Author: Ashok Raj
Publisher: Hay House
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9788189988272
A comprehensive, reel-life chronicle of Hindi film heroes and a kaleidoscopic view into the fascinating world of Hindi cinema.
This volume depicts the evolution of the Hindi film hero from the silent era to Dilip Kumar and his contemporaries. The film hero is portrayed as a credible representative of the social, cultural and political milieu of his era. The author contends that the development of Hindi cinema as a powerful expression of popular culture has been largely centred round the frontal figure of the hero.
Beginning with the pioneer of cinema in India, Dadasaheb Phalke, the author moves on to ‘resurrect’ forgotten heroes of the silent era such as Khalil and Raja Sandow. With the dramatic advent of the ‘talkies’, many new talents came to the fore.
The careers of the early heroes (for example, Sohrab Modi, V. Shantaram, Prithviraj Kapoor, Motilal and Ashok Kumar) – each of whom made a significant contribution – are traced.
Next, the legendary K. L. Saigal finds pride of place. He not only set new trends in acting and singing but also elevated the film hero and film music to a new plane.
After the untimely death of Saigal in early 1947, the spotlight focuses on Dilip Kumar, who made his debut in 1944, and soon emerged as the top-notch protagonist, despite the presence of a formidable array of actors. His phenomenal range of histrionics, his characterizations, his mannerisms and, above all, his command over the medium catapulted him to dizzying heights.
After a long innings as a hero, he switched over to senior roles, some of which are landmarks in themselves. His illustrious contemporaries, many of whom were stars in their own right, include the versatile Balraj Sahni, the irrepressible Raj Kapoor, the debonair Dev Anand, the master craftsman Guru Dutt, the impressive Shyam (who died young), the eccentric all-rounder Kishore Kumar, the subtle Bharat Bhushan, the ‘royal’ Pradeep Kumar, the dominating Raaj Kumar, ‘jubilee’ Rajendra Kumar, the patriotic Manoj Kumar, the polished Sunil Dutt, the jaunty Shammi Kapoor, the singer-actor Talat Mehmood and the accomplished Sanjeev Kumar.
There is a cameo on Rajesh Khanna (known as ‘the phenomenon’). Ajit and Premnath, heroes turned villains, also put in an appearance. Other heroes (such as Mahipal, Abhi Bhattacharya, Shekhar and Chandrashekhar), who have sunk into oblivion, are also mentioned.
The riveting narrative, which contains rare nuggets of information, also presents a compact history of mainstream Hindi cinema by placing personalities (including producers, directors, writers, musicians, singers, lyricists, photographers and technicians), events and trends in specific time frames.
This is a work that no one (film buff or not) can afford to miss.
Chapter 1 – The Curtain Begins To Lift…
Chapter 2 – The Formative Phase of Indian Cinema
Chapter 3 – K.L. Saigal and Other Early Heroes
Chapter 4 – The Arrival of Dilip Kumar
Chapter 5 – Dilip Kumar as Numero Uno
Chapter 6 – Dilip Kumar and the Indian School of Method Acting
Chapter 7 – Film and Portrayal Diversity in Dilip Kumar’s Cinema
Chapter 8 – Two Other Indigenous Heroes: Guru Dutt and Sanjeev Kumar
Chapter 9 – “Disciples” of Dilip Kumar and “The Phenomenon”
Chapter 10 – Heroes’ Gallery: Dilip Kumar’s Contemporaries
Appendix 1 – K.L. Saigal: Select Filmography
Appendix 2 – Dilip Kumar: Filmography