Bombay Showcase

Once upon a time in Kandivali

Memorable compositions were once shot against the backdrop of the Poisar river.– Photo: Special arrangement  

C Ramchandra’s orchestral and vocal compositions in the film Shehnai (1947) are memorable. Remember ‘ Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday… Aur khilau murgi ke murgi ke ande …’? However, my retracing of the Poisar river has a different song from this film. And it’s an interesting kahâni . Suno .

While interviewing old denizens of Kandivali, an octogenarian, Joe D’Souza, told me that he had seen a film crew shooting a song on this river. After days of poking his memory, he recalled the first two words of a song: “ Chhaiya Chhaiya. ” No more clues, except: “when the film was made it was around the time of India’s independence.”

My research suggested that two studios, Bombay Talkies and Filmistan, were near the river. It was likely that crews from these studios might have come to Kandivali. What about ‘ Chhaiya, Chhaiy a’? Sifting through the 1947 film titles, I zeroed in on Filmistan’s Shehnai . I wanted to get the actual film. But the archive in Pune didn’t bear fruit; and no other source was of any use. However, the song-booklet of the film had ‘ Chhuk chhuk chhaiya chhaiya ’ listed. I jumped with joy. Was it filmed on the very river I was in search of?

A friend and a film scholar in Karachi eventually got me a CD of the film. Though not of a good quality, it was enough for me to see the song that had ‘ Chhuk chhuk chhaiya chhaiya…Raja ki Talaiya mein sone ki machhariya ’ (‘In the beloved’s pond swim golden fish’) sung by Meena Kapoor and Binapani Mukherjee. In 2007, when I made the short film Kandivali: A River Saga , the river’s background still looked the same, except that it is now a gutter. Kandivali… was later shown in the Voices from the Waters International Film Festival in Bengaluru. I also showed it in Kandivali, when older men and women quietly wept over the fate of the river.

(Amrit Gangar is an author, film historian, theoretician and curator)

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 8:46:48 PM |

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