The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and Alliance Francaise de Bangalore hailed the completion of 75 years of sound in Indian films by holding this celebration from Dec.8 to Dec.14 2006. A number of other bodies were involved, including the National Film Archives, National Film Development Corporation, Karnataka Department of Culture, Max Mueller Bhavan and so on. But there was a lingering sadness, quietness, wistfulness to the entire proceedings. This is perhaps befitting, given that the cumulative sound of 75 years can be drowned out in a single pub’s blast of remix even if that remix is of “sai.nyaa.N dil me.n aanaa re”!
last-mentioned song as well as “pa.nchhii banuu.N
u.Datii phiruu.N” and “chhun chhun chhun baaje paayal morii” were
featured in the opening ceremony held at the Lavanya theater. A bevy of
costumed girls danced to the original audio. The choreography was quite
pleasant and appropriate. The lead dancer in the Shamshad Begum number
had an uncanny resemblance of looks as well as dancing style with the
dancer of yesteryears Cuckoo! This was followed by the speeches and
felicitations. Among the honorees was Meena Kapoor who had traveled all
the way from
The last attraction of the evening was the screening of Sargam (1950). I had planned to leave after a few minutes, but for someone who had never seen a film from that era on the big screen, the full theatre sound of Lata’s pristine voice and sublime singing was an overwhelming sensation. “tinaka tin taanii” fell like a golden sledgehammer upon my eardrums and I was spellbound for the rest of the evening. I could not bear to leave until the very end. I savored each note of Lata’s voice and C.Ramchandra’s music.
The rest of the week saw the screening of a number of other movies at Suchitra Film Society and Badami House. The films shown included Ayodhya Ka Raja (1932), Jhoola (1941), Roti (1942), Kismat (1943), Tansen (1943), Ratan (1944), Shirin Farhad (1945), Shaheed (1948), Barsat (1949), Andaz (1949), Sangdil (1952), Anarkali (1953), Foot Path (1953), Shama Parwana (1954), Naagin (1954), Aar Paar (1954), Bhabi (1957), Phir Subah Hogi (1958), Madhumati (1958), Laila Majnu (1945). I wish I could have seen some of them, but unfortunately I did not get a chance. I was told that Ayodhya Ka Raja (which is the oldest film surviving in the National Film Archives) was a very well-made movie.
archives had carried an exhibition of film posters ranging from the
very early to the newest to the International Film Festival in
occasion was graced by a number of people who are passionate about old
films and their music. They possess encyclopedic knowledge about this
topic. The talks series featured these
people talking about the topic dearest to their hearts. The first one
was an audio-based presentation titled Sargam Ka Safar by Shri Nalin
Shah. Starting out with some of the earliest film songs, he traced the
history of this genre through stylistic and technological changes,
highlighting the music directors and singers who helped shape this form
of music. It was truly a walk down melody lane. And this was perhaps
the only item that truly featured close to 75 years of music since
Nalin-ji used a few recent songs to close his talk, while making no
bones about his dislike of them!
Sargam Ka Safar, I read my paper (rather gave a presentation, starting
off with a recording of Zubeida-ji singing a snatch of “badalaa dilawaayegaa yaa rab”
from Alam Ara) titled Archiving
Indian Film Music. I am glad that the presentation triggered off a
flurry of questions and an extended commentary from Shri V.A.K.Ranga
Rao, who agreed with some of the points I was trying to make, but also
brought out a slightly different perspective. Immediately following
this Shri Shailendra Diwan – another rmimer – read Dr. Surjit Singh’s
paper titled Sound
Music of Hindi Talkies: The First Four Years. This was acknowledged
as a highly informative paper by one and all.
actually missed all the other talks since they happened during the day
time on weekdays. Hamraaz-ji from
sound recording of Alam Ara was done by Shri Sarvottam Badami from
another interesting historical anchor point was the venue of the
closing ceremony. It was at the Elgin Talkies. It was built in 1896 and
has screened the first films shown by the Lumiere brothers, has
screened a number of silent era films and of course Alam Ara. Today, it
shows re-runs of B-grade type movies since it has fallen out of favor
with the multiplex-era cinegoers. But it has to be one of the oldest
active theatres in the whole world! Standing in such a place, one
realizes that this is the beginning of time as far as films are
theatre itself is not in very good shape, but I am glad that it is
there. I was chatting with Hamraaz-ji and others before the ceremony
began, when Shri Bhaktavatsala (erstwhile chairman of KFCC) introduced
us to the theatre owner. He was carrying an innocuous-looking notebook.
We all must have given a collective gasp when we realized that this was
a part of their logs going back all the way to 1922! The movie names
and other relevant information along with starting and ending dates
were neatly recorded. The log book showed that Alam Ara was shown here
3 months after its release and that it was re-released a year later.
This was a piece of history we were handling!
closing ceremony was conducted in a unique fashion by honoring
projectionists who had been working for 30 years or more – one of them
had done this for 42 years! As was mentioned, these people who bring us
our dearest form of entertainment remain invisible. The finale was the
screening of Laila Majnu (1945).