Flashback to the ’50s
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Flashback to the ’50s

Nadira Babbar’s play, Bollywood Ka Salaam, that premieres in the city on November 26, is a nostalgic concoction of black and white blockbusters.

bollywood Updated: Nov 24, 2010 15:45 IST
Jayeeta Mazumder
Jayeeta Mazumder
Hindustan Times

Passionate lovers, vengeful vamps, forever friends, vindictive ‘thakurs’… these were the ingredients of a quintessential 1950’s Bollywood movie. And now, they will come alive on stage with Nadira Babbar’s new play, Bollywood Ka Salaam — 1950 Ke Naam, which opens in the city on November 26.

The play that premieres as part of NCPA’s first theatre festival, CentreStage, has got nothing to do with 26/11. But, as Babbar clarifies, it does aim to bring back some long-forgotten moments from the ‘50s, often touted as the golden era of Indian cinema, on stage. With costumes designed by Oscar-winning veteran designer Bhanu Athaiya, it’s a black and white world, literally. Babbar has even managed to get childhood acquaintance MF Husain to paint the poster of the play. “Bhanu Athaiya started her career with black and white films, so she knows the era inside out. She had designed costumes for a play, based on the 1857 Indian revolution, that I performed during my NSD days. She readily lent her support this time too. MF Husain was very close to my father,” she reveals. “We were not home once and returned only to find our entire door painted. Of course, we had to uproot it when we moved out of the house,” Babbar recalls, ruing the fact that senior artistes are completely sidelined today.

The play that stars daughter Juhi Babbar and Ankur Parekh, among the 40-member cast, will bring together elements from several blockbusters of the ‘50s. The Ekjute-produced Hindi musical will also feature popular songs like ‘Suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen’, ‘Shola jo bhadke’, ‘Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum,’ among others. There will even be the characteristic group dances. References from Nagin (1954), Madhumati (1958), Awara (1951), Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) have been picked to put the play together.

“It took me one and a half months to write it, but the idea was always there in my mind,” says Babbar. What mainly appealed to her were the sentiments prevailing in movies of that era. “Unfortunately, people now make fun of that culture, the language and the dialogue. But despite our technological advancement, we still borrow western plots today,” Babbar points out.

Bollywood Ka Salaam— 1950s Ke Naam will be premiered at the CentreStage Festival at Tata Theatre on November 26, 7 pm.

First Published: Nov 24, 2010 15:00 IST