It’s hard to imagine that the Lady in Black has crossed the golden-jubilee mark this year. It seems only the other day that on her first unveiling, in Bombay’s Metro theatre, a debonair Dilip Kumar strode purposefully and got a firm grip on her as the Best Actor. He was to win her hand many times, most recently for Lifetime Achievement. By divine grace, he’s still in our midst, as is the maestro Naushad, who was the first winner of the Best Music Director Award. Like the Lady herself, “tum jiyo hazaaron saal.”
The times have changed steadily over the last half-century. It’s said that when Lata Mangeshkar won her first Filmfare trophy decades back, she had demurred at holding an unclothed statuette. It had thus to be wrapped in a handkerchief hastily produced, for her to accept it. To be fair to her, she still avoids songs with “bold” lyrics, and now loses out in the process.To no one’s surprise, Black swept everything before it, including the top honor for its lead actor. A Filmfare Award to Amitabh Bachchan brings great joy to his legion of fans in the capital. Not least because he stayed as a teenager, studied, and later went through his short political career, all in New Delhi. Currently in the second summit of his film life, the Big B is in the happy position of making an impact in both supporting and leading roles. In fact, to his ever-increasing fan club up north, all his appearances are dhaansu, irrespective of the size of the role.
Delhi won’t easily forget last winter’s sight of an ailing AB, looking haggard in a woollen cap, being carried in an ambulance from the Escorts Hospital to the Ambani plane waiting to take off for Mumbai. Delhi adores a fighter and AB has beaten health crises twice. This time, luckily, his rahu kaal was shorter and he has now resumed work. Hopefully, he’ll listen to his doctors and family and cut down on his overall workload. Kya bolta hai, bhidu?
Bela Sehgal’s receiving the Best Editor Award for Black—”Finally!” as she exclaimed—should help her move out of her illustrious brother Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s shadow. Maybe she’ll follow up on her wish to give greater scope to her creativity by taking up direction too. She has an excellent example before her, of veteran director Hrishikesh Mukherji whose skills on the editing table too are legendary.
Black’s camerawork, both indoors and outdoors, was out of this world, and its cinematographer, Ravi K. Chandran, is a deserving winner. He had earlier handled the camera for Mani Ratnam’s Yuva. The South has brought to fame a long line of film-zoomers, such as Santosh Sivan and Rajiv Menon (both Mani’s protégés too). Like them, will Ravi too gravitate to filmmaking?
Parineeta was a big surprise last year, more so because not many outside the ad world had heard of its director, Pradeep Sarkar. The local Bongs, particularly of the sprawling Chittaranjan Park (Delhi’s little Kolkata), went in numbers to watch and analyze the film to death. They were keen to check out how a Madrasi khokhi like Vidya Balan fit in as a rebel Saratchandra heroine of a past era. In the event, most gave a grudging thumbs-up to her performance and would be happy that she got twin awards from Filmfare. Shottee!
The cameo by the inimitable Rekha in Parineeta was memorable. She is the Sachin Tendulkar of the film industry. Her innings help her side succeed even when she herself doesn’t win an award. Thus, her dance in Parineeta got dance director Howard Rosemeyer his maiden Filmfare trophy.
It’s good to find Sudhir Mishra among the winners. His Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi was a path-breaker, as it sensitively depicted a students’ agitation up north in the 1960s. Mishra’s father was a VC in a state university but, as he told me, it was his own experience as a student in a Delhi college that was the basis for the story, which won him an award.
Mishra was also responsible for introducing two young talents in the lead roles. While Shiney Ahuja has been honored, Chitrangada Singh got cold feet and seems to have quit the profession. Real sad! The buzz among the golfing circles here—her spouse is golfer Jyoti Randhawa—is that she did so to ease tensions on her home front. She’s now accompanying her hubby on the international circuit, instead of hanging around Delhi Golf Club and other local putting places as in the past.
Lastly, the performance by Madhuri Dixit at the awards function evoked countless yaadein. It is a pity that she has been away while there is a new crop of women-oriented projects in the industry, based on Umrao Jaan, Jodhabai, and Rani Jhansi. Her former heroes (now in their 40s) are still around and merrily chasing dames on screen. The big feeling here is that she should be brought back, even at gunpoint! Tera karoon gin gin ke intezar.