Spice of Life| Lest golden era of silver screen slips into oblivion
I belong to the generation that grew up when Indian cinema’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna’s career was ebbing and cine lovers were heralding the arrival of the angry young man, Amitabh Bachchan. My childhood memories of the silver screen are almost completely dominated by the charismatic and overpowering persona of Vijay, the onscreen name that Bachchan made almost his own. His stylised and brooding portrayals of the underworld don in movies like Deewaar, Trishul and Kaalia actually made many of us fancy a career in the underworld!
This was the era of black and white television sets, a towering antenna over all homes and the monopoly of the good old Doordarshan. I can still relive the curiosity that we all went through before the quintessential announcer would disclose the name of the Sunday movie. It was a movie that was compulsorily seen by everyone in the neighbourhood. This actually turned out to be our window to the wonderful art of cinema.
I happened to see the talent of the ‘trimurti’ of yesteryear, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor, thanks to the movies telecast by Doordarshan. I felt enamoured by the intensity of Dilip Kumar, the impish charm of Raj Kapoor and the mesmerising onscreen romance of Dev Anand, just the way my parents must have felt in their younger days.
This was also the era of parallel cinema, and this wave of realistic cinema found a platform on Doordarshan. As a result, people belonging to my generation also saw the awesome acting skills of Naseeruddin Shah, the unbelievably natural acting of Shabana Azmi and the spellbinding portrayals of Om Puri in movies such as Ardh Satya, Arth and Paar. I also learnt to appreciate the subtle nuances of the movies made by Satyajit Ray.
Even today, I love to relax with any one of the iconic songs of a Rajesh Khanna movie on YouTube whenever I have a few moments of solitude. My son, who turns 18 next month, quipped the other day, “Papa, what do you find so special about this man?” I was surprised no end. “This man” was none other than the first superstar of Bollywood! The lyrics, which my son hardly paid attention to, were by Gulzar and the music composer was the maverick genius by the name of RD Burman.
Our generation next, unfortunately, is oblivious to the pages of cinematic history. They are not sensitised to appreciate sublime poetry. Somehow, they don’t seem to have the patience to soak in the slow intoxication of a Satyajit Ray film.
Is there a question here for all of us to ponder? Is cinema not a part of our heritage? This question becomes even more relevant if we consider the fact that India is the second highest movie-maker in the world surpassed only by the US. Shouldn’t iconic movies be a part of the school curriculum? Or else, many great creations of the silver screen would slip into oblivion in forgotten archives or lost in the failing memories of the older generation. firstname.lastname@example.org
The writer is a Jalandhar-based psychiatrist
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