‘Dadamoni: The Life and Occasions of Ashok Kumar’ evaluation: Biography of an unintentional actor

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The 1936 Hindi movie Jeevan Naiyya begins with a phone dialog. This isn’t fairly the mellifluous, easy romance of a ‘Jalte hain jiske liye’—in all probability essentially the most iconic phone dialog on the Hindi silver display screen—however it’s, in its personal means, a landmark scene. 

As a result of that is the very first onscreen look of a reluctant younger actor who went on to grow to be one in every of Hindi cinema’s greatest stars: Ashok Kumar Ganguly, higher identified merely as Ashok Kumar.

Kumar had deserted his regulation research in early 1934 to hunt a profession in cinema. Not as an actor; he needed to be a director. He approached his brother-in-law, Sashadhar Mukherjee (who would go on to be one in every of Hindi cinema’s nice filmmakers), then working with The Bombay Talkies, the premier movie studio established by Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani.

Filmmaker, author and actor Nabendu Ghosh (who additionally wrote the screenplay of classics like Sujata, Bandini, Devdas and Parineeta), in his Dadamoni: The Life and Occasions of Ashok Kumar, chronicles the rise of the legendary actor, from his childhood by way of to this primary position in Jeevan.

The narrative follows Dadamoni by way of the early years of the ‘talkies’ when playback singing had not but grow to be well-liked and Kumar was obliged to sing his personal songs onscreen; the years when he studied the artwork and craft of appearing in an try to create his personal pure fashion; and past––the burgeoning recognition that noticed the runaway success of movies like Kismet (1943); the numerous characters, and the occasional offbeat roles. 

Previous the years of being hero, when Kumar moved into character actor roles––comedian, poignant, avuncular—he was at all times so pure, so plausible because the character he was taking part in. Ghosh discusses, together with a quick synopsis, a few of Ashok Kumar’s main movies, how they had been made, and what Dadamoni delivered to them. Earlier than that although, Ghosh gives some fascinating insights into the Ganguly household’s historical past, and the house by which the brothers (Ashok, Anoop and Kishore) grew up. 

There are equally fascinating bits of trivia about Dadamoni’s preliminary foray into cinema; how his affiliation with The Bombay Talkies modified over time; even how he bought saddled with the epithet of ‘Dadamoni’, the affectionate but respectful time period his followers use to seek advice from the actor, even now lengthy after his demise in 2001.

The hobbies and skills that Kumar nurtured additionally discover point out in Dadamoni. Some, like his proficiency in homeopathy, aren’t unknown; others, like his ease with languages (he knew no less than eight languages) and his adeptness at concocting amusing rhymes, which he would rattle off, in conjunction together with his obliging kids, could also be much less frequent data. Collectively, they serve to create an image of the person past the actor. That is bolstered by the numerous entertaining anecdotes within the ebook. 

From Dadamoni’s early bumblings (because of him, a fellow actor in Jeevan Naiyya broke a leg) to Himanshu Rai’s recommendation relating to feminine co-stars; from his confidence in his followers, revealed throughout a late night time drive by way of a tense Muslim neighbourhood throughout Partition with Manto beside him, to his dedication to his work, as proven in a memorable behind-the-scenes second from Humayun (1945)––all serve, ultimately or the opposite, to delineate the character of the person, not simply the actor.

Maybe as a result of Nabendu Ghosh was a scriptwriter, he chooses to make use of dialogue to relate a few of the episodes on this ebook. 

Whereas it’s not a way that usually works, Ghosh manages to drag it off and produce an enthralling, engrossing biography of Dadamoni. One wonders, although, if this isn’t fully unprejudiced: barring a fleeting point out of Kumar’s scorching mood (a point out, too, which devolves into humour), there may be nothing right here in regards to the actor’s failings. 

Did he not have any, or is Ghosh taking a look at him by way of rose-tinted glasses?
The ebook is sandwiched between a foreword by Bharti Jaffrey (Ashok Kumar’s daughter) and an afterword by Ratnottama Sengupta (Nabendu Ghosh’s daughter). 

Taking these, in addition to the chosen filmography at the tip, into consideration, the entire size of Ghosh’s textual content is simply about 125 pages: probably insufficient for an in depth biography. However Ghosh nonetheless manages to cowl a great deal of floor, and depart the reader with a satisfying sufficient glimpse of Ashok Kumar.

Equally, he is ready to present an fascinating snapshot of film-making within the 30s and 40s, a interval and a mode very completely different from even what it was again within the 90s, when Ghosh initially wrote Dadamoni.

A really readable ebook a few very watchable actor.

Dadamoni: The Life and Occasions of Ashok Kumar

By: Nabendu Ghosh

Writer: Talking Tiger

Pages: 190

Value: Rs 499

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