The Showman Saga

The Showman Saga

Ashutosh Mordekar21 Nov 2008

2008 is a unique year. A very special year indeed for Mr. Subhash Ghai, Dream Merchant and ace Producer-Director of money-spinning sagas. For the first time in his prolific career, Subhash Ghai had two releases directed by him, Black & White and Yuvvraaj. Critics and fans have been writing obituaries to the legendary director but for me who has experienced the magic of Ghai, it is impossible to write him off.

2008 is a unique year. A very special year indeed for Mr. Subhash Ghai, Dream Merchant and ace Producer-Director of money-spinning sagas. For the first time in his prolific career, Subhash Ghai had two releases directed by him, Black & White and Yuvvraaj. Critics and fans have been writing obituaries to the legendary director but for me who has experienced the magic of Ghai, it is impossible to write him off.

Subhash Ghai with A. R. RahmanSubhash Ghai with A. R. Rahman

My first memory of Subhash Ghai was in a theatre in Central Mumbai when I saw Karz. As a 5 year old, the show remains well-etched in my minds because of the sound of the coins that were getting thrown at the screen by delirious audiences when Rishi Kapoor grooved to Om shanti om. Right at the beginning of the film, my brother pointed out to me a man who seemed to be a character artiste in a song (Paisa yeh paisa) and said, This is Subhash Ghai. I did not know then that this was just the beginning of the phenomenon called Mukta Arts.

Two years later I kept arguing with every elder who told me that Dilip Kumar was better than Amitabh Bachchan in Shakti. As a die-hard Bachchan fan, I failed to understand why they were comparing my hero with an old man. To date I think it was a very unfair comparison. But my discovery of the thespian Dilip Kumar was just a few months away, courtesy Subhash Ghai again. The rules of the land almost made me miss Vidhaata. I was thrown out of three theatres in different parts of Mumbai when I attempted to witness Subhash Ghais gangster flick starring Dilip Kumar. With each rejection, I got more determines to see the film and in this pre-VCR days, I took an overnight journey and watched the film in an obscure hall in Kolhapur. The scale, action, drama, cast and performances were Showmanship at its best.

Subhash Ghais next two films showcased two young actors who would rule the box-office for the decade to come, Jackie Shroff, the sensational antagonist of Hero and Anil Kapoor, the fiery lawyer from Salim-Javeds script, Meri Jung. Both Shroff and Kapoor remain Ghai loyalists to date.

Living up to the Showman tag, Ghai assembled a huge canvas for Karma, his take on the epic Sholay. Karma boasted of a mammoth cast Dilip Kumar, Naseeruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Sridevi, Poonam Dhillon, Dara Singh and Shakti Kapoor. In his inimitable style, Ghai put a newcomer Anupam Kher in the middle of things and Kher responded perfectly as the menacing Michael Dang.

While the audiences and media showered Ghai with the tag of Showman, he announced his next film Devaa with superstar Amitabh Bachchan and music by R.D.Burman. But the movie was shelved midway owing to differences between him and Bachchan. It was a great miss for all the fans including yours truly, as this combination would have spelt magic. But far from being disillusioned, Ghai shot back with the endearing Ram Lakhan, my personal favourite. The story of good vs. evil, contemporary setting, larger than life villains, great music and amazing performances set the box-office on fire.

subhash ghai moviessubhash ghai movies

Ghai followed it up with Saudagar which brought the two thespians Dilip Kumar and Raj Kumar together. The confrontation scenes between the two were magical stuff and Ghais stamp of class was visible in each scene.

I longed for this Subhash Ghai in all his films to come, be it the successful Khalnayak and Pardes or the flops Yaadein and Kisna. But the midas touch was missing. I always thought that Ghais understanding of Indian emotions and dramatic conflicts remains unmatched in Hindi cinema. And it was this understanding which made him a box-office maestro. Be it Pardes and Yaadein (following the successful NRI flicks) or Kisna (following Lagaan), he was following successful trends unsuccessfully. He forgot that he has always been a trendsetter, he should set trends not follow them.

I sincerely hope that Yuvvraaj will give us a glimpse of the legendary director again and he will be back to what he does best Make Big Entertainers.

I end this article with some interesting facts about the unmistakable stamp of Subhash Ghai

  1. M factor - Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit, Manisha Koirala and Mahima Chaudhry, all little known actresses or debutants rose to superstardom under Ghais baton. His production Trimurti had Anjali Jattar as the heroine and had flopped badly. The Industry had told Ghai that A was unlucky for him. He then took the letter M more seriously and then rechristened Ritu Chaudhry as Mahima for Pardes. He then took a big chance in his own theory when he signed Aishwarya Rai for Taal and made the film with Seven As (Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai, Amrish Puri, Alok Nath, A. R. Rahman and Anand Bakshi)

  2. Bad Man Larger than life villains were always a mainstay in Ghais films.

    Movie

    Character

    Actor

    Kalicharan

    Lion (Deen Dayal)

    Ajit

    Vishwanath

    Khokha

    Ranjeet

    Karz

    Sir Juda

    Premnath

    Hero

    Pasha

    Amrish Puri

    Karma

    Michael Dang

    Anupam Kher

    Ram Lakhan

    Kesaria Vilayti

    Gulshan Grover

    Khalnayak

    Ballu Balram

    Sunjay Dutt

  3. Chartbusters Ghais association with Laxmikant-Pyarelal over 8 films starting from Gautam Govinda to Khalnayak have given consistent chart-toppers. Most of the Ghais films also had lyrics by Anand Bakshi, which continued even when he switched over to Nadeem Shravan or A. R. Rahman

    Movie

    Character

    Gautam Govinda

    Ek Rut Aaye

    Karz

    Om Shanti Om

    Hero

    Ding Dong

    Meri Jung

    Bol Baby Bol

    Ram Lakhan

    My Name is Lakhan

    Saudagar

    ILU ILU

    Khalnayak

    Choli ke peeche

  4. Partnerships Ghais directorial success has seen a lot of consistent partners, 8 films with Laxmikant Pyarelal and Amrish Puri, 6 films with Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff; 3 films with Dilip Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha, A.R.Rahman.

  5. Cameos Before turning director, Ghai was an aspiring actor. He also acted as Rajesh Khannas friend in Aradhana. The director Ghai always makes it a point to give the actor at least one scene in each of his films (he says that it is for his parents, who send him to FTII to be an actor).

    Movie

    Song

    Karz

    Paisa Yeh Paisa

    Vidhaata

    Udibaba

    Hero

    Ding Dong

    Meri Jung

    Bol Baby Bol

    Ram Lakhan

    Tera naam liya

    Saudagar

    ILU ILU

    Khalnayak

    Palki mein hoke savaar

    Pardes

    I Love My India

    Taal

    Do Dil Mil Rahe Hai (song actually from Pardes)

About the Author

Ashutosh is a filmaholic who watches, analyses, recommends, studies, enjoys and writes motion pictures. He enjoys being a part of the Indian film industry and looks forward to every Friday with bated breath. A Hindi movie trivia freak, he has been the winner of Bollywood Badshah at Radio One and a finalist at Bollywood Ka Boss at Filmy. As a screen-writer he hopes to strike a balance between the whistling single screens and the polished multiplexes as he waits for his magical Friday.

[viewed 1890 times]

[Note: For Any clarification on the feature, contact us via this link, or write to us: content(AT)gomolo.com]

Submit an Article Comments (2)

Write a comment on Facebook

Write a comment on Gomolo.com

excellent analysis.

the truth is: Ghai school of film-making is a thing of past that is worse than the tumbling sensex or the shattered wall of Dravid. :)
Posted by Making things happen :) on  Nov 21 2008 9:42PM
loved this article. would like to see more like this...
Posted by Amitava on  Mar 22 2009 11:28AM

Do you think Subhash Ghai has the best track record as a director in Bollywood in the 80s and 90s?

Create poll More polls

For Any clarification on the feature, contact us via this link, or write to us: content(AT)gomolo.com