Kahi debe Sandes

Page 1

�थम छि�सगढ़ी िच�

किह देबें संदेस

This dissertation is an academic project for National Institute of Design Title :

Kahi Debe Sandes

Author : Aayush Chandrawanshi Guide :

Sathyanand Mohan Rishi Singhal

Photography Design 2016 National Institute of Design Gandhinagar, Gujarat - 382 007 Š 2018, Aayush Chandrawanshi All Rights Reserved

First Chhattisgarhi film

Kahi Debe Sandes (Convey the Message)


I sincerely thank Sathyanand Mohan, Discipline Lead and Rishi Singhal, Associate Senior Faculty, for guiding me through the project with their constant feedback and suggestions. It would have been difficult to understand certain aspects of archiving a film without the references given by them. I am grateful to Mr. Manu Nayak, the filmmaker of Kahi Debe Sandes (1965), for sharing his personal as well as work-related photographic archive. Without his guidance, this photobook would not have been successful, as I understood a lot of things about his life and about the film in great depth. His time and effort gave me a better understanding in selecting photographs and in compiling it in the form of a book. I would like to thank all the people who have directly or indirectly helped me in getting access and information related to this long lost film. I am much obliged to my parents for their endless support in my endeavors, Vamika and Joel for hearing me out whenever I had to discuss anything and the batch of Photography Design 2016 for their feedback, suggestions, and support.


The purpose of this Dissertation is to unveil an important part of our regional cultural history, which has been long forgotten. This book attempts to document the first Chhattisgarhi film that was made back in 1965 and all the important events around it. It also brings to light its filmmaker and his journey to become the maiden filmmaker from a region like Chhattisgarh (then Madhya Pradesh) around a time when the dialect was not known outside of the region and the film industry was dominated by Hindi. This book also aims to introduce its reader to the rich history of a regional culture, language, and art. It also comments on the history of regional cinema and how Bollywood has inspired it in its early stages. Also, the theme of the film was very progressive for its time as it addressed social issues such as Untouchability and Caste Discrimination, which were prevalent in that region then. In this Dissertation, I have drawn parallels between the filmmaker’s life and the film itself. The narrative of this book alternates between real-life events and the events in the film respectively. The still photographs in the book were taken by R. V Gadekar, a photographer who was based out of a studio in Dadar. Other photographs are from the filmmaker’s personal archives. It also features some old newspaper articles and pamphlets related to the film.

Dedicated to Manu Nayak, and the people of Chhattisgarh.

History of Indian Cinema

India undoubtedly produces the largest number of movies seen worldwide. India is famous for producing the highest number of films per year. Hindi and Urdu are spoken and understood by a majority of the population, which makes it the default language of Indian cinema. But there are fourteen other official Indian languages which have their own industry and audiences, contributing to the quantity and quality of films produced in the country every year. It all started with the Lumiere brothers, who invented the Cinematographe and started with the projection of very short films. The first of their minute-long films was shown in India at the Watson Hotel in Mumbai on 7th July, 1896, just six months after their first show in Paris. Thus, Indian cinema has more than a hundred years of history. After 1896, for the next fifteen years, there was no indigenous production of movies in India. The next was Raja Harishchandra by Dhandiraj Govindraj Phalke in 1913. D. G. Phalke is acclaimed as the father of Indian cinema because he laid the foundations for the future of the Indian film industry and also trained several young filmmakers in his studio at Nasik, which was also the first regular studio set-up in India. Thousands of silent films were made during this era but only a few have been preserved. The production of silent films continued until 1931 when the first Indian ‘talkie’ came out titled Alam Ara, made by Ardeshir Irani. 1

Over 150 million people understood Hindi and Urdu at that time, thus it was chosen over other languages in India. Early Indian films were largely based on Mythology. Apart from that some folk tales, some legends also became themes for cinema. A change in this trend came about in the 1950s. In the 1950s, Cinema transitioned from a medium exploring folkloric to sociological themes. The Folkloric cinema brings with it the armature of the hero; in the sociological cinema, this was brought down to the realm of recognizability, and this is what makes the genre of social cinema much more critical. What is exceptional about this period are the type of films made. The films were thought-provoking and emotionally enriching with a touch of melodrama; they were not creating an escape into fantasy but delivering new ideas and values while keeping basic Indian cultural values intact. The films of the time sold dreams and created new horizons of expectations for the masses. The beginning of the 1960’s saw some remarkable changes. The first regional films in local dialects began to be made. In 1962 the first Bhojpuri film Ganga maiya tohe piyari chadhaibo, directed by Kundan Kumar was released. It was the first film to be made in a regional dialect and was an instant hit nationwide. This film became an inspiration for a lot of filmmakers who had been trying to make indigenous cinema in their respective regional dialects. This started the era of regional cinema and films in different regional dialects like Marwadi, Magadhi, Rajashthani, Nepali, Chhattisgarhi, were made. One such example is a young film enthusiast Manu Nayak from Chhattisgarh.


Pioneer of Cinema in Chhattisgarh

Manu Nayak

“I was born on 11th July 1937 in a village called Kurra in Raipur District of Chhattisgarh (then Madhya Pradesh). There were some early difficulties in my life as my father had constant health issues and he passed away when I was just two years of age. My mother took care of all the children but I had a rough childhood. I stayed with my friends during high school and with them, I used to regularly check out cinema related magazines at a book stand. This used to keep me updated with what was happening in the world of cinema at that point in time.� 3

Manu Nayak with his wife Urvashi and their first child Veena


M.B Raj, R.V Gadekar and Manu Nayak

“When I was twenty years old I left for Bombay without even consulting anyone, there I stayed for a while trying to find some work in the film industry, but was unsuccessful. I made two to three trips to Bombay and each time I used to apply in a few production companies but I finally got a job at Anupam Chitra in 1957. It was a production house headed by Director Mahesh Kaul in partnership with writer Pandit Mukhram Sharma. When I joined I got to work on the film Talaq which got released in 1958, subsequently, I worked on production and sets for other films by Anupam Chitra like Santan (1959), Miya Bibi Razi(1960), Pyar Ki Pyas(1961).� 5

K. C Das, Mukul Dutt, Amrit Oberoi, Manu Nayak and Mr. Agrawal


Amrit Oberoi, Manu and Mr. Agrawal


“I always wanted to make a film on my own; I had a theme in my mind which was inspired by my childhood experiences and I wanted to raise certain social concerns regarding it through a film. Until 1962 I was quite experienced with the kinds of job that had to be done in and around films. I had also made a lot of contacts as I enjoyed a good reputation among people in the industry. With the release of Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo in 1962, I was very determined to make a film in Chhattisgarhi dialect (spoken in the eastern region of then Madhya Pradesh) and to name it Kahi debe Sandes which translates to Convey the message. Kahi debe Sandes (1965) is a commentary on social issues such as Untouchability and Caste discrimination. I had seen it happening even in my own house. Whenever my friends from the lower castes (Satnami caste) used to come to my home, my mother used to not say anything but soon after they had left she used to clean the entrance of the house. This and few other instances deeply affected me and I realized that until caste discrimination is addressed properly to the masses, society would not progress.�


Film still 1

The story of the film is set in a village in Chhattisgarh (then Madhya Pradesh). The village has a prevalent caste discrimination and there were several conflicts between people from Upper caste and the Harijan (Satnami) community. It starts with the Landlord talking to the Purohit (Priest), and later with his wife Dulari regarding how he wants to take Charandas (who belongs to the Satnami community) to court for land acquisition. Fulwati (Charandas’ wife) tries to talk sense to him and asks him to discuss the matter and settle for a compromise rather than fighting over it. Consequently, Purohit tries to instigate differences against Satnami community among the upper caste people through his preachings. But the kids in the village seems to question caste discrimination and discuss it in their school. 9

Landlord and his wife Dulari


Film still 2

Charandas and his wife Fulwati

Film still 3


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Film still 6

“One day, someone from Cine Advance Newsletter came and we had a talk about my upcoming project. I told him about the incomplete script and the lack of technicians but still, the representative of Cineadvance published that news without consulting me. The news was read by some of the financiers who knew me personally, and they tried to contact me. One of the financiers enquired me about the financial status of the project and offered me Rs. 5000/- without interest, to be returned within a year. Similarly, four more people approached me and soon I had Rs. 25000/- as a film budget. I straightaway went and discussed it with Malay Chakraborty for Music direction and Hanumant Naidu for songwriting, whom I used to meet daily. Hanumant Naidu wrote some songs and Malay made tunes for it, that was when I decided to approach Mohammed Rafi to sing some of these songs.� 17

Malay Chakroborty, Mr. Tagore and Manas Mukherjee


Kavita Krishnamurthy and Ganga Prasad


“We recorded a song with Mohammed Rafi, which was Jhamkat nadiya bahini lage, and it became a nationwide hit. It was a small industry and soon everyone got to know about it. I was an assistant to Mahesh Kaul and that was how people knew me in the industry. After recording was done I met Mahesh Kaul and made him listen to the song that we had recorded, which he liked. But I was also told that they would repay the expenses and in return, I should not resign Anupam Chitra. I was asked to scrap the idea of making a film and was told that I am being sentimental about it and that it was not an easy job. I turned down this proposal. After this, the second song was recorded with Mohammed Rafi which was Tor pairi ke jhanar jhanar. Even at this point, the script wasn’t refined. I tried to get some famous scriptwriters to write the script for me but that didn’t happen so ultimately I started off on my own with the little experience I had working alongside Mukhran Sharma in Anupam Chitra.”

Malay Chokroborty, Mohammed Rafi and Manu Nayak


Kan Mohan, Manu Nayak, Meenu Purshottam and Malay Chakroborty


Recording Session

“After recording few songs I went to Raipur and met few of my friends whose work was related to films and the industry. I met a Distribution Manager and his partner who after a meeting approached me with an offer that when I get the cast and equipment from Mumbai, they will take care of the arrangement and expenses in Raipur. I asked for 60,000 rupees from them in return of distribution rights of the film in Chhattisgarh region.� 23

After some years, Nayandas (son of Charandas and Fulwati) goes to Agriculture University for higher education; there he becomes good friends with Ravikant Tiwari, who is studying medicine. Back in the village, Rupa and Geeta (younger sisters of the Landlord) have grown up and they help their brother and his wife at home. Nayandas comes back to the village after education and helps the community in farming practices and re-unites with Rupa, his childhood friend. Their childhood affection turns to love but they both realize that they belong to a different community. 24

Ravikant Tiwari and Nayandas

Film still 8


Rupa and Geeta


Film still 9

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“I went back to Mumbai, selected few actors for the film, and made a schedule for Raipur. I went alone and chose some locations for shooting in and around Raipur and informed the partners who had to manage and arrange for shoot related itinerary. All the equipment were taken by road and the rest of the team took a train to Raipur. It was a team of twelve people including me. When we reached Bhilai, one of the partners met us and said that the arrangements could not be done as promised. I realized we had been cheated. This made the situation distressful. I was walking cluelessly wondering about it and I did not realise when I reached the bus stand. I met Brijlal Verma there, who was an MLA back then from Palari, a village in Raipur district. He knew that I lived in Mumbai and worked in films, so he asked me about the reason for my anxiety. I told him everything that happened and how there was a lack of money to go ahead with shooting. Brijlal Verma said to me that he would arrange for a Guesthouse in his village Pallari and some cash so that at least we can continue. I accepted his help. The equipment came later that night, Next day we went to Vivekanand Ashram in Raipur to meet Swami Atmanandji to request for a shoot where they did the hostel scene. That is how it started. But I had accumulated some debts by now.�


Newspaper ad, Call for actors, 1965


Manu Nayak


Bal Saraf, Kan Mohan, Manu Nayak and Uma


Brijlal Verma and Manu Nayak


Shiv Kumar Deepak, Manu Nayak, Ramakant Bakshi and Ramakant Naik


Cast and crew at Lunch break


“After 22 days of shooting in Palari village, the song Sua Geet was shot in Mumbai using sets because there was a shortage of reels then. The Jhamkat Nadiya song was already a hit on the radio by that time but there was a lack of footage for it, so filler footages were again shot in Mumbai. There were some bad experiences even after so much planning and there were a lot of unprecedented difficulties that came during the shoot. Also, the lack of reels constrained us to do lesser re-takes but we somehow managed to pull through all of it and finished shooting. The film was processed at Bombay Film Laboratory Pvt Ltd, and it was edited in Bombay itself by Madhu Adhsule. Censor board passed the certificate for the film on 7th April 1965. Manohar talkies of Raipur was pre-booked for the premier.� 44

Certificate from Censor Board, April 1965


Journal of the Film Industry, Article 1


Journal of the Film Industry, Article 2


As Nayandas and Rupa’s love for each other grows stronger, Kamal Narayan Pandey, who envied their relationship, started to spread rumors about the sisters that they were getting too old for marriage. Rumour spreads like wildfire which made Rupa too sad to even step out of the house. The landlord is struggling to find perfect grooms for both of his sisters, moreover, the Purohit is delaying it even further because he is taking bribes from Kamal so that he can get married to Rupa. 48

Kamal Narayan Pandey

Film still 16


Film still 17


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Newpaper Article, 1965 55

“All of a sudden there was a controversy where a section of the Brahmin community accused the film saying that it disrespects their community. They protested the release of the film in Raipur. A delegation from the Brahmin community went to New Delhi, following which I also left for Delhi. Indira Gandhi who was in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting back then, ordered to keep a show of the film in Vigyan Bhawan, and the only request I had was that all MP’s and MLA’s from Chhattisgarh region should be called to attend that show. Indira Gandhi herself attended the show and later made a statement that this was a film on National Integrity. All controversies were over as soon as the statement was released. Moreover, Madhya Pradesh government made the film tax free for people to watch in theatres.”


Pamphlets for promotion, 1965


While Nayandas tries to make a co-operative society of all the farmers in the village, his friend Ravikant Tiwari gets posted in the same village as a Doctor. On the other hand, Kamal Narayan understands that he stands no chance in convincing Rupa for marriage, so he tries to force her to marry him and as she declines, Kamal again went on to spread rumors about the affair between Rupa and Nayandas since it is a relationship between a lower caste man and an upper caste girl, which is shameful for the society and the village. 58

Film still 20


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Newspaper advertisement, 1965


Manu in his Production Office


Hindi Sahitya Samiti, Durg (1965)


Desh Gautam, Manu and Mahendra Sandhu


Award ceremony in Manu’s honour


Amidst the protest from people of both the castes, Nayandas marries Rupa at a temple in presence of Geeta and Dr. Ravikant. They talk to their family that its sinful to part away two people who are in love after they have married by God’s grace and most importantly that it is people who define Society and not Society that dictates the people. In the following scene, we see the marriage between Nayandas and Rupa with their family and the villagers present to bless them. 76

Film still 28


(Beginning of a new age) Film still 29