By: Moses Navgire, IndiaFM
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
They say that it is tough to make people cry but it is even more difficult to make them laugh. However, Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one filmmaker who could make your eyes moist at one instant and suddenly get you cracking in the very next moment. Sadly, the film industry lost this great filmmaker on 28th August 2006.
Born on September 30, 1922, in Kolkata, Hrishida, as he was popularly known, began his career as an assistant director and also editor to Bimal Roy for Do Bigha Zameen (1953). Mukherjee's first directorial venture though was Musafir (1957), which was an episodic film with three parallel stories. Although the film didn't do well, Raj Kapoor was so impressed with Hrishida's work that he recommended him to be the director for Anari (1959) starring Raj Kapoor himself and Nutan. The film was an emotional drama with a realistic view of the life of lower middle class in India. Hrishida retained the neo-realistic style of filmmaking from his mentor, Bimal Roy, which could be seen in this film. Lalita Pawar's character of Mrs. D'sa touched the audience's hearts. In fact, her unique style of speaking Hindi became so popular that it stereotyped the accent and lingo of the Christian characters in movies. The film was a major success.
His next film Anuradha (1959) that was a story of a doctor who neglects his wife to focus on his work, won him the President's medal award. Anupama (1966) again was a sensitive film that dealt with a father-daughter relationship.
Anand (1970) was a major breakthrough in the Indian cinema. It is a story about a man (Rajesh Khanna) who is suffering from a terminal disease and in his last few days makes people around him realize how precious life is and how to "live" life to the fullest. The happy-go-lucky character of Anand with a dark empty space inside his heart played by Rajesh Khanna stands out to be one of his finest performances till date. The songs in the film are classic and continue to be so meaningful, even in today's times.
Mukherjee later continued with films like Guddi (1971), Bawarchi (1972), Mili (1975) which were light comedies yet with a realistic message that would shock the audiences, sometimes even bringing tears to their eyes. Abhimaan (1973) and Namak Haram (1973) were two of his landmark films that came out in the same year. Where Abhimaan dealt with the ego problems leading to major issues in the relationship of husband and wife, Namak Haram gave a look at the poor status and miserable living conditions of the mill workers in that era.
Hrishida, however, later continued with his comical approach towards looking at life with films like Golmaal (1979), Khoobsurat (1980) and Naram Garam (1981). This was the time when Amol Palekar became his favorite hero and the two gave birth to a unique type of comedy. Another of his film Chupke Chupke (1975) however, can safely be labeled as his finest work in the comedy genre. The film starring some of the biggest legends in Hindi Cinema like Om Prakash, Dharmendra, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore is a laughter ride. In fact, Dharmendra and Om Prakash have given one of the best performances of their career in this film. He co-directed Sadma (1983), which is one golden film that the Indian Cinema can proudly present to the world. The film is a brilliant depiction of a mentally affected girl played by Sridevi who is taken care of by a stranger (Kamal Hasan) who falls in love with her and ends become retarded himself due to the shock of loosing her.
Hrishida took a long break from films after 1988 and made a comeback a decade later with Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kate in 1998. The film starring Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Anupam Kher, Reema Laagu and Amrish Puri was again a comical, somewhere on the lines of Chupke Chupke. It had the touch and essence of Mukherjee's films but unfortunately, failed at the Box Office.
However, for the past few years, Mukherjee suffered from ill health and finally lost the battle with death at the age of 84. Honored with Padma Vibhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Hrishikesh Mukerjee was a true legend of the Indian Cinema. The kind of films that he made taught people how one should extract happiness out of this tough life. His kind of films were what we call today as sensible cinema. Moreover his films were evergreen, not losing its appeal or message with time! So even today, in the times of glamour and glitz, Hrishida's films remain close to the hearts of people. The man may have gone away from this world but his films will continue to carry the flame of his message forever.