Throwback Thursday: Visiting Ashok Kumar's Gifts To Bollywood – The Talented Indian

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Ashok Kumar’s acting has forever etched him into the Bollywood industry. On his 111st birth anniversary, let’s remember the actor’s vigour!
Ashok Kumar, the legendary actor of pre-independent India, has forever etched his presence in the Indian film industry. He is most famously remembered for his contribution towards a new age of Bollywood movies: shifting from theatrical acting to a natural acting. The actor’s journey is quite an interesting one. His first role in the movie was a result of a public affair! It was the Bombay Talkies’s film in the making, ‘Jeevan Naiya,’ when the lead actor and actress of the movie ran away. What was more of a turmoil situation was that the lead actress, Devika Rani, was none other than the wife of the director of the film, and the head of Bombay Talkies, Himanshu Rai.
In his acting career, Ashok Kumar has over 275 movies to his name. His first movie came with a lot of shortcomings on his part. Here’s a deeper dive into his acting life to commemorate his hard work and skills on his 111st birth anniversary.
When Devika Rani eloped with Najam-ul-Hussain, Himanshu was in a serious battle with himself, both emotionally and professionally. Half of the shooting of the film was done, and Rai didn’t know how to proceed further. At that time, Ashok was working as an assistant cameraman at Bombay Talkies. His brother-in-law, S. Mukherjee, who was a producer and sound engineer there, helped him to get the job since it was Ashok’s wish to become a director. When Devika returned, Mukherjee persuaded Rai to forgive her. However, Rai didn’t show any mercy to Najam. A replacement for the lead actor was required, and on Mukherjee’s advice, he considered Ashok for it. Ashok qualified the required audition, and he was the replaced lead actor for ‘Jeevan Naiya’.
Even though his first movie wasn’t his best, it surely was an important step towards his impeccable journey. In fact, because of Ashok, ‘Jeevan Naiya’ was again halted for four months when he jumped on the villain earlier than the required count, which led to a fracture in the villain actor’s legs.
Ashok, also known as Dadamoni in the film industry, was born on October 13th, 1911 in Bhagalpur, Bihar. He was the brother of evergreen singer Kishore Kumar and actor Anoop Kumar. He completed his schooling from Khandwa and his graduation from Jabalpur. Although he went onto pursue law, he himself knew that this was the least of his interests. Instead, movies intrigued him, especially the films, ‘Chandidas’ and ‘Puran Bhagat’ strung the chords of his heart, asking him to become a director.
Ashok’s second movie with Bombay Talkies was ‘Achut Kanya’. He played the role of a Brahmin boy who falls in love with a girl of lower cast. The social commentary in the film soared its popularity and with just two movies, Ashok managed to maintain a strong grip early in the industry. He starred in a string of movies with Devika Rani, and the movie-goers loved their on-screen compatibility. Some of the films in which they co-starred are, ‘Izzat’, ‘Savitri’ and ‘Nirmala’.
In 1943, he played Bollywood’s first anti-hero cigarette smoking role in Gyan Mukherjee’s ‘Kimset.’ In the movie, he is a pickpocket who falls in love with a girl. It was also the first movie in the history of Indian cinemas to gross one crore, making Ashok Kumar the pioneer of the crore club. As the producer at Bombay Talkies, he rolled the film, ‘Ziddi’ which gave his brother, Kishore Kumar, a big breakthrough as a playback singer. It is quite needless to mention that Kishore had produced and sung some of the most iconic and evergreen Bollywood songs. Another hit produced movie of his which took the film industry by the storm was ‘Mahal’ which starred and introduced Madhubala. Ashok also established his own film company, Filmistaan.
During the 1950s and 60s, he went on to make a good deal of crime and villain based movies. Till the 1980s, there was no stopping to him, as people saw Ashok delivering his acting exquisitely movie after movie. However, by the mid-90s, with age and health, the number of the movies he starred in declined. Moreover, it was also in 1987 that he stopped celebrating his birthday following the demise of his younger brother, Kishore Kumar. The last the cinema saw him in was ‘Return Of Jewel Thief’ in 1997. In 2001, at the age of 90, he breathed his last. The reason for his death was a heart failure.
He won many accolades and awards, but among them, the most prestigious was the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. It is the highest honour presented to a film personality by the Indian government. He received it in 1988. He also received the Padma Bhushan in 1998 for his contribution to Indian cinema.
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Radheshyam Sharma is a prolific Gujarati writer, poet and a novelist. Let’s revisit his early life and his penned works on his 82nd birthday!
Today marks the 87th birth anniversary of Radheshyam Sharma. He was a Gujarati writer, more prominently a poet. He also experimented writing novels, apart from his other written projects. In celebration of his birth anniversary, let’s take a dive into his personal life, his written works and why he was such a prominent contributor to Gujarati literature.
Radheshyam Sharma was born in British occupied India, on January 5th, 1936.  He was born in a village in Gandhinagar district of Gujarat. His father, Sitaram, was a priest, who was a religious storyteller and sermon singer. His religious bent of mind influenced his son, Radheshyam too.
Radheshyam pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Gujarati and Psychology from Gujarat College in 1957. He did a masters in School of Languages from Gujarat University as well. Apart from penning down several literary works, Radheshyam worked as an editor for religious periodicals, like Dharmalok and Akram Vigyan. He was also associated with the publishing house, Akar Prakashan.
Radheshyam Sharma is a notable writer who excelled as a novelist, a short story writer and as a poet. Needless to say, throughout his life, Radheshyam penned several literary writings. His first published work was ‘Badsoorat’ which was a short story, of which the publication year is not known.
In 1969, his first anthology of poetry, Aansu Ane Chandarnu was published. His other published anthologies are Negatives of Eternity (1974), Sanchetna (1983), Nishkaran (1991), Sanpreshan (2002) and Akashni Uddayan Lipi (2006). Apart from his profile as a poet, his published novels positioned him as a competent fiction writer. His two experimental novels, Fero (1968) and Swapnatirtha (1979) were received well by readers and critics alike.
Radheshyam Sharma was also a critic himself. Some of these works are Vaachana (1972), Gujarati Navalkatha (1974), Samprat (1978), Kavitani Kala (1983), Aalokna (1989), Shabda Samaksha (1991), Karta Kruti Vimarsha (1992), Vivechan No Vidhi (1993), Ullekh (1993), Akshar (1995), Navalkatha Nirdesh, Vartavichar (2000) and Sahitya Sanket (2006).
Lastly, for his works, the writer has received many accolades and awards. In 1995, for his contribution to Gujarati Literature, he was honored with  Dhanji Kanji Gandhi Suvarna Chandrak. In 2004, he received Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak.  He has also won prizes from Gujarati Sahitya Parishad and Gujarat Sahitya Akademi.
What is a better way to say good bye to 2022 than revisiting our favourite indie music releases which made a big part of our lives this year?
One of the most anticipated aspects of new years is all the new songs the commencing year will bring. For who doesn’t enjoy music? 2022 was a year full of amazing global releases, sure, but there was a plethora of undeniably beautiful and exceptional indie releases by our very own Indian artists. Quite frankly, with the age of easy-to-access music apps like Spotify, YouTube Music, JioSaavn, etc., exploring and discovering new music has become unchallenging. So, while the Bollywood music industry is surely thriving, it remains an undebatable discussion that over the course of a few years, Indie music has taken a storm over India’s music scene. What is a better way to end the year than by looking back at some of the best indie music releases of this year?
Sanjeeta Bhattacharya along with producer Aman Sagar and rap duo Full Power (Frappe Ash and Yungsta) created this powerful experimental pop indie piece, a song spun around the air of freedom, hope and love. ‘Uddchalein’ resonated with a large number of audience, especially with the young people in their 20s who’re trapped in a continued disarrayed maze of life. The frenetic beats of the music produce a fun uptempo aura meanwhile the impactful lyrics bring solace to everyone who’s regretting their decisions or going through a low phase in their life. Sanjeeta Bhattacharya extends a hand of support and warmth through this song.
The Mumbai based singer-songwriter, Maalavika Manoj, known by her stage name ‘Mali’ gained wide recognition for her 2021 album, ‘Caution to the Wind’. Her depthful songwriting coupled with her serene vocals make her discography an un-skippable one. ‘Ashes’ is one of those lyrical masterpieces, with lyrics like, “Can’t stand the sight of my reflection anymore/A walking callous numb from skin to the core/Hope you’re happier now than you were last year/Now the flames put out and I have only ashes to inhale.” The song’s lyrics have stemmed from Mali’s raw and personal feelings after a breakup. The honesty in the song is vivid with the breathy guitar strings, the cymbal and piano in the background.
Well, if ‘Mazaak’ wasn’t one of the most anticipated releases of this year! Anuv Jain, carrying the indie music wave in India, has only given better and better with every new release. ‘Mazaak’, Anuv Jain’s 9th single, is a song of love, and the experience of falling into love when you least expect it. Anuv’s soulful singing imparts a tranquil aura to the song. Anuv has stayed true to his self-created tracks which are imbued with honesty, artistry and sincerity.
Ahmer’s sophomore album, ‘Azli’ is a grim accounting of the terrors and anxieties of the Kashmir Valley. ‘Kun’ is the tenth track on the album which captures the resilience and resistance of the Kashmiri community. MC Kash (real name: Rousan Illahi), one of Kashmir’s most prodigal rappers appeared on the record after eight years of dry spell. The lyrics like, “They strangled reality, so how is truth going to speak?” and “This is blood, sweat and tears/You can’t buy it, it’s not for sale” and “I’m already buried alive, so what are you gonna do now?” come from Ahmer’s personal experiences as a Kashmiri. Producer, Prophecy, chopped and sampled a legendary folk singer named Abdul Rashid Hafiz for Kun, which adds more sincerity to the track as one can feel the Kashmiri folk music in the beats.
‘Akhiyaan’ by the most popular indie music duo, MITRAZ, is their second hit of 2022, following ‘Junoon’. The Indian film pop genre song with subtle lo-fi beats accompanied by MITRAZ’s soulful and feathery vocals became an instant hit! The heartfelt lyrics of the song has the perfect range. 2022 echoed MITRAZ’s beautifully penned lyrics, “Jag Saara Firyaan Mai Tujhsa Na Koi Pawa“. You could hear these lines sung in every street, that is how widely loved MITRAZ have become!
Ritviz’s eight track album, ‘MIMMI’ is an ode to his mother. The track ‘Aaj Na’ is a look back to Ritviz’s childhood and is a song imbued with a distinct nostalgic sadness that comes to him as he thinks about all the memories he experienced as a child. The exceptional production of the song, which adds a traditional element to it and gives it a distinct aura makes the song so powerful. With his well crafted music making skills, Ritviz has become one of the most streamed Indie artists in India.
Zaeden, one of the many popular indie artists in India is a singer-songwriter who first debuted in 2019 with his original, ‘Tere Bina’. His recent track, ‘Lagda Na’ is his first Punjabi single which gained immense love right from its very release! The DJ turned singer is very ambitious when it comes to upgrading his music, and ‘Lagda Na’ is a classic example of it. The song’s catchy tune will have you grooving while the lyrics echoes the feelings of a new found love.
Lisa Mishra has to be in the list! An aspiring singer, who started from her bedroom to performing for 30,000 people and featuring in multiple Bollywood songs, she has come so far! The 2022 Punjabi release, ‘Nain Ta Heere’ sung and performed by the talented Lisa Mishra is yet another display of her amazing vocal skills and musical sensibilities. ‘Nain Ta Heere’ is a song echoing a truthful love for another person. Lisa Mishra’s beautiful singing against a catchy yet lyrical music made the song an instant ‘add-to-my-playlist’ piece.
Produced by Gurbax and written and performed by MC Altaf and Burrah, ‘Bliss’ is a deeply moving song, tracing the very essence of life. An almost therapeutic track, the folksy beats in the song adds more weight to the song. ‘Bliss’ is a song about this community of love and positivity shared between human beings.
Infusing 2022 with a fresh melody, Pratyush Dhiman’s original song, self-written and self-composed, ‘Tu Ki Jaaane’ is a Punjabi soulful song. Pratyush’s enchanting vocals with his equally crafted music in the song has been loved by the fans and the general public alike. The song delivers ripples of tranquil emotions, that is the gripping vigour of the song.
From the fairytale Bollywood wedding of Alia and Ranbir to the most eventful FIFA World cup ever check out these amazing caricatures of 2022!
A caricature is an art form wherein certain characteristics of a person are exaggerated for comic relief or to give a grotesque effect. Though it seems easy caricatures are actually pretty hard to master. Good caricatures not only make you laugh and educate but also create a sense of relatability that makes you feel heard. For better or worse they have become a staple in our lives today, so, let’s have a look at some of these hilarious and heartfelt caricatures that painted a picture of 2022:
“The” wedding of 2022 between Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor is perfectly captured in this hilarious yet accurate caricature by Gaikwad. From making sure that the colour scheme is right, to the beautiful smile on the couple’s face nothing missed Gaikwad’s eye.
The news that broke the hearts of millions of Indians is masterly captured by Khollam in his tribute caricature to the late nightingale of India Lata Mangeshkar. Showcasing Mangeshkar in her element Khollam’s caricature managed to give some comfort to the hearts of a million grieving Indians.
The prequel to the highly acclaimed HBO series “Game of Thrones”; the release of “House of the Dragon” caused a major frenzy among the fans of the series. As expectations were met and love for the series bloomed again, illustrator Priyatham captured the show at its hype with his beautiful caricature portraying Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and her beloved dragon Syrax.
The year 2022 brought with it some normalcy in our lives. And as we struggle to find our footing in this post-pandemic world, Wale tries to remind us of the joy that we are missing out on by being too scared to do something. Beautifully portraying Ustad Zakir Hussain the celebrated Indian tabla artist in his element, Wale reminds us to just let go and march forward.
This hilarious caricature by cartoonist Manjul showcases a man trying to light a cigarette using the sun’s rays as he is concerned about the environment and doesn’t want to use a matchstick. Highlighting the hypocrisy of many environmental activists who don’t always follow what they preach. This witty social commentary will surely leave you in fits of laughter. 
Perhaps the most important international event of the year that made everyone finish their work early so that they don’t miss a minute of it, the FIFA World Cup 2022 was all the rage. For most Messi fans this was probably the last time they would get to see their hero at the world cup and thus, many of them prayed fervently for him to become the world champion. And their prayers were finally answered. Taking a different take on this cartoonist Satish Acharya tried to highlight how much the world cup itself wanted Messi to win it, then the other way around, portraying Messi as the true football champion who is coveted by the world cup itself.
The FIFA World Cup 2022 had some really memorable and historic moments. Apart from Messi finally taking the world cup home, the inclusion of a female referee was a huge step towards achieving gender equality. Beautifully captured by cartoonist Irshad Kaptan, it is thus, immortalised for generations.
It is fair to say that apart from making history the FIFA world cup 2022 had its fair share of drama as well. One such drama involved the Portuguese star player Cristiano Ronaldo. When the captain of the Portugal national team was benched in the quarterfinals against Morocco, it sparked major criticism from football enthusiasts all over the world. Cartoonist Ponnappa expressed his opinion through this hilarious caricature of a father being so done with what happened with the star player that he refuses to let his son get a Ronaldo haircut and instead insists that he get a “substitute” haircut. 
If you think you have missed some regional gems this year, don’t worry we have got you covered! From Odia to Tamil movies, we’ve got you!
As the world reflects on the events of 2022, it is clear that regional films have played a significant role in shaping the film industry. These productions have brought diverse stories and perspectives to the big screen, captivating audiences and sparking important conversations. Whether it was a heartwarming romance or a hard-hitting social commentary, these films have left a lasting impact on viewers and have helped to redefine the way we think about cinema. As we look back on the year, it is clear that regional films have made a significant contribution to the film industry and will continue to do so in the future.
Produced and directed by Anupam Patnaik with an IMDb rating of 9.6 it is a tale of a man from a middle-class family running in the rat race hoping to secure a government job. Though his struggles may look ordinary, they carry with them a sense of familiarity that touches the hearts of the audience. Impressed by the dynamic father-son relationship, Anupam Kher announced on 23rd November 2022 at the 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI)-2022 in Goa that he wishes to play the role of the father in its Hindi remake. 
Written and directed by Debi Prasad Lenka and Vishal Mourya with an IMDb rating of 9.3, it is a biographical social drama focusing on the scheme launched by the Odisha state government. DAMaN which stands for Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakarana (translation: Malaria Eradication in Inaccessible Areas) was the initiative taken by the Odisha state government to address the increasing cases of malaria in inaccessible tribal areas. Told through the lens of a doctor, it captures the true horror that unfolded in these tribal areas that were cut off from modern society and were still living in a world plagued with superstition.
Written and directed by Pravin Tarde with an IMDb rating of 9.2, this movie is a historical biopic that follows the life of Hansaji Mohite who was later given the title of Sarnobat Hambirrao during his time as the chief military commander under the reign of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Beautifully shot, and complete with stellar acting it managed to capture the true essence and power of the Martha Empire.
Directed by Suresh Patnaik with an IMDb rating of 9.1, it is an anthology that narrates the tale of 4 individuals and their journey to fulfil their creative aspirations. It is a story of hope, dreams and desperation as it shows the struggle that each character goes through on their quest to quench their creative yearning.
Written and directed by Kiranraj K. with an IMDb rating of 8.9, this movie is an adventure comedy-drama film that will warm your heart. Focusing on the life of Charlie, a pup who ran away from a cruel breeder only to make a new friend Dharma a lonely man with a negative outlook on things. Their journey together highlights the growing warmth between the two and gives Dharma a new perspective on life.
Written, produced and directed by R. Madhavan with an IMDb rating of 8.8, it is a biographical film based on the life of Nambi Narayan a scientist at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). It highlights the injustice that Narayan had to face in his own country, the same country to whose advancement he dedicated his entire life. The story of an unsung hero of science.
Written and directed by Hanu Raghavapudi with an IMDb rating of 8.6, it is a periodical romance film which focuses on the love story between Lieutenant Ram and Sita. The story begins when Ram receives an anonymous letter from a Sita with no sender’s address, but determined to find her, and profess his love to her, his journey is not without any hurdles.
One of the blockbusters of the year, Kantara is written and directed by Rishab Shetty with an IMDb rating of 8.5. It is an action thriller movie focusing on the culture of Bhootha Kola and Kambala. Following the journey of Shiva, a rebel who tries to defend his village and nature against evil forces it will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.
Directed by Dijo Jose Antony with an IMDb rating of 8.3, it is a legal thriller film that highlights the social injustice of today’s society. Focusing on a police officer who is trying to investigate the murder of a college professor that had caused much uproar among the students and a lawyer trying his best to seek justice in the court, it grips the audience’s attention till the very last minute.
Written and directed by Vipul Mehta with an IMDb rating of 8.2, it is a comedy-drama film that will have you rolling on the floor laughing. Focusing on the life of Kehvatlal Parivar and the madness that follows them, it will surely bring any family together. They will make you cry and laugh at the same time.   
As 2022 approaches the end, here’s toasting some of the best theatre plays and dramas performed this year.
2022 was a ride of arts and endeavours. As the world finally started stepping out of the claws of the pandemic hit desolation and inactivity. Clearly, one of the most severely hit artistic spheres during the pandemic was theatre and drama. In 2022, finally, the actors and audience could unite once again at the stage. This year witnessed the stagings and productions of many splendid and critically acclaimed plays. As an ode to 2022, here is a toast to some of the best theatre productions that unfolded this year.
Mahmood Farooqui’s ‘Dastan-e-Karn Az Mahabharata’, as a Dastangoi, brought a new enigma to the stage. A Dastangoi is a form of Urdu storytelling. It is performed by either one or two people, accompanied by a combination of multiple elements like poetry and music to tell a story. ‘Dastan-e-Karn Az Mahabharata’ is a retelling of Karna, the Anga-raja, the great warrior of Mahabharata. Mahmood Farooqui employed Urdu, Persian, Hindi, and Sanskrit sources to his play, and unfolded the life of Karna from birth to death. The viewers were left stunned with how the deep meditations from past stories could still resonate with the audience of the contemporary age.
Black Pearl Arts, a Delhi based theatre group, and their original play, ‘Laddu’ is about love, communication and relationships. Amul Sagar has beautifully crafted the script. The play’s creativity and core lies in how it brings forward the stories of two people: Appu and Jugnu, their not-so-normal love story, wrapped around by comedy and laughter, and still manages to impart the very crucial aspects of our lives: love, communication and misunderstandings.
Shirley Jackson’s novel, ‘The Haunting of the Hill House’ is one of the most acclaimed and renowned horror novels to be ever written. Ratnesh Singh of One World Theatre directed and adapted a Hindi stage production of ‘The Haunting of the Hill House’. The play is one of a kind. It took over six months of dedication, efforts and practice to smoothly pull off a horror setting on the stage. Despite the limitations of the stage to portray supernatural elements, the cast and crew undertook a praiseworthy endeavour.
‘Bluffmaster Gujjubhai’, a Gujarati play, is the work and direction of the much famous and loved actor, Siddharth Randeria. As an actor, he’s been known for his comic roles, and that is what he has imbued in his play too! ‘Bluffmaster Gujjubhai’ was a humorous play which unfolds the events of gujjubhai and what happens when an unknown girl enters the house and kisses him, oh and gujjubhai’s wife witnesses it all.
Sudheer Rikhari and Mohammed Faheem envisaged the perfect period musical. ‘Tansen’ as the title of the play suggests, narrates the life of the 16th century Mughal musician, Tansen. What is exquisite about the play is how the director, Sudheer Rikhari, has imbued the stage with live vocals, musicians, and instruments which adds vigour to the performance. Against such an entrancing background, the play unfolds the personal musings, dilemmas and emotions of an artist.
The Gujarati play, ‘Manu Badhu Aavde’, written by Pranav Tripathi and directed by Paarth Desai, is a mirror to the current world from the perspective of an old age widow, Tarla Divecha. Old age loneliness in the big concrete metropolitan cities is loud yet in the hustle bustle of the modern life, nobody hears it. Paarth Desai unfolds such a story to the audience. Tarla migrates from Surat to Mumbai to her son’s residence, and upon reaching there, finds it hard to navigate a smartphone, the modern gadget. To her surprise, she faces mockery and ridicule for her lack of skills for a smartphone. Tarla represents the emotions, dilemmas and challenges of the old age population trapped in this meaningless fast paced life.
The Assamese mobile theatre is not going anywhere anytime soon! In the age of OTT platforms and easy internet access, you’d think the dramatics and entertainment of the theatre would be forgotten and weighed down. However, on the contrary, the Assamese theatre collects a yearly 25 crores! One of the plays of the Assam theatre was ‘Moi Natok Kora Suwali’, presented by the Awahan Theatre, which is one of the major travelling theatres of the North East. ‘Moi Natok Kora Suwali’ is about an actor’s quest to find out about her biological father.
Directed by Salim Arif, ‘Taj Mahal Ka Tender’ is a satirical piece which introduces the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in the contemporary time period. Yes, the drama unfolds to the Mughal King’s efforts at trying to build the Taj Mahal in the 21st century. Well, the play takes a sharp critical atmosphere, of course with the perfect balance of wit and dark humour. The spectators of the play have expressed great appreciation for ‘Taj Mahal Ka Tender’ for its take on corruption, red tapism and government laws.
Swati Dubey’s play, ‘Agarbatti’ is a riveting play, scripted to showcase the culmination of caste, class and patriarchy. The play sets the backdrop of the Behmai Massacre, when Phoolan Devi kills 20 men to avenge her gang rape. It re-tells the lives of the widows now left behind and who’ve been poorly rehabilitated by the government through an Agarbatti (incense stick) factory. The direction, production and staging of the play is significant in aligning the space of those women, their lives and how they express their grief, sadness, anger and hopes in those same spaces. The unfolding of their live narratives brought forth multiple socio-cultural realities and the overpowering forces of patriarchy.
‘Cheitheng’ literally translates to ‘agony’. It is a mime play, directed by Yumnam Sadananda. In a mime play, the actor’s body is the primary means of expression. The play is based on King Dasaratha, and his love for hunting. However, one day, the hunting game goes all wrong when he ends up killing a human being, of which he pays dire consequences. ‘Cheitheng’ was approved for showcase at the 37th International Mime Theatre Festival.
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