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Choot chukhe assir
by Pradeep Chennavajjuala

Choot chukhe assir, to badla hua zamana tha
Phool the, na chaman tha, na aashiyana tha
Pooch, ujre nasheman ki daastan na pooch
Yanhi chaman tha, ise pe aashiyan tha

old hindi cinema

(Having been released from the prison, he found a different world altogether. Do not ask me the story behind this devastation. It was the same desolate place, where a beautiful garden once existed).

What a beautiful creation Shayari is! Even agony can be articulated in a pleasing manner to others. The agony is at the plight of film industry in India. May be I am not alone in mourning the passing away of a glorious era. This melancholic effulgence is true, barring some exceptions, of a whole generation of the artists of the foregone era: the living legends of Indian cinema - whose sheer power of acting made us laugh and cry for decades together. With creativity being replaced by technology and art with vulgarity, they can only lament over the thematic degradation going on unabashedly in the film industry today.

The plight of current filmmakers struggling with the impoverishment of original ideas is sad. The so-called technical advancement of cinema has really killed the soul of Indian cinema, the music and lyrics as well. It has robbed us of our ability to experiment with ideas. Today, every second script is a poor copy of a Hollywood Hit.

There was a time when movie making was a passion. The likes of K Asif and Kamal Amrohi, who would not mind putting everything at stake to make a classic film are today few and far between. The whole concept of movie making has changed. The financer's wishes are of paramount significance. Moreover, with film production involving big money, the underworld has come to dominate.

And this article is to pay tribute to those legends, who had been instrumental in laying the foundation stones of the industry, which today boasts of being the biggest in the world. Obviously, they are a pale shadow of their glorious past, when they were at the pinnacle of popularity. They have always remained enigmatic for the public and their fans. A peep into the dimly lit, inner corners of their personal life certainly does not dispel the aura of mystique surrounding them. Still, it is an aesthetically satisfying experience to get to know what these legends and heartthrobs are doing now, and sharing some nostalgic moments with them.

Those were the times when the industry was young and so were they. Wish we knew where they are and what they are doing!

Those were the times, when distributors made it sure that the film has Johny Walker and at least one song sequence involving him to secure and ensure success of the film. Never in the history of Indian cinema did a comedian command such respect.

Badruddin Kazi from Indore, who was later rechristened as Johny Walker, after the famous whisky brand by his friend, philosopher, and guide Guru Datt. If not for Guru Datt Sahb, I would have remained a bus conductor and entertaining the passengers, quips he in an interview with one of the leading magazines. And this comedian, who enthralled the public with his inimitable style, today appears to be a serious man, seldom displaying a smile. Probably, it is the comedy of the yester years which was so genuine, unlike the artificial and slapstick comedy of the current years, that makes him smile.

Johny was perhaps one of the trendsetters whose performance made the statement loud and clear that a comedian can be indispensable for the success of a film. And the best thing is: he never compromised on quality and decorum. There was not a single cut by the censor board in any of the 300 movies.

Shammi Kapoor is one man in the industry who has always adapted himself to the new situations: be it in his new image of a flamboyant hero, a TV artist or that of a computer whiz. But computers is his greatest passion. His cry of Yahoo heralded the advent of a happy go lucky, fun loving hero. He was better recognized as the rebel star who challenged the reigning trio of Raj, Dilip, and Dev. The traditional charming serene hero was transformed into a boisterous hunk. His charged performance broke the convention of the organized heroes of the 50s and his performance came as a whiff of fresh breeze.

Dance was Shammi Kapoor's forte, and it was in this that he excelled from his peers. He is one of the first ones who established the fact that a dancing hero can also be a star. Before him, the jhatkas bhagwan dada were the only best examples of dancing. Also, the dances of their times were not choreographed to the one, two, three of the dance masters.

Pran is among those legends who are passionate about their work. He was intelligent enough to understand soon after the success of Yamla Jat (in which he played the role of villain) and not so good response to Khandan (where he played the role of a hero) that it was the throne of the villain that he had to capture. So much so that the name of Pran became synonymous with evil. He is among those few who have had a chance to work with the present day generation too.

Now the question is will we have the same yester years… may be not. The truth is that there are some basic flaws in the current cinema and it is difficult for the people of the old school of thought to adjust; but then it has to do with the degeneration of the society as a whole. Let's hope that the future is always bright.

Cinema… oh cinema…. I am only reminded of one of the best lyrics from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

Ajab Hai ishq yara, pol do pal ki khushiyan,
Gam ke khazane milte hain phir, milti hain tanhayian,
Khabie aasoon, khabhi aahen, khabi shikwe, khabie nale
Tera chehra nazar aaye, tera chehra nazar aaye
Mujhe din ke ujaalon mein teri yaaden tadapayen

Mujhko saza di pyaar ki, aisa kya gunah kiya
Toh lut gaye, hum lut gaye there pyaar mein……

About the author: Pradeep Chennavajjuala works with an Internet company and is an avid movie buff

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