Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one of the most out standing film makers of the 1970's. Quiet easily the father of middle class cinema as he has been christened by the press in their obituaries.
September 30, 1922–August 27, 2006
His heroes were ordinary men we could find in our own families and neighborhood, we just needed that story telling flourish to make them palatable to the cinema goers. I think his characterisations were very refreshing amidst the larger than life and stereotypical Hindi film format. He made one believe that he was making a film about that neighbourhood Vermaji, touched by some Prem Chandish flair that writers generally attribute to their stories. Hrishi da's movies made you feel good, created no Superman's but in my opinion drawing from rooted ideas of impromptu story telling so famous in small town India. Like when you have to conjure up a story on pressure from your listeners without preparation and you start weaving these yarns of fantasy within the realm of credulity, of course.
I discovered his films owing to the satellite TV boom, or maybe we all did. Golmal, Guddi, Abhiman, Chupke Chupke, Mili, Naram Garam! The most soul searing music, a writers sensibility with that hint of theatrical farce which actors like Utpal Dutt and Om Prakash infused in his films, is surely missed. I didnt see his last film Jhooth Bole Kawa Kaate, so been missing his kind of cinema already.
But there are a lot I am yet to see, for instance, Alaap, Satyakam and many which I may not know about.
I saw Mili again a couple of months back. I remember finding it a bit incomplete when I first watched it as a kid. But I think Mili was perfect this time around. The terminally ill Jaya Bachchan, the anguished scarred Amitabh (almost a Graham Greenish character), where do we get such characterisation. The sound track, the congeniality of Ashok Kumar as the father, the show off Asrani was such an approximation of reality in the world of stereotypical portrayals. Guddi is another great film. I loved it as many times as I saw it. Dharmendra in Chupke Chupke and we all think he can’t act.
Shatrughan Sinha's character in Naram Garam, the movie from which that...gaslight (pronounced ghaslet)..dialogue is continously bandied about.....
My favorite bit is in Naram Garam. Utpal Dutt eager to marry Swarup Sampat rushes to Pandit Om Prakash in Varanasi. But as soon as he reaches, a servant on his heels informs him that she has run away with Amol Palekar, the estate manager and he has to turn back and head home. Pandit Om Prakash is lying languidly on the couch in his dhoti looking forward to the dakshina (donation), when he sees Utpal Dutt going back, he is heart broken, and asks him Kya Hua Zazmaan (Whats the matter, Master/Client?), Utpal Dutt replies, Emergency hai (It's an Emergency/Urgent)! Panditji looks down at this crotch and mumbles to himself, phir aagayi (Emergency! It has come again.)! (For those who miss it, it refers to Sanjay Gandhi's forced sterilization drive during the Emergency Years 1975-76!)
For a complete list of Hrishikesh Mukherjee's movies as writer, editor and director have a look at imdb
For a really informed obituary and a good commentary on Abhigyan's