A former video cassette delivery boy and now a National Award winner and Padma Shri awardee, recalls yesteryear filmmakers, our forgotten heroes
I often think about filmmakers of yesteryear and the kind of films they made, which were all blockbusters. These are filmmakers who made a different kind of cinema, films that were entertaining. Unfortunately, nobody really remembers them or even knows them today.
For me, personally, from 1982 to 1986, I was a video library boy and hence I am a walking encyclopaedia on these things. I had the privilege of delivering them video cassettes. They used to live between Bandra and Versova in Mumbai, and I look back at those days with great fondness.
Filmmakers fade out for different reasons. Sometimes, times change, forcing cinema to change, and one may not feel like making movies any longer. Some directors feel they can no longer make the kind of cinema they used to make and loved making. Others just don’t want to compete with new trends.
There are so many South filmmakers whom I would like to mention like Bapu, Dasari Narayana Rao, T Rama Rao, who gave us a different kind of cinema and blockbusters too. There are times when filmmakers like them prefer to take the back seat. Either they don’t believe in the changing cinema or there is just a sense of fatigue.
Many filmmakers of yesteryear, like Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai, have changed cinema. Every filmmaker has their hits and flops and that’s part of the journey. When Kaagaz Ke Phool didn’t work at the box office, Guru Dutt, who had helmed it, was shocked. After that, he didn’t direct any more movies. Sometimes, setbacks like these leave you utterly demoralized.
Whether they like it or not, filmmakers are a part of the glamour world and live their lives in the public domain. But there are times when you want to opt out. Actors busy, dates busy, money is more, we also feel that we are not comfortable in our zone. These are also the things which count. Also, where is this going? I have seen from my experience that cinema has been changing every five years. Cinema has completely changed with time.
Basu Chatterjee made very different kind of films. They were very earthy and real. I have been a great admirer of his work. He made films like Rajnigandha, Chhoti Si Baat, Shaukeen, Baaton Baaton Mein and Khatta Meetha. These were films that the middle class of the ’70s connected with. This was a time when the middle class connected with cinema big time. These stories revolved around the boy-next-door, the girl-next-door and their stories. People are still inspired by the films he made, whether Chameli Ki Shaadi or Priyatama. The latter featured Jeetendra and it is a beautiful film. Chatterjee made films that were reasonably budgeted, very real and gave a ring-side view of what was happening in society. People connected with his films.
Brij Sadanah is Kamal Sadanah’s father. He had made some amazing films in the ’70s and early ’80s. Many people do not know about him. He had directed films like Chori Mera Kaam, Victoria No. 203, Ek Se Badhkar Ek, Bombay 405 Miles and Professor Pyarelal. Chori Mera Kaam was a commercial blockbuster. Victoria No. 203 is a lovely film. He was very versatile.
Nobody remembers Narendra Bedi. He directed Rafoo Chakkar, Jawani Diwani and Sanam Teri Kasam. Directors of today may not remember him or even know about him. He had also made Khhotte Sikkay, the first Western film of India, I would say. Jawani Diwani was a blockbuster. He has been forgotten.
Dulal Guha was a very prominent filmmaker. He made some brilliant blockbusters back in the day. He made Dost, Pratiggya and Dushmun. The latter featured Rajesh Khanna and was a huge success. I used to deliver Dulal Guha video cassettes in Bandra. He made another brilliant film called Chand Aur Suraj and then Dharti Kahe Pukar Ke. He will always be remembered for the kind of cinema that he made. These were filmmakers who made blockbuster hits.
He had made the TV serial Ramayan but also delivered some hit films during his time. He made Lalkar, Geet, Ankhen and Arzoo, among others. These films were all blockbusters. The song Kal ki haseen mulaqat ke liye from his film Charas is still popular.
Rajkumar Kohli made Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani and Nagin, Naukar Biwi Ka and he produced movies like Gora Aur Kala. These are blockbuster films. Rajkumar Kohli is one of those filmmakers who gave potboiler blockbuster films at that point of time. There was one movie called Muqabla. A song from that film, Teen batti wala Govinda aala, is still played today. He made a film with Mithun Chakraborty named Bees Saal Baad and also directed the film Insanyat Ke Dushman.
Raj N Sippy
Raj N Sippy made blockbuster films like Qayamat, Satte Pe Satta, a cult film today, as well as Andar Baahar. He directed another film called Thanedaar and its song Tamma tamma is still popular. Raj Sippy is the first filmmaker who used stylised techniques in films like Inkaar and Satte Pe Satta. The techniques he used were new for his time. He always had a style. He also made Vinod Khanna’s comeback film Satyamev Jayate.
Mukul Anand was a technical wizard. He started with a small movie called Kanoon Kya Karega. Then he made movies like Aitbaar, Insaaf, Khuda Gawah, Hum and Agneepath, and Vinod Khanna’s another comeback film Insaaf.
Pramod Chakravorty made brilliant movies. He was the one who gave Akshay Kumar his first break in Deedar. Jugnu was a superb film of his. He made Azaad, Barood, Love In Tokyo and Dream Girl. He made a film with Dev Anand titled Warrant. He also made Naya Zamana, a blockbuster.
I would also like to mention Nasir Husain, who made larger-than-life films. He made some brilliant movies in the black-and-white era and in colour too. These include Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai and Yaadon Ki Baaraat, whose songs like Chura liya hai are still remembered. Nasir Hussain wrote the film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, which was directed by his son Mansoor Khan. We enjoyed his films like Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Pyar Ka Mausam and Baharon Ke Sapne.
Then there is Vijay Anand. He was a master storyteller. His films had great style, a great star cast and song picturisation. He made classics like Jewel Thief, Guide, Nau Do Gyarah and Johny Mera Naam, which have inspired many filmmakers. Even today, they evoke the feeling that they are great films.
Finally, I would like to mention Shakti Samanta, who made some brilliant and bold movies such as Amanush, An Evening In Paris, Ajanabee, Amar Prem and Kati Patang. Rajesh Khanna’s career took a completely different turn because of him. One of his films, China Town, was a huge blockbuster. He also made another film called The Great Gambler. We cannot forget Kashmir Ki Kali, a beautiful film. Today’s generation may not know him very well but his contribution to Indian cinema is immense and he should not be forgotten.
- Madhur Bhandarkar