Recalling the North Indian talents
Films produced in Mumbai (earlier known as Bombay) in India
especially in Hindi, though very popular with the masses who didn’t
realize that Cinema is both an Art and industry, were subject to severe
criticism by the elite film critics.
Despite some great films produced in the 1950s and 60s, the general
feeling among them was that the Hindi film industry was a marriage
between Hollywood and Bombay. So they coined the term Bollywood to
distinguish the ‘Masala’ (meaning a cocktail of the usual ingredients
like fights, songs, dances, intrigues, villainy, etc) films fro the
European model of filmmaking
Four to five decades ago there were some outstanding players in Hindi
Cinema. I would like to talk about two female stars of yester year for
the information of our young readers.
They were the glamorous stars Asha Parekh and Sharmila Tagore. They
were felicitated at the IFFI last December in Goa. Courtesy an article
by Mohan Siroya, I gathered some facts about them for this week’s
I saw Parekh on the screen for the first time in the film Dil Deke
Dekho opposite Shammi Kapoor. It had lovely songs and dances. Kapoor as
you know is from the famous Kapoor family (Prithviraj Kapoor, his sons
Raj, Shammi and Sashi).
In the 1950s there was the Crown Theatre in Panchikawatte which
showed Hindi films exclusively. We lost touch with Hindi films later
because these films were shown only sparingly in our country.
We learn that from 1959 to 1999, Parekh has acted in 77 films, most
of which I had not seen. She has received 19 National; and International
Awards. The prestigious Padma Shri was chief among them.
She was also the chairperson of the Indian Central Board of Film
Certification (Censor Board). She has her own Film/TV Production House
and her dance school. She is best remembered now of the famous Asha
Parekh Hospital in Mumbai. Sharmila Tagore as the name suggests is from
I remember her acting in Satyajit Ray’s Opu Sansar, one of the three
films in his trilogy. The Bengali actors had a tradition of culture
which nurtured them to be serious in whatever matter they worked on.
Sharmila acted in yet another Ray film named Devi.
She acted in her first Hindi film opposite Shammi Kapoor.
It was called Kashmir Ki Kali. I enjoyed seeing it as it was a time
we enjoyed seeing romantic films in clolour with lovely people and a
mixture of songs and dances.
Most people would know her as the wife of the famous cricketer Nawab
of Pataaudi (Mansoor Ali Khan). She has acted in 36 feature films in
Bengali, Hindi, Marati and English. Yes, she acted in India born
Hollywood filmmaker Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala. I have seen this
film at festivals.
I love the Hindi film Aradhana directed by Hrishikesh Mukerji, a
Bengali filmmaker. Tagore was very discipline in her acting. Her son
Saif Ali Khan and her daughter Soha are well known in the current Hindi
She was also the chairperson of the Central Censor Board. She won
Along with Sharmila and Asha, another veteran Soumitra Chatterji was
also felicitated. I saw the in person last December in Goa.