Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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All about Hrishikesh Mukherji’s Udham singh


About Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Udham Singh film (and Gulzar, dressed in black, making fiery speeches in Hyde Park)

With the new Udham Singh film (Sardar Udham) about to come out, I’m sharing this news item from 1970 about the Hrishikesh Mukherjee-directed film Man from India, which was partly shot (in London) and then shelved. The film was about Udham Singh, played by Parikshit Sahni – who went by the screen name Ajay Sahni at the time. (The piece should be readable in this format, but anyone who wants it in higher resolution, let me know.)

Man from India was never finished for reasons that remain unclear (I have been told it had to do with either Hrishi-da’s poor health or the logistics involved or both), but years later one of the producers, Balraj Tah (who is mentioned in this article), decided to complete it himself – with the aid of some of Hrishi-da’s regular collaborators like Gulzar and Jaywant Pathare, and with “star value” added in the shape of Vinod Khanna who got top billing despite having a smallish part. The result was a remarkably schizophrenic film, completed in 1977 but released (I think) in 1987. Though it is a serious-intentioned work (“heart in the right place”, as we patronisingly say), it opens with a rambunctious, happy-happy music score accompanying the opening credits. The finished film even includes a bit of the footage that Hrishi-da had shot years earlier, which should add to a viewer’s confusion: in the framing scene where Udham Singh is being tried for murder in 1940 (with VK Krishna Menon defending him by speaking Hindi to surprised-looking British jurists), Parikshit Sahni looks very young; but he looks older and bulkier in the flashback scenes where Udham Singh is supposed to be much younger!

The film is definitely a curio though.And if you have not seen Gulzar in anything else other than white attire,look at these screenshots.He had a solid part including scenes set In Hyde Park where he rallies against the Empire.

Credit-Jai Arjun singh

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