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His popcorn sold like hot cakes

Nasir Hussain, Hindi producer-director who passed away recently, had the right recipe for an entertainer. V. GANGADHAR looks back.

Asha Parekh in 'Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hotha Hai'... another beautiful face Hussain launched.

CALL HIM the Stanley Donen of Hindi cinema. His films had the same, breezy, light-hearted touch, appealed more to the youth and had wonderful music.

Writer-producer-Director Nasir Hussain died in Mumbai at age 76. His legacy of around 20 films in a 40-year career was rich, varied and entertaining. Nasir saab deserves special mention for two of his outstanding discoveries, actress Asha Parekh introduced in ``Dil Dekhe Dekho" and nephew Aamir Khan, whose first role was in ``Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak," directed by son Mansoor.

A big ``shabaash" for transforming the subdued, thin and mild-looking Shammi Kapoor, who had got bogged down with films like ``Jeevan Jyoti" and ``Laila Majnu" to the robust, a bit wild, hip shaking dancing star of ``Tumsa Nahin Dekha," the first step towards the ``yahoo" star image. And of course, R. D. Burman's pulsating score in Nasir saab's ``Teesri Manzil" pushed him right to the top bracket. Hussain made lightweight, frothy, popcorn cinema.

Why not? They attracted millions of viewers. Having produced scripts like ``Paying Guest" (1957), Hussain learnt to tell a story well and embellish it with songs. Romance was another key word. Films like ``Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hotha Hain", ``Dil Dekhe Dekho," ``Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon" and ``Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin" pulsated with youthful energy, handsome pairs of lovers, lots of robust comedy and musical scores.

Nasir saab was prepared to experiment too. But within his limits. From romance he jumped to thrillers and ``Teesri Manzil" was an all time hit. He offered newcomer Rajesh Khanna a difficult, serious role opposite a deglamourised Asha Parekh in ``Baharon ke Sapne." And made even Zeenat Aman act fairly convincingly in that musical hit, ``Yaadon Ki Baarat." Asha Parekh was a special favourite. From a glamour girl in ``Dil Dekhe Dekho," she graduated to a position where she could cover up for non-actors like Joy Mukherjee and revive the spark in that evergreen performer, Dev Anand.

Ameeta was neither famous nor glamorous when Nasir saab cast her opposite Shammi Kapoor in ``Tumsa Nahin Dekha." But the pair clicked and the result? Yet another silver jubilee. From 1957 onwards, Nasir saab directed more than a dozen films and saw to it that a new film was released every alternate year. Four years later, he turned producer. He also knew when to stop. When films like ``Zamana Ko Dhikana Hai," ``Manzil Manzil" and ``Zabardust," made during the early 1980s failed to click, he passed the baton to his son Mansoor. The banner was back with a bang with "QSQT" for which Nasir saab wrote the story. His stars remembered him with affection, love and gratitude.

Yes, Nasir Hussain did make popcorn cinema. So what? The popcorn was fresh, tasty and left a clean taste in the mouth.

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