Ashok Kumar with Suraiya
Bollywood, Books

Et tu, Dadamoni? How Ashok Kumar fell from grace in Suraiya’s eyes

Ashok Kumar with Suraiya

There are a lot of distractions while reading eBooks on the phone and Twitter is one. As I was swiping through the pages of Raju Bharatan’s A Journey Down Melody Lane: The Making of a Hindi Film Song on my phone, I occasionally switched to the Twitter app to follow what’s tweeting. In a strange coincidence, as the first tweet about the Tarun Tejpal sexual assault case appeared on my stream, I was simultaneously reading the singer-actress Suraiya’s account of Ashok Kumar’s un-Dadamoni-like behaviour with her.

Here’s what Suraiya is quoted as saying in Raju Bharatan’s fascinating book about Hindi film music (and much more):

I found Dev to be the perfect gentleman compared to Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. Why, once, even the highly respected Ashok Kumar shocked me out of my wits by studiedly letting his evidently adroit hand, ever so lightly, graze… I just can’t bring myself to utter the word! It was some time in 1950, I think, while we were shooting for Khiladi. Some Khiladi I discovered Ashok Kumar to be at his age! Instinctively I said: “et tu, Dadamoni?” Whereupon Ashok Kumar just smiled knowingly, almost suggesting that, in films, I should be taking such things in my stride. Well, I was one heroine who would take it only in my decent stride. How Ashok Kumar fell from grace in my eyes that day!

I was taken a little aback by this account (no too much though). The legendary short story writer Saadat Hassan Manto was a good friend of Ashok Kumar and in his unabashed style described Ashok Kumar as someone certainly lacking in courage when it came to women but noted that that didn’t stop the revered actor from staring.

An excerpt from the Ashok Kumar chapter in Saadat Hasan Manto’s Stars from Another Sky:

Ashok was not a professional lover but he liked to watch women, as most men do. He was not even averse to staring at them, especially at those areas of their anatomy that men find attractive. Off and on, he would even discuss these things with friends. Sometimes he would experience a strong urge to make love to a woman but he would never step forward. Instead he would say something like, ‘Yaar Manto… I just do not have the courage.’ Courage he certainly lacked, which was a good thing for his marriage. I am sure his wife, Shobha, was happy about her husband’s timidity, praying that he would never lose it. I always found it odd that Ashok should be scared of women when hundreds of them were willing to jump if he told them to jump.

100 years of Indian cinema - India Post's 50 commemorative stamps
Bollywood, Downloads, Humour, Movies, Music

100 Years of Indian Cinema: India Post’s 50 commemorative stamps

[This post is part of the 100 Years of Indian Cinema celebrations on Cutting the Chai]

In May this year when Indian cinema turned 100, the Department of Posts announced the release of Rs 5 commemorative stamps on 50 icons of Indian cinema. The stamps went sale from June. Though the list of the 50 stalwarts of Indian cinema (includes 18 Dadasaheb Phalke awardees) is impressive, many would find notable names missing. But that’s inevitable.

If you wish to purchase these stamps, contact your nearest philatelic bureau.

100 years of Indian cinema - India Post First Day Cover

(In alphabetical order)

  • Allu Ramalingiah
  • Ashok Kumar
  • Ashok Mehta
  • Balraj Sahni
  • Bhalji Pendharkar
  • Bhanumathi
  • Bhupen Hazarika
  • BN Sircar
  • BR Chopra
  • Chetan Anand
  • CV Sridhar
  • Dev Anand
  • Dhirendranath Ganguly
  • Durga Khote
  • Geeta Dutt
  • Hrishikesh Mukherjee
  • Kamaal Amrohi
  • Kannadasan
  • Madan Mohan
  • Majrooh Sultanpuri
  • Mehmood
  • Motilal
  • Nagesh
  • Naushad
  • Nitin Bose
  • OP Nayyar
  • Prem Nazir
  • Prithviraj Kapoor
  • RD Burman
  • Raichand Boral
  • Raj Khosla
  • Rajendra Kumar
  • Rajesh Khanna
  • Ruby Myers
  • SV Ranga Rao
  • Salil Chowdhury
  • Sanjeev Kumar
  • Shailendra
  • Shakeel Badayuni
  • Shammi Kapoor
  • Shankar Jaikishan
  • Smita Patil
  • Sohrab Modi
  • Suraiya
  • Tapan Sinha
  • Tarachand Barjatya
  • TR Sundaram
  • Utpal Dutt
  • Vishnu Vardhan
  • Yash Chopra
Commemorative stamps on 100 Years of Indian Cinema: Dada Saheb Phalke Awardees

Commemorative stamps on 100 Years of Indian Cinema: Dada Saheb Phalke Awardees

Commemorative stamps on 100 Years of Indian Cinema: Dada Saheb Phalke Awardees

Commemorative stamps on 100 Years of Indian Cinema: Dada Saheb Phalke Awardees

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

Text from the First Day Cover (embedded below)

100 Years of Indian Cinema

On 3rd May, 1913, when Dada Saheb Phalke, the father of Indian Cinema, released India’s first full length feature film Raja Harishchandra, it held the viewers in a thrall. As the next one hundred years would prove, what he brought to India that day was not just a medium of mass entertainment, but also a powerful tool that would shape social engagement, culture and behaviour in this diverse country.

The release of India’s first talkie Alam Ara produced by Ardeshir Irani, was the next landmark event in the history of Indian cinema. The movie which released on 14th March, 1931 at the Majestic Cinema, Mumbai starring Zubeida, Master Vettal and Prithvi Raj Kapoor was so popular that police had to be called in to control the crowd. The commercial success of Alam Ara brought an end to the silent era. The talkies changed the face of Indian cinema. Apart from looks, the actors were now required to have a commanding voice and singing skills, as music became a defining element of Indian cinema. The first talkie film in Bengali Jumai Shasthi, Telugu Bhakta Prahlad and Tamil Kalidas were also released in the same year.

The 1940s was a tumultuous decade for the world and for India, which was ravaged by war and drastic political changes, Indian cinema, however, made some firm strides during this period. The 40s and 50s formed the golden era of film music. Shankar Jaikishan, OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, C Ramachandra, Salil Chowdhury, Naushad and SD Burman all with their distinct styles – produced some of the most unforgettable melodies. The 50s also marked a watershed in the matter of themes, with social issues being taken up in movies by enlightened film makers to educate the masses.

The new trend continued into the 60s, with filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Mehboob Khan, K Asif, Raj Kapoor, KV Reddy, LV Prasad and Ramu Kariat directing movies like Pyasa, Do Bigha Zamin, Muqhal-e-Azam; Pather Panchali, Mother India, Maya Bazaar and Chemmeen and going on to win national and international acclaim.

The 70s saw the birth of a genre, masala movie, in Indian cinema which promised instant attraction and wholesome entertainment. During this era, Parallel Cinema, with higher aesthetic values than commercial cinema, emerged as a movement. Parallel Cinema was also instrumental in the emergence of women filmmakers like Aparna Sen, Prema Karanth, Meera Nayar, Sai Paranjape, Kalpana Lajmi and others in the 80s.

The 90s brought with it a mixed bag of films – romantic thrillers, action and comedy. Introduction of technology with Dolby digital sound effects, advanced special effects and modern choreography led to a striking upgrade in quality on the silver screen. Simultaneously, investment from corporate sector also started flowing in along with fine scripts and improved production quality.

Indian cinema has found global appeal at the turn of the 21st century. It has reached out to the international audiences through commercial releases and regular screenings at major international film festivals.

Nothing captures the essence of popular culture in present day India better than our films. Department of Posts is happy to be a part of the century long journey of Indian cinema by releasing six Miniature Sheets commemorating the contribution of fifty iconic personalities of Indian Cinema. The first two Miniature Sheets with nine stamps each depict some Dada Saheb Phalke awardees whereas rest with eight stamps each depict the personalities from various fields of cinema.

Text: Based on the material furnished by Information & Broadcasting Ministry
Stamp & FDC: Kamleshwar Singh
Cancellation: Nenu Gupta

First Day Cover: 100 Years of Indian Cinema commemorative stamps

A picture collage of the 50 commemorative India Cinema 100 stamps (to use as wallpaper, header images, backgrounds).

Click here to download high-resolution image (5120×2880 pixels, 4.37 MB, Zipped JPG)

Ashok Kumar in Ambika King suitings ad
Advertising, Bollywood, Movies, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Ambiking Suitings ad: Ashok Kumar’s five fabric purchase tips

Ashok Kumar might have started as a reluctant actor, but Dadamoni soon transformed into one of the biggest stars of his time and Indian cinema’s first superhit Kismet (1943) had him as the lead. Ashok Kumar’s (born Kumudlal Ganguly) film career spanned over six decades in which he acted in about 300 films and a few television serials that included the landmark Hum Log (1984-1985) on Doordarshan.

He also appeared in the memorable baratiyo ka swagat Pan Parag se ho advertisement along with Shammi Kapoor. This incidentally was the first time the two veteran actors worked together and is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Ashok Kumar and ads together. He also lent his bespectacled smile for a lesser known product – Ambiking Suitings (Note the huge ring on his left hand).

Ashok Kumar in Ambika King suitings ad

Give Ambiking Suitings the total test

Check the fabric: The texture and weave of the fabric is what gives it good wearing qualities
Check the finish: A smooth finish is what makes the fabric feel nice… next to you
Check the design: Designs should be contemporary and classic – with an accent on the changing fashions
Check the quality: Make sure of the composition of the blend, the fastness of colours and the wash and wear properties
Check the name: The final and often the only thing you need to check. ‘AMBICA’ – the name that carries the stamp of quality

‘Ambirised’ pre-shrunk fabric
Shri Ambica Mills

Agency: Bidhan

Bollywood Videos, Downloads, India Public Domain Movie Project, Movies, Videos

The India Public Domain Movie Project premieres with Kismet (1943)

India Public Domain Movie Project logoEver since I first understood the concept of public domain, this project of getting Indian films which out of copyright into a single place has been a recurring desire. But I never actually got around executing the idea, because the plans I drew were grandiose beyond my resources.

While reading the chapter on Ashok Kumar by Bhaichand Patel in Bollywood’s Top 20 Superstars of Indian Cinema the idea again ignited. So am going forward with it, minus the shoo-shaa.

I call this the India Public Domain Movie Project and the goal is to accumulate as many Indian movies from Bollywood and beyond as possible that have passed on to the public domain.

According to the existing Indian copyright laws, particularly the Copyright, Act 1957 (as amended in 1992), films come into the public domain on the first January 1 following 60 years of their release.

26. Term of copyright in cinematograph films – In case of a cinematograph film, copyright shall subsist until sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the film is published.

Though a new amendment wants to increase that period to seventy years.

Therefore according to existing laws, and my understanding of them (please correct any misinterpretations), Indian films released before January 1, 1952 can be a part of The India Public Domain Movie Project initiated by Cutting the Chai.

I will try to accumulate as many movies in here and if possible would request Cutting the Chai readers to contribute to this endeavour in whichever you wish to.

The movies will be available for free (and legal) viewing and downloading in different formats.

What better film for the The India Public Domain Movie Project than the first blockbuster of Indian cinema – Kismet (1942)

Bhaichand Patel in Bollywood’s Top 20 Superstars of Indian Cinema writes on Kismet:

To call the film a hit is an understatement. Its success was unequalled, before or after in Indian cinema until Sholay came thirty-two years later. It ran for over two years in Bombay and Calcutta. Ashok Kumar played a debonair cigarette smoking anti-hero, a pickpocket who had run away from a wealthy home when he was a child. Reformed by a dancer who had been disabled and was on hard times, he reunites with his parents at the end. The songs, written by Pradeep and set to music by Anil Biswas, were part of the film’s magic.

Interestingly, Hollywood also had a film by the same title in 1944 but unlike the Bombay Talkies film the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie didn’t get the cash register at the box office ringing.

I have uploaded the movie both on YouTube as well as on the Internet Archive. YouTube because of its reach and popularity and the Internet Archive because it is the ideal place to store and share such content of great archival value.

So here it is, ladies and gentleman Kismet (1943):

Kismet (1943) movie poster

Cast: Ashok Kumar, Mumtaz Shanti, Shah Nawaz, VH Desai, Moti, PJ Pithawala, Chandraprabha, Kanu Roy, Prahlad, Jagannath Aurora, David, Haroon, Babay Kamala and Mubarak

Scenario and dialogue: Santoshi and Shahid Latif

Lyrics: Pradeep

Photography: RD Pareenja

Sound: SB Vacha

Dialogue director: SJ Hasan

Music: Anil Biswas

Dance: Mumtaz Ali

Editor: Dattaram N Pai

Film architect: LH Choridia

Produced and processed at: The Bombay Talkies Studios, Malad

Watch Kismet (1943) on Internet Archive

Download Kismet 1943:

AVI [760.2 MB] | MP4 [693.7 MB] | OGV (OGG) [516.8 MB]

Watch Kismet (1943) YouTube

Internet Archive seems to have handled the conversion better than YouTube. Will try to clean up the audio and post better version later. It will be great if someone more competent volunteers.

Meanwhile, if you want to keep a tab on what new is being posted under the India Public Domain Movie Project you may subscribe to this RSS feed for almost realtime updates.