Remembering Manmohan Desai, one of the most successful filmmakers of Indian cinema, on his 82nd birth anniversary.

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Remembering Manmohan Desai, one of the most successful filmmakers of Indian cinema, on his 82nd birth anniversary.

Manmohan Desai, one of India’s most successful film directors and producers, was known as the ‘Miracle man of Bollywood’. He was the uncrowned King of Bollywood in the late Seventies.

Manmohan Desai etched his place in history of Bollywood for delivering some of the biggest hits that whizzed audiences away into a world of make-believe, where simple people did wondrous things and made you laugh and cry with them.

Desai’s films have been and continue to be a wellspring of hope and happiness to multitudes. Out of the 20 films that Manmohan Desai directed in his career span of 29 years (1960–1988), as many as 13 films were stupendous hits. His success ratio was 65 per cent, in an industry where flops abound.

For a spell of nine years (1973–1981), success seemed to obey every command of Desai. In this phase, he delivered only hits, most of them Amitabh Bachchan-centred enterprises. It seemed as Desai could keep his finger pressed unerringly on the pulse of the audience.

Desai was often criticised for his absurd themes and story lines — blind people in his films suddenly regain sight and twins separated at birth are reunited under bizarre circumstances — but he never sought to justify the nature of his work, saying he made movies to help people forget their tensions and worries. If any of his films carried a social message, it was incidental, he said.

The Manmohan Desai’s unabashed proclamation, “I don’t make films for critics”, sums up the cinematic genre of fantasy-entertainment created by him.

Manmohan Desai, the master of family entertainers like Amar Akbar Anthony, Suhaag, Coolie, Dharam Veer and Naseeb, met his tragic end on March 1st 1994. He fell to his death from the balcony of his flat when it collapsed. It remains unclear if this was accident or suicide. Many say he took his life as he could not cope up with failing health and declining career.

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Celebrating Cinema

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