Walking the shadows

A director invests half his life in his magnum opus, but unexpectedly and shockingly, the film is a box-office debacle. Now, that’s putting in a single line the biography of one of Hindi cinema’s finest directors, Guru Dutt.

Much motivated by the success of his social drama Pyaasa, Dutt embarked upon another project, pinning all hopes on it. Kaagaz Ke Phool, his magnum opus, ended as a disaster, almost putting an end to his glorious career. The film’s failure is often cited as one of the reason for his inopportune death in 1964. Ironically, the film was resurrected, in the eighties, and gained the status of a cult classic. It found a place in Time Magazine’s all-time best films.

That is the downside of the film industry. At one point, someone scales the heights of success and the next minute, it is a nose dive to the rock bottom of oblivion and apathy.If you go exploring the success stories of the industry, you will also find the poignant tales of failure and misery. And, the protagonist of both is often the same person.

Perhaps, that’s what links Guru Dutt, Parveen Babi and many others. For an actress, who became the first Indian actor to grace the cover page of Time Magazine, dying a forgotten star would have been the worst that could have happened.

But, why only actors, wasn’t it the same fate for Mohammad Rafi? A singer, who was the voice for almost all the heroes of the fifties and sixties, certainly didn’t die a happy man. This article  http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2006/aug/23sld1.htm  will give you an insight into the last days of Rafi, holding a mirror to the ungrateful film industry. The only saving grace for Rafi was that he was not a forgotten singer, when he bid adios; he had finished recording his last song for Dharmendra starrer ‘Aas Paas’, a day before he died.

The most appalling story is of legendary musician Khemchand Prakash‘s wife dying on the streets after she spent her last days begging for a living.

In early 2007, when OP Nayyar passed away at the ripe age of 80, news reporters went all around Mumbai, hunting for his house. The reclusive composer had spent his last days in oblivion. It might have been a small incident, but it speaks volumes about the changing dynamics of the industry, where today you are a star and tomorrow you are a forgotten star.

On the other hand, you hear success stories of Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand who continued filmmaking even after a few flops. However, there are some who simply cannot walk the shadows.


3 Responses to “Walking the shadows”

  1. Hi Janani…loved reading ur blog……every piece has its unique flavour……

    Anyways I chose to comment on this post…for the simple reason tht im a movie buff too and i collect classics…..not much of Hindi tho….but have a huge collection of foreign language films…..I was just thinking why dont u write abt Raj Kapoor….or have u written abt him and i missed it? “Mera Naam Joker” is my all time fav…….and “Ram Teri Ganga malli” is another classic…were he actually takes the narrative on a parallel between the river and the female lead…oh wht class!!!

    And i hope u have watched Stanley Kubricks films…he made only 14 films in a career spanning 55 yrs…isnt tht amazing….imagine the amount of thot tht must have gone in for each film…rather i wud call it art wrk…..”Lolita” – for its controversies and bold theme….. “Barry Lyndon” for its stunning cinematography….( I have never seen any film with such amazing camera wrk till date) and 2001- a space odysey for its technological wizardy … and not to mention our own Satyajit Raj….. Apu trilogy…..If i have to learn cinematography again……i will watch Pather Panchali again……..maybe i have already watched it more thn 30 times …..and still get new insights everytime i watch them…….

    Dont thiink Im givin u a lecture of sorts….just wnted to share a few thots…..lets keep in touch and discuss films………to keep out brains wrking……. feel free to mail me at shadowdance9696@gmail.com

    I am currently wrking as a wildlife and environment documentary fil maker with Mike Pandey in riverbank studios delhi. Hope u rem Earth watch on DD….lol yes its Mike Pandey’s production.

    Keep up the good work…..

    • hi nithil,
      thnks so much for dropping by and giving your feedback. Yes, am too a big fan of Ray and what can I say about Kubrick’s films. Another master on a different altogether far ahead of many of his contemporaries.

      All the best for ur work and yes will keep my eyes open to catch ur show on TV 🙂
      thnks again
      janani sampath

      • Hi Janani,

        Thnks…so much…..ok checkin ur profile i came to kno u were in NDTV Hindu….hmmmm…sadly after i left NDTV Hindu…lol…anyways hope we meet up sometime wen im down in Chennai……..and do keep ur good wrk rollin…..

        The new season of Earth matters will start soon…but lately we have been busy doin a lot of environment and wildlife films….like one on mangroves and another one on Forests and water linkage…..which im producing and two more on rajasthan tourism…..anyways if u plan to visit delhi pls let me know u cn drop in to our office anytime

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