Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How Saeed Jaffery’s dream of acting with legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray was fulfilled!

LUNCHBOX actress Nimrat Kaur in her tweet has paid an excellent tribute to the gem of an actor Saeed Jaffery when she wrote - “Never met Mr Saeed Jaffrey outside of all the amazing men he brought alive on screen... a class actor. ‘Heavens’ are in great company today...”

Truly the ‘Heavens’ must have bowed down to Saeed Jaffery and spread a red carpet to welcome the legendary actor who gave ‘Asian’ actors respectability in the West and opened doors for others Asian actors to display their skill in the Western World of Art and Theatre.

Saeed Jaffrey, who began his tryst with Western Theater in the mid 50’s, is regarded as the ‘First Asian’ actors to make an impact in the West with his acting genius when he was accepted by the world renowned Shakespeare Company. Later he had the prestigious of performing at the Broadway Theatre, where he appeared in the 1958 adaptation of a PASSAGE TO INDIA.

Later the actor mesmerized the West working with celebrated Hollywood filmmakers like David Lean, Richard Attenborough, James Ivory, John Houston and brought pride to India by becoming the First Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to drama, a rare feat achieved by an Indian.

In India he aspired to work with the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray and even communicated several times urging him to give an opportunity but Satyajit Ray was known for selecting ideal actors for his characters and when he made SHATRANJ KE KHILADI, he did gave him a chance.

Recalling the experience Saeed Jaffrey, in a candid confession once said, “I always cherished to work with Satyajit Ray, ever since I was bowled over by his Bengali classic film PATHER PANCHALI.”

He informs, “Once I happened to meet him in person at the Beirut Airport in 1972. Fortunately we shared the same Air India flight and I was delighted when he recognized me and applauded my work.”

“Seizing the golden opportunity I requested him to cast me in one of his films. He nodded but later there was no reply. I kept reminding him until four years later in 1976, one day, I was surprised to receive his call asking me to come to India. I was elated and rushed,” he recalls.

His performance of the royal Nawab opposite the great Sanjeev Kumar in the film SHATRANJ KE KHILADI won him rave reviews and even fetched him the prestigious Filmfare Best Supporting actor award.

After this it opened a flood gates of roles in Bollywood that ranged with top notch directors of Bollywood like Raj Kapoor (RAM TERI GANGA MAILI), Sai Paranjpye (CHASHME BUDDOOR), Shekhar Kapoor (MASOOM), Yash Chopra (MASHAAL), Ramesh Sippy (SAGAAR), Rakesh Roshan (KHUDGARZ) etc.

Raaga.Com pays our humble tribute to the actor par excellence and pray his soul rest in peace in Heaven!

Music video glorifying Narendra Modi by film censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani draws flaks

A music video Mera Desh Hai Mahan, Mera Desh Hai Jawan (My country is great and young) glorifying the achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has drawn strong criticism from many film veterans and the society.

The video being played countrywide at cinema halls during interval of the Salman Khan’s hit FILM PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO is made by Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Pahlaj Nihalani and is looked upon by many as a mere flattery to appease Narendra Modi!

It may be noted that Pahlaj Nihalani is known to be a BJP and Narendra Modi ‘Bhakt’ (Devotee) and has been responsible for making the video Har Har Modi, Ghar Ghar Modi during the last year’s general election, which fetched Modi a thumping victory.

Hence his opponents allege due to his favor he was awarded the Chairperson post of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and now it is rumored that since BJP has lost shamelessly in Bihar and Delhi, hence Nihalani has yet again made a video to give a boost to Narendra Modi’s fading image and a thumps to BJP.

However the video is being dubbed as “an obscene form of flattery” by some within the film industry.

Eminent film wizard Shyam Benegal sarcastically flaking Chairperson of the CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani said, “Isn’t the Information & Broadcasting Ministry supposed to take care of the publicity of the Prime Minister and the government? The censor board’s chairperson is doing that!” Mukesh Bhatt, filmmaker and President of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India too condemned the video. In his statement he said, “How blatant, obscene and jarring can this get? There has to be at least some sanctity of the chair a person holds.”

Amitabh Bachchan urges to take lessons from Indian cinema which has always preached communal harmony!

Tu hindu banega na musalmaan banegaa

insaan ki aulaad hai insaan banega

(You’ll become neither Hindu nor Muslim

You are the child of a human; you’ll become a human)

This song from Yash Chopra’s hit film DHOOL KA PHOOL captures the essence of Indian cinema, where religion, caste and hatred has no place and all live in harmony.

Amitabh Bachchan, who inaugurated the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), in his speech, emphasized on this core value of Indian cinema, in connection to the growing intolerance in the country. He said, “Since the inception Indian cinema has preached communal harmony and brotherhood through its movies.”

He added, “Today when the nation has gone haywire and cultures are being questioned and prejudices against communities dividing the world I think it is important to take lessons of equality and cultural diversity from Indian movies.”

Recalling Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Where the Mind Is without Fear’ Bachchan called upon to remember the lines:

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments; By narrow domestic walls…. thus signifying that ‘Mother India’s love is unconditional for every citizen and holding together India’s diversity and the spirit of equality is our duty.”

Though the nation may have got carried away by the communal hatred speeches of fundamentalist leaders and politicians but Indian cinema has never lost its roots.

Be it Bollywood or regional cinema a look at Indian movies reveals that Indian filmmakers have always abided by Tagore’s vision of a united and secular India.

Hence the lead character in most films may be Hindu but he is always supported by a loyal friend, mostly a Muslim, who is ready to sacrifice his life for his Hindu friend.

Remember the devoted Pathan, Amjad Ali Khan (Played by Shah Rukh Khan) in Kamal Hassan’s HEY RAM (2000) who sacrifices his life to save Hindus on the eve of the Partition of India, 1947 or Sher Khan (Played by Pran) in ZANJEER (1973), who comes to the rescue of his friend Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) or the emotional character of the blind Rahim Chacha (Played by A.K.Hangal), in SHOLAY (1975) who instead of shedding tears on the death of his young and only son calls upon the villagers to fight the dreaded dacoit Gabbar Singh.

In nutshell the nation really seeks to take lesson on communal harmony and brotherhood from films as suggested by Mr. Bachchan.