Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Once Upon A Time In Bollywood .........

I have been a Bollywood buff for as long as I can remember . 
This unconditional love   had crept  in very early in my life , and before I knew ,  it had already happened ...... at a very young age , in a place that is absolutely gorgeously placed to help the conception , nurturing and blossoming of  everlasting Prem Granths !!!
Khopoli is a  place  nestled in the warmth and coziness of   the foothills of the  Western Ghats , enriched with natural beauty in immeasurable abundance

Our colony spreads magnificently  on both sides of the old Bombay - Poona Road.
Away from the crowds and noise of the city , it was  delightful , charming and picturesque .
 The Company had provided well  for its employees and their families .... spacious and sprawling bungalows, a well-stocked provision store , conveyance for children going to school and employees going to the power generating station and offices of the company , a well-equipped dispensary and a Club  that provided the residents   with plenty of extracarricular activities and engrossing entertainment like Carrom Boards , Card Tables , Tennis Courts, Table tennis facility , Badminton courts , Billiards Room , reading room and a reasoanbly good library too , as also  facilities for making fresh soft drinks
And as if all this was not enough , our Club had film screening equipment too.
Every Saturday , except in the rainy season, old Hindi Films would be screened in the ample open space behind the main Club building .

It was there that I actually saw films for the first time .... and fell in love with Bollywood ..... Bachpan ki mohabbat can be unshakably sturdy :-)
"Teen Deviyan" ,  "Dil Tera Deewana" , "Navrang" , " Geet Gaya Paththaron Ne " , "Junglee"  , " Beti Bete " , "Dosti " , " Hare Kaanch Ki Choodiya " , "Jaanwar" and many many others made a permanent place in my heart ..... and as I grew up this Bachpan ki Mohabbat matured into a serious Love Story  and has continued till today .... :-)

In between there have been such memorable instances of "madness-in-love" like barging  into the theater manager's office if there was a "House Full" Board outside , and managing to get  special entry into the picture hall ,  or watching three different films in one day , or sitting for all of  complete three hours in the lobby of a theatre waiting to watch "Abhimaan" .....
And who can forget battling the crowd when "Sholay" had released .... !!!

Even after so many years the magnificence and  impact of  "Pyasaa" , "Chaudhwiin Ka chaand" , "Tere Ghar Ke Saamne" , "Madhumati" , "Door Gagan Ki Chhaaon Mein" and such others that I watched in matinee shows with  friends has not faded.
Watching films in Ramzaan afternoons while waiting for Iftaars  is yet another memorable instance  of my  profusely overflowing Bollywood - mania .....

 Now fast forward to the present.
You get everything under one roof ..... films are so easy to watch now ..... they are available in all the malls like  any other commodity .... 
So often  I just stroll into one of the many that have mushroomed over the place , and if there is  no "sale" going on , I find some or the other film  being sshown  in one of the many  mini theatres called Hall Number 1 , 2 , 3 etc ......... 
Where have all the "Regals" , "Metros" , "Roxy" , "Shalimaar" etc etc gone ...... ?

 And where are the Silver Jubilees and  Golden Jubiless , which were the unfailing indicators  of a film's box office success .... ?
Surely we all remember one of the very successful and popular yesteryear heros Rajendra Kumar Saheb , who was affectionately called "Jubilee Kumaar" after all the silver and golden Jubilees he had  so fascinatingly delivered  ....

And by the way , what the hell has gone wrong with the music scene in Bollywood  .....?
Songs used to be  a strong and beautiful aspect of Bollywood films once upon a time , specially the qawwalis and background songs , which added to the narrative brilliantly. 
Even the so called  song-and-dance-around-trees-and-bushes had a role to play in taking  the story forward 
Fans like me who have not been initiated into Classical music ,  began  appreciating musical compositions as the melodious notes mingled with meaningful sophisticated poetry to create  tasteful  delights that have stood the test of time

Nowadays our film makers "import" technicians and technology to make films , as if it is only a mechnical business where the end-product will be judged exclusively on engineering skills and profitability .  Huge amounts are spent on marketing "human emotions"  displayed with crass crudity on the silver screen   . 

All the "creativity and innovation " that comes in film making today after attending  diploma courses in speciality colleges  and workshops and training courses , is sadly reduced to just one thing :  dukaandaaari .... and that too is quite disgraceful and vulgar most of the time.

Do we even realise what such films can do to the young impressionable minds  .... ?
And Yes! Please someone stop that politician-types crap : "Films show what the audience want " 
And  another very cruel comment that one often hears is : " This is the real face of our society"

Oh! Please spare me . 
I can't believe that most of our boys and  girls abuse so filthily , are interested only in sex and violence and are stalkers if not rapists .... 
Do we have such low opinion of the youth in our country ?

In the forrmative years of Bollywood we had  amazingly dedicated craftsmen who trusted their own creativity and  working with meager resources  created everlasting masterpieces , that are still the pride of Hindi Film Industry .

I was filled with a deep sense of dignity and respect when a friend shared  this story  on Facebook 
( I am quoting here  her comment to a song posted on a Facebook group dedicated to Sahir Ludhianvi )

She says : 
"There are two technical stories from the time my grandfather worked with Pancholi Arts.
Its a matter of pride to everyone who has worked with my grandfather that he could record every dialogue and song in a way that it could be reproduced with a certain wholeness in the movie theatres of pre independence.
He could even repair any movie machine that existed between 1935 till about 1980. This included cameras and sound recording machines. At the time he was in Lahore, he built sound recording machines from scratch. One of these machines was later owned by Dev Anand and his studio. The machine he made in Lahore was built within a trunk. Lohey ka trunk. He drilled holes on it and put parts that could record dialogues and songs. There is a chance that this song that you have posted has been recorded on an in house trunk wala sound recording machine.

He also built wooden cranes to lift the camera man and camera to get aerial shots while in Lahore."

The space for talent has now been so arrogantly crowded by family names.
In the initial days of our fabulous Film Industry, as we all know  there were no star sons/daughters , no Nawaabs and their Begums , no acting schools , no gym-perfected bodies ..... 

There was only total dedication to the art and craft.......

Innovation was not a soulless  mechanical procedure . Stories may seem to have beeen the formula  hero-heroine-villain types , but they still had some values to share .....
They were not lessons in Moral Science ,  yet they talked of honesty , morals and  principles in a way that appealed to the masses  .... and above all human emotions were displayed  in a manner that was deliciously adorable .
Even the "dhiishum dhiishum" fights were so enjoyable . Bereft of the "special effects" they came across as delightfully "filmy"

This world is changing too rapidly for my middle-aged pace and suddenly the salt and pepper is going out of things  too fast  ...... there is no seasoning left ...... the bedroom , the bathroom , the toilet .... its all in the open now ..... there is no effort to dress up a passionate  situation in the warmth of romance .... neither is an emotionally charged situation dealt with mature serenity
Everything has to to be loud and raunchy .... only then it is deemed to be close to reality and is supposed to be an exemplarily imaginative piece of art  (???)

 Looking back in Time  is an experience in nostalgia that seems to belong to another world. Things that come so easily at the tip of one's fingers these days used to come our way with some effort . Not that this present generation gets free lunches  , but I think we enjoyed "earning" our small pleasures more.

And I'm not being cynical ..... nor am I over reacting  when I say 
I had to watch a refreshingly therapeutic "Junglee" to get rid of the  Barfi-sickness


rakesh bakshi said...

Fans like me who have not been initiated into Classical music , began appreciating musical compositions as the melodious notes mingled with meaningful sophisticated poetry to create tasteful delights that have stood the test of time...

Zohra Javed said...

Posting Mohan Siroya ji's msg here which he has shared thru e mail .........

"I attempted to get the following comments published on your BLOG but failed. Hence mailing you this .I f U feel U may put on blog in my name
Zoharji ,
1.Just saw this piece on your blog( U sent me link, thanks ). It was a wonderful experience and a learning too. I did not know your passion for Bollywood movies and Music.
2. Myself ,as someone who has been writing for Bollywood for almost 60 yrs., must admit that this was an ecstatic piece of nostalgia which I can not refuse to relish , agree and admire.
AS that immortal line of Kaifi Saab "Waqt ne kiya Kya Hasin Sitam, Hum Rahe na Hum , Tum rahe Na Tum " I say "Waqt Ne kiya Ye bhi ek sitam, Na Raha wo Bollywood N a Rahe Wo Log Jo Behatreen filmen banate Thhe and Mausiki ki bhi dete thhe, Aala Shayari ke saath ?". Really, Kahan gaye wo log, wo din ? Jab ki Bollywood abhi bhi hai , aur 'Commercially, not sensibly, it has grown up more than thousand times perhaps.

Mohan Siroya

sanjay srivastava said...

I m just speechless. The initial part of living in a colony provided by power company (NTPC Ltd.) almost resembles of mine. I also started my career in a fully developed town ship called shakti nagar. There was an open air theater in which on week days films were shown.However my passion for films was since my childhood which i inherited from my mother, who happened to be a theater artist. Ur words of silver jubilee, golden jubilee or even a movie completing 100 days reminds me those golden days. It was honorable things for films to achieve this feat. Now i feel very sad when all the earning is done in first 3 days and success measurement is done on the basis of 100 cr club. I have not been able to forget so many films of the past. I must say that few directors today also succeed in creating that magic. I want to write so much on this subject but falling short of words. Thanks for posting such a magical afsana of films.

rumahale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rumahale said...

I am really moved to read heartrending account on transition of Indian cinema. I was witness to the glorious past; and, am saddened of the present. Thank you for candid account from the core of the heart. Regards

Zohra Javed said...

Mr P P Pandey has so graciously shared his memories and love for Bollywood in a msg on Facebook .... (Wonder why a lot of people are not able to post comments here)

You have very beautifully narrated what we have lost and what I think irrecoverable in the area of films/music and social life.

Perhaps I also belong to your category. In 1988, I was in Indian Railways and posted near Saugor (Madhya Pradesh). At that time I used to do 12 hours night duty as an Assistant Station Master (from 8 pm to 8 am). Even after keeping awake all through the night, I used to go to Saugor ofter to watch movies, which was 25 kms aways from the place of my posting.

I would like to know the names of those three movies which you saw in a single day. I have seen two movies in a day, (and once the consecutive shows too). My maternal aunt (mausi) also used to watch multiple shows in a single day. I learnt this from her only.

Today the films fail to make any jubilee because all films are released with multiple prints in a city. Sometimes around 50 prints are released in a city of a single movie. Thousands of prints of a film are released in today's time. So any jubilee has become out of question in today's time.

And it is most painful to read and feel about music of today. We are losing on that front because we have lost the simplicity of songs. This I have discussed in other fora too. As the songs have lost simplicity, we have lost the songs and the music in totality. We cannot hum the songs of today, unlike yesteryears. If we cannot hum the songs during our routine life, we cannot own those. If we cannot own the songs, how can those songs have shelf life. The songs are listened and forgotten soon. The most popular songs run for 5-6 weeks. We can sing whole song of upto the period of 70s and 80s. That's why those songs are still liked. We cannot dare hum the songs of today. That started with era of Kumar Shanu who made the songs too technical to sing. The last natural singers in the industry were of the time of Udit Narayan / Alka / Kavita. After that music is almost no more.

I failed to post it there.

smriti said...

well said quite impressed by ur way of writing...could feel as if personally experienced all this...