Through extensive interviews with some of the main actors from this movie (Deepti Naval and Moushumi Chatterjee) and its earlier version - both adaptations of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors - this book traces the evolution of a comic tale that continues to amuse audiences of all ages. It deftly peels the layers to explore how song, dialogue, silences and wordplay add to the actors' arsenal in creating humor that can range from rib-tickling mirth to guffaws.
Sathya Saran's book reveals what lies behind the evergreen appeal of Angoor, with memories and anecdotes shared by Gulzar himself.
SATHYA SARAN is the author of critically acclaimed and bestselling biographies of Guru Dutt, S.D. Burman and Jag* Singh. Her most recent publications are How to Look like Miss India (Juggernaut, 2018), and Knot for Keeps: Writing the Modern Marriage (HarperCollins India, 2018), an anthology on marriage. Sathya, who was editor of the first women's magazine of India, Femina, for twelve years, is currently a Consulting Editor with HarperCollins Publishers India and teaches fashion journalism at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). She also conceptualized and curates 'The Spaces between Words: The Unfestival' sponsored by JSW and The Hindu.
Among her many accolades are several national awards, the Roshni TIA Inspirational Woman Award 2018, the Bharat Nirman (1996), the Young Journalist Award (1994), and the Mahila Shiromani Award, presented by the First Lady of India, for her contribution to journalism.
Ask me to choose between a comedy and a tragedy, and I will go straight for the latter. Tragedies are thought-provoking; they delve into human nature, the failings and foibles of great and small people. Tragedies show us our weaknesses and warn us of the pitfalls that await even those who have achieved greatness. Comedies, on the other hand, make us laugh; sweep us into a long moment of forgetfulness, delivering an opiate for the senses from the travails of daily living. And when they are done, the reality is twice as hard. Tragedies, on the other hand, make you realize that indeed all the world is a stage, and your problems are small compared to what befell those on screen or stage. They also give you insights into how relationships develop, change, turn sour, and ... oh come on, tragedies teach a lot. Comedies, well, as I said before, they just make you laugh.
Which is why when, of the three books chosen to present Gulzar's cinema, I was presented with Angoor, I baulked a little. I was thrilled to be working on a book on Gulzar's film, being one among his legion of fans, but Angoor. hmm. I had watched the film, it was funny, I remembered. But really, I would have preferred Ijaazat. So nuanced a film, such a compelling story, such music, and then there was the visual poetry that added to the actors' craft. Yes, if given a choice, Ijaazat it would have been.
But the die had been cast, and Angoor it was. I took the assignment and carried it off like a prize, a consolation prize, but still, one I was happy to have been awarded.
Watching the film at home, I realized that what I thought was gilt was indeed gold. Here was comedy that was not just a series of funny moments strung together. Here was one master artist working on the material created by the master of all craftsmen, Shakespeare, and making it all his own. When the film ended, I sat back, leaned forward and started it all over again, realizing by now, that there were so many layers in the film that needed attention. Suddenly, comedy held a new meaning. I took a deep breath and prepared to take the full measure of what I had on hand.
Everything about Angoor is worth paying attention to. Almost every gesture, every line of dialogue or song has a reason for being. It is tightly knit, unlike most comedies, except for a few exceptions, which, in my mind primarily include Chalti ka Naam Gaadi,Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Chupke, and Gol Maal. Incidentally, the last two are also written by Gulzar.
Angoor kept me quite busy. A major handicap was that Sanjeev Kumar was no longer around, and Deven Verma was too ill to give me audience when I called, and passed away before I could ask again. Moushumi Chatterjee would only speak to me on the phone, and her information was sketchy at best. It remained for Deepti Naval and Gulzar to fill in the main actors' parts too, and give me enough about their approach to their roles. Happily for me, both filled the need most adequately. Besides, insights from director Debu Sen and actress Tanuja helped shed light on the behind-the-scenes action in Do Dooni Char.
Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, who was my editor when I started the book, gave me the idea of also delineating the history of comedy in Hindi cinema to be able to give Angoor a proper setting. That chapter, I think will also help readers understand the highly evolved humor of Angoor, that has the capacity to entertain anyone from eight-year-olds onwards. In fact, at every decade of his life, the viewer will discover new meanings to the lines.
Writing the book has been fun. It took me back to my student days when as a student of literature I had to take apart a book, a play or some piece of writing to understand it, critique it and present it so others would get the most of the original, thanks to my interpretation.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
North Indian Music (285)
Original Texts (60)
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