He who brought back romance

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By Veteran producer-director Shakti Samanta died in Mumbai on Thursday evening. t2 rewinds to some of his love stories WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE SHAKTI SAMANTA FILM? TELL T2@ABPMAIL.COM
  • Published 11.04.09
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The romantic wave that rocked Bollywood in the 1960s was not just about Rajesh Khanna, RD Burman and Kishore Kumar. It also had a lot to do with a certain Shakti Samanta under whose directorial baton came everyone from Shammi Kapoor to Mithun Chakraborty, Uttam Kumar to Prosenjit. Here’s a look back at the man whose contribution to Indian cinema spanned almost 50 years.

HINDI FILMS

Bahu (1955): This family drama starring Mehmood, Pran and Johnny Walker and with music by Hemanta Mukhopadhyay marked Shakti Samanta’s directorial debut

Howrah Bridge (1958): The first big hit of his career, this Ashok Kumar-Madhubala film had thrill, romance and some memorable music (Aaiye meherbaan, Mera naam chin chin chu).

China Town (1962): Said to be the inspiration behind Amitabh Bachchan’s Don, China Town was a racy thriller with Shammi Kapoor in dual roles. Ravi’s Baar baar dekho remains timeless.

Kashmir Ki Kali (1964): The film that made Sharmila Tagore the heartthrob of millions, Kashmir Ki Kali is best remembered for the freshness of its plot, the picturesque Srinagar locales and OP Nayyar’s music brought to life by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle.

Sawan Ki Ghata (1966): Shakti Samanta teamed favourite Sharmila Tagore with Manoj Kumar for this romance which had the memorable OP Nayyar song Zara haule haule chalo more saajna.

An Evening In Paris (1967): Yet another Shakti Samanta film that effortlessly combined romance with intrigue. Sharmila Tagore in a swimsuit created a sensation in this major box-office hit.

Aradhana (1969): One of the biggest hits of his career, Aradhana had Rajesh Khanna in a double role with Sharmila Tagore playing fiancee to one and mother to another. SD Burman was credited for the musical gems like Roop tera mastana, Mere sapnon ki rani and Kora kagaz but insiders believed it was all RD.

Kati Patang (1970): Asha Parekh stepped in for Sharmila Tagore in this tale of betrayal, love and revenge. RD scored gems like Yeh jo mohabbat hai, Yeh shaam mastani and Pyaar deewana hota hai.

Amar Prem (1971): Arguably Samanta’s best, where Rajesh Khanna slipped into Uttam Kumar’s shoes in this Nishipadma remake. Exploring the relationship between an unhappy man, a prostitute and a neglected son, Amar Prem also boasted the best of RD Burman (Chingaari koi bhadke, Raina beeti jaye, Kuch toh log kahenge). “Pushpa, I hate tears” still resonates in Hindi cinema.

Anuraag (1972): Moushumi Chatterjee’s breakthrough film where she plays a blind girl in love with Vinod Mehra. A surprise hit from a small-budget non-star project.

Ajnabee (1974): Loosely inspired from Bombay Talkies’ Kismet, this box-office failure starring Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Amana had incredible RD Burman music in the form of Ek ajnabee haseena se, Hum dono do premi duniya chhod chale and Bheegi bheegi raton mein.

Charitraheen (1974): Adapted from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel, this one again tried to explore the dynamics between a fallen hero and a prostitute. Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore shone in the lead.

Mehbooba (1976): The mother of all reincarnation stories, Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini sparkled in this musical which boasted of songs like Mere naina and Gori tori paijaniya.

Anurodh (1977): Remake of the superhit Uttam Kumar-Tanuja-starrer Deya Neya, Samanta pulled off a casting coup of sorts by signing Dimple Kapadia’s sister Simple opposite Rajesh Khanna. Still a popular watch on the small screen.

The Great Gambler (1979): Initially planned as a follow up to An Evening in Paris with Shammi Kapoor in the lead, this was finally made with Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman. Best remembered for the gondola song Do lafzon ki...

Alag Alag (1985): Rajesh Khanna’s production debut brought back the team of RD-Kishore-Rajesh but couldn’t create the magic.

BENGALI FILMS

Amanush (1974): A landmark film in Tollywood, Samanta created magic with Uttam Kumar and Sharmila Tagore. He played an alcoholic, she his love interest. Ki ashaye bandhi khelaghar....

Ananda Ashram (1977): The Uttam-Sharmila pair returned to repeat its magic in this family drama with soul-stirring music. Ananda Ashram was a huge commercial success.

Anusandhan (1981): One of Tollywood’s biggest hits of all times, Anusandhan saw a cult following for its lead actors Amitabh Bachchan, Rakhee, Amjad Khan and, yes, Kaliramer dhol! RD Burman’s music was a big draw. The Hindi version was Barsaat Ki Ek Raat.

Anyay Abichar (1984): For all those who go gaga over Mithun the superstar of commercial Bengali films, this was the original one where he came, saw and conquered hearts as the angry not-so-young man. Also starred Rejina, Nutan and Utpal Dutt. Had a Hindi version called Aar Paar.

Debdas (2002): Samanta’s Debdas was a period piece starring Prosenjit, Arpita Pal and Indrani Halder. Also, his last film.