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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.

Sharmila Tagore

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 article.

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 Bengal.

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 film scene.

She was also the chairperson of the Central Censor Board. She won many Awards.

Along with Sharmila and Asha, another veteran Soumitra Chatterji was also felicitated. I saw the in person last December in Goa.

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