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