erase the first impression of this actor, whose film I watched decades ago. With her half French half Indian looks, she was very dignified and elegant. She won Miss India title in 1654. It was in 1963, when I saw her for the first time in a film called “ Ye Raste Hain Pyar Ke ”. Because of it’s subject ,it became very controversial, at the time of it’s release. It was certified by the Censor Board with A certificate and I was dying to see it, though I was a minor in 1963. Anyhow I managed to sneak into the cinema hall, Amarjyoti Talkies Deoria, and watched the film. I must admit that more than the content of the film, I was mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of Leela Naidu. The title song, “ Ye Raste Hain Pyar Ke, Chalna Sambhal sambhal Ke ”, filmed on Sunil Dutt and Leela Naidu, still reverberates in my memory. Incidentally that film was produced by Sunil Dutt and it was the maiden production of Ajanta Arts. She also starred in “ Anuradha ” , a film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and which won President’s Gold Medal for best film in 1960. After separation from her husband Dom Moraes and his subsequent death she slipped into loneliness. Confined to her Colaba home, she became a recluse and ultimately died at the ripe age of 69.
It is very uncanny and strange that a day after her death, Gayatri Devi, the Rajmata of Jaipur, also died. Incidentally both were listed by VOGUE in the list of the 10 most beautiful women in the world.
F.C.MEHRA : july 29 was the first death anniversary of F. C. Mehra. He came to India from Afghanistan and built a huge film empire here. Eagle Films, his banner, produced many successful films starring Shammi Kapoor. His Minerva theatre, touted as pride of Maharashtra, is witness to many film premieres. I still remember the grand premier of Akshaye Khanna’s debut film“ Himalay Putra”, which was held at Minerva and which I attended. It is sad that after a year of his death Minerva is demolished. I had one more connection with Mr. Mehra. I played a small character in a serial called “ Zaban Sambhal Ke ” , produced by him. He was the producer of “ Quilla ” and he is going to have a dubious distinction of being the producer of, perhaps the last film of legendary Dilip Kumar, if the thespian doesn’t change his mind and acts again.
BIMAL ROY : At last there is another kind of news, the news which is not so sad. July 12 was the birth centenary of legendary film maker Bimal Roy. I have seen almost all of his films. “ Do Bigha Zameen-1953 ”, “ Yahudi-1954 ”, “ Devdas-1955 ”, “ Sujata-1959 ”, “ Parakh-1960 ” and of course “ Bandini ” and “ Madhumati ”, whose year of release I am failing to remember. My God! All world class masterpieces and all directed by just one man! As famously narrated by Dilip Kumar, Bimal Roy directed films in whispers. Apart from his celluloid masterpieces, he trained many assistant directors, who rose to dizzy heights in Hindi and Bengali film industry. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Nabendu Ghosh, Sudhendu Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Salil Chowdhury, Kamal Bose, Basu Bhattacharya, Asit Sen and of course Gulzar, all his assistants, who made marks in various departments of film making. Few of today’s generation know that he started as a cinematographer in 1935 with P. C. Barua directed “ Devdas ” starring K. L. Sehgal and Jamuna. He was the first one to insist for subtle and realistic acting, clearly breaking away from the theatrical acting, which was in vogue those days. Bimal Roy died in 1966 and with him an era ended permanently .
JULY RELEASES : The month started with a promising note. “ New York ” is a massive hit. In fact of all the releases of this year, it is the biggest hit of 2009. After this “ Kambakkht Ishq ” recorded bumper opening. Other films “ Shortkut ”, “ Sankat City ” and “ Morning Walk ” were not so successful but all these films have one thing in common. They have one or more than one of my students starring in them. John, Neil and Katrina in “ New York ”, Kareena in “ Kambakkht Ishq ”, Akshaye and a debutant Dipaali Siingh in “ Shortkut ”, Rimi Sen in “ Sankat City ” and Divya Dutta in “ Morning Walk ”, all are trained by me. Today on July 31, when I am posting this blog, “ Love Aaj Kal ” has been released to packed houses. It stars Saif Ali Khan, another student of mine, who is also producer of this flick.
The story doesn’t stop here. There was an article in Times Of India on July 22 about 5 established stars of Bollywood, named “ Bollywood’s Five Muskateers ”. According to that article Amir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Hritik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan are the only box office reliable stars today. According to Komal Nahta Amir and Shahrukh are no. 1 and Hritik is no. 2. As per Amod Mehra, Hritik is 3rd, after Amir and Shahrukh. According to Ashok Ahuja of Percept Picture Company, Amir and Shahrukh are tied at no.1 and Hritik is clearly no.2. In every permutations Hritik is ahead of Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan. He stands there just after Amir and Shahrukh. Needless to add he is my student.
In Hindustan Times of July 25, there was another article about 5 upcoming box office reliable stars. List includes Shahid Kapur, Ranbir Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Imran Khan and Harman Baweja. Here barring Shahid, all the other 4 stars are my students. It gives me immense satisfaction that my students are present everywhere in the industry.
A Kannada film “ Yuva ” got released to packed houses in Karnataka last Month. It stars Kharrtik ( Prajwal Shetty ). He is getting rave reviews for his acting skills in this film. I trained him too years ago.
Towards the end there is a heartening news about the collaboration of Anil Ambani and Steven Spielberg. In Rs. 4000 crore deal Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio will make six films a year for global audience. The films made will be globally distributed by Walt Disney, while the rights for India will be with Reliance Big Entertainment. This is a giant step for Indian film industry, which produces more than 1000 films per year. It is more than the combined number of films produced by. U. S. A., Japan and china.
I am signing off with this happy and optimistic news. I shall be back again next month.