Since 1999

Compiling Data of Indian Films

Har Mandir Singh "Hamraaz"

Compiler, Hindi Film Geet Kosh

As you are aware, India leads in the world by producing highest number of films on celluloid.  While 36,000 (approximately) Indian talkie films have been censored till date, it is a pity that no proper arrangement has been made at government or personal level to keep record of data of films produced on celluloid.


Way back in 1964, Films and Television Institute of India was established in Pune on the site where memorable films had been produced by Prabhat Film Company.  Simultaneously, attempts were made to preserve the film related material at the National Film Archive of India located near FTII.  Apart from the books relating to films, prints of Indian films are also being preserved thereat.

In my pursuits, I have been visiting National Film Archive of India [NFAI], Pune since 1974.  But I'm sorry to put on record that no attempts have been made till date to properly compile data relating to Indian Films.

Before I dig into the past about the attempts made for compiling the data of Indian films, I recall my meeting I had with the Director of Film Archive of India at International Film Festival at Delhi some years ago.  He was coming out from Srifort Auditorium when I suddenly put a blunt question before him, "May I ask you as to why concrete documentation work for India films is not being made under your leadership at Film Archive ?"  Reluctantly, I had to introduce myelf and thereafter, he replied that HINDI FILM GEET KOSH volumes are being extensively used at Archive. I was not surprised in getting his reply to my question. He told me that he has visited many film archives in the world and has found that documentation work at most of the archives in foreign countries has been done by the personal efforts made by the sincere film addicts.  I rudely questioned him as to why he is putting NFAI at par with other archives of the world.  On hearing this, he was silent and I also did not expect any positive response from him.

We are assembled here to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Indian Talkie Films.  So, let us dig into the past to ascertain as to what has been compiled to preserve the data of last 75 years of Indian films. Approximately 10,000 Hindi talkie feature films have been censored till date and the first 100% talking, dancing feature film in India was released on 14th March 1931 in Hindi with the title AALAM ARA.

Even before Firoze Rangoonwalla of Bombay made sincere efforts in sixties to compile data of Hindi films, Mr. B.V. Dharap, a Mechanical Engineer by profession, who worked as an Audiographer for a Hindi film VISH VAMAN made in 1936, had made an attempt.  By compiling a book about Film Industry, he documented all Hindi films produced in 1938 with the names of the director, producer, music director, artists, etc.  He was the owner of Alka Talkies of Pune and I first met him there in 1974.  At that time, he had already started bringing out INDIAN FILMS series book.

But before talking about B.V.Dharap's INDIAN FILMS series, let us return to the era of sixties when Mr.Firoze Rangoonwalla was working as the staff of famous cine weekly SCREEN.  In 1963, when Golden Jubilee of Indian Cinema was celebrated, he was prompted to compile data on Indian Films.  By making strenuous efforts, he was able to compile the data for a book titled INDIA FILM INDEX covering the period 1912 to 1967.  This book lists all Indian films - silent and talkie - produced upto 1967.  It was published in March 1968.  In August 1970, he came out with another book titled INDIAN FILMOGRAPHY covering brief details of all Indian silent films which lasted upto 1934.  In this book, he also documented information of all Hindi talkie films made between 1931 and 1969.  In addition to brief details of silent films, INDIAN FILMOGRAPHY lists names of Hindi talkie films arranged chronologically alongwith the names of the production company, director, music director and artists.

During the early talkie decades of thirties, forties, and fifties, barring the information made available in the souvenirs of IMPPA, no documentation work seems to have been made at any level.  While cine weeklies, fortnightlies and monthlies played indirectly a very important role in documenting the information, it would be worth to mention the publication of FILMINDIA monthly edited by famous journalist Baburao Patel.  Beginning from the year 1934 and continuing upto 1959-60 until it turned out to be published as Mother India, it carried reviews, advertisements, articles, etc. on Hindi films.  It proved a good source of information of numerous Hindi talkie films produced during a period of about 25 years.

In the late sixties, when I was a High School student, I was addicted to listening Radio Ceylon.  I was fond of listening old Hindi film songs.  Many a times, I listened the songs but could not pick up the correct name of the related singer or lyricist or music director which made me very impatient.

On making thorough search, I came to know about publication of INDIAN FILMOGRAPHY brought out by Firoze Rangoonwalla.  Having borrowed this book from my friend, Mr.K.D. Sharma of Kota (Rajasthan), I found to my dismay that though the names of music directors of Hindi films are listed therein, there was no listing of songs and related credits.  When I contacted Mr.Rangoonwalla, he directed me to visit NFAI, Pune to collect song details from the books, cine magazines and booklets of Hindi films.

In 1974, when I visited NFAI, Pune for the first time, I came in touch with Mr.B.V. Dharap, who by that time, had already published his book INDIAN FILMS series.  INDIAN FILMS 1972 and INDIAN FILMS 1973 were out by that time.  It contained important credits and cast of all INDIAN FILMS produced in that year.  Publication of INDIAN FILMS series continued till 1978 but it was discontinued as Mr.Dharap was not prepared to continue incurring huge losses on this publication.  INDIAN FILMS series also listed 3-4 words of each song of the films but did not carry respective credits like singer, lyricist, etc. of each song.

Incidentally, my mother is a good singer of Punjabi Shabads, etc. who inherited the quality from her mother. Since I was addicted to listening old Hindi film songs, I became very impatient for getting information about all Hindi film songs.  Thus, I started compiling data of Hindi film songs. I had to travel extensively all over India to trap all the available sources. Since, Mr. Dharap had started publishing INDIAN FILMS series from 1972 onwards, I restricted my compilation work upto 1970-71.  With an all time whole-hearted support of Mr. B.N. Chatterjee of Nagpur and many other music lovers scattered all over, I could compile information relating to Hindi films and its songs.  As the songs were included in the very first talkie film AALAMAARAA in the year 1931, I made up my mind to compile song information beginning from the advent of talkie era.  Thus, I compiled information of Hindi film songs for the period 1931 to 1971.  As already indicated, I was under the impression that I need to clear the backlog of 41 years so that from 1972 onwards, B.V. Dharap's INDIAN FILMS series may be linked thereafter to get the information.

Unfortunately, as Mr.Dharap incurred heavy losses, he could not continue publishing INDIAN FILMS series after 1978 though he continued compiling the information.  After a break of 4 years i.e. 1979 to 1982, NFAI published Mr.Dharap's compilation for the next 3 years i.e. 1983 to 1985.  With the sad demise of Mr. Dharap on 9th December 1986, publication of INDIAN FILMS series came to stand still.

Frankly speaking, I was basically a music lover and an addict of listening old Hindi film songs from Radio Ceylon, All India Radio (Urdu Service), Vividh Bharti, etc.  As I became impatient when I did not find any book to provide me information about all Hindi film songs, I had to become a compiler of Hindi film songs.  I compiled the information for the period beginning from 1931 to 1970. This information was bifurcated into 4 decades and first of all, I was prompted to publish Vol.III covering the golden period 1951 to 1960 in the year 1980.  For the first time, when I visited an old publisher at Kanpur to publish my compilation work, looking at the manuscript of Vol.III, he asked me rudely as to who am I, wherefrom I have come and what is this all about.  From that very day, I made up my mind not to involve any publisher in my venture.  And I'm happy to put on record that since then, I never approached any publisher for publishing or sale of my books till date. With the contributions made by many friends, well wishers and music lovers on return basis, I published HINDI FILM GEET KOSH volumes one by one in 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988 respectively.  With the publication of 4 volumes, I had made available the information of Hindi films and its songs to the music lovers for the period 1931 to 1970.  After the release of Vol.I (1931-40] in March 1991, my able lieutenant Mr.Chatterjee advised me that SHOW MUST GO ON.  As I was having soft corner for the old Hindi film songs from the very beginning, I thought, this work should continue.  After the death of Mr.Dharap, we had visualised that we may be prompted to continue our work.  Hence, during our pursuit in collecting the information for the period 1931 to 1970, we had started collecting booklets, etc. of Hindi films censored thereafter. And thus, Vol.V, covering the period 1971 to 1980 was published and released in March 1991.

As Raj Kapoor said in his MERA NAAM JOKER, this show is not yet finished !

Decade-wise Geet Kosh compilation need lot of time, energy and money to be spent.  Due to increasing number of Hindi films being produced in India, I had to decide to bring out details of Hindi film songs by covering the span of 5 years in my subsequent Geet Kosh volumes. I have already composed available information on my computer covering the period 1981 to 1985 for Vol.VI of HINDI FILM GEET KOSH.  I shall try my level best to publish it as early as possible.

After the release of Vol.V in March 1991, without knowing the a, b, c of the computer, I purchased it and started playing with it.  When my vendor of computer could not fight with the virus attack, he surrendered and formatted my hard disc.  Thus all the information stored had lost.  So, I had to intervene and setting aside the vendor, I opened the computer to assemble it again.  I was lucky that by spending about 2 years, I could learn as to how it works and how it is to be maintained so that my work of compilation goes on smoothly and I'm not dependent on the AMC [Annual Maintenance Contract] of the vendor.

By spending 2 years' precious time, I was able to come out with the 2nd edition of Vol.III because first edition had many short-comings.  Due to lack of funds, I could not include the Song Index which consumes more than 100 pages in each volumes now. Thus, on experimental basis, I composed the information of golden decade i.e. 1951 to 1960 in database by using C-DAC's Gist Card and exported it in text form to Ventura Publisher, a DTP Software.  By using C-DAC's ISM, I formatted the text and came out with the 2nd edition of Vol.III in April 1997.

Thereafter, I decided to come out with another compendium HINDI FILMOGRAPHY.  As no information for the Hindi films censored after 1980 was available, I thought, by the time further GEET KOSH Volumes are published, brief details should be presented for the benefit of music lovers.  Thus, I compiled and published HINDI FILMOGRAPHY in the August 2000, covering the period 1981 to 1999 of Hindi films.  Appendices for the period 2000 to 2003 have been published subsequently to update the information and this show goes on !

Poet late Majrooh Sultanpuri has said :

        Hum akele hee chale the janibe-manzil magar,

        Log saath aatey gaye, kaarvaan bantaa gayaa !

Having published Vol.III in Jan.1980 and Vol.II in Feb. 1984, another music lover Harish Raghuwanshi of Surat came up and brought out his unique compendium on his favourite singer MUKESH in March 1985.  He was the first person in India to come out with such compilation which contains full text of all songs of Mukesh in his MUKESH GEET KOSH.

Apart from Hindi films, some efforts have been made to compile information of talkie films and songs made in other languages.  Again, Harish Raghuwanshi came into the picture by publishing GUJARATI FILM GEET KOSH in the 1995 which covered the period 1932 to 1994 of Gujarati films and its songs.  It has been brought out exactly on the pattern of HINDI FILM GEET KOSH volumes.  Such dedication has not been seen for any other Indian language.  Brief details of talkie films made in Marathi during the period 1932 to 1981 were published in a Souvenir CHITRA SHARDA in the year 1982 which was edited by Maestro Sudhir Phadke.  All the information included in it was compiled by Mr.B.V. Dharap. An attempt to update it upto June 1989 was made by publishing another Souvenir CHITRA SAMPADA in August 1989.  Bangla film details were brought out in March 1999 by Nandan, West Bengal Film Centre covering Bangla silent and talkie films from the period 1917 to 1997 under the title BENGALI FILM DIRECTORY.  Efforts have also been started by my colleagues under my supervision to publish PUNJABI FILM GEET KOSH exactly on the pattern of HINDI FILM GEET KOSH.  Compilation of data of talkie films made in Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and many more is still pending.

Music lovers may not be aware as to how much difficulties are faced to compile the data relating to comparatively newly made films.  Just to quote an example, I would say that there is a Regional Office of censor board at New Delhi where hardly 2-3 Hindi films are censored in a year.  Whenever this center is approached to ascertain the names of Hindi films censored thereat, they rudely reply that it is a secret information which can not be part with !  Under these circumstances, how can you expect to get the complete data from Government departments.

I do not foresee that at any time in near future, efforts would be started at Government level to compile and preserve the data relating to Indian films.  Therefore, I always pray that may the tribes of Firoze Rangoonwalla of Mumbai, Harish Raghuwanshi of Surat, Nalin Shah of Mumbai, Piyush Vyas of Ahmedabad, B.N. Chatterjee of Nagpur, etc., may live long and increase multifold so that some compilation work is done and made available to all !!

© Har Mandir Singh 'Hamraaz'. Please request permission before reproducing.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Share this post

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn