Now-a-days, the Rajshri banner of Bollywood is known as the banner of Sooraj Barjatya who has given certain blockbusters during the past two decades. But this article is not about Sooraj. It is a tribute to his grandfather, late Tarachand Barjatya whose contribution to Hindi cinema is no less than any B.R. Chopra or B. Nagi Reddy or even Satyajit Ray. He deserved a Dada Saheb Phalke award which he never got but the movies produced by him form a golden chapter of the book of Hindi cinema.
Born in a small town of Rajasthan, Kuchaman on 10th May, 1914; Tarachand Ji started his Bollywood career in his teens by working as an unpaid apprentice and went on to establish Rajshri Pictures in 1947 as a distribution house of Hindi films. After one and a half decade, Tarachand Ji decided to produce own films under the Rajshri banner. The first product was Aarti in 1962 starring Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari and Pradeep Kumar. It was followed by Dosti (1964) which not only got box office success but also won many awards and critical acclaim as well.
Tarachand Ji did not write or direct the movies. He was only the producer. However most of the movies produced by the Rajshri banner have the clear stamp of his vision and his deep faith in Indianness and simplicity. Even the credits of the movie were given in Hindi instead of English. Any compromise on the Indian family values and ages old virtues embedded in the Indian culture was not acceptable to him. He always stuck firmly to his faith that promoting simplicity and Indian traditions in the movies, avoiding the regular box office formulae viz. violence, sex and a vulgar display of wealth was the key to win the hearts of the Indian audience. And the Indian audience responded wholeheartedly to his faith. Most of those low budget movies did well on the box office and many went on to register themselves as blockbusters.
Tarachand Ji never allowed his banner to make big budget movies with an ugly display of filthy-richness. His devotion to simplicity as a way of life in India was involatile. He deeply believed in the great Indian tradition of living a virtuous but simple life without any pomp and show. Under his active tenure, the story writers of Rajshri banner used to write simple but sensitive stories of common people coming straight out of everyday life of the Indianfolk. Several movies have a rural backdrop and the simplicity, traditions and virtues of Indian village life have been portrayed so beautifully in them that the viewer just falls in love with the characters of the stories.
Music has always been a big plus point of the Rajshri movies. The composers always chose the music attached to the Indian soil and never gave precedence to the western effect creeping into the bollywood music over the Indian fundamentals of music. The blind music composer cum lyricist, Ravindra Jain was given a break by Rajshri in Amitabh Bachchan-Nutan starrer Saudagar (1973) and since then he became the regular music composer of Rajshri movies. Through him, singers like Hemlata and Yesudas also got their break. The movie concerned was Chitchor (1976) whose timeless classic songs are examples of adaptation of Indian classical ragas for cine-music. Basu Chatterjee directed Chitchor which starred Zarina Wahab and Amol Palekar in lead pair who became household names by its nationwide commercial success.
Under Tarachand Ji, Rajshri banner always provided opportunities to young talent. Sanjay Khan (Dosti), Rakhee (Jeevan Mrityu), Sachin (Geet Gaata Chal), Saarika (Geet Gaata Chal), Arun Govil (Paheli), Madhuri Dixit (Abodh) and Anupam Kher (Saaransh) are some examples. Mithun Chakraborty had won the national award for his debut movie, Mrigaya but commercial success was far away from this talented actor. Rajshri’s musical hit Tarana (1979) made him a star overnight. Child artists, Komal Mahuvakar and Alankar got their break in lead roles of Payal Ki Jhankaar (1981) which is an all time classic film based on Indian classical dances, portraying the dancing talent of Komal Mahuvakar with finesse.
A young actor, Arun Govil was given a cameo role in Paheli (1977) and he impressed the makers of the movie so much with his performance that in the very next venture of Rajshri, Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin (1979), he was entrusted with the lead role opposite a newcomer girl, Madhu Kapoor. Arun played the lead role again in Rajshri’s next venture, Saawan Ko Aane Do (1979). This musical saga of a village-singer proved itself as an all India blockbuster. In later years, Arun became a household name by playing the character of Lord Rama in Ramanand Sagar’s tele-serial, Ramayan.
Nadiya Ke Paar (1982) is a movie with most of its dialogues and all the songs in Bhojpuri language. However it proved itself as a blockbuster not only in the complete Hindi belt but also throughout India, cutting across the language boundaries of the nation. Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994), a blockbuster from Sooraj Barjatya is only the urbanised remake of Nadiya Ke Paar.
In 1984, Rajshri came up with Saaransh. This movie, directed by Mahesh Bhatt is a highly sensitive saga having an old couple in lead roles. A 27 years old, young and highly talented actor, Anupam Kher was given a chance by Rajshri to play the challenging role of an old man with Rohini Hattangadi as his wife. Saaransh got box office success and critical accolades as well. Till date, it is considered as one of the best performances of Anupam Kher and the best movie ever directed by Mahesh Bhatt.
Tarachand Ji passed away in 1992. Due to his old age, he could not remain active in the banner during the last few years of his life. Sooraj emerged on the scene in 1989 with Maine Pyar Kiya and started breaking the laudable traditions established by his grandfather with mega budget extravaganzas and portraying the characters of his movies maintaining a highly luxurious life-style. He has resorted to exposure of female body also which was a taboo in the time of his grandfather. Sooraj’s movies lack originality since they are only the remakes of Rajshri’s old movies. He simply urbanises the story and changes the simple backdrop of the original product to a lavish, money-studded backdrop.
Mahatma Gandhi always followed the life principle of – Simple Living and High Thinking and preached others too to follow the same path. At least Tarachand Ji took Bapu’s words to his heart while making movies. The characters of Rajshri’s old movies made under the guidance of Tarachand Ji (during 1962-1986 period) follow the same path and throughout his life,Tarachand Ji remained the flag-bearer of simplicity and Indianness in Hindi movies. If you are sick of the Sooraj Barjatya, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar movies having glossy looks and shameless display of wealth with designer clothes; do watch any Tapasya or Nadiya Ke Paar or Maan-Abhimaan or Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se or Saawan Ko Aane Do or Upahaar or Dosti or Taqdeer or Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Mann Bhaye or Sunayana or Geet Gaata Chal and feel the fragrance of Indian soil and simplicity of life.
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