Mr. India (1987)

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Some artists are such masters at their craft and leave such a lasting impression that they become part of our lives. Through their work  (songs/films) they comfort us when we feel down and out. Sometimes when you feel all alone and nobody is there anymore to be with you in difficult times, these artists, through their work, comfort you and give you hope. They see you through difficult times and you come to see them as  “your own”. They become like friends. And one of such artists passes away it seems like we have lost one of our best friends, one of our own.

Sridevi was such an actress for me. February 24th 2018 was the day “The Devi” passed away just aged 54 years old leaving avoid in our lives but leaving behind a great legacy -her films. Today I will write about one of my 2 most favourite Sridevi films (the other being “Lamhe”) – Mr. India.

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Boney Kapoor (left) was a producer (son of producer Surinder Kapoor) who had produced the film  “Hum Paanch” (1980 – Mithun Chakrevotry, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval, Raj Babbar, Nasseerudin Shah, Gulshan Grover and Amrish Puri) which was a moderate hit. He followed that up with “Woh 7 Din” (1983- Anil Kapoor, Nasseerudin Shah and Padmini Kolhapure)  which was a surprise hit and gave little brother Anil Kapoor his first hit as a lead. So when the “Mr. India” project came to him after Amitabh Bachchan could not do the movie, he signed little brother Anil Kapoor for the title role and the nr. 1 actress of that time – Sridevi-  for the role of Seema. The film would be directed by Shekhar Kapur.

 

Shekar Kapur (right) was a unsuccessful actor who became a director who made the succesful film “Masoom” (1983 – Nasseerudin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Jugal Hansraj, Urmila Matondkar). Today Shekhar Kapur is a director from India who has also won an Oscar. But in India he just made 2 films. There were a lot of movies Shekhar Kapur was making but he left all of them incomplete when he left for Hollywood. Films like “Joshilaay” (1989- Sridevi, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Shehshadri), “Barsaat” (1995- Bobby Deol, Twinkle Khanna), the unreleased and incomplete  “Time Machine” (based on “Back To The Future” with Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandon, Nasseerudin Shah, Rekha and Vijay Anand) and “Dushmani” (1995- Sunny Deol, Jackie Schroff, Manisha Koirala). But today he is remembered for one of the most modern day classics from The Hindi Film Industry- “Mr. India”.

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The idea for  “Mr. India” was actually for an Amitabh Bachchan film. But for some reasons Amitabh was not able to do the role. I must confess, though I am an Amitabh Bachchan bhakt, Anil Kapoor did a damn good job in the movie and I can not see any other actor  (from that generation or this one)  doing the role except for Anil Kapoor. Though I do wonder if Aby would have done the role how it would have been.

 

 

One of the many, many highlights of “Mr. India” are the many kids in the movie. Some of them would go on to (try to) make a career in the Hindi Film Industry (I hate the word “Bollywood”) such as Karan Nath (son of Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shirodkar and Ranjeeta Kaur’s manager Rakesh Nath), Ahmed Khan (the kid that dances well in the movie would go on to become a choreographer and director himself), Aftab Shivdesani (who would go on to try to make it as a leading man) and the girl who stole our hearts as Tina- Huzaan Khodaji. I really feel bad that she did not make any more movies!

 

 

The film has a bunch of actors in supporting roles who we already knew or who would go on to make a name for themselves later on in their careers. The villains in the movie were straight out of a comic and each and every member from the supporting cast did well in their roles. My favourite from the supporting cast are Ashok Kumar (for obvious reasons) and Sharat Saxena and Bob Christo for their portrayal.

 

 

“Mr. India” is the last movie which’s script is credited as “written by Salim-Javed” – the best screenplaywriters ever in Hindi Cinema. When they separated the script had not been written yet. The idea of the movie was just what they had. The actual script of the movie was written by Javed Akhtar. Satish Kaushik (who also plays “Calender” in the movie)  was an assistant director on the movie as well. An assistant to Shekhar Kapur. Satish would go on to direct several other movies and would do many comedy roles in movies  (most notably those comedy roles with Govinda).

 

 

Anil Kapoor did a great job as  “Arun bhaiya” and “Mr. India”. Though when the movie was released and declared a super blockbuster he was ridiculed as he was invisible for half of the film and the success was credited to Sridevi. Some people even said the film should have been titles “Miss India” as Sridevi made the film the succes it became. Here i must say that what Anil Kapoor did here takes guts. You know you will be invisible for half the movie and you know Sridevi her role will be talked about and still he gave a sincere performance. Hats off Mr. Kapoor.

“Mogambo Khush Huwa”- who can forget Amrish Puri in the role of Mogambo!  After Gabbar Singh in Sholay I think the best villain ever in Hindi Cinema (and once again credited to Salim-Javed!).

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Legend has it that the role of Mogambo was originally to be done by Anupam Kher (who I think is a bit overrated as an actor). Thank God the role went to Amrish Puri because let’s be honest: Is there anyone who can imagine any other actor then Amrish Puri in this role? Hell NO!!

 

 

The music of “Mr. India” was by Laxmikant-Pyarelal who gave an outstanding soundtrack for this movie. Kishore Kumar sang the songs for Anil Kapoor and Alisha Chinoi and Kavita Krishnamurthy were the voice of Sridevi. Kavit Krishnamurthy would go on to become the screenvoice for Sridevi in many films after this movie including “Chaalbaaz” (1989- Sridevi, Rajnikanth and Sunny Deol). Funny story about how this actually happened. The song  “Hawa Hawaii” was supposed to be sung by Asha Bhonsle. But when the song was to be recorded she was out of town. So the song was recorded in the voice of Kavita Krishnamurthy with the intention of dubbing her lines by Asha Bhonsle when she would return. But Kavita Krishnamurthy sang the song sooo good that the producer and music directors released this version because even Asha Bhonsle would not be able to better her version. And so her song was retained on the soundtrack and it was this song that became the breakthrough for Kavita Krishnamurty!  ps. This song would be recreated and picturised on all of  Vidya Balan  and once again I was livid – another classic f@#^$% up! Nobody can better Sridevi and Kavita Krishnamurthy so why even try? I just don;t get it!

A thing that left me baffled was that the sad version of the Kishore Kumar song  “Zindagi Ki Yehi Reet Hai” was sung By Mohd. Aziz. I just could not understand why when the master himself was still alive…

Better judgment prevailed when I saw the movie because the sad version was also sung by Kishore Kumar  (which was not on the first released cassette but was on the released lp of the movie)  and that version sung by Kishore Kumar was used in the final print of the movie.

After her song in Jaanbaaz  (1986- Sridevi in a special appearance, Feroz Khan, Anil Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Rekha and Mukesh Khanna) “Har Kisiko Nahin Milta” “Mr. India” had another song that would become a benchmark in “classy seduction songs” this one sung by Kishore Kumar and Alisha Chinoi.

The are movies you like when you see them but when you see them after a couple of years it’s a different movie because the film doesn’t age well. It does not hold up. “Mr. India” is not one of those. This film still holds up and can be watched by every generation over and over again!

To pay my humble tribute to Sridevi I dedicated my radioshow “YAADEIN- A walk Through Memory Lane” (which is broadcast on SunriseFM every Sunday 10PM Netherlands, 6PM Surinam, and every Mondaymorning 2.30AM IST) of Sunday 4th March to my all time favourite actress.

For those who are interested in the show (which was in Hindi) here is the link to the show. If you listen feel free to leave all your feedback and remarks in the comments section:

 

I aslo made a list of my Top 10 SRIDEVI films on IMDB. Here is the link to that list.

http://www.imdb.com/list/ls023787233/

Don’t forget to join our facebook group “GEET SANGEET”.

 

hawa hawaii

You will be missed Sridevi. Thank you for all the movies and the great memories associated with these movies.

When Jhanvi’s movie “Dhadak” will be released I will watch it first day, first show pure out of love and respect for Sridevi!

 

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Sholay (1975)

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So when I started writing this blog it took me all of my willpower NOT to start with “Sholay”. But recently I spoke to 2 persons who confessed not to have seen the movie ever. This prompted me to write about the “greatest film ever made”

There are all kind of films where ever films are made. You have cringe-worthy movies, super bad movies, bad movies, average movies, good movies and evergreen movies. And then you have  “Sholay”.  Sholay is -according to me and many others-  the best movie ever made (in India). “Sholay” is the most remade, the most admired and the most referenced movie ever to have been made in the Hindi Film Industry. Books have been written about  “Sholay”, thesis have been written and studies have been done to try to find out what made “Sholay” the movie it is. Whatever the outcome one fact remains: “Sholay” was, is and will remain the best of the best and think about the following: Whenever a top 10 list is made “Sholay” is on the list. Be it a list about action films, love stories, comedy films, the best on-screen pairing, songs that became an anthem… whatever the case “Sholay” will feature on the list.

There are too many facts and stories about “Sholay” to include in a simple blog like this. But I will give you my opinion about “the greatest movie ever made” with some facts and stories thrown in for fun. For all the people who have lived under a rock for the last 43 years and have not heard of or may not have seen  “Sholay” beware that this blog has been written assuming that everyone – from the elderly to unborn babies- have seen “Sholay” at least once in their lifetime.

 

G.P. Sippy was a producer who produced 22 films in a time span of 46 years. He started out with producing films like “Sazaa” (1951- Dev Anand with the evergreen song  “Tum Na Jane Kis Jahaan Mein”), 12 O’Clock (1958- Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt) ,Raaz (1967- which introduced Rajesh Khanna and Babita- the morher of Karishma and Kareena Kapoor) and “Brahmachari” ( Shammi Kapoor, Rajshree, Mumtaz, Pran, Jr. Mahmood and Sachin). Though everything would change with the movie that would release after “Brahmachari”.

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Ramesh Sippy – who was the son of G.P. Sippy- was learning the ropes on the films produced by his father. He had been the assistant director on some movies and was the executive producer on “Brahmachari”.  He would finally go on to make his directing debut with a film that would release in 1971 and that would make him a hit director with his first film. It was also with this film that he would work with the writers duo that would become not only an integral part of his success but who would also become an integral part of Hindi Cinema…

Ramesh Sippy would go on to direct some movies which would be all different in genre but would all become a benchmark for those genres: Andaz (1971- Shammi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Simmi Garewal, Ajit and Rajesh Khanna in the first special appearance for a superstar) would be the first collaboration of Ramesh Sippy and the leading lady who would feature in some of his best work -Hema Malini. “Seeta aur Geeta” (1971- Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar) , Shaan (1980- Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Parveen Babi, Raakhee Gulzar, Shatrughan Sinha, Kulbhushan Karbanda, Bindiya Goswami and Mazhar Khan), “Shakti” (1982 – an underrated masterpiece with Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Smita Patil, Raakhee Gulzar, Amrish Puri and an unknown Anil Kapoor), “Saagar” (1985- Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Hassan and Dimple Kapadia- who would go topless for this movie) followed. After these movies the magic disappeared and movies like “Bhrashtachar” (1989 – Rajnikant, Rekha, Mithun Chakrevotry and Shilpa Shirodkar in her debut movie), “Akayla” (1991 – Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Scroff, Meenakshi Shehshadri, Aditya Pancholi and Amrita Singh) and finally “Zamaana Deewana” (1995 – Shatrughan Sinha, Jeetendra, Raveena Tandon and Shah Rukh Khan) would follow and would all flop.

Ramesh Sippy would also be the only director to have another casting coup after bringing Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar together for the first and only time in “Shakti”. He started a movie with Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit as the two leading ladies. This movie  “Zameen” also featured Rajnikant, Vinod Khanna and Sanjay Dutt. The movie started and shooting progressed. But due to lack of funds the movie was shelved and never completed. But Sridevi- my all time favourite actress along with Madhubala-  and Madhuri Dixit did shoot for the movie together and even shot for a song together.

One movie made by Ramesh Sippy though has not been mentioned yet…

The casting of  “Sholay” could be subject to an entire book. When the film was to be started Sanjeev Kumar -who eventually played the Thakur- wanted to play the role of Veeru (since he was in love with Hema Malini and after “Seeta aur Geeta” wanted another opportunity to be her leading man). Dharemendra -who eventually BECAME Veeru wanted to play the role of  the Thakur. Amitabh Bachchan initially wanted to play the role of Gabbar Singh. Ramesh Sippy went to Dharmendra who was “silently” in love with Hema Malini (and it was common knowledge that Sanjeev Kumar was in love with Hema Malini as well) and told him that if he plays the Thakur Ramesh will give the role of Veeru to Sanjeev Kumar and Sanjeev would be able to romance Hema on-screen. Better judgement prevailed and Dharmendra accepted the role of Veeru. Sanjeev had no choice but to accept the role of the Thakur. Hema Malini was always there as Basanti. No second option was even considered. Jaya Bhaduri-Bachchan was cast as the widowed daughter in law of Thakur- Radha. Two more roles were to be cast: Jai and Gabbar Singh.

For the role of Jai Shatrughan Sinha was considered. And Danny Denzongpa was considered for the role of Gabbar Singh. Amitabh Bachchan however who really wanted the role of Jai approached Dharmendra and requested him to recommend him to the director. Dharmendra -who is all heart and emotion- could not say no to Bachchan and not knowing that his friend Shatrughan Sinha was considered for the role recommended him to Ramesh Sippy. But that was not enough to persuade Ramesh Sippy. Two others would have a big hand in the decision.

Danny Denzonpa was considered for the role of Gabbar Singh and was even offered the role. But Danny had just signed to play a role in Feroz Khan’s take on  “The Godfather” which had a big cast as well (though not so big as “Sholay”) and his dates for shooting which were required for ‘Sholay” had already been alloted to Feroz Khan for his  “Dharmatma”. The principled gentleman that Danny is he turned down the role of Gabbar Singh. And once again those 2 gentleman came to the rescue…

Salim-Javed were at the top of their game at that time. It seemed that every script they wrote turned into gold. They started as writers for G.P. Sippy films but didn’t get credit for films like “Haathi Mere Saathi” (1971- Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja). But they went on to turn out hit after hit including Ramesh Sippy’s own  “Seeta aur Geeta”. And when they intervened with suggestions those suggestions were taken seriously as the past proved that they were right, not most of the time, but all the time in those days. Salim-Javed had in the meantime created the role of the angry young man and had made Prakash Mehra cast Amitabh Bachchan in “Zanjeer” 1973. Salim – Javed insisted (though “zanjeer” had not been released yet when “Sholay” started and Amitabh Bachchan had not yet become the God of Hindi Cinema) that Amitabh Bachchan be taken for the role of Jai and so happened. Salim ( who by the way is the father of current superstar Salman Khan) had seen Amjad Khan in a play many years ago and was impressed and had not forgotten him. Amjad Khan’s name was suggested and eventually he ended up doing the role. There are some other stories regarding Amjad Khan and Sholay like how he was disillusioned with Salim Khan later on and never worked in another Salim-Javed script which we will not get into in this blog.

As far as I know “Sholay” might be the only movie of which each and every character is remembered (and quoted in our daily lives) and loved. Who can forget Asrani as the “angrezon ke zamane ke jailor -HA HA” who would reprise this role in two other films (in one of these films he would see Amitabh en Dharmendra -a clip would be used from the song  “Ek Rasta Do Rahi” from the movie “Ram Balram”- and it would be mentioned that those two were the sons of Jai and Veeru).  Jagdeep as  “Soorma Bhopali” who would eventually make an entire movie with this character in the lead, A.K. Hangal as the “chacha” , Sachin, Viju Khote as  “Kaalia” and who will ever be able to forget McMohan as Sambha!?

The dialogues of this film are one of the many highlights. And the writers have seen to it that each and every character have dialogues that stand out. I am not going to quote any dialogues here but the dialogues are used even today in our daily lives. Though I must confess -and this is not because I am the biggest Amitabh fan on the planet-  Amitabh has the best lines because I can identify with his sarcasm filled humor.

Now for the main star cast:

Each and every member of the main cast gave an outstanding performance and it is impossible to visualize any other actor in any of the roles. Sanjeev Kumar as the ex police officer intent on revenge is bang on. Hema Malini as Basanti  “jinko fuzool baat karni ke aadat nahin” is so great it is still etched in our memory and even today when a girl talks too much we call the girl Basanti. Amjad Khan, what can be said about him as Gabbar that has not been said or written before. Amjad Khan is remembered till this date for his superb portrayal and he would go on to reprise this role in the spoof  “Ramgarh ke Sholay” which had imitators of heroes in the lead. The actress who is not usually credited with the sublime work she has done in this movie is Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan. The way she emotes without actually saying anything is a masterclass in acting. You feel her pain and feel for her.

In the following clip which is the death scene of Jai you get to see a masterclass in Hindi Cinema by director Ramesh Sippy, music composer R.D. Burman and actors Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan. The scene itself is emotional but the song composed by R.D. Burman takes it to another level. The direction by Ramesh Sippy is nothing less then genius. But the performances by Jaya and Sanjeev are superb. Jaya emotes without saying a word (like for most of the movie)  and Sanjeev wants to comfort his widowed daughter in love who was going to be married to the deceased Amitabh Bachchan but he can’t even comfort her as his arms have been chopped off. Masterful!

I have mentioned all the supporting actors in the movie as well as the main leads except for one:

What can one say about the greatest actor to have ever graced the Indian Screen? For the younger generation who only knows The Great Bachchan from his father roles in those Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan movies… watch this and anyone will understand why we love, admire and respect Amitabh Bachchan the way we do. And some people like me just worship him. There has never been anyone like him before him and, hell, there will never be anyone remotely like him again. No matter how hard people try. Some actors may try to remake his films like “Don”, “Zanjeer” or “Agneepath” and these movies maybe technically more advanced then the Bachchan versions but these remakes lack in one thing when compared to the original: AMITABH BACHCHAN.

Everyone I spoke to and all articles I have read question one aspect of the movie: did Jai have to die? I wish Jai did not die in the movie. Since I know he will die, whenever I watch the movie and the train comes in at the beginning and the title music starts to play, I start getting emotional knowing Jai will sacrifice himself at the end. I realise that the death of Jai gives the film an extra emotional graph that is needed near the ending of the movie, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have minded it that much if Veeru would have sacrificed himself. There is no other actor who could have pulled of this role with that sarcastic humor except for Amitabh Bachchan.

The tracks of  “Sholay” and the sublime theme music have been composed by R.D. Burman who was the house composer for Ramesh Sippy. Noteworthy is that for Ramesh Sippy films “Seeta aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Shakti” and “Saagar” a great theme music was composed by R.D. Burman. The songs sung by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar and R.D. Burman himself were all hits but not that big a hit as the dialogues. The Anand Bakshi written songs are remembered even today. Even today when we think of a song on friendship the songs that comes to mind at once is  “Yeh Dosti Hum Nahin Todenge”. There is one song which was not used in the film which was sung by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Bhupindra Singh and lyricist Anand Bakshi.

“Sholay” was the first film for which records were released  (and sold out!) containing the dialogues of the movie.

There are 3 versions of “Sholay doing the rounds :

01. The theatrical version as the film was first released in cinema’s.

02. The version with the alternate ending. This was initially supposed to be the ending and was filmed first by Ramesh Sippy.  The censor board (even in those days!) rejected the ending and wanted it re-shot.

03. The extended edition with some extra scenes including scenes of Sachin’s character and Gabbar Singh, a few seconds extra of Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan and a shot of Amitabh Bachchan before he is cremated and an extended scene (just a few seconds) of Amitabh and Jaya.

This is not the only Amitabh Bachchan film which has two different endings. There is another ’70s film which has two different endings doing the rounds. In one ending Amitabh dies in that movie and in the other ending he survives. And that movie stars Sanjeev Kumar as well. But that is for another post!

Do you like behind the scene stories about movies, movies till those from the 90’s or those film songs when hindi film songs were actually any good? Then tune in to SunriseFM every Sunday 10PM (Netherlands), 5PM (Suriname), 4PM (New York), 9PM (London) and Monday 2.30AM (IST) for my radioshow  “YAADEIN- A Walk Through Memory Lane. You can tune in to the show on SunriseFM through the cable (if you live in The Netherlands). Otherwise you can listen to the show through Tunein, The Sunrisefm app or online : http://www.sunrisefm.nl

And don’t forget to become a member of our Facebook community “GEET SANGEET”

 

Sholay (1975)

produced by G.P. Sippy

directed by Ramesh Sippy

music by Rahul Dev Burman

lyrics by Anand Bakshi

singers Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, R.D. Burman, Bhupinder and Anand Bakshi

cast Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, Amjad Khan, Asrani, Jagdeep, Keshto Mukherjee, Viju Khote, Sachin, A.K. Hangal, McMohan, Om ShivPuri and others

Sholay -Jai & Veeru