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Monday, March 15, 2010

Kaarnama (1979): a masala feast for Shashi-week!

Shashi Kapoor Yes, its that time of the year when Beth announces a Shashi-fest and the rest of us rush to celebrate! This year, I’ve gotten my hands on something rather unusual - a newly discovered Shashi Kapoor film! Thats hardly unusual, you might say. The guy never refused a film, so one is always stumbling across "new" Shashi films, all over the place. Well, this one is a masala-swashbuckler-cum-thriller-cum-everything else – nothing less than a "new" Manmohan Desai film, in fact! Yes, I can see that you are about to bring up Aa Gale Lag Ja and Suhaag and tell me that there’s nothing new about a Shashi-Manmohan Desai collaboration.

Hear me out – this film IS rather unusual. Its more than ordinarily unknown. The film was never released for some reason, and only one copy has survived. Luckily for me, I was able to trace the owner of the last surviving copy - Mr. F. Khabarwala. A collector of old films, (and a big fan of Shashi, of course!), Mr. Khabarwala was only too happy to share this filmi treasure. But that isnt the only thing I am excited about. He also has a treasure trove of contemporary news and behind-the-scenes incidents about the film, which he also graciously shared with me. 

The well known industry-mag FilmiAffair had apparently got their best reporter - Filmi-eye - to shadow the masala-King throughout the film. The result was a series of articles that included interviews on the sets, as well as Filmi-eye’s eye-witness account of the film’s progress. But Mr. Khabarwala has more – he also has Filmi-eye’s written notes from the shooting and interviews! Yes, you’ve got it – Mr. Khabarwala IS (or rather, was) Filmi-eye!!! The articles themselves, and his copious notes (not to mention, his almost photographic memory) offer a marvellous peek into what goes into the making of a filmi masala-feast, Manmohan Desai-style.

So, with the help of the ex-Filmi-eye, this week, I will reconstruct the making of this lost masala-gem, for our mutual pleasure. Starting from how Manmohan Desai (hereafter referred to as Maestro or MDbhai) came up with the idea, right down to the finished product, we will take a peek into every aspect of this film’s remarkable journey – a journey that includes enough Shashi to make this a worthwhile Shashi-week project, I assure you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I know I WILL!

Coming up next – MDbhai was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s masala-thriller North By Northwest.
Last year’s Shashi-week: on Old is Gold, Beth Loves Bollywood and elsewhere in blogland.

Edited to add:
Kaarnaama - a feat, an exploit, or an achievement
Khabarwala - Khabar=news, ergo, Khabarwala=man who brings news (not always a reporter!). And Mr. Khabarwala's first name is of course, Filmi!


  1. Eeee! How on earth did you did track this down? You are on an inspiration to us all.

  2. Sounds like lots of bolly-news and behind-the-scenes incidents are in store. Looking forward to your Shashi week. Had Shashi-Special Rangoli yesterday and I was searching for some Shashi movies to watch this week, but couldn't find any :-(
    I have to pick up some movies of his.

  3. *biting nails*
    More, more, more!

  4. Just when I think you've reached your peak of creativity and humor (the MAAs! those glorious MAAs!) you best yourself! I cannot WAIT to learn more! :) This is truly brilliant.

  5. I agree with Beth, this is just brilliant! I'm beginning to feel very relieved that you didn't take up crime.8-D

    I can harly wait for the aptly named Mr. Khabarwala's filmi scoops...:-)

  6. How intriguing! I can't wait to go on this journey with you! I'm sure it will prove very interesting.

  7. PS for us Hindi-dummies, please translate the film title and names of key players! :)

  8. Anarchivist - where there is a will... I bet if you willed it hard enough, you could find some Rishi gems, too!

    sunheriyaadein, you couldnt find Shashi movies?! Go to Rajshri's site - they have plenty on there. You MUST watch some!

    harvey, there will be more - once I've edited my excited (and rather incoherent) out-pourings!

    Beth, thank you!! And thats an excellent suggestion re explanatory notes. I'm editing the post to add them...

    Shalini, I do download movies - guess it can be called a life of crime by Shemaroo, Eros, et al...!

    Shell, with Manmohan Desai and Shashi - it can hardly be anything less than fun... Speaking of the duo, you should watch Suhaag (Big B+Shashi in a Manmohan Desai flick!) now that you are on the masala bandwagon.

  9. Don't you owe me a rare Shashi movie? :) Can't wait to read about this one!

  10. I am learning so much from all the bloggers about the 70s era. But can't go wrong with Shashi at all :)

  11. Awesome - can't wait to read more.

  12. I can't wait for more!! :-)

  13. Oooh, I can't wait for more. This will be such a fun week.

  14. memsaab, I always pay my debts. So now, you owe me a rare Shammi movie. ;-)

    Nicki, sadly, one can often go wrong with Shashi (check out Beth's posts this week), too! But never fear - there are enough Shashi fans in blogland to send you in the right direction.

    Daddy's Girl, dustedoff and gebruss, thank you! I am so glad you love Shashi and Manmohan Desai so much!

  15. Is this real Bollyviewer, i'm confused

  16. bollywooddeewana, its as real as my imagination can make it!