By: Molly, IndiaFM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
If there was no Chetan Anand there would be no Dev Anand and if there was no Dev Anand there would be no Vijay Anand. The three Anand brothers and their contribution to Indian cinema will always be a formidable and unforgettable chapter. Whenever the history of Indian cinema will be discussed, these three brothers who were educated, enlightened and passionately interested in the medium of cinema to which they dedicated their whole lives will be talked about.
Chetan Anand was the eldest of the Anand who first came to Bombay from Gurdaspur in Punjab long before the partition. He was the writer who was also involved in various activities which led to the growth of theatre. He was one of the many artists who played a prominent role in the struggle to gain freedom for India. He was one of the many artists who realized the power of their voices to bring about a new awakening (Chetan) among the people who were suffering under the ruthless forces of the British empire unleashed on the people who were willing to give up their lives so that a new India of their dreams could be born.
Chetan also realized the power of cinema which he, like many, others believed was the best way to reach the people, to mould their opinion and raise their own voices in protest. Chetan made his first film Neecha Nagar which cast the searchlight on the plight of the people living in no mans land. The people of India who lived lives in the dark and craved for the light, people who lived in the land of the dead and waited for that dawn which would lead them to the promised land, the land of freedom, a progress of food, clothes, shelter. Neecha Nagar was a stark real picture of the minds and conditions of the people. The film was made long before of what was to be called the new wave and parallel cinema, came into vogue. It was in many ways a better film than some of the best films, made by Satyajit Ray, Ritwick Ghatak and Mrinal Sen, in the opinion of the leading critics then and now. It was a film widely acclaimed all over the world, the first Indian Film to be recognized all over the world, at all the major film festivals making Chetan Anand a name to reckon with. Chetan was always, a low profile man and a very sensitive. He did not let the success of Neecha Nagar go to his head. He decided not to make the same kind of film again. He looked for ways to experiment with cinema. He directed some sheer entertainers for his younger brother, Dev Anand's banner, Navketan. Chetan with his other brother, Vijay Anand was responsible in establishing Dev Anand's banner and making Dev a superstar.
As the years passed Chetan looked of ideas to make films which would lead to the development of the minds of the people if India. He found his first big opportunity to make a war film after the Indochina in 1962. He battled against all odds to make a meaningful film about the war and the consequences and it's after effects on the people. The film was shot on actual location on the Indochina border and on true to life sets built in the studios of Bombay. The film when released created mass hysteria among the people. It was the first time they were able to see a war film made about a war which they were a part of. The film depicted the horror, the traumas and the tragedies of war. The war seen, the performances of the artists and the haunting lyrics by the poet Kaifi Azmi and the music of Madan Mohan awakened the entire nation to what the ravages of war could do the nation and its people on the move towards progress. There have been many other films made as war as the backdrop after this film. The last good effort being a series of war films made by J. P. Dutta like Border, Refugee and LOC Kargil. But there was no film that raised the same kind of emotions and sentiments like Chetan's Haqeeqat, a fact accepted by J. P. himself who had all the money, the latest technology and the stars to work for his film. But, J. P. himself agreed that it will be Haqeeqat that will always be the best war film made by an Indian.
He later made a film in an entire new genre, Heer Ranjha with Raaj Kumar and Priya Raajvansh, his muse. The magic of the film was that the entire dialogue of the film was written in poetry. Every line a gem from a poem written by his favorite Kaifi Azmi, haunting music and brilliant performances. Chetan made another film called Hanste Zakhm but the one film which made a stunning impact was Aakhri Khat which had just a four child as the central character. Chetan's probing into the mind of a child baffled the best psychologists of the time. Towards the end of his career he seemed to have lost interest because of the rank in discipline and the taking over of the industry by the star system. The results were seen in different films made by the master, among films like Jaaneman, Kudrat and Haathon Ki Lakeeren. He lived to make the films of his dreams but a died a broken hearted man, leaving all his dreams incomplete which is a very big loss to the industry.
The industry like it always does, painfully and regularly has forgotten the man and his work. But his wife Uma and sons Ketan and Vivek have got together to come out with a book and a docu drama on the life and times of Chetan Anand. The book and the film will be released sometime soon which will be a slap in the face of the industry which neglects its best names and maybe awaken them to take more interest in the lives and works of men who have made the industry what it is today.