Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bimal Roy ‘Monarch Of Indian Filmmakers’ - PART II

In the last issue you read about the making of Bimal Roy’s debut Bengali film UDAYER PATHEY (1944) and the storm it created in Indian cinema for its unique style of film making. 

Today I take the readers to Bimal Roy’s second film DO BIGHA ZAMEEN (Two Acres of Land) that established him as the film maker par excellence. The movie not only won him rave reviews but made him India’s First filmmaker to win the prestigious Prix International, Cannes Film Festival (1954) and a special Prize for Social Progress, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Besides these international awards ‘DO BIGHA ZAMIN’ has the additional distinction of being one of the first Indian films to win awards and accolades in China, UK, USSR, Venice and Melbourne.

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In addition Bimal Roy won the National Award (All India Certificate of Merit for Best Feature Film for DO BIGHA ZAMEEN and the popular Filmfare Award too as Best Film and Best Director. 

The highlight of DO BIGHA ZAMEEN is that Bimal Roy has beautifully merged the elements of art and commercial cinema to create a movie that is still viewed as a benchmark among filmmakers who wish to make intelligent cinema. 

Prior to Bimal Roy the film industry was divided into art cinema with filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mirnal Sen and others made a realistic movies exposing the poverty and social issues. Though these movies were applauded by the critics for their realism and social comment yet they were discarded by film buffs as they were dull and dreary. On the other hand some filmmakers like Mehboob Khan, Raj Kapoor and other made commercial cinema with songs, dance and entertainment. Though these movies were applauded by the movie buffs they lacked social issues. 

However Bimal Roy invented a new kind of cinema which was amalgamation of art and commercial cinema. Bimal Roy knew that Cinema is a form of entertainment but is also a tool to reach out to millions of people with a comment. Hence in his movies he made an attempt to combine entertainment along with social message. 

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Thus in DO BIGHA ZAMEEN, Bimal Roy tackled the sensitive issue of the exploitation of Indian famers who in lure of few rupees were made to give away their land to the zamindars, who built factories on their land and churned money without realizing the fact they were throttling farming industry. 

DO BIGHA ZAMIN, cannot be complete without mention the superlative performance of its lead actor, Balraj Sahani, who played the protagonist Shambhus, who is forced to sell his land. 

Balraj Sahani, was an obscure actor struggling at IPTA. But with DO BIGHA ZAMIN he became an actor to reckon. To get into the skin of rickshaw puller’s character Balraj Sahni had interacted with a lot of poor rickshaw pullers and used rehearse pulling a rickshaw on the streets of Calcutta. 

DO BIGHA ZAMIN was released in 1953 when India was witnessing an Industrial revolution and Indian farmers were becoming victims of landlord. However today in 2014 the movie is still relevant because even today our farmers are in the same agony, instead of landlords; the builders lobby is exploiting them. 

Note: In the next issue read about Bimal Roy’s other great milestone DEVDAS


‘Mohanam’ is one raagam which is very famous in the Tamil film industry. Wondering why we are saying that? Well, its easy structure and carefully placed arohana and avarohana gives a lot of scope for exploration and has infact helped musc directors bring out the best tracks. For any classical music student, they will know the value of the wonderful varnam – ‘Ninnukori’. But any lover of music will be able to associate with the song ‘Ninnukori varnam varnam..Isaithida ennai thedi varanam varanam’ sung by Chitra for the movie Agni Natchathrm. It is not a surprise that this wonderful track was given to us by none other than the maestro Illayaraja himself.

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Another beautiful number in the same raagam that everyone would have definitely heard of is the song from Ullasaparavaigal sung by S.JanakiNaan Undan’. This song was appreciated not only for the beautiful lyrics but also for the wonderful composition by itself that it is. Talking abput S.Janaki amma, one more song strikes us in the same raagam which is ‘naan oru’ for which even S.P.Balasubramaniam and P.Susheela have lent their voices. This track is from the movie Kannil theriyum Kadaigal. Not very famous as a song but definitely a good listen for all the music lovers.

This ragam if adopted as a base raagam offers countless opportunities to expand and bring in another raagam easily into it, thus making it a raaga that composers prefer. Many must have heard the song ‘Poovil Vand’ from the movie Kaadal Oviyam, sung by S.P.B. Another famous track of S.P.B in Mohanam is the song ‘Tohai ilamayil’from the movie Payanagal. Not many are aware of this, but the song ‘Vaan pole vannam’ from the movie Salangai oli, which ofcourse is a very famous song is also based in this raaga.

Bimal Roy ‘Monarch Of Indian Filmmakers’ - PART I

Just as thespian Dilip Kumar’s name shall remain embossed in golden letters in the annals of Indian Cinema as the actor par excellence likewise film legend Bimal Roy’s name shall always sparkle for giving Indian cinema a new definition and taking Indian cinema to international level. July 12 marks the legendary filmmaker’s birth anniversary who gave us classic movies like DO BIGHA ZAMEEN (1953), PARINEETA (1953), DEVDAS (1955), MADHUMATI (1958), SUJATA (1959), AND BANDINI (1963).

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Raaga.Com salutes Bimal Roy, the greatest of all the filmmaker and enlightens the younger generation why Bimal Roy is regarded as the Monarch of Indian Filmmakers. 

In an era when Indian Cinema was in its cradle, a young and dynamic filmmaker from Bengal made a Bengali movie UDAYER PATHEY (Towards the dawn), made in 1944. The movie was a hard hitting social comment against class discrimination. The movie created a revolution in Indian cinema because for the first time a filmmaker dared to move out from the run of the mill routine love stories or mythological dramas that ruled the roost. The movie daringly exposed the class differences between the rich and poor. 

UDAYER PATHEY was Bimal Roy, directorial debut in Bengal Cinema for Calcutta’s New Theatres. The highlight of the movie was that it was not only made on a shoe string budget but the movie is perhaps India’s first movie that dwelt with sheer realism in Indian Cinema for the first time with such details. The film is a celluloid masterpiece that introduced sophisticated camerawork and unique camera treatment. It eradicated the theatrical style of acting and ushered in Natural Acting. Interestingly UDAYER PATHEY that was made on smallest budget actually became the New Theatres Studio’s biggest earner and opened floodgates for Bimal Roy. 

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Bimal Roy was born into a landholding family in Dacca in East Bengal of pre independence India on 12 July 1909. His father was a zamindar but soon after his death, he and his family was thrown out from the estate by the corrupt the estate manager. Thus left with no option Bimal Roy was compelled to leave his estate and migrate to Calcutta (Presently called Kolkata).

Life was arduous. He was moved by the wretched plight his family and of other migrants. He was furious against the society that had created the division of rich and the poor. It was his this rage and his close observance of melancholy and gloom that he portrayed in his first movie UDAYER PATHEY so realistically that made the international cinema to take a look at his work. 

Note: In the next issue read about DO BIGHA ZAMEEN and his hold in Bollywood

Untold Tale Of Debut Failures Of ‘Kapoor Khandan’

Armaan Jain, the new Kapoor scion deserves kudos for keeping the ‘Kapoor Flag’ flying high. Readers may wonder have I gone crazy for praising Armaan Jain because his debut movie LEKAR HUM DEEWANA DIL, directed by Arif Ali has been declared a complete washout at the box office by trade pundits. So how come Armaan Jain bring pride to the illustrious Kapoor Khandan? 

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Well a keen look down the debuts of Kapoor Khandan will reveal what I mean. Beginning with Armaan Jain’s grandfather, Raj Kapoor, the great Showman of Bollywood to his last cousin Ranbir Kapoor, considered as the new raising superstar of Bollywood, the entire Kapoor Khandaan has had a disastrous debut. If you don’t believe read on the exclusive research made by Raaga.Com 

The Kapoor Khandan consists of Prithviraj Kapoor, who became immortal as King Akbar in MUGHAL E AZAM. He too started with a flop CINEMA GIRL (Silent Movie) in 1929, his first movie as lead hero. Later with Alexander the Great in Sohrab Modi's Sikandar (1941) he became a star. 

His three famous sons were Raj Kapoor , Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.

Raj Kapoor made his debut as a hero in Kidar Sharma’s movie NEEL KAMAL in 1947 opposite Madhubala, who too was introduced by Sharma. But the movie failed and Raj Kapoor had to continue struggle until his home production BARSAT became hit. 

Shammi Kapoor made his debut with JEEVAN JYOTI in the year 1953 opposite Chand Usmani. The movie was directed by Mahesh Kaul and was a huge flop. Shammi Kapoor won stardom after filmmaker Nasir Hussain gave him a changeover of a modern avatar in TUMSA NAHIN DEKHA (1957)

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Shashi Kapoor made his debut as child star in his elder brother Raj Kapoor’s movie AAG (1948) but the movie was a failure. As a leading hero Shashi Kapoor was introduced by B.R.Chopra in his movie DHARMPUTRA 1961 opposite Indrani Mukherjee. The movie won National Award as Best Feature Film in Hindi but was a flop at box-office. Shashi won stardom JAB JAB PHOOL KHILE (1965).

The second generation starts with Raj Kapoor’s son’s viz. Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor

Interestingly Randhir Kapoor made his acting and directorial debut with KAL AAJ AUR KAL (1971) but despite being produced under R.K.Banner, the movie was a flop. Randhir Kapoor became a star with RAAMPUR KA LAKSHMAN.

Rishi Kapoor made his debut as a child star in R.K.Banner’s most ambitious film MERA NAAM JOKER and yet again, though Rishi Kapoor won Best Child Star National Award, the movie was a super duper flop. Later with BOBBY he became a star. 

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Rajiv Kapoor, Raj Kapoor youngest son made his debut with EK JAAN HAI HUM (1983) opposite new actress Divya Rana. The movie was a failure and later with RAM TERI GANGA MAILI he became a star. 

Likewise Shashi Kapoor’s two sons Karan KapFoor with SULTANAT (1986) and Kunal Kapoor (AHISTA ASHITA) failed to click. Shashi Kapoor’s daughter Sanjana Kapoor too failed to click with HERO HIRALAL (1988) opposite Naseerudin Shah

The third generation saw Randhir Kapoor’s daughter Kareena Kapoor making flop debut with J.P Dutt’s REFUGEE( 2000) and Rishi Kapoor’s son Ranbir Kapoor making a disastrous flop in Sanjay Leela Bhansali SAAWARIYA (2007). 

Thus a close look into the debuts of Kapoor Khandan reveals that except Karishma Kapoor who made her debut with PREM QAIDI in 1991, none of the Kapoors have been a success in their debut movies!