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6 things you need to know about Bimal Roy

Bimal Roy was a complete school of filmmaking unto himself andgave Indian Cinema many great filmmakers.— Photo: The Hindu Archives  

Much has been written about the cinema of Bimal Roy: the women in his films, the Italian neo-realist influence, the gentle humanism and progressive subtext of his movies and his impact on the Indian new wave and parallel cinema. Here are six not so well known facts about Roy.

1 Bimal Roy’s debut feature film Udayer Pathe was made in Bengali in 1944. The film was subsequently released in Hindi as Humraahi . The original Bengali title was taken from title of a Rabindranath Tagore’s poem. The film featured three songs of Rabindranath Tagore, most significantly the full version of “Jana Gana Mana”, which later became India’s national anthem.

The 3.2-minute version was composed by RC Boral and rendered by a chorus. Bimal da used it in the film’s opening credits. Many years later filmmaker Pramod Chakravorty remade the same film as the Dharmendra-starrer Naya Zamana , without any credits.

2 Roy did not just introduce the genius composer Salil Chowdhury to Hindi Cinema with Do Beegha Zameen , but also utilised his writing skills in at least three films. Do Beegha was based on a story Rikshawala written by him back in the ’40s. Parakh was also based on his story and Salilda wrote the screenplay of Prem Patra .

3 He was a complete school of filmmaking unto himself and gave Indian Cinema many great filmmakers and writers such as Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Gulzar, Nabendu Ghosh, Salil Chowdhury and Basu Bhattacharya. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anupama was dedicated to Bimal Roy as it was released just after his death. Many characters and conflicts felt straight out of Bimal Da’s films, especially Sujata.

4 One special characteristic of Roy’s cinema was song picturisation on character artistes and unknown faces. He has dance director Sachin Shankar featured many a times in just a song cameo ( Parakh , Kya Hawa Chali ), or his production manager’s wife Mrs Kapoor featuring in the classic ‘Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyya ko babul’ in Bandini . The film had another character artiste, Rajdeep, singing ‘Mat ro maata lal tere bahutere. The most interesting name is W.M. Khan, the man known for singing the first ever film song in the history of Hindi Cinema ‘De de khuda ke naam’ in Alam Ara . Khan sings ‘Aye Mere Pyare Watan’ on screen in Kabuliwala . Another small time actor MV Rajan can been singing ‘Ganga aaye kahaan se’ in the same film.

5 His biggest commercial hit Madhumati was once in a lifetime coming together of many legends: Ritwick Ghatak as the writer, Hrishikesh Mukhejee as editor, Salil Chowdhury as composer and Dilip Kumar as actor. Bimal da shot a major part of the film in the outdoors in Nainital but was disappointed to see the results in a review. He decided to discard majority of what he filmed and reshot many sequences again in Mumbai. It was the magic of Dilip Gupta’s camera work that the difference can hardly be noticed.

6 Just before his death Roy was working on one of his most ambitious project, a bi-lingual film titled Amrit Kumbh Ki Khoj Mein based on Samaresh Basu’s novel. He had shot one schedule with his unit during an actual kumbh mela in Allahabad in the early 60s.

During the shoot, once his entire unit was detained by Allahabad Police as it hadn’t taken the permit from local authorities. But once the authorities got to know it was for a Bimal Roy film they relaxed the terms for the shoot and gave the required permissions. The film’s screenplay was penned by Gulzar and Dharmendra was to play the lead, the leading ladies had not been finalised. Many years later, his son Joy Bimal Roy restored and released 11 minutes of the footage.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 7:52:06 AM |

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