Pinjra By V. Shantaram Remains To Be One Of Indian Cinema’s Greatest Cinematic Achievements

Eminent Director Late V. Shantaram Marathi movie “PINJRA” was re-released in digital format on 31st March 2016 marked 44 years of completion since the movie was first released on the same day in the year 1972. The plot revolves around a respected village school teacher (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo) who falls in love with a traveling dancer (Sandhya) and later faces a moral dilemma. The movie was one of the biggest commercial success of its time and also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Marathi for the year 1972.

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In my article herewith I won’t delve into the plot or synopsis details of this movie. I would rather focus more on behind the scenes what happened before and during the making of this iconic musical hit Marathi movie “PINJRA”. The whole shoot of the movie was completed in a span of just 40 days then.

It was the veteran actor Dr. Shreeram Lagoo who had played the lead role in this movie. Dr. Shreeram Lagoo is well known not as a good film and theater actor but also holds the reputation of being an eminent ENT Surgeon Gold Medalist.

Two Backstage Visitors

One day post completion of his play there were two individuals who were waiting in the backstage to meet Dr. Shreeram Lagoo. One individual was by the name Ravindra who was in his relations and was working as an Assistant Director to the eminent director Late V. Shantaram then. Another individual was Mr. Anant Mane also a Film Director.

Ravindra said to Dr. Shreeram Lagoo, “Anna Saheb (means V. Shantaram) is in the midst of making new Marathi movie. To lead the lead role as an actor we both (Ravindra and Anant Mane) have recommended your name to Anna Saheb to play the lead role in his upcoming movie. As we both have watched several Marathi plays we are positive you would give complete justice to the role that would be offered to you in his upcoming Marathi movie. However, Anna Saheb has not seen you perform till date lives on the center stage so we request you at least come down and meet him (Anna Saheb — V. Shantaram) in person”.

Hearing this Dr. Shreeram Lagoo said, “It would indeed be a matter of pride for me to meet Anna Saheb (V. Shantaram Ji) an eminent director and a man of such great stature. However, whether I would work or not in his movie shall be decided by me only when I am done reading the script. So first things first you’ll first arrange to send me the script. Let me read it then we can decide when to meet director V. Shantaram Ji”.

To which Ravindra replied, “Anna Saheb never discloses his script to anyone before. That’s his style of working”. Pat came the reply from Dr. Shreeram Lagoo, “I too do not accept any roles prior reading the complete script. That’s my style of working”. Both Ravindra and Anant Mane were now looking at each other and totally confused what to do next.

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V. Shantaram. Courtesy: Mid Day

Mane said, “Dr. Saheb you see in this line of show business one got to be really very careful when it comes to your script. It’s an accepted fact that good scripts do get stolen. It’s not that we don’t trust you but due to such incidents taking place Anna Saheb has been very particular and stringent about all these issues”.

But, Dr. Shreeram Lagoo was upfront and equally firm in his opinion for reading the script first before concluding on anything.

Mane realized this and said, “We both would try to bring the script for you to read first. However, the fact that you have read the script before should not be shown or disclosed to Anna Saheb (V. Shantaram Ji) anytime during the course of your meeting with him”.

This assurance from both Ravindra and Anant Mane brought a smile on the face of Dr. ShreeramLagoo. He felt, “If I like the script there is no harm in going ahead. However, if I don’t like the script at least I get the opportunity to meet this legendary director V. Shantaram Ji”.

The script was indeed well written and Dr. Shreeram Lagoo felt it gels well keeping his age in mind and his role that of respected village school teacher who later falls in love with the traveling dancer. The title of the movie was “PINJRA”.

The Meeting with Late V. Shantaram

Finally, the day came when the meeting was finalized between Dr. Shreeram Lagoo and Director of the movie Late V. Shantaram. Venue was Mumbai’s iconic RajKamal Studio where the legend had his office. RajKamal studio in Parel was the same studio where superstar Mr. Amitabh Bachchan had shot many important sequences for his blockbuster movie Deewar which includes “Khush To Bhaut Hoge Tum”, “Mere Paas Maa Hai” and death sequence. Rajkamal was best known for Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Amar Bhoopali (1951), Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) and Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957).

The meeting was very cordial they did not discuss anything related to the movie script. Anna Saheb was curious to know more about Dr. Shreeram Lagoo’s work in the Marathi play “Natsamrat” and who was the writer who had written the script etc. Anna Saheb would always be interested to know the person whom he meets is just interested in his work or is also abreast about surrounding events and happenings. That was exactly he wanted to judge from Dr. Shreeram Lagoo when he asked him the author’s name and who is he who had penned down the script of Natsamrat.

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