Once upon a time Hindi movie songs acted as anti-depressants. Now Hindi film music gives rise to depression! Modern songs devoid of meaning and set upon incoherent beats in the name of music give rise to headache instead of removing it! Earlier songs depicted certain philosophy, which added a new dimension in the script of the movie. The movies made by Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor effectively used songs to introduce new twist in the story. It’s altogether a different story in modern cinema. There are item numbers or poorly inserted hopelessly romantic numbers.
First, there is dearth of talented lyricists and, second, there is lack of good music directors. The bunch of music directors that we see are primarily technocrats, relying heavily on technology. Some will argue that we have talented lyricists but the ability to write one or two catchy one-liners doesn’t make anyone a lyricist! Listen the lyrics and it would be hard for you to decide whether it’s an English song, or a Punjabi song, or a Hindi song. Look at the music compositions. It’s either for the hip-hop generation or it’s for the night clubs. It’s not merely that times have changed and we need to adjust to new trends. There is something terribly wrong with the creativity involved in making of songs! Should we not assume that capitalistic traits have murdered real creativity? Overseas rights of distribution, heavy fees extracted from rights of satellite channels and numerous other equations enjoy greater concern than ensuring bliss!
I do not wish to appear stupidly nostalgic caught in the time warp. As an evidence of the creativity, which prevailed in 50s and 60s, I am presenting four songs of lyricists who have really inspired me a lot. Every time I come to hear a song written by them, it leaves me in state of intoxication. I am referring to trio comprised of Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badauini and Shailendra. These “Triple S” always stirred my emotions to no extent.
Listen this song from Hindi movie Jaal (1952). The heavenly voice of Hemant Kumar, wonderful composition by S D Burman and soul stirring verses by Sahir Ludhianvi made this song timeless! Guru Dutt was the director of this movie- a thriller which involved Dev Anand, Geeta Bali and Purnima. Excellent cinematography by VK Murthy has made this song a poetry carved on silver screen. As I said the songs of this era were borrowed from literature. This song echoes the eternal theme that “time and tide wait for no man” – “Ek baar chal diye ager tujhe pukar ke laut ke na aayenge kaafile bahar ke”. The movie depicted Goan Christian culture and so we find the music having western effect based on sweet Guitar pieces. However, the most important aspect about this song is that it’s based on Raga Kafi, which is a midnight raga. That matches with the picturization of the song, depicting a moonlit night!
Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958) is very close to my heart. Not only it strengthens our belief in re-birth, a prominent concept in Indian philosophy, but also it makes us believe in the power of true love. As per this movie the impact of true love transcend many generations. This movie is really a classic in world cinema. Right from the first scene till the last frame of this movie, it keeps the viewer in state of trance with its gripping presentation of the story and its enchanting music. I remember when I went to see this movie in a theater couple of months ago in a film festival, the theater was jam-packed. Not a single seat was available. And I saw many of the viewers sitting on the floor of the balcony and many others still having argument with the gate-keeper to move inside even as the movie had started. Shailendra and Salil Chaudhary made each song a masterpiece. Well, this time I wish to introduce first song of this movie “Suhana Safar Aur Ye Mausam Haseen”. Every time I move on a beautiful passage passing through the valleys, I always come to remember this song. Shailendra has borrowed the appeal present in poems of Wordsworth. Nature has come alive in this song where one can actually feel that clouds are kissing the earth! – “Ye Aasman Jhuk Raha Hai Jameen Par”. Notice the wonderful prelude of this song. It’s so impressive that it has virtually become part of my consciousness! Immediately you come to realize that this song features mountains! That’s the magic of these songs. One of my favourite past-time in school and college days was to identify the song after listening clip of prelude. Anyway, it’s time to listen the whole song! Also notice the way how great maestro Bimal Da has picturized this song!
That’s a song which speaks volume about the singing ability of Mohammed Rafi. It’s been so deeply and soulfully sung by Rafi that it leaves you speechless. Aadmi was released in 1968 which had music under direction of Naushad and songs were penned by Shakeel Badayuni. Naushad had a special place for Shakeel in his heart and he went out of the way to help Shakeel in his last days troubled both by financial crisis and bad health. The movie highlighted love triangle and fascinating performances on part of Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rahman and Manoj Kumar made it an unforgettable movie. The song makes it clear that one can be strong willed even if one’s heart and mind have been shattered by the cruel twists and turns of the fate. The song has tragic melody which not only depicts personal loss but also highlights that pain ultimately leads to realization of highest type- perfect union with the Lord! The camera work is wonderful in this song as it captures the roaring sea waves hitting the rocks! The song makes an appeal that someone who has begun a new journey should not be haunted by the past episodes of life!
One needs a great musical mind to appreciate the music of Vishal Bhardwaj. We are well aware of his directorial skills, having seen his ability to deal with complex themes in movies like Omkara, Maqbool, Kaminey and Saat Khoon Maaf, to name a few. In my eyes he is a music director par excellence, who still have guts to introduce original compositions in Bollywood given way to borrowed tunes. If we analyze deeply the happenings inside Bollywood’s musical landscape what prevails is recycling of works of others in most blatant manner with no credits to original composers who composed these compositions in the first place.
Very recently I watched “Ek Thi Daayan” which dealt with supernatural elements. It was a theme which had not much scope for a romantic number. However, Vishal managed to create magic with his “Yaaram” song. Gulzar after demise of his best friend RD Burman felt a great sense of loneliness. He wasn’t all wrong in feeling that way. Only RD Burman had that capability to lend perfect musical notes to newsy type lyrics penned by Gulzar. Thanks to the arrival of Vishal Bhardwaj, which allowed Gulzar to breathe a sigh of relief. Vishal didn’t disappoint Gulzar. The chartbusters like ” Yaaram”, “Naina Thag Lenge”, ”Darling”, “Chod Aaye Hum Wo Galiyan”, “O Saathi Re”, ”Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji”, “Raat Ke Dhai Baje”, “Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola” and “Sapney Me Milti Hai” etc. are the ones which bear testimony to the fact he knows what treatment very sensitive verses of Gulzar actually need.
This very highly conscious music director, dealing in experimentation and improvisation in unorthodox manner, loves to introduce best of the literary works, which until now remained unexplored by Indian movie-makers. The cinematic versions of Shakespeare’s Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet really impressed all film-goers. At the same time, movie versions of Ruskin Bond’s “Susanna’s Seven Husbands” and “The Blue Umbrella’ also left the lovers of cinema spellbound. In fact, even in movie meant for kids like Makdee you can notice the variation he introduced in his music. He has received National Award for his music in Ishkiya and Godmother. Today Bollywood is dominated by musicians who first don’t know what music really means, and second, they are not musicians but technocrats depending on arrangement of music done by the computers. A reason why film music sounds so mechanical and jarring to the ears. Worse, it’s so humiliating when foreign composers make allegations that Indian music makers totally copied their compositions in the name of inspiration!
Against this backdrop, this genuine music composer evokes a sense of self pride within with his creativity. Let’s hope his fabulous compositions which make wonderful use of various instruments like Piano and Guitar keep enthralling music lovers. One is not against Western music and use of latest technology but against ignorance of richness present in Indian music. There is calculated attempts on part of movie makers to diminish the aura of Indian classical music. Vishal Bhardwaj is the best example of how to blend western notes with Indian classical music. This art needs to be learnt by new age Indian music directors, who, sadly, are more interested in making money instead of truly enriching the world of film music. Anyway, Vishal Bhardwaj needs to be complimented for keeping the roots of Indian classical music green and fresh.
Some of the songs composed by him:
भारतीय फिल्मो ने मई २०१३ में १०० वर्ष पूरे कर लिए. ये एक लम्बी अवधि होती है किसी भी मीडियम के गुण दोष को परखने के लिए. हमारी फिल्मो ने कई मंजिलो को तय किया लेकिन फिर भी गुणवत्ता की दृष्टि से इसकी रफ्तार बहुत धीमी है. हमारी अधिकांश फिल्मे एक ढर्रे पे बनती है जिनमे प्रयोगवादी फिल्मकारों के लिए बहुत कम स्पेस बचता है कुछ नया करने के लिए. ऐसा नहीं कि उल्लेखनीय काम नहीं हुआ पर इनकी संख्या कम है. आज भी आप देखे कि सालाना लगभग 800-900 फिल्मे बालीवूड में बनती है पर उनमे से कितनी याद रख भर पाने के लायक होती है? इसी तरह फिल्मी संगीत भी खासकर वर्तमान समय में बेसुरें ताल में है कुछ एक अपवाद को छोड़कर. उस पर भी अगर विदेशी स्टैंडर्ड्स से गौर करे तो भारतीय फिल्मे अभी बहुत पीछे है. क्षेत्रीय भाषाओ जैसे बंगाली, मलयाली, इत्यादि में अच्छा काम हुआ लेकिन जिस तरह हिंदी फिल्मो में उतार आया वैसे इन भाषाओ की फिल्मो में भी गुणवत्ता के लिहाज सें गिरावट दर्ज की गयी. खैर इस लेख में मै आवारा और शोले इन दो फिल्मो का जिक्र करना चाहूँगा.
राजकपूर और गुरुदत्त मेरे पसंदीदा फिल्मकार रहे है. जिस संवेदनशीलता से इन्होने फिल्मे बनायीं उसकी मिसाल ढूंढ पाना मुश्किल है. राजकपूर जो कि ज्यादा पढ़ लिख नहीं पाए ने जब आवारा बनाने का निर्णय लिया तो वो एक बोल्ड निर्णय था. फ़िल्म की कहानी ख्वाजा अहमद अब्बास ने लिखी थी जो प्रोग्रेसिव लेखको की जमात से आते थें. फ़िल्म का शीर्षक ही विवादित था लेकिन जिद के पक्के राजकपूर ने शीर्षक बदलने से मना कर दिया. ये यकीन कर पाना मुश्किल है कि इस कम पढ़े शख्स ने भारतीय फ़िल्म इतिहास को उसकी सबसे भव्य फिल्मे दी, सबसे बेहतरीन फिल्मे दी. राजकपूर की ये विलक्षण निशानी थी कि फ़िल्म के हर पहलू चाहे वो गीत हो या संगीत हो या एडिटिंग हो सब पे पैनी निगाह रखते थे और जितने भी संशोधन वो करते थें वे सब फ़िल्म को नयी उंचाई दे जाते थे. आवारा भी इन्ही सब प्रयोगों से लैस थी.
इतनी कम उम्र में आवारा या आग जैसी फिल्मो का बनाना ये साबित कर देता है कि बुजुर्गो की तोहमत झेलते ये ” कल के लौंडे” ही अंत में अपवाद काम करके जाते है. ये किसी भारी भरकम इंस्टिट्यूट से नहीं निकलते बल्कि जिंदगी की पाठशाला में तप कर निकलते है और ये सिद्ध कर देते है कि “कुछ लोग जो ज्यादा जानते है वो इंसान को कम पहचानते है”. आवारा में नर्गिस के बोल्ड दृश्य थें लेकिन किसी को भी मना लेने का हुनर रखने वाले राजकपूर ने उस दृश्य को हकीकत में बदल दिया लेकिन इस प्रक्रिया में क्रिएटिविटी के उच्चतम शिखर पे हम राजकपूर को पाते है। आवारा में भारतीय फिल्मो का पहला ड्रीम सीक्वेंस भी है. जब इस पर कई लाख रुपये खर्च करने की बात आई तो सब ने राजकपूर को सनकी कहा क्योकि पूरी फ़िल्म का बजट एक तरफ और इस ड्रीम सीक्वेंस का खर्च एक तरफ रख दे तो इतना बजट काफी होता है एक अन्य फ़िल्म के निर्माण के लिए. लेकिन राजकपूर ने ड्रीम सीक्वेंस के बजट में कोई कटौती नहीं की. आज टाइम मैगज़ीन राजकपूर के आवारा में किये गए अभिनय को 10 सर्वश्रेष्ठ अभिनय कौशल जो फ़िल्म के सुनहरे परदे पे अवतरित हुई उनमे से एक मानती है और आवारा फ़िल्म इतिहास की सौ सर्वश्रेष्ठ फिल्मो में से एक है.
सन 1951 में रिलीज़ आवारा कायदे से देखा जाए तो पहली वो फ़िल्म मानी जायेगी जिसने असल अन्तराष्ट्रीय ख्याति प्राप्त की. चीन, सोवियत संघ, टर्की, रोमानिया, मिडिल ईस्ट और अन्य जगह ये ख़ासा लोकप्रिय रही. इसका गीत संगीत भी इतना लोकप्रिय हुआ कि ”आवारा हूँ” गीत विदेशो के उन हिस्सों में भी बजता था जहा भारतीय फिल्मो की पहुच कुछ नहीं थी. आवारा मैंने पहले पहल 1988 में देखी जब दूरदर्शन ने एक विशेष प्रसारण के तहत इन फिल्मो को दिखाया। राजकपूर जो मशहूर कपूर खानदान से होते हुए भी ने फिल्मी सफ़र की शुरुआत क्लैप बॉय से किया उस ने दिखाया कि हुनर जन्मजात ही आता है. ये किसी स्कूल की देन नहीं होती. ये फ़िल्म चाहे शंकर जयकिशन का संगीत हो, राज-नर्गिस की रूमानी केमिस्ट्री हो, शैलेन्द्र-हसरत के हृदयस्पर्शी गीत हो या राधू कर्माकर का बेहतरीन छायांकन हो हर लिहाज़ से सर्वोत्तम थी. आवारा इस बात का प्रतीक है कि बदलाव युवा वर्ग ही लाता है अपनी सोच से और अपनी जिद से.
शोले का भी जिक्र हो जाए. जहा आवारा बनते समय एक हलचल महसूस की गयी वही शोले के निर्माण के समय ऐसा कुछ नहीं था. बल्कि हैरान करने वाली बात ये है कि भारतीय फिल्मो के इतिहास में अनोखे आयाम जोड़ने वाली ये फ़िल्म जब प्रदर्शित हुई तो सब तरफ फीका फीका सा माहौल था. ये वो फ़िल्म थी जिसे आज विदेशी आलोचक भी मानते है कि निर्देशन, अभिनय और कैमरा वर्क के हिसाब से ये फ़िल्म बेजोड़ है. शोले की दहक को अजर अमर सरीखा बना देने वाले गब्बर सिंह का रोल पहले डैनी के हिस्से में आया था लेकिन उनके मना कर देने के बाद ये हलकी आवाज़ वाले अमजद खान के हिस्से आया. इससे बहुत से लोगो को इसके निर्माण के दौरान ये महसूस होने लगा कही ये एक वजह ना हो जाए इस फ़िल्म के ना चल पाने का . लेकिन अमजद खान ने जो संवाद अदायगी की वो इतनी बेजोड़ है कि उसके बारे में भारत का हर बच्चा भी जानता है.
आज लगभग 35 सालो बाद भी इस फ़िल्म के किरदारों का जिक्र होता है. रेडियो या टेलीविज़न खोल के देखे आपको जय-वीरू, बसंती और गब्बर के दर्शन होना तय है. मेरा रेडियो जब भी मुंह खोलता है मतलब “चालु” होता है तो गब्बर की आवाज़ की नक़ल में कोई शख्स जरूर थोड़ी देर में कहता है ” इस घंटे का पैसा कौन दिया है रें”. यहाँ तक कि एक भारतीय बैंक के विज्ञापन में भी ”बसंती” ने ख़ासा योगदान दिया. मुझे याद आते है अपने कॉलेज के दिन. खाली वक्त में हमारे कालेज के कई प्रतिभाशाली कलाकारों से अगर कुछ परफार्म करने को कहा जाता था तो ये लगभग तय होता था कि उनमे से कोई शोले के डायलोग की मिमिक्री जरूर करेगा. इस फ़िल्म की विलक्षण बात ये है कि इस फ़िल्म के हर किरदार ने शानदार अभिनय किया और जिसका सीधा सम्बन्ध कहानी को नया मोड़ देने सा था. इसका नतीजा ये हुआ कि एक बहुत सामान्य सा दर्शक भी अच्छी तरह याद रखता है कि किस किरदार ने किस वक्त पे क्या संवाद बोला है. सो इस फ़िल्म के मशहूर चरित्र तो लोगो ने याद रखे ही रखे लेकिन इसके गौड़ चरित्र भी उतने ही यादगार साबित हुए. अब जैसे ए के हंगल का बोल हुआ ये संवाद भी लोग बड़ी गंभीरता से याद रखते है ” इतना सन्नाटा क्यों है भाई?”
महबूब खान दुबारा फिर ना कभी “मदर इंडिया” जैसी कोई फ़िल्म बना पाए और ना रमेश सिप्पी “शोले” जैसी कोई और यादगार फ़िल्म दे पाए. कही ना कही प्रकति में चीज़े अव्यक्त भाव से छुपी रहती है और वक्त आने पे कोई ना कोई उनका माध्यम बन जाता है उनको यथार्थ के धरातल पे लाने का. कम से कम “शोले” जैसी फिल्मे इसी रहस्यमय बात की साक्षी है. शोले चाहे अपने ट्रीटमेंट में विदेशी गुणों से ओतप्रोत रही हो, संगीत भी पाश्चात्य धुनों से प्रभावित था लेकिन ये अन्तत: भारतीय परंपरा के बुराई पर अच्छाई की जीत को दर्शाती है, पवित्र प्रेम को दर्शाती है और मित्रता के महत्व को प्रक्षेपित करती है.
I curiously awaited the screening of the movie “Ship of Theseus“, which had managed to elicit great remarks from leading directors of Indian cinema landscape. The film festival in Allahabad, organised by Dainik Jagran, provided me an opportunity to watch this movie. In eyes of Shekhar Kapoor, the movie marked the arrival of “a brilliant new filmmaker” while Shyam Benegal could not resist himself from stating that it’s a “rare film that engages your mind, emotions and senses in equal measure providing the viewer a cinematic experience that is both hugely entertaining and stimulating”. The movie was inspired from the dilemma whether or not the object remains same if its components undergo total replacement. In this movie the promising young director, Anand Gandhi, has interconnected three different short stories, each dealing with a different issue, but underlying theme remains the same. The first one dealt with visually impaired photographer, who lost her intuitive ability to capture striking images after a successful cornea transplant operation. The second story depicted an ailing monk, questioning life and death via his ongoing fight for rights of animals meant for conducting experiments during preparation of medicines. The third and the final story highlighted corrupt practices prevalent in medical world, wherein a stockbroker tries to place in dock persons involved in organ trade racket.
I am not the sort of person to go entirely by the rave reviews by big names from the world of cinema. In fact, even the sentiments of well-known directors fail to impress me. “Seeing is believing” has always been the principle which defined my approach, especially while anticipating the worth of a movie. And thus, contrary to the general consensus, I found the acting of Aida El-Kashef ( Aliya in movie as visually impaired photographer) and Farza Khan (Aliya’s live-in-boyfriend in the movie) absolutely horrible. The exhibition of emotions was synthetic and loud. Great movies do not begin that way. The agony that should have hit her, in the aftermath of loss of her intuitive abilities, never got reflected in her mannerism. The saving grace came in the form of crispy thought provoking dialogues: “Does reality exist when no one is looking?” It’s the deep concerns which the characters portray compensates the poor acting.
The movie gained substance with the arrival of crazy monk Maitreya (Neeraj Kabi). Not only humour element got elevated but even the thematic shortcomings got balanced due to superb acting skills demonstrated by Neeraj Kabi and Vinay Shukla ( Carvaka in the movie). This part of the movie successfully conveyed that contradictions rules the lives and a perfect life is healthy assimilation of contradictions. A person should not be too rigid while pursuing noble cause since it comes in the way of fulfillment of goals. It might also limit one’s ability to make better choices. The rigidity displayed by Maitreya is in the eyes of Carvaka- the lawyer who believed in learning arguments of both the sides- was not very different than fundamentalism exhibited by a suicide bomber! This lawyer, follower of Pastafarianism, induces great deal of pragmatism when he tries to create a fitting place for the contradictions. Anyway, Maitreya does impress us all when he places reasons above crude sentimentality!
Well, it’s crude sentimentality which always makes its presence felt in Indian movies. It’s not always the case that movies devoid of melodramatic elements manage to evoke mass attention. The average Indian cinema lover’s connection with melodrama is so intense that a director’s take on critical issue without this element is akin to self-goal in football! Anand Gandhi, at least, need to be credited for the fact that he manages to tell the story for Indians without being in awe of sentimentality! The last scene of the story showing the monk’s decision to live the life fully proves one thing quite well that healthy compromises for an elevated cause is not a bad thing. Well, the monk didn’t talk of Krishna’s Bhagvad Geeta but I feel the realization of monk is on par with view of Lord Krishna who in Bhagvad Gita stated that “every profession is world is tainted by some flaw”. So the summum bonum is: Healthy compromise should not prick the conscience!
The stockbroker’s case in the movie is pretty interesting but I need to differ from the reviews which have appeared in mainstream media and elsewhere that humour element in this part delight us. That’s not true. The humour appears as some sort of forced entry into a well structured plot. It also baffles me that reviewers have ignored some greater aspects related with this part of the movie wherein an young stockbroker trails the missing recipient of the stolen kidney! The reviewers failed to remember the heated conversation between stockbroker and his maternal grandmother, who happens to be progressive thinker, confined to ideological orientations spread in progressive literature churned out by the leftist. The impression she generates, and which irritates this guy working for American companies, is that one can pursue a noble cause only when one is in tune with such literature. The young stockbroker hits hard at her this “fallacious notion” when he tries to ensure justice for the poor labourer. The another myth which gets shattered ( and I really found it pretty interesting) is that fight for greater cause leads to its perfect attainment. Ask a real life hero and you would realize that he/she often feels cheated. The people for whom he/she comes to fight often leave their saviour in the lurch. The stockbroker wanted justice in real terms for this unfortunate labourer whose kidney got stolen for a rich foreigner ( the recipient). The labourer retracts from his promises after his petty interests get fulfilled. The protagonist has to remain contend with limited achievement.
In real life also we find that similar dilemma occurs. For instance, the moment one tries to make the purpose of education an extension of values, one has to face stiff resistance for all quarters of society, which feels that only purpose of education is to earn huge money, no matter if it means adoption of unethical means. The film does not end with a specific message but it does symbolically shows via the passage through the cave that life is full of immense possibilities, which allows nurturing of different perspectives. Hope we come to choose the one which best serves the cause of not only humanity but also our own personal causes close to heart!
भारतीय फिल्मो ने सौ सालो का फासला तय कर लिया है। ये अवधि काफी है इसके कुछ गुण दोषों पर नज़र डालने के लिये। भारतीय फिल्मी नायिकाओ के उत्थान पतन का जिक्र करना जरूरी है। भारतीय नायिकाओ के इस चरित्र को आधुनिक काल के दो अभिनेत्रियों मनीषा कोईराला और उर्मिला मातोंडकर के अभिनय ग्राफ पर नज़र डालने से बेहतर समझा जा सकता है। इसके पहले इस बात का जिक्र करना जरूरी हो जाता है कि जबसे भारतीय फिल्मे बन रही है तब से नायिकाओ का काम केवल पेड़ के आस पास टहल घूम कर नाचने कूदने का भर का ही था। अब भी कुछ नहीं बदला है। झरने की जगह स्विमिंग पूल आ गया है। पहले नायिकाएं कूल थी अभिव्यक्ति के मामले में पर जब से “वुमन ऑफ़ सब्सटेंस” का अवतरण हुआ तब से वो और अधिक बोल्ड हो चली है। कम कपड़ो में भी शालीनता की रक्षा की वकालत हो रही है। पहले महिला निर्देशकों, गीतकारो का अकाल सा था लेकिन अब ऐसा नहीं है। लेकिन इसके बाद भी ये कहा नहीं जा सकता कि नायिकाओ के स्पेस में कोई गुणात्मक परिवर्तन आया हो। जो स्थिति पहले थी वो अब भी है। या यूँ कहे कि अब जब पैसा बनाने की हवस, कॉर्पोरेट और माफियाओ का गठजोड़ अपने चरम उफान पर है तो गुणात्मक परिवर्तन की अपेक्षा रखना तारो का दिन में उगने का ख्वाब देखने के सामान है।
उर्मिला मातोंडकर और मनीषा कोईराला के करियर पर दृष्टि डालने से फ़िल्म में नायिकाओ के महत्त्व की एक दिलचस्प तस्वीर उभर कर आती है। मै मूलतः मेनस्ट्रीम सिनेमा की बात कर रहा हूँ। कला फिल्मो में तो हम देखते है शबाना आज़मी, स्मिता पाटिल, सुहासिनी मूले इत्यादि अभिनेत्रियों ने अच्छा काम किया और इसके साथ ही मेनस्ट्रीम सिनेमा में अच्छा काम किया। ये अलग बात है स्टार वैल्यू प्रधान मुख्य धारा के सिनेमा में इनके लिए ज्यादा कुछ करने के लिए था नहीं। सुष्मिता सेन जो कि एक्टिंग टैलेंट में ऐश्वर्या से कही आगे थी उनको तो आज के महिला निर्देशकों के उपस्थिति के बाद ज्यादा कुछ करने को नहीं मिला लेकिन फूहड़ अभिनय करने वाली ऐश्वर्या राय की झोली में कई बड़े बैनर की फिल्मे आयी। हर फ़िल्म में बकवास अभिनय करने के बाद भी आप बदन उघाड़े ऐश्वर्या को कैनंस फ़िल्म समारोह में देख सकते है। इसी से समझ में आ जाता है कि पॉपुलर सिनेमा में टैलेंट कम काम आता है कुछ और सतही समीकरण ज्यादा काम आता है।
उर्मिला ने मुमताज़ की तरह ही बचपन से फिल्मो में काम करना शुरू कर दिया। पिंजर और सत्या जैसी फिल्मो में काम कर चुकी उर्मिला एक बेहद समर्थ अभिनेत्री है लेकिन कैसी बिडम्बना है कि हमारी फ़िल्म इंडस्ट्री ने इन्हें बदन प्रधान अभिनेत्रियों में अग्रिम पंक्तियों ला खड़ा किया। इसके बाद वो राम गोपाल वर्मा कैम्प तक ही सिमट के रह गयी है। लेकिन आप उर्मिला की फिल्मे देखे तो समझ में आएगा कि वेस्टर्न वर्ल्ड ने जो एक्टिंग के मापदंड तय किये है उनमे उर्मिला शानदार रूप से खरी उतरती है। बल्कि उनसे बीस ही है क्योकि डांसिंग टैलेंट में अभी विदेशी अभिनेत्रियाँ इतनी सक्षम नहीं है जितनी की उर्मिला है। ये आपको तब दिखता है जब आप चमत्कार फ़िल्म में ट्रेन कम्पार्टमेंट में फिल्माया बिच्छू गीत देखते है।
अभिनय की जिस बारीकियो को उर्मिला ने “कौन” फ़िल्म में प्रदर्शित किया वो किसी साधारण टैलेंट से ओतप्रोत अभिनेत्री के बूते के बाहर है। इसलिए खेद होता है कि इतनी सक्षम अभिनेत्री को मुख्यधारा सिनेमा में बदन दिखाऊ दौड़ में शामिल होना पड़ा। एक सक्षम अभिनेत्री को रेस में बने रहने के लिए क्यों बदन दिखाने की कला में आगे रहना पड़ता है? ये परिपाटी किसने स्थापित की? आप कह सकते है बाज़ार की बड़ी पूँजी लगी होती है पर पूँजी तो हालीवुड की फिल्मो में हमसे अच्छी लगती है पर टैलेंट से वो तो समझौता नहीं करते! खैर आज की नयी अभिनेत्रियों को देखे तो कुछ एक नामो को छोड़ दे तो अधिकतर के पाद टैलेंट तो कुछ नहीं लेकिन बिकनी पहनने में संकोच ना करने के कारण वो मुख्य धारा में कामयाब है। यहाँ तक कि एक हाल की अभिनेत्री ने जिसने पहली फ़िल्म में साधारण औरत का किरदार किया था उसने भी अपनी अगली ही एक अन्य फ़िल्म में बिकनी में आगाज़ किया!
मनीषा कोईराला के उदाहरण से आपको ये समझ में आ जाएगा कि हमारे यहाँ टैलेंट की समझ और परख कितनी है। मनीषा ख़ामोशी, बॉम्बे, गुप्त, मन और अकेले हम और अकेले तुम में शानदार अभिनय करने के बाद हाशिये पर चले गयी। यहाँ तक कि उनको अपने को सुर्खियों में रहने के लिए निम्न स्तर की फिल्मो में काम करना पड़ा। साफ़ है कि उगते सूरज को सलाम करने वाली इस इंडस्ट्री ने मनीषा को तज दिया। आज कैंसर से जूझती मनीषा को इंडस्ट्री संज्ञान में लेना उचित नहीं समझती। स्पष्ट है ग्लोबल वर्ल्ड में जो पैसा पैदा कर सकता है चाहे चमड़ी बेचकर ही क्यों न बस उसी की क़द्र है। टैलेंट है तो ठीक और नहीं है तब भी ठीक अगर आप पैसा पैदा करने के समीकरण में फिट बैठते है तो। सनी लियोन और वीना मालिक का चमकता सितारा तो यही बताता है। उर्मिला और मनीषा के प्रतिभा को सलाम कि इस अंधे युग में भी टैलेंट के महत्त्व को बरकरार रखा।
The world of writing is marred by strange twists and turns. It’s never easy for a writer, whether established or novice, to keep pace with time in an easy-going manner in world dominated by materialistic principles, which treats nurturing aesthetic pleasures as some sort of waste of time. When selling rose becomes more worthwhile task than to appreciate its scent, it’s quite certain that one would not gain much by falling in love with creative pursuits. I faced extremely tough conditions with humiliating episodes taking place quite frequently, but I always tried not to take them to heart, remembering that great writers of previous eras also received similar treatment. Pain and humiliation do not break a writer ( unless destiny has predestined such a fate) but make him gain more insights, not available to ordinary mortals. The other thing that really kept me going ahead with ease despite huge setbacks was constant support of extremely talented souls, who appeared at various stages of my life as friends and colleagues. Apart from them, I feel really privileged that I also got an opportunity to spent some precious moments with towering figures in world of literature. These very special moments still keep me spirited and cheerful in depressing times even as memories related with those meetings have been clouded by the affairs of time.
I met Ruskin Bond and Gulzar at a time when my bonhomie with the writing world was gaining depth. However, after meeting them, I became certain that being a writer was no crime! I always met people who stupidly asked me( and thereby revealing the actual worth of their grey cells) about my work sphere even as I told them that I write! ” It’s okay that you write but what work you do?” That’s the sort of queries which always chased me. Thank God such queries today neither appear nor they have any relevance left in my life. The sight of Gulzar and Ruskin had left me spellbound, although I had met them separately, but exhibition of feelings remained the same.
I became the fan of Ruskin Bond at the very moment when in one of the boring literature classes of my school, I first came to read his story “The Eyes Have It”. The intensity of emotions expressed in this story fascinated my young heart to great extent. Though my class teacher, the other school mates and the old-fashioned academic standards, compelled me to anticipate the story in a given way, I came to visualize many other things as I read this story. And that’s why I met Ruskin Bond not only as reader but also as a writer! It’s the writings of Ruskin which taught me that how you say is equally important as what you come to say! However, the greatest lesson Ruskin taught me was that great writing is simple writing! Never use bundle of complicated expressions, which make a reader be involved more in picking up a dictionary than being lost in the content of the post! It’s one of the reasons why I avoid reading Arundhati Roy unless I have to sleep early!
Ruskin Bond, the Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awards winner, visited Allahabad, circa 2003. He had come here to attend promotional event organised by a leading publisher Rupa & Co. I wasn’t prepared for this meeting, but the moment I heard news of his arrival, I got prepared my manuscript related with my first unpublished anthology- The Petals Of Life. When I met him, I saw him surrounded by his well-wishers. I waited for my turn, and fortunately when my turn came he had some spare moments. He gave a fabulous smile when I introduced myself as a writer and informed him about my literary pursuits. When I handed him my poems, he seemed to be very pleased by this gesture. He patted my back and asked me to keep writing. Though he was tired but he still obliged me by giving me his autograph at number of places. Our conversations lasted for few minutes but the undercurrents still remain alive. And so I refuse to leave the company of pen!
Gulzar- the Oscar Award winner lyricist-also visited Allahabad, at the invitation of same publisher, during the same period. My meeting with him was once again a hurried affair than a pre-planned affair. When I reached the place where he was about to arrive after couple of hours, I was apprehensive about the meeting. However, call it my luck, despite presence of huge crowd, I created space for my meeting with this amazing man. It was hard for my eyes to acknowledge the fact that maker of landmark movies like Aandhi, Ijaazat, Kitaab, Parichay and Achanak, to name a few, was sitting right before my eyes. Like always, this time, too, he was clad in white kurta-pajama. And like always donned his lips a typical smile, which any Gulzar fan would easily recognize had he/she been noticing photographs of him quite sincerely. To be honest, I had not read enough literature penned by him but I had watched his movies and heard his songs with exceptional zeal and abnormal seriousness. And that’s why his “surrealism” permeated in my writings as well. Anyway, he remained seated in relaxed way. When I informed him about my credentials, his faced remained expressionless yet I noticed that he was pretty conscious! And as I finished saying what I had to say, he gave a very deep look at me. A stare that refused to leave me and became part of my being. I left the space after spending couple of minutes with him but as I came out of that place and headed towards my home these particular lines from this immortal song “Aknhon Mein Humne Aapke” kept appearing and disappearing within mind’s chamber-
“नज़रे उठाई आपने तो वक्त रुक गया
ठहरे हुए पलो में जमाने बिताये है “
- When you looked at me, the time stopped
And in those moments I came to live many lives.
Many thanks to these gentlemen who appeared at a very important juncture in my life. I needed some genuine encouragement and their generosity in display of emotions proved to be a tonic for my spirit chased by uncertainties. The uncertainties remain the same but my spirit attained the required evolution and so my writings. And so I am still writing! Pervert critics remain the same and situation remains hopeless like always and yet I am above all these negative concerns. A proof that meeting such enlightened gentlemen did not go in vain.
“I wondered if I would be able to prevent her from discovering that I was blind. Provided I keep to my seat, I thought, it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“The man who had entered the compartment broke into my reverie.
‘You must be dissapointed,’ he said. ‘I’m not nearly as attractive a traveling companion as the one who just left.’
‘She was an interesting girl,’ I said. ‘Can you tell me – did she keep her hair long or short?’
‘I don’t remember,’ he said, sounding puzzled. ‘It was her eyes I noticed, not her hair. She had beautiful eyes – but they were of no use to her. She was completely blind. Didn’t you notice?’”
Song: Ankhon Mein Humne Aapke..
Movie: Thodi Si Bewafai
Singers: Lata and Kishore
(The article was first published in Dash Magazine, New Delhi, October, 2007)
Shyam Benegal has dared to enrich cinematic landscape by making movies loaded with radical ideas. For example, in his movie Ankur he was successful in giving the impression that it’s not impossible to to turn the tables in society dominated by feudalistic perceptions. The movie successfully portrayed that awakening among the common people would alone bring revolutionary changes. His movies mainly centered around social and political dilemmas. His movie Manthan, which went on to win National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi in 1977 was based on White Revolution of India (Operation Flood). Interestingly, the story was penned by none other than Dr. Verghese Kurien, hailed as the Father of the White Revolution in India.
One can notice that Shyam Benegal was a sensitive filmmaker moved by the plight of the underprivileged. His movies dealt with the power of common man and his ability to emerge successful in society governed by anti-human tendencies. In movie Manthan we find that poor farmers in Gujarat, learn to rise above individualistic tendencies to form the Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union. The film highlights the impact of caste-politics found in Indian villages.
This maker of New or Alternate Cinema chose to flirt with complex themes in a masterly way. His movie Bhumika dealt with trials and tribulations of a woman in search of suitable place for herself in society dotted with so many prejudices. Smita Patil once again played her part perfectly to highlight the various shades of Usha, the movie actress in love with various men, even with a married person much older than her age! One of the best things about Shyam Benegal is that he not only explores bold themes but also at the same time keeps experimenting with the style which sometimes makes us remind of Satyajit Ray. Nishant, Mandi and Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda (1993) prove that point quite well. Interestingly, Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda is a novel penned by well known Hindi writer Dharmavir Bharati, who hailed from Allahabad.
As a matter of fact, he tried to force viewers to don the thinking cap by bringing to the fore various shades of problems plaguing the society. He helped many actors, including Smita Patil and Naseruddin Shah, to name a few, to carve a niche for themselves in the world of realistic cinema. However, having said that, let me state that directors of Parallel cinema are responsible for failing to interpret the mood of viewers with the changing times. Though it’s an uphill task to project complex themes in lighter vein, the art to present complex themes in a palatable way has to be learnt by the movie-makers. This has been learnt quite well by directors like Shekhar Kapoor and Kundan Shah but most of them have struggled to give way to flexibility.
It’s a harsh reality that satellite channels and Doordarshan have been held hostage to a variety of cheap entertainment- all in the name of catering to the taste of new generation. To bring a change, it’s necessary that art filmmakers learn to blend their serious themes with interesting styles. Needles to state that Shyam Benegal has the capacity to set a good precedent in this regard as well.
Shyam Benegal: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/index.html
The Indian cinema would complete 100 years of its glorious existence this year. It’s a fitting occasion to discuss the impact of movies on average cinema-goers. The Indian movies have always created deep impact in shaping the psyche of a large section of people. Sometimes back I had an interesting discussion with Sunanda K.Datta-Ray-the Editor of The Statesman (Calcutta and New Delhi) and contributor for the International Herald Tribune and Time Magazine- about the impact of movies. In fact, he was so impressed with my views that he asked me as to why I did not send it to The Telegraph ( Kolkata Edition) for publication for whom I was a regular letter contributor in those days. The discussion is of paramount importance in wake of centenary milestone achieved by the Indian cinema this year.
The discussion, which took place in year 2006, was centered around movie Lage Raho Munna Bhai, directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The character played by Sanjay Dutt in this movie had the capability to interact with spirit of Gandhiji. The movie turned out to be a blockbuster besides restoring the faith of common people in simple gestures conveying heartfelt emotions. What an irony that the actor who taught us Gandhigiri is now about to face imprisonment after being convicted in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case!
This has reference to the article” Following Fashion“ published in The Telegraph (Oct.07,2006). Though Lage Raho Munnabhai, due to pompous and pretentious treatment of its theme does no justice to Gandhian ideology, it can be safely stated that such movies come to stir the hearts and minds of an average person. After all, parallel cinema with complex presentation fails to strike a chord with man on street. What’s important is that inherent message must reach to the masses.
No doubt, well made commercial movies do not respect sense of proportion yet they leave an indelible impression on inert souls. Vidhu Vinod Chopra should be complimented for defying stereotypes with interesting version of serious issue, which provoke us to do some soul-searching. Regarding Gandhism it can be safely stated that the country which has not been able to showcase Gandhi’s ideals in real perspective does not deserve the right to probe their utility in such a casual manner. It’s better that we learn to anticipate Gandhism with the right bent of mindset instead of mirroring it in our prejudices.
Viewpoint of Sunanda K. Datta-Ray:
Thank you for your message. I greatly appreciate your comment but wish you had sent it instead to The Telegraph for publication so that there could have been a wider discussion. Such examination and analysis are necessary. No one could be happier than I if the film do have the effect you mention. My fear is that while no one will actually act on the principle of the dharna outside the Lucky’s house, lots of people will repeat catch phrases and that Gandhigiri will be exploited in many commercial ways. My internet already has a pop up about Shabana Azmi practicing Gandhigiri years ago!
About Sunanda K. Datta-Ray:
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray has been a leading Indian newspaperman and journalist for half a century. He has been Editor of The Statesman (Calcutta and New Delhi) and has also written for the International Herald Tribune and Time Magazine. He was Editor-in-Residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu. He was Editorial Consultant to Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper. Datta-Ray also worked in Singapore in the mid-1970s with S.R. Nathan. After The Straits Times, Datta-Ray was a supernumerary fellow ofCorpus Christi College, Oxford.
Datta-Ray returned to Singapore in 2007 to work on book with Lee Kuan Yew at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies based on a series of one-on-one conversations and a host of classified documents. The book was published in 2009 as Looking East to Look West: Lee Kuan Yew’s Mission India and won that year’s Vodafone Crossword Book Award.
Sunanda K. Datta-Ray: Following Fashion- An Article Published In The Telegraph, October 07, 2006.
I have never been die hard fan of Yash Chopra’s movies. His romantic angles mired in illicit relationship always left me appalled. He was a noted filmmaker having Midas touch for conceiving interesting themes, hinging around three people in one single relationship, either due to providence or chance. His penchant for such complex relationships, on par with illicit love affairs, could be gauged from the fact that barring his early years of film making when he made gems like Waqt, Dharamputra, Ittefaq, Mashaal, Trishul, Deewar and Kala Patthar, nearly all his movies in later years depicted adultery in one or other form. It can be safely opined that his movies, both explicitly and implicitly, promoted illegal relationships. That’s pretty unfortunate as filmmaker of his caliber should have been more sensible in application of his mind.
He had the brilliant ability to present romance with all its elements in grand style. The grandeur and colourful imagery noticeable in his movies takes away our breath. It’s true that average cine-goer likes to flirt with unfulfilled dreams and wishes as he/she enters inside the theater, and tries to dissolve the harsh realities in the silken world appearing and disappearing on the silver screen. Any average filmmaker is not very much interested in exposing his viewers to shades of realism. Yash Chopra understood this well and so in his movies we have characters, borrowed straight from Mills and Boon novels, flirting with their ladies against scenic backdrop. No wonder Swiss government honoured Yash Chopra for promoting tourism in Switzerland!
To make his romance stories gain some substance, he was but compelled to fall in the arms of “illicit relationship” so as to provide some shock value to his films. However, he lacked the ability to seriously contemplate over any issue, which demanded deep attention, but in the same genre his brother B R Chopra exhibited the art of serious presentation in an effortless manner. That’s why B R Chopra’s “Gumrah”, having adultery as central theme, depicted the conflict emanating out of such relationship quite well. Yash Chopra’s movies based on the same plot stand nowhere to pathos exhibited in Gumrah. Yash was more governed by the desire to emerge as a successful director in the genre of popular cinema despite being person of immense capabilities. He was a pure entertainer, who used “arrival of third person” as perfect masala element to make his movies mint money. That’s why we cannot contrast him with likes of Raj Kapoor. He failed to attain the stature of Raj Kapoor, who was also governed by the desire to emerge as great entertainer but with a difference: Raj’s sensitivity always managed to find a suitable cause, which under his brilliant directorial treatment ripped apart our emotions. In fact, lot is said about depiction of grandeur/ style in his movies but Gulshan Rai and Feroz Khan stand miles ahead of him even in this department.
Let’s take into cognizance “illicit relationship” – a dominant feature of his movies. He should not have roped in this angle unless he had enough reasons to substantiate his viewpoint. For instance, let’s take “Darr” promoted as a violent love story. What was Yash Chopra trying to demonstrate? That Sunny Deol (husband) has to be equally cunning, powerful and mad like Shah Rukh Khan (lover) to save his wife from the shrewd moves. The greatest irony is that evil gets checkmated by good doesn’t sound convincing in the end when evil enjoys the upper hand, dancing with some else’s beloved for most of the time. One of the salient features of movies made by Yash Raj Films has been that one has to be shrewd and street smart to emerge as a winner. Idealism is of little use in world dominated by market-oriented world, wherein end justifies the means. That’s the guiding principle of protagonists appearing in “Trishul” and “Deewar”. Aditya Chopra’s “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” highlights the same trait. The protagonist even as he is reluctant to run away with his beloved, enters into ridiculousness and pathetic gestures to woo his would be wife. The success of this movie is remark on the declining standards of a viewer’s approach towards cinema.
That’s the aberration which marred the movies churned out by Yash Raj Films. The movies having candyfloss flavour, embedded in synthetic sentiments, depicted a section of society, which barely depicted the real face of India. For instance, Salaam Namaste was entirely shot in Australia, talked about reunion of two lovers, caught in problems born out of “laid-back lifestyle”. Hum Tum, Mohabbatein, Dil To Pagal Hai and etc. turned out be old wine in new bottle. Even patriotic perceptions were effectively used in ”Chak De India” to keep the cash box ringing. The point is that Yash Chopra and his successors have realized this pretty well that market forces and not the theme of the movie, which ensures success or failure. The global world, which made the boundaries meaningless, opened new markets, and, therefore, themes also got focused on people who sustained these markets. Both Bollywood and Hollywood rely on stereotyped emotions to make their movies emerge as blockbuster. So scenic landscape, stunning faces, big cars and pulsating music became the essential ingredients of romantic movies be its made by Yash Chopra or anyone else from Hollywood.
Some might find it unpalatable, and unbearable as well, to treat his movies as promoter of illegal relationships. However, it’s not a misplaced belief when one becomes aware of the fact that cinema, life and society are intimately linked to each other. Chandni, Dhool Ka Phool, Kabhi Kabhi, Silsila, Doosra Aadmi, Darr, Faasle, Lamhe, Daag, Aaina, Yeh Dillagi and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan to name a few, more or less, had controversial themes, wherein secret lover or illicit relationship added a complex twist to the story line. It’s a cliche to state that cinema borrows its concept from society. The ultimate truth is that it borrows the clues from society, exaggerates them, turning them into saleable scripts and, in the process, creates scope for more distorted themes. In a combined research conducted by the ” American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the National Institute of Mental Health” to establish the negative impact of movies on youths in USA, it was clearly established that “just as every cigarette increases the chance that someday you will get lung cancer, every exposure to violence increases the chances that some day a child will behave more violently than they otherwise would.”
The point is when you are genuinely depicting the harsh realities of life, be it centered on illegal relationship, it adds a new dimension in your understanding but when you use such themes to carve unrealistic presentation, merely to ensure commercial success, it’s altogether a different story. Yash Chopra was more conscious of commercial success then ensuring a perfect treatment to a substantial story line. Ironically, Mahesh Bhatt also used illicit relationship as effective plot but he ensured that he remained close to the real life. Anyway, Yash Chopra makes me realize that attaining success is different thing than doing good work which makes difference in lives of people. He got success by promoting flawed romance, which served no greater cause other than ensuring flow of money.