Blast from the past: HUM KISISE KUM NAHIN

May 31, 2012

This post was initially written some years ago for my friend Atul’s popular blog, atulsongaday.me. This piece is reproduced here with his permission.  

xxxxxx

I have this blue rexine-clad diary of mine, now thirty-odd years old, which I still preserve. I was into my mid-teens when someone gave me this diary. Not that I wrote in it about the humdrum of small town India of the time, life was too humdrum in the city to write about. There was no TV station, not even a TV relay center in Jamshedpur. The day’s newspaper came in the evening from Calcutta (still Calcutta those days, not Kolkata!) as there was none from our city. No theatre of note, no hobby clubs, nothing whatsoever to engage a teenager those days.

However, there was one source of excitement, the Hindi cinema. Our town had five single screen cinemas (“talkies”, as they were called), three more if one counted the three cinemas on the town’s outskirts. Life revolved around Fridays, the day a new movie would get released. Not that new movies were released in our town the day they were in Bombay or Delhi. (As they would mention in the venerable trade broadsheet weekly, “Screen”, Bombay circuit, Delhi/ Punjab circuit or Nizam circuit (Hyderabad etc.). Never mind if the movie was being screened three months after the Bombay release, Fridays were most looked forward to!

I kept a record in my blue diary all the movies I had seen. Even the name of the cinema and the date.
Another section of the diary also recorded the countdown of songs in Binaca Geet Mala.

@@@

1977 was a most interesting year for film buffs like me, that last few months of the year saw the release of two of the best movies I had ever seen, “Amar, Akbar, Anthony”, and “Hum Kisise Kam Nahin”. But the catch was that these movies got released in Jamshedpur close to my 10th standard (ICSE) exams. Using techniques I have discussed in my blog, I managed to see both just before the exams. That I got reasonably good marks is perhaps a testimony to the good feelings these movies suffused me with!

@@@

Now coming to the song under discussion. As per my blue diary, I saw “Hum Kisise Kam Nahin” on 14th October 1977.

And what a movie it was! If there ever was a musical, this was one. Some nine songs, and each one of them a gem! From Rafi, to Kishore, to Asha, to RD. And all set to music by the great RD Burman.
Right from the word go when the logo of “Nasir Hussain Films” appeared with shayari in the background:

Kya ishq ne samjha hai, kya husn ne jaana hai,
Ham khaq-nasheenon ke, thokar mein zamana hai.”

Huge round of applause from the enraptured crowd in the cinema followed, but naturally.

@@@

A summary of the story:

Sanjay (young Tariq played by Master Bunty) is (kind of) betrothed to Kaajal (Young Kaajal Kiran played by Baby Rani Bannerji); you should see the movie to know the circumstances. They are very much in love, and as all the 9 year olds in the Hindi cinema of yore, even sang heavy-duty numbers like “Kya hua tera vaada” with appropriate actions for lines like “dil ki tarah se haath miley hain, kaise bhala chhootengey kabhi.”

When Master Sanjay become Mr Sanjay, he realizes that Miss Kaajal has vanished from his life. Throw in Mr Rajesh (Rishi Kapoor) who is in love with Miss Sunita in London (Zeenat Aman in a guest appearance) but she is planned to be married off to Mr Ranjeet by her tyrant father (the great Ajit in a guest role).

Mr Sanjay’s and Miss Kaajal’s paths cross several times but the socio-economic divide between them is too acute for them to even get to know each other‘s pasts. And Mr Rajesh is trying to woo Miss Kaajal for an agenda of his (and a couple of villainous characters, Amjad Khan being one) own. He still pines for Miss Sunita.

The goal for him: a leather belt bulging with diamonds worth Rs 25 crores (in 1977, this was of some value!!)

Note: Please do notice the usage Mr Rajesh, Miss Kaajal etc. Hindi movies somehow do not accept the fact that it is perfectly OK to call someone Mr Singh or Miss Gupta or Mr Verma. A character is always identified by his/ her first name, never the surname lest the mention sully the character with caste implications! When child artistes are named in the credit rolls, they are always Master him and a Baby her.

@@@

Never mind the story, this film is bursting with some great songs. Including the ones in the “All India Pop Competition” being conveniently held in Nainital where the entire dramatis personae of the movie is working, holidaying, plotting, romancing. The right guys get the right girls in the end, the right set of diamonds show up with the right claimant. All is well in the end as it ought to be.

The key highlight of the movie is Rafi’s song: “Kya hua tera vaada.”

This is the song which reunites Mr Sanjay and Miss Kaajal in a pub. (We, in the audience, had all lost hope that they would ever meet up.) But Master Sanjay and Baby Kaajal show up in a flashback-like sequence as Tariq sings.

The beauty of the song is that even in the then disco-ized environs of Bollywood, Rafi held his own with this somber number. This fetched him the National Playback Singer of the Year as well as the Filmfare award for the best male singer. Those I think were the last of his National and Filmfare awards. This was some 2-3 years before his demise.

@@@

My blue diary records that other songs pipped “Kya hua tera vaada” to the post in the finals of “Binaca Geet Mala 1978”. It was placed at the 3rd position. The number one song of the year was Hemlata’s “Ankhiyon ke Jharokhe sey” from the eponymous film and the number two was Rafi’s own “Aadmi musafir hai” from Apnapan.

Pity!


Cinemania 6: Birthday Movies (’81 & ’82)

September 20, 2008

1981:

Another bonanza year for AB fans. “Shaan”, “Barsaat Ki Ek Raat”, “Naseeb”, “Laawaris”, “Silsila”, “Kaaliya”, “Yaarana”. What a bunch!

Shaan”: An under-rated movie like “Kala Patthar”. I think this movie was too classy for its times. And can you forget the “Shakaal” act by Kulbhushan Kharbanda? And the menacing manner he caresses his shaven pate and menacingly mutters in a low tone: “Yeh jazeera bam ki tarah phoot padega”.

Barsaat”…” was directed by Shakti Samant going downhill pretty rapidly, while “Naseeb” (MKD) and “Laawaris” (Prakash Mehra) were representative of their director’s forte. “Yaarana” was an uncommon pairing of AB with Neetu Singh but thoroughly enjoyable. “Kaliya”, I remember not only for AB but also for  the Radio Ceylon jingles for the film which started and ended with the echoing slogan “kaaliya, kaaliya, kaaliya, kaaliya”.

Silsila”! How heart-breakingly gorgeous did Rekha look! I was a big, big fan of Rekha; the walls of my hostel room were adorned with posters and picture cuttings of Rekha. And the brooding AB, the poet. The tulip fields. The songs. Everything about the movie was perfect!

My birthday movie, and the movie of the year was, “Ek Duje Ke Liye” at Kanhaiya Chitra Mandir. Tragic story of geography coming in the way of two lovers. A Madrasi pitted against a North Indian. This K. Balachander movie starred Kamalahasan and Rati Agnihotri. Besides the tragic tear-jerker of an ending and the super-super hit songs, I remember one scene from the movie. Kamalahasan challenged to prove his love for Rati burns her photograph, stirs the ash into a cup of tea and quickly proceeds to gulp down the concoction. A case of Rati na sahi to “ash” sahi? Not a bad choice!

One of the last movies of the year was the gorgeous Rekha’s “Umrao Jaan”. What times those were, Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha in full bloom!

 

1982:

The birthday movie was seen under fairly unusual circumstances, parts of Varanasi was flooded and the area around the university campus (Lanka, etc.) had a couple of feet deep water. However the cinema halls in the city were operational. There was no way I could miss the annual ritual on my birthday. With two brave-hearts for company, I set out to see AB’s “Khuddar”, a rollicking story with such bizarre scenes like AB’s taxi flying over the traffic on busy Marine Drive of Bombay. We would have  done well to possess such a taxi in those times of flooding in Varanasi! The song “Angrezi mein kehte hain ki I love you” topped Binaca Geet Mala that year, surprisingly beating “Pag ghungroo” of “Namak Halaal” to the second place! Which song do you still remember? And which song do you join in chorus during a drunken evening even now?

And that brings me to the other AB films for 1982: “Satte pe Satta”, “Namak Halaal”, “Desh Premee” and one of my all time favorites, “Shakti”. I remember the first time I saw “Satte pe Satta”. The movie was released while I was visiting parents in Jamshedpur. Jamshedpur those days rarely had the privilege of screening the latest movies. I was dying to see this latest AB movie. So I did the next best thing possible. Immediately upon reaching the Varanasi Cantt station, a group of us landed at the cinema hall (Anand), suitcases/ hold-alls and all and thoroughly enjoyed the movie!

What a time it was to be living in, with AB’s movies being released nearly once in two months!

1982 was the last year I saw a movie on my birthday. No particular reason, just that all quirks need to die some day!

Movies still remain a passion for me!

(concluded)

=================


Cinemania 5: Birthday Movies (1980)

September 18, 2008

1980:

The year was an eventful one for me. For one, this was the year when I took my Std 12 exam and it was time to bid adieu to Nagpur where I was studying for “plus two”.

The end of the exam, like all other exam-ends was marked by a movie. This was an Amitabh-Shashi starrer “Do aur do Paanch”. What a movie it was! I desperately want my kids to see the movie but I have not been able to get a copy of the DVD, pirated or otherwise. Do help in case you have this movie with you. This film will certainly find a place in my list of 7 most under-rated movies of AB when I do get around to writing a post as mentioned earlier. For now, I go ahead with my piece but not before leaving you with the mukhda of the wonderful title song: “Tooney abhi jaana nahin, jaana hai to maana nahin, mujhey pehchana nahin, duniya deewani meri, meerey peechhey-peechhey bhaagey..…… Hum who hain jo do aur do paanch banaa dein…

What was even more remarkable was that in April 1980 I did not see a single movie. Not one! This was a blemish on my otherwise impeccable record of seeing at least one movie (several movies, actually) every month on-a-trot for 36 months- April ’77 to March ’80. This blemish on my record was due to the IIT-JEE irritant. The JEE exams were due in the 1st week of May and I decided to do something about it soon after my Std 12 exam. (I had missed qualifying the previous year.)

I did make amends for this lapse very quickly after the JEE; on 9th May I saw two movies on the same day, a re-run of Rajesh Khanna/ Mumtaz starrer “Do Raaste” and  anew movie, Reena Roy’s “Asha”. Remember the song “Sheesha ho ya dil ho, toot jaata hai”?

Probably this 7-week abstinence from movies helped me to qualify in the JEE. And I was on my way to study Metallurgical Engineering at the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU for short)!

The only thing remarkable about the birthday movie that year was the circumstances in which it was seen. I was pretty ill in the days preceding my birthday. I had a severe stomach infection which was taking its own time to go away. In fact, I had to skip my classes for a few days. I was weak and I could barely walk. Let alone cycle a few kilometers to see a movie.

I had nearly given up on the birthday movie ritual, there was no way I could see a movie.

My room partner for 3 months who had become a very good friend of mine (he still remains a great friend over the last few decades despite separations in time and geography) would have none of it. The disciplined sportsman (university champion in javelin-throw and an ace half-back for our football team) that he was, he knew the importance of adhering to a regular exercise routine. To his mind, there was no way I could skip watching a movie on my birthday! No way!

So off we were, yours truly “double-riding” on his Hercules cycle, all the way to Deepak Cinema. We watched, well you have guessed it right, yet another forgettable movie. This was a re-re-run of “International Crook” starring Dharmendra.

Deepak Cinema was typical of cinemas in Varanasi. People smoking inside the cinema halls. People putting their feet up on the back-rest of the seats ahead of them. Stinking and over-flowing urinals. Paan stains all around. Seats missing, sometimes only the back-rest remained. Loud whistles at all inopportune times.  But we would take all that in our stride. Banaras is Banaras.

And yes, I did enjoy the movie all right, after all it was my birthday! Patrons’ good health or not. The show must go on!

===========


Cinemania 4: Birthday Movies (1977 to 1979)

September 14, 2008

Introduction:

 

Some of you may remember from my earlier pieces on Cinemania (#1, 2, 3) that I was an ardent Hindi movie buff and that I kept a log of my movie-watching in a diary which survives till this date even after some 30 odd years. This piece is on a certain quirk I had- lasting several years- of seeing a movie on my birthday. Come hell or high water, illness or exams, this was a sacrosanct event; I had to see a movie on birthday which falls on 2nd September. The movie crazy guy that I was, I kept all details in my blue diary of the movies watched, name of the movie, date, and the theater in which I saw the movie. This piece heavily relies on my diary.

 

1977:

 

It was in 1977 I started this birthday movie ritual. This movie was something which I am sure you would not have heard of, even I would not have remembered but for the diary and the fact that I saw the movie on this special day. The movie was called “Adimanav”. Prehistoric man (and woman) in case you have not been able to understand the meaning. Nataraj was the cinema hall we saw it in, the Nataraj Cinema which I have described in some detail in Cinemania 1.

 

I do not remember much about the movie except that there were this bunch of heavy set “men” and very buxom “women” wearing skirts made of leaves and twigs in the movie. At the clink of a flint stone they would jump on each other and start mating. Or, to enliven the atmosphere further they start spearing other adimanav  who would dare to as much a cast a lusty glance on their mates. I say mates here as I do not remember whether they were married or not as I cannot recollect any sindoor or mangalsutra on their women. Those were pre-historic times so the currently-in-vogue matrimonial symbols may have been non-existent. Maybe a bone pierced through a thread adorning their necks was the symbol.

 

 What is important to note is that this was the first movie I saw after bunking my school-classes. I still can not figure out how we managed to do this given the rather strict discipline standards in Loyola, Jamshedpur, those days. And I still wonder why we did not get caught subsequently. And even more importantly this was the first-ever adult movie I saw. And that was the day I had turned 16! Man, I came of age on 2nd September 1977!

 

For those of you who are curious, the movie prior to this I saw was Khan Dost on 30th August at Jamshedpur Talkies. “Khan Dost”, like many of the movies I saw in that era is an eminently forgettable movie starring Raj Kapoor as a jail cop and Shatrughan Sinha as a jailed criminal and their unlikely friendship. I do not remember the story- line much but I still remember a great Manna Dey song from the movie “Meri zindagi mujhpey roye”. I saw “Aafat” on the day following my birthday, on 3rd September, at Karim Talkies. It was another of those forgettable movies starring Navin Nischol and Leena Chandavarkar. So forgettable that even I, a die-hard movie buff, do not remember anything about the movie.

 

1977 was the year in which I appeared for my Std X exam (ICSE) in November. My diary records that I saw a total of 34 movies in the year. This was just the beginning of my Cinemania!

 

1978:

 

1978 was a very happy year for me. The Std X exams (ICSE) had got over in November of the prior year. I was to join a college in Nagpur whose session started only in end-August. So there were eight months of sheer bliss! My father did enroll me for Maths coaching in preparation for the IIT-JEE. And this was a blessing in disguise as the hours away from home would give me an opportunity to catch up on movies without raising suspicions at home. And then August onwards, while at Nagpur, I stayed in a hostel, for the first time ever. Nagpur also had some 25 cinema halls which was 4-5 times more than what Jamshedpur could boast of. So my first full month in Nagpur, September, I saw no less than 10 movies! This, of course, also helped in escaping the rather nasty ragging in the college hostel.

 

The birthday movie of the year was “Damaad”, a nice-to-watch, light and easy movie starring Amol Palekar and Ranjeeta. This was at Saroj theatre which was a considerable distance from my hostel. What was much more interesting, certainly for a teenager like me, was the movie I watched a day prior to my birthday. “Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram” the Raj Kapoor movie with Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman in the lead. The scar-faced but gorgeously blouse-less Zeenat Aman! If you have not seen the movie then you must watch it for Zeenat’s sake. Shashi Kumar is a civil engineer in this movie, he would have had a great revision in the principles of cantilever courtesy Zeenat A. Some great music too, including the last song of Mukesh: “Chanchal, sheetal, nirmal, komal’.  I scored a hat-trick by watching another movie on 3rd Sept.: “Anjane Mein”, a Rishi Kapoor/ Neetu Singh movie, I do not remember anything about the movie but for the title song. This was probably sung by Nirupa Rai on the screen, “Ai mere laal, ai mere phool, anjane mein bhi tujhsey na ho bhool”. Too cool. I am sure she was setting up the story for some disaster to befall her laal, Rishi Kapoor.

 

The most significant thing about 1978 was the series of Amitabh Bachchan block-busters released that year: “Trishul” which I saw 1st day, 1st show on 5th May. What a movie! Remember the initial scenes when AB appears? “Jisne pachchis saal sey apni maa ko ghut-ghut kar martey dekha ho…”? “Kasme Vaade”, where he has a double role, “Don” (which I saw at Nagpur a few months after its release), “Ganga Ki Saugandh” and one of the all-time Big B greats, “Mukaddar Ka Sikandar”.

 

And if you are curious, I saw 69 movies in 1978; a movie every five days. And I was to prepare for IIT JEE that year!!

 

1979:

 

Another great year for Big B fans. “The Great Gambler”, “Jurmaana”, “Adalat”, “Mr Natwarlal”, “Kala Patthar” and “Suhaag“. I saw most of the new releases several times and for good measure I even caught up with the re-runs of movies I had missed. “Deewar” (I had not seen “Deewar” till 1st Feb 1979, and I made good this lapse many times over in subsequent years!), “Ek Nazar” (Lovely songs: “Pyaar ko chahiye bas ek nazar, Patta-patta boota-boota, Pehle sau baar idhar aur udhar dekha hai).

 

For once, the birthday movie in 1979 was not from Bollywood, but from Hollywood. Stephen Spielberg’s cult classic “Close encounters of the third kind”. We had all gone as a big group from the hostel and the movie was most enjoyable.

 

What were even more enjoyable were the movies I saw before and after this one. On 29th August I saw, for the second time, “Kala Patthar”. This, to my mind, is one of the most under-rated movies of AB. Not only AB was great, but the entire cast. Notable among them being Raakhee, Parikshat Sahni as a truck driver and the great Shatrughan Sinha as Mangal Singh (remember his scene stealers; “Teesra badshah mein hoon…”, “meri bholi banjaran..”?). Never mind how a disgraced sailor (AB) reaches Dhanbad riding on a guilt train! This movie was made on the real-life Chasnala disaster in the Dhanbad area. It was not a hit, but to me it is one of the best films ever of AB. I do plan to write a post some day on the seven most under-rated films of AB and this will certainly find top mention.

 

The movie I saw after 2nd September was “Hamare Tumhare”. This Sanjeev Kumar and Raakhee starrer is a lovely movie about the marriage of a widow and a widower both with their own children from their prior marriages. “Khatta Meetha” (Ashok Kumar and Pearl Padamsee) was also based on a similar theme. And both were based on a Hollywood movie “Yours, mine and ours”! “Hamare Tumhare” had some fabulous music by RD, remember “Ham aur tum the saathi”? And Kishore’s magical “Jadoo dar gayo re..”?

 

And in case you want to know, I did not find a place in the IIT-JEE qualifiers list that year. I am sure you are not surprised. Are you?

 

To be continued

(Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!)

========================


Cinemania 3

May 22, 2008

I have always been an avid reader and a quiz buff as well. So it was natural that I would devour film magazines and ferret out all kinds of trivia on movies. There was Filmfare and Cine Blitz. And in Hindi, Madhuri and Mayapuri. And Picture Post. Not to mention the movie columns of sundry family magazines, Dharmyug, Sarita et. al. Buying the magazines was out of the question, renting it out from the local circulating library was the done thing. Old man Bhatia of the local “Bhatia Book House” would even give me credit! ( As an additional revenue generating exercise he also inducted me into reading adult literature, both in Indian English, and colourful Hindi- you understand what I mean, but more about those at a later date!)

 

And then there was the great venerable film weekly from the Indian Express group of publications, Screen. Screen was a broadsheet and if you are not familiar with it then let me tell you about it. If you were a Screen reader, you were one of the following: someone seriously involved with film-making (making is the operative word here, this was not for actors but for people who were involved with the making process and had to keep a close track of what was happening in the industry), or a serious movie buff, or perhaps a lunatic! Maybe I was a mix of the last two. This paper carried detailed stories with headlines like “Serious Shortage of Raw Stock Facing the Industry”, “Yashraj Films’ production no 4 goes on the floor”, “Mukta Arts Combines’ 3rd schedule completed” “Last song of XYZ movie recorded” and other such matters of grave importance. Gossip, you would not find any at all. Not a word on Dharmendra/ Hema, Amitabh/ Rekha. Nothing whatsoever on Katy Mirza (oh dear!!) unless she was completing dubbing of her movie or taking part in schedule 5 of production number 3 of Banner X. All this would be read thoroughly by me week-after-week-after-week.

 

There was another attraction in Screen; the weekly Q&A column. Serious readers with serious intentions would ask serious questions to a serious columnist who would give equally serious answers. “Scrutator” was the columnist’s name! Not the type of frivolous Q&A indulged in by Shatrughan Sinha in Filmfare. Sample this: a reader from Kota, Rajasthan, asks, “Is the film industry closer to heaven or hell?” Scrutator’s profound reply: “It depends upon the state of the individual”. Amen! The best question of the week would fetch the enquirer a prize of Rs 25! Before you scoff at this amount let me tell you something. Those days the cinema ticket cost Rs 3.15. Add to that 15 paise for the cycle stand charges and 25 paise for a cup of chai in the interval you arrive at a per movie cost of Rs Rs 3.65. So that gives you at least six movies, and some change to spare for subsequent copies of Screen.

 

In an inspired moment I too dashed off a question to Screen, an inane question about popular film heroes coming from the North and popular heroines from South. And in an equally inspiring moment the columnist gives an equally inane answer about how the South Indian heroines dance their way into the hearts of people and that this was the film industry’s contribution to national integration!!  But more importantly, Scrutator selected my question as the best question of the week! Good news did not end here; no question had been awarded the prize the previous week, so I was warded the jackpot, Rs 50!! “Double pagaar” as they would say in Jamshedpur! Much joy on seeing my name in print plus winning the jackpot as well! I do not quite remember what I did with this money except that I treated my sister to “Madhumati” at Regal. The rest of the money must have funded some more movies and magazines. Or some such constructive stuff.

 

I zealously followed this up with four questions in one postcard to Screen. All questions got published but no prize this time. And then something happened! My brother who was then studying away from home was alerted by one of his hostel-mates that one Santosh Ojha of Jamshedpur was a frequent contributor to the Q&A column in Screen. Prompt came a mail (those days mail meant a hand written letter, chitthi) to me admonishing me on such activities when I should have been concentrating on my studies! I was much chastened, but did not give up! With a never-say-die attitude I continued with my queries, but now under aliases. A couple of the aliases I remember are “O. Pandit” (as in Ojha Pandit) and “O. Santosh”! Some questions got published, some did not. But never any prizes. I could never have a repeat of the beginner’s luck, ever again!!