today, thanks to a television soap i went looking for sara aakash, a movie made years ago, and found basu chatterjee, k k mahajan… and so many other things about the new wave of indian cinema, which started it seems somewhere in the late sixties. i was growing up, nearing ten, then into the teens those days.
almost any movie that comes to mind during my continuing love affair with a serial these days, is from those days. sixties up to mid seventies. no idea what was different about the things on screen then, but something was.
it clung to memory, skin, heart, ear.
whether they were the so called “art films” or “commercial” ones. i remember at 13 or something, my friend, my brother and i saw mirinal sen’s padatik. didn’t understand a thing, didn’t even know it had ended, we actually asked someone, is it over? the rather grown up human being looked at these three kids all confused and lost and said, yes, want to see more?
yet something stays in me.
might have simply been k k mahajan’s different way of looking through a camera. but one didn’t have to go arty to get art. hare rama hare krishna. zeenat aman swaying, haze of smoke, dum maro dum, dev anand looking at this crazy zany girl with a need, a love, a question in his eyes. that was i think 1971 or ’72, the film never left me. phoolon ka taaro ka, a brother who loves his sister and tries to shield her. beautiful music. feelings you can touch. i watched hare rama again recently, still fabulous, the depiction of hippie life almost realistic. and zeenie baby even now the epitome of cool.
so many movies and songs that felt different, fulfilling somehow, making bits and parts of me.
what was it that made the movies of that time different? they were not exactly deep ones with all their masala and dhishum dhishum and the usual filmi stuff, but they touched something in me. maybe it was my age, maybe there was something real about them despite all the strangeness including running around trees singing songs (what marvellous songs, aah).
often one didn’t know the name of a film maker or a lyricist or a music director, cinematographer, whatever. now when i google them and see their names, read their stories, i realise, many of them were people who had something to say, their lives and experiences informed their creative expression, they wanted to make money, but there was much more to them than that. the sell and spin was less, the art was certainly more, and the risk taking. maybe that’s why their work lingers in the mind.
it’s recalled out of nowhere and illuminates something in the present. yes, commercial, money making, mass, whatever you call the product, it does bring light and often immense joy.
and now that i think of it, the movies of guru dutt from the fifties, of bimal roy and a few others… balraj sahni always made a mark… they too had this quality. that thing in them that makes contact. doesn’t let go.
why am i going on about this?
well, because of that same serial really. iss pyaar ko kya naam doon? a typical serial with a lot of things neither deep nor sensible. pretty badly put together at times, story gone haywire finally. really tacky production values. yet i sat through 397 episodes of it, one i left out, (the second last one because i just couldn’t bear the nonsense drama any more). and now am watching it all over again.
because after years and years, i felt i found something rare and precious.
that feeling of those days. something real, something that sticks. many people, especially writers, music director, directors, caste of actors contributed to this i am sure; sanaya irani, the female lead, was lovely, unforgettable.
but for me it was ultimately because of an actor who has that seventies’ feeling about him.
he is all of himself and unyielding before our world’s spin machinery. and who he is informs his performance giving it substance. giving it soul. how it stays in me. no matter how inane the medium. it’s been an experience to watch barun sobti on the telly, dragging me right into a soap of all things and here i am.
i wrote this one a while ago, sometime in 2013. edited it slightly for this post. iss pyaar ko kya naam doon? has been dubbed into english and arabic and shown in the uk and the middle east. it’s been telecast with subtitles in the uk, usa, turkey, russia, and several other places. the show ended in 2012 after a one and a half year run and 398 episodes. there are fans from brazil to romania to australia and beyond. if you have a blog on the show as i do, you’ll get visitors from india, south east asia, and the middle east, of course, but don’t be surprised if you see hits from kenya, portugal, south africa, south korea. i believe iss pyaar ko is being subtitled in french. i’m not surprised really.
barun sobti has not been very visible since iss pyaar ko. he is trying to make a career in films. i wish him luck. he deserves great success. one of his films is scheduled for a world premiere in london this week. i am, like many, most excited.
pictures and video credit uploaders on the net. the last visual is an edit by me.