Saturday, May 7, 2011
Director V.Shantaram and his classic films
Looking back, I started taking a mentionable interest in films and film music from the middle of the 50s after our family got settled down at Kozhikode in 1954. Prior to that my cinema experience was confined to seeing a rare Malayalam film in the company of my parents. Proximity to theatres, friends who talked about films, availability of news paper at home, opportunity to read magazines like FilmIndia, Screen, Filmfare, Illustrated Weekly, Sports and Pastime etc. in the Central Library and other reading rooms and the chance to listen to the radio ( Not at home.We got a radio,UMS P3, only in 1960) all helped in kindling an interest in films and film music. Besides the film reviews by 'Cinic', 'Kozhikodan' etc. in Mathrubhumi Weekly were read and discussed with keen interest .
A distinct memory about those days was the film 'Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje' (1955) directed by V. Shantaram with dancer Gopi Krishna and Sandhya in the lead roles.The film had won the Filmfare award for the best film and best direction and art direction and was getting rave reviews in the press . The hand painted, printed posters of the film had appeared all over the walls days before its release in Kozhikode and the beautiful songs tuned by Vasant Desai could be heard on Radio Ceylon and Binaca Geetmala.The title song,' jhanak jhanak payal baje' sung by Khan Saheb Amir Khan and chorus and the duet(Lata, Hemant Kumar)'Nain so nain' and another duet(Lata, Manna Dey) were huge hits.The film, in colour, and based on the theme of dancing(mainly Kathak) was a visual treat and what remained firmly in my mind about the film was the sight of dancers spinning, like tops, on their toes and then striking a pose!! The LP record of the songs was released in 1982. The hand painted picture of the dancer(Sandhya) can be seen on the jacket of the LP record.
Shantaram became a highly rated director and film maker and he followed up with the internationally acclaimed film,' Do Ankhen Barah Haath' which won the National Award and the Silver Bear Award at the 8th Berlin International Film festival. The film dealt with the concept of open jail and showed the protagonist( Jailor) played by Shantaram himself taking a few hardened criminals from the closed prison to the open jail and reforming them and rehabilitating them as normal human beings. He was ably assisted in the task by his romantic interest played by Sandhya.Two scenes from the film are still in my mind. One, the prisoners singing the bhajan,'Yeh Maalik Tere Bande Hum' and Sandhya playing a small fiddle singing the song,'Saiyan jhooton ka bada sartaj nikhla' and dragging a toy drum tied to her dress. Both songs by Lata and tuned by Vasant Desai were very popular those days.
Another highly acclaimed film, NAVRANG, again based on the theme of dance and music, with Mahipal and Sandhya in the lead roles was released in 1959. The beautiful music by C.Ramachandra was the highlight of the film.Singer Mahendra Kapur had three songs, two duets with Asha and a solo,viz."Shamal shamal baran', komal komal charan'.The duet 'Aadha hai chandama raat aadhi' has many admirers even today.
V. Shantaron who had founded the Prabhat Pictures and later Rajkamal Kalamandir went on to make many more films under this banner. Subah ka Tara, Stree, Sehra,Toofan aur Diya, Geet Gaya Patheron ne, Mousi are some of them. V.Shantarm became an icon of Indian film industry and a household name among film goers, and was conferred with Dada Saheb Phalke Award in i985 and the Padmavibhushion in 1902. The gramophone Co. of India Ltd. had come out with an outstanding LP record titled,'Musical Highlights from Rajkamal Kalamandir', offering some of the best known songs from his films. The lilting duet of Lata and Talat,' Chamka chamka subhah ka tara' (Subhah ka Tara) and the soulful Talat song ,'Woh zalim pyar kya jaane'(Parchhain) both tuned by C.Ramachandra are there in this album to make it a collector's item. In fact C.Ramachandra and Vasant Desai were his favourite music directors though in his later films like 'Sehra' and 'Geet Gaya Patheron ne' music was done by Ramlal.
PS.Please click on the images for zooming.