Karan Johar’s Apology : Dangerous Trends for Hindi Films

2After posting this blog I will take a brief sabbatical from writing blogs on films, as the political scenario beckons me. Elections have been announced in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh and political parties have started playing their same old dirty and nefarious tricks and games. I am feeling compelled to write on that.

This week I read a disturbing article on and about Manipuri films and the problems Hindi films are facing there. After reading that article several other related problems, which are being faced by Hindi films in various other parts of the country, cropped up in my mind. Then there was a news that Karan Johar was compelled to apologize for using Bombay instead of Mumbai in his latest flick, “ Wake Up Sid ”. There are other problems too that Hindi films are inflicted with. I have divided those problems in 4 groups :

1 – Strong Regional Film Industry
2 – Strong Regional Chauvinism
3 – Strong Religious Orthodoxy
4 – Terrorist’s Dictates


It is true that Hindi is our national language and it is understood throughout India. So it is but natural that Hindi films should run everywhere in the country. But this is not the scenario. TAMIL, TELUGU, KANNADA and MALYALAM film industries in the south and BENGALI industry in the east are very strong. In these 5 provinces people prefer to watch their own regional films. They come to watch Hindi films rarely. These regions of India have and had stalwarts in every field of film making. If the Bengali film industry had directors like Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha and stars like Uttam Kumar, they still have directors like Mrinal Sen and Rituparno Ghosh and stars like Suchitra Sen and Debashree Roy. Obviously they are more than satisfied. If Tamil industry had stars like Shivaji Ganeshan, Jayalalita and M. G. Ramachandran and they still have stars like Rajnikant and Kamal Haasan and directors like Mani Ratnam and Sangeet Srinivasa Rao , definitely they are happy. Telugu industry too had stars like A. Nageshwar Rao and N. T. Ramarao, and they still have Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna, they don’t need Hindi film stars or films. Malyalam films also have fair share of stardom. They had Prem Nazir in olden days and they have Mamooty and Mohanlal now. They of course have directors like Adoor Gopalkrishnan and Shaji Karun. Kannada films of course had one man industry of Dr. Raj Kumar. Because of these stalwarts Hindi films suffer in these provinces and they are bound to play second fiddle to these strong regional film industries.


India has many sub-nationalities. Every province has strong under-currents of its distinct culture and history. Maharashtra and Manipur are the glaring examples of this type of malaise.

In Manipur, some cultural organizations have issued dictates that no actress should sport Sindoor, Bindi and Saree on screen, as these things represent Indian culture and values. So if you are making a film in Manipuri, your heroines should always be seen in Manipuri attire. It surely limits the scope but who cares.

In Mahrashtra, the dictate from MNS is that you cannot call police havaldars as Pandu havaldar. You cannot show maids having Marathi names such as Kantabai or Shantabai. Here chauvinistic parties are fighting for the sons of the soil but if you show that sons of the soil are doing these jobs, trouble erupts and a Karan Johar is made to rush with folded hands to pacify these chauvinists.

Rajasthan is another example. Many factions of Rajputs protested against “ Jodha Akbar ”. They demanded a blanket ban. As per their version Jodha Bai never married Akbar. Protests continued for several weeks and the hapless Mr. Ashutosh Gawarikar incurred heavy losses.


“ Jo Bole So Nihal ” was made by N. R. Pachisia. It ran into trouble because Sikhs felt that Sikh character played by the actor is not as per the tenets of Sikhism.

“ Love Aaj Kal ” also raised hackles among the Sikhs. They felt that trimmed beard sported by Saif is not right and that all the scenes should be deleted. Saif Ali Khan was forced to do the rounds of various Gurudwaras to pacify these elements.

From time to time various Muslim organizations in the country issued dictates that films are anti-Islamic and acting is against Islam, so it is kufr ( Un-Islamic ) to watch movies. They even decided punishments and started administrative measures to see that their orders are followed and obeyed. Religious and devout Muslims started avoiding the films and in Muslim dominated pockets there was a steep fall in the movie going public.


To show that their writs run large and they are capable of forcing their edicts on everybody, terrorists target films. Industry suffered during the dark ages of militancy in Punjab and in today’s Jammu & Kashmir all the cinema halls are closed in the valley. The populace is ordered to abstain from cinema halls.

There are small fringe elements and organizations in every nook and corners of our country and for them Hindi films are sitting ducks. The government of the day is happy to collect steep and hefty taxes from the Hindi film industry but they look other way when it is targeted. After Karan Johar’s visit to Mr. Raj Thackeray and his subsequent apology, Chief Minister of Maharashtra said that instead of going to Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Johar should have visited us. But he fails to tell us, what action his government took when a film passed by the Sensor Board was attacked by a mob. If the government of the day becomes a helpless spectator, then people can go anywhere for the relief.

It is becoming a trend but it is a very dangerous trend indeed.



Lata Mangeshkar is 80

2Sometimes you want to cherish an event, but you don’t have means to do it. Sometimes you would like to be part of the celebrations, but you are not in the inner circle. Sometimes you feel that you are integral part of a person’s life, but you know that you are not. Sometimes, on special occasions, you would love to wish the person in person, but you don’t have the contacts. My feelings for Lata Mangeshkar and my relationship with her is like the above mentioned conundrums.

To say that you don’t know Lata Mangeshkar, is blasphemous. But to say that you know her, is a lie too. So how to define and name the relationship? I was trying to find the answer of these above mentioned paradoxes and conundrums since past few days, when she celebrated her 80th birth day. I am yet to find an answer. But I gathered courage, caught hold of my BlackBerry and started writing this blog.

My relationship with Hindi Film music was ignited and the knowledge of the same was kindled in 1965. I was a 13 year old adolescent and I was studying in the 8th standard in Government Inter College, DEORIA. I had a big HMV radio at my house in DEORIA. I started tuning in and listening the Hindi film songs. There was only two Radio Stations for us during those days and they were All India Radio and Radio Ceylone, which later on became Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Vividh Bharti was yet to take birth and shape. “ Suraj ” a film starring Rajendra Kumar and Vyjyantimala got released and its songs, tuned by Shankar Jaikishan, were huge hit and immensely popular. “ Baharon Phool Barsao, Mera Mehboob Aaya hai ” , sung by Mohammad Rafi, is still known to the younger generation. “ Suraj ” had no Lata Mangeshkar song and ironically my first introduction to film music was with the voice of Sharda, a protege’ of Shankar. I heard her song filmed on Vyjyantimala in “Suraj ”, Titli Udi, Ud jo Chali ” . It was very popular , but frankly speaking when I first heard it, I could not discern the words and understand the lines. Instead of “ Titli Udi, Ud Jo Chali ” , I used to sing “ Kitni Hasin, Ghode Pe Chadin ”. One day a friend of mine and a connoisseur of film music rectified my mistake. I was ashamed and felt guilty that I was unable to decipher the words. That day I made a negative mark in my mind for Sharda’s voice and singing. After some days I heard a song “ O Basanti Pawan Pagal, Na ja Re Na Ja Roko Koi ” from Raj Kapoor’s film “ Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai ” and I was awestruck. Crystal clear pronunciation, immaculate diction , sweet and melodious voice, it was so different from Sharda’s voice that one could always remember it. Later on I got to know that singer’s name is Lata Mangeshkar. Later on when I heard “ Aayega, Aayega, Aayega, Aayega Aanewala ” from Ashok Kumar and Madhubala starrer “ Mahal ” , I was simply mesmerized. Slowly my knowledge about her grew and later on when I heard songs of “ Dosti ”, “ Guide ”, “Mamta ”, “ Teesari Qasam ” and many other films, I became an admirer and an ardent fan. And on Monday September 28, 2009, when I heard the news of her 80th birthday, I went into my past on a nostalgic memory trip.

I can’t say that I have heard all her songs, but I have heard thousands of her songs in Hindi, Bhojpuri, Bengali and Marathi. I must and should say that she was always brilliant and melodious. As it always happens with all the legends, she also had many detractors. Here I would like to say something about them.

Suman Kalyanpur, Mubarak Begam, Sharda, Hemlata, Vani Jairam and Anuradha Paudwal, they all tried to replace her. They eventually failed and cried foul, is another story. Among above mentioned detractors Anuradha Paudwal deserves special mention, because she stooped very low and used every trick of the trade to displace Lata Mangeshkar. In her interviews she always claimed that she is equally talented and that Lata Mangeshkar doesn’t want her to come in the limelight. In order to prove her point, she started making cover versions of Lata Mangeshkar’s old songs. The very convenient alibi was paying tributes to music directors of the bygone era. She tried her best but failed miserably. After the inglorious murder of her scheming mentor, she faded into oblivion and is now consigned suitably in the trash bin of history. She is still alive but why is she not singing? where is her talent? And what a talent!! The so called talent was recognized only by one person, her mentor. She sang cover version of Lata Mangeshkar’s immortal “ Rasik Balma ” and proved her inferior talent. Her mentor’s company is still thriving but she is nowhere in the reckoning. Her case is just like Sharda, who faded into oblivion and disrespect after being jettisoned by her mentor Shankar. All her detractors have vanished but Lata Mangeshkar is still there and  she just sang a song for ” JAIL “, a Neil Nitin Mukesh starrer . It is needless to say that Neil is grandson of legendary singer Mukesh, who was a contemporary of Lata Mangeshkar. She sang for Shobhana Samarth, her daughters Nutan and Tanuja and Tanuja’s daughter Kajol. She sang for Tara Chand Barjatya’s films and also for his grandson Sooraj Barjatya’s films. She sang for Raj Kapoor’s heroines and also for his grand-daughters; Karishma kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. She sang for three generations of Hindi film industry.   No wonder on her 80th birthday, she was interviewed by none other than Javed Akhtar for CNN/IBN.

Long live the nightingale !




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