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Books > Performing Arts > Cinema > Music Masti Modernity (The Cinema of Nasir Husain)
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Music Masti Modernity (The Cinema of Nasir Husain)
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Music Masti Modernity (The Cinema of Nasir Husain)
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About The Book

Nasir Husain’s career as writer—director—producer, spanning nearly five decades, has shaped commercial Hindi cinema as it exists today. He is by every appraisal as great a film-maker as Mehboob Khan Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy or Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra or Manmohan Desai, yet he is unforgivably hider-appreciated. Akshay Manwani takes the first big step to restore that balance with this book.

Starting off as a writer with films like Shubnam, Anarkali, Munimji and Paying Guest, Nasir Husain debuted as a director in 1957 with the smash hit Tumsa Nahin Dekha. Over the next twenty years, he delivered one musical blockbuster after another, including Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Teesri Manzil, Caravan, Yaadon Ki Baaraat and Hum Kisise Kum Nabeen. The flamboyance and style of his films came to define the Hindi masala entertainer, replete with drama, comedy, action and great music. After a few blips in the 1980s, Husain bounced back strongly with his writing for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, winning over a whole new generation.

Music, Masti, Modernity examines the broad tropes of Husain's films, and also the enduring song-and-dance sequences that were essential to his cinema. Through interviews conducted with a number of prominent industry insiders — such as Aamir Khan, Mansoor Khan, Asha Parekh, Javed Akhtar, Karan Johar, Farah Khan and Aditya Chopra — Husain's own family members, as well as film studies scholars, the hook contextualizes Husain's legacy. We see him finally as more than the director of fun, frothy films; we see him as an important auteur of Hindi cinema.

About The Author

AKSHAY MANWVANI turned to freelance writing in 2009. He has since written on Indian cinema and popular culture for a variety of publications such as The Caravan, The Indian Quarterly, Scroll.in, Mint, Business Standard and Mumbai Mirror.

Akshay's first book, Sahir Ludhianvi: The People's Poet, was published in 2013 by HarperCollins. In 2014, Akshay won the Redlnk award for Best Lifestyle and Entertainment Story, given by the Press Club, Mumbai, for his detailed feature on B.R. Chopra's television series Mahabharat. Akshay lives with his daughter and wife in Mumbai. He is a proud homemaker.

Foreword

Aamir Khan

One of my earliest memories of Chachajaan is him coming home from work and suddenly deciding, on the spur of the moment, to take all the kids to Khandala! So he bundled all the kids — Nuzhat, Mansoor, Nazish, Nikhat, Faisal and me — into the backseat of his car, Chachijaan sat in front with him, and off we went for a sudden adventure listening to the Beatles.

I think for me his films have this same quality. They are spontaneous, full of adventure, romance, fun, music and the outdoors ... and highly entertaining ... like a sudden freak holiday ... and, there is always a journey in there somewhere.

The incident I described above probably happened around 1969-1970. You might be wondering how we listened to music in the car back then. At that time cars didn't have built-in music systems. This was before even cassette decks had come in. Well, Chachajaan had modified a turntable, and had got that fixed in his car. He had built his own music system for his car! It had a bouncy spring mechanism inside to keep the record steady, but on larger bumps it would skip. The records were the small 45 RPM types that were meant to be played at home on a regular turntable, but the centre of the record had to be cut into a larger hole to make them play in this gizmo. This should give you an idea just how much into music he was.

Chachajaan has always been like a father figure to me. My father, while very loving, caring and providing, was not around very often, and when he was, we were too scared of him to get too close. Chachajaan was different. He was always fun to be with. He was kind, gentle, caring, intelligent, with an amazing sense of humour. He was a natural storyteller. I was drawn to him. All the kids, his own, their friends, his nieces and nephews, were always happy to be around him. He was never strict, never giving us lectures, never boring, always exciting, always a naughty smile playing on his lips.

Half my childhood was spent at 'Pali', as the house was called. Since we lived right next door, at the slightest chance Nikhat and I would pop over. Both Chachajaan and Chachijaan were always welcoming. They were happy to see the house filled with kids. When I think about it now, it must have been quite a strain on them to have us around ALL the time. But never once did they make us feel unwanted or unwelcome. Such love and generosity! I truly feel privileged. Pali has been a very significant part of my growing-up years. A lot of what I am today is a result of those happy times I spent there, and all that I absorbed while growing up.

I feel very privileged for one more reason: I got to work under Chachajaan. I quit my formal education after completing junior college and started working with him as an assistant director. This brought me even closer to him. For four years I spent every waking moment with him. I sat in on all his meetings (creative and otherwise), music sessions with Pancham Uncle and Majrooh Sa'ab, business meetings with distributors and financiers. I travelled with him, ate with him, watched films with him, gave him his medicine, discussed everything under the sun with him.

Those four years were one of my biggest learnings ... my college! Working with him I got to see his professional side, and it was exactly the same as his personal side. He was very much the same person: jovial, full of fun, sharp sense of humour. His sets were like a picnic. Everyone working in good humour. The mood and atmosphere of any working space is created by the boss. And what a boss. Talented, kind, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, always cracking jokes. The only thing I discovered about him at work which I had not noticed at home was his leadership quality. Chachajaan was a natural leader, and everyone loved to follow him. He had a very quiet aggressive side to him, but which was never negative. It was a life force which propelled him.

Watching him work taught me many things about film-making, but more than that it taught me so many things which we never imagine to be a part of film-making but in fact are critical and essential to how a film turns out. One of the most important in that list is people management. How to handle stars, how to handle creative people, how to handle business people, when to be soft, when to put pressure, how to get out of a sticky situation, and the all-important: crisis management. There was only one thing I was not able to learn from him, try as I might ... and that is, how to disconnect from my work. Chachajaan managed this beautiful balance between his professional responsibilities and his personal life. He always managed to finish his work by 6-6.30 p.m. and would be home by around 7 p.m. He spent a lot of time with family, at home. And when he was with family he was not distracted by thoughts of work. He was a man who believed in moderation, for example, two drinks every night, never more. I'm an obsessive personality, a person of extremes. Moderation is the one thing I was not able to imbibe from him.

Those for years were one of my biggest learnings … my college! Working with him I got to see his professional side, and it was exactly the same as his personal side. He was very much the same person: jovial, full of fun, sharp sense of humour. His sets were like a picnic. Everyone working in good humour. The mood and atmosphere of any working space is created by the boss. And what a boss. Talented, kind, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, always cracking jokes. The only thing I discovered about him at work which I had not noticed at home was his leadership quality. Chachajaan was a natural leader, and everyone loved to follow him. He had a very quiet aggressive side to him, but which was never negative. It was a life force which propelled him.

Watching him work taught me many things about film-making, but more than that it taught me so many things which we never imagine to be a part of film-making but in fact are critical and essential to how a film turns out. One of the most important in that list is people management. How to handle stars, how to handle creative people, how to handle business people, when to be soft, when to put pressure, how to get out of a sticky situation, and the all-important: crisis management.

There was only one thing I was not able to learn from him, try as I might ... and that is, how to disconnect from my work. Chachajaan managed this beautiful balance between his professional responsibilities and his personal life. He always managed to finish his work by 6-6.30 p.m. and would be home by around 7 p.m. He spent a lot of time with family, at home. And when he was with family he was not distracted by thoughts of work. He was a man who believed in moderation, for example, two drinks every night, never more. I'm an obsessive personality, a person of extremes. Moderation is the one thing I was not able to imbibe from him.

Chachajaan is the person who gave me my first opportunity to act. I owe my career to him, and to Mansoor who directed my first film. Chachajaan was always so proud and happy to see me progress, grow, go from strength to strength. He saw me make mistakes, learn from my mistakes. He never told me what to do and what not to do. He let me be on my own. I always knew I could go to him for anything but he never imposed his thoughts on me. What a rare person.

My proudest moment was when I invited him and Chachijaan to the first day of shooting of the first film I produced, Lagaan (2001). My dad was there, my mother was there. These four people, Ammi, Abbajaan, Chachajaan and Chachijaan were the ones who had taught me a lot of what I have learnt in the journey of my life. I was so happy to show them the village set we had built in Kutch. I walked them around the location to show them all the production arrangements we had made. Their proud beaming faces brought tears to my eyes. They had held me in their hands when I was born, and now I had finally started my own company! I was a grown man now.

By and large, I am a happy man, with few regrets. One of my biggest regrets is that Chachijaan was not there when Lagaan released. She passed away a day after we completed the shoot. She never got to see the film.

Another big regret for me is that Chachajaan did not get to see Taare Zameen Par (2007), the first film I directed. I so, so wanted to show him what I had made. But he passed away soon after Chachijaan, in fact a year and a half later.

And my last regret is that both he and Chachijaan were not around to see their grandson become an actor. Imran, whom I launched in Jaane Tu ... Ya Jaane Na (2008). We all miss them so much.

I would like to thank Akshay Manwani for writing this book on Chachajaan, so that lovers of Indian cinema can read about him and his amazing work, and his films, which gave all of India so much joy. Chachajaan is one of the greatest film-makers we have had, and through this book we can cherish him and perhaps learn.

Introduction

It's hard to explain a book on Nasir Husain's cinema. He is not Mehboob Khan, V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor or Bimal Roy, the high priests of Indian cinema, who merged social consciousness with box-office trappings. Neither is he Yash Chopra whose films have a certain seriousness, a certain intensity about them. Unlike Hrishikesh Mukherjee, his films do not celebrate the personal, intimate view. Nor does Husain have one genre-defining or groundbreaking film like K. Asif's Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Ramesh Sippy's Sholay (1975), Manmohan Desai's Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) or Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998). Two of Husain's best films are credited largely to the talents of other men. Teesri Manzil (1966), with its crisp editing and interesting cinematography, is testimony to Vijay Anand's terrific cinematic sensibilities. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), which brought back a certain innocent romance amidst all the violent and garish films of the 1980s, is seen as Husain's son, Mansoor Khan's film.

But Husain is important. Making his directorial debut with Tumsa Nahin Dekha in 1957, Husain's films ushered in a new idiom. That he deliberately distanced himself from the nation-building narratives of the films of the post-independence era and perfected a certain kind of 'rom-com-musical' that was uniquely his, doesn't make his cinema any less meaningful. His cinema was entirely about entertainment. And he was unapologetic about it. `I couldn't make the kind of films Mrinal Sen or Shyam Benegal makes. They are very good films, but it's not my style. I make entertainment films mainly for college kids, not for the elite.'

Herein lies the problem. It is fashionable for a majority of those who write, critique or comment on Indian cinema to disregard anything frothy or fun. As Kaushik Bhaumik, associate professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said, 'It is the Gandhian guilt about fun. Nation- building was all very serious and everybody had to work very hard. No time for fun.' This is in complete contrast to the regard with which the Busby Berkeley and Vincente Minnelli musicals, or the films starring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, are held in the West. They are a very important part of American film tradition. `In the Hollywood context, nobody is embarrassed about the big entertainment days. The late- 1920s, early-1930s are considered heritage ... as part of American culture. The same attitude should be taken towards entertainment cinema made in India,' added Bhaumik.

Moreover, as film critic and author Jai Arjun Singh noted, `Good cinema is not required to follow a specific, restricted model (say, the model of psychological realism as established by the European avant-garde or the American indie movement) ... In assessing a film, the far more relevant question is whether it has succeeded in realizing an integrated, internally consistent world —irrespective of whether that world is founded on hyper-drama or kitchen-sink realism or one of the many, many things in between.'

This is precisely why Husain's work is significant. Within the contours of his own cinematic world, there is reflection on Indian life and culture. His films place on record a cosmopolitanism and modernity in Indian society at a certain point in time — a largely untold story. Sure, his films have a distinct Western element, but how well they have been adapted to the Indian context. These are films laden with references and influences, from music to literature to the cinema of other directors and cultures. His song sequences speak of more than just an ear for good music; they are masterpieces of presentation and picturization. With every new movie, his dialogue-writing, yet another of his numerous talents, kept pace with changing times — moving from the Hindustani flavour of the 1950s and 1960s, to the Angry Young Man' cinema of the 1970s, to expressing the language of young, eternal love played out between Raj (Aamir Khan) and Rashmi (Juhi Chawla) in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Through films like Munimji (1955), Dil Deke Dekho (1959), Teesri Manzil (1966), Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), and over a career spanning forty-five years, Husain had a major impact in shaping Hindi cinema's legacy as it exists today.

Most importantly, he had, what the eminent film historian Nasreen Munni Kabir called, 'an individual voice, which was different from the others. You cannot say he was copying Bimal Roy, Mehboob sa'ab or Raj Kapoor or Kidar Sharma. He was not copying anyone.'

A few points need to be kept in mind while reading this book. This book is not a biography which looks at Husain's personal life in great detail. Instead, it focuses essentially on Husain's cinematic craft. If there are references to his life (as there are of his early life and his later years), these are merely to understand where he came from, the influences that shaped his sensibilities and the effect the withdrawal from films had on him. If one is looking for more sensational accounts of Husain's personal life or his life beyond films, this is not that book.

Contents and Sample Pages







Music Masti Modernity (The Cinema of Nasir Husain)

Item Code:
NAQ509
Cover:
PAPERBACK
Edition:
2016
ISBN:
9789352640966
Language:
English
Size:
8.50 X 5.50 inch
Pages:
424 (9 Color & 27 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 0.4 Kg
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$25.00   Shipping Free
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About The Book

Nasir Husain’s career as writer—director—producer, spanning nearly five decades, has shaped commercial Hindi cinema as it exists today. He is by every appraisal as great a film-maker as Mehboob Khan Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy or Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra or Manmohan Desai, yet he is unforgivably hider-appreciated. Akshay Manwani takes the first big step to restore that balance with this book.

Starting off as a writer with films like Shubnam, Anarkali, Munimji and Paying Guest, Nasir Husain debuted as a director in 1957 with the smash hit Tumsa Nahin Dekha. Over the next twenty years, he delivered one musical blockbuster after another, including Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, Teesri Manzil, Caravan, Yaadon Ki Baaraat and Hum Kisise Kum Nabeen. The flamboyance and style of his films came to define the Hindi masala entertainer, replete with drama, comedy, action and great music. After a few blips in the 1980s, Husain bounced back strongly with his writing for Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, winning over a whole new generation.

Music, Masti, Modernity examines the broad tropes of Husain's films, and also the enduring song-and-dance sequences that were essential to his cinema. Through interviews conducted with a number of prominent industry insiders — such as Aamir Khan, Mansoor Khan, Asha Parekh, Javed Akhtar, Karan Johar, Farah Khan and Aditya Chopra — Husain's own family members, as well as film studies scholars, the hook contextualizes Husain's legacy. We see him finally as more than the director of fun, frothy films; we see him as an important auteur of Hindi cinema.

About The Author

AKSHAY MANWVANI turned to freelance writing in 2009. He has since written on Indian cinema and popular culture for a variety of publications such as The Caravan, The Indian Quarterly, Scroll.in, Mint, Business Standard and Mumbai Mirror.

Akshay's first book, Sahir Ludhianvi: The People's Poet, was published in 2013 by HarperCollins. In 2014, Akshay won the Redlnk award for Best Lifestyle and Entertainment Story, given by the Press Club, Mumbai, for his detailed feature on B.R. Chopra's television series Mahabharat. Akshay lives with his daughter and wife in Mumbai. He is a proud homemaker.

Foreword

Aamir Khan

One of my earliest memories of Chachajaan is him coming home from work and suddenly deciding, on the spur of the moment, to take all the kids to Khandala! So he bundled all the kids — Nuzhat, Mansoor, Nazish, Nikhat, Faisal and me — into the backseat of his car, Chachijaan sat in front with him, and off we went for a sudden adventure listening to the Beatles.

I think for me his films have this same quality. They are spontaneous, full of adventure, romance, fun, music and the outdoors ... and highly entertaining ... like a sudden freak holiday ... and, there is always a journey in there somewhere.

The incident I described above probably happened around 1969-1970. You might be wondering how we listened to music in the car back then. At that time cars didn't have built-in music systems. This was before even cassette decks had come in. Well, Chachajaan had modified a turntable, and had got that fixed in his car. He had built his own music system for his car! It had a bouncy spring mechanism inside to keep the record steady, but on larger bumps it would skip. The records were the small 45 RPM types that were meant to be played at home on a regular turntable, but the centre of the record had to be cut into a larger hole to make them play in this gizmo. This should give you an idea just how much into music he was.

Chachajaan has always been like a father figure to me. My father, while very loving, caring and providing, was not around very often, and when he was, we were too scared of him to get too close. Chachajaan was different. He was always fun to be with. He was kind, gentle, caring, intelligent, with an amazing sense of humour. He was a natural storyteller. I was drawn to him. All the kids, his own, their friends, his nieces and nephews, were always happy to be around him. He was never strict, never giving us lectures, never boring, always exciting, always a naughty smile playing on his lips.

Half my childhood was spent at 'Pali', as the house was called. Since we lived right next door, at the slightest chance Nikhat and I would pop over. Both Chachajaan and Chachijaan were always welcoming. They were happy to see the house filled with kids. When I think about it now, it must have been quite a strain on them to have us around ALL the time. But never once did they make us feel unwanted or unwelcome. Such love and generosity! I truly feel privileged. Pali has been a very significant part of my growing-up years. A lot of what I am today is a result of those happy times I spent there, and all that I absorbed while growing up.

I feel very privileged for one more reason: I got to work under Chachajaan. I quit my formal education after completing junior college and started working with him as an assistant director. This brought me even closer to him. For four years I spent every waking moment with him. I sat in on all his meetings (creative and otherwise), music sessions with Pancham Uncle and Majrooh Sa'ab, business meetings with distributors and financiers. I travelled with him, ate with him, watched films with him, gave him his medicine, discussed everything under the sun with him.

Those four years were one of my biggest learnings ... my college! Working with him I got to see his professional side, and it was exactly the same as his personal side. He was very much the same person: jovial, full of fun, sharp sense of humour. His sets were like a picnic. Everyone working in good humour. The mood and atmosphere of any working space is created by the boss. And what a boss. Talented, kind, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, always cracking jokes. The only thing I discovered about him at work which I had not noticed at home was his leadership quality. Chachajaan was a natural leader, and everyone loved to follow him. He had a very quiet aggressive side to him, but which was never negative. It was a life force which propelled him.

Watching him work taught me many things about film-making, but more than that it taught me so many things which we never imagine to be a part of film-making but in fact are critical and essential to how a film turns out. One of the most important in that list is people management. How to handle stars, how to handle creative people, how to handle business people, when to be soft, when to put pressure, how to get out of a sticky situation, and the all-important: crisis management. There was only one thing I was not able to learn from him, try as I might ... and that is, how to disconnect from my work. Chachajaan managed this beautiful balance between his professional responsibilities and his personal life. He always managed to finish his work by 6-6.30 p.m. and would be home by around 7 p.m. He spent a lot of time with family, at home. And when he was with family he was not distracted by thoughts of work. He was a man who believed in moderation, for example, two drinks every night, never more. I'm an obsessive personality, a person of extremes. Moderation is the one thing I was not able to imbibe from him.

Those for years were one of my biggest learnings … my college! Working with him I got to see his professional side, and it was exactly the same as his personal side. He was very much the same person: jovial, full of fun, sharp sense of humour. His sets were like a picnic. Everyone working in good humour. The mood and atmosphere of any working space is created by the boss. And what a boss. Talented, kind, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, always cracking jokes. The only thing I discovered about him at work which I had not noticed at home was his leadership quality. Chachajaan was a natural leader, and everyone loved to follow him. He had a very quiet aggressive side to him, but which was never negative. It was a life force which propelled him.

Watching him work taught me many things about film-making, but more than that it taught me so many things which we never imagine to be a part of film-making but in fact are critical and essential to how a film turns out. One of the most important in that list is people management. How to handle stars, how to handle creative people, how to handle business people, when to be soft, when to put pressure, how to get out of a sticky situation, and the all-important: crisis management.

There was only one thing I was not able to learn from him, try as I might ... and that is, how to disconnect from my work. Chachajaan managed this beautiful balance between his professional responsibilities and his personal life. He always managed to finish his work by 6-6.30 p.m. and would be home by around 7 p.m. He spent a lot of time with family, at home. And when he was with family he was not distracted by thoughts of work. He was a man who believed in moderation, for example, two drinks every night, never more. I'm an obsessive personality, a person of extremes. Moderation is the one thing I was not able to imbibe from him.

Chachajaan is the person who gave me my first opportunity to act. I owe my career to him, and to Mansoor who directed my first film. Chachajaan was always so proud and happy to see me progress, grow, go from strength to strength. He saw me make mistakes, learn from my mistakes. He never told me what to do and what not to do. He let me be on my own. I always knew I could go to him for anything but he never imposed his thoughts on me. What a rare person.

My proudest moment was when I invited him and Chachijaan to the first day of shooting of the first film I produced, Lagaan (2001). My dad was there, my mother was there. These four people, Ammi, Abbajaan, Chachajaan and Chachijaan were the ones who had taught me a lot of what I have learnt in the journey of my life. I was so happy to show them the village set we had built in Kutch. I walked them around the location to show them all the production arrangements we had made. Their proud beaming faces brought tears to my eyes. They had held me in their hands when I was born, and now I had finally started my own company! I was a grown man now.

By and large, I am a happy man, with few regrets. One of my biggest regrets is that Chachijaan was not there when Lagaan released. She passed away a day after we completed the shoot. She never got to see the film.

Another big regret for me is that Chachajaan did not get to see Taare Zameen Par (2007), the first film I directed. I so, so wanted to show him what I had made. But he passed away soon after Chachijaan, in fact a year and a half later.

And my last regret is that both he and Chachijaan were not around to see their grandson become an actor. Imran, whom I launched in Jaane Tu ... Ya Jaane Na (2008). We all miss them so much.

I would like to thank Akshay Manwani for writing this book on Chachajaan, so that lovers of Indian cinema can read about him and his amazing work, and his films, which gave all of India so much joy. Chachajaan is one of the greatest film-makers we have had, and through this book we can cherish him and perhaps learn.

Introduction

It's hard to explain a book on Nasir Husain's cinema. He is not Mehboob Khan, V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor or Bimal Roy, the high priests of Indian cinema, who merged social consciousness with box-office trappings. Neither is he Yash Chopra whose films have a certain seriousness, a certain intensity about them. Unlike Hrishikesh Mukherjee, his films do not celebrate the personal, intimate view. Nor does Husain have one genre-defining or groundbreaking film like K. Asif's Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Ramesh Sippy's Sholay (1975), Manmohan Desai's Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) or Ram Gopal Varma's Satya (1998). Two of Husain's best films are credited largely to the talents of other men. Teesri Manzil (1966), with its crisp editing and interesting cinematography, is testimony to Vijay Anand's terrific cinematic sensibilities. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), which brought back a certain innocent romance amidst all the violent and garish films of the 1980s, is seen as Husain's son, Mansoor Khan's film.

But Husain is important. Making his directorial debut with Tumsa Nahin Dekha in 1957, Husain's films ushered in a new idiom. That he deliberately distanced himself from the nation-building narratives of the films of the post-independence era and perfected a certain kind of 'rom-com-musical' that was uniquely his, doesn't make his cinema any less meaningful. His cinema was entirely about entertainment. And he was unapologetic about it. `I couldn't make the kind of films Mrinal Sen or Shyam Benegal makes. They are very good films, but it's not my style. I make entertainment films mainly for college kids, not for the elite.'

Herein lies the problem. It is fashionable for a majority of those who write, critique or comment on Indian cinema to disregard anything frothy or fun. As Kaushik Bhaumik, associate professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said, 'It is the Gandhian guilt about fun. Nation- building was all very serious and everybody had to work very hard. No time for fun.' This is in complete contrast to the regard with which the Busby Berkeley and Vincente Minnelli musicals, or the films starring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, are held in the West. They are a very important part of American film tradition. `In the Hollywood context, nobody is embarrassed about the big entertainment days. The late- 1920s, early-1930s are considered heritage ... as part of American culture. The same attitude should be taken towards entertainment cinema made in India,' added Bhaumik.

Moreover, as film critic and author Jai Arjun Singh noted, `Good cinema is not required to follow a specific, restricted model (say, the model of psychological realism as established by the European avant-garde or the American indie movement) ... In assessing a film, the far more relevant question is whether it has succeeded in realizing an integrated, internally consistent world —irrespective of whether that world is founded on hyper-drama or kitchen-sink realism or one of the many, many things in between.'

This is precisely why Husain's work is significant. Within the contours of his own cinematic world, there is reflection on Indian life and culture. His films place on record a cosmopolitanism and modernity in Indian society at a certain point in time — a largely untold story. Sure, his films have a distinct Western element, but how well they have been adapted to the Indian context. These are films laden with references and influences, from music to literature to the cinema of other directors and cultures. His song sequences speak of more than just an ear for good music; they are masterpieces of presentation and picturization. With every new movie, his dialogue-writing, yet another of his numerous talents, kept pace with changing times — moving from the Hindustani flavour of the 1950s and 1960s, to the Angry Young Man' cinema of the 1970s, to expressing the language of young, eternal love played out between Raj (Aamir Khan) and Rashmi (Juhi Chawla) in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Through films like Munimji (1955), Dil Deke Dekho (1959), Teesri Manzil (1966), Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992), and over a career spanning forty-five years, Husain had a major impact in shaping Hindi cinema's legacy as it exists today.

Most importantly, he had, what the eminent film historian Nasreen Munni Kabir called, 'an individual voice, which was different from the others. You cannot say he was copying Bimal Roy, Mehboob sa'ab or Raj Kapoor or Kidar Sharma. He was not copying anyone.'

A few points need to be kept in mind while reading this book. This book is not a biography which looks at Husain's personal life in great detail. Instead, it focuses essentially on Husain's cinematic craft. If there are references to his life (as there are of his early life and his later years), these are merely to understand where he came from, the influences that shaped his sensibilities and the effect the withdrawal from films had on him. If one is looking for more sensational accounts of Husain's personal life or his life beyond films, this is not that book.

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