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Why Chetan Anand's Heer Raanjha needs to be celebrated

Filed on March 20, 2020

体育竞彩网While tracking down Hindi cinema's golden oldies - through whichever source accessible - I find, to my dismay, that a majority of them have dated. In eight cases out of 10, movies which were cherished during my growing-up years now strike me as tackily produced, blotchily photographed and suffering from antiquated technique, particularly in the editing department.

体育竞彩网The exceptions to this rule are the classics of Guru Dutt, V. Shantaram, Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor and Mehboob Khan. Of course, the breezy, colourful entertainers of the 1960s, starring Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Shashi Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna, are also worth repeat viewings, thanks in no small measure to their outstanding musical scores. And when it comes to the 1970s, Amitabh Bachchan's angry young man image looms large, arguably best projected in Zanjeer (1973), Deewaar (1975) and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978).

Today's column is dedicated, though, to a hidden gem, which was released 50 years ago but is rarely brought up in academic discourses on Indian cinema. Thoroughly stylised, Heer Raanjha (1970) was rendered in Urdu-flavoured rhyming verse instead of jabberwocky dialogue, photographed at points in lengthy single shots by cameraman Jal Mistry, and directed without a shred of compromise by Chetan Anand. Derived from an epic poem by Waris Shah, the 18th century Sufi poet of Punjab, this one-of-a-kind romantic ballad narrates the star-crossed story of its eponymous lead characters, belonging to polarised social classes.

Raanjha, portrayed by Raaj Kumar with a perfect lovelorn air, and Heer, enacted delicately by Priya Rajvansh, who happened to be director Chetan Anand's constant partner and muse, continue to enchant the audiences to date. Besides their inspired performances, the film is also remarkable for its writing by the magisterial poet Kaifi Azmi, who also penned the lyrics of its seven songs, including the imperishable Milo Na Tum Toh rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, and Tere Kooche Mein Tera Deewana and Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil by Mohammed Rafi.

Here are the kind of songs, composed by Madan Mohan, which are heard on loops even by millennials who understand the era of the music when melody was king. Indeed the stalwart music director S.D. Burman had congratulated his peer Madan Mohan by sending him a letter, stating, "For once in my life, I have felt jealous while listening to another composer's work."

体育竞彩网The plot while describing a love story in the Romeo-Juliet-like mould, delves on the period details of Punjab in a bygone era. Gratifyingly, the villains or the obstacles aren't reduced to predictable caricatures but etched as people, who, by their upbringing, cannot allow the wall between the rich and the poor to be broken, a taboo which is timeless perhaps.

The film connects immediately, especially with the viewer because of the depth of its romantic sequences and the inevitability of a tragic denouement.

No spoiler alert there, since Heer Raanjha is a folktale which is as familiar as those of Soni-Mahiwaal, Laila-Majnu and Salim-Anarkali. Although the ardour of Salim-Anarkali is believed by many to be apocryphal or concocted, the fatal attraction between Heer and Raanjha is considered to be a true life story, according to most historical records.

体育竞彩网Another version was made by director Harmesh Malhotra with Anil Kapoor and Sridevi, circa 1992, but proved to be a downer.

体育竞彩网Quite piquantly over the years, the tragic real life story of Chetan Anand and Priya Rajvansh has been sought to be made into a biopic. Announcements have been made sporadically but the project has been stalled since years. Chetan, the elder brother of Dev Anand, had won Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Neecha Nagar (1946) and was known to be a director who would not fall in line with commercial diktats.

Priya acted in quite a few of his films (Haqeeqat, Hindustan Ki Kasam, Hanste Zakhm, Saheb Bahadur, Kudrat and Haathon Ki Lakeeren), but quit acting when her mentor passed away in 1997 at the age of 76. Three years later, Priya, at the age of 63, was found murdered under mysterious circumstances in a beachfront home, a case which has remained unsolved.

体育竞彩网Born in Simla, the actress had studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Her style of acting was unlike any other actress' - she would adopt a poetic approach to her roles, her dialogue pitch would be in a sing-song cadence and her body language graceful and elegant, preventing her from being signed off by other filmmakers since she wouldn't opt for theatrical, melodramatic acting or agree to typical Bollywood-style songs-and-dances.

体育竞彩网Chetan Anand, who was married with children, before his professional and personal liaison with Priya Rajvansh, wouldn't regularly attend show business parties, soirees and award functions. Quite unfairly, Heer Raanjha, despite being a high-quality film and a public favourite, picked up just one Filmfare Award - for the Best Cinematography.

A real pity because such films are a rarity. Suggestion: if you haven't seen it already, do make an effort or at the very least, plug into its music tracks, especially Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil, which reminds you that for the luckless ones, the world can be a lonely place.
体育竞彩网wknd@sstljpj.com

Khalid Mohamed


 
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City Times

The Salman Khan-hosted reality show Bigg Boss 13 is returning to television. The show is all set to see a re-run on Colors because the channel has had to end its swayamvar-based show Mujhse Shaadi Karoge owing to the coronavirus outbreak.The channel has recently unveiled a fresh promo of Bigg Boss 13 on socia media. The new promo announcing the re-run of the show was launched on Twitter and Instagram. According to the channel's announcement, the show will be aired from March 23 onward at 10pm. "Relive the most entertaining, dramatic and exciting season of #BiggBoss! Tune in and watch #BiggBoss13 from 23rd March, 10 PM only on #Colors @BeingSalmanKhan Anytime on @justvoot," said the official announcement by the channel on its official handle, @ColorsTV. The promo highlights some of the more talked-about incidents of the seasons, such as Sidharth Shukla and Asim Riaz's fight, Sidharth Shukla's fight with Rashami Desai, and Asim's romance with Himanshi Khurana. Bigg Boss 13 ran from September 29, 2019 to February 15, 2020. Television star Sidharth Shukla won the season while Asim Riaz was runner-up. IANS votes | 22 March 2020

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City Times

It was the late Seventies, the heady days of rock music. Campuses, concert halls and open-air venues reverberated with the psychedelic music of bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Doobie Brothers and the legends from that era. The youth had not yet fully recovered from the influence of Woodstock, flower power was still a thing. Besides headbanging to decibel-shattering music by rock bands, music lovers were equally enamoured by the 'meaningful' ballads of singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the likes. It was circa 1977-78, and I clearly remember how I, as a youthful, blinded-by-rock youth, would shrug off Country & Western music by singer-songwriters like Glen Campbell, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and the gang. But then, one evening during one of our community music sessions, someone happened to play Lucille. The husky voice, the story-telling style of delivering the song and the easy to sing-along chorus lines caught my fancy. Upon asking, I was told the song was by a Country & Western singer named Kenny Rogers (he surely wasn't on the names on our playlist at that time). The single reached No.1 on the charts and in 1977, Rogers walked away with almost all the awards in the Country & Western category awards for the song, including Academy of Country Music Awards for Single of the Year, Top Male Vocalist, Song of the Year and the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. It wasn't just me that Rogers converted into a fan of his unique, pop-influenced Country and Western ballads; many other young music lovers were touched by his 'simple' ballads and were hooked instantly. During this period, every neighborhood had that one kid learning how to play the guitar, and Rogers' peppy and easy to play songs were perfect for budding musicians to impress with at parties. Lucille was followed by many other top-notch hits like Lady, The Gambler, Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town, Coward of the County, and we would all share notes on lyrics and chords as we tried to strum and sound like Kenny Rogers. The news of his passing away today brought back old memories - of listening to Rogers' songs and transcribing the lyrics, figuring out chords and imitating his drawl. For us, it was Rogers who opened our eyes to a whole new world of Country music, to the music of Willie Nelson, George Strait, Hank Williams Jr and others. If it wasn't for Rogers we'd still be thinking of Country music as two-chord songs that we'd usually hear in the background of perhaps a John Wayne Western. His songs endeared themselves to music aficionados and he left behind a jukebox of songs from a career that spanned over six decades. Incidentally, Rogers announced his farewell tour a few years back in 2015. It was aptly titled The Gambler's Last Deal, the singer couldn't have asked for a better sendoff than naming a tour after his Grammy-winning hit, The Gambler. michael@sstljpj.com votes | 21 March 2020

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