Remembering Chetan Anand, the legendary film-maker on his 97th birth anniversary today.

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“Chetan, I saw Haqeeqat. Strong visuals, excellent music but no story,” Satyajit Ray had reportedly said to Chetan Anand at the Oberoi Grand lobby in October, 1964. Both were to receive the coveted BFJA awards for Charulata and Haqeeqat. Chetan smiled and replied, “Haqeeqat is not a film. It’s a mosaic.”

Ray confessed a number of times that he was inspired to work with maestros Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan after listening to the music of Neecha Nagar and Aandhiyan. However, it was Chetan Anand, who introduced Ravi Shankar (Neecha Nagar) and Ali Akbar Khan (Aandhiyan) as composers in films.

Chetan Anand, along with his brothers Dev and Vijay, was a leading light of the golden age of Hindi cinema. Born and raised in Lahore, Chetan worked at BBC, and then Doon School, Dehradun before moving to Bombay to become an actor. His political beliefs, thanks to his association with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), made him realise the reach of cinema as a mass media tool. He decided to become a director, slowly and steadily, carving his own niche like his siblings.

Chetan Anand was a recluse by nature, but versatile as a filmmaker and actor. Winning the Grand prize at Cannes for Neecha Nagar (1946), along with David Lean (Brief Encounter), is a proud testimony to his filmmaking skills. In his 50-year career, Chetan directed 18 films and a tele-serial Param Veer Chakra. Though a majority of his directorial ventures were flops, he has carved a niche in the annals of Indian cinema.

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Celebrating Cinema

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