Today is 87th birth anniversary of Hindi film director Hrishikesh Mukherjee, popularly known as ‘Hrishida’.
Born in 1922, Hrishida was famous for his distinctive style of films, which were realistic and unlike other Bollywood films. He began his career first in the film laboratory and then in the editing room with New Theatres Pvt. Ltd, Calcutta.
He came to Mumbai as part of Bimal Roy's team in 1951, participating in the landmark Roy films Do Bigha Zameen and Devdas. He continued to work with him till he became an independent director.
His debut film as a director, Musafir, was not a success, but he persisted and received acclaim for his second film Anari starring Raj Kapoor and Nutan in 1959. The film won five Filmfare Awards, with Mukherjee only losing the Best Director Award to his mentor, Bimal Roy.
His next film Anuradha (1960) dealing with a lively, vivacious woman who becomes frustrated and lonely due to her husband (an idealistic doctor working midst the rural poor) neglecting her in favour of his work, won the President's Medal.
With Anand (1970), Hrishikesh Mukherjee set a new standard for himself. It was indeed his masterpiece. It looked at a man dying of cancer who is determined to make every moment of his remaining life happy. It is a film with great compassion, a delicate balance between hope and fear, between life and death and is probably Rajesh Khanna's greatest ever performance.Mukherjee was the man responsible for bringing together Rajesh Khanna, the first superstar of Indian Cinema, and Amitabh Bachchan, the man who hold the superstar torch after Khanna.
No prizes for guessing that Amitabh 'Babu Moshai' Bachchan walked away with the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for this film and Rajesh 'Anand' Khanna claimed the Filmfare Best Actor Award.
And who could have given a dream start to Jaya Bhaduri with Guddi (1971). Mukherjee also gave Dharmendra some of the most unforgettable comedy roles like in Chupke Chupke.
The 1970s saw Hrishida do some of his best work with Guddi (1971), Bawarchi (1972), Abhimaan (1973), Namak Haram (1973), Chupke Chupke (1975), Mili (1975), Golmaal (1979) and Khubsoorat (1980). These films show that Hrishada understood middle-class mentality as very few others do. He poked gentle fun at its outworn values, its failings and foibles, and prodded his audience to think.
His string of hits with Amitabh made him one of the golden directors who had a special working relationship with Amitabh Bachchan. However the 1980s with the rise of Amitabh and larger than life films saw Hrishida's brand of filmmaking die out.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's last film as a director was Jhoot Bhole Kawa Kaate (1999) starring Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla. The film however couldn't work at the box-office, despite having all the traits of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie.