Wednesday, February 13, 2013



( SIR DAVID LEAN (1908-1991)   IN SRINAGAR, KASHMIR )       

In 1983 We saw Sir David Lean in Srinagar looking for locations and shooting sequences for his cinematic adaption of E. M. Forster’s novel ‘’ A PASSAGE TO INDIA ‘’. Sir David Lean was seen at Fateh Kadal, Zaina Kadal and also at various locations in and around Srinagar city. We also saw an advertisement appearing in the  'Srinagar Times', a leading Urdu daily published from Srinagar, requesting residents in the downtown area of the city to pull down their rooftop TV antennas to give the old city a 1920 look needed for shooting some sequences. Almost every one obliged. Sir David Lean visited some localities saying,

 “ Salaam! Namaste ! can you bring down that TV antenna for some days to enable me to shoot some sequences for a movie? ”

He was seen shooting on Srinagar Baramulla road, Fateh Kadal,  or inside Nagin and Dal lake with Victor Banerjee.

       Sir David Lean CBE ( 1908-1991 ) film director, scriptwriter and a producer who is still remembered for his classics like' Lawrence of Arabia', 'The bridge on River Kwai 'and 'Dr Zhivago'.
We also saw him shooting with his wife Sandy who played the role of Stella, actor Alec Guinness who played the role of Prof Godbole, James Fox who played the role of Mr Fielding and Victor Banerjee who played the role of Dr Aziz in the movie. The houseboat sequences with Dr Aziz and Mr Fielding were shot in Dal lake. Victor Banerjee could be seen in Churidaar Pyjama and a Sherwani. An old vintage car was also brought into the shooting sequences.
The movie had some other actors like Peggy Ashcroft, Judy Davis, Roshan Seth, Saeed Jaffrey and Art Malik. The movie was produced by John Brabourne whose father had been a Viceroy in India (who also happened to be son in law of Lord Mountbatten ). The movie was distributed by Columbia Pictures and was finally released in 1984. It received 11 nominations for Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for David Lean and Best Actress for Judy Davis as Adela.

 I was also informed by a friend in the Tourism Department, Kashmir that he had personally seen another giant writer-director from Hollywood namely John Byrum ( born 1947 ) shooting sequences for his movie “ The Razor’s Edge “ in Srinagar at that point of time in 1983. David Lean and John Byrum had a chance meeting in the dining room of the then Hotel Oberoi Palace in Srinagar. So much was Byrum happy to see David Lean that he called this chance something as “ Meeting God or Lord Shiva  in Kashmir .”

                                           ( Sir David lean shooting in Srinagar city 1983 )

                                                             ( John Byrum  )
While replying to Mark Tully’s question (for a BBC interview), “ How much difference is there between Lean's 'Passage To India' and Forster's 'Passage To India'? ” Sir David Lean has clarified as under:-
“ He's a writer, I'm a filmmaker. I like movies, and I've tried to make a movie that I would like to see. The end is different, certainly, but I think I wouldn't be ashamed for Forster to read the script. I think I stuck with his characters, and on the whole, given the limitations of time, I mean what's one doing? One's doing something in 2 hours, a book that thick, its a sort of sketch of it, and I'm extracting a movie from it. Those who want to read Forster, read the book. Those who want to go to a movie, and don't read, come and see our film.”

Speaking to “The Guardian” correspondent,  actor Omar Sharif fondly remembers David Lean. Actually, it was David Lean who introduced Omar Sharif as an actor in 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Omar Sharif informs as under:-

 “David Lean was a great, great man. Great man. I'll tell you that. He was interested in the film itself. His work was about making the film. He took actors – he didn't like them or love them or anything, he just thought: "This one will do for this part." When he took me from Egypt, he didn't know me. He just said: "I want an Arab person to play this Laurence of Arabia thing. I want a real Arab who speaks English." All this happened because I had been to an English school in Cairo, so he called me and I went to the desert and he loved me. He actually liked me very much. I was one of the only actors he actually liked, in all his life. ”

( Avtar Mota )

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