Saturday, April 13, 2013




The language of silence in  "27 Down.
(Rakhee Gulzar and M K Raina in Avtar Kaul's movie  "27 Down  )

I do not know why am i coming to the movie  "27 Down "again and again. I wish the talented director had lived to add his part of creative output to the  parallel  cinema  that emerged  during seventies and early eighties of the last century . 

I am informed that Avtar  Kaul(1939-1974 )  was not only the director of this movie , he had also arranged finances from NFDC .He wrote the  script and dialogues and personally selected the talented  cast comprising of M. K. Raina  ( 1970 batch NSD graduate and a man from theatre) , Rakhee Gulzar , Sadhu Mehar ( He shifted to Oriya cinema) ,   Om Shivpuri, Rekha Sabnis and Sudhir Dalvi. He arranged the music from Bhuban Hari ( Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Bubaneshwar Misra ).  I saw this black and white movie  again recently  from the rescued  version put on DVDs by N.F.D.C. The film is based on Ramesh Bakshi’s Hindi novel, Athara Sooraj Ke Paudhe. 

The film came out at a time when Amitabh Bachan had begun his climb up the star ladder .Shyam  Benegal had set free his 'Ankur ' upon us.  M.S. Sathyu's Garam Hawa had also arrived.

I liked the storyline ,screenplay and the   dialogues .I am  informed that Avtar Kaul made it a point to shoot inside Bombay local trains and crowded railway stations to give the movie a realistic feel.  The frames shot at Bombay’s VT station and inside the  crowded  local train  give a sense of    kinetics to the shots. Such shots give you a feeling of  commotion within and outside . 
No character in this movie  makes the usual filmi or  impressive  gestures  .

You confront silence also  . I believe this  silence is corollary  to settlement in a relation. In a relation,   if   attitudes are identified and reflexes established to deal  with them , not much needs to be  actually talked about  . Silence then  engulfs togetherness . This phenomenon one observes in this movie . I confess being guilty of not having seen this grand movie seriously  on a previous occasion.

“ Phir koyee pul hai Kya ? Shayad Pul hi hai ” 
“ Has another bridge  come ? looks like a bridge only “
( A dialogue from the movie )

A  routine traveller seeks to confirm his assessment by the thud and sound of the train that he is used to. This traveler has been crossing bridges daily without reaching anywhere .

“Log ek din ya ek raat ke baad kahin pahunchtay hain , par mein to ek khayal ke baad doosray khayal pe pahunch jaata huun ” from the movie .

“People reach some destination after a day’s  or night’s journey . But I continue  to  leave one dream to enter another .” 

Fathers generally choose their own profession for  their children ignoring the preferences and likes of the child. In a sense it is forced upon the child. Here in this movie,  the hero Sanjay faces this from his Father.
Anna ( Sanjay’s father ) is a train-driver and works for the Railways. One day his train meets with an accident and  his right leg gets paralyzed. When Sanjay grows up, Anna  wants  his son   to join the Railways as Ticket Checker.    Sanjay  on the other hand wants to  carry forward  his artistic  career but  his father,  decisively  wants him to join Railways .His father  believes that such a job shall give   security and a handsome  salary  . And a good salary with a  secured job would  mean an   ideal   life for  his son.  Put to passionate pressure  from his father ,Sanjay takes up the railway  job. Annoyed and discontented with a monotonous life,  he feels he is heading nowhere until he meets Shalini.

 “ Log hain ki ek jagah se doosri jagah tak jaatein hain . Mein  hoon ki kahin se chal kar kahin bhi chalaa jaa raha huun ”
 “ Din raat bhi agar meri duty laga dein to mujhey koyi eiteraaz nahin ”

 This character known as Sanjay ( M. K. Raina )  measures life in train sounds and distances .The demands of conformity  affect his  relation with  a young woman Shalini ( Rakhee ) . 

When Sanjay faces his father  Ana ( Om shivpuri ) who tells him what future holds for him, two words slip from his tongue 
“Par Ana ( Then Ana ) "

Born in 1940 in Kashmir, Avtar Kaul graduated in science in the early 60s, and  decided to pursue a filmmaking course in the US. He studied film making  in New York, where he was exposed to every aspect of filmmaking. 

 The  unexpected  zoom ins , zoom outs and freeze frames give a moving visual sense to this film. Avtar Kaul learnt this technique during his apprenticeship with Ivory  Merchant production BOMBAY TALKIE ( Sashi Kapoor , Jennifer Kendal , Aparna Sen and Utpal Dutt ) . Avtar also  worked as  Assistant to James Ivory .Had he lived , he would have certainly  made films  that would have been middle of commercial and  art cinema. The film won National Awards for Best Film  and  Cinematography in 1974...



               (Avtar Kaul behind the camera )
                          (Avtar Kaul)
        ( Avtar Kaul at Jahangir Art Gallery)

Avtar died before knowing  that his film  had won awards and rave reviews . He jumped into the monsoon sea at a beach in  Bombay to save a drowning friend  and lost his life . 

Prof Jaya Parimu  told me this:-

"Avtar was pushed by a wave against the stone wall and he had an instantaneous death.
January , February and march 1974 we got to be with him often at Sam's  restaurant Jehangir Art Gallery.Kurta,pyjama and a cotton cloth bag hanging over his shoulder.He was financially broke ,waiting for the  formal release or premiere   of his  movie .He and we Samavor goers ,  all  attended première and Avtar was thrilled by the overwhelming response.Excited and happiest he was with astounding reviews about his movie,but destiny had something else stored in for him ."

Avtar had an American wife .She was in the US at the time of the tragic death of her husband . H We don't know anything about her. Avatar's  brother, Predhuman Kaul had assisted him in the production of 27 Down. Predhuman lives in Delhi .

I am adding some lines from  a poem HISTORY  by noted Bulgarian  Poet Nikola Vaptsarov to this write up. ...

' History, will you mention us
In your faded scroll?
We worked in factories, offices –
Our names were not well known.
We worked in fields.
For the hardship and affliction
We do not seek rewards,
Nor do we want our pictures
In the calendar of years.
Just tell our story simply
To those we shall not see,
Tell those who will replace us –
We fought courageously."

( Avtar Mota)

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1 comment:

  1. Can somebody please arrange/ upload/ tell about a source of the novel itself. My dad is a huge fan of that book and someone borrowed it to never return! :(
    I want arrange a copy of the novel for him.


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