Despite the fact that I love reading as much as I enjoy watching films, I don’t read too much cinema-related writing. Part of the reason is that a lot of what I see in bookstores consists of biographies or autobiographies, and I have a horror of picking up one of those, only to find myself reading the sordid details of people’s personal lives. I’m really not interested in that; what I do like to read is about films themselves, and the professional side of those who make them. (Though I’m happy reading anecdotes like how Madan Mohan persuaded Manna Dey to sing Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare, or how Mohammad Rafi got to meet his idol).
So, when I came across Om Books International’s Housefull: The Golden Age of Hindi Cinema (Ed. Ziya Us Salam) and saw that it was a collection of mini essays about the best films of the 1950s and 60s, I decided this might be right up my street.
Do you recognise this tune? (The clip’s only a few seconds long, so it won’t take much time to listen to it). I’m sure most of you who like old Hindi film music will be able to guess this one.
O P Nayyar’s favourite guitarist was a man named Hazara Singh, but occasionally, he’d let another guitarist play a piece. As in this case. The man who played the guitar here was my father’s cousin, Samuel Naseeruddin ‘Sammy’ Daula.
Since my review of Aan consisted to a large extent of my family’s almost constant commentary on the film, I figured it was time to introduce you to them – and show you what we’re all about, especially when it comes to watching, appreciating, and mangling cinema.
If Rajkumar is the trademark ‘Shammi Kapoor at his peak’ film, then Tumsa Nahin Dekha is an equally – if not more – important film, because this is the one that made Shammi Kapoor into the icon he was by the mid-60s. Till Nasir Hussain got Shammi Kapoor to shave off his moustache and act as the devil-may-care hero of this film, Shammi was (as my father puts it), “Just another actor with a thin moustache and the usual roles. Nothing exceptional.” Tumsa Nahin Dekha gave him the opportunity to transform from the half-hearted, unexceptional sort-of-hero into a Shammi Kapoor who became almost an institution in himself.
I have spent the last few days busy with other activities (yes, I don’t even remember which was the last film I saw—which says a lot!) I have been busy giving interviews, getting photographed—ugh—and rehearsing reading aloud with getting jittery and breathless.
For those of you not in the know, this is all because I’m on the verge of the launch of my first novel, The Englishman’s Cameo.