Amitabh Bachchan tweeted a picture of him and Rajesh Khanna on 23rd November that it was 44 years of Namak Haram, directed by the legendary Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who has been awarded the Padma Vibhusan and the Dada Saheb Phalke awards and is also the winner of as many as 8 Filmfare awards.
Amitabh’s tweet reminded me about Hrishi Da, a director par excellence. He was the pioneer of midway cinema, the middle path between typical masala movies such as Yaadon ki baaraat, Amar Akbar Anthony and Naseeb and typical Art cinema such as Bazaar and Mandi.
Called “a great man who made great films” by Rajesh Khanna, Hrishi Da directed simple realistic stories. He was a Professor of Science and Mathematics at Kolkata before the lure of film industry took him to Mumbai. He started as a cameraman, then became a film editor, an assistant director and finally a director. His progress to Director was very fast, and once he became a Director he always remained a Director
Hrishi Da directed almost 50 great movies. Let us briefly discuss a few of the most memorable ones.
Hrishi Da’s 1st Major Success came in his 2nd movie, Raj Kapoor’s Anari. It was an iconic movie in itself, Anari won several awards such as Best actor, music director, Lyricist, male playback singer and Supporting actress apart from the President’s Medal for best feature film in Hindi.
Anupama starring Dharmendra and Sharmila has probably one of the best ever soundtracks in history of Hindi movies. Hemant Kumar was in his elements in this movie. “Kuchh dil ne kaha”, “Dheere dheere machal“, “Ya Dil Ki Suno Duniyawalo” are songs of Anupama which are hummed every day even now.
Hrishi Da with his Anand in 1971 brought together Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan and Namak Haram brought them together again. It’s said that with Namak Haram, Kaka said the new superstar was ready.
HrishiDa introduced Jaya Bhaduri in Guddi. He then brought Amitabh and Jaya together in Abhimaan and one more memorable movie in which they acted was Mili.
Flair for comedy. GolMaal, Khoobsoorat, Naram Garam and Rang Birangi were 4 movies in a row which showcased remarkable sense of comic timing by the master. Before that he had introduced Dharmendra in a comic role for the 1st time in the iconic movie Chupke Chupke. The film world got richer and Dharmendra gave many memorable comic moments to film viewers. Earlier Hrishi Da had shown comic sense in Guddi and Bawarchi too.
One important attribute of success is discipline and here Hrishi Da was very very particular. Noted comedian Asrani says Hrishi da had no confusion that he was the boss and used to address his actors as “Kya Amitabh, Kya Dharam” etc. Asrani also says, Hrishi da used to keep things secret till the last minute. For example, in Chupke Chupke Asrani was asked to wear a suit and Dharmendra was asked to wear a drivers uniform. Both of them and Amitabh too were surprised but Hrishi Da said he was doing his job and they should follow the director. They did- and the result was magic.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee is probably the last of the great directors. Thank you Amitabh Bachchan for making us remember this great personality through your Tweet.