“I read and get read the numerous rituals and writings of saints and the wise .. the thoughts and why mythological reality exists .. of how they were conceived and how they are in continued practice now .. how ..?”
Sir, mystery of the mythological is beyond us to answer, especially how they were conceived, but I must say Hindi cinema deserves credit for its contribution, even if it is small, to how they are in continued practice now. Right from India’s first silent film, Raja Harishchandra (1913), produced by Dada Sahib Phalke to 100 years later, the latest Mahabharat D-3 (2013) in animation, Hindi cinema has produced innumerable mythological movies that kept up the spirits of the nation to acquire spiritual awareness of the mythological reality and how it was conceived and provided motivation for its continued practice. Along with the mythological movies, the cinema produced melodious devotional music, as part of those movies or outside of them in other movies:
In the mythological genre, there is none to beat ‘Bharat ki ik sannari ki ham katha sunate hein’ from Ram Rajya (1943), the most popular film ever made on the epic Ramayana. Another hit mythological of the Forties, Har Har Mahadev owed much of its success to ‘Kankar kankar se mein poonchu, Shankar mera kahan hei’. During the same decade, singer actor Surendra sang the immensely popular number ‘Bhiksha de de maiyya Pingla, jogi khada hai dwar’ (Bhartrihari - 1943)). But the song that created a sensation by turning Jai Santoshi Maa into the biggest grosser amongst mythological movies was the super hit song – ‘Jahan tahan mat pooch kahan kahan hei apni Santoshi maa’. But the song that is sung by millions of Mata’s devotees is the hit from Avtar –‘Chalo bulawa aya hei, Mata ne bulaya hei’, What better song to start our day than to remember the prayer which even after 60 years of its first rendering by prisoners in V. Shantaram’s classic ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’, thousands of school children all over the country continue to sing ‘Ae malik tere bande hum’ as their morning prayer. Ironically, the other immortal prayer song, ‘Tu pyar ka sagar hai’ was also sung inside the prison walls in fifties’ great hit Seema. ‘Hum ko man ki shakti dena’ from film Guddi (50s) is often heard in temples and schools as a prayer till today. And what a devotional song to give a flying start to the illustrious career of the music directors’ duo, Laxmi Kant Pearey Lal - ‘‘Zara samne to aa o chalia, chup chup chalne mein kya raaz hei”. Then there is the immortal song of K. L. Saigal -”Maiyya mori mein nahin makhan khayo” from film Surdas, without playing which Janmashtami celebration is never complete. So is the classical song from Baiju Bawra (1953) - “Man tarpat Hari darshan ko aaj, sung by Mohd. Rafi and composed by maestro Naushad.
Amongst the mythological movies, there has never been made a greater movie than Vijay Bhatt’s Ram Rajya (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. 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 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. Two other films of the Forties were also great mythological movies, V. Shantaram’s “Shakuntala” and singing star Surendra’s “Bhartrihari”, whose song ‘Bhiksha de de Mayya Pingla, jogi khada hei dwar’ is still played, after 60 years 0f its first rendering, in Alwar where the drama of “Raja Bhartrihari” is played around the time of Diwali every year, when there is also the Bhartrihari Mela at the samadhi of the king who gave up his kingdom to become a sanyasi.
On a personal note, Ram Rajya was the first movie I watched at a theater independently of my mother with whom I had seen many films earlier. This movie I saw with my neighbor and friend Bazal and cost us Re one and two annas each for seats in the balcony. The expense was more than what we expected to spend, but because of the rush we could not get tickets for the stalls which would have cost us nine annas each (16 annas were equal to one rupee). The beauty of the film and the amount of enjoyment we had watching it, compensated for the higher cost we spent on the tickets!
With regards and best wishes