Jalsa, Mumbai Sept 14/15, 2012 Fri/Sat 2:25 AM
Mahendra C … many happy returns of the day, and simply love the fact that you love ‘Sharabi’ … 200 times and all !!
Yes … I have transferred my soul to the Blog now and am willing to face the anger and concern from those who care, on my late hours ! But it shall not change. The commitment to the Ef is far greater than my 30-40 winks. Will it and ye shall receive. The physicality of a transfer of pain and desire and work could perhaps be never seen in real terms, but somewhere a bird chirps, flowers bloom, the moon shines, the earth glistens … purely because we thought of seeing it the way we wanted it to.
I see each night what I believe to be the attention that my words would draw, with those who have through years been alongside. Never finding or knowing the reveal, but now that they do, cannot stop its pouring. I talk of myself of course. The years and years languished in agony of inability to reach out, than to surrender to mediums, has finally been overcome. Perhaps not completely, but substantially ! And you dear ones are the reason for its length and breath, its angles and corners, its parabolic curves and finite circumferences. This trigonometry I succumb and bow to. I did it once before - in its academic avatar. But other than the joy of formulaic equations that resolved themselves into neat equals and root and to the power of nondescript alphabets, there was nothing that I could gain from it ! It gave me a degree of some respectability, perhaps a position that garnered social relevance, but beyond that nothing more !! The equation now is beyond that achievement, if it can be called one. So let us rejoice in this, which we hold so dearly. One that we cherish and embrace with open and folded hands. And let us not deny ourselves the spirit of joy and fulfillment that it carries with it continuously !!
Mahendra’s birthday on 15th September. A lover of ‘Sharabi’, and a request from those that know of this to explore the possibility of leading all to that inner working other than what was imprinted on perishable film.
Prakash Mehra had great story telling sense. So did many others, but he had the inherent desire of drowning his characters within the most intense emotional parameters. He had a formidable team of writers yes, but his own sensibilities towards situations and the language to be used was his scoring points. His personal sense of music too was an added advantage. It was basic and quite pure, padded with at times his own personal lyrical inputs, which perhaps he did more as a hobby than to deny the professional designated for the job. Finding the right situations for music is in an Industry of our film standing and culture, a most potent weapon. A few immediate names that come to mind are Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Kamaal Amrohi, Mehboob Khan and several others of the time. Man Mohan Desai was a master of justifying the ridiculous in a manner that no other could. His music and songs and his situations that he created were unique. The songs were the first portions that were filmed first in his pictures, and later would start the process of linking them all up with a relevant story line. Not so Prakash ji. His lyrics were pertinent, and his situations melted into the flow of the story through its music. If the moment was one of fun and frivolity, the music and the words almost rendered themselves as if dialogues of the film.
Prakash ji was greatly more verbose than any other of the time, but not without reason. Verbosity was a great asset in the early years of film. That and music. Unlike of course today’s times, when lyrics and the healthy mix of the classic in our songs, is substantially reduced.
Raj Kapoor ji was in his own right a great musician too, which perhaps few are aware of. His knowledge and sense of music therefore always had a permanency, which as we all know has been through the ages considered to be timeless. His particular fondness for the Raga Jaijaivanti is universally known to all that considered themselves connoisseurs of music. And may I add that this particular Raga has been one that has always produced a hit track each time it has been used. But more of that some other time !
So when ‘Sharabi’ was being written, its flow of words and expressions were to me at that time, an interference in performance. It was a film where the lead character was to remain alcoholically intoxicated through out the story. A drunk takes time to say what he wishes to say. The tongue is heavier, thoughts on the construct of dialogues take time to form before they can be spoken and movements are laborious and strained. Long and lengthy soliloquies, the kind that the lead was to ‘slobber’ in the film, would therefore take an enormous amount of time to complete. I told Prakash ji his film would have to be a 6 hr epic if the lengths of the dialogues were not curtailed. To his credit, he understood the gravity of the situation and revised all that was written, into a secure concise form, and what you see in the film is a result of that most necessary exercise.
Prakash ji was a liberal director. So long as the essence of a particular scene was not disturbed he would not refuse an impromptu addition. For me as an actor portraying, what I would consider a difficult screenplay to perform, it was most welcoming. He was an accommodating director and did not have any kind of fancy camera work in his films. You started speaking your lines and if you faltered after a while he would stop there and instead of going back for a retake, would take it forward from where you left off. The frames were simple, the speak was deep. He would not cut a shot at the designated position but instead allowed the camera to run, allowing the artist to improvise any additions in case he was willing to do so.
All films of the time would undergo dubbing and ‘Sharabi’ was no different. But for one particular scene, the death of Om Prakash ji in the film, I requested if he would keep the live take, since reliving and re enacting that moment of emotion would never bring out the desired results, and he agreed.
Prakash ji’s own personal relationship with his Father was perhaps one that was strained, and in all his films and in their stories, there was always a glimpse of that discomfort that he lived with. For him I was his ‘lalla’ and when he would be pleased with a particular shot he would come across and give me a gentle peck on my cheek.
The inspiration for ‘Sharabi’ of course came, as I have mentioned several times before, on a flight from New York to Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies, when we were travelling for one of the many world concert tours that we pioneered. The film was shot mostly on the large two floors that Film City was inaugurated with, and within its confines or just out of it in the outdoors of the complex.
‘Sharabi’ came at a time when the more artistic cinema was the flavor of Award giving institutions. It won nothing. Except its massive box office returns, 75 weeks of its running, and the attention it draws till now with the likes of @sarkarmc alias Mahendra !
My love and affection to all as ever .. good morning .. it draws now on 4 am !!
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