Birthday Special: He Glory And The Grime Of The World Of Dreams... By ALI PETER JOHN

| 30-04-2022 11:00 AM 10

Ali Peter John

The world of films is a world by itself which works according to its own rules and regulations which are never put down in words, but are stronger and harder and even more punishing and cruel than any other world. It is a world that can take you to the high heavens and can even leave you in the streets of hell where even the devil will not care for you ...

I have seen every kind of story, but I don't know why downpour outside is inspiring to tell you some of the most soul-searing and heart-tearing stories of men and women who experienced the ecstacy of success and then fell, sometimes for mistakes made by themselves and sometimes by their becoming victims of some cruel men and women or the most vicious circumstances created by the system which rules this good, bad, sad and mad industry...

They call him Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of the industry. He had a row of bungalows, he had hundreds of people working for him, he had his own horse carriages and the best breed of horses and the best brands of cars....

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But all this was as long as the silent era lasted and his downfall started with the rise of Ardeshir Irani who made the first talkie film, “Alam Ara' which sounded the death knell for Dadasaheb Phalke who fell on such bad days that when the industry was celebrating its silver jubilee outside the Gateway of India where he stood in the large crowd and the only man who recognised him was Prithviraj Kapoor who called him on stage as he trembled in sheer nervousness and all he could say was “meri Shakuntala ko sambhaal kar rakhna.'A few weeks later he was found dead outside the Ranjit Studios and no one cared. They started caring for him kind years after he died.

Chandulal Shah was a multi-millionaire who owned Ranjit Studios and wore his spectacles which had its frame all done up in gold. He had one weakness and that was racing in which he lost all that he had and died in penury with not a rupee on him.

Sohrab Modi was one of the first to make the most expensive historicals like “Jhansi Ki Rani' and “Mirza Ghalib'. He was reduced to poverty because of his passion for making films his way. He last tried to make a film called “Gurudakshana' when he was in his eighties and died soon after performing the mahurat of the film...

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There was K. Kumar Chandrashekhar who was a hero during the silent era and when this writer met him, he was a blind man living in a slum close to where Bombay Talkies was in Malad. He started begging after a while and died a lonely man.

Parsuram was another hero of the silent era. I last saw him begging somewhere in Bandra and then he vanished god knows where.

Cuckoo was one of the leading dancers who it is said was much more popular than her successor Helen was, but died at the Bhabha Municipal Hospital in Bandra where he was a star once. She died and her body was supposed to be cremated by the Bombay Municipal authorities.

Master Bhagwan was the maker of “Alvida' and was a superstar in his own right. He was cheated by his own relatives and spent the last days of his life in a dilapidated chawl in Parel. There was not a soul at his funeral and after years they placed a plaque in front of the chawl where he died with his name Master Bhagwan Palav on it.

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One of the greatest actresses Lalita Pawar who was sometimes more popular than the hero and heroine of a film together died in a shanty in Pune and her decomposed body was found after several days.

Tun Tun who was a very popular comedienne was finally found dead in very sad circumstances somewhere in Versova.

A very well-known cinematographer Rajendra Malone was thrown out of his own house and lived on the streets of Juhu for many days as the rich and the famous past him by and he finally died on the same street and there was no one but one woman who was his lover who arranged for his last rites.

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K.N Singh, David Abraham, the famous music director O.P Nayyer and the actor who was best known for his roles as the priests and singers, Bharat Bhushan who had two bungalows died in a one-room flat in Malad and there were only seven people at the crematorium. His contemporary, Pradeep Kumar who specialised in playing the roles of kings and princes was found alone in a municipal hospital in Calcutta where one of his fans recognised him and took care of him till his death...