Guest post: Tarun Bose (Part 1)

Tarun Bose is one of the treasures of Hindi cinema history. He is one of those consummate actors who could and did “disappear” into his roles, making it difficult if not impossible sometimes for a fan to identify him as “Tarun Bose.” He was taken from us and from his loved ones by a heart attack—far too soon and far too young—in 1974, but was a key player in many memorable films before that. The above screen shot is of his first appearance onscreen, about three minutes into his 1957 debut film Apradhi Kaun.

Many of you know that his daughter Shilpi has been sharing anecdotes about him for some time here. I asked her if she would be willing to write a guest post about him, and she has generously offered to share much more about his life and work and her memories of him than will fit in one post. I am thrilled! I know that regular readers of this blog will appreciate this rare glimpse into a wonderful actor and even more wonderful man. When she gets her scanner up and running again she may share photographs too, so let’s encourage her to keep going. Thanks so much, Shilpi—and over to you!

When Memsaab asked me to do a post on my father, I thought why not take advantage and tell the entire story. My father was born in Calcutta and brought up in Nagpur. Nagpur was then the capital of central India. Since Hindi and Urdu was spoken in Nagpur dad learned to speak both languages quite fluently without a trace of Bengali accent. English was taken care of by the British Raj and the missionary school he attended. He was therefore able to do plays in English, Hindi and Urdu without any difficulty. However he initially had a problem with his mother tongue Bengali—a language he only spoke at home. When he did his first Bengali play he faced a great deal of criticism. The reviews reflected disdain for his Bengali; the reviewers said, “Why do non-Bengalis attempt Bengali plays?” Deeply insulted, he worked on his Bengali and went on to do several Bengali plays. His desire to do a Bengali film however remained unfulfilled.

My father was one of the fortunate few who had found his calling right from his childhood. Most of us spend a major part of our lives wondering what to do; he knew he wanted to be an actor and he also had the talent. Thanks to a good voice my father had no difficulty in getting a break in AIR (All India Radio). He was only fifteen years old when AIR started operations in Nagpur; my father auditioned and was selected. So right from his teens his life revolved round the stage and radio station.

Despite his deep desire to be a film actor, he was not rash; the moment he got married he decided to take up a stable job at the Post and Telegraph Department. With a fixed salary to take care of his family life he was able to pursue his first love acting—through stage and radio plays—in peace.

I will not repeat the story of how Mr. Bimal Roy gave my father a break. [You can read it here.] Mindful of the fact that he had aged parents and a wife and child to look after he requested Mr. Roy to pay him a salary. To the best of my knowledge he was the only actor to draw a salary at that time. Although in those days the technical crew like cinematographers, editors, art directors and so on did receive a salary from the production house in which they were employed, actors had begun to freelance and were no longer tied to one production house as was the norm during the days of New Theatres, Bombay Talkies, Prabhat etc. It was a win-win situation for dad, for Mr Roy was such a gentle and kind-hearted person that after a year’s contract he allowed my father to accept work from other production houses.

Before he packed his bags and came to Bombay the producers at the Nagpur radio station requested my father to record different kinds of laughter which they planned to use whenever required. It was this ability of his—to laugh convincingly—which made a major impact in the suspense thriller ‘Kohraa’—based on Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’—and also led to a funny situation. More of that in my next post.

Stay tuned!

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63 Comments to “Guest post: Tarun Bose (Part 1)”

  1. I get to comment first because it’s MY BLOG *mwaaaahahahahaaa* :D I love the screencap above (from Kohraa) of Tarun Bose with the dog—being a dog lover myself, I was really pleased to find out from Shilpi that her dad was a dog person too. I only wish I could have met him! But feel like I’m getting a chance to do so here. Thank you Shilpi from the bottom of my heart.

  2. It is great to read about Tarun Bose from her daughter. It is nice to know these lesser known things about him. Keep them coming. And these guest posts are such a nice idea.

  3. What a treat! Thanks Shilpi, eagerly waiting your next dispatch. And thanks Memsaab for all these great features on your blog from time to time.

  4. Oops, I mean HIS daughter.

  5. What a fantastic read!

    Lovely idea to have a guest post about Tarun Bose – and who can do it better than his own family?

    I really found this fascinating – every word of it. Not only is it written beautifully but it also gives you a personal peek into the early life of a person who most people may, at best, know only the public side of, through his performances.

    But the man behind the image – his calling, his need to have a stable income to support his family while still pursuing his calling, the story about a “non-Bengali attempting Bengali plays”, his stint with AIR and how he finally moved to Bombay (still recording his “laughs” for AIR Nagpur before leaving) – all just SO wonderful to read about.

    Can’t wait for the next part.

    Thanks a LOT, Shilpi, for sharing all this with us.

    And thanks, Greta, for coming up with this brilliant idea and of course, giving us this perfect place to be able to share all our feelings and thoughts about Tarun Bose, one of Hindi movies’ treasures (like you rightly put it in your opening sentence).

    • Not much of a brilliant idea, more of a no-brainer. All credit to Shilpi for her excellent writing and willingness to share her personal memories and knowledge with us :)

  6. This is fantastic, Shilpi! I’m already looking forward to the next one! I love Kohraa and your dad was one of the best things about it – although he was so good, I didn’t even recognize him until I saw it again when I was all grown up.

    Also, it’s always nice to know that people whose work you love were also nice people so the Bimal Roy anecdote makes me very happy.

    Great idea, Memsaab!

  7. Such a lovely opportunity to be able to read first hand about a much respected and loved actor.
    It’s great for all of us…lovers of old hindi films.

    As memsaab has mentioned;
    >He is one of those consummate actors who could and did “disappear” into his roles, making it difficult if not impossible sometimes for a fan to identify him as “Tarun Bose.”

    I can’t agree more. Even here in that picture from Kohraa he’s totally into that character. If we didn’t know already whose picture it is it wouldn’t have been easy.

    Thank you Shilpi for this, and of course memsaab. :-)

    Looking forward to the next post, especially the funny situation.

  8. Eagerly waiting for the second part.
    it is a rare opportunity to get an insight into an acotr’s life, through his offspring’s eyes!
    Thank you Shilpi!
    Thank you Memsaab!

  9. What a wonderful read! Thank you so much Shilpi for sharing your father with us. And you write so well too! I can’t wait for the next installment.

  10. It is great to learn more about actors, I wish we had more shilpi’s coming out to share the stories of their parents/relatives/friends in the film world and give us a rare glimpses of what went on behind the scenes.

  11. Shilpi, thank you so much! I’m looking forward to reading more about your father. This made wonderful reading!

  12. Lovely post, Shilpi. It’s one of the things about older actors I admire so much, their fluency with the languages they worked in, they worked hard to speak well, and speak a language right. Sadly missing now.

    Great work as usual, Memsaab. You are Bollywood’s best historian.

  13. Tarun’s range of acting was so huge!! I was amazed when I watched Anupama by the level of negativity that his character was able to display!! Biographies are always best when written by a family member who knows almost ‘everything’ about that person!! Thankyou for sharing, Shilpi!! Thankyou memsaab, that was awesome!!

  14. A BIG THANK YOU EVERYBODY FOR ALL THE KIND WORDS. It is indeed very encouraging and memsaab you are great; you got the photos just right I couldn’t have done any better. OK everyone I am working on the next installment, please bear with me.

  15. The introducton to my post by you memsaab is great.

  16. So nice to know more about Dada, or shall I call him Tarun Bhau, well how about Dada Bhau Bose, he deserves it.

    A man of disguises and all around ace performances, one cud sense it that he was a ‘born’ actor. As I always say chip of da ol’ block and yu just dont make ‘em anymore.

    Feels so good to see that these g8s are being given the true and right place in the golden age of the Industry. We do not want to be the part of-

    they came, they performed and were forgotten.

    Lagate raho friends, thx a lot G and Shilpi for sharing insights about Dada Bhau .) with us.

    Cheers

  17. Shilpi, what a wonderful read! Thanks so much (and to you, too, memsaab) for sharing that with us. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Now the next time I watch a Tarun Bose film (sure to happen pretty soon, since I watch so many old films!), I’m going to be viewing Mr Bose with much more interest than ever before. :-) Incidentally, while creating my recent blog post on Mukesh’s songs, I found myself admiring Tarun Bose’s portrayal of a negative character in Anokhi Raat: I’ve seen him do shades of grey, but this is one film where his character’s more black (or a darker shade of grey?).

  18. This response really encourages me to dig out more details from my mom and my brother. Thanks a lot everybody.

    • Good!!! We can’t wait! :)

      • Ditto! Shilpi, you should document this stuff, you know, formally. I mean, Indian publishing is awash with the ‘behind the scenes’ lives of the top stars – the Nargises and Dilip Kumars and Dev Anands of the industry, but a lot of our finer character actors are in danger of being forgotten by all but the most dedicated to fans.

        • It is quite unfortunate dustedoff but most publishers feel that there are no takers for books on such actors. I too thought the same but thanks to memsaab I know I was wrong. For me and my family the response to my first post is reward enough.

        • I’ve been talking about writing a book about a few of these character actors and it’s true that most people in India don’t think anyone is interested in them. I’ve been told that by people in the film industry, and people in the media there. I don’t know why they think that yet another book with the same old stories from Dilip or Dev or Raj are better bets!

          I know for a fact that people are interested because, well, I am for one, and I see the response that I get when I write about them.

  19. Isn’t this awesome. Tarun Bose’s daughter sharing insights about this great actor…
    He was so fabulous in Gumnaam and Anupama.
    Thanks you Memsaab and thank you Shilpi :)

  20. The so called biggies love to have all the attention focused on them, past and present, but they forget besides them there were many MORE IN THE TEAM, so called unknown faces who made a film a FILM.

    Like I said in the past me and my buddies in days of yore were always interested who were the other ‘character’ artists b4 we decided to go and see the movie, I mean to say we paid a lot of attention and respect to these ‘quiet’ artists, and it is stinking rotten that many were never even given due credits in the titles, now that is a shame. None of them shud ever go unnoticed, they are as important as the so called main actors.

    It is total Team work, we shall always cherish them so long as we live, it is as simple as that. These folks were the real artists, totally devoted and worked really hard and am sure the monetary rewards were not all that g8, but the love of the film and acting was and that’s why they are/were so good.

    Cheers .)

  21. Thank you so much for this, Shilpi, and Memsaab! Shilpi, I loved your Dad in every film that I saw him in. He was such a fine actor, and as Memsaab says, onscreen he was always the character he was playing, and not Tarun Bose. I remember him best from the Bimal Roy films (so evil in Benazir, so empathetic in Sujata) and of course, Anupama. Can’t wait for the next instalment!

  22. Folks wanna see Dada, a cute lookin’ Dada in a wonderful movie Shama from 1961, made by the talented Lekraj Bhakri Saheb, and was written by him and Kaifi Azmi Saheb.
    Dada played as Dilawar and movie had a bevy of Veterans-

    Nimmi … Shama
    Vijay Dutt .
    M. Kumar
    Kammo
    Tarun Bose … Dilawar
    Suraiya
    Mumtaz Begum
    Tun Tun
    Chandabala
    Renu Maker
    Kumud Tripathi
    Leela Mishra
    Indira Bansal
    Sunita
    Raj Prakash

    and the cute SS, here it is-

    http://swarint.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/tarun-bose-in-shama-1961.

    Cheers .)

  23. OOOPS hamka maafi dayee deeyo, SS nahin aawat hain, .)

    here it is now, trying again, some issues, sry Memsab abt this….but must get it on board…

    http://swarint.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/tarun-bose-in-shama-19611.jpg

    .)

    • Swarint Shama is one of my favourite films. Thanks for the Shama still. Doesn’t he look handsome memsaab or am I prejudiced being his daughter ?

      • Shilpi not just handsome, but handsome and cute .), see the lil curly hair lock on the forehead, he had flair written all over his face, if I can call it a very distinguished flair, that’s why we also say always-
        Chip Of da Ol Block.

        They came, they captured our hearts and went away, but we have to ensure they still remain with us in our memories. We have simply become a part of them really which we totally lack for today’s performers. Was it their simplicity, devotion, down to earth attitude, I do not know but yeah they are etched very much in our memories.

        And we keep on hunting for every performance of there’s, even cameos.

        So it is very nice to see their kids sharing his/their lives and experiences with us, frankly how many can we converse with like the way we are doing with yu.

        I am sure given half a chance we will have more sons and daughters on board. We just wish to say-

        yes we do remember yu and yu are wanted so pls do come and join us, where ever yu may be, its a gentle appeal.

        We sure have revived all DADA spirits, if I may be allowed to say so.

        Cheers .)

      • Oh he looks GORGEOUS Shilpi, and as Ash says also very cute with that curl in the middle of his forehead :)

        I must find Shama now!!!!

  24. W What an awesome post! Like all other readers I am happy to get a glimpse of Tarun Bose the person beside Tarun Bose the actor. It is sad that he could not fulfill his desire of acting in bengali movies. Wonder why? Bimal Roy could have given him one. Well as the saying goes “It was Bengal’s loss and India’s gain”. Quite a few actors have been given a raw deal by their home state producers/directors – eg Hema Malini and Vidya Balan by Tam movie producers. They have gone on to be very successful in hindi movies with a wider audience! Waiting for the next part Shilpi. Bahut -2 shukriya

  25. Great post and I sure am staying tuned for the next one :)

  26. Shilpa, and Memsaab, thank you so much for sharing the Tarun Bose story. I look so forward to learning more about the man!

  27. Tarun Bose features in one of my all time fav. song ‘Dheere Dheere Machal’.

    Thanks Shilpi for sharing this! Also, reminded me of Nagpur and its distinct Bengali populace.

  28. All I can do is thank everybody for the response.

  29. @Shilpi – thanks for sharing all those memories. It seems rather sad that he could not get to act in Bengali movies.
    Waiting for your next post.

  30. Next one is coming up soon!!!

  31. It’s such a lovely read. It’s amazing to get an insight into an actor’s life, and that too in this way, through his daughter! I read the 3rd part first and was so intrigued that I couldn’t go to sleep without reading the earlier posts.
    I totally agree with memsaab and dustedoff, more needs to be written about these character actors. And of course, we are interested. Off to read part 2 now. Thanks once again!

  32. hi, i think i know you. we were neighbors at Honey Comb, Almeida park, Bandra west. year around 1973 or post that.

    Nice to read this wonderful tribute to your father.

    regards

    rakesh

  33. Better late than never, here a super snap of Tarunda, Anupama I think 1966….:)
    http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae185/swarint/tarunbose1966.jpg

    • Oh that is a good one :) Thanks Ash.

    • Oh wow! Ash, am not very active on the net nowadays due to some personal matters but love this photo and do not know why, could not control my tears. Should be used to his absence by now.

      • Yer spot on Shilpi there is something special about this photo, that is one of the reasons I thought I must share on this Forum, it is REAL and seems Tarunda is standing next to you, as his fans who saw most of his movies in the big hall….. we feel the same, as if he is next to us :), the shot is from ANUPAMA, seems like the Ghats, sorry if it made yu cry. Hope yu manage to sort out the personal matter, all the best :)

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