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Posts Tagged ‘Gulzar’

When it comes to capturing the wide canvas of human relationships and emotions for the silver screen, Gulzar saheb surpasses all others who wield the megaphone.

Here is an ode which would be relished by all those who are familiar with his work.

Reflections, Ruminations, Illuminations

Note: My poetic tribute to the haunting, melancholic, yet the beautifully touching saga of love gone awry in the hands of destiny, the irresistibly deep and unforgettable chemistry between Mahinder, Maaya and Sudha in Gulzar’s timeless love saga ‘Ijaazat’, based on the Bengali story ‘Jatugriha’, by Subodh Ghosh.  The film, unforgettable till today for the tenderly crafted lyrics of Gulzar Saab composed with finesse by the phenomenal R.D. Burman,  followed the story of couple who are separated and who accidentally meet in a small waiting room of a railway station and discover some truths about their lives without each other.

ijaazat_movie

Like weary travelers, lost in the waxy orbit of time

We lose our shores, and then, keep coming back

To where our stories began, the Ground Zero

Where you slouched against my caramel skin,

Lost in the deep, blinding maze of a past, passionate, drunk

With the lyrics and heartbeats of…

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Nina Davaluri, a dark beauty of Indian origin, recently got crowned as Miss America. She ended up eliciting a backlash of Dark Nina_Davulurixenophobic and racist comments. Yet again, this brought to the fore our predisposition to judge people by the color of their skins.

We tend to forget that the pigmentation of our skins is a work of nature. To be able to judge people better, we have to look a little deeper. Their character, their attitudes and the qualities of head and heart are some of the attributes which define the real person behind the veneer of skin which could be of any hue or grain. Irrespective of the color of the skin, those who have true talent and a pure soul continue to outshine all around them in a very natural manner.

In marketing parlance, we live in times when the packaging appears to be more important than the product. But this is a myopic view of things. If the product does not perform to the satisfaction of the customer, it will eventually fade away. Likewise, irrespective of looks or the color of one’s skin, if a person has what it takes to be successful in a career, he/she is bound to get noticed sooner or later.

The Not-so-fair Divas

We have several examples out of tinsel town where gutsy divas are known to have clawed their way up to success despite having a skin tone which could be called anything but fair. Here is a quick look at some of those who continue to be heart throbs of millions of movie buffs all over the planet. Most of them have a multi-dimensional personality. Just to rustle up the memory cells, a single movie for each one of these divas also finds a mention. Admittedly, there are several others for which they are remembered.

Angela Bassett

(What’s Love Got to Do with It, 1993)

Dark Angela_Bassett

Bipasha Basu

(Corporate, 2006)

Dark Bipasha_Basu

Deepti Naval

(Chashme Baddoor, 1981)

Black Deepti_Naval

Deepika Padukone

(Love Aaj Kal, 2009)

Dark Deepika_Padukone

Halle Berry

(Die Another Day, 2002)

Dark Halle_Berry

Jennifer Lopez

(Maid in Manhattan, 2002)

Dark Jennifer_Lopez

Kajol

(Fanaa, 2006)

Dark Kajol

Konkona Sen Sharma

(Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, 2002)

Dark Konkona

Nandita Das

(Earth, 1998)

Dark NanditaDas

Rekha

(Khubsoorat, 1980)

Dark Rekha 1

Shabana Azmi

(Saaz, 1997)

Dark Shabana_Azmi

Smita Patil

(Mirch Masala, 1985)

Dark Smita_Patil

Sridevi

(English Vinglish, 2012)

Dark Sri Devi

The Perks of Being Chocolate-hued

All those who feel disheartened by the prominence of the fairer amongst us may take heart from the fact that most of them support a multi-billion industry which churns out fairness creams, thereby creating employment opportunities for many of our denizens.

Some orthopaedicians are of the opinion that those blessed with a dark skin have stronger bones because they end up absorbing much more Vitamin D from natural sunlight. Hence, they face lesser risk of being afflicted with either osteopenia or osteoporosis!

The Yearning for a Dark Tan

There are an equal number of fair skinned ones who would go to great lengths to acquire a darker tan. This yearning makes Dark Bandinipeople pack up their bags and head to the nearest sun-bathed tropical beaches over most weekends.

In one of the immortal songs penned by lyricist Gulzar for an old Hindi movie ‘Bandini’ (The Imprisoned, Director Bimal Roy, 1963), the fair skinned heroine expresses her yearning for a darker complexion thus:

‘Mera gora ang layi le, mohe shyam rang dayi de,

Chuup jaoongi raat mein, mujhe pee ka sang dai de.’

(Take away my limbs so fair, give my skin a dark hue,

So I may hide in the dark night, grant me the company of my beloved’)

A Festival to Dispel DarknessDeepawali-festival

As we get ready to celebrate the Festival of Lights in India, let us be aware that the real darkness to be dispelled is that of some of our belief systems and prejudices. In some regions, these take the form of apartheid; in some areas, these manifest as exploitation of the disadvantaged; whereas in some others these come up as harassment of the delicately nurtured.

The diversity of homo-sapiens – whether in terms of race, caste, creed, ethnic origin, monetary status, sex and the hues of the skin – is a wonderful fact of life which simply deserves to be celebrated. The brown and black beauties and celebrities from Hollywood, Bollywood and elsewhere are living examples of the fact that merit ranks supreme in any walk of life!

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When we think of gorgeous heroines draped in plain color chiffon saris and sleeveless blouses – swaying to rhythmic beats composed poster jab tak hai jaanby eminent musicians and lip-synching soulful lyrics penned by proficient poets – with the magnificent Alps as a backdrop, the only name that comes to our minds is that of Yash Chopra!

The producer and director showed us the value of pure romance sans vulgarity in times when the only mantra to box office success appears to be “the lewder and cruder, the better”. He passed away last year. He has left behind a rich legacy of social comment through the wide-ranging themes of movies he produced or directed.

But the king of romance acquired this sobriquet by a very interesting process of evolution, through a long and arduous journey of making socially relevant movies which reflected our society’s challenges of their respective times. Like other popular directors of Bollywood – Raj Kapoor, Subhash Ghai and others – he had a unique ear for music, which was a hallmark of all his movies. The lyricists he associated with were accomplished poets who invariably came up with relevant and meaningful verses.

Evolving Into a King of Romance220px-Dhool_Ka_Phool

Partition, Secularism and Peace

If ‘Dhool ka Phool” (1959) was about illegitimate children, ‘Dharamputra’ (1961) touched upon religious intolerance in days when the term Hindu fundamentalism was not part of our vocabulary. The story of a Muslim bringing up a Hindu boy tugged at one’s heart-strings. The scenes of partition were hard-hitting, leading to a backlash at the time. That was perhaps the reason he never ventured to make a film on a political theme again during his lifetime.

However, he did come up with a clear message on peace and unity with his ‘Veer Zaara’ (2004). Not even a single bullet was fired in the film, but the message was loud and clear – that India and Pakistan share a common culture and a strong bond – by implication, both countries deserve a poster veer zaarachance to be together again, pooling their scarce resources to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease, instead of war mongering.

Family Values, Wealth and Bigamy

‘Waqt’ (1965) was his last movie where he worked with his elder brother Baldev Raj Chopra. It was the first one to have had a multi-star cast, a practice which is followed till today. It also spawned several other movies in the lost-and-found genre, popular ones being ‘Yaadon ki Baraat’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. The movie also depicted the lavish styles of the rich, conveying that 220px-Deewar_posteracquiring wealth is not necessarily evil.

Then he formed Yash Raj Films, his own banner, and came out with ‘Daag’ (1973). The issue of bigamy was handled with his trademark elegance and suavity.

The Angst of the Youth

This was followed by two angry-young-man-phase movies, capitalizing on Amitabh Bachchan’s recently acquired image in ‘Zanjeer’. It started off with ‘Deewar’ (1975) and was followed by ‘Trishul’ (1978). In ‘Mashaal’ (1984), he cast thespian Dilip Kumar who portrayed an angry old man. Much to the glee of middle class audience struggling with rising aspirations kabhie kabhie posterand astronomical living costs, the means were no longer important; ends were.

Elegant Romance

With ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ (1976), he introduced a poetic touch into the art of commercial movie making and set the box office registers tingling. This trend continued in his subsequent movies like ‘Silsila’ (1981), ‘Chandni’ 220px-Silsila(1989) and ‘Lamhe’ (1991). The angst eventually mellowed down and human emotions acquired center stage. All the characters in these movies were from an affluent background. In each venture, the canvas only got larger. In each, candy-floss romance was in the air, backed by melodious music and soulful lyrics that would remain etched in our collective psyche for a long time to come.

His style of depicting romance was muted, elegant and refined. The main protagonists were invariably civil and dignified, following the norms of propriety. It was devoid of lewd dialogues, coarse lyrics and vulgar scenes. Even in ‘Darr’ (1993), we had an anti-hero stalking the heroine, but never in bad taste.

Social Values and the Indian Diaspora Lamhe poster

He produced ‘Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (1995), which was directed by his son, Aditya Chopra. The movie set new records and Indians world over could readily connect with the superiority of family values it espoused. A daughter brought up in UK needs permission from her overbearing father for a vacation in Europe; a hero refuses to get persuaded by the heroine’s mother to elope with the heroine; instead, the couple works towards getting an approval of the match from the heroine’s father, come what may – these were market savvy master strokes in the script which made the movie immensely popular with all age groups.

Musical Romanceposter of chandni

Very few directors have ventured to work on a theme with music as a backdrop. ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (1997) did precisely that. All the main characters had a different perspective on love, and the movie was about the transformation of their belief systems. It was beautifully built around music and dance, elevated to a level where soul-mates discover each other.

We live in terrorism infested times. It is not surprising that his last venture, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ (2012) used this as a backdrop of a triangular love story.

An Ear for Music and Rich PoetryDDLJ poster

While supporting his brother, B. R. Chopra, Yash Chopra got to work with music directors like N. Dutta and Ravi. However, once on his own, he first worked with Lakshmikant Pyarelal for ‘Daag’, and then with Rahul Dev Burman for ‘Deewar’. Khayyam was his choice for ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ and ‘Trishul’. All through these movies, he worked with Sahir Ludhianvi as the lyricist.

Yet another master stroke was his persuading legendary classical musicians Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hari Prasad Chaurasia to compose the music for several of his movies. Together, they created a rich legacy of music in such movies as ‘Silsila’, ‘Chandni’, ‘Lamhe’ and ‘Darr’. The classical dance sequences performed with aplomb by  Sridevi in ‘Chandni’ and ‘Lamhe’ remain as fresh today as they were when captured on celluloid. ‘Silsila’ and ‘Veer Zaara’ had lyrics by Javed Akhtar, whereas all others had poetic inputs from Anand Bakshi.DTPH poster

For ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, he turned to Uttam Singh, who came up with mellifluous compositions for the movie. His best was, however, reserved for ‘Veer Zaara’, which dug up old compositions of the legendary Madan Mohan, revived by the latter’s son Sanjeev Kohli.

In his last offering, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, he teamed up with A. R. Rehman, with lyrics by Gulzar.

Setting New Benchmarks

Undoubtedly, he set new benchmarks for the film industry. Several trends that we take for granted today were initiated by him. He set the template for future Bollywood directors who continue to ape his technical gloss but lack the depth of romance and human emotions captured by him. He was among the first to push the industry into professionalism. Working with classical musicians and accomplished Urdu poets, he has left behind a rich repertoire of music for all of us to savor for a long time to come.

He would always be fondly remembered for a certain elegance and refinement of language which many of the current breed of Bollywood dream merchants sadly lack. Also, for the unique brand of secularism, peace and unity he propagated through his movies.

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Quite early in life, I discovered that a movie should be selected for viewing not based on its cast Lekinbut based on its director. Each director has a distinctive perspective on life, and the manner in which he/she presents a theme is as unique as, say, one´s finger prints. Admittedly, the core brilliance of a movie is determined by the producer-director duo. But the unmistakable stamp on the narrative is that of the director. To put it simply, if you sit down to watch a movie by Gulzar saheb, you know what to expect. On the other hand, if you are going to see a David Dhawan flick, you already suspect what is in store.

The Brand Equity of a Director

Over a period of time, a movie director builds up a strong brand equity for himself. It comes from the uniqueness of his style, the choice of his scripts, consistency in quality of his directorial ventures, earning a respect from the discerning viewers, crowned by some degree of commercial success.

As a person who has been brought up on a rich diet of Bollywood fare right since his childhood, and maachisas someone who has dabbled in the art of movie making himself, it is not difficult for me to appreciate the complexity of producing a commercial pot-boiler. The cine-goers eventually get to see only the end result on the screen, little realizing the hard work done by all to ensure a high quality product. That is why, a good movie makes me feel fulfilled. I feel like saluting the producers and directors who have invested their effort and money on a worthwhile product.

The CEO of a Dream Merchandise Factory

A director’s role in shaping a movie would perhaps be comparable to that of either the CEO of a company or the conductor of an orchestra. A CEO’s mindset determines the business strategy of a company. His style of functioning and his value system permeates across all levels of the company. Likewise, the conductor of an orchestra blends the notes of stringed, percussion and other instruments, creating a symphony which is unique. Like a CEO guiding a company or a conductor presenting a symphony, the director also balances the strengths and weaknesses of his team members and comes up with a movie which is entertaining – and possibly educative – in the social context.

Surely, a director coordinates and guides various specialists to achieve the level of perfection in hisGaja_Gamini_ product. Apart from the choice of a script and the main caste, no department of movie making would remain aloof from the influence of a director. Screenplay, cinematography, sound design, choreography, music, editing, budgeting, financing, marketing and many other facets of movie making come under a director’s watchful eye, thereby making each movie a unique attempt at story telling. And when someone as accomplished as M F Hussain decides to wield the megaphone, we are in for a stupendous visual treat, as in ‘Gaja Gamini’ and ‘Meenaxi – A Tale of Three Cities’!

A Director’s Take

Exploiting the latent potential of an actor is surely one of the key traits of a director. Look at some of the amazing transformations we have seen on the silver screen all these years! To recapitulate just a few:

  • A villain or a vamp being cast in a positive role: Remember Lalita Pawar in a matronly role in Raj Kapoor´s ‘Anari’? Or, Shashikala supporting the sulking heroine in Hrishikesh Mukherji´s ‘Anupama’? Cut to ‘Abhiman’ and you notice Bindu empathising with the lead pair. Under the baton of Manoj Kumar and Manmohan Desai, we had Pran playing positive roles in ‘Shaheed’, ‘Upkar’ and ‘Zanjeer’. From a staunch villain, Madan Puri became a doting grand-pa in Rajshri Production’s ‘Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye’.
  • From a flamboyant playboy to a chivalrous gentleman: Yesteryear´s jumping jack JeetendraHum aapke hain kaun becomes a simpleton in ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne’ and ‘Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti’ under the watchful eyes of V. Shantaram. Gulzar is equally effective with Jeetendra in ‘Parichay’ and ‘Khushboo’. Lately, we have seen Salman Khan being tamed by Suraj Barjatya in ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’ and ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’.
  • From a debonair hero to a villain: Under Brij, Ashok Kumar, the quintessential hero, becomes a villain in ‘Ustadon ke Ustad’; under Vijay Anand, he springs a surprise in ‘Jewel Thief’.

The chemistry between a music director and a director has also produced enchanting results for music buffs.

  • Besides raucous beats in movies like ‘Bombay’ and ‘Rangeela’, A R Rehman comes up withZubeidaa soulful music in ‘Zubeida’ for Shyam Benegal. Likewise, for Subhash Ghai, he composes a different genre of music in ‘Taal’.
  • The duo of Shankar-Jaikishan, when working with Raj Kapoor, left behind a rich repertoire of scores, some of which are evergreen and a treat for movie goers of all ages.
  • Salil Chaudhury, when coupled with Basu Chatterjee, came up with some unique scores in ‘Rajnigandha’ and ‘Chhoti Si Baat’.

Some Directors I Admire

Selection of a script essentially determines the social message that a director wishes to convey through his work. One fondly recollects the following directors who have sought to convey a unique message of their own through their work:

  • Aparna Sen did a great service to the senior citizens by highlighting their plight in the thought-provoking ’36 Chowringhee Lane’. The acute loneliness of Violet Stoneham touched our hearts. In ‘Paroma’, she explored the psyche of a tradition-bound housewife seeking liberation in her own way. In my opinion, her best offering so far has been ‘Mr. & Mrs. Iyer’. It conveyed the message of inter-religious harmony in a very effective manner. Her latest offering, ‘The Japanese Wife’, depicts the true meaning of love, sans any physical contact. One wishes her a long innings of creative offerings.
  • Ashutosh Gowarikar is another director whose work one has come to admire. ‘Lagaan’, ‘Swades’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ and ‘What is Your Rashee’ were all brilliant offerings. One surely looks forward to more movies from his stable in the days to come.
  • Basu Bhattacharya excelled in depicting the post-matrimonial relationships between couples. If ‘Anubhav’ captured the vacuum felt in the absence of a child and the misunderstandingTeesri kasam created as a result of an ex-lover of the wife walking into the household, ‘Aavishkar’ dwelt at length on the dissappointment caused by the realization that a college romance is so very transient. In ‘Teesri Kasam’, he came up with a classic philosophical treatise, whereas in ‘Sparsh’, he touched upon the challenges faced by the differently abled in our society. Finally, in ‘Aastha’, we saw him covering the impact of a materialistic culture on our morality and social values.
  • Basu Chatterjee‘s movies are classics in their own right. Depicting the dilemmas faced by the great Indian middle class with a dash of humour was his forte. Right from ‘Chameli Ki Shadi’ to ‘Baaton Baaton Mein’, ‘Chitchor’, ‘Hamari Bahu Alka’ and ‘Piya Ka Ghar’, he has regaled us with heart-warming tales, backed by tongue in cheek humour. In ‘Rajanigandha’, the hero, while watching a movie, imagines himself and the heroine as Dharmendra and Hema Malini on the screen – one of the several master strokes of the director. In ‘Chhoti Si Baat’, the hero and the heroine go about singing a song in crowded places whereas all others around them remain preoccupied with their own activities! In ‘Khatta Meetha’, we find an irritated Ashok Kumar threatening to kill Pradip Kumar, the heroine’s father, if he fails to bless her marriage with his adopted son.
  • One has admired some of the B. R. Chopra movies because of not only their socially Gumrahresponsible messages but also for their experimental streak. If ‘Naya Daur’ was about rapid industrialization leading to labour unrest, ‘Gumrah’ was about the perils of a wife likely to go wayward. ‘Humraz’ spoke of the dangers inherent in a situation where one attempts to hide facts from one’s spouse. ‘Insaf Ka Tarazu’ covered the trauma of rape, whereas ‘Nikaah’ was about a woman asserting her rights to choose a husband. ‘Pati Patni aur Woh’ was a humouros take on the proverbial seven-year itch of the male of the species, a theme which was effectively countered in ‘Rang Birangi’ subsequently by none other than Hrishikesh Mukherjee! His experimental foray into the genre of suspense led to two classics: ‘Kanoon’ and ‘Ittefaq’, both of which broke from convention and did not boast of any song, a taboo for the mainstream BollywoodDark Bandini cinema. ‘Baghban’, directed by his son Ravi Chopra, is a great comment on the derogatory attitude adopted by some of the grown up children towards their parents.
  • Bimal Roy gave us realistic movies with a socialistic message. ‘Do Beegha Zameen’ and ‘Bandini’ shall remain etched in our minds forever. In ‘Sujata’, he touched upon the stigma of untouchability in a very poignant manner.
  • David Lean‘s work has left an indelible impression on me. Think of either the elements of nature or the complexity of human relationships and you end up remembering ‘The Lawrence of Arabia’, ‘Dr. Zhivago’ and ‘Ryan’s Daughter’. ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was yet another masterpiece from this great man.
  • Govind Nihalani has given us some brilliant movies over the years. ‘Aakrosh’ was based on a real life incident. ‘Ardh Satya’ captured the realities faced by our police force in stark detail. Much later, the trauma faced by youth involved in the naxalite movement was poignantly captured in ‘Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Ma’. Another unforgettable offering of his was the TV serial ‘Tamas’.
  • Gulzar is another favourite of mine. Right from ‘Mere Apne’, ‘Koshish’, ‘Parichay’, ‘Achanak’Ijaazat and ‘Kitaab’ to ‘Khushboo’, ‘Kinara’, ‘Aandhi’ ‘Angoor’, ‘Namkeen’ and ‘Ijazat’, he demonstrated a finely nuanced grip on capturing human emotions. Using flashbacks as an essential ingredient of his inimitable style of story telling, he has created a series of movies which explore the human psyche with unparalleled depth. For Doodrdarshan, he created a master piece in the serial ‘Mirza Ghalib’, ably assisted by Jagjit Singh and Naseeuddin Shah. Other unforgettable movies directed by him are ‘Lekin’, ‘Maachis’ and ‘Hu Tu Tu….’. What a creative line up!
  • Guru Dutt has left behind a series of thought-provoking movies for all of us to enjoy for all times to come. ‘Pyaasa’ captured not only the frustration of a creative poet who earns recognition only after he is presumed to be dead, but also the angst of the youth dissppointedPyaasa poster by the shattering of socialistic dreams in post independence India. ‘Kagaz Ke Phool’ was autobiographical in nature, and went on to assume a cult status in black and white cinematography. ‘Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam’ looked at the degrading zamindari system and was backed by powerful performances. He also gave us ‘Chaudavin Ka Chaand’, memorable for its music.
  • Hrishikesh Mukherjee is yet another director who has captured the value system of the great Indian middle class in a very effective manner. If ‘Anupama’ portrayed the transformation of a docile daughter into a rebel of sorts, ‘Satyakam’ touched upon the trials and tribulations of a whistle-blower who values integrity and honesty above all else in his life. ‘Aashirwad’ captured a daughter’s longing for her father, whereas ‘Anand’ captured the dilemmas of the medical profession in a heart-wrenching manner. In ‘Guddi’, he touched upon the perils of hero-worship amongst teenagers and the negative influence of movies on those in an impressionable age. ‘Abhimaan’ put the fragile male ego under a microscope. In ‘Chupke Chupke’, he came up with a rip-roaring treatise on the eccentricities of the linguistic purists. ‘Bawarchi’ touched upon the joint family system, whereas ‘Golmaal’ was well-intended pun directed at moustache maniacs. In ‘Khubsoorat’, he drove home in his inimitable style the need of striking a balance between fredoom and discipline in family life, espousing the cause of nirmal anand (unalloyed bliss). His last offering was ‘Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kaate’ Pakeezahwhich conveyed the value of truthfulness in all relationships in a very humorous manner. One truly misses such directors!
  • Kamal Amrohi came up with virtual poetry on celluloid with ‘Pakeezah’. The whole movie was a work of passion, akin to the rich tapestry of the bright red carpet he had got specially woven for a single dance sequence to be picturized. His ‘Razia Sultan’ was also a rich offering.
  • When it comes to clean family entertainment steeped in Indian tradition, Rajshri Productions has always been very consistent. Right from ‘Aarti’, ‘Dosti’, ‘Jeevan Mrityu’ andmovie Vivah ‘Tapasya’ to ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…!’, ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ and ‘Vivah’, we have lived through good and bad times faced by families we could easily identify with. Several of their offerings have tugged at our heart-strings: ‘Uphaar’, ‘Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se’, ‘Chitchor’, ‘Dulhan Wohi Jo Piya Man Bhaye’ and ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, to name a few.
  • If there is one person who earned money in routine Bollywood pot-boilers and ploughed it back to produce some unique movies, it is Shashi Kapoor. ‘Vijeta’ captured in detail the challenges faced by young officers in the Indian Air Force. ‘Utsav’, directed by Girish Karnad, was yet another master piece, based on the famous Sanskrit play ‘Mriccha-katikam’. ‘Kalyug’ was based on the epic Mahabharata and was directed by ShyamAnkur Benegal.
  • Shyam Benegal started off as a master of alternate cinema, offering such hard-hitting comments on the under-privileged of the society as ‘Ankur’, ‘Nishant’, ‘Manthan’ and ‘Bhumika’. ‘Zubeidaa’ presented an interesting slice of history. However, his recent offerings have been rich public-spirited satires, highlighting glaring deficiencies in the public delivery system and also taking a dig at our age-old misconceptions and taboos. If you have seen ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’ and ‘Well Done, Abba’, you would know what I am talking about.
  • V Shantaram gave us classics which drew on the traditional values and art forms. If ‘Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani’ was based on a real life happening, ‘Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje’ captured the dilemmas faced by artists committed to their profession. ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ touched on the criminal system, whereas ‘Navrang’ explored in detail the male fantasy of having the perfect female as a life companion. 
  • Vijay Anand gave us jewels like ‘Nau Do Gyarah’, ‘Jewel Thief’, ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ and ‘JohnyGuide_poster Mera Naam’. ‘Guide’ immortalized one of the great works of R. K. Narayan. Performance of the lead pair of Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman still remains fresh in our memories. His penchant for perfection was such that in ‘Nau Do Gyarah’, if a bomb was to go off in seven minutes, the on-screen suspense went on for precisely seven minutes!

Several other legendary directors, like Raj Kapoor, Mehboob, K. Asif, Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra, Shekhar Kapur and others do not appear here. Their exclusion here is in no way meant to belittle their immense contribution to the art and form of cinema as we know it today. It is just that a majority of their work has come to define what we generally refer to as ‘mainstream cinema’, whereas the idea here has been to capture directors who have been innovative in their own way.

Directors to watch out for

All this is not to say that brilliant work is not being done these days. ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ directedDor by Dibakar Banerjee, ‘Iqbal’, ‘Dor’ and ‘Mod’ from Nagesh Kukanoor, ‘Tare Zameen Par’ by Aamir Khan, ‘Black’ by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, ‘Munnabhai’ series and ‘3 Idiots’ by Raj Kumar Hirani, ‘Chak de India’ by Shimit Amin, ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Pa’ by R. Balakrishnan, ‘The Blue Umbrella’ by Vishal Bhardwaj, ‘Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge’ by Ashwani Dheer, ‘Chhodo Kal ki Baatein’ by Pramod Joshi, ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ by Habib Faisal, ‘Stanley ka Dabba’ by Amol Gupte, ‘I am Kalaam’ by Nila Madhab Panda and ‘Vicky Donor’ by Shoojit Sircar are all movies which give us the firm hope that Bollywood is finally out of the singing around the tree days, willing to experiment with unconventional themes, that too while keeping the box officeTaareZameenPar registers tinkling.

Rise in disposable incomes has led to the proliferation of multiplexes. Audience has turned younger. In turn, small budget movies have carved out a niche for themselves. Several producers have learnt to minimize financial risks by beating the star system and are instead banking on smarter scripts, thereby achieving better returns on their investments.

Exercising Our Emotional Muscles

Consider this: why do we get hooked on to movies in the first place? Is it sheer escapism? May be, yes, but also coupled with an appreciation of – and fascination with – this genre of entertainment. Identifying oneself with either a character or a situation presented on the screen gives one immense psychological relief. Also, one needs to exercise one’s emotional muscles or skills in a way that may or may not be acceptable in our routine lifestyles!

A director with a strong brand equity surely knows how to touch our heart-strings. In the process, he teaches us to exercise our emotional muscles better and think out-of-the-box when confronted with a real life situation!!

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Discovering and Cultivating a Hobby

In the restricted circle of friends and relatives that our family is exposed to, it is common knowledge that since the past four years we have been assiduously chronicling the events and occurrences in the family. These chronicles have taken the shape of movies which are more in the nature of a collage of videos and still photos, backed by appropriate musical scores from diverse sources.

The intention of making these movies is surely not to advertise the family or its mundane achievements in life. The basic idea is to share the major events in the family with the extended family members who are spread across diverse geographical locations, as also to preserve the family history for posterity. If the history buffs in our future generations preserve these, our family background would always be just a click away.

Enabling Factors

What have been the enabling factors for the development of these movies? Let me attempt to list a few. One, a healthy dose of movies celebrating the middle class values like caring, sharing, mutual trust and a respect for one´s elders. Two, happy moments and events which leave one´s emotional core stirred and shaken. Three, a fondness for good music, backed by soulful lyrics. Four, a hobby of preserving the family archives, whether in the form of old photos, diaries left behind by our forefathers, and the like. Five, creative juices sloshing about inside one in gay abundance at times, not allowing one to rest till the time a meaningful external expression is found.

Challenges

What could be challenging about arranging some dumb photos in a sequence and backing them up with a few songs, you may well ask. Well, to present something new and unique to my audience every time is one. Also, one has to keep one´s self-promotional tendencies in check – so, no hapless visitor to our house shall ever be strapped to a couch and forced to watch one of these movies! Moreover, narcissism is not considered a virtue; so, each movie´s theme encompasses snippets of even those unsuspecting friends and relatives who are not necessarily a part of the main narrative.

The Journey So Far

Shruti-Vinod

The year 2007 saw our daughter getting married. Gradually, an idea took shape – to make a movie which would not only cover the various ceremonies that took place in connection with the marriage, but would also capture the childhood days and upbringing of both the bride and the bridegroom. Once old photos had been collected, search began for a studio which could transform the concept into reality. However, tradition-bound studios were not too keen to experiment with their own formats. With the help of a friend, we could identify a suitable software. Work started at home with a humble second-hand laptop.

Backed by quotations from Shri Aurobindo´s Savitri, the dvd took about eight months to get composed. Goodwill messages from all those who could not attend the event also got covered. Titled `Shruti Vinod`, the movie was 125 minutes long. Reactions from viewers were encouraging, to say the least.

Hamari Bahu Garima

Come 2008, and our son got married. Our daughter-in-law, Garima, joined the family. Motivated by the first experiment, the canvas of the second movie got wider. Appropriate cartoon sequences were added up, juxtaposed with audio clips of the bride and the groom. Few other special effects also brightened up the proceedings. The end result of this labor of love was a 250 minutes long movie. For the benefit of those in a hurry, a smaller version of 130 minutes was also prepared. This one was titled `Hamari Bahu Garima`.

Dhoom Macha Le

In 2009, our daughter had a toddler of her own. Aptly named Suman, the blossoming of this flower in the family garden at Asker in Norway was greeted with unbridled enthusiasm. A dvd running into about 35 minutes came up first. During 2010, a dvd named `Dhoom Macha Le` was completed and released. An interesting feature of this 100 minute long movie was a special chapter on Suman´s future career aspirations, with examples drawn from a long list of celebrity female achievers.

Both were followed up with another dvd which captured the second year of her life.

X´mas 2009 and God Bharai

This covered the get together of all the children and their families. Both the couples danced to their heart´s content, with Suman witnessing the God Bharai function of Garima.

Shalini´s Griha Pravesh

Lovingly done, this one hour-long dvd captured the birth of Shalini, our son´s daughter, in March 2010. It ended up showing the new-born entering her house in Basel, Switzerland, for the first time.

1962 : A Love Story

As I write this in July 2012, two more movies have got added to the family portfolio. In February, we could add `1962: A Love Story’. It is about 55 minutes long and covers the life and times of my eldest co-brother who completed 50 years of married life on the 8th of March this year. In this work, it was challenging to capture the trauma of partition of India in 1947, faced by the families then.

Shalini – The Beautiful

June 2012 brought about the completion of yet another movie, `Shalini – the beautiful`. Based on the first two years of our son´s daughter, this runs into 108 minutes. A special feature here is the coverage of diverse aspects of Shalini´s personality, as we have seen it evolving over time so far. The thematic peg used for this purpose is the `NAVARAS` concept espoused centuries back by Bharat Muni in his famous treatise on the fine arts, `Natya Shastra`.

An Enriching Experience!

Overall, cultivating this hobby has been a very fulfilling and enriching experience. The effort is highly labor intensive, what with a scheme to be followed for all inputs to be neatly arranged. Exhausting and challenging, yet exhilarating and liberating in more ways than one. Possibly, this is what Maslow meant when he spoke of self-actualization.

Courtesy Bollywood and Hollywood

All the family members have contributed immensely to all these ventures. However, the lion´s share of the credit goes to the creative minds from Bollywood as well as Hollywood. One has drawn liberally from the works of such creative geniuses as Gulzar, Basu Chatterji, Hrishikesh Mukherji, Yash Chopra, David Lean and the like. Movies from the Rajshri stable find a place of pride in our scheme of things. And, of course, renowned music directors whose immortal works have regaled all of us all these years have unknowingly enriched our family archives beyond compare.

One is grateful for all the grace one has received in different aspects of one´s life, including for the baby steps taken so far in capturing family events through the medium of movie making.

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