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Looking back at Salim Langda Pe Mat Ro

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By: Praveen Lance Fernandes, IndiaFM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
18 years after the release of Salims Langde Pe Mat Ro, we caught up with 'Salim Langda' himself - Pawan Malhotra and the film's director Saeed Akthar Mirza. Clearly feeling nostalgic on reminding them of today's date, the two shared with us what was special about this cult film for them.

Though this moderately budgeted film produced by the NFDC could not get a lucrative release because of stern competition from biggies, it did carve a niche for itself in the time that it ran. "It was released at the Novelty theatre at Bombay. We got only a one week booking because a big film had left and another big film was coming in a week's time. It was houseful till the last day last show", says director Saeed Mirza. Adds Pawan, "Even in the 5th week, there was demand for black tickets in Aurora theatre in Matunga. And in Gaiety and Galaxy, except the first show, the whole week was houseful. In Ahmedabad and Surat it ran for100 days."

The film was shot at actual locations in the inner alleys of Bombay. "We were shooting on the real streets in a very rough neighborhood. It was an incredible experience. People meeting you and opening their hearts to you was wonderful," reminisces Mirza. "We shot at Dongri but we never had any problem with the crowd. If we asked them to stand behind the wires, they would happily oblige," said Pawan.

One wonders why the word 'Langda' (limp) in the title? Pawan explains, "Though I didn't limp in the movie, I walked a bit crookedly. I was called Langda for the peculiar style of walking". He also recollects a funny incident, "After the release of the film, I was once traveling in an auto and the auto-driver said, "Sir, aapka paav to thik hai!(Sir, your legs are fine!)."

And where did Saeed get the idea of a character of a crookedly walking thug being the main protagonist of the film? "Where else but from the streets of Bombay. When you see young hoodlums in Dongri, Nagpada and Mohammad Ali Road, you wonder what makes them the way they are. It's also a sociological study of young Muslim hoodlums. The character of Salim Langda is a combination of several characters rolled into one. They think they own the world but they are actually on a dead end street with no exit."

Finally, if one recalls, at the very beginning the film was dedicated to Safdar Hashmi. Pawan explains the connection "Safdar Hashmi was a Communist Party Worker in Delhi who also used to do theatre. He died in some industrial area near Delhi whilst he was performing a street show when he was hit by a Lathi on his head in one attack. So the film was dedicated to him as even Saeed believed in communalism and Safdar was a theatre artist also. He was just doing his work of acting and people who disagreed wrongly attacked him. Despite of not having an intimate relationship with Hashmi, Saeed, I and the others felt that this is wrong and nobody has a right to attack any artist and so the tribute was to show support to this cause."

And finally out of curiosity we asked Pawan what was his remuneration for this reasonably budgeted film and the actor doesn't hide. "Rs. 10000 because it was an NFDC film," he ends laughing.

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