PODCAST: DR.SALMAN AKHTAR ON BOLLYWOOD PART-5

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

This is our final episode with Dr. Salman Akhtar about the history of Bollywood or Hindi cinema. We talk to him about the label “Bollywood,” used to describe the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai. There are those who don’t like the term, while others see nothing wrong in using the term. What does Dr. Akhtar think of the label?

And we end our final conversation on a personal note. Dr. Akhtar shares his memories about his parents Safiya Akhtar and Jan Nissan Akhtar. He lost his mother at a young age, and went to live with his uncle in Lucknow, which is where he grew up. His father Jan Nissan Akhhtar was a poet and lyricist who worked in the Hindi film industry.

LISTEN: DR. SALMAN AKHTAR ON BOLLYWOOD PART-5

In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr. Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films. And in Part-2 Dr. Akhtar talks about the profound sexual angst in the films from the 1950s and 1960s. In Part-3 of our conversation he talks about female sexuality and the angry young man phase of Hindi cinema. In Part-4 Dr. Akhtar discusses the trends in Bollywood in the last 20 years.

Jan Nissar Akhtar wrote the lyrics for the songs in this 1956 film “Naya Andaaz.”

Photo courtesy of Dr. Salman Akhtar

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PODCAST: Dr. Salman Akhtar on History of Bollywood Films Part-4

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

We continue with our history of Hindi cinema or Bollywood with Dr. Salman Akhtar. We pick up the threads of our conversation and look at how Bollywood films underwent a change during the 1980s. The films made in 1970s belonged to the angry young man genre and were marked with narcisstic rage. Concerns about the  market  shaped the content of the films from 1988 onwards points our Dr. Akhtar. This is the period when Hindi films found a new set of audience in Europe and North America.

Starting in 1988 there was a distinct change in the plot lines of Hindi films Dr. Akhtar points out. There was a strong element of retrospective idealization of Indian society and culture. In these new film often the heroes were happy, lived in big homes and were comfortable with their sexuality. How did this change come about? It was due to the silent and peculiar complicity of 2 groups of audience Dr. Akhtar explains. They were the Non Resident Indians (NRIs), who had temporarily lost their moorings and anchoring in their day to day lives and had a tendency to idealize Indian culture he points out. Then there were Resident Non Indians (RNI), who were born and brought up in India and had no anchoring to their Indian culture, but they had a hunger for Indian culture and tradition. The complicity of these two groups yielded a new crop of Hindi films that were big on nostalgia he argues.

And finally we talk to Dr. Akhtar about his own family’s connection to Bollywood and Hollywood. We talk to him about his nephew Farhan Akhtar’s pathbreaking film “Dil Chhata Hai,” about the journey of 3 young men into adults. Shot extensively in Australia this film marked the start of a new kind of films in Bollywood films. And about Dr. Akhtar’s  the Hollywood connection?  That connection is through his son Kabir Akhtar.

LISTEN: DR. SALMAN AKHTAR ON HISTORY OF HINDI OR BOLLYWOOD CINEMA PART-4

 

Tune back in for our final and concluding episode with Dr. Akhtar on the history of Hindi films or Bollywood.

In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr. Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films. And in Part-2 Dr. Akhtar talks about the profound sexual angst in the films from the 1950s and 1960s.  In Part-3 of our conversation he talks about female sexuality and the angry young man phase of Hindi cinema.

Here is a song from “Dilwale Dhulaniya Le Jayengey.”


Here is a song from Farhan Akhtar’s “Dil Chhata Hai

 

Photo courtesy of Dr. Salman Akhtar

PODCAST: Dr. Salman Akhtar on History of Bollywood Cinema Part-3

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about Bollywood or Hindi cinema’s 100 year old history in this multi-part interview. In Part-3 of our conversation he talks about female sexuality and the angry young phase of Hindi cinema during the 1970s.

“I will tell you a very interesting story about female sexuality in Hindi film,” he says. And he shares the story of a 1973 film called “Prem Parvat.” Directed by Ved Rahi the film starred Hema Malini, Rehang Sultana and Satish Kaul.  His father Jan Nisar Akhtar wrote  Raat Piya Ke Saangh, an erotic song for the film. The song reflects the sexual tension of the film at a critical juncture explains Dr. Akhtar. Initially India’s Film Censor Board objected to the song and questioned his father on why he wrote such an erotic song. It is interesting to hear Mr. Akhtar’s explanation of how he wrote the song and the alternative lines he could have used that was far more erotic. The song was approved by the censors.

A major strand in Hindi cinema was the “angry young man” phase. Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan collaborated under  “Salim-Javed” and wrote the screen play of many of the films in the angry young man genre like “Zanjeer,” “Deewar,” “Don” and other super hit films. Why did these angry young man films resonate with the audience in India? Why did Salim-Javed write such film scripts?  Why was Amitabh Bachchan repeatedly cast as the young angry young man in these films? There was a sense of betrayal by the government to its people explains Dr. Akhtar. These films came during India’s 25th anniversary as an independent nation and it was at a time when the country’s economic growth was sluggish. The socio-political environment in the country was reflected in these film scripts.

LISTEN: DR. SALMAN AKHTAR ON HISTORY OF BOLLYWOOD CINEMA PART-3

In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr.  Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films. And in Part-2 Dr. Akhtar talks about the profound sexual angst in the films from the 1950s and 1960s.

And here is a scene from “Deewar,” one of the angry young man films of Amitabh Bachchan.

 

Photo courtesy of Dr. Salman Akhtar

 

Podcast: Dr. Salman Akhtar on History of Hindi Cinema or Bollywood Part-2

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about the 100 year old  history of Bollywood or Hindi cinema in this multi-part interview. Dr. Akhtar comes from a family of poets and writers in India. His father Jan Nisar Akhtar worked in Hindi film industry as a lyricist and poet. His mother Safia Akhtar was a talented writer & poet.  His brother Javed Akhtar is a well-known writer and lyricist in Bollywood.

In Part-2 of our conversation Dr.Akhtar talks about the roots of Hindi cinema that is an amalgamation of Parsi theatre and other traveling theatres in India. During the early period Hindi films were predominately about mythologies and then in the 1950s there was shift to family oriented and love triangle stories.  Dr. Akhtar says there was a profound sexual anxiety theme in many of these films and women were split into 2 categories: the good woman and the vamps. Men did not exhibit comfortable sexuality towards women during this period and neither was it acceptable.There was a false understanding of women during this period he says.

Therefore when a man got married in Hindi films, the picture ended. There was a reluctance to go into the intimate side of a marriage or a relationship. Raj Kapoor was probably the one exception when it comes to exploring female sexuality he adds.

As an example Dr. Akhtar looks at the iconic song Roop Tera Mastana from Shakti Samanta’s “Aradhana.”  The song is in a man’s voice and there is not one active affirmation of female sexuality he points out. He explores the theme of female sexuality in Hindi cinema in Part-3 of our conversation.

This interview was recorded in 2006.

LISTEN: DR. SALMAN AKHAR ON HISTORY OF HINDIA CINEMA PART-2

In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films.

And here is a video of the song Roop Tera Mastana from “Aradhana” starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore.

 

PODCAST: HISTORY OF BOLLYWOOD With Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about the 100 year old  history of Bollywood or Hindi cinema in this multi-part interview. What is different about Dr. Akhtar’s approach is he brings his trained psychiatrist eyes to the subject and helps us understand what socio-economics factors permeated and colored the narrative and story lines of filmmakers. And how films in turn shaped and colored the attitudes of film goers in India. This is about “Bollywood and the Indian Unconscious” a chapter that he wrote with K. Choksi in “Freud Along The Ganges,” that he edited.

In Part-1 of our interview we talk to Dr. Akhtar about his family and their involvement in Hindi cinema, Dr. Akhtar comes from a family of poets and writers. His father Jan Nisar Akhtar worked in Hindi film industry as a lyricist and poet. His mother Safia Akhtar was a talented writer & poet.  His brother Javed Akhtar is a well-known writer and lyricist in Bollywood. We wanted to find out how he got interested in the history of the world’s largest film industry. What was it about the Bombay dream merchants that caught his attention and why?

Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films.

Tune back next week for Part-2 of our conversation with Dr. Akhtar where we explore Hindi films from the 1950s and 1960s.

This interview was recorded in 2006.

LISTEN TO DR. SALMAN AKHTAR ON BOLLYWOOD

Photo courtesy of Dr. Salman Akhtar