Padosan was a Telugu film made in Calcutta-Entertainment News, Firstpost

The timeless comedy “Padosan” began its journey as a short story which was first adapted into Bengali and then into Telugu, both by Kolkata-based production houses. It was rage in three languages ​​before Bollywood even knew it existed.

Once Upon a Cinema is a new series that will illuminate the dark, unexplored crevices of Indian cinema. In it, the writer will introduce long-forgotten stories and faces, share uncommon perspectives on stars and filmmakers, and tell stories that have never been told.

If Bhanu Bannerjee had been alive and working as a comedian today, he would have been in big trouble. One of the things he was known for was the scathing social satire of his audio pieces, some of which involved poking fun at politics and…religion. His sketch Naba Ramayan would send ripples through the establishment. Nevertheless, Bhanu was more famous as a comedian in mainstream Bengali films, and he was active during a time when comedians enjoyed the same respect as the leading heroes and heroines of the time. Sometimes even more. In their heyday, comedic actors like Tulshi Chakraborty and Jahar Roy were revered names in the industry. It was not uncommon to have a comedian as the central character, the driving force behind many popular films.

Bhanu Bannerjee started his career with a movie titled Abhijog (1947) and went on to appear in many successful films over the next three decades. He eventually formed a successful on-screen partnership with Jahar Roy and even briefly featured in a few Hindi films like Dulal Guha’s. Ek Gaon Ki Kahani (1957) and Satyan Bose Bandish (1955) in which he attempts to woo Meena Kumari, with hysterical results.

But the only movie that brought him to the map was Pasher Bari (1952), a situational comedy based on a story by Arun Chowdhury, who also wrote and starred in the film’s dialogue. The film featured Bhanu as Shyam Sundar, the music teacher of a pretty young thing named Lili (Sabitri Chatterjee). On a train, Lili meets the awkward simpleton Kyabla (Satya Bannerjee) who quickly falls in love with her. Realizing the music teacher is a rival for her affections, Kyabla recruits Bhombol Da (Arun Chowdhury) to help win her over. Bhombol realizes that Kyabla has gone too far in his love for Lili, and decides that all is fair in love and… you know.

Pasher Bari proved to be a turning point for a number of people associated with it. Bhanu became a household name and Sharey Chuattor, released the following year, only cemented his position as an important comedic actor in the Bengali film industry. Heroine Sabitri Chatterjee and director Sudhir Mukherjee made their debuts with Pasher Bari. Although she had been in a movie before, this was her first major role. Sabitri had only recently migrated from what was then known as East Pakistan. She was a distant relative of Bhanu Bannerjee, who hired her for his theater troupe.

Sabitri used to speak with an accent, because of which she was initially rejected for the role of Lili. But she came with solid credentials. Her stage performance made Shishir Bhaduri, the dean of Bengali drama, gush about how she had eclipsed all veterans. Finally, she was cast as the film’s heroine and Bhanu as one of her suitors. For director Sudhir Mukherjee, Pasher Bari was a milestone because it was his directorial debut. He went on to make a number of highly successful films, including some with matinee idol Uttam Kumar. The film’s hero was Satya Bannerjee, who was also cast as a hero for the first time. He would go on to play strong supporting roles in mainstream Bengali films for four decades.

Pasher Bari became a runaway success. It was an interesting period in the history of Indian cinema, when the Tamil and Telugu film industries had close ties with Calcutta and Bengali filmmakers. The legendary Tamil poet and lyricist Kannadasan was training to become a director under Debaki Bose, and later produced a Tamil film titled Ratna Deepam (1953) which Bose directed. Ratna Deepam had a predominantly Bengali cast, including Abhi Bhattacharya and Pahari Sanyal. This type of cultural exchange between Bengal and southern cinema was quite common in the 1930s to the early 1950s. East India Film Company, established in Calcutta by RL Khemka, was at the forefront of many of these projects. For example, a Calcutta studio set up by a Marwari company shot films in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Padosan was a Telugu film made in Calcutta

Inspired by the success of Pasher BariEast India Film Company produced a Telugu language film titled Pakkinti Ammayi, released the same year (1953). It was directed by Chittajallu Pullaiyah. Kyabla became Subbarayudu, played by eminent Telugu comedian Relangi, while Leela – Lili in the original – was portrayed by superstar Anjali Devi who was a big name in both Telugu and Tamil cinema. The role of Bhombol Da was changed to Raja, who was also a singer, played by vocalist and music manager AM Rajah. Pakkinti Ammayi was a huge hit, prompting heroine Anjali Devi to co-produce a Tamil version with her husband, music director Adhinarayana Rao. Adutha Veettu Penn (1960) was directed by Vedantam Raghavaiah and again starred Anjali Devi as the heroine, with the clumsy hero Mannaru being played by TR Ramachandran. Veteran Tamil comedian KA Thangavelu became the singer friend. And like clockwork, Aduthe Veettu Penn also set the box office on fire.

Padosan was a Telugu film made in Calcutta

Just like Bhanu Bannerjee in Bengal, Mehmood was also consolidating his position as a comedian in Bollywood. His first roles are hardly funny. Because they were negative parts. It started with the blockbuster Kismet (1943) as Ashok Kumar’s Younger Self. Some of the most iconic films of the 1950s featured him in minor roles, such as Do Beegha Zameen, Pyaasa, CID. Finally it was Parvarich (1958) where he stands out. He played Raj Kapoor’s brother. After Parvarich, Mehmood continued to have meatier roles, but mostly as funny men. By the mid-60s, he was a bankable star and often commanded higher fees than some of the heroes were earning at the time. He was so overwhelmingly successful that scripts were written with him in mind. It was time to get into the movies. The first film he directed was Bhoot Bungla (1965), with Tanuja in the lead opposite him. He even bulldozed his friend RD Burman into a role in the film. RD also composed the music. Mehmood and RD Burman aka Pancham had heartbreaking on-screen chemistry which made him decide to cast Pancham again.

When Mehmood decided to launch his production house, the first project had to be special. The story Pasher Bari, which had already spawned three very successful films in three languages, seemed like as credible an idea as any. When padosan was first conceived, the lead roles were to be played by Pancham and Shikha Biswas – the daughter of musical director Anil Biswas – say Aniruddha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal in their book on RD Burman. Very few people could make Mehmood laugh uncontrollably, and Pancham was one of them. Still, he was more insistent on sticking to his role as a composer, and acting didn’t seem exciting enough.

Padosan was a Telugu film made in Calcutta

At that time, Sunil Dutt had built an impressive body of work and had a thirst for experimentation. He had just shot the first Indian film with a single actor, yaadein (1964). In the same vein, he accepted the role of Bhola as he had never done comedy before and it was a challenge. Saira Banu, whose comedic timing was evident in Junglee, was cast as the lead heroine. Kishore Kumar had quit acting to focus on his singing career. But when the role of the hero’s friend Vidyapati was explained to him, he exclaimed that it reminded him of his uncle Dhananjay Bannerjee. In the role of Vidyapati, Kishore modeled the role on that of pan-chewing, dhoti-clad Dhananjay Mama. Mehmood himself took on the role of music teacher.

padosan created history with its phenomenal music by RD Burman and the impeccable comedic performance of the main cast. Over the past half century, the charm of Padosan has not diminished one iota. But it’s easy to forget that the three “regional” films that preceded it were also seminal films, paving the way for their Bollywood counterpart to exist and create magic.

Amborish is a National Film Award-winning writer, biographer and film historian.

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