Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Saroj Khan and her Legacy

The popular dance Choreographer of Indian film industry Saroj Khan passed away on 3 July 2020 at Mumbai . She has left behind a void very difficult to fill in . For more than 2 decades , she redefined the Hindi Movie dance sequences and created a niche for herself endearing to her numerous fans. For the first time, a woman choreographer broke the glass ceiling and crashed into the misogynist Hindi film industry and composed dance sequences for some super – hit and heroine centered movies like Mr India , Devdas and Kalank . Many actresses like the late Sridevi,Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai owe their career successes to Saroj Khan.

Saroj Khan was a protege of B Sohan Lal who was the undisputed king of Indian film choreography. She married Sohan Lal later at a very young age and subsequently divorced him. Saroj Khan had a career spanning more than 40 years and has produce more than 2000 dance numbers for Indian movies, mostly in Hindi language .

In the beginning of motion picture industry , both the hero and the heroine performed dances themselves . Soon , the need for a professional dance choreographer arose and mainly male dancers filled this role . The new crop of heroes and heroines required their help extensively and rehearsed repeatedly with many takes and retakes till acceptance by the main director of the movie.

The importance of the dance director will be evident from the following episode which I witnessed during a film shooting at the popular Malampuzha dam gardens near Palakkad , Kerala way back in the early sixties . I was an Engineering student then at a private college at Palakkad and some of us went to witness the shooting of a dance sequence at the Malampuzha gardens. Sunil Dutt and Vyjayantimala were shooting for the Hindi movie “Jhoola ” , a remake of the Tamil movie” Kairasi ” produced by Vasu Menon , a local producer from Palakkad settled at Chennai .

We saw a rehearsal where Sohan Lal , the dance director was enacting the role of the hero Sunil Dutt with Vyjayantimala who was a well known dancer and actress. Sunil Dutt was watching the steps which he had to perform during the actual take under the camera. The recorded song was being played to them. A difficult but hilarious scene ensued. Some of my friends from the college shouted and objected to a middle aged Sohan Lal dancing with Vyjayantimala . We wanted Sunil Dutt only to touch her and dance with her . The shouting went on for some time and finally Sunil Dutt came to us with folded hands and appealed to us to let Sohan Lal do his job . He said he is not a dancer and need coaching . Time is money in such situations and he wanted all of us to help the team achieve the desired results . Somehow his appeal had the desired effect and the rehearsal continued. We clapped for Sunil Dutt . Vyjayantimala was rather shy and remained quiet throughout the episode.

The unsung heroes of Indian Movie Music – The Music Arrangers

This evening I watched a unique program in ” Times Now ” Channel for almost an hour . Normally , they either present the scenes in retrospect or interview the singer / music director or even the actors . Today’s program was a refreshing change from the routine where they talked about those people who either played the instruments or supported the celebrity singers and music directors  ably to produce those great melodies , ghazals or group songs .

I have been following Hindi Movie music from the late 50’s and this was probably the first time that I heard about these unsung heroes of Hindi Movie music industry. To me it was a great lesson in Leadership from the trenches . No wonder , it is often said that there are no small jobs and only small people ! . The entire movie industry should thank ” Times Now ” and recognize the significant contributions made by these so called ” Music Arrangers ” .

MNIK and Teen Patti – Two great celebrity flops !!

How do you choose a movie especially when you want to watch a late night show after a strenuous day at  the work place ? . Reviews ,  recommendations  from friends or go with the star value or bet on  your favorite star cast ? . In the case of MNIK  [My name is Khan for the uninitiated ] it was our favorite star with the added attractions created by the Shiv Sena ‘ s  objections based on the IPL -Pakistan factor  which brought Mumbai to near ransom  .  This was also backed by good reviews .  In the case of Teen Patti  ,  it was sheer admiration for Amitabh Bachan and Ben Kingsley [an interesting combination indeed ] and we did not wait for any review and went straight on the first late night show itself .

While MNIK started well with good intentions , the poor  autism affected  ” Reel Khan ” who wants to prove he is not a terrorist  to the President of USA  [ because the ” Real Khan  ” was frisked while entering the US some time back  presumably for his  religious identity from his name!!]  , the movie takes you to so many illogical heights especially to Georgia affected by floods  that you start  believing that the USA is only the size of the Emirates [the logistics ease by which the characters move in and out of such places make you believe so ] .

While we got a glimpse of the Real George Bush who was not lucky to meet our Hero KHAN , the look alike  ” Reel Obama  ” was blessed with Khan ‘s ” darshan ” and thanked him personally for the help in ameliorating the sufferings of  the poor Georgians  .  I wish the  movie could only show the beautiful and breath taking scenery of the Bay Area and New Mexico without the star cast !!  . It would have won hands down even against  the  best of Discovery Channel serials .

Teen Patti  is a total disaster  in spite of the celebrity factor  and Prof  Subramanian [aka Amitabh Bachan ]  could not help the producer to find out  in time the probability of the movie’s  likely early demise in spite of his genius in ultimately winning the  Isaac Newton Award at  Cambridge or was it Oxford ? [I was fast asleep by then ] . Even the sleazy dance number in a hi -fi setting may not salvage the investments on this movie .

Lessons for you all star crazy movie lovers – Ignore  the celebrity factor and it is a good practice to ignore any pre- release stunts like what was staged for MNIK . I should know as it happened with me within a span of  just 10 days !!