Films that were shelved mid­way

Many reel projects were cut even be­fore cam­era could be­gin rolling and the direc­tor called out ‘ac­tion’.

Alive - - News - ■ by A. C. Tuli

The film in­dus­try, like other in­dus­tries, also has its ups and downs, mostly downs, be­cause al­most 90 per cent of the films re­leased ev­ery year flop at the box of­fice, leav­ing their pro­duc­ers in dire fi­nan­cial straits. So, the glit­ter and glam­our one gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ates with film stars is no in­di­ca­tion that ev­ery­thing is hunky-dory in the film in­dus­try.

A filmmaker has to face so many has­sles while his film is in the mak­ing. Some­times it is the tantrums of the big stars that he has to put up with pa­tiently, some­times there are prob­lems of dates, some­times there is a clash of over-in­flated egos which leads to the stalling of the film, some­times a filmmaker’s newly re­leased film flops and he sud­denly loses the nerve to go ahead with his next pro­ject, and some­times a film gets stalled when its pro­ducer fails to find the means to bankroll it.

The an­nals of the film in­dus­try is full of many such sad sto­ries of films which were started but never com­pleted, or which were planned but never reached the im­ple­men­ta­tion stage. How­ever, what­ever it may be, it is in­ter­est­ing to fer­ret out and dis­cuss such in­com­plete films of the past which are now moul­der­ing in the lum­ber rooms of film stu­dios.

In the early 90s, ac­tress Di­vya Bharti tasted un­prece­dented suc­cess when she de­buted in the box-of­fice hit Vish­watama (1992). In the first flush of suc­cess, she signed many films and be­came one of the busiest ac­tresses of that time. She was then barely 19 but al­ready be­ing ro­man­ti­cally linked with var­i­ous film world per­son­al­i­ties.

She was said to be quite close to filmmaker Sa­jid Na­di­ad­wala. Then, for in­ex­pli­ca­ble rea­sons, her pri­vate life was sud­denly thrown into com­plete tur­moil. This ul­ti­mately led to her sud­den death in April 1993. Nat­u­rally, it up­set the ap­ple carts of many pro­duc­ers who had signed her for their films. Most of her films for which the shoot­ing had been go­ing on were left in­com­plete and thus the footage shot shall re­main shut in cans. And many other films which were to shortly go on the floors had to be shelved. Some of her in­com­plete films, how­ever, were re-shot af­ter find­ing suit­able re­place­ments.

For in­stance, Kr­ishma Kapoor re­placed Di­vya Bharti in Dhan­wan,

Sridevi in Laadla, and Tabu in Vi­jay­path. But Di­vya Bharti’s ar­dent fans felt that she would have been more ef­fec­tive in these films if she had not died pre­ma­turely.

Aban­doned and in­com­plete Kalinga with Dilip Ku­mar in the lead was an­other such jinxed film. Had it been com­pleted and re­leased, it would have been Dilip Ku­mar’s first di­rec­to­rial ven­ture. But the film got stalled mid­way when its bud­get started touch­ing as­tro­nom­i­cal heights.

Pro­ducer Sud­hakar Bokade and Dilip Ku­mar had had some se­ri­ous

dif­fer­ences over the film’s rapidly in­flat­ing bud­get, and the re­sult was that

Kalinga was never com­pleted and re­leased. Sim­i­larly, an­other Dilip Ku­mar star­rer in which Rekha was cast op­po­site him also got stalled and was never re­leased.

Let us go back to ear­lier times. K. Asif was well known for tak­ing his time to make a film. Some­times, it took him more than a decade to com­plete a film. His Mughal-e’Azam (1960) was for long years in the mak­ing. Af­ter the re­lease of this block­buster, he an­nounced his next film Love And God with ac­tress Nimmi and Guru Dutt in the lead. Shoot­ing of the film started in 1962.

It was a film on the lives of the leg­endary lovers Laila and Ma­jnu. The shoot­ing of the film started at a slow pace, and con­tin­ued thus for years pri­mar­ily be­cause of acute fi­nan­cial crunch faced by its K. Asif. Then, the Ma­jnu of this film, that is, Guru Dutt, died in 1964, leav­ing Love And God in­com­plete.

K. Asif again took his time to find Guru Dutt’s re­place­ment for this film. At long last, he chose San­jeev Ku­mar for the role that Guru Dutt was do­ing. But this jinxed film was stalled again when K. Asif died in 1971.

It was then left to his wife to re­lease the in­com­plete film in 1986 when its hero San­jeev Ku­mar had also died and its hero­ine Nimmi had be­come a for­got­ten name in film­dom. Of course, the in­com­plete film failed to im­press the cine-go­ers.

Guru Dutt was some­what finicky about the themes that he chose for his films. He would plan a film, even shoot a few scenes, and then sud­denly some caprice would in­duce him to aban­don the pro­ject.

In 1957 he an­nounced Gauri, a film in which he wanted to launch his wife Geeta Dutt as a pop­u­lar singing star. But the film never saw the dark of cin­ema halls be­cause Guru Dutt aban­doned it when it was still in the ini­tial stage.

Guru Dutt’s other in­com­plete film was the mys­tery thriller Raaz. It was based on Wilkie Collins’s fa­mous novel The Woman In White. R.D. Bur­man was to make his de­but as in­de­pen­dent mu­sic direc­tor with this film. But this pro­ject too got nixed when it was still in the ini­tial stage.

Odd pairs

Su­raiya in her hey­day was the high­est paid star of the film in­dus­try. Most of her films were sil­ver ju­bilee hits. But her ca­reer be­gan to fal­ter in the early fifties when some of her films tanked. Her film Moti Ma­hal (1952) in which she was paired with Ajit was a flop. The com­pany, which had made Moti Ma­hal and al­ready an­nounced their next film Ching Chow with the same ro­man­tic pair in the lead, ob­vi­ously had sec­ond thought and the re­sult was that Ching Chow was aban­doned, in spite of the fact that quite a few scenes of this film had al­ready been shot.

When Su­raiya’s star was in the as­cen­dant, top­most he­roes of that time con­sid­ered it a lucky stroke if they were cast op­po­site her in films. Dilip Ku­mar was also one of those top­most he­roes. He and Su­raiya were cast in K. Asif’s film Jan­war.

The film’s shoot­ing was go­ing on smoothly, but then sud­denly things went hay­wire when, in an un­guarded mo­ment, Dilip Ku­mar made an un­savoury com­ment on Su­raiya while he was gos­sip­ing with his cronies. When Su­raiya came to know what her hero thought about her, she walked out of the pro­ject in a huff and the re­sult was that Jan­war was never com­pleted and re­leased.

Ever crossed your mind that a film could have been made with Kishore Ku­mar and Nar­gis in ro­man­tic lead? Well, noth­ing could have looked more in­con­gru­ous than to see these two – frisky and friv­o­lous Kishore Ku­mar and the se­date and se­ri­ous Nar­gis – ro­manc­ing in a film.

But, be­lieve it or not, a film en­ti­tled Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani with Nar­gis, Kishore Ku­mar and Johnny Walker in the lead was an­nounced in mid-50s and even a few scenes were shot, but then for rea­sons un­known the pro­ject was aban­doned.

The Venus of the In­dian screen, Mad­hubala, also starred in a few films which were never com­pleted. Her first in­com­plete film, in which her beau was Dilip Ku­mar, was Haar Sing­haar (1949), but the film was never com­pleted and re­leased. There­fore, Mad­hubala’s first film with Dilip Ku­mar was Tarana re­leased in 1951.

She was also cast in an­other in­com­plete film en­ti­tled Fasla di­rected by Zia Sarhadi. But as Zia Sarhadi-di­rected Foot­path (1953) had flopped badly at the box of­fice, the pro­ducer of Fasla nat­u­rally de­vel­oped cold feet and the film was given up af­ter shoot­ing a few scenes.

The lum­ber rooms of film stu­dios are not only dumped with in­com­plete movies but also many com­pleted ones which never found dis­trib­u­tors. Per­haps the mar­ket-savvy film dis­trib­u­tors saw lit­tle profit in ex­hibit­ing these films.

Di­vya Bharti Su­raiya

Guru Dutt Dilip Ku­mar with Mad­hubala

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