1936 Ashok Kumar begins carrear
Born on October 13, 1911 at Bhagalpur, Bihar, as
Kumudlal to a
famous lawyer, Kunjlal Ganguly, whose family migrated from Nadia to
Khandwa some hundred years ago, Ashok Kumar was a brilliant student, who
after finishing his B. Sc. from Robertson College, Jabalpur, went to
study law at Presidency College, Calcutta so that, according to him,
"his granpa's books may be used". As a science student, he developed
a flair for photography and really wanted to become a technician. He
used to visit New Theaters, Calcutta, and left Calcutta in 1934, to get
a letter of recommendation from the world famous Himanshu Rai, who gave
us, "Light of Asia" and "Karma". Himanshu persuaded Ashok to learn
film photography from Josef Wirsching, the talented German cameraman for
Bombay Talkies. Thus began the cine journey of Ashok.
He had a small role in "Jawani ki Hawa (1935)", but he was the
male lead opposite Devika Rani in "Jeevan Nayya (1936)". Ashok did not
want to be an actor and had his hair mercilessly trimmed to avoid
shooting on the first day. Himanshu forgave him and waited for two
months so that Ashok's hair would grow back. In the very first shot,
Ashok had to perform the usual chore of every hero, jump through the
window and save the lady from the clutches of the villain. Ashok did it
with such enthusiasm that villain's leg was broken, and Himanshu had to
wait for another four months!
His next movie "Achhut Kanya" proved to be hit, 20 weeks at
the newly constructed Roxy, Bombay and 59 weeks at calcutta. The movie
had 9 songs, 4 of which became immensely popular, perhaps because of the
music by the talented Saraswati Devi:
mai.n ban kii chi.Diyaa ban ke ban ban - Ashok, Devika
kit gaye ho khevanhaar - Saraswati Devi
kise karataa muurakh pyaar, pyaar, pyaar - Ashok
piir piir kya karataa re - Ashok
Lyrics were by Jamuna Swaroop Kashyap "Naatwaan". Even
father liked the movie and Ashok was a genuine star now. We will pick up
his career later.
Some other movies of 1936 were:
bandit of the air or havaaii daakuu - K. N. Singh's
first as a hero
deccan queen - Surendra's first, had his first song
"yaad na kar dil\-e\-hazii.n bhuulii huii"
honhaar - Leela Mishra's first film to be released, she started acting
with ga.ngaavataraN (1937).
jiivan nayya - Ashok's first in which he sang
"koi hamdam na rahaa, koi sahaaraa na rahaa"
S. N. Tripathi sang his first song, set to music by himself:
"erii dayyaa lachak lachak chalat mohan aave"
millionaire or karo.Dapatii - a song by Saigal and
Pahadi Sanyal says
something about post-high school education:
"jo naukarii dilaa de, B. A. banaane vaale, biga.Dii huii banaa de"
miss frontier mail - perhaps the first parody song by
Minu the Mystic
"gaao gaao ai mere saadhuu, sab hii bhulaao Gam"
prem bandhan - perhaps the first song by Sahir [No way!],
sojaa sojaa nanhe.n sojaa, miiThiii\-miiTHii nindiyaa"
sunaharaa sa.nsaar - K. N. Singh gave his first shot for
this movie, but
it was released later than "bandit of the air (1936)"
Most of the info comes from the following books:
1. The Encyclopaedia, volume 1, compiled by Mr. Har
"Hamraaz", published by Mrs. Satinder Kaur, his wife.
2. "Star-Portrait", by Harish S. Booch and Karin Doyle,
published by The
Lakhani Book Depot, Girgaon, Bombay in 1962. It cost Rs. 4/- in those
days and is probably out of print now. Amazingly, you can find it
in the Ohio University LIbrary!
Surjit Singh, a movie fan period.
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