Surjit Singh, a diehard movie fan(atic), period.
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A Year in Hindi Movies 36-40

A Year in Hindi Movies 1936

1936 Ashok Kumar begins carrear

Born on October 13, 1911 at Bhagalpur, Bihar, as Kumudlal to a famous lawyer, Kunjlal Ganguly, whose family migrated from Nadia to Khandwa some hundred years ago, Ashok Kumar was a brilliant student,

who after finishing his B. Sc. from Robertson College, Jabalpur, went to study law at Presidency College, Calcutta so that, according to him, "his granpa's books may be used". As a science student, he developed a flair for photography and really wanted to become a technician. He used to visit New Theaters, Calcutta, and left Calcutta in 1934, to get a letter of recommendation from the world famous Himanshu Rai, who gave us, "Light of Asia" and "Karma". Himanshu persuaded Ashok to learn film photography from Josef Wirsching, the talented German cameraman for Bombay Talkies. Thus began the cine journey of Ashok. He had a small role in "Jawani ki Hawa (1935)", but he was the male lead opposite Devika Rani in "Jeevan Nayya (1936)". Ashok did not want to be an actor and had his hair mercilessly trimmed to avoid shooting on the first day. Himanshu forgave him and waited for two months so that Ashok's hair would grow back. In the very first shot, Ashok had to perform the usual chore of every hero, jump through the window and save the lady from the clutches of the villain. Ashok did it with such enthusiasm that villain's leg was broken, and Himanshu had to wait for another four months! His next movie "Achhut Kanya" proved to be hit, 20 weeks at the newly constructed Roxy, Bombay and 59 weeks at calcutta. The movie had 9 songs, 4 of which became immensely popular, perhaps because of the music by the talented Saraswati Devi:

mai.n ban kii chi.Diyaa ban ke ban ban - Ashok, Devika kit gaye ho khevanhaar - Saraswati Devi kise karataa muurakh pyaar, pyaar, pyaar - Ashok piir piir kya karataa re - Ashok

Lyrics were by Jamuna Swaroop Kashyap "Naatwaan". Even Ashok's father liked the movie and Ashok was a genuine star now. We will pick up his career later.

Some other movies of 1936 were:

bandit of the air or havaaii daakuu - K. N. Singh's first as a hero

deccan queen - Surendra's first, had his first song "yaad na kar dil\-e\-hazii.n bhuulii huii" honhaar - Leela Mishra's first film to be released, she started acting with ga.ngaavataraN (1937).

jiivan nayya - Ashok's first in which he sang "koi hamdam na rahaa, koi sahaaraa na rahaa" S. N. Tripathi sang his first song, set to music by himself: "erii dayyaa lachak lachak chalat mohan aave"

millionaire or karo.Dapatii - a song by Saigal and Pahadi Sanyal says something about post-high school education: "jo naukarii dilaa de, B. A. banaane vaale, biga.Dii huii banaa de"

miss frontier mail - perhaps the first parody song by Minu the Mystic and party, "gaao gaao ai mere saadhuu, sab hii bhulaao Gam"

prem bandhan - perhaps the first song by Sahir [No way!], sojaa sojaa nanhe.n sojaa, miiThiii\-miiTHii nindiyaa"

sunaharaa sa.nsaar - K. N. Singh gave his first shot for this movie, but it was released later than "bandit of the air (1936)"

Most of the info comes from the following books:

1. The Encyclopaedia, volume 1, compiled by Mr. Har Mandir Singh "Hamraaz", published by Mrs. Satinder Kaur, his wife.

2. "Star-Portrait", by Harish S. Booch and Karin Doyle, published by The Lakhani Book Depot, Girgaon, Bombay in 1962. It cost Rs. 4/- in those days and is probably out of print now. Amazingly, you can find it in the Ohio University LIbrary!

Surjit Singh, a movie fan period.

A Year in Hindi Movies 1937

Once again more than 100 Hindi movies were released this year. I would like to "single" out two of them.

naujavaan - In the era of the talkies this was the first songless movie which as produced by Wadia Movietone as an experiment. The story took place in a 24 hour span and was basically about crime, suspence and fighting. But in many cinema halls people shouted that they had been cheated and there were reports of the usual riots. Backgroud music was by Master Mohammad and direction was by Aspi.

president - This was a very successful Saigal vehicle, music by R. C. Boral and Pankaj Mullick. The story was used later in "bahaare.n phir bhii aaye.ngii." Saigal sung 5 of the 8 songs, ek raaje kaa betaa, rahegii naa badariyaa chhaaii, ik ba.ngalaa bane nyaaraa, naa koii prem kaa rog lagaaye, by himself and, prem kaa hai is jag me.n pa.nth niraalaa with Pahadi Sanyal. There is a scene in the movie when veteran actor Prithviraj says to Saigal, in a meaningful voice, words to the effect that he likes his work very much and is proud of him. I can't get it out of my mind that it was a case of an actor praising a fellow actor-singer, and not just the movie characters. The second name of this movie was " ba.Dii bahan".

Some other movies of this year were:

eshiyaaii sitaaraa - It had a song, "bhaiyyaa aan pha.nsii ab ban me.n", a parody of "baalam aay baso more man me.n"

duniyaa naa maane - Directed by V. Shantaram, this is the first and the only movie to dispense with the concept of artificial background music entirely. Only natural sounds were used. Whenever there was music or songs, their source could be seen and identified. The only other movie I know that used natural sounds is "The Virgin Spring" directed by the famous Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, released in 1959, full 22 years later. By using the fallacious argument that if B did something after S, B must have copied from S, we get the result that Bergman got the idea from Dr. V. Shantaram.

kisaan kanyaa - India's first completely color film, although experiments in partial color were done before.

mahaagiit - This was the first time playback singing was introduced in a film made in Bombay, great master Anil Biswas was the MD.

two women - India beats Sophia Loren, whose movie with the same name came much later. My tongue is in my proverbial cheek.

vidyaapatii - hit movie, hit songs from K. C. Dey, Kanan Devi and Pahadi Sanyal. I have been told that whenever K. C. Dey's "panaghaT pe kanhaiyaa aataa hai" was played, sachmuch me.n dhoom mach jaatii thii.

zambo, the ape man - Because of copyright law scare, this could not be called Tarzan, although this was the first of a series of Tarzan movies made in India. It was also the first movie appearance by David Abraham, LL. B., hailing from a Jewish family settled in India in the fifteenth century. He got Rs. 75 for this movie. Before acting in this movie, he had been variously, a clapper-boy, a continuity-boy, assistant director and a production manager. He won the Filmfare award for his role as "John Chacha" in Raj Kapoor's Boot Polish.

Most of the info comes from the following books:

1. The Encyclopaedia, volume 1, compiled by Mr. Har Mandir Singh "Hamraaz", published by Mrs. Satinder Kaur, his wife.

2. Listeners' Bulletin, a monthly, edited by Hamraaz Saahib and published by the Secretary, the Flying Listener's Club, Kanpur.

3. Limca Book of Records, 1993 edition, edited by Vijaya Ghose, published by Bisleri Beverages Limited.

4. The Guinness Book of Movie Facts & Feats, by Patrick Robertson, published by Guinness Books in 1988.

5. Star-Portrait, by Harish S. Booch and Karin Doyle, published by The Lakhani Book Depot, Girgaon, Bombay in 1962. It cost Rs. 4/- in those days and is probably out of print now.

Surjit Singh, a movie fan period.

A Year in Hindi Movies 1938

1938 - Kamaal Amrohi starts career

The number of Hindi talkies drops to 88 this year. The big event is the entry of Kamaal Amrohi.

Born in a rich landlord family in Amroha near Moradabad U. P., Sayyad Ameer Hyder Kamaal "Amrohi" died on February 11, 1993 at age 76. From childhood he liked to write stories. He went to Madan Theaters, Calcutta, but did not get anywhere. So he went to Bombay Talkies and wrote a story. He recited it to Sohrab Modi, who decided to let the young man write the lyrics and dialogs for the movie "Jailor (1938)" based on his story. Next year, he gets to write "Pukar", which was much praised for its dialogs involving the king, Chandramohan and, minister, Sohrab Modi. These two movies established Kamaal as a writer.

Producer Ashok Kumar wanted to cast Meena Kumari in Mahal (1949), but Kamaal did not like her that much. He insisted on Madhubala and Ashok finally gave in. The first mystery suspense Hindi movie was a slickly directed by Kamaal and was hugely successful in establishing Madhubala.

A much younger Meena Kumari, on the other hand, saw a picture of the director of Mahal and fell in love with him. He was a poet, she was a poet. He knew her as one of the three daughters of Master Ali Baksh and had rejected her for a child role in "Jailor" already. One day while travelling from Mahabaleshwar to Bombay, Meena was involved in a car accident, and while she was in a hospital in Poona, Kamaal used to go to see her. Apparently, he liked her now and they got married quietly on February 15, 1952.

We will pick up their careers later.

Some other movies in 1938 were:

abhaagin - first movie for Chaman Puri, older brother of Madan Puri.

baaGbaan - Naushad recorded a song as an assistant for Mushtaq Hussain.

bahaadur kisaan - First Hindi movie for Bhagwaan as director.

brahmachaarii - In her very first film as heroine, Meenakshi Shirodkar becomes the first heroine to wear a swimming suit, bathe in cold water and sing a song, "jamunaa biich khelu.N khel, akelii kyaa, saajanaa, lehare.n hilore khaatii". It was very controversial, but she was married and her husband, Pandurang Yashvant Shirodkar, did not mind!

gramophone singer - Anil Biswas records Zohrabai Ambalewali's first song: "piyaa ghar naahi.n akelii mohe Dar laage" written by Pandit Sudarshan.

industrial India - Naushad is assistant again for Mushtaq.

miiThaa zahar - naushad is assistant to MD B. S. hoogan

street singer - Kanan Devi sings 6 wonderful songs. Two beautiful songs by Saigal. A must-see movie available on video. The famous music director Khemchandra Prakash (Mahal fame) provides the male voice in a comedy song: "lo khaalo madam khanaa, kyo.n itanii der lagaaii"

vatan - Anil Biswas uses a tune created by Kazi Nazrul Islaam in the song, "ragge ja.n se Ku.n uchhal pa.De jis pe jaaye jal"

zamaana - a beautiful song from this movie "ai dard zaraa dam le, karavaT to badalane de" sung by Amirjan, later known as Amirbai Karnataki was played in the background on the Radio in the 1948 movie "ghar kii izzat" starring Dilip Kumar.

Most of the info comes from the following books:

1. The Encyclopaedia, volume 1, compiled by Mr. Har Mandir Singh "Hamraaz", published by Mrs. Satinder Kaur, his wife.

2. Listeners' Bulletin, a monthly, edited by Hamraaz Saahib and published by the Secretary, the Flying Listener's Club, Kanpur.

Surjit Singh, a movie fan period.

A Year in Hindi Movies 1939

1939 - Meena Kumari starts in Hindi movies

Meena Kumari (real name: mahazabii.n) was born on August 1, 1932 to Iqbal Begum, actress and master Alibaksh, music director. She and her two sisters, Khursheed Junior, actress (older sister), and Baby Madhuri (younger) used to throw stones into Naushad's house, who was their neighbor in Dadar, Bombay. Naushad complained to their father, and, according to Naushad, the three sisters were taken to task by him. Meena's first movie was Leather Face or Farzand-e-watan (1939) produced by Prakash Pictures and directed by Vijay Bhatt. She got 17th billing just before a horse (Bahadur) and a dog (Tiger). She played the role of Jairaj's daughter, and, whose sweetheart she would play in Maghroor (1950). In her early days she did playback for her sister Madhuri and sang her own songs in many films. After working in about 15 pictures as a child, she got her first grownup role in Bachchon Ka Khel (1946). Then Homi Wadia cast her in a mythological called Veer Ghatotkach (1949) and she became a chhota goddess and acted in a series of those - Hanuman Patal Vijay (1951), Laxmi Narayan (1951), etc. But she established herself as a star in Prakash Pictures Baiju Baawara (1952), as everybody knows.

Other notable movies of 1939:

aadamii - Probably the first one to have a song in Gujarati, Panjabi, Telugu, Tamil and Bangla which was sung by Shanta Hubalikar. It was directed by V. Shantaram and had a Marathi version called maaNuus.

braa.nDii kii botal - written by the famous Marathi P. K. Atre, it was the first one to have the flag song, jha.NDaa uu.Nchaa rahe hamaaraa.

dushman - had four songs, all by Saigal.

Gaazii salaauddin - first movie for Khemchandra Prakash of Mahal fame.

Gariib kaa laal - had a song, tujhe bibbo kahu.N yaa sulochanaa, umaa shashii kahu.N yaa ki jamunaa. This is he first time that names of popular artists of the day are used in a song. The whole song is full of popular names. You don't know any of these gals? Well, that is why I call you "kids."

ka.ngan - Pandit Pradeep makes a debut by writing four songs, among which is "mai.n to aartii utaaru.n raadheshyaam kii re" sung by Leela Chitnis, Pradeep and chorus. A very successful movie starring Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitnis, it ran for six months in Bombay. Music was by Saraswati Devi and Ramchandra Pal.

kapaal ku.NDalaa - Pankaj Mullick sang and set to music probably his most famous composition, "piyaa milan ko jaanaa" .

pukaar - hit movie that established Kamaal Amarohi as a writer. Had excellent music by Mir Sahib. I just love "zindagii kaa saaz bhii kyaa saaz hai" sung beautifully by Nasseem Bano, Dilip Kumar's mother-in-law. It was about the famous justice system of Jahangir (played by Chandramohan), who used to say, "jaan kaa badalaa jaan", or, if you kill someone, the system will kill you. Well, his wife kills a poor dhobi by mistake. But he loved his wife too much, so instead of awarding a death sentence to Noorjahan, he said that the dhobi's wife (played by Sardar Akhtar, director Mehboob's wife) should take revenge by killing Noorjahan's husband. Dhoban is ready to kill, but the clever minister (Sohrab Modi) intervenes (he has motives of his own) and, in a classic copout, offers her lots of riches. She accepts the money and everybody is happy. Dhobi is said to have died not in vain but for a good cause!

Much of the info comes from:

1. The Encyclopaedia, volume 1, compiled by Mr. Har Mandir Singh "Hamraaz", published by Mrs. Satinder Kaur, his wife.

2. Listeners' Bulletin, a monthly, edited by Hamraaz Saahib and published by the Secretary, the Flying Listener's Club, Kanpur.

Surjit Singh, a movie fan period..

A Year in Hindi Movies 1940

1940 - Naushad's first movie all by himself

Great Naushad gave music for the movie Prem Nagar by himself, after being an assistant MD for many years. There were 13 songs including 4 choruses, a style for which he is justifiably famous. Songs were written by Dina Nath Madhok. There are excellent articles on Naushad available on the RMIM automailer, get numbers 16, 41 and 44. I will just quote his opinion on the comparison between classical and movie music.

Dr. B. V. Keskar became minister of information and broadcasting in 1952. He was a devotee of classical music and wanted to "force" it on the Indian public. He hated film music and in 1954, which is smack in the middle of the golden age of film music, said that "except for raw and immature people like children and adolescents, householders in general detested film music." He greatly reduced the time given to film music, and, banned the mentioning of the name of the movie saying that that amounts to advertising! Movie indutry protested.

I am paraphrasing what Naushad said in 1956. Classical sangeet has never been the province of the masses. It was born in sacred temples and flourished in the courts of Rajas and Nawabs. The attempt to make this highly specialized music a part of everyday environment was an artificial imposition. To many millions of Indians it was almost as remote as the music of British string ensembles. The film music, on the other hand, a spontaneous and exuberant growth, emerging from much older folk music traditions and adapting itself to a new era and its influences was the real folk music of modern India.

As everybody knows, Radio Ceylon flourished due to lack of film music on All India Radio. Of course the government gave in later by establishing Vividh Bharati, a channel devoted almost entirely to film music.

The number of Hindi movies produced in 1940 remained below 100 for the third year in a row. Some notable ones are:

aflaatuun aurat - It has an English song that begins,"My dear Indian ladies no mind no brain ..." It was written by Munshi Aziz Nagpuri. I don't know what happened to him.

aurat - This was the famous Mehboob movie that was remade in color as Mother India later. Kanhayyalal played exactly the same role in both versions.

bandhan - a very popular movie strring the pair Ashok Kumar, Leela Chitnis. Has beautiful songs by Pandit Pradeep. "Chal chal re naujavaa.n" was the big hit and my grandmother still sings, "chane jor garam baabuu mai.N laayaa mazedaar".

nartakii - has the almost modern numbers, "madabharii rut javaan hai" and "ye kaun aayaa savere savere" by inimitable Pankaj Mullick. zindagii - Saigal shines again. Sings an absolutely enchanting lori, "so jaa raajakumaarii so jaa", a lori that Lata used to practice as a child. Two more songs are famous, "mai.N kyaa jaanu.n kya jaaduu hai, in do matavale ...", and, "diivaanaa hu.N diivaanaa hu.N, raahat se mai.N begaanaa hu.N". This was his 18th movie, he will make 10 more.

Much of the info comes from:

1. The Encyclopaedia, volume 1, compiled by Mr. Har Mandir Singh "Hamraaz", published by Mrs. Satinder Kaur, his wife.

2. Listeners' Bulletin, a monthly, edited by Hamraaz Saahib and published by the Secretary, the Flying Listener's Club, Kanpur.

Surjit Singh, a movie fan period.

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