Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Posts Tagged ‘Kiddar Sharma


This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in other sites without the knowledge and consent of the web administrator of atulsongaday.me, then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day :

4804 Post No. : 16571

Today’s song is from a Saigal film- Zindagi-1940. The film was made by New Theatres, Calcutta.

At one time New Theatres (NT) was the most successful film production company in India. It was not only prestigious,but it also shaped up and discovered many artistes who made their marks in the Hindi film industry. New Theatres, Calcutta was one of the top 5 film companies in India – the others being Imperial, Prabhat, Ranjit and Bombay Talkies.

The rise and fall of the giant company was a glorious yet a sad chapter. Besides other factors, I feel the ego-conflicts and the obstinate and adamant behaviour of the people coupled with false prestige led the artistes to desert the company leading it to its end. Of course other reasons were equally responsible.

New Theatres operated from 1931 to 1955 and made 177 films, slightly more than Ranjit film co.-with 175 films. B.N.Sircar established New Theatres in Tollygunge, Calcutta on 10-2-1931, as a family concern, where all shares were held by the family members and He was the managing Director. Same year it built its studios in the same area. It had 3 fully equipped units for shooting, with the best technicians and musicians. Like other studios they had salaried staff in all departments, on a monthly basis. In this period there were other studios also in Calcutta, like Bharat Laxmi pictures, Devdutt films, East India Film company, Kali Films and Radha Film co.

Their first talkie film was in Bangla-Chandidas-32. For the North Indian market Hindi film Puran Bhagat-32 was made. NT had markets in East India, North, North west and South, but none in Bombay or western India. Sircar, along with I.A. Hafis ji, toured the unrepresented areas himself and appointed distributors in Madras, Madurai,Trichannapally,Erode, Bangalore, Poona, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Kangra Valley and Lahore. Puran Bhagat-32 and Yahudi ki ladli-33 were distributed here.

NT became popular in Non Bangla areas due to its Music, which became their main strength. They popularised Robindra Sangeet, with songs by Pankaj Mullick. Miss Panna Rai ji, the first ever woman to do Ph.D in Indian Cinema, wrote on NT films without knowing Bangla language. WB, EB, Burma and Eastern states were their strongholds.

1940 was the Best year for the company with films Doctor, Zindagi and Nartaki. It was an year of beginning of the end also. The first to leave was director P.C.Barua. The Second World war gave a big jolt with the quota system for Raw film. NT was allowed only 6 films per year. Income reduced. Their monthly salary bill was 45000 rupees. Communal riots in 1946 and Partition in 1947 were great setbacks. Due to Partition, NT’s markets were shrunk and due to curfew, huge losses incurred. In the early 40’s many artistes left for Bombay.

By 1951, son Dilip Sircar said,” people left, finance lost, court cases. My father virtually closed the shop.” Liquidation of Calcutta National Bank, NT’s chief financer, was the last shock. The company was handed over to Arora Film company between June to December-1954. From Jan 55 to Aug 55, it was managed by Deluxe Film company. Then a Court Receiver was appointed. In Jan-56, NT was closed down. In Mar-62 NT went into liquidation. The Liquidation was revoked and NT revived by Dilip Sircar on 8-8-1991. However, no activity was seen except that a 5 part serial on NT was made.

B.N.SIRCAR-Birendranath Sircar( 5-7-1901 to 28-11-1980 ), was the son of Shri Nripendranath Sircar-a well known Jurist and a member of the Viceroy’s committee. B.N.Sircar was a Civil Engineer from U.K. who developed an interest in film making. He left his very lucrative job at Martin Burn and Co. in 1928-29 and made 2 silent films,under the banner of International Film Craft.These were Directed by his First colleague Premankur Atorthy. After testing the film market this way, he founded New Theatres.

NEW THEATRES ( NT ) was established by B.N. Sircar, on 10-2-1931,in Tollygunge, Calcutta. It had 3 studio floors for shooting. It had the best Technicians, the best actors and the best Musicians. He acquired the Tanar equipment and services of Wilfred Denis,imported from Hollywood by Ardeshir Irani. New Theatres attracted major Technical and creative talents from silent studios,which were on collapse now. Thus,”Indian Kinema” provided Directors Nitin Bose and Premankur Atorthy and stars Durgadas Bannerjee,Amar Mullick,Jiban Ganguly etc,” Barua Pics ” gave P.C.Barua and Sushil Mujumdar,” British Dominion Films ‘ gave Dhiren Ganguly etc.

B.N.Sircar was a firm believer that Cinema is a medium between a Novel and a Drama,so he depended upon Bangla famous literature for his films. The first Talkie of new Theatres, “Dena Paona”-31,was based on Sharat babu’s works. Though this film was a flop,he continued to depend upon novels by Sharat babu and Tagore to make his films.His first seven films were flops in a row. Their first big film was Chandidas-1934. New Theatres had many Directors on its payroll and used technological advances with recordist Mukul Bose.

From 1931 to 1955,NT produced 177 films, a Record unlikely to be broken in future by any single production house. The nearest rival was Ranjit studios, with 175 films produced. It is not that there was no competition in Bengal. In 1935,there were 14 production houses in Calcutta and in 1938, there were 18 of them, though some , like Madon Theatres, closed down sooner.

NT was mammoth, peopled by giants. Through the 30s and early 40s,NT had the biggest names in Indian cinema, on their payrolls. K L Saigal, Pahadi Sanyal, Jamuna Devi and Leela Desai were ‘discovered’ by NT. Others like P C Barua, Kanan Devi, Umashashi, Molina and Chandrabati emerged as stars at NT. Some like Durgadas Bandopadyaya and Prithviraj Kapoor had been stars before coming to NT. They had directors like Premankur Attorthy, Debaki Bose, Madhu Bose, D N Ganguly, Nitin Bose, Hiren Bose, R C Boral (only Bangla), Profulla Roy, Phani Mujumdar, Bimal Roy, Hemchandra Chunder, sound recordist Mukul Bose and Musical giants like R C Boral, Pankaj Mullick, Timir Baran and K C Dey.

B N Sircar was the Patriarch, the disciplinarian, who held them together like in a big family. NT had a veritable galaxy and clashes between the Titans were inevitable. NT had its own share of fallouts, peer rivalries, squabbles and scandals. Due to the stern and uncompromising nature of B N Sircar, the first to leave was Pramathesh Barua, then Nitin Bose, and Kanan Devi. There was that famous spat between Debki Bose and Nitin Bose on the sets of Meerabai-1933 itself and they stopped talking to each other. Add to this the heavy drinking of Saigal and Umashashi’s elopement with the heir of Shova bazar palace. Each of these has an independent story.

The political situation in Bengal after the WWII, i.e. 1945 also caused the journey of NT towards its downfall and eventual closure in 1956. If only B N Sircar had changed his attitude, NT would not have died so soon, at least not without a fight and not so tamely, in the face of the competition. The biggest bank of Bengal, which financed NT- The National bank also went into liquidation at the same time to add to their woes further.

Personally, I would not hold B N Sircar alone responsible for the decline of NT, which was Hindi cinema from Bengal itself in reality. Another very important factor was,while many stalwarts like Saigal, Prithviraj Kapoor, Kidar Sharma, R C Boral, etc made a beeline for Bombay, Hindi cinema music in Calcutta remained the same, where it was in 1931,without any change. On the other hand, Bombay had enriched its music by adapting to the changing times with a mix of music from Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Lahore and the south. The music of the 40s in Bombay had become Vibrant, whereas there was no change whatsoever in Bengal Hindi music. It kept on hankering on Robindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti. Maybe, the extreme variety of Regional pride of Bengal came in the way of adopting and adapting to the changes. (This Pride has, even Today, kept Bengal much behind the rest of India.) Thus Bombay became the undisputed capital of Hindi Cinema and Music.

New Theatres was established in 1931,as a family business, with B.N. Sircar as the Managing Director. Once NT started growing, the local regional pride almost forced Madan Theatres-belonging to a Parsee family from the western India-to pack up. By 1938,Madan Theatres had produced over 154 films-silent and Talkie. They made their last Talkie, ” Khatarnak Aurat”-1938 and the company closed down.

New Theatres had the Best actors, best Directors, Best composers and the very best Technical staff in India. They had 4 distinct strengths….

1. Right from the beginning, Bengal had an edge over Bombay and Lahore etc in that the Educated and Respectable family members did not hesitate to join the Film Industry in Bengal. In fact, over 90% of its people were educated-some of them even Foreign educated too. In this ,Bengal was very Progressive. On the contrary, the western centres of film making were confined to Courtesans, Tawayafs and uneducated run-aways in its film industry.

2. NT or the Bengali film industry had a very wide market spread out over the entire West and East Bengal, Bihar, orissa, Assam, the N-E states and Burma. Their Distribution network included Madras,Madurai,Erode,Trichannapally,Bangalore,Mysore,Poona,Bombay,Cawnpore(Kanpur),Kangra valley and Lahore circuits.

3.People who worked for NT were like a united family. Feelings of Goodwill and Happiness permeated the studio. Workers came in the morning and worked till it was finished. Discipline and adherence to deadlines and principles regulated their lives. projects were, therefore, completed always as planned and in time.
( Only Madras of the 40s and 50s came near this. Bombay and Lahore were exactly the opposite, where discipline and punctuality were never a Virtue (Tradition continues…)

4. Almost all films made in Bengal by NT or any other company, were based on either stories or dramas or Novels, by renowned authors from the East(read Bengal). Thus, the film’s story content was so solid that they did not need appendages of comedians or a CSP (comic side plot) or too many songs.
( IN other parts like Bombay and Lahore, studios had what was called “The Story Departments”, consisting of 4-5 writers, the owners, directors, who would work up a story in unison !)

NT popularised a new brand of Music.i.e. Rabindra Sangeet, which was hitherto confined to only Shantiniketan. With all this in place,NT was on its peak in 1940,when their slide started. One of their pillars P.C.Barua left NT. This was the beginning. Debki Bose left. Nitin Bose left after completing ‘Kashinath’ in 1943. Kanan Devi left to join Barua and Uma Shashi eloped with her lover.
Pankaj Mallick, though unhappy over the treatment meted out to him in NT, did not leave till the end. He did Bombay film music at Calcutta-like Kasturi or Zalzala etc. He always considered NT as his Alma Mater.
The ongoing II world war, the communal riots of 1946.the Partition of 1947 and the deteriorating civil conditions of Bengal (specially Calcutta),due to the influx of Refugees, broke NT completely. The Govt. had regulated supply of Raw Film, East Bengal market was lost totally, artistes left for Dhaka or Bombay…all this took NT to its end rapidly.

In such worsening conditions in 1944/45,Sircar tried to mend things by replacing the II and III level artistes to fill up gaps left by departed people. Thus, Bimal Roy, who was a Cinematographer and an Editor, got an opportunity to sit in the Director’s Chair. They made an ambitious film ” Udayer Pathe” -44. A Hindi version was made as ‘ Hamraahi”-45. It was Bimal Roy’s First brush with a Hindi Film Direction. Both versions were successful. But with major things remaining the same for years, without any changes, the house of New Theatres became a dilapidated, colourless, tattered big empty Palace. It’s sad to write about the fall of an Empire- a Giant !
(Article is based on information from “The glory that was New Theatres” by Sharmishtha Gooptu, ” सुंदर ती दुसरी दुनिया ” a Marathi book by Ambarish Mishra, The Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, with thanks, along with my old writings and my notes.)

Today we will know for the first time more about an artiste who was with NT from almost the beginning. The name is strange and uncommon-NEMO.

Nemo (Mirza Muhammad Begg) was born on 27th December 1903 at Calcutta. He passed his Senior Cambridge. One day he, along with some friends, visited New Theatres to see a film shooting. Mirza Muhammad Begg merely wanted to watch the shooting of ‘Yahoodi Ki Larki’ (1933) but, as luck would have it, his visit to the New Theatres studio in Calcutta led to a small role in the same film. The part was that of a Roman king and little did Begg know back then that he’d soon be turning to Latin to fish out a lasting identity.

A year later, he was invited by New Theatres’ founder B.N. Sircar to work as the production manager of ‘Karwan-e-Hayat’ (1935) and another chance role beckoned. A female actor who was supposed to play an old witch in the film failed to turn up for the shooting and Begg volunteered for the part. The make-up department stepped up to the challenge and Begg, unrecognisable in the get-up, did the job (and always considered it his best effort). What happened next is even more interesting. Once the film was ready, the makers felt apprehensive about revealing to the public that a man had played the witch’s role. Begg came up with a solution – a gender-ambiguous screen name for himself. And in a delightfully wacky move, he picked a name that means ‘nobody/nothing’ in Latin – ‘Nemo’.

The name stuck on and this was the beginning of Nemo’s steadfast association with New Theatres – one that resulted in a string of features like ‘Karodpati’, ‘Dushman’, ‘Doctor’ and ‘Zindagi’. He was Vidushak, the royal jester, in ‘Vidyapati’, a rigid but caring father in ‘Jawani Ki Reet’ and the devoted caretaker Dharamdas in P.C. Barua’s ‘Devdas’. These diverse characters earned him appreciation from audiences and critics alike. Further, the story of the Saigal hit ‘The President’ (1937) was based on his idea and he was duly credited for the same. Alongside his work in films, he also edited and published ‘Akkas’ – a very popular Urdu (and later, Urdu-English bilingual) film magazine in those days. Its surviving copies now serve as an important archive of the early talkies. His last film with New Theatres was Kashinath. When Calcutta was bombed by Japan in late 1942, Nemo migrated with his family to his ancestral hometown, Lucknow. He later went over to Bombay for a short while to work in Mazhar Khan’s ‘Pehli Nazar’ (1945), and then returned to Lucknow to settle into a life far removed from the studio lights.

In the middle of it all lies an extraordinary fact – at the time he entered the movies, M.M. Begg was a national billiards champion! He won the inaugural Indian Open Billiards Championship in 1931 and never left the game thereon, despite a busy and flourishing film career. He won the trophy again in 1937, and between the 2 wins, he was the runner-up thrice. Not to mention, he represented the country at international tournaments and also headed various administrative organisations related to the game. His contributions towards establishing and popularising billiards and snooker in India are widely mentioned, and always in glowing terms. He was also obsessed with Racing.

It was nearly a decade after ‘Pehli Nazar’ that Raj Kapoor managed to pull Nemo out of his sabbatical for 2 memorable final acts in ‘Shree 420’ and ‘Jagte Raho’. In both, Nemo played similar roles of manipulative, corrupt seths who hide their sinister designs behind a facade of respectability. If he was jittery about facing the camera after a long gap, it doesn’t show (unless Seth Sonachand’s trembling chin is not a mannerism 😄). He was particularly effective in ‘Shree 420’, where he puts on the most evil smile possible and hisses to Raj Kapoor, “Aap se mulaqaat ho gayi, is mein fayda hi fayda hai.” He also did 2 more films- Raja Vikram-57 and Naag Champa-58.

Nemo worked for 19 films of New Theatres and 4 others totalling 23 films in all. His Filmography – Yahudi ki ladki-33, Karwaan E Hayat-35, Devdas-35, Karodpati-36, Manzil-36, Vidyapati-37, Anath Ashram-37, President-37, Dushman-38, Dharati Mata-38, Abhagin-38, Jawani ki reet-39, Badi Didi-39, Zindagi-40, Haar Jeet-40, Doctor-40, Aandhi-40, Lagan-41, Saugandh-42, Shri 420-55, Jaagte Raho-56, Raja Vikram-57 and Naag Champa-55. It is believed that he died in Bombay on 18-8-1960.

Cinema, publishing, sports – Mirza Muhammad Begg distinguished himself in everything he touched. And chose to call himself NEMO – a nobody. ( based on information from Filmdom-1946, HFGK, muVyz and mainly an article by Yasir Abbasi, with thanks.)

Today’s song is sung by Aruna.


Song- Aaj mila hai bichhada saajan(Zindagi)(1940) Singer- Aruna, Lyricist- Kidar Sharma, MD- Pankaj Mullick

Lyrics

Aaj mila hai
Aaj mila hai ae
Aaj mila hai
bichhda saajan
aaj mila hai ae
Aaj mila hai
mre man ka
mere man ka
phool khila hai
Aaj mila hai
Aaj mila hai

jaag uthhi hai
aaj jawaani
yaad aayi hai
apni kahaani
jaag uthhi hai
aaj jawaani
yaad aayi hai
apni kahaani
apni kahaani
Aaj mila hai
Aaj mila hai

Aaj mila hai ae
Aaj mila hai
kaise koi dil mein aaya
kaise kuchh khoya
kuchh paaya
kaise koi dil mein aaya
kaise kuchh khoya
kuchh paaya
hamne
hamne jee ko khud banaaya
hamne jee ko khud banaaya
dil se dil ko ?? samjhaaya
Aaj mila hai ae
Aaj mila hai
mere man ka aa
mere man ka phool khila hai
bichhda saajan
bichhda saajan
aaj mila hai ae
aaj mila hai


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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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