Cinema After lying low for some time, two of the biggest banners in Bollywood are making a comeback
In the obituaries of Rajesh Khanna, one name that got refreshed in our memories was Shakti Samanta. With films like Aradhana , Kati Patang and Amar Prem , he was instrumental in creating the myth of the king of romance. Now, his son Ashim Samanta is reviving the banner with Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai. Ashim, who made some forgettable films, is limiting himself to production and is launching his son Aditya Samanta opposite Nazia Hussain, a niece of Nargis.
“My father’s cinema was all about emotions and I want to bring it back to this age which now calls the genre romantic comedy. Of course, the background is modern and the dialogues are in tune with times where girls could express a lot more but I believe people are missing that unalloyed charm that films like Aradhana evoked.” And if all goes well he might remake Aradhana .
There was a time when Shakti Samanta was known for his crime thrillers. Films like Howrah Bridge , Detective and Jaali Note defined his style. “He tried films like Insaan Jaag Utha but they didn’t work at the box office. It was Kashmir Ki Kali that brought him success,” recalls Ashim. “After that he was looking for a story when Rajesh Khanna, who had just won the United Producers’ contest, came in to the scene. Daddy was one of the producers behind the contest. He remembered that sometime back Sachin Bhowmick had told him a story which stayed with him. He called him and that’s how Aradhana started.”
Ashim says a few months before his demise his father saw Aditya acting in a play and could not recognise him. ‘He asked me who this actor is’. When I told him he is his grandson, he immediately said, ‘we must launch him’. And from that day I started looking for a suitable story.”
Aditya spills the beans. “It is about a boy and a girl who fall in love while studying in a foreign university not realising that their families are at war back home. I understand it doesn’t sound special but be it Bobby or Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak , the plot has worked for newcomers,” says Aditya who is not willing to be a hero though. “I want to play characters and I have a face, which can fit into different genres.”
A similar story comes from the Ramanand Sagar family. Ramanand Sagar’s grandson director Amrit Sagar is also trying to resurrect a rich heritage with a romantic comedy, Hai Rabba Main Kya Karoon .
His grandfather dabbled in different genres before embracing mythology for the rest of his life. Ramanand Sagar started as an assistant to Prithivraj Kapoor in Prithvi Theatres before turning to films with Kapoor’s son Raj Kapoor. Barsaat was penned by Sagar and so was Paigham . Soon he turned to direction and delivered hits like Aarzoo , Aankhen and Charas. But in 1985, he got the divine idea of making Ramayan for television. The series became so successful that the whole Sagar family said goodbye to variety. “We did make Alif Laila but yes, after Ramayan, the focus is on television,” says Mori Sagar, Ramanand Sagar’s son. With the third generation ready to break the shackles, Moti says he didn’t stop the change. “Amrit has studied cinema in the US and has a fresh outlook towards the medium.”
Amrit, who started his career with the critically acclaimed 1971, took five years to start his second film. Was the wait because of the market, which was refusing to look beyond rom-coms till some time back? “During my interviews of 1971 , I announced that my next film is going to be a romantic comedy. The writing took time. The story is about how things go topsy turvy in a week before marriage.” The film marks the debut of his younger brother Aakash Sagar, whom he has chosen because he has training in theatre. Let the blood talk!