It all started in the early 90s when Amitabh Bachchan announced his retirement from the industry and pandemonium of sort, yeah that’s the right, albeit fancy terminology used by trade magazines in the 90s.
I remember having a file filled with the cutting of Bachchan posters solos and with actresses, ranging from Sridevi to Madhuri Dixit, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Raveena Tandon. A pack of two rupees Bachchan postcards, cassettes-one favorite was Amitabh Dhamaka lost and renting VCR watching Jhumma Chumma show in London and posters adorning my room. It all started with my Bachchan adulation and fanboy moment.
The first movie I watched of AB may be hard to recall and remember Dad taking me for Mard, Mein Azaad Hoon, the superhit Shahenshah, Khuda Gawah and even Insaaniyat for that matter. A confession to make and as mentioned earlier, I discovered troves of Amitabh Bachchan quite late in the 90s and it’s not that I didn’t watch much during the earlier days, yet my curiosity and enthusiasm weren’t dampened. Rather got more curious when he announced his famous five-year sabbatical, the time I discovered his older movies, absolutely drooling over Don, Deewar, Shahenshah, Hum, Aakhri Raasta, and Agneepath, which I may have watched dozen times or innumerable.
I can write a volume of books on my Amitabh Bachchan fascination and it’s something personal on how he has shaped a generation of fans with maar dhar. The entry scene in Hum was absolutely epic and speak about Tigerism when Tiger Shroff was perhaps a toddler. Such was the love affair. Of course, meeting him was a dream come true. So what, it was a blink-and-miss with three such fanboy moments, once when he visited for the shooting of Hum with a mammoth crowd, jumping the barrier to approach the dais to be lathi-charged by cops when the man himself chided the cops, to shake the hands of kids personally. I now understand how tough it was for him yet that didn’t prevent him to bring a smile on the faces of innocent kids, or Bade Miyan Chote Miyan running after him for an autograph or another time at a cinema theater scampering down the stairs, almost falling down to give him a greeting card I got at a shop down the road, in time to scribble with a pen. I had no camera yet no means to capture the Kodak movement.
The numerous prized possessions would be stealing coins from Dad’s pocket to get magazines like Movie, Showtime, Cineblitz-they featured an interview of Shweta Bachchan from Boston speaking on her Dad-and Filmfare with many cutouts adorning my file coupled with his only album Aby Baby with the famous Eer Bir Phatte.
Thank you Mr. Bachchan for the priceless memories of a tough and unhappy childhood growing up in the 90s.
Amitabh Bachchan is a religion and the Greek God reigning supreme at the box office and acting throne. He is beyond numbers and cutting across generations. October 11 is a festival for Bachchan fans and dialogues capturing the hearts, souls and minds reverberating throughout, “Hum Bhi woh hai jo kissi ke peeche nahin khade hota hai…jahan hum Khade hai line wohi se shuru hota hai” and the iconic, “Rishtey mein hum tumhare Baap Lagte hai Naam Hai Shahenshah” taking a nation by storm.
The years of yore where Amitabh Bachchan was the One man industry and scripts written taken his persona into account, making it a fest of thoughts capturing the imagination. What makes Bachchan endearing after several years of enthralling hearts and tapping the pulses of Indians across the globe is the down-to-earth approach of not only turning acting into fine art but gently stroking every human as the common hero wearing vulnerability on his sleeve.
Every October 11, I spend the day doing nothing and watching his films, recreating those moments where today re-discovered Satte Pe Satta and Cheeni Kum. The Bachchan memories and the dialogues, signature dance moves and kicks give a shiver down the spine. The hero worship nurtured over the years and Bachchan is one of the reasons I am such a die-hard passionate fan of cinema, in the role he played in my life, inspiring me when everything goes for a toss. I simply grew up on his films and lapping everything Bachchan, going back to his movies when I wasn’t even born, the time he took a break from cinema, discovering classics like Zanjeer, Deewar, Don, Sharabi, Sholay and Agneepath or Shahenshah are films watched dozen times.
Bachchan rose like a Phoenix, the time when Emergency was declared in India and the hero that would rose against the system, the commoner giving reason to believe in the age of rebellion, giving birth to the angry young man. He was the Marxist hero and giving people a reason to dream in an economic system of revolution, angst and rebellion age, someone to identify with to make the wrongs right.
I have an amazing collection of his posters, newspapers cutting and postcards so much that I mouthed the favorite dialogues in front of the mirror. In the college days in Pune, I mouthed one of his dialogues at our hang out, Kimaya in front of a crowd and drunk on his star power that friends started calling me Bachchan in college. I earned this sobriquet. No one ever called me Vishal. My number was saved as Bachchan on handsets. This name was christened by a friend who passed away. Amitabh Bachchan has had such a growing influence on my life and heartbeat pumping at the mention of the superstar so much that the moment I heard he was shooting for Viruddh in Pune, all hell broke loose and became restless to get a sight of his, skipping lectures.
Unfortunately, couldn’t see him and waited in the scorching sea for an entire day among the bustling crowd. No sign of the superstar. It’s another story that I was able to shake his hand as a kid when he was shooting for Hum and once met him briefly, gave him a birthday card at an event. The crazy things that I do as a die-hard Bachchan fan.
Fans are irrational beings and defying all human logic. One could see him in us and making our dreams come true on celluloid. Cinema has always been Amitabh Bachchan for me, the man who creates pandemonium in the hearts of zillions. The Bachchan era brought immense happiness where every movie was celebrated and even the bad movies were justified for he is Amitabh Bachchan, the towering screen presence and baritone voice giving hope to millions, where no dream was left untouched and he cannot go wrong. Such was the sheer magic!
The kind of energy he shows at this age sometimes puts me to shame. Like I said earlier when limit dawns upon me, the first thought crossing my head is if Amit Ji can do it at this age, why can’t I? I remember during the acute depression phase, I reached out to a friend who is a therapist and she gave the example of Amitabh Bachchan, saying just imagine you are performing on the stage and Amitabh Bachchan is sitting to watch you. You are tensed and your body language is limited. Imagine you are Bachchan watching yourself and what advice would give to the self, on the wrongs and set to improve.
As a patient, I was reluctant but the moment Gayu put me in the shoes of AB, my attitude changed and became more open to growing as a person. Such is the Bachchan aura and working like magic on the brain. One moment I will always cherish and the role played by the favorite superstar in my life.
There is a Bachchan in each one of us fans and depends on the twist, defining this enigma in our lives, making him good, sensitive, good, bad or evil conquering demons to make us stay alive. Movies will always be Amitabh Bachchan and the man making us dream cinema and entertainment, imagination to be him, dressed in his style or getting a speck in his style or modeling my hair after him. My crazy confessions, right! He was the middle-class hero and common hero, after whom women never run or the hysteric female following. No wonder, many of us identify with him after so many years on how to emerge victorious, conquering the odds to stand tall. Don’t we say Groove like Bachchan!
Amitabh Bachchan’s movies are a celebration of life. I still get goosebumps watching a new release, waiting in anticipation and with bated breath where one can’t dare to afford missing any single movie, the royalty he injects in performances. The heydays may be over but the aura and star power have stayed intact, untouched by the power of social media or OTT viewing. The relatability factor makes him stay relevant in today’s life where cinema is shaped by digital media and career choices to trust new and young directors, exploring new subjects as an actor. It’s something that we should learn from him and the constant reinvention to be on top of his game.
I would love to see him being part of OTT and he hit the small screen with Yudh in the past that may have missed the bull’s eye but would be a mistake staying away from the big thing like Netflix, Zee 5 or Prime. Bachchan defied gravity time and again by rising like the Phoenix after successive backs, right from resurrecting himself post the ABCL debacle and huge debts. It’s a huge lesson to corporates and B schools on how to turn failure into success. Amitabh Bachchan is human. He made the wrong choices but stopped, took a breath, before taking one step at a time, which is a huge lesson for all of us.
Stars may come and go. It’s a mistake comparing to the established stars for Amitabh Bachchan belongs to an era that can never be emulated. He is beyond comparison and how much we may well choose to ignore his achievements and phenomenal star power, the sheer madness of standing in a queue, seethis and taalis flung on screen. Nobody can ever match his steps or his shoes too big to be filled.
Amitabh Bachchan, Vikram Gokhale and Sayali Sanjeev
Produced by : Akshay Bardapurkar PlanetMarathi
Co-Produced by Golden Ratio Films & KVR Productions along with @Krishna Persaud.
Directed by Milind Lele
Cinematography: Suresh Deshmane
Music by Ashish Mujumdar & Mayuresh Satish Pai
Cinema needs not to be didactic for nuanced art or aesthetic sensibility and commercial fares knows no boundary or language as we celebrate joy delivered to millions. Particularly in a country like India where we breathe cinema and the modicum of expressions to entertain as what it takes often is a leap of faith and belief as a giant step is straddled.
Planet Marathi was incepted a couple of years ago and one may well argue that it has hit the marquee with its big-ticket production AB Aani CD with the casting coup of sort and stellar cast where two legends are crossing each other’s path. Who can forget Vijay Dinanath Chauhan and Inspector Gaitonde in Agneepath in the early 90s? History is repeating itself with the power-packed combo of Amitabh Bachchan and Vikram Gokhale in the same frame. The film that will hit the theatres this year whose storyline is AB shall meet his friend CD is produced by Akshay Bardapurkar and Planet Marathi in collaboration with Golden Ratio Films, KVR Productions and presented by Krishna Persaud, helmed by director Milind Lele.
AB Aani CD also stars Marathi sensation Sayali Sanjeev, Subodh Bhave and Pushkar Shrotri among a bevy of names wading. Over the years, Marathi cinema has been eponymous with success and quality where it is highly significant that AB Aani CD poster was launched at Lalbaug Cha Raja during the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities. Does it get bigger than that?
For producer Akshay Bardapurkar, the fact that the poster was unveiled at the feet of Labaugcha Raja during the festivities is a blessing and since then, it has created ripples among cinema lovers. “The audience will be swept off their feet with wholesome entertainment and take home sweet memories of the film staying with them after they leave theatres watching this all-out entertainer, light comedy that will connect with them at every level,” he says.
The man behind Planet Marathi avers, “The film has been fun-filled with emotional quotient making a wholesome entertainment package where Marathi cinema is already showing its credibility by being rich in content. Today, what we need is good packaging and presentation to make it run parallel to Hindi cinema.”
The film is already creating buzz not restricted to the first poster but the sea of talented people, believing in and associated with the product. Soumya Vilekar is one of the producers and having made her mark in poetry, literature, writing and science, she terms her journey laden with growth, rich and highly evolving. “Having had a stint in production and regional cinema, Ab aani CD is very close to the heart and holds a special place since we all worked together for a smooth and perfect execution,” she says.
For Soumya, regional cinema has a long way to go and convinced that with the kind of rich content blended with tailor-made packaging and promotion, it’s only a matter of time that the Marathi film industry will churn a string of blockbusters.
One has to agree that Marathi cinema has never gone bigger with AB aani CD boasting of such a stellar cast. Does it herald into a huge change altering the destiny of cinema forever?
“Being a complete and perfect package offering entertainment from the entire cast to the music, we hope the film will alter the destiny of Marathi cinema content-wise, promotion and marketing to strike a chord with the entire Marathi audience across the globe.”
Being an ambitious project, AB aani CD is the debut production of Planet Marathi considered huge and coming of age in India which is very special to Akshay Bardapurkur. He cannot contain his excitement as the film hits the floors. “I have been involved in another Marathi production earlier but this film holds a special place in my heart starring two of the biggest actors of Bollywood and Marathi cinema which is the biggest ever thing to happen. It is an overwhelming feeling to kick start production with the legend Amitabh Bachchan,” he beams.
The film has everything under one roof for everyone cutting across ages, all generations adding masala and zing to it. Soumya Vilekar tells, “Veterans like Big B and Vikram Gokhale lends value, experience and weight to the characters played in the film while Sayali Sanjiv is a fresh face adding innocence and freshness making it a lively experience on celluloid.
Sayali Sanjeev is an extremely likable, effervescent and confident young actress who made her marks on the small screen and particularly Marathi soap opera Kahe Diya Pardes’ ‘Gulmohar’ and Hindi TV serial ‘Perfect Pati’.
The young actress beams with excitement on sharing screen presence with the two stalwarts. She beams: “I never dreamt of working with Amitabh Bachchan and Vikram Gokhale despite having a small role in the film. Vikram Kaka (Gokhale) is a veteran in Marathi cinema and been a huge learning experience just by observing him perform. I occasionally sat behind the camera during his scenes and observed a lot when he gave shots.”
“Its destiny calling to be part of working with Amit Sir (Amitabh Bachchan) and never in my wildest dreams would think to work with him for it’s beyond expectations and dreams. I consider myself fortunate to be part of an Amitabh Bachchan starrer and still cannot recover, thinking whether it’s an illusion and feels like a dream. Seeing him perform is such a great opportunity to witness. The kind of energy and dedication he injects in his work and on sets is beyond imagination. What an inspiration Amit Sir is! As young actors, if we are able to learn or achieve one percent of what he does, we shall reach new heights,” Sayali doles praise on the legend.
What looks like a pie-in-the-sky has turned into reality for Sayali who can’t recover on her stars shining working with Amitabh Bachchan. She narrates: “One afternoon, I was chilling and saw the news announcing AB aani Cd with Amit Ji doing a Marathi film. Would you believe it that I was wondering and secretly wishing how great that I could be part of such a huge project? Call it Karma or coincidence when I got a call for the film.”
She is at the crossroad of her career at the time of doing serials and movies when the film landed on her lap. Sayali calls it a turning point where AB aani CD has become special to her heart. She muses: “Although I don’t have any direct or much scenes with Amit Sir but being part of such a project with the legend is a huge achievement in itself. The perspective and behavior of people changes and they start respecting you when they hear that you are a part of such an extraordinary project.”
For Sayali, the film has brought lots of responsibilities on her shoulders and the new actors being part of it. It will be path-breaking and offering lots of opportunity and qualities in terms of a benchmark in the Marathi film industry for those wishing to be part of the process will surely find a place under the sun, she says.
Sayali can’t help praising Marathi cinema. “The aesthetic present in Marathi cinema is not only path-breaking but rich and inspiring. I honestly feel we should be more close to it, work with more dedication to take such cinema to reach escalating heights and spread its rich culture and legacy. Values and essence of great content have always been a huge part of Marathi cinema which shall prevail as the responsibility falls on young actors to preserve its richness and legacy.”
The young actor is all thanks to the entire team of Planet Marathi, Akshay Bardapurkar and the cast of AB aani CD saying she was selected on the 11th hour. “Each and everyone has shown tremendous faith and trust in my work where I am confident and hope in living up to the expectations,” Sayali tells.
Already, Gayatrri Chittre, Associate Producer and handling PR and other activities for Planet Marathi and under Planet Talent says: “There are talented young artists ushering in the industry who can revolutionize change in Marathi films.”
Marathi Cinema is coming of age with AB Aani CD with Bachchan, Gokhale and Sayali in a dream project in the tinsel town coming true. The posters released earlier has already enthralled the audience where the cinema in regional language is destined to reach for the sky promising cracker and hogging the limelight as one of the biggest releases of the year, setting the box office on fire.
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Jimit Trivedi
Story: Saumya Joshi
Director: Umesh Shukla
Rating: 3.5 stars
A clean comedy and family entertainment seem to belong to another era in the current Hindi cinema that makes us reminisce about the Hrishikesh Mukherjee brand and the rare gems that delighted cinegoers. 102 Not Out seems to be not only inspired by Hrshida but also brings out together two of the brightest and biggest superstars on screen, Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor whose bromance lit the screen ablaze in the 80s giving us the biggest super-duper hits and high entertainment quotients of all times.
A film that reunites Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor on the screen after 27 years is sure to up the expectation quotient for the die-hard fans of the amazing actors who gave us memorable performances to cherish over time. The real icing on the cake is both superstars shining together as one whole team that lit the screen in simple and endearing acts playing father and son. It’s quite a task to make both Bachchan and Kapoor gelling so well and the sparkling chemistry helmed by Umesh Shukla where both play diametrically opposite characters to what they played in the past, remains one of the brightest spots.
First thing first, lambu-ji and chintu-ji played father and son for the first time after playing brothers in countless fares helmed by the maverick late Manmohan Desai. Second, a role reversal where in the past Rishi Kapoor played a happy-go-lucky dude and Bachchan the brooding fellow with a streak of fun but this time the angry young man becomes the funny dad with a joie-de-vivre while his counterpart dons a serious and old man in the house.
Bachchan as the 102-year-old Dattatraya Vakharia is first class and while some may weigh on overacting but the fact that at times the characters demand such a garrulous stroke play as a jolly good fellow but there are also scenes where he dons a subdued performance. He is simply fantastic played this loud and goofy grandfather that captures the hearts of admirers who would relate to him. Amitabh Bachchan is flawless, fantastic and to the point. Rishi Kapoor as Babulal proves why he is one of the most fantabulous actors who can go beyond the romantic lover boy typecast in the 80s. He plays one of the most challenging roles of his career and lives up to his character where he explodes in the climax. The best thing about the film is the teamwork and unblemished chemistry between Bachchan and Kapoor that overshadows the flaws in the script or film. Jimit Trivedi as Dhiru complements both superstars and adds heart-felt laughs in an innocent act.
The film carries an important lesson for being alive and aptly shows that age doesn’t matter. There is no time to fall in love, live life fully on one’s terms or be cheerful and joyful. Like the say, age is just a number rings true in this endearing, down-to-earth and feel-good comedy. There are many scenes that stand out, be it the hilarious scenes at the doctor’s clinic, love letter and father-son listening to old classic Hindi movie songs that express love and emotional warmth. Of course, the conditions of a trip in Mumbai, right from a visit to the church, to Marine Drive and distributing birthday cake to street children is helmed brilliantly by the director and shot to perfection.
The cinematography by Laxman Utkar, the production design of the aesthetically done mansion and Preetisheel Singh’s make-up and prosthetics of both senior actors deserve a huge mention that accompanies this feel-good movie. The opening credits showcasing the soul of Mumbai done in a super creative way and gels wells with the story and screenplay, taking the audience visualizing the city in current form.
On the flip side, 102 Not Out teaser showed the film as an all-out comedy fare but in the second half, it sinks a bit too much teary-eyed and at some point, the narrative tends to loosen its grip on the audience. Moreover, the lack of a fresh female lead is felt at times and it may well work against the film’s performance at the box office.
Saumya Joshi brings out a fresh and heartfelt story that reverberates with energy and stream of happiness that will touch a high note with the audience, showcasing the father-son bonding that captures the mind. Happiness is written all over the film. Of course, the Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor palatable chemistry raises the stock of 102 Not Out coupled with touching and funny dialogue at the same time. It’s the bromance of comeback that reminds us of the Manmohan Desai days of yore with a dash of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the 80s where both stars shone on screen. 102 Not Out is a film to watch during the weekend and munching the popcorn to enjoy a good laugh. Badumbaa!
At a time when we should be celebrating the achievements of women in society who battle against all odds in both urban India or rural countryside, it is a human tragedy that we are nurturing prejudices on something as natural as menstruation. Women cutting across social class face enormous discrimination when it comes to periods on the part of so-called learned religious scholars, families or obsolete patriarchal norms that reingineer guilt and shame to a unique human biological aspect.
R Balki’s Padman not only carries a powerful message to chuck out all prejudices about menstruation but also seek to educate the masses that there is no shame, guilt or ostracization for women to go through this cycle and in using sanitary pads. The film surprisingly starts at a slow pace but more than the narrative, it is the inherently strong message sent by the maker and the lead actors which successfully makes the cut. In short, the real star in Padman is the message conveyed to flush out social ostracization in celebrating a woman in her unique firm which makes the film a winner.
There is no denying the fact that in stark villages and even cities for that matter, women going through menstruation suffers a huge deal of discrimination and are regarded as dirty. Akshay Kumar plays the real-life hero, Arunachalam Muruganantham the man credited for making low-cost sanitary pads for women and quite surprisingly, the star underplays himself in this natural act and at no point, he tries to rise above the script. He slips easily into the role of the village bumpkin and large-hearted man with utmost ease shining in several scenes, helmed expertly by R Balki. As Lakshmikant Chauhan, Akshay Kumar portrays a sensitive man who loves his wife Gayatri dearly but is also sensitive to the cause of women.
I have always believed that among the young crop of actors, Radhika Apte is one of the finest we have in the Indian film industry and as Gayatri, she is simply terrific playing the conservative ‘village belle’ who is ashamed to use a healthy pad at the cost of her health because ‘auraton ke liye sabse badi beemari hai sharam.’ As Gayatri, Radhika lends credence to the character and dons the submissive, naive women to perfection who has one argument to thwart her husband’s effort, ‘You don’t interfere in women’s matters.’ Given that she has relatively few scenes in the movie, Radhika holds her own forte and sparkles in several emotional scenes and particularly the ones where she breaks down.
Sonam Kapoor makes an entry post-interval where she plays the modern, chic and urban Delhi girl with perfection injecting freshness in the film. She simply owns every frame in donning a character so close to what she probably is in real life and does full justice to it. Sonam gets the best lines and gives a fitting reply to Akshay Kumar in every scene. It’s her best performance after the hard-hitting and memorable Neerja. So many of us will be fida over Sonam.
Stand out scenes:
There are several stand out scenes in Padman, particularly the ones where Akshay Kumar speaking in an accent-laden with broken English during the UN speech in America or the instance when he explains the sanitary pad machine to visitors through both sign language and broken English. Secondly, the scene where he wears a pink female underwear, a risk that very few actors with his superstar status would be willing to take and attaching an animal blood pouch, not only touches hearts but packs a punch.
The romance between Akshay Kumar and Sonam Kapoor was unnecessary and hard to imagine someone of the calibre of R. Balki to indulge in such a cliche. It is not only forced but works against the film’s spirit. Of course, there are several moments in the narration which is slow and tedious, particularly the start and post interval moments that make the flick, at times, look like a documentary.
R. Balki’s Padman is an honest effort in portraying the sensitive issue of menstrual health and tackling shame or nurtured prejudices that women are subject to in our society. The director has successfully pulled all strings together in weaving the thought-provoking message, beautifully marrying reality and mass entertainment as well as extracting brilliant performances from its lead cast. Of course, the maker pays a fitting tribute to Amitabh Bachchan in the cameo where he not only plays himself but lends dignity and charm. The megastar is debonair personified. The cameo fits beautifully with the film’s theme. Padman is a must watch and should be lauded as a very honest effort in creating awareness, educate and break the taboo on this sensitive issue that afflicts women.
A self-confessed fanboy. I have no qualm in saying that Amitabh Bachchan is my pinned up poster-boy who adorns the wall. A huge collection of posters, postcards, magazine covers, books is what propelled me looping to the bookshop buying magazines or newspapers whenever he graces the cover. Of course, this file that has neatly been preserved over the years filled with Big B’s posters and newspaper cutting is quite something accumulated in the past. I still go for Bachchan on the magazine cover and next one will be the Filmfare Platinum Power issue.
While many of his contemporaries have hanged their boots, Bachchan is re-creating and making history at 75 as the new and cool 18 in town where he is all over the place, be it movies or entering our house with KBC or TV ads. Is there anything that this man cannot do or turn into gold? He puts relatively young people like me to shame with his terrific energy be it in his films, blogging everyday and social media or being physically all over the place. To imagine that he functions with 25 percent liver. Isn’t it admirable?
There are so much about him, be it immortalizing the screen name Vijay that it’s almost hard to fathom anyone else lending credence to this character even one or two decades later. The brooding and angry Vijay carved a place in our hearts so much that it clashed with the grey Vijay who fell in love with a girl old enough to be his daughter in Nishabd which was not a bad film in itself. I think there is a certain clash in the way the audience love and adorn their heroes giving them almost God-like status that can go against creative effort in cinema. Of course, I loved the Viju of Buddha Hoga Tera Bappa in the same way as the Vijay of Nishabad. Of course, my favorite Vijay remains the ones in Aakhri Raasta, Shakti, Don, Deewar, Shahenshah, and Agneepath.
Call me crazy but October 11 is a day that I religiously follow, bearing AB’s KBC tee that I bagged a decade back at the Colaba Causeway, tweeting the Big B and watching at least two of his movies on TV. I finished with Shahenshah in the afternoon which remains one of my favorite Bachchan film as a child and shall wrap up the day with Khuda Gawah or something else coming on cable. Honestly speaking, it is tough to assess the career of Bachchan the star and the actor or both on the role it played in my life. Ok! Let me try this one. I think the reason I am a crazy and passionate film buff dreaming of making at least a short film a day is Amit Sir. He is the ultimate reason that I watch Hindi movies like crazy and celebrating Hindi cinema that spurts in my mind like anything.
There is a considerable debate heralded by people telling how there was a disconnect with the times when he started his corporate venture ABCL that faced heavy losses. I’d disagree to argue that he has set the trend and today corporate have stormed in our movies and raking the moolah much the same way he took the biggest risk in his career by embracing TV that made him a household name that saw many of his contemporaries shy away from. First all, Bachchan introduced the corporate culture in the early 90s through his company ABCL and was ahead of the curve and times since he was convinced of the role that it would play in the future. Secondly, remember Asia TV that worked like crazy but unfortunately, it suffered in the long run because perhaps it wasn’t the right time to launch owing to the audience maturity and sensibility. Today, corporate culture is working on such a big scale in cinema.
Big B is a brand that has not only become increasingly reliable but powerful over time with equity pegged at hundreds of crores at the age of 75 and is beyond generation or time. Perhaps, the only character actor for whom roles are being written taking his personality in mind and in the same fashion or breadth as the main lead romancing the heroine. That’s the difference, here. The hero should kick the villain and get the girl. How do you call Big B? The mature hero transcending age or defying logic a bit like his characters in the heydays.
There are so many things that Big B can teach us in the way we do business or lead life. Be patient and go ahead with the times, never say no to experimenting with roles, risk-taking or turning the tables when the time is ripe. For sure, he can give several of the B-schools a run for their money. Of course, the buzz should be communicating with clients and in this case, audience through a down-to-earth approach and do not force marketing down the throat. Picture this, lock kiya jai or computer-ji as the buzz words of business and giving it mass appeal pretty much like his dialogues, jahan hum khade hote hai line wohi se shuru hota hai.
The stage where Bachchan no longer carries the burden of box office on his shoulder is the most exciting phase for any actor to experiment with a variety of roles and he performed brilliantly whether it’s Sarkar, The Last Lear, Black, Paa, Pink, Aks or Piku but I miss my favorites massy roles with the terrific hero ka dhamakedhar entry of kicking dozen villains. Call it cliché or illogical, I just don’t care. I love his entries in Deewar, Agneepath, Aaj Ka Arjun, Shahenshah or Hum. For me, Bachchan is the cleanly shaven guy.
As a die-hard fan, I hope that he was never in the frame of movies like RGV ki Aag, Department or Sarkar 3 but then the emperor cannot be flawless and it’s the sheer madness of cinema that drives stalwart to take wrong steps. It is surely not the end for I believe there are so many roles and myth-breaking experiences he can indulge into since whatever we have seen of him in recent times is very less of what he can achieve as an actor, pushing the bar higher. The man with the midas touch just needs directors and scriptwriter who understand his emotions to the hilt, his vision of cinema and of course, not star struck by the larger than life and enigmatic personality.
How many of you remember this entry of the camera panning on his shiny black shoes, trousers, shirt and close-up zooming on Bachchan’s face? A true fan will!
Debonair star, memorable strike of acting, spiritual man and down-to-earth cum relatable demeanor gliding on-screen, superstar Vinod Khanna was all that in delivering stupendous performances that makes him ‘Amar’. It came as a rude shock and very saddening to hear that one of the most loved stars of the 70s and 80s, perhaps the only one that could match the Amitabh Bachchan mania and histrionics breathed his last today.
I was introduced to the Vinod Khanna’s movies while growing in the late 80s and remembering watching his Jurm and Dayavaan that made me relate to the actor. He was the quintessential hero, effortless in his delivery of stupendous performances during the heydays and a charm that many would envy. It was bliss watching him serenading his love lady with a sensitive touch. Who can forget the song, Jab koi Baat Bighar Jaaye tab Koi mushkil Pad Jaaye? He belongs to an era that saw many of his pairs fading away and sad to see that after we lost Om Puri Saab, another light eclipsed today. He was Vinod Khanna. I loved his pairing with Amitabh Bachchan, be it in Naseeb, Amar Akbar Anthony or Parvarish. The aura and charm that he displayed was unparalleled and probably hard to emulate by the six packs and biceps flouting new millennial stars. He would wade his way effortlessly on-screen and calm composure in delivering lines made me in awe of this amazing star that rules the hearts of our parents and us.
Vinod Sir was quite the ladies man and his unique sex appeal vis-a-vis them made it his USP. A man who choose to leave Hindi cinema at the peak of his career to embrace spirituality. He was a follower of spiritual guru, Osho. It speaks a lot of his ability to disconnect, something very few could have done. A legacy that stays forever, beautifully captured in the acting histrionics on the big screen. I was so amazed by his portrayal of the gangster in Dayavan, making it sexier than ever that the film stayed with me forever. A huge risk taker, he didn’t shy in kissing the diva Madhuri Dixit in the film which was shot in an aesthetic manner. In the late 80s, kissing on-screen was still taboo. He was known to have a big heart and according to publications, film crew would work in chappals in those days and he bought 100 pairs of shoes for a film crew in the 90s.
There was a certain vulnerability behind that dashing look, a softness that wooed and won hearts. His sensitive portrayal of the romantic roles in Qurbani and Chandni, angry young man cum cop portrayal in AAA, Satyamev Jayate and Jurm, the teacher in Imtihan, army officer in Achanak, don in Dayavan and villain in Purab aur Pachim or bond of friendship in Muqaddar Ka Sikander, Hera Pheri and Khoon Pasina all with Bachchan. Both shared some crackling chemistry and were direct competitors and at the same time good friends who recited their dialogues together. It’s such a lesson to the current crop of actors when today arch rivals slug it out publicly in an ugly manner.
The charisma and magnetism in his personality spoke to the audience directly and one of the rare actors who had complete control over his character, dialogues, scene and audience alike. The aura is what makes Vinod Sir relatable to the hilt and watching his movies gives the feeling that your dreams are realized on screen. I could be one of the characters made so much believable by him and which he immortalized on the silver screen.
I remember a very elder cousin who was a huge Vinod Khanna fan and me being a die-hard Bachchanalia telling me how during the AAA, audience were split in opposite camps and in the fighting sequence, seethis and taalis were thrown when both superstars wriggled it out with fists. The fists and jabs were counted and fans cheered on who won the battle. It’s the iconic scene in AAA, helmed by Manmohan Desai when Bachchan and Khanna met for the first time.
Vinod Khanna was always a composed and gentle soul who believed no job is too big or small, abandoning everything to follow his Master Osho. It’s one thing that I have in common with Vinod Sir: Osho. He is a man who made a comeback as an actor who lost every penny and started from scratch in the 90s. The magic of the silver screen is that it captures live the histrionics of an artist who ruled for decades in the heart of admirers and swearing by cinema. The legacy be it as an artist, spiritual man or politician-cum Minister from Gurdaspur lives forever in our heart.
Perhaps, this sensitive song from Imtihan which is one of my favorite sums up when words fail. Ruk Jana nahin tu kabhie har ke….O Rahi o Rahi! A huge void and loss to the entire industry to see this polished diamond taking a bow.
Forever alive and taking a bow Vinod Sir for decades of love and entertainment. You shall be missed forever.
I have always felt a deep and strong connection with one of the best actresses that ever sashayed on the Indian silver screen, Smita Patil. Her looks, smoldering expressions and the raw intensity in her eyes haunts you and captures the heart. There was almost something about Smita-ji that stays forever. For me, she is and will always be a Goddess. And, to think, when she died I was very small. Having been born and brought in an Indian family outside the country, I remember that as a child once Dad took me to a concert when Amitabh Bachchan came to perform. He waded his way on the stage with tears in his eyes. I recalled or, like my Dad explained, that Bachchan said that he just got a bad news that one of his closest friends in the industry, Smita Patil, passed away after delivering a baby boy.
It’s a dichotomy that I watched the movies of Smita-ji after she passed away and whenever I think about her, read her impressive work or watch her, tears flow down the eyes. That’s the kind of cosmic bond I have with one of my favorite actresses. It doesn’t come as a surprise that I ordered Maithili Rao’s book Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence on this personality who is intriguing and soulful at the same time.
The author has provided a detailed insight and description on the life of Smita-ji, the heart of gold that everyone was attuned to and someone who remains unaffected with showbiz, her craze as a ‘biker woman’ and the huge body of work in a short span of time. In my world, she is a Mom, sister, friend and perhaps, we were connected in an earlier birth if something like this exist. She is a national phenomenon which the author has successfully unraveled in decoding Smita the person, daughter, and actress. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that as a reader and admirer, you are invited into her life and give the sense of interacting with the actor where Maithili Rao makes you a part of her existence. It feels that she never left us.
The book is divided into her Puneri roots, reluctance to move to Bombay and her movies described as ‘Her Dasavatars-her artistic outing and how she makes the leap into commercial cinema. The cherry on the cake is the different testimonies given by theater actress Vaishali, filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai’s love letter to his favorite actress, film critic Deepa Deosthalee on ‘Smita and Deepti Naval poem and Nandita Das heart felt letter, ‘Smi: The Sister I never met. It makes you choke with emotions. I did. I cried my heart out. In Smita Patil and her Dasavatars, Maithili Rao shared tit bits on the critically acclaimed Marathi movie, Mantham, Jait re Jait, Bhumika, Umbartha, Arth, Sagar Sarhadi’s Bazaar, Mandi or the commercial outings where she shared screen presence with Bachchan in Namak Halal and Shakti.
Smita-ji was in a hurry, tells the author who spoke about her questionable choice in mainstream cinema where the actor went on record to say the reason she is acting in them is because she wants her audience to grow bigger to her artistic outings. A Brief Incandescence is not just a book but a real-time experience in re-visiting to the past where there are interesting snippets on Smita-Ji being an unwanted child, her shift from Marathi medium to English, the Doordarshan newscaster who had such an impact on the viewers that Vinod Khanna would storm home to watch this newscaster that haunts or her passion as a biker woman. Yes! I bet that not many of us knew about it.
Born to a politician father Shivaji Rao Patil who served as Union Minister in Maharashtra, Smita-ji has done a lot of selfless work for the poor, in particular women but she is not known to push her way to reach the pinnacle of glory. It’s a rare insight on how Mahesh Bhatt pushed her to be selfish and competitive, two personality traits that never belonged to her. The author offers interesting insights on how she remained unaffected by showbiz where she would go out of her way to hug a spot boy on sets and would brush away the whole ‘I am a star’ kinda thing. Smita Patil was not known to be someone fettered by convention, whether in her choice of friends, films or personal relationships so much that when she constructed her house in Bandra, she wanted the construction workers to be her first guests. What a human tragedy that she wasn’t alive to see the sea-facing bungalow that she spent years in chosing the land or doing the house! The family fed the construction workers in the bungalow after she passed away.
The famous song Aaj Rapat Jaye in Namak Halal is something she abhorred doing and Amitabh Bachchan testified how she has complained about doing something she hates but completed it with some convincing by the supersta. Smita-ji nurtured a passion for photography and her shots were showcased by an IIT professor Trivedi who discovered the rare pictures that she clicked and screened, ‘Through The Eyes of Smita’ who was the new cinema icon and captured the dream girl Hema Malini in all her forms. Such is the power of the author Maithili Rao who makes us discover the real Smita Patil!
“She had full knowledge of what she was doing, how and when to open the lens, take out parts and reassemble them. I was surprised. I asked her, how do you know all this. Camera is my shaukh, she replied. If it is my passion, I will learn everything about it.”
The endearing and humane quality in Smita Patil is narrated by Arun Khopkar, “The stardom didn’t weigh heavy on her shoulders. Once she became a friend and you kept the trust, there was no change in the relationship. She has become a kind of role model for women in Maharashtra. Here, was a woman with no airs, whom you could directly approach. She was direct, she had no contamination…”
It’s hard. I mean, an uphill task to draw loopholes on a book that has been written so well, be it the choice of subtle language that captivates readers or the research to decode the person behind the book. Perhaps, the writer’s quest to justify art movies and discard from commercial ones where Smita’s choice of films are questioned. I think she knew what she was doing and her justification, ‘..was one way of enlarging the audience for art cinema once its actors become stars of mainstream films.’
The afterword by mentor, Shyam Benegal who penned a letter to Vidya tai (Vidyarao Patil), Smita-ji’s Mom in the form of a beautiful poem by Persian poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, best describes the actor and the person behind the frame. A Brief Incandescence: Smita Patil is not just a book but an experience in understanding your favorite actor that still haunts you decades after her death. She was an enigma. It’s a cinema guide where the author has laid bare the rich repertoire of work that Smita Patil has done over the years and details about her filmography is given.
Smita Patil is a phenomenon. Her mythical looks, eyes expressing sparkling fury and is one of the rarest actors who doesn’t need to deliver punching lines but the eyes did the talking. What is it about her that years after she is gone, she stays with you forever? Perhaps, a soulful experience and an enigma with a sixth sense who could get a feel about someone who was on the verge of meeting a near fatal experience read Bachchan. It’s a book that touched my inner soul and that will stay with me forever.
There hasn’t been anyone like Smita-ji and will never be. It comes as no surprise that since 1986, we haven’t had another Smita Patil. We will never have. I have decided to write her a letter every year on her birthday or death anniversary, perhaps my way to be closer to the gentle soul that she was. A healer in the truest sense. I always extend my gratitude to her.
The book shouldn’t be missed for Maithili Rao gives such as brilliant description and her words evoke emotions, building a vivid imagery of the star and the person behind the image. Smita Patil was destined to be in such short time.
Postscript: I got the book on December 13, this year and perhaps, it’s a strange sheer coincidence that it came on her death anniversary.
It’s becoming a painful process to retrieve events in my memory box in an orderly fashion between 2004 and 2005. It’s been more than 10 years since I started my second year in Pune and therefore, I shall write on specific memories that I can recall. Everyone knows that the film bug hit me very early where I dreamed of becoming a film actor and director in the Hindi film industry.
What do you do on a lazy, drab and boring Sunday with flatmates? We snuggled on the bed and watched Mujhse Shaadi Karoge on Cable TV in those days when the guy from the slum will come to fix the antenna for access to all the TV channels for a monthly 300 bucks, a far cry from today’s Dish TV which is splattered all over. We were sitting and watching the comedy flick when Neraj, our classmate came to leisurely spell, Amitabh Bachchan is in Pune shooting for Viruddh with John Abraham and Anusha. It was double dhamaka since my love for Bachchan knows no bound and I also had a major crush on Anusha Dandekar. It sent my pulses racing and the heart beat suddenly sprang longing to meet my idol who was in shooting in the city.
Spoilsport! It came with Adi who is perhaps one of the rare Indians who abhors Hindi movies and hell bent to dissuade me from watching the shooting of the film. Stop being hyper, he would chide me. He spat fireballs ranging from cautiousness of being roughed up by cops to being mad and not making sense at all. Our friends, Kusum, and her boyfriend Manish, along with Neraj went to try their luck at the shoot for a dekkho of the stars and I was waiting in anticipation cleaning my modest Kodak cam for a pic with Mr. Bachchan and Anushka, and kept a small book a small book of the former in my bag to grab an autograph. It was the evening when Adi called Neraj, “What’s happening over there? Usska Amitabh Bachchan dikha kya?” in reference to me. Bad luck! Apparently, it turned out to be chaotic with news spreading like wildfire and the crowd swarming to the shoot.
I was disappointed but this wouldn’t deter me to try meeting my idol. It was already evening and was in two minds to sneak in towards Deccan but finally abandoned all plans for the day. Manish was tempting me when we walked on FC Road for dinner as the movement of cars moved past us, “See, Amitabh Bachchan is inside this car.” Like an idiot, I turned around. He laughed, “Just imagine you are breathing the same air as Amitabh Bachchan.” It only reaffirmed my resolve to take the chance to be clicked with my idol.
The next day, I skipped the morning lecture and walked in the scorching sun for three to four kilometers, with the camera in hand to Deccan in the early morning. It was past 8.30 a.m. The bungalow’s gate was closed and guarded like a fortress. The crowd grew in numbers with the cops having a tough time and lathi charged to control the crowd standing on both sides of the road. The only solace was makeup van and camera equipment, assistant directors, makeup artists doing the running around outside the bungalow. We stood in the heat and waiting for the stars to come out or try our luck in the hope that the gate will soon open to fulfill our wish of rubbing shoulders with our favorite stars.
Patience was wearing thin on me and my stomach grumbled waiting for film stars without a morsel of food since morning. A college sweetheart called and asked the whereabout since she wanted to meet the heartthrob John Abraham and at the same time, some girls were yelling, ‘John! John! Come and kiss me.’ I kept walking to-and-fro past the gate where finally, I had a dekkho of Anusha who accompanied someone near her vanity van. Picture perfect! It was my reaction and I almost lost my heart to her. Her hair, green eyes, and flawless face was something to die. A blink-and-miss appearance. How I wish I could date her!
A dim hope surfaced after the security let a handful of people in after the crowd ran mad and pushing on the gate. As I followed the crowd going berserk and wading past the gate, I was stopped by the security who asked me to wait for them to come back. A lady entered and i sensed the chance handing the book of Amitabh Bachchan, requesting her to get me an autograph since the chances looked bleak to meet the country’s biggest superstar. The wait was long and spotted the lady from far and I ran in her direction but she told in the whole pushing, she forgot the book inside.
It was disappointing and I decided to go back to get the printed copies from the camera shots at Foto Fast Digital on FC Road. There were pictures taken during Rose Day in college much before the digi camera entered my life. The roll was emptied and just imagine my horror to see half of the pictures were burned for walking with the camera exposed in the sun. It was horrible, to say the least. What a day!
My tryst with films continued in Pune when I almost became an extra, struggling to land into titbit of roles when someone told me about a shoot taking place in the city and my name was given to the crew. I received an sms that a bus will wait for us at Swargate depot. It was the start of a tedious and anxious journey with a large group of boys and girls ever ready to make the first step in the film world. It took a long time for the bus to finally kick the engine, caught in the traffic and stumbling towards the outskirt in Pune. Some were dressed in flashy clothes while people like me wore denim and tee. I was amused to see aspiring actors wearing such jazzy clothes and was like, who wear such sort of clothes for a shoot?!
The bus stopped in a deserted place and we waited in anticipation for the casting guys to usher us out at the shooting location. It was hot sitting inside the bus for hours and so irritating to made to wait like this when those guys mysteriously disappeared. We asked one of the guys inside the bus whether the film crew will ever come. Finally, someone came after three hours and we were asked to stand up where few guys and girls were pointed out at. They walked like film stars and scampered out of the bus.
The rest of us were asked to stay inside which means we were not selected and the bus turned around to drop us to our destination back in the city. You know the joke turned on me? The same guys whom I laughed and at were selected for wearing jazzy clothes. Apparently, it was for the shoot of a song sequence. I was dejected for being rejected as an extra, that too inside a bus.
I went back to the flat and slept for a while to let the feeling of rejection to sink in. The flatmates and friends were quite supportive despite the fact that I was awkward, ashamed to say that I was turned down. Adi gently told me that I should try for casting and can be an agent to hire extra and junior artists. Neraj told me not to worry for a crew will soon land in Pune with Ajay Devgan and Sanjay Dutt in tow and junior artists will be needed. He even called one of his cousins who was involved to confirm. The funny thing is when the time came, the crew decided at the last minute not to come to Pune and the film was shelved.
My story of struggle with films could well be made into a comedy of error during my Pune days.