For friends well familiar with the film journalism in India from the early era of 1930s-50s, the name Baburao Patel needs no introduction as he was one of the pioneer film journalists who started it all in the mid thirties of the last century. Also a producer-director of few films made in the 40s, Baburao Patel was the Editor and Publisher of India's first film magazine called FILM INDIA.
The magazine enjoyed a clear monopoly in the trade for a long period of time (decades), due to which its published content was considered to be quite important as well as influential among the film industry. Hugely famous for its bold, witty and acidic reviews on the new Hindi films & its performances, the reviewer Baburao Patel was the most detested as well as the most popular, in demand journalist of that initial era. Though his writings were said to be based on his own personal likes and dislikes, yet his views were feared to be decisive for a film or a star eventually and enjoyed a ‘say’ of their own.
Apart from this controversial image in the trade, Baburao Patel’s pen was loved & appreciated by the readers due to its entertaining characteristic of using simple & straight words without any hesitation, fear or regret. He used to openly criticize and make spoofs of many reputed film-makers in his reviews and there are several stories famous about this distinctive feature of his art in the trade circles. But along with this, his articles also had an intellectual value, well supported by some valid logical deductions about the medium.
Later as more magazines came in to share the same space, Baburao Patel decided to launch a national magazine in place of FILM INDIA in the 60s titled MOTHER INDIA, which was more inclined towards politics and the national issues of those times instead of cinema. And many readers of that era still miss the wicked pen of Baburao Patel since then.
As an example of his famous wit just sample what Late Shammi Kapoor himself wrote in his official site, about Baburao Patel’s views on Prithviraj Kapoor………..and he wrote,
"There is no place in the films for uncouth brawny Pathans who think they can make it as actors". This is an observation made by Baburao Patel, Editor and Publisher of the top Cinema magazine of the 30's, 40's and 50's, Film India, about Prithviraj Kapoor.
Prithviraj in his reply to Film India, said, "Baburao, do not provoke this Pathan. If there is no place for me in the Indian films I shall swim across the seven seas to Hollywood and make it there as an actor". Prithviraj did not need to go to Hollywood. That is History!
Now coming to the basic purpose of this write up, the interested readers can find many articles on the celebrated personality of Baburao Patel on several websites by easily searching the net. But here, I personally wished to share those precious reviews of his, as it is, in their original format, in the shape of scanned images giving the reader that nostalgic feel of the gone era. So this is probably the beginning of a series in my “Vintage Magazines, Books and Print Material” section at Bobbytalkscinema, where I would try to share those scanned pages of Baburao Patel’s reviews published in his FILM INDIA magazine in the era of 1940s & 50s.
And as the first share of the series, here is ‘A Baburao Patel Review’ of the famous hit film BAAZI released in 1951. It was a Navketan films release, directed by Guru Dutt, which was also written by Balraj Sahni and Guru dutt together (which is in fact another lesser known fact related to the film). BAAZI featured Dev Anand, Geeta Bali, Kalpana Kartik, Roopa Verman, Johny Walker and many other known artists. But here particularly study the kind of words used by Baburao for both Kalpana Kartik and Roop Verman together.
To read it clearly just click at the picture given below to open it in its original size and have an enjoyable journey back in time to the 1950s.
(The article scan is from FILM INDIA magazine's August 1951 issue.) Cheers!
Baburao Patel and his reviews, Reviews by Baburao Patel in Filmindia Magazine, Reviews in Filmindia, Film India Magazine, Baazi Review by Baburao Patel, Vintage Magazines at Bobbytalkscinema.com, Nostalgic Articles on Hindi Cinema by Bobby Sing, Nostalgia by Bobby Sing, Rare Bollywood Articles, Bollywood in 1950s, Rare Vintage Articles.
BALRAJ SAHNI, one of the most gifted, yet misfit personalities of Hindi Cinema is the one I admire dearly, right from the days I began watching films as the food for my thoughts.
The term ‘Most Gifted’ used above doesn’t need any explanation to anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the Golden Era of our Hindi films. And ‘Yet A Misfit’ is added, because that’s what the maestro reveals very honestly in his autobiography called “Meri Filmi Aatmkatha” which was earlier published by Hind Pocket Books in the 70s and is quite difficult to find at the present in its original edition.
Nevertheless, here I am not writing this just to praise my beloved actor-thinker-writer-poet-activist and much more, quoting many of his famous films and performances as a routine article. But I am writing this as I really wish that both the older and the present ‘cinema loving’ generation of this net-age should positively read this precious autobiography, which is sure going to be a big eye-opener for them (particularly the youngsters) undoubtedly. And which would probably open many new doors of creative thinking, creative living and creative values in their life, like nothing else.
His personal experiences in the field, as written by himself, show you many new facets of Hindi Cinema which are both ‘dark’ as well as ‘bright’, ‘open’ as well as ‘hidden’, without any holding back or hesitation of any sort. In other words, its only the burning truth poured on the pages by the veteran Balraj Sahni in his book and the following excerpts would clearly tell you what I am actually talking about.
Excerpt 1 :
“This meeting of four years ago with the versatile V. Shantaram was very much in my thoughts when I went to see ‘Shakuntala’. That a man of Shantaram’s calibre should be directing a film based on Kalidas’s classic drama was, I felt, a unique combination. You can well imagine then the high hopes I must have entertained, when I went to see that film.
But, Shantaram let me down badly, very badly indeed! At one stroke he shattered all the confidence and faith I had come to place in him, the supreme artiste! Shakuntala jarred on my nerves so very thoroughly that my soul cried out in anguish!”
Excerpt 2 :
“Our producers and directors are given to doing everything on the spur of the moment. For instance, everything hinges on the OK from a ‘Star’. The moment that is obtained, the producer, will set about planning the other details of the film in a tearing hurry. And one never knows when the ‘star’ will say that magic word. A meeting is then convened hastily in the producer’s office and whoever may happen to loiter about in the studio compound is caught hold of and given a role, and that is that!
Moreover, in this celluloid world, every man looks down upon everyone else. True, a fllmwallah will be all smiles and kindness when talking to you, but you can be sure, in his heart of hearts, he will be wishing plague on your house! The moment you are out of his sight, you cease to exist for him, and he heaves a sigh of relief and happiness! Consequently, if you are a successful film actor, you must see to it that your friends and colleagues are denied this ‘pleasure’.”
Excerpt 3 :
“My wife had only recently come from England. Once, while I was directing a play, she had told me not to behave towards the artistes like a dictator. She had said, ‘A director is not supposed merely to make his artistes dance like so many marionettes. An artiste’s inspiration must come from within himself and in support of her argument, she quoted Stanlslavski, whom I used to consider a bourgeois upstart!
I had shouted at my wife and told her to shut up. Today, I bow my head in shame at my stupidity.”
Excerpt 4 :
“In Hindi films, the writing of a screen play has always been treated on an ad hoc basis, which is the very antithesis of the way films are planned in foreign countries. In the titles of these films the pride of place is given to the screen play and its writer, followed by the name of the story on which it is based and the name of the story-writer.
The Hindi films, on the other hand, set great store by the story. It is only after the general outline of the story has been laid down that the screen-play writer comes into the picture. And all he does is to write a ‘scene’! After all the ‘scenes’ have been written, the dialogues of the players are ‘filled in!’ Indeed, our producers have come to place so much faith in the story that more often than not the ‘scenes’ and dialogues are left unwritten till the very day a particular set is to be erected.
It is not, therefore, a rare thing to find the cameraman ready with his lighting, while the dialogue is still being improvised! No wonder, then, character portrayal is relegated to a backseat in our films.”
Excerpt 5 :
“Finally, I hit upon a novel idea which I explained carefully to Badru. Next day, as we - Chetan, Dev, Guru Dutt and I sat in Chetan’s cabin, discussing “the script of Baazi, there was a commotion in the outer office.
Apparently, a drunkard had forcibly entered the office and was bothering the clerks. Presently, the intruder appeared at the door of the cabin. Walking right in, he went straight to Dev Anand and started talking nonsense to him. All of us there found the way the man was making a fool of himself excruciatingly funny and we burst out laughing For well over half an hour he entertained us and the rest of the office staff with his pranks.
At last, Chetan decided that enough was enough. He ordered that the man be thrown out bodily! At that point, I asked Badru to offer a ‘salaam’ to his ‘audience’!
And lo! The Sharabi sobered down instantly! The change in the man was so sudden that my colleagues could hardly believe their eyes! It is a measure of Badru’s acting talent that he keeps the bottle, which is such an inseparable companion of his on the screen, miles away from him in private life! I found Chetan looking askance at me! When I told him that Badru’s performance was a ‘make-believe’ and that the whole thing was ‘stage-managed’ by me, he gave the role to Badru without the slightest hesitation. That was the beginning of Badru’s glorious screen career.
His millions of fans, however, know him by the name Johnny Walker!”
Excerpt 6 - (On his world famous act in DO BIGHA ZAMIN) :
“Whatever success I could make of my role in “Do Bigha Zamin” is thus the result of this study I had made of the way of life of the Bhaiyyas.”
“I shall always look upon my role in “Do Bigha Zamin” with a sense of pride. Indeed, I shall cherish the memory of that role till I breathe my last.
After having made this confession, I become entitled to air my views on a few points of a technical nature. The film was based on Rabindranath Tagore’s well-known poem of the same name, and yet nowhere has Bimal Roy expressed his gratitude to the poet. I feel that in the name of justice and fairplay, such an acknowledgement was called for.
“’Do Bigha Zamin’ gave me too a good deal of fame and publicity. All of a sudden people woke up to the fact that I had been a professor at Shantiniketan and an announcer on the B.B.C. A few wise men even went to the extent of decking me in revolutionary plumage. They put about that I was out to lead the Indian Cinema on a revolutionary path! They hailed me as an actor, who chose to work only in those films which championed the cause of the toiling masses.
‘Look,’ they said, ‘here is a millionaire’s son, who has taken to acting, not for making money but out of sympathy for the poor.’ Interestingly enough, I began modeling myself on this image of mine, built up by the press!
The truth is, as in the case of the earlier ‘Hum Log’, ‘Do Bigha Zamin’ too did not exactly improve my financial position. I remained as ‘broke’ as ever.
I was jobless for the following six months.”
The above excerpts are just the tip of the ice-berg (a really hot ice-berg indeed) as the book contains many more ‘at-the-face’ truths not only about the film-world but also about the pre and post independence era of India, the changing social structure of the country before the 60s and much more.
Sadly, Balraj Sahni later didn’t write about the time around his final cinematic achievement GARAM HAWA in the early seventies. Still, I hope someday we will get to read about those days too in some other similar memoirs of a veteran, just interested in telling the blunt truth about his life and nothing else.
Now coming to the good news here, the valuable autobiography is now available online (for free) in its English translated - PDF format which can easily be downloaded from the links given below.
But its my humble request that don’t let this downloaded file remain in your hard disks for months & years in the list of ‘to be read soon’…………., since it does have the power to change your thinking patterns both about Hindi Cinema as well as about LIFE in a truly worthy manner.
So just get it from the link and begin your enlightening read.
Cheers! HIS BLESSINGS
BALRAJ SAHNI and his autobiography, BAlraj Sahni's autobiography, Meri Filmi Aatamkatha, Meri Filmi Atamkatha, Did You Know facts about Hindi Films by Bobby Sing, Unknown Trivia on Hindi Cinema, Books On Indian Cinema, Books on Hindi Films, Books on Hindi Movies, Books by Indian Actors, Books on Boolywood Stars, Books about Bollywood.
It was the event of Centenary Celebrations of 100 years of Indian Cinema at The Sri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi (April 2013), which got an overwhelming response from the enthusiastic lovers of Indian Films throughout the week beyond expectations. Interestingly, the festival also had few panel discussions scheduled on various topics featuring prominent film personalities such as Ekta Kapoor, Karan Johar, Sudhir Mishra, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Kiran Juneja Sippy, Dibaker Bannerjee and Luv Ranjan, which surprisingly got a fabulous response probably because of the known names & the stardom related to them. So at one end it was quite encouraging and great to see the young viewers coming in huge numbers to participate in these film discussions, but on the other it made me quite sad, hearing a small conversation between a young group of boys seated just behind me in the auditorium.
Now this conversation is being shared here with all friends, as it indeed draws our attention towards a serious issue related to the worth of our Indian Cinema & its maestros in the eyes of our new generation. More importantly, it points towards the way, our good old cinema is being seen today by the net-age, energetic youth and what exactly they have in mind about those Golden Years of films in our country and its precious gems………….!
The Auditorium had just finished with a lively panel discussion and the beautiful host announced the next two screening in the adjacent halls which were of Kamal Amrohi’s PAKEEZAH and Raj Kapoor’s JAAGTEY RAHO. But just after the announcements were made, I heard the voice of few boys sitting in the row behind, which simply left me stunned and immensely sad…………….! And they said,
Ist Voice – Ab Kon Si Picture Dikhayange Yaar? IInd Voice – “PAKEEZAH” Ist – Yeh Kaun Si Film Hai…………..Bahot Purani Hai Kya? IInd – Arey Yaar Yeh Woh Hai Na…….Urdu Waali…….! ------ (Then Enters a third voice) ------ IIIrd – Bhai Yeh Wohi Hai Jo Pehle Hoti Thi Na….…Sad, Depressing Picturen……Negative Feeling Waali! Ist – Achha………Kaun Kaun Hai Ismey? IInd – Ek Meena Kumari Hai…… Aur Hero Ki Mujhe Shakal Pata Hai……….…Naam Yaad Nahin Aa Raha! Ist - Rehne De Yaar, Pakayega Kya…………...Doosri Kaun Si Hai? IInd – Doosrey Audi Mein Hai “JAAGTEY RAHO”……..Raj Kapoor Ki! Ist – Achha Wahi Jo Charlie Chaplin Ki Tarah Acting Karta Tha! IIIrd – Arey Yeh Wohi Hai Yaar……..……Jo Pehle Gareebi Ke Upar Picturen Banti Thi Na..….., Jisme Woh Chowkidaar Type Hota Hai! Ist – Ha Ha, Bhai Yeh “JAAGTEY RAHO”…………Sula To Nahin Degi Na! IInd – “PAKEEZAH” Se To Theek Hi Hogi…….Chalo Wahi Dekhte Hain!
And saying that they all stood up and went to the Audi next door, leaving me truly stuck to my seat like a lifeless object with so many thoughts running in my head about the frightening image of our Golden Era of Hindi Cinema in the minds of today’s young brigade.
But giving it a second thought, I couldn’t really blame those boys for such disrespectful depiction of those classic films as they and millions of other ‘cinema loving’ young minds of the country are actually neither being informed nor taught about that Golden Era of Hindi Cinema anywhere around in the form it should have been ideally done. In other words, unless one seriously opts for a film-making related course or for a professional degree related with film-making in India, he/she largely remains unaware of all those Golden Classics which are nothing less than a text book material both as a source of entertainment as well as a means of teaching you the basis essence of life & its emotions.
As a result, what happens is that only the people involved or interested in film-making (which are few in numbers) are in turn aware of these precious gems of the past in real terms and the rest (majority of our younger population today) simply go on living on whatever is fed to them in the name of cinema and entertainment in the present times. And in case some real film enthusiast gets interested to know about that Golden Years from the internet, then at the most what is available to him is either IMDB or Wikipedia portal, which only gives you a complete professional account about the film & its reviews or some individual websites & blogs which feature their personal opinion of that valuable era or films lead by their own biased interests and likings.
In short, we don’t really have an official, authentic & unbiased informative source which can tell the youth about the rich historical heritage of our Indian Cinema and its celebrated maestros from all its regions. So in my opinion, either there has to be an easily doable short term course which can be opted by any (18+) lover of films without any other restrictions or at least a well planned, educative website should be there, which can make the younger and coming generations aware of all our Masters Of Indian Cinema and their immensely cherished gems of the gone eras collectively. And this needs to be done not only for Hindi Films but for all kinds of Regional Cinema being made in our country which at times has proved even more important than Hindi movies in front of the world audience evidently.
To be specific, a young energetic Indian film lover should no doubt know about all the past & current big shots of Hindi Films taking the legacy forward. But along with that he also needs to be informed about our other respected veterans & their cherished film-works from Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Malyalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Asaamese, Oriya & other regional languages cinema as a must.
Coming back to the point of ‘Short Knowledgeable Courses’ teaching you the art of watching and the actual worth of films made in the past, “Film & Television Institute of India” (FTIT) Pune, “National Film Archive of India” (NFAI) Pune, “Whistling Woods International” Mumbai and a few more reputed institutions have been conducting short “Film Appreciation Courses” on a regular basis with a considerable amount of fee, from the last few years. But these are being offered in only two or three major cities like some professional courses and not as a means to educate the youngsters of today’s progressive India about the medium of cinema as an art from.
To deal with the truth, these “Film Appreciation Courses” need to be conducted in every major town (other than the Metros too) for a very affordable fee, which in turn would enable the young minds of our country to know & compare that what was being made earlier and what’s being made now, forced and lead by the financial forces of the market, quite sadly.
Plus these “Film Appreciation Courses” need to enlighten every young film enthusiast of India in clear words that actually “Indian Cinema” is not a synonym to “Hindi Cinema or Bollywood” at all. In reality, the bitter truth lies behind the curtain that there have been many equally worth watching or even more important films been made in the past in the other regional parts of the country and the tradition is still continuing till date.
Hence before moving on to experience the World Cinema and its famous maestros, the youth today urgently has to be educated about our own Indian Cinema at first (including all regions) through these widely available “Film Appreciation Courses”. So that tomorrow they can respectfully remember or cherish Dada Saheb Phalke, Raj Kapoor, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak or Adoor Gopalakrishnan rightly for what they have contributed to the world of cinema in real terms and not for anything less than that.
On a concluding note, If you ask me to sum up in one line that “Why I am emphasizing so much to make this “Film Appreciation Courses” available everywhere in the country for the young & crazy Indian movie buffs?...................Then I would prefer to give the answer in the words of Pritish Nandy (a renowned journalist, producer and social activist), as said by him in the documentary called “Baavra Mann”, in which he says,
“The problem in Cinema today is that, nobody wants to be GREAT, but they all want to be RICH!”
And as I see it, the line says it all……………., simply all……that can be said!
The Unknown GOLDEN ERA of HINDI CINEMA, Sad Expereince at Indian Cinema Centenary Festival in Delhi, Need for Film Appreciation Courses in India for all kind of regional cinema. Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing, Indian Cinema and its maestros.
The famous Arabian tale of “Aladdin and His Magical Lamp” from the book “One Thousand and One Nights(Arabian Nights)” can easily be included in one of the most celebrated traditional stories remembered all over the world by all age groups without any doubt. And for that very reason it has been adapted in World Cinema more than once in many languages including Bollywood.
In Hindi Cinema the parable has been used repeatedly at regular intervals beginning from the early fifties till its recent adaptation in 2009 featuring Amitabh Bachchan. However, the reputed IMDB site states two versions of the entertaining tale made in the thirties too namely, Aladdin Aur Jadui Chiraag (1933) directed by Jal Ariah featuring Abdul Rehman Kabuli, Rose, Narmada Shankar and Aladdin Aur Jadui Chiraag (1937) featuring Narhari Narayan Joshi.
But in absence of any detailed information available about the above two ventures, we will begin it with the major film made in 1952.
1. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp or Aladdin Aur Jadui Chiraag (1952) The magical story was adapted for the first time by the producer, director Homi Wadia in his 1952 Black & White fantasy called “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” or “Aladdin Aur Jadui Chiraag”. The film featured Mahipal, Meena Kumari, Babu Raje, S. N. Tripathi and more in the lead with music by S. N. Tripathi. All the special effects in it were given by the then famous and the master of his craft, Babu Bhai Mistry.
2. Main Hoon Aladdin (1965) In the mid sixties, the subject was again revived with the famous villain Ajit as Aladdin in the film titled “Main Hoon Aladdin” directed by Mohammed Hussain which also had Davind, Madan Puri, Sayeeda and Shyam Kumar in key roles. Music was composed by Usha Khanna and the film also had few songs sung by Mukesh, picturised on Ajit including the title song.
3. Sindbad, Alibaba and Aladdin (1965) In the same year, another interesting venture got released amalgamating the three famous stories of Sindbad (the sailor), Alibaba (and forty thieves) and Aladdin (with his magical lamp). Directed by Prem Narayan Arora it was titled “Sindbad, Alibaba and Aladdin” only and it featured Bhagwan as Alibaba, Pradeep Kumar as Sindbad and Agha as Aladdin along with S. N. Banerjee, Helen, Sayeeda, Meenu Mumtaz and more. The film’s music was composed by Ravi.
4. Tarzan Aur Jadui Chiraag or Tarzan and the Wonderful Lamp (1966) In the next year, though not completely based on the Arabian Tale, this Unique pictures presentation film did have a magical lamp and a ginnie coming out of it along with many other adventures of Tarzan played by Azad. The film was produced & directed by Babubhai Bhanji (along with special effects) and had music by Shafi-Shaukat.
5. Bundal Baaz (1976)
After a decade in 1976, Shammi Kapoor used the idea and directed a film called “Bundal Baaz” with Rajesh Khanna in the lead playing the role of a middle class jobless struggler who finds this magical lamp all of a sudden. Shammi Kapoor himself played the role of a giant Ginnie (Jin) in it and Johny Walker completed the trio of this unsuccessful film of the mid seventies also featuring Sulakshna Pandit and Ranjeet. The film had music by R. D. Burman and it was one of the only two films directed by the legendary Shammi Kapoor, which was basically made for the kids. The other one directed by him was “Manoranjan” which came in 1974.
6. Johar in Bombay or Aaj Ka Aladdin (1977)
In just a year after “Bundle Baaz”, another film directed by Shantilal Soni got released which was again based on the same concept called “Johar in Bombay” or “Aaj Ka Aladdin”. It had the famous I. S. Johar and Sonica Sahin in the lead along with veterans like Rajender Nath, Madan Puri and K.N. Singh. It had music by Usha Khanna.
7. Adventures of Aladdin (1978) Producer, director Homi Wadia returned with another version of the classic tale, now in colour as Basant Pictures “Adventures of Aladdin” in the year 1978. The film was released in cinemascope and had Sachin, Nazneen, Jay Shri T, Raza Murad, Sudhir, Paintal and more in the leading roles. The music was composed by Chitragupta.
8. Alavudinum Arbutha Vilakkum or Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1979) This was a Tamil/Malayalam bilingual film directed by I. V. Sasi released in the late seventies. It had Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth in the lead with Sripriya and Jayabharathi as their romantic pair. The film was dubbed into Telugu as “Allauddin Adbutha Deepam” and into Hindi too as “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp”.
9. Aladin (2009) After a gap of three decades, director Sujoy Ghosh reinvented the classic in a modern form featuring Amitabh Bachhan as the Ginnie or Genius along with Sanjay Dutt, Ritesh Deshmukh, Jacqueline and more. The film was made with a good budget and some great production values too but couldn’t impress the viewers with its fantasy based script and a modern mature adaptation of the children story. It had music by Vishal-Shekhar.
And after this 2009 unsuccessful run at the box office the famous tale went back to its original format of a book and is still being read by kids in India as well as all over the world with great interest.
(Thanks to Chris for informing about the film in 1965 and Prakash Wadhwani for the one released in 1978.)
The Arabian Tales, Aladin and his Magical Lamp, 100 years of Hindi Films, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Alladin and his Magical Lamp, Aladdin in Bollywood, Alladdin in Bollywood.
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