Now with English subtitles!
I’ve said it before and I’m likely to say it again: I love Sunil Dutt as a dacoit. He is just so perfectly suited to the black tilak, the mouche, the gold hoop earrings, the manly bullets slung around his tall form.
As with most unsubtitled, murky films with missing key scenes and transitions—and likely some reel mix-ups—I early on tossed any attempt to understand the plot by the wayside. But Jaal contains some highly entertaining elements like good songs, including a beach romp with Helen, Johnny Walker, and a host of emaciated goris in bikinis; Nirupa Roy in her element as the disturbed, bereaved Aunty; Tarun Bose as her creepy butler; and miniature boats and flashing lighthouse lights. Mala Sinha is given full scope for the things she does best: looking terribly chic in 1960s outfits, and going berserk in her own inimitable style.
My father began his career in films with Mala Sinha and Abhi Bhattacharya. Abhi Bhattacharya was a very nice man: in fact, a thorough gentleman. He had an interesting trait. He had the ability to fall asleep anytime, almost anywhere and under any circumstances. Once dad observed that Bhattacharya wanted to take a nap but could not find a pillow; finding a brick instead, he just went ahead and laid his head on the brick and instantly fell asleep. Dad shared a warm relationship with him and they acted together in a number of films.
My father was born on September 14, 1928; he joined the film industry in July 1957 and passed away in March 1972. He spent only 14 and half years in the industry—a very short time—however during this brief period he had the opportunity to do some excellent roles and had the good fortune to work with some of the best directors of the industry.
Since Mujhe Jeene Do’s seed was sown during the making of Usne Kaha Tha, it is only right that the latter forms a part of these memoirs. The making of Usne Kaha Tha was quite eventful for my father. Without going into too much detail I will just briefly touch upon the so called ‘events’. During the wedding scene (dad and Nanda’s wedding), he suffered an electric shock; then during the war scene his leg landed in a trench. There was a plank of wood placed on the trench which broke as he ran over it, and the last straw on the camel’s back was when he almost got trampled by an army tank. If Sunil Dutt hadn’t pushed him out of the way just in the nick of time he would have been—well I do not need add anything, it is pretty obvious what would have happened.
Here, daughter Shilpi reveals the real man behind the villains Tarun Bose played so convincingly!
The soft-hearted villain: that is what I call dad, soft-hearted being the literal translation of the Hindi ‘Naram Dil’.
He was a very affectionate man; he bestowed fatherly affection on everybody without discrimination. I once asked him, “What kind of role do you like playing the most?” “The villain; a villain’s role provides you with a greater scope to perform”, he said. But given his nature, it was not surprising that although he loved playing the villain, he hated roughing up his female co-stars or any of the child actors.
In part 2 of her memories of Tarun Bose, his daughter Shilpi shares this about a film I really love!
‘Silence is Golden’ is an oft-repeated phrase which has relevance not only in real life but also in reel life—particularly in those ‘edge of the seat’ suspense thrillers-murder mysteries.
I always felt that silence followed by sudden background music—usually the crash of drums—makes a huge impact in a suspense film, particularly within the close confines and darkness of a cinema hall. Every time I watched such a scene, my heart beating expectantly I couldn’t help but notice the nervous coughs and giggles in the cinema hall. Alfred Hitchcock was a master at using silence—his film ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ is a case in point.
While reading Shilpi’s first post about her father Tarun Bose I realized that I had never yet seen Kohraa, a remake of Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” One of the benefits of my poor memory is that although I’ve read the book and seen the Hollywood film version, I couldn’t really remember how it all ended. This helped keep me attentive, although honestly this version too is so well done that I would have been anyway. From the opening scene until the screen went black at the end, I was positively riveted. It’s a faithful (if uncredited) adaptation of a story well-suited for an Indian setting. The wealthy Maxim de Winter is easily transformed into Raja Amit Singh (Biswajeet even sports Laurence Olivier’s pencil-thin mouche) and his mansion Manderley into a sprawling seaside haveli full of wind-swept rooms. Waheeda Rehman is absolutely perfect as the timid orphaned bride who finds herself up against a formidable enemy in housekeeper Dai Maa (Lalita Pawar at her awesome best!).
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!
Hackneyed fairy-tale featuring a lost prince returning home? Check. Shrill Saira Banu opposite preternaturally youthful Dev Anand? Check. Portly Premnath as an evil Senapati? Check again. Did I like the film? Oh hell yes! What’s not to love about a movie that advertises a cast of “about 500 Indian & International junior Artistes” and delivers on that promise? Who cares if the plot is silly? Not I, given a frothy sixties travelogue with ports of call in a Middle East populated by blonde belly dancers and stoned hippie extras. I love to see my people in Hindi movies. Plus, Shankar Jaikishan provide some seriously catchy tunes to accompany all the onscreen antics.