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Keeping up with famous fathers

CHAT OVER CHAI Filmmakers Arun Dutt (in blue) and Joy Roy, sons of legendary filmmakers Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy

CHAT OVER CHAI Filmmakers Arun Dutt (in blue) and Joy Roy, sons of legendary filmmakers Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: MOHAMMED YOUSUF

They are sons of two of the biggest pioneers of Indian cinema, yet they are not actively involved in filmmaking or acting themselves. Instead, Arun Dutt, the son of Guru Dutt and Joy Bimal Roy, the son of Bimal Roy, want to focus on remastering the negatives of classics and re-releasing their fathers' works. Approaching the anniversary of their fathers' and for the Moving Images anniversary, they tell Renuka Vijay Kumar how they plan to keep their fathers' work alive for generations to come. Arun Dutt: I've met Joy a couple of times, but we've not sat down for a chat. This is the first time we are sitting down and talking to each other. Our families did have interaction during their times, but then, as time goes... we never really interacted. Joy Bimal Roy: No... we didn't. Arun: What we have been talking about is what we should do about our old films. Both of us are very concerned about our negatives deteriorating. It's imperative that we rejuvenate our negatives and get them back to more or less the same condition that they were in when the films were first released. We are planning to `colourise' (digitally remastering black and white film into colour) all the films so that they are more viable for the audiences today. And of course, re-release the negatives with pure sound. Joy: What I did find was a 40-year-old negative of the film that he (Bimal Roy) shot of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and I put that together in the form of a documentary. It didn't need any restoring, it was in pristine condition. It's been a dream to see at least one film of my father's in colour because I think it will work, it's a love story called Madhumati. It's timeless. Maybe with a little bit of editing. (Turning to Arun) I believe, in Mughal-E-Azam, two songs were removed from the original. Arun: If a song is removed, I could still understand, but chopping the film...no. Joy: No, I'm talking about reducing the number of songs in a film to reduce its length. Arun: The audience of today has a very limited attention span, so we have to try and get it (the duration of a film) down because these are classics, which have to be remembered for generations to come. Bimal Da's films...are such classics, I've been such a fan of his films. When I was a teenager, I would rather see Bimal da's films. I used to cycle 15 kilometres to see movies like Sujata, Bandini ... I was a total fan. Joy: Yes, they are immortal. They belong to a different time. You know, I feel his (Arun's) father was a very passionate man. My father was very underplayed. His whole persona also was a very quiet one. His father was a huge contrast to mine. But yet they belonged to a time when there was graciousness and dignity. Women were treated as women and not as sex objects or item girls. I've realised that audiences now obviously need something short and snappy. Arun: They do. Joy: When you think about your father's cinema, as classics they should remain untouched, but would you say that when you are planning to colour, you colour the whole thing and release a shorter version or you wouldn't think of doing that? Arun: We are starting with restoring Sahib, Biwi aur Ghulam. The only way to make it viable commercially is to release it in colour format . Basically, when we colour a film we keep the length in mind - say 250 minutes. When it goes beyond that length, yes, it needs to be trimmed. You see the audiences reaction and remove what doesn't work. Joy: My father was very fond of your father and always referred to him as Devdas. He was a character like that - lovelorn. Arun: He was always in search of something... Joy: In fact, I can imagine your father playing the role of Devdas very well. Arun: My father never enjoyed acting. Acting was something that was forced upon him. Whether it was economic reasons or others. He was never comfortable as an actor. Joy: How would you rate him as an actor? Arun: He was quite good. See him in Mr and Mrs '55, it is totally against his real life persona. Joy: I rate my father very highly. I actually got to know my father through his films. I was 10 when he died and didn't see much of him. Some of his colleagues say his nickname was `married print'. Most of his films have strong women characters and in Nutan he found an amazing protagonist. His compassion and humanity came through to me in his films. Every time I watch his films, I discover something new and for me, it's a learning process, a humbling process. I am really privileged to be born to a father and mother like this. I'm sure Arun will agree - that to have a talented mother is wonderful. I remember your mother coming over to our house. Our families were in touch, but somehow, as children we never met. Arun: The disadvantage, which Bimal d a faced, unlike my father, was that he was a director. My father was an actor, so there is a lot of footage of him. Joy: Yes, I don't have many moving images of my father. Just a few pictures and some footage shot of the family.





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