My 25-Year-Long Journey : From Kareena Kapoor to Alia Bhatt


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 08, 2014           08.50 P.M.

 

My fascination with Hindi film heroines started in mid 60s. In the dark environs of Amar Jyoti Talkies, Deoria, my rendezvous with Hindi cinema took place with Rajendra Kumar and B. Saroja Devi starrer Silver Jubilee hit  ” Sasural ” [ 1961 ] . B. Saroja Devi, though not well-known to Hindi cine-goers, was almost alien to me. But after watching the film, I was unable to forget her. Her elegant persona, her well-kept figure, her chiselled face enticed me for weeks and months. She was the first icon of my childhood fancy.

Few years later in 1967, after appearing in High School exams, I watched Dilip Kumar and  Vyjayanthimala, starrer golden jubilee film ” Ganga Jumna “. B. Saroja Devi and  Vyjayanthimala, to my utter surprise, looked almost similar. I was hooked to Vyjayanthimala and my fascination for the film heroines got fortified.

After passing High School, I went to Allahabad for further studies. My true rendezvous with Hindi cinema started in all earnest in Allahabad. I started watching films regularly. I got acquainted with the heroines of early Hindi cinema. I was particularly enamoured by Devika Rani and Kanan Devi. [ Who can forget Devika Rani’s ………. MAIN BAN KI CHIDIA BAN KE BAN-BAN DOLOON RE ……….( ” Achhut Kanya ” – 1936 ) and Kanan Devi’s ………….. YE DUNIYA ,YE DUNIYA TOOFAN MAIL ……… ( Jawaab ” – 1942 ) ? Few years later I watched two earlier films of Kanan Devi; P. C. Barua starrer ” Mukti ” [ 1937 ] and K. L. Sehgal starrer ” Street Singer ” [ 1938 ]. Though they were the heroines of my father’s generation but their etherial beauty, their sweet voice enthralled me and fascinated me during my adolescent and growing up years in Allahabad.

Later on I got acquainted with the works of other highly successful actresses of the bygone era. The list included Nargis, Suraiya, Nalini Jayawant,  Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Nimmi and Geeta Bali. These heroines ruled the golden era of Hindi films. But even they belonged to the earlier era.

My era included highly successful and enchanting heroines like;  Nutan, Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman , Nanda and Mala Sinha .

I became a die-hard fan of Waheeda Rehman after watching her films Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) . After watching Raj Kapoor‘s Awaara (1951) and of Mehboob Khan‘s Mother India (1957), Nargis, also became one of my all time favourites. Vijay Bhatt‘s Baiju Bawra (1952), made me a fan of  Meena Kumari.  K. Asif‘s Mughal-e-Azam (1960) made Madhubala my eternal favourite.

Then times changed. My journey with cinema matured. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, actresses like Sadhna, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz and Asha Parekh ruled the Hindi film world.

In the early 70s  Amitabh Bachchan, era started in the Hindi film industry. Actresses from this era included Hema Malini, Jaya BachchanRekha,  Zeenat Aman and Dimple Kapadia. I adored these heroines but frankly, I was neither enchanted or enamoured by them. Mysterious quality of the earlier heroines was missing. Or may be I became mature and the mystique slowly evaporated.

In 1975, I completed my studies in Allahabad and returned to my native place, Deoria. A 14-year-long second phase of my life started in Deoria.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pendulum swung back towards family centric romantic musicals with the success of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) . Incidentally this was the last film, which I watched in Deoria.

I moved to Bombay [ now Mumbai ] in 1989. This was the year when Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) got released and changed the film-watching experience forever.

Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Dil (1990), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), making stars out of a new generation and actresses such as Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla and Kajol . In that point of time actresses such as Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta, Aishwarya Rai also arrived on the scene.  Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor too appearing in popular comedy films .

Furthermore, this decade marked the entry of new performers in art house and independent films like Satya (1998), directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap. Manisha Koirala, Tabu and Urmila Matondkar were the heroines of this generation.

So it was a long association with the silver screen heroines. From Kanan Devi to Kajol and Karisma Kapoor , I watched everyone, got fascinated by them and silently admired their etherial beauty. But never in my wildest dream did I imagine that one day I would train few of the present day ruling Divas of Hindi cinema. After 25 year stay in Mumbai, when I look back, I reminisce my by-gone days with astonishment. I am bewildered with my accomplishment.

In 1994 two heroines trained by me made their debut in Hindi films. They are Sonali Bendre in ” Aag ” [ 1994 ] and Divya Dutta in ” Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna ” [ 1994 ] . It uncanny that 1994 was the year when Devika Rani died. Kanan Devi bid us adieu two years earlier in 1992.

My childhood icons left this world in 1994 and present day icons, trained by me , made their entry in 1994. It is strange. It is quirky. It is really uncanny. After debut of Sonali Bendre and Divya Dutta in 1994, flood-gate of the newcomers got opened and it has now submerged the Hindi film industry. I present a list of some of the epoch-making new era Hindi film Divas, who got trained by me :

Kareena Kapoor : ” Refugee ” [ 2000 ] = DEBUT

Priyanka Chopra : ” The Hero ” [ 2002 ] = DEBUT

SONAM KAPOOR : ” Saawariya ” [ 2007 ] = DEBUT

Anushka Sharma : ” Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi ” [ 2008 ] = DEBUT

Katrina Kaif :  ” Raajneeti ” [ 2010]

ALIA BHATT : ” Student Of The Year ” [ 2012 ] = DEBUT

KALKI KOECHLIN : ” Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani ” [ 2013 ]

URVASHI RAUTELA : ” Singh Saab The Great ” [ 2013 ] = DEBUT

 

In the end I would like to submit that the above mentioned list is almost endless. I have mentioned very famous names only. As I watch Alia Bhatt making rapid strides,and other newcomers trained by me making their entry in the tinsel town, my heart beats fast with pride.

Some of the biggest star sons / daughters are currently being trained by me and they are going to make their debut in 2015.

So the SAGA CONTINUES !! Dust settles down. Sun shines brilliantly. And the World { excluding few egoistic nay-sayers } watches with awe, admiration and amazement.

 

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Merchandise , I wish all my above mentioned students all the success and stardom never attained before by anyone and unseen even by the mightiest.

God bless them for making me proud !!

 

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Shamshad Begum : छोड़ बाबुल का घर, आज पी के नगर, मोहे जाना पड़ा


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 30 , 2013           07.00 P.M.

Shamshad Begum

April 14, 1919 – April 23, 2013

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Shamshad Begum was one of the first playback singers in the Hindi film industry. She had sung over 6000 songs in Hindi , Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Punjabi languages. Her songs from the 1940s to the early 1970s remain popular and continue to be remixed.

Young Shamshad Begum

Young Shamshad Begum

Shamshad Begum died this month on April 23 , 2013 at the age of 94 and I am forced to write 7th obituary in continuation in the month of April . Shamshad Begum , along with Noor Jahan and Amirbai Karnataki , dominated the pre-Lata Mangeshkar era in Indian playback singing .

Among female playback singers , She was blessed with a distinct voice with slight nasal twang and any lover of Hindi film music can immediately recognize her voice .

Since I was born and brought up in the Lata Mangeshkar era , I was not a fan of Shamshad Begum’s voice initially. But slowly , as my understanding grew , I started appreciating her voice .

The first song of hers , which caught my fancy , was ” Pee Ke Ghar Aaj Pyari Dulhaniya Chali ” . ThisMother India ” [ 1957 ] song was immensely popular . Other songs of the same film ; ” Holi Ayee Re Kanhayi Rang Chhalke Suna De Zara Bansuri ” and ” Gadiwale Gadi Dheere Haank Re “ are also hit even today . Then I watched Mughal – E – Azam ” [ 1960] and its immortal qawwali is still fresh in my mind . ” Teri Mehfil Me Qismat Azma Ke Hum Bhi Dekhenge “ is a connoisseur’s delight . Then I watched ” Aan ” [ 1952 ] and I was permanently hooked to Shamshad Begum’s voice . All her popular songs , like ; ” Aag Lagi Tan Man Me Dil Ko Pada Thamna , Ram Jaane Kab Hoga Saiyyan Ji Ka Samna ” and ” Khelo Rang Hamare Sang Aaj Din Rang Rangeela Aaya “ are still my favourites . But ” C. I. D. ” [ 1956 ] was another revelation . ” Le Ke Pehla Pehla Pyaar , Bhar Ke Aankhon Me Khumar ” and ” Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana , Jeene Do Zalim Banao Na Deewana “ are just immortal . It is surprising that I heard her most popular song very late in my life . ” Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon Kiya Hai Wahan Se Telefoon , Tumhari Yaad Satati Hai “ . This song from ” Patanga ” [ 1949 ] is unforgettable and its several re-mixed versions are still extremely popular . ” Naya Daur ” [ 1957 ] film’s ” Reshmi Salwar Kurta Jaali Ka “ was a craze of its time . Her last hit  ” Kajra Mohabbatwala Ankhiyon Me Aisa Dala “  from ” Kismat ” [ 1969 ] is one of the songs which was re-mixed again & again .

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Shamshad Begum’s career was somewhat eclipsed with the advent of Lata Mangeshkar . She sang her first duet ” Dar Na Mohabbat Kar Le “ with Lata Mangeshkar in ” Andaz ” [ 1949 ] and her last duet with Lata Mangeshkar was ” Teri Mehfil Me Qismat Azma Kar Hum Bhi Dekhenge “ from ” Mughal – E – Azam ” [ 1960 ] . Within these 13 years Shamshad Begum’s career went downhill and after giving her last hit ” Kajra Mohabbatwala “ in 1969 , she bid adieu to playback singing .

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Some Famous Songs of Shamshad Begum :

  • Leke pehla pehla pyar, (CID 1956), (music: O.P. Nayyar)
  • Milte hi aankhen dil hua, (Duet with Talat Mehmood), (Babul), (music: Naushad)
  • Chali chali kaisi yeh hawa yeh, (Duet with Usha Mangeshkar), (Bluffmaster 1965), (music: Kalyanji Anandji)
  • Kabhi aar kabhi paar lagathi re nazar, (Aar Paar), (music: O.P. Nayyar)
  • O Gadiwale Dheere – Mother India – Naushad
  • Kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishana – CID (1956) – music O.P. Nayyar
  • Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re – (1956) – music O.P.Nayyar
  • Mere piya gaye Rangoon – Patanga – music C.Ramchandra
  • Ek Tera Sahara – Shama – music Master Ghulam Haider
  • Holi aayee re KanhaaiMother India (1957) – Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni, Music: Naushad
  • Naina Bhar aye neer – Humayun – music Master Ghulam Haider
  • Nazar Phero Na Humse -(Duet with G M Durani) – Deedar (1951) – music Naushad
  • Chod Babul Ka Ghar – Babul – music Naushad
  • Kajra Mohabbatwala Ankhiyon mein Aisa dala (Duet with Asha Bhosle) – Kismat (1968) – Music: O.P. Nayyar
  • Meri neendon main tum, meri khwabon mein tum (Duet with Kishore Kumar) – Naya Andaz – Music: O.P.Nayyar
  • Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat (Duet with Lata Mangeshkar) – Mughal-E-Azam
  • Saiyan Dil mein aana re – Bahar
  • Reshmi salwar kurta jaali da – Naya Daur
  • Milte Hai Ankhen Dil Deewana Hua Kisika – Babul – with Talat Mahmood
  • Kisike Dil Mein Rehna Tha – Babul – with Lata
  • Dharti Ko Aakash Pukare – Mela – with Mukesh
  • do teen aaja mausam hai rangeen – Awara

Shamshad Begum’s fans often allege that her career suffered because of the monopolistic politics of Lata Mangeshkar . I beg to differ . Shamshad Begum played her innings and retired gracefully . Her career suffered because of the changing times and changing taste of film-goers . Talat Memood’s career went downhill with the advent of Mohammad Rafi . Even mighty Mohammed Rafi , towards the end of his career , was confined in his home for many years without recording a single song and Kishore Kumar ruled that era . In the field of art such things happen .

Her distinct style , her nasal twang and her strong voice , which was her forte in the earlier years of her career , became her nemesis towards the end . It is not for nothing that towards the fag-end of her career , her voice was used for vamps and her last hit ” Kajra Mohabbatwala “ in ” Kismat ” [ 1969 ] was filmed on Vishwajeet , who was masquerading as woman in the said film .

On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as  Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I offer my condolences to the family of the iconic singer . Self-proclaimed most famous acting school of Mumbai , self-anointed most famous acting institute of India and self-appointed most famous acting academy of bollywood has no time for such courtesy .

Shamshad Begum

Shamshad Begum

May her soul rest in peace ! Her ephemeral body is gone but her perennial voice , the temple bell , will live on forever .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Ah ! Captain Saurabh Kalia , We Are Ungrateful


Saurabh Kalia

Captain Saurabh Kalia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 31, 2012           05.00 P.M.

Very few people in India remember Captain Saurabh Kalia or even know about him . It is shame , but it is true . Captain Saurabh Kalia was captured by Pakistani army during Kargil war of 1999 and was mercilessly murdered after brutal and inhuman torture . He was just 22 years old at the time of his death .

I have nothing new to say on Captain Saurabh Kalia’s case . I am re-tweeting some relevant tweets about Captain Kalia’s case from the twitter handle of Andhra Pradesh BJP IT Cell . I hope , for discerning and nationalist people , it will be a gentle and tearful reminder about the martyr . For heartless and emotionless brutes , nothing matters . For Congress , the Indian National Congress , the next election is more important and Captain Kalia can’t assure them victory . So for them he is not that important .

Andhra Pradesh BJP IT Cell , in fact , tweeted the verses of Venki . I was moved while going through the lines .

Lets Hang our head in shame while we read these Verses by Venki about Capt Saurab Kalia’s Sacrifice 1/15


They didn’t just pluck your eyes out, Capt Saurabh Kalia, They gouged out ours too. 2/15

Or would we have been blind to your father’s agony, His cry for ‘justice’ for all these years? 3/15

They didn’t just pierce your eardrums, Capt Kalia, They poured hot oil in ours too. 4/15

 

Or would we be deaf to your mother’s fitful sobs And her pitiful cry of anguish? 5/15

They didn’t just burn your chest, Capt Kalia, They carved out our bleeding hearts too. 6/15

Or would we, as a nation, have been so heartless As to forget our Kargil war hero? 7/15

They didn’t just mangle your private parts, Capt Kalia, They castrated an entire nation. 8/15

Or would we be so impotent that we yearn for aman While they plot yet more jihadi crimes? 9/15

When they ambushed you in the Kargil heights, Capt Kalia, They waylaid every one of us. 10/15

But you died so that we may live Our shameless, ungrateful lives. 11/15

We sent you to war at age 22, Capt Kalia, Which is no viable diable age. 12/15

And yet, we have failed to honour you The way your father sought. 13/15

 

AP BJP IT Cell AP BJP IT Cell@AP_BJP_IT_Cell

Shame on us – and , Mother India, That you would send your son to war And yet not collect his martyred ashes Or even shed a silent tear. 14/15

It is shameful that we have almost forgotten Captain Saurabh Kalia , a 22-year-old captain of our army and a martyr of 1999 Kargil war .

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I have been often asked , why I keep on writing about matters other than actors , acting and acting institute ? My simple answer is that I want my students to know , apart from films , about our great nation , about the history of India and about the struggle of our national heroes . I am unable to think only about the next batch of my acting school or the coming films of my acting students .

I want my acting students to know about Captain Saurabh Kalia , a martyr , who sacrificed his today for our better tomorrow . On behalf of all the students and staff of Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I pay my homage to the brave son of Bharat Mata .

Alas ! we have almost forgotten him .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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Wilting Traditions – 1 : Holi & Hindi Cinema


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 26, 2011                   12. 2O A.M.

We just celebrated Holi. Indian festivals, specially North Indian festivals always played major roles in the Hindi films of yesteryears. Once upon a time Holi , Deewali , Makar Sankranti and  Raksha Bandhan used to be part of the story and were filmed lavishly and portrayed prominently in Hindi films. There used to be hit songs in films celebrating these festivals. And they are still remembered.

When I started watching films, I vividly remember Mehboob Khan‘s films , where Holi was always a part of the story and he used to picturize it lavishly. His first colour film ” Aan ” [ 1951 ] had a memorable Holi song – khelo rang hamare sang aaj din rang rangeela aaya…………..It was filmed on Dilip Kumar , Nimmi and large number of junior artistes.

Mother India

Image via Wikipedia

Mehboob Khan’s another timeless classic in colour was Mother India ” [ 1957 ] . It had immensely popular Holi number – holi aayi re kanhayee rang chhalke suna de jara bansuri………It was filmed on Nargis , Sunil Dutt , Rajendra Kumar , Kumkum and large number of junior artistes. Its canvass was vast and it carried the story forward with the help of intercuts and flash-backs . This song is my personal favourite. Mehboob Khan had earlier made ” Mother India ” in Black & white as ” Aurat ” [ 1940 ] and it too had Holi number filmed on Sardar Akhtar , Surendra and Yakub. Incidently ” Aurat “ also had an artiste named Arun [ father of present day star Govinda ]. So in total Mehboob Khan had 3 memorable Holi songs to his credit in classic films like – ” Aurat ” , ” Aan ” and ” Mother India. ”

After Mehboob Khan’s ” Aan ” [ 1951 ] , Dilip Kumar had another memorable Holi number picturized on him in S. U. Sunny’s ” Kohinoor” [ 196 0 ] . It was – man rang lo ji aaj tan rang lo , khelo umang bhar rang pyar ke le lo…………….During his later years Dilip Kumar did a film Mashaal ”  [ 1984 ] for Yash Chopra and it too had a hit and lovely Holi number – o dekho holi aayi ………….

Cover of

Cover of Mashaal

It is noteworthy that all the above mentioned numbers were composed by Naushad and were written by Shakeel Badayuni. Only ” Aurat ” and ” Mashaal “ numbers are exceptions. ” Aurat ” Holi number was composed by Anil Biswas and ” Mashaal “ was composed by Hriday Nath Mangeshkar and was written by Anand Bakshi.

After Mehboob Khan , Dilip Kumar , Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni another filmmaker who filmed magnificient Holi scenes and songs , was veteran V. Shantaram. His ” Navrang ” [ 1959 ] had a wonderful Holi number – arre ja re arre natkhat………………..

Among the yesteryear filmmakers , strangely , Raj Kapoor never filmed a single Holi song or scene in his directorial ventures. Though in real life , his larger than life Holi celebrations were talk of the film industry and are still envied and remembered by many.

Another curious case is Dev Anand’s. His suave and urbane personality was not fit for such kind of rustic and robust celebrations but he has one memorable exception. His immortal film ” Guide ” [ 1965 ] had a popular dance number – piya tose naina lage re , naina lage re…………….In this particular song there was one para dedicated to Holi. It was – aayi holi aayi , sab rang layi , bin tere holi bhi na bhaye………………….. Though Dev Anand was not shown in the song . It was magnificently picturized on Waheeda Rehman by director Vijay Anand. It was composed by Sachin Dev Burman and was written by Shailendra.

After above mentioned artistes and specially after Dilip Kumar , Amitabh Bachchan had most number of memorable Holi songs to his credit. His immortal classic ” Sisila ” [ 1981 ] had a song – rang barse bheege chunar wali rang barse ………… It is a cult song even today. One of his recent hits ” Baghbaan ” [ 2003 ] had another memorable number – holi khelen raghubeera awadh men holi khelen raghubeera……… .. According to me , Amitabh Bachchan has the dubious distinction of having one of the worst Holi number in the history of Hindi cinema to his credit. His later year hit ” Waqt – Race Against Time ” [ 2005 ] had a number composed by Anu Malik – do me a favour lets play holi……………….. Unfortunately this worst Holi song  is the last Holi number in Hindi films till date.

Yash Chopra , director of ” Silsila ” [ 1981 ] , is the second filmmaker after Mehboob Khan , who has filmed large number of memorable Holi songs in his films. After ” Silsila ” [ 1981 ] , he picturized a melodious Holi song on Dilip Kumar , Anil Kapoor and Waheeda Rehman in ” Mashaal ” [ 1984 ]. The song was – o dekho holi aayi……………..After ” Mashaal “ he made ” Lamhe ” [ 1991 ] and once again gave us a hit song – mohe chhedo na……………His another classic ” Darr ” [ 1993 ] had another lovely song – ang se ang lagaana sajan mohe aise rang lagaana………………….It was picturized on Shah Rukh Khan , Sunny Deol and Juhi Chawla. So Yash Chopra has 4 Holi songs to his credit , while Mehboob Khan has 3.

In between Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan , for a brief period of time , Rajesh Khanna was the reigning deity. His one of the early successes ” Kati Patang ” [ 1970 ] had a memorable Holi number – aaj na chhodenge bas hamjoli……………It was composed by Rahul Dev Burman and was written by Anand Bakshi. Incidently same composer – lyricist duo gave us another Holi chart-buster in ” Sholay ” [ 1975 ]. It was – holi ke din dil khil jaate hain…………..Though ” Sholay “ was made in the tradition of western cowboy films but it’s Holi song was so wonderfully woven in the story and it was filmed so beautifully that it is remembered even today .

Among today’s stars Aamir Khan had a wonderful song in ” Mangal Pandey  – The Rising [ 2005 ] . It is – dekho aayi holi………….. It is quirk of the matter that worst Holi song of Hindi films , do me a favour , lets play holi……… also came in the same year [ 2005 ] in ” Waqt – Race Against Time ” .

Mangal Pandey: The Rising

Image via Wikipedia

There are some other films also which have some good Holi songs . Rajshri Productions massive hit ” Nadiya Ke Paar ” [ 1982 ] had a catchy number – jogi ji wah jogi ji…………. but it was an exception rather than a rule. After 2005, it is sad that all the recent released films have not portrayed Holi or any other festivals prominently. There are several causes for this scenario.

A – Delhi – UP has ceased to be a prominent territory for Hindi films. Now younger filmmakers make films for metropolitan cities and for overseas markets. So this rustic , robust festival of colours is not finding favours.

B – Younger filmmakers are not familiar with the hinterlands of our country. They seldom go to villages and are unaware of the circumstances of our middle and lower middle class population.

C – Story line of recent films have become city – centric. Rampaging consumerism has changed the scenario beyond recognition and this is being reflected in the recently released films.

D – Rise of television is another root cause for this change. Since films are being made for the overseas territories and for metropolitan centers, so various channels started catering to the rural masses and started beaming village – centric serials. So filmmakers are now not bothered for the masses of hinterlands.

E – Rise of Bhojpuri films are another nail in the coffin. These films specially cater to North Indian public and most of them are still village – centric . So they picturize Holi songs on lavish scale . Recently released hit Bhojpuri film ” Diljale ” [ 2011 ] has a memorable Holi song.

There might be other reasons too, but I am sad that slowly and firmly our festival of colours is coming to a virtual neglect in Hindi films.

It is sad , very sad !

VIDUR

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80 Years of ” Alam Ara ” : India’s First Talkie


NIGHT……………………………….11.00

On March 14 , 1931 Indian cinema created history . First Hindi talkie ” ALAM ARA “ made by Ardeshir Irani was released on this very day in the Majestic cinema of Bombay [ now Mumbai ] Though , ” RAJA HARISCHANDRA ” , first ever full – length silent feature film of India was made by Dada Saheb Phalke , the pioneer of Indian cinema , in 1913.

scanned from personal collection Removed from ...

Dada Saheb Phalke - Father of Indian Cinema

A scene from indian movie

A scene from Indian movie Raja Harishchandra

A still of a scene from the first full-length ...

A scene from Indian movie Raja Harishchandra

It took almost 18 years to produce a talkie film and Ardeshir Irani became the pioneer. ” ALAM ARA ” made under the banner of Imperial Movietone had Master Vithal and Zubeida as the leading stars of the film and the movie had 7 memorable songs including DE DE KHUDA KE NAAM PAR sung by Wazir Mohammad Khan , who also played a faqir in the film . In those early years of talkie era there were no system of recording the song , Ardeshir Irani recorded it live with harmonium and tabla . This particular song is considered as the first ever song of not only Hindi films but Indian films as well. Music of ” ALAM ARA “ was given by Ferozshah M. Mistri and B. Irani .When released in the Majestic cinema hall of Bombay [ now Mumbai ] it created history . Public frenzy was to be seen to be believed , and finally police had to be summoned to control the crowd .

Director, Ardeshir Irani recording, Alam Ara f...

Ardeshir Irani recording a Song of Alam Ara

Alam Ara poster, 1931.

Alam Ara poster, 1931.

The film is a love story between a prince and a gypsy girl, based on a Parsi play written by Joseph David. David later served as a writer at Irani’s film company. The story centers on an imaginary, historical royal family in the kingdom of Kumarpur. The main characters are the king and his two warring wives Dilbahar and Navbahar. Their rivalry escalates when a fakir predicts that Navbahar will bear the king’s heir. Dilbahar, in revenge, attempts to have an affair with the kingdom’s chief minister Adil. The affair goes sour and a vengeful Dilbahar imprisons him and exiles his daughter, Alam Ara (Zubeida). In exile, Alam Ara is brought up by Gypsies. Upon returning to the palace at Kumarpur, Alam Ara meets and falls in love with the charming young prince (Master Vithal). In the end, Adil is released, Dilbahar is punished and the lovers marry.

A rare still from Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara, t...

A rare still from Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara

Description: Low-resolution reproduction of pu...

A Scene fron Alam Ara

After the fire at National Film Archive of India, Pune, in 2003, which destroyed the last surviving prints of several classics such as Raja Harishchandra and Achhut Kanya, this film is no longer available in its original format.

Master Vithal and Zubeida in Alam Ara, 1931.

Master Vithal and Zubeida in Alam Ara, 1931.

Newpaper advertisement for first Indian talkie...

Newspaper advertisement for Alam Ara

The name of the actors , who played major role in ” ALAM ARA ” , is worthy of notice for the today’s film connoisseurs. Apart from Master Vithal and Zubeida Begum Dhanrajgir [ known as Zubeida ] , it had singer Wazir Mohammad Khan as a faqir. Three prominent actors , who were part of the cast of ” ALAM ARA ” and who played major role in the talkie era and are known to today’s generation also , were Prithvi Raj Kapoor , Jillo Bai and L. V. Prasad .

Prithvi Raj Kapoor went on to play major roles in many films , won many awards and created an empire. His legacy was carried forward by his sons ; Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kpoor. Later on legacy was carried forward by his grandsons ; Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Rajeev Kapoor. Now fourth generation of Prithvi Raj Kapoor’s family is working in films. They are Kareena Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor. Shashi Kapoor’s daughter manages Prithvi Theatre , made to commemorate  Prithvi Raj Kapoor’s memory.

Jillo Bai was seen as Madhubala’s mother in ” Mughal – E – Azam “ and as mother – in law of Nargis in ” Mother India “ .

Case of L. V. Prasad is more curious. He worked as an actor in first Hindi talkie ” ALAM ARA ” , first Tamil talkie ” KALIDAS ” and first Telugu talkie ” BHAKT PRAHLAD ” , all released in 1931. Later on he stablished a major production company named as Prasad Productions and made hits like ; ” SHARDA ” , ” CHHOTI BAHAN ” , ” BETI BETE ” , ” DADI MAA ” , ” MILAN ” , ” JEENE KI RAH ” , ” RAJA AUR RANK ” ,  ” KHILONA ” and ” EK DUJE KE LIYE ” .

It is sad that no print of the epic movie ” ALAM ARA “ is available today. This part of our history is lost for ever and no one is bothered . Ardeshir Irani’s path-breaking film is lost forever.

Ardeshir Irani, (1886 - 1969)

Ardeshir Irani, (1886 - 1969)

Ardeshir Irani died in 1969 , when I was studying in intermediate and Zubeida Begum Dhanrajgir a.k.a. Zubeida died in 1988, one year before I came to Mumbai to make a career in films.

Zubeida, a silent era actress in Indian Cinema...

Zubeida, a silent era actress

[ Synopsis of ” ALAM ARA “ is taken from Wikipedia. I have not seen the film , so for the story I have to rely on Wikipedia. I express my gratitude . ]

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