Bollywood is the biggest film industry in India.Hindi films have always dominated Indian Cinema both in terms of investment and entertainment quotient.Hindi films are popular throughout India and people of all other Indian languages, have always shown a great fancy for Hindi films because of their exquisite quality of output.Even four decades ago, when the Indian film industry suffered from financial constraints it was the Hindi production houses that would venture to move out of India for shooting scenes abroad. Competitive zeal and commercial viability have ever remained the positive factors of Hindi Cinema.
My enthusiasm has not been that strong as far as Hindi films are concerned.I would have watched only about a score of Hindi movies during my entire span of film watching, spread over a period of five decades. Whereas, I would have viewed not less than one thousand movies on the whole.It was my elder brother who first introduced me to Hindi Cinema.He took me [when I was a boy of fifteen years] to a local theater to watch the film 'Mere Mehboob' starring Rajendrakumar and Sadhana. That was a clean movie narrating the beautiful story of a guy in love with a girl whose face he had not seen because her face was always hidden in the traditional burkha .Though it was a pain to watch a film without knowing its language,the over all impact of the movie could be felt by tracing the missing link through a process of imagination and logic of coherence.Besides,it was a matter of pride those days, to tell friends that one had seen an English or Hindi film ,So it was an exciting experience to begin with.
I stood again indebted to my brother for taking me to two more Hindi films 'Love in Tokyo' starred by Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh and 'An Evening in Paris' with Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore leading the show.Both these films were of the extraordinary category, because, they were completely shot abroad.For people who could not move out of their local town to see the rest of the zones of their own state or country, this was an amazing opportunity, to see counties that they would hardly be able to visit in their life.That too, for a throw away price.The movies were enjoyed and talked about .The enjoyment was greater when they were talked about, than when they were watched .It gained more friends to talk to and talk about Hindi films.The circle of friends got widened, because, the eligibility criterion was reached.
I became fledged, to fly to theaters on my own, and watch Hindi films of my own choice.Meanwhile, a friend and colleague of mine, began to inspire me more in this new direction.The way he talked about Hindi stars and directors, was of an enlightening kind. He would talk endlessly of Sanjeev Kumar,Shatrughun Sinha and villain actors like Pran,Prem Chopra,Premnath and so on.He was not only my friend but also my 'philosopher and guide' in telling me which movies were worth watching and he would do that only after careful reviews of movies.He was a voracious reader of magazines too and he would tell beforehand which movies would be box office hits and which would be dampeners.His knowledge of the production houses was so erudite, that I decided to blindly follow his movie path.
Both of us would frequent theaters nearer to his brother's house for a night show, so that we could easily adjourn to the nearby sleep spot, get up early the next day and report to work.We saw 'Sachai' of Sanjjev kumar and Shammi Kapoor and 'Jugnu' of Darmendra. Our next visit was to see 'Johnny Mera Naam' the famous DevAanth movie, directed by his brother. I was introduced to Hemamalini on screen for the first time.The subtle acting dimension of .Dev Anand was again watched in his' Hare Rama Hare Krishna'. Then came the historic love story 'Bobby' produced by Raj Kappor and acted by his son Rishi with Dimple Kapadia. I saw it three times, after watching it first with my friend. This was immediately followed by 'Yadhon Ki Baarat', the racy revenge film. Both these movies were silver jubilee hits,even in my small town.
My theater trips with my well informed friend, continued to benefit me with a few more fascinating films like Shammi Kappor's [and Rajesh Khanna in a brief role] 'Andaaz', Rajesh Khanna's 'Aaradana', and Sasi Kappor's 'Aa Gale Lag Ja',' and 'Sharmilee'. Later, 'Sholay',with Amjad Khan as villain Gabbar Singh, created a new opening for demonstration of villainy. Amitab and Sanjeev Kumar played magnificent roles as brave men, defying a gang of outlaws. 'Zanjeer' showed Amitab, as a hero in a very sober mood, with the fire of revenge burning from with in.The same Amitab came in a different appearance in 'Abimaan', as a singer with innate jealousy towards his wife Jeya, for overtaking him in his musical career.
Though I am temperamentally made for the action stuff in films, once a way, I enjoyed taking a dip in the stream of clean cinema. 'Abimaan' and 'Chhoti Si Baat' [Starring Amol Paleker] were such sweet aberrations. In between,my friend and I were also drawn to the local theater that screened only Hindi movies to watch Manoj Kumar's 'Shor' and 'Roti Kapda Aur Makkaan' and .I think the last Hindi movie I saw with my friend was, Raj Kapoor's 'Mera Naam Joker'.Listening to the songs of Mukesh ['Jeena yahan marna yahan' and 'Jane kahan Gaye woh dhin'] in that film, would any time bring to one's memory the love- lorn face of Raj Kapoor with the underlying tragic element, penetrating deep into our heart and piercing it with the pang of agony that this fantastic romantic hero displayed on screen. One could not help watching this lengthy movie, though it was painful to see sorrow laden Raj perform as a clown,hiding his personal moments of despair.It should be added here, that the voice of Mukesh seemed to fit into the larynx of Raj Kappor as naturally as the colourful icing sugar on cakes.
Music has ever remained the most vital factor for popularizing Hindi cinema among Non-Hindi speaking regions.Hindi film songs with their varied rhythms mixing Hindustani notes intricately, with those of the Western genre of music, never failed to reach the Indian ears as a whole, making even people who have no love for music,whisper the tunes once a way.The stentorian voice of Mohammed Rafi, the mellifluous voice of Mukesh and Mannade,the ever juvenile singing style of kishore Kumar, the vibrant song numbers of Mahendra Gapoor, the soul making melodies of Latha Mankeshkar and the titillating voice of Asha Bhosle are the immortal treasures of Indian music.Who will not be drawn to Hindi music and who will fail to watch Hindi films at least for their musical component?
The last Hindi movie that I saw at the theater was the Amitab starring 'Amar Akbar Anthony' .The small town where I lived had only two theaters releasing Hindi Movies.Both the theaters stopped releasing Hindi films for want of patronage.In the mean time the speed and action levels of Tamil films turned highly competitive winning the support of the audience besides the fact that except metropolitan cities,the smaller towns began to think that releasing movies of one's own region was commercially more viable than screening films of other languages.Moreover,the hit movies in one language soon got dubbed or remade in other languages.
However, I chanced to see on the small screen,Anil Kapoor's 'Mr.India'.Later during one of my visits abroad,my son took me to watch movies like Sharukh Khan's 'Chak De India' Aamir Khan's'Three Idiots', and Danny Boyle's'Slum Dog Millionnaire'.All these movies were of very high quality and two of them ['Mr.India' and 'Three Idiots'] were remade in Tamil.
My intermittent trips to Hindi cinema running through a time span of nearly two decades, made me see Darmendra as an action hero to the stature of MGR in Tami and Sanjeev Kumar with the acting stuff of Sivaji Ganeasan. Rajendra Kumar and Rajesh Kanna appeared to be alike for me, not only in their looks but also in their depiction of romantic moods.I used to equate them with the Tamil romantic hero Gemini Ganesan. Amitab to me, was always a portrait of grandeur, not only in his height but also in his acting range As a towering hero, he has been the sum total of Rajinikanth and Kamalahasan in Tamil . Shammi Kapoor was the embodiment of juvenile energy and gusto and I used to see his gesticulations particularly his dancing movements,in our actors Ravichandren and Jaishankar. Sasikapoor and Dev Anand resembled each other at times in their looks and most often in their acting style.To me, they appeared to be under the histrionic influence of some Western actors under whose inspiration they would have groomed their acting pattern.
The macho element seemed to reflect itself more predominantly in Satruhun Sinha [not that he was one among the very few Hindi heroes sporting a moustache ] Dharmendra,Sanjeev Kumar and Amitab, much more than in other heroes, those days. Raj Kappor was the softest soul, whose monumental romantic stuff was found a little bit in our[ late ] Murali in terms of demonstration of emotional sufferings caused by unrequited love. Vijay Arora whom I saw only in 'Yadon ki Baraat' seemed to me, a bubbly romantic actor full of juvenile charm and I could find his chubby cheeks in our present day Tamil actor Abbas.
Among Hindi villains,I could see M.N.Nambiar in Pran,S.A.Asokan in Premnath, R.S.Manohar in Ajit and Prem Chopra appeared to be a combination of Nambiar and Asokan. But all the Hindi Villain actors were stylish prototypes with a subtle inheritance of the stuff of villainy from English films.Among the character actors,Ashokumar, Iftikher and Omprakash attracted my imagination .As far as actresses were concerned, most of the Hindi heroines were more open to the acceptance of glamour exhibitionism than their South Indian counterparts. Hemamalini was a symbol of feminine grace and charm, Asha Parekh,was bolder in appearance and character delineation and Sharmila Tagore was an edifice of glamour and mellowed performance as seen in Aradhana. Rakhee was a model of feminine courage and Jeya Badhuri was fit for meek but firm roles as we saw later in Sujatha and Revathi of Tamil films. Moushmi Chatterjee's smile was ever a treat to watch.
This nostalgic reverie of my brief time with Hindi cinema,has pointedly recalled memories of some best Hindi films I saw, and the happy time I spent with my brother and with one of my intimate friends.These memories are not alarm bells but chosen ring tones.Besides, these are just a few drops, of the oceanic volume of the dynamic Hindi movie world. They are capable of percolating into my imagination for eternally enchanting, rewinding sessions .Their numbers may not be big but their impact is.