Film Education


A Real Story of a conflict between A Super Star Actor- Rajesh Khanna and Cheten Anand a Super Star Director

 

A Real Story of a conflict between A Super Star Actor- Rajesh Khanna and Cheten Anand a Super Star Director

Musing of a Veteran Producer/ Director – Sorab Irani  .

So much is said about Rajesh Khanna post his sad demise in all media, I am reminded on this occasion of a interesting real life story which I would like to share.

A little known fact is that Chetan Anand’s debut film,Neecha Nagar bagged the Palme d’Ore (Best Film) award, at the first ever Cannes Film Festival in 1946.

It was my honor and privilege to have worked and observed and to have learned so much about cinema from this great truly Indian cinematic genius

Chetan Anand was the first director to cast Rajaesh Khann is his film ‘Aakhri Khat’. Latter when his career started flagging a bit, Rajesh Khanna thought he needed a great director to make a film with him and he approached Chetan Anand. I was at that time general manager of Chetan Anand’s production company – Himalaya Films. In those days films were produced largely on star-power, and if a project was initiated by a Star it was good news. However Chetan Anand was in financial trouble and in a meeting with Rajesh Khanna confessed to him that he had the right subject but no money. Chetan Anand always had ready stories in his head, he thrived on the creative process that resulted in a film idea and at any given time had a great oeuvre of film stories. In that meeting where I was also present he narrated the story of ‘Kudrat’ to Rajesh Khanna and Rajesh Khanna loved it.

In a week’s time Rajesh Khann was back at Chetan sahibs Juhu seafront shack with a producer in tow one B. S. Khanna. It was all settled in that sitting that B. S would finance and produce the film and that Chetan Anand would direct the film and so the film ‘Kudrat’ was born.

This is not the story of how ‘Kudrat’ was made, which in itself is fascinating but about the antics of stars and a conflict that developed pre release of the film between Chetan Anand and Rajesh Khanna.

The film was very hot, the music was already a super hit. It then transpired that Kakaji arranged for a private screening of the film and decided on a course of action which was unethical for sure but not entirely unheard of in the Bollywood of that time. Encouraged by his chamchas he decided that in order to hog the entire credit of the success of the film he had to reduce the roles of the others like Vinod Khanna, Raj Kumar, he high jacked the editor of the film, and started reediting the film. The editor informed Chetan Anand quietly as his conscious troubled him, he was in great awe of Chetan sahib and had worked together for over a year to shape the film.

I got a call from a very distressed Chetan sahib at 6 am in the morning asking me to go to the editor’s house and bring him over to meet Chetan sahib. I was also very amazed that any one dare tamper with the edit of a director like Chetan Anand. By 7.30 am I was at the editors house in Matunga but he was absconding. I went to the shack and Chetan was furious. Kaka would not taking his calls nor was  the producer B. S. Khanna, the conspiracy was clearly unfolding. What do we do. I went with Chetan sahib to Navarang Lab, spoke to the owner protesting but the owner claimed helplessness as he had to follow the instructions of the Producer of the project owing to the large sums of money involved. We then decided to file complaints with the Film Editor’s association and with the Film Producers association requesting this be stopped. In the night I started getting threatening calls. Some one called my wife and told her that she would find my dead body by morning. I was out and there were no cell phones at that time, so when I called home my wife was weeping and scared silly. Now I was indeed very angry and being in Juhu at the time went to B. S Khanna’s house to confront him, he was not home but I got him on the phone from there and asked him about all this nonsense about threatening calls to my wife and told him very plainly that I was not one bit intimidated and if it did not stop I would lodge a police complain. Later I spoke to Chetan sahib and he too complained that he had a similar experience of his residence getting threatening calls.

The next day the producer B. S Khanna claimed total innocence about all the goings on and said nothing was true, we demanded that we need to be allowed to examine the final cut negative and talk to the editor and informed him that no one had a right to make changes to the final cut of the film. He diplomatically said it was too late, the negative was involved in the process at the lab of making copies of the release prints.

Gloom set in at the shack, it seemed that the Rajesh Khanna camp in connivance with the producer B. S Khanna have prevailed.

In an unprecedented move Chetan Anand decided to go to the Bombay High Court to stop the release of his own film.

The case came up before the astute Parsi judge Justice Lantern. The whole film industry was there. Justice Lantern denied us the relief that we were seeking although sympathizing with our case but saying that huge sums of money would be lost of the third parties namely the distributors if he granted us the ad interim relief and posted the matter for regular hearing.

The real point of this story is not to malign anybody but to raise critical questions – who has the right to the final cut of the film, the director or the producer. Who decides what the audiences will see, financiers/producers or the creators the/directors. Added to this perennial existing conflict and tussle enter today the marketing guru’s who with sampling and consensus building marketing methods start confusing matters completely. What happens to an Auteur director if he is not also the producer of the film. Food for thought and meaningful debate.

 

Written on Special Invitation

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26 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Would like to share it on my wall on FB. Can I? We never go beyond praising of a person, specially after his/her demise. But the thing is that real criticism and review of his/her work should be brought out to the notice of people.

Comment by Vibha Rani

Vibha,

Life is not about heroes and villians but grey shades and nice to know you appreciate the post.

Sure share it where you like But Kindly give due credit to Sorab Irani and my blog where it was first published. Would appreciate that.

Comment by oorvazi

Sure. This respect I always try to pay to the author and contributor. I also want to highlight that we must remember all the aspects of a person. Praising only gives one side picture.

Comment by Vibha Rani

I can give a zist in Hindi of it for posting on my blog or for some Hindi website such as Mohalllive.com etc.

Comment by Vibha Rani

Vibha, as i said we would be happy to reach out to people about the story. And I know since you asked permission you would not put up stuff without due credit so trust your concern for the source. Thanks.

Would love to know more about what you do!

Comment by oorvazi

This is great, please ask Dad to share more details about everybody 😉

Comment by Firestarter

This is like a movie itself 🙂 I had no idea that Rajesh Khanna could go to such heights for promoting himself :O It is great that your dad is sharing his experiences with us. BTW, I think it was around this time, ‘when his career started flagging a bit’, that he approached Ritwick Ghatak for remaking ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ in Hindi with himself in the role of Anil Chatterjee. Ghatak was furious and nearly drove him away 🙂

Comment by Riddhiman Basu

Riddhiman, yes you are absolutely right, this is the time his career was on the downslide. All that goes up has to come down 🙂 . Not aware really of the Ritwick Ghatak incident personally, thanks for sharing. Glad you found the article interesting. Do share the post

Comment by oorvazi

A forgotten story. I really don’t think once a man dies his mistakes should be forgiven. Thank you so much for this, Sir.

Comment by Rasik Tirodkar

Rasik, thanks for your response. Will convey the same to the author of the work

Comment by oorvazi

Oorvz,.. Interesting insights. Problem is that we make cinema-actors almost godly and they are far from that :P.. I heard the Ghatak story. That was a time when the commercial and art film divide was there – though that divide in itself seems quite fuzzy and made with definite interests. Now Mrinal Sen commented he wanted to make a film with RK. Not sure if that is actually the case or now after his demise MS is being generous.

Comment by Amitava Nag

Amitava, thanks for your response and sharing your thoughts. The parallel art cinema in India was quite opposed to the mainstream and as Govind Nihalini says made it a point to break the rules of that cinema like happy endings and song and dance. Its interesting to know of Mrinal Sen and his adoration for RK, thanks for sharing and will share these comments with dad, the author too, I am sure it will interest him.

Comment by oorvazi

[…] ऊर्वजी ईरानी के ब्लॉग ‘फिल्म एडुकेशन’ में सोराब ईरानी का एक लेख है, जिसका सार […]

Pingback by Mohalla Live » Blog Archive » वह बुरा-बेवफा-बेबर्दाश्‍त सब था, लेकिन सुपर स्‍टार था!

Thanks Vibha 🙂

Comment by oorvazi

Dear Mr Irani, just read the hindi version of this post on mohallalive.com. As a research scholar of cinema history, I found it of great interest. Hope to read more such posts from you.

Regards,
prakash

Comment by prakash k ray

Prakash, will convey your comment to Sorab(my dad), thanks for reading the article and hope you find more interesting articles and interviews on my blog.

Comment by oorvazi

Dear Oorvazi, Please find the link of the article on my blog in Hindi. This was first sent to Mohallalive. http://chhammakchhallokahis.blogspot.in/2012/07/blog-post.html I do hope to get some more memorable incidents from Mr. Sorab Irani (Your Dad).

Comment by Vibha Rani

Thanks Vibha ! 🙂

Comment by oorvazi

I had the privilege of speaking to Mr. Irani for the website passionforcinema. He was spoke freely about several persons throwing a light on how the industry works. He could well write his memoirs which will be a best seller.

Comment by Indu Raman

Thanks Indu, yes indeed he should write his memoirs.

Comment by oorvazi

I think that is one of the so much important info for me.
And i’m happy studying your article. However should observation on some normal things, The website style is ideal, the articles is in reality excellent : D. Good activity, cheers

Comment by youtube.com

Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in truth was a amusement account it.
Glance complex to far brought agreeable from you!

However, how could we be in contact?

Comment by orlando department of education jobs

Utter rubbish !!!
Of course u can post this now post kakas demise !! Didn’t u have the balls to do this when kaka was alive so he could tell his side of the story!!
Fact is Kudrat was successful thanks to kaka !! And Vinod khanna and Raj kumar had appropriate screen time !!
How can you cut someone’s role without distorting the story ??
Shame on you for speaking ill of the dead !!

Comment by Chris

A great visionary director.

Comment by Sorab Irani




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