The Kashmir valley was an integral part of Hindi films through the sixties, seventies and most the eighties. Kashmir and the escapist stuff that the industry specialised in went well together.
The hero and the heroine romancing in the beautiful Mughal Gardens, Nishat or Shalimar, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Or walking through knee deep snow in Gulmarg. Or the heroine filling her matki (an earthen pot) with water from the Lidder river in Pahalgam. Or the most common shot of the film’s lead couple enjoying a ride in a shikara on the Dal lake. All this looked fantastic on the big screen. And thus shooting in the valley became an integral part of Hindi films.
There were three major factors that brought the Hindi film industry to Kashmir. More and more Hindi films started to be shot in colour in the early 1960s. This coincided with more Hindi films being shot outside the claustrophobic film studious of what then used to be Bombay (now Mumbai). This meant that producers and directors went looking for locations that would look good on the big screen. And Kashmir fit in perfectly.
The final push came in the form of Shammi Kapoor and his first colour film Junglee. Shot majorly in the Kashmir valley, this was the movie that ‘really brought’ Hindi film producers and directors to the valley. Many of Kapoor’s successful films were shot in the valley. This included Kashmir ki Kali, Andaaz, Janwar etc. The story goes that at his peak Kapoor in the mid 60s, Kapoor used to spend seven months of the year shooting in the valley.
After Kapoor, director Yash Chopra continued the trend of shooting in Kashmir with Kabhie Kabhie and Silsila. In fact, Kabhie Kabhie was essentially Chopra’s tribute to Kashmir. And the valley has not been captured so beautifully by anyone else till date.
The love affair between the Hindi film industry and the Kashmir valley continued through much of the 1970s and the early 1980s. Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Bemisal which released in 1982, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Mehra and Raakhee, even had a song on the Kashmir valley : “Kitni khoobsurat ye tasveer hai…ye kashmir hai.”
The eighties dulled the love affair, as first the Hindi film industry discovered Switzerland and then terrorism made gradual inroads into the valley. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Khamosh which released in 1985, was one of the last films to be shot in the valley. The movie was a murder mystery set in and around the hill station of Pahalgam, and ironically enough did not have any songs, showcasing the beauty of the valley.
Through much of the 1990s and 2000s, Kashmir remained inaccessible to the Hindi film industry as terrorism took over the valley. But terrorism in Kashmir was too juicy a plot point to ignore, and thus became a part of the storyline of several Hindi films. The only trouble was that shooting in the valley was impossible. This trend was started by Mani Ratnam’s Roja which was made in Tamil and later dubbed into Hindi.
So various places, depending on the budget of the producer were passed off as Kashmir. If the budget was good enough, Switzerland could be passed off as Kashmir, if it wasn’t even Lonavala (a hill station close to Mumbai) would do. The only big budget movie which was shot in the valley during the years when terrorism was at its peak was Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Mission Kashmir which released in 2000. The Aamir Khan starrer Fanaa, which released in 2006, had a storyline set around a Kashmiri terrorist, but almost all of what was passed off as Kashmir was shot in the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland.
In the last ten years, a few Hindi films have been shot in the valley. There has been odd movie like Yahaan, a story of an army officer falling in love with the sister of a terrorist, which was shot almost end to end in the Kashmir. There was also Santosh Sivan’s beautifully shot low budget movie Tahaan which released in 2008. Sikander and Lamha were other low budget movies that were shot in the valley. And so was a small portion of Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf.
Last week’s release Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani has been among the few big budget movies to have been shot in the Kashmir valley in years (The other movie that comes immediately to my mind is Yash Chopra’s swansong Jab Tak Hai Jaan.Imitiaz Ali’s Higway is also being shot in the valley, as was a part of his previous release Rockstar). And the first half of the film has some of the most breathtaking scenery that you will ever see in a Hindi film. The irony though is that the storyline of the movie passes off what is Gulmarg in Kashmir as Manali in Himachal Pradesh. While the hill stations of Himachal Pradesh are very beautiful, nothing comes close to Gulmarg after it has snowed. Its breathtakingly beautiful and totally out of this world.
This so called ‘artistic license’ has not gone down well with Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. As he tweeted “It’s irritating when we roll out the red carpet & facilitate the shoot only to have people believe its Manali.”
I saw the movie in a Delhi multiplex on Friday afternoon (May 31, 2013). As the young women and aunties around me went ‘Awww‘ and ‘How Cute‘, everytime Ranbir Kapoor appeared on screen, the question I asked myself was why would anyone want to pass of Kashmir valley as Himachal Pradesh?
This keeping the background in mind that for the last two decades the Hindi film industry has had no access to the Kashmir valley. During this period it has passed off different parts of the world as Kashmir. And now that it can shoot in the valley, it has passed it off as Himachal. Also, Himachal Pradesh has never been able to replace Kashmir in Hindi films.
So why do that? The movie provides the answer as well. At the end of the trekking trip, the two lead pairs of the movie (Ranbir Kapoor-Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapoor -Kalki Koechlin) have a lot of bhaang on the occasion of the Holi festival, and dance non-stop to the song balam pichkari jo tune hai maari.
Now Hindi films aren’t meant to be logical. But having the hero-heroine of the movie sing a Holi song after downing bhaang, on the foothills of Gulmarg in Kashmir, a terrorism infested state, would have been totally illogical. And that to me seems be the only reason why Kashmir has been passed off as Himachal Pradesh. This despite the fact that Jai Jai Shiv Shankaranother famous Holi song from the 1974 movie Aap ki Kasam was shot in Gulmarg. But then those were the days when Kashmir was peaceful.
So its but natural that Omar Abdullah is peeved. But he can take solace in the fact from another artistic license that was taken more than 50 years back in 1961. Shammi Kapoor’s most famous song Yahoo-Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe was shot in Kufree, in Himachal Pradesh. Though the rest of the storyline of the movie (Junglee) was set in Kashmir. The song was originally supposed to be shot in Gulmarg, but the hill station did not have enough snow that year, forcing the makers of the movie to look for snow somewhere else. For years people have thought that the song has been shot in Kashmir.
So in a way Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani passing off Kashmir as Himachal, is Himachal’s revenge on Kashmir, though more than fifty years late. Interestingly, Junglee had Shammi Kapoor in the lead role and was directed by Subodh Mukherjee. Shammi Kapoor was the granduncle(i.e. Paternal grandfather’s brother) of Ranbir Kapoor, who stars in Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani. And Subodh Mukherjee was the granduncle of Ayan Mukherjee who has directed Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani.
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on June 11, 2013.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He tweets @kaul_vivek)
Scandinavian crime writers have been fairly popular over the last few years. The likes of Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson have taken the world by storm. The latest Scandinavian sensation is Jo Nesbo, who has been writing a series of novels featuring a very “disturbed” Oslo police detective, Inspector Harry Hole.
Hole has a drinking problem. He has done drugs at various points of time. And the love of his life has left him and disappeared after she gets embroiled in one of the cases that Hole is investigating. On top of this Hole shares a rather philosophical relationship with his father who is dying of cancer. Nesbo writes the following paragraph in the context of the relationship that Hole shares with his father in a novel titled The Leopard:
There were those who asserted that sons always became, to some degree or other, disguised variants of their fathers, that the experience of breaking out was never more than an illusion; you returned; the gravity of blood was not only stronger than your willpower, it was your willpower.
Nowhere is this truer than in the context of the Indian political scenario, when the sons and daughters take over the mantel of their politician parents. India is full of political scions who have taken over, or are taking over, or will take over from where their parents left or are likely to leave.
Let me try and make a random list of politicians who fulfill this criterion, starting from Jammu Kashmir in the north and working my way down south to Tamil Nadu.
Omar Abdullah, the current chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir is the son of Dr Farooq Abdullah and grandson of Sheikh Abdullah, both career politicians.
Himachal Pradesh is ruled by Prem Kumar Dhumal whose son Anurag Thakur is a member of the Lok Sabha from Hamirpur and also a joint-secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI).
The chief minister of Punjab is Prakash Singh Badal. His son Sukhbir Singh Badal is the deputy chief minister and the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Sheila Dikshit is the chief minister of Delhi. Her son Sandeep Dikshiit is the member of Lok Sabha from the East Delhi constituency.
Orissa or Odisha as it is now known as is ruled by Naveen Patnaik son of the late Biju Patnaik.
Andhra Pradesh has scions of NT Rama Rao battling for political space. Jaganmohan Reddy the son of the late Y Rajshekar Reddy is giving the ruling Congress party a tough time.
Tamil Nadu has the Karunanidhi, his sons, his nephews, his grandsons, and so on, all hoping to stay relevant in a space which is getting a little too crowded for Karunanidhis.
Karnatka has BS Yeddyurappa the enfant terrible of the BJP. His son B. Y. Raghavendra is a member of the Lok Sabha from Shimoga. The state also has the Deve Gowda clan.
Maharasthra has too many political clans for me to start listing them here (that probably needs a separate piece in itself). But the latest political scion to join the bandwagon is Aditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray and the grandson of Bal Thackeray.
This is a random list and is not complete in anyway. But it list remains incomplete without Akhilesh Yadav, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, and the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
The phenomenon of political scions is not limited only to the states.
Patrick French in his book India: A Portrait carried out a very interesting piece of analysis on the Indian members of Parliament. Every Indian MP under the age of 30 was a hereditary MP i.e. his or her family member had made a career out of politics. More than two-thirds of the MPs under the age of 40 are hereditary.
Twenty seven MPs were what French calls “hyper-hereditary” i.e. they had several family members who made a career out of politics. The Congress party leads the race here. All the MPs that the party has under the age of 35 are hereditary. 88% of the Congress MPs under the age of 40 are hereditary. Regional parties have a greater proportion of hereditary MPs, in comparison to the national parties.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that the Indian voter loves to elect political scions into positions of power. It tells us why Motilal Nehru’s great great grandson is leading the race to become the next Prime Minister of India. It tells us why Akhilesh Yadav, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, was elected the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
But that’s just one part of it. It also tells us that politicians like businessmen want their sons and daughters to take over from them. A businessman after having built a good business which throws up a lot of money wants his progeny to manage it. The same seems to be the case with the politicians. Having built a good business model over the years they want their sons and daughters to run it.
This leads to a situation widely prevalent in the Hindi film industry where it’s difficult for an outsider to make it big as a hero. Most of the current crop of heroes are descendants of people who have had something to do with the Hindi film industry. These “heroes” are jocularly referred to as “baba log”.
But it is difficult to separate cause from effect. The Indian voter likes electing political scions and that is why we see more and more baba log entering politics. But at the same time since baba log have cornered most of the space in Indian politics, who else does the voter vote for?
It is a chicken an egg question.
Nevertheless, expecting baba log to change things that their parents or uncles or aunts or grandfathers weren’t able to do, is expecting a little too much from them. The case in point is Akhilesh Yadav. He ran the “umeed ki cycle” campaign during the elections in Uttar Paresh. The campaign was produced by former Hindi film director Arjun Sablok, who directed flops like Neal n Nikki and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum.
The voter was taken for a ride thinking that all that had been wrong during the rule of Mayawati, and also during the rule of Mulayam Singh Yadav, would change in the days to come. That was not to be.
The question that one needs to ask here is why political scions enter politics. That should provide us an answer to why it’s best not to expect any sort of change from baba logs. A political scion enters politics to carry on the family tradition of being in politics. He also understands that at some level he will not have to struggle to make it on his own. Things will be handed out to him on a platter. In short he is taking the easy way out, in most cases. And anyone who takes the easy way out to make himself relevant in this world has his own interests on the top of the agenda and not of the voters who elected him in the first place. The top interest of a political scion is furthering the cause of the family and the people who support the family.
Hence Akhilesh Yadav is in the process of becoming what his father was and probably still is. To end, let me quote Jo Nesbo again:
There were those who asserted that sons always became, to some degree or other, disguised variants of their fathers, that the experience of breaking out was never more than an illusion; you returned; the gravity of blood was not only stronger than your willpower, it was your willpower
The bigger sucker saved Buffett. But Mallya may not have any such luck
(The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on July 5,2012. http://www.firstpost.com/politics/babalog-prophecy-why-akhilesh-wont-ever-transcend-mulayam-368232.htmll)
(Vivek Kaul is a writer and can be reached at [email protected])