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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Vijay Bhatt -Tribute To Early Era Icon

Vijay Bhatt (1907 - 1993)
A railway guard’s son, Bhatt was born in Palitana, Gujarat on May 12, 1907. In his twenties, he moved to Bombay, along with his elder brother Shankarbhai Bhatt. Vijay passed completed his schooling from St Xavier’s while Shankarbhai took up a job. Keeping his passion for theatre alive, he continued his studies eventually joining Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways Company Limited (BEST) with an electrician’s diploma.

The love for theatre led Vijay to quit the job despite obvious parental resistance. The struggle to survive and find a foothold in showbiz began. A much-awaited meeting with Ardeshir Irani (the maker of India’s first talkie Alam Ara) changed his life and cleared the way to showbiz when director K P Bhave made Vijay’s first script into a silent film- Vidhi ka Vidhan. Association with Ardeshir Irani led to two more scripts hitting the screen – Pani Mein Aag and Ghulam (1929) – both produced by Irani. Having gained confidence with some success, the Bhatt brothers launched their own production studio. The Royal Film Company was to produce a series of silent films before releasing their first talkie Arabian Nights (Alif Laila) in 1932, just a year after Irani’s Alam Ara. Vijay soon acquired a studio at Andheri, named it Prakash Studios and launched the famous Prakash Pictures banner under which some of the greatest films of Hindi cinema were made beginning with Actress in 1934. In Sansar Leela (his first Gujarati talkie), Vijay Bhatt launched Zakaria Khan, christened him Jayant and launched him as the leading man in Bombay Mail (1935), Challenge(1936), His Highness (1937), State Express (1938) and Bijli (1939)'. (G P Sippy launched Jayant’s son in 1975. He was the Gabbar Singh in Sholay!)

In Leatherface (1939), Bhatt launched Mehjabeen, still at a tender age, and named her Baby Meena. This is how the legendary Meena Kumari was unveiled. She matured as an artist with each film, did scores of mythological movies and action flicks under Wadia Movietone before returning to her parent banner for Baiju Bawra in 1952. This colossal hit changed the fortunes of the actress, bagging her maiden Best Actress Award for the film. Bharat Bhushan, playing opposite Meena, shot into the big league, and the music director, Naushad swept awards and accolades for that year. Vijay Bhatt was one of the earliest producers to spot the potential in Noushad with Mala in 1941.

In 1939, on his visit to Valsad to meet Gandhiji at the ashram, Bapu suggested a film on the saintly Gujarati poet Narsi Mehta. Bhatt signed the lead pair of Prabhas's Sant Tukaram – Vishnupant Pagnis and Durga Khote and, after some meticulous research, made Narsi Bhagat (1940) in Hindi and Gujarati. The film was a hit, winning critical acclaim all over the country. Buoyed by this success, Vijay Bhatt turned to Ramayana for inspiration for his next milestone. Bharat Milap (Hindi)/ Bharat Bhet (Marathi) hit the theatres in 1942. Several historians and curators were taken aboard to develop this project. With Bharat’s unstinting devotion to Rama as the central theme, the film is considered the most authentic excerpt of the great epic on celluloid. Dr S Radhakrishnan was present at the premiere of the film at Majestic Cinema, Bombay.

Vijay Bhatt moved from one milestone to another. Prem Adib (Hindi)/ Chandrakant (Marathi) and Shobhana Samarth led the cast as Rama and Sita in yet another excerpt from Ramayana in Ram Rajya made 1943. Considered the most successful and authentic Ramayana musical ever made in the country, Ram Rajya also enjoys the distinction of being the only film viewed by Mahatma Gandhi in his lifetime. Next came the historical Vikramaditya (1945) where Prithviraj Kapoor played the title role. In 1959, with Goonj Uthi Shehnai, Vijay Bhatt introduced the celebrated shehnai player Ustad Bismillah Khan to the silver screen. The shehnai in the background score belonged to the Ustad when Rajendra Kumar played the instrument on screen.

Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha set the box office afire in 1962 with Hariyali aur Raasta. Bhatt repeated the lead pair in yet another musical Himalay ki God Mein (1965), which had music by Kalyanji Anandji. Associated with more than 70 projects in his lifetime, Vijay Bhatt transformed into a legend. He won several awards and was felicitated by the government for Ram Rajya.

Ram Rajya (Vijay Bhatt, 1943): What makes the film truly unique is the human treatment given by Bhatt to a mythological tale. It won him great honors and adulations throughout the country and abroad. Cecil B Demelle, one of the greatest makers of historicals and mythologicals (Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah) wrote a personal note to Bhatt, after the film was premiered in U.S.A. in 1947 at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York - "Greetings from one director who is still trying to make good pictures to another director who will make great ones long after I am gone." The film also has the distinction of being the only film seen by Mahatma Gandhi during his lifetime. It was eulogized as a torch bearer of our glorious past and cultural heritage. The performance of the lead pair, Prem Adib and Shobhana Samarth, who played Rama and Sita, was so evocative that they became the eternal Ram and Sita in the audience's' minds and were literally worshipped wherever they went. The film was also a huge commercial hit that ran for 100 weeks at one theatre alone in Bombay and over 50 weeks at various theatres elsewhere.

Baiju Bawra (Vijay Bhatt, 1952): One of the greatest musical classics, Baiju Bawra is about the legendary rivalry between Tansen and Baiju during the reign of Emperor Akbar. The musical spectacle goes into the period specified for a series of joyful jugalbandis between the arrogant Tansen (Surendra) and the humble and exceptionally talented Baiju (Bharat Bhushan). Their ongoing rivalry is fanned and fuelled when Baiju's father is killed in a scuffle with Tansen's guards and eventually, it reaches a crescendo when the two battle it down in the court of Emperor Akbar. The film's highlight is the classical jugalbandi between the two renowned raga maestros Ustad Amir Khan and Pandit D,V. Paluskar. The music by Naushad is regarded as his best ever. Baiju Bawra demonstrated Naushad's grasp of classical music. The film won him the Filmfare (1954) award for Best Music Director. Meena Kumari looked superbly sweet and pretty as Baiju's innocent and lovelorn sweetheart Gauri. This was Meena's first major screen role, played brilliantly. She won Filmfare Best Actress Award. Meena Kumari climbed to dizzying heights of fame after Baiju Bawra.


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