Aug 27, 2006 evening – Breaking news splashed ‘Hrishikesh Mukherji No More’ on my TV screen; ‘Film maker Hrishikesh Mukherji Dies’ announced another scroll under the news reader. Gradually it hit me what had happened and soon enough I was feeling really sad. We had lost a very talented veteran film maker, who has left behind an amazing body of work. As an ever learning film person I keep learning from every film and film maker. I did learn a lot from Hrishida’s movies but more importantly I derived such a load of happiness from them.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have met Hrishida for a few hours, during a shooting of his interview. Interview was shot at his simple and informal home in Bandra in mid 90s. Mr. Mahesh Bhat was interviewing him. Hrishida had been under pressure of ill health for quite some time even then. He was on dialysis, which other than just being a physical problem, plays immensely on one’s mind too. In spite of all this Hrishida was continuously cracking jokes with Mahesh Bhat, reminiscing about the past and often doubling up with splits of laughter. That day Dada really looked very cheerful and lively. That interview shoot was very elaborate and was done with two cameras. There were lots of lights and a camera trolley too to make it look good.
As a sound recordist. It is my job to make sure that the audio is clean and clear. But beyond that listening to so many intelligent people intently has had its own benefits for me. I cannot explain how much I have gained listening closely to hundreds of ‘who is who’ of India. I really lapped up every word that Hrishida spoke during the shoot. Every little nuance, detail and expression in his voice while narrating and explaining incidences from his illustrious past. Interviewing Hrishida was all for my benefit. By listening to him for all of those 5-6 hours, I realized Hrishida had an amazing sense of humor. He was also very comfortable in the company of another film maker, asking him questions. I felt so fulfilled that I had a chance to listen to him talk about his life, his films, his early days, struggles, about his actors, his early time as a film laboratory assistant, jolts and his successes along with numerous other anecdotes.
I have always carried immense respect for Hrishida as a film maker. I am in awe of his total control over comedy and well as emotions. His films could make you double up with hilarious scenes and choke you with emotions at the same time. His first film Musafir was not mounted as a commercial film, but the no part of the film shows that the maker is raw in any sense. He was in complete control of the medium even then. It must be due to his mastery of editing. Film makers, whose basic forte was ‘editing’, have gone on to become great masters of film craft. Raj Kapoor and Vijay Anand are other two prominent names in this genre. The direction and editing courses in FTII, Pune have lessons on Hrishida’s editing style. Chori Chori, Chupke Chupke, Gol Maal, Anand, Anuradha, Abhiman, Aashirwad, Khoobsurat… the inexhaustible list of simple yet successful films proves how versatile film maker Hrishida was.
Inside my cupboard I have pictures of two of my favorite people; one is Vijay Anand, another Hrishikesh Mukherji. It shows the dates of his ‘in & out’ points, as we call it in editing terms.
I feel eternally indebted to people who have made me laugh, made me cry or have added to my intelligence in any way. Hrishida will always be missed and remembered for providing us with clean and intelligent cinematic experience.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee (30 Sep 1922, Kolkata – 27 Aug 2006, Mumbai)