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Love Affair between Indian, Australian Film Industries

The writer Col Jagdish Sindhwani and his wife, Monica, pose with Anupam Sharma at the Raj Bhawan.

By Col JC Sindhwani 

I have been in Mumbai for a week now for a short break with family. I was posted in then ‘Bombay’ during the 1980s and was stationed in Colaba. Being in service at the time, I got a few chances to visit some film studios and got to see a few film shootings, too. It was an exciting experience being new, but got boring at times due to numerous retakes, resettings and pack ups. Then, those were forgotten as time passed on.

On 7 May, 2024, the popular daily of Dehradun, the Garhwal Post, arranged for special screening of a Documentary Film, “Brand Bollywood Downunder” (A critical Love affair between Australian and Indian film Industries). The film has been made by an illustrious son of Uttarakhand, Anupam Sharma, a cousin of the Editor of Garhwal Post, Satish Sharma, who is also into films, besides journalism. The screening was organised at the Raj Bhavan auditorium and the Governor of Uttarakhand was the Chief Guest. Besides chosen invitees, there were students from various schools of Dehradun. I am sure the students of St Joseph’s Academy were a proud lot as Anupam Sharma as also Kulbhushan Kain, an eminent educationist and writer, and perhaps some more ex-SJA alumni were amongst the guests. And surely, from all students present, some would excel in whatever profession they choose, and would, someday, be here to represent the cream of Uttarakhand. Before I miss out let me mention that I too am an ‘ancient’ student of SJA (1950-1957), and saw 3 Principals during the period, Bro O’Brian, Bro Burke and Bro AP Dooley. So, me an oldy student too.

Now to the beautifully made film. The filmmaker takes us back to the very starting point when the Silent Era films were made, in wavering shades of Black and White, (depending upon the focus of the light source). Also, the movements of actors were jerky depending upon the movement of the camera reels. You only heard the sound of the projector not any other as it was the age of Silent Cinema. Then, slowly, the film moves on to show introduction of sound, dialogue, and songs. All singing on screen was done by the actors themselves as playback had not been created by then. All the while, a running commentary is being given by some old Cinema critic.

Then the film moves on and there is playback music, then colour by Technicolor which livens up the screens. The enthusiastic audience too claps at various events. Full marks to Anupam for the way he has depicted the evolution of Cinema in India so artistically and imaginatively. And in most beautiful locations around the world, with short clips of films over the years.

Next, we are introduced to the villainy, and the fighting stars. Here, the one time most popular “Hunterwali” Nadia (referred to as Fearless Nadia) became the superhero of moviegoers. Her entry on screen would be welcomed by loud clapping and shrieking, whistling from all quarters. All this was being narrated by the critics while the film continued. Those days, films were generally shot within the Film Studios. Sets were erected as per story requirements. Then, slowly, as the industry acquired mobility, outdoor shootings were explored and resorted to – first, within the state, then within the country and now internationally. Enabling, both, the film makers and movie goers get a glimpse and tour of the world’s beautiful places.

It is here that Anupam has given us, the audience, a free trip to all of Australia. What a sharp eye for details and scenic beauty he has shown by selecting the most beautiful, unexpected and unseen places in that beautiful land he has referred to as Downunder (being in the Southern Hemisphere). Here I would leave it to the public to see the rest for themselves on screen. Our own minds went back to our tour of Australia and New Zealand seven years ago, when we had seen some of these places. Some not included here were a trip to Cairns in the North-East where we were taken in a glass submarine to see the Great Barrier Reef and vast sea life existing there. And, in NZ, it was the most picturesque drive from Queenstown in South Island to Auckland in the North Island. NZ is a nature’s gift throughout. At Rotorua enroute we were reminded of our own Sahastradhara (sulphur springs) as the whole town smells of Sulphur, with springs all over the countryside.

They say, seeing is believing, so I recommend that you all see this unique work of art by our young Doonite, who has put in his talent, administrative skill and work of his full team to give us what Anupam Kher has summed up in the end. He says,” We are the largest film makers in the world. We share happiness and celebrate life…” How very true, though most of them depict dreams brought to us in a short duration of excitement put in by an army of workers, Actors, Directors, Producers, Financiers, Singers, Writers, Musicians,Spot boys, Umbrella boys and the whole Jing Bang Lot of the Film Industry.

Our Salutations to them all, A to Z.

And a prosperous and adventurous career in Filmland to you, Anupam Sharma!

(Col JC Sindhwani, Retd, is a resident of Dalanwala since Partition, whose family migrated from Sargodha. He was educated in SJA before joining the Army and retired in 1992)