IFFI: Healthy competition existed among film stars once, says filmmaker Rahul Rawail at an In-Conversation session

The filmmaker recalled his journey at the session held virtually as part of the hybrid model adopted by the festival

Our Correspondent

In the first of the In-Conversation sessions at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), filmmaker Rahul Rawail recalled his journey in Hindi cinema in a programme titled Filmmaking in 50s, 60s and 70s. The session was held virtually.

Rawail began his career in the late 1960s as an assistant to the iconic filmmaker Raj Kapoor. Speaking about the epochal decades in Hindi cinema, Rawail marked the 1970s as a period that saw the influx of new ideas, wide experimentation and the emergence of the action genre in Hindi cinema. The decade marked the golden years for unconventional films that were aided by technological shifts. 

Recalling his cinematic journey, the filmmaker said, “I started working in this industry from the late 1960s and began my career as an assistant to the legendary Raj Kapoor. Stalwarts like K Asif and Mehmood made films with magnificent sets in the 1960s, after which Babu Ram Ishara’s Chetna in the 1970s brought about a revolution with shootings done on location over 25-30 days, something which was unusual in those days.”

Tracking the shifts in form as well as content, he earmarked Vijay Anand’s film Johny Mera Naam (1970) for giving rise to a new form of action-oriented big-plot extravaganzas. 

The 1970s was when business was booming in the Hindi film industry, which saw the emergence of an unconventional hero played by Amitabh Bachchan in Zanjeer. The decade gave birth to the image of the ‘angry young man’. In contrast, Raj Kapoor’s Bobby (1973), which introduced Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia as the leading pair, also started a new trend of young romance. “These films were bringing in a change and adding to the whole palate of filmmaking," said Rawail.

He also drew attention to LV Prasad’s Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) where “a hero who did not speak Hindi and spoke only Tamil and an actress who spoke only Hindi and not Tamil” featured in a love story. “People were inventing and doing different kinds of works,” he added.  

Remembering his dear friend Rishi Kapoor, Rawail called him an underrated actor. He also pointed out the work of other stars such as Jeetendra, who brought new things to Hindi cinema. 

Speaking about the stars, Rawail said, “In those days there existed a healthy competition among film stars. Every actor was rising above each other, but there was no rivalry”. He recalled an anecdote about how the three stalwarts — Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar —  once came across each other in a restaurant and started talking like intimate friends about the old days and each other’s films. 

The decade of the 1980s saw the coming of stalwarts like Subhash Ghai and Shatrughan Sinha, among others. Rawail recalled that screenwriter Javed Akhtar wrote the script for Rawail’s film Arjun (1985) in a stretch in 8 hours! Rawail also made actor Amjad Khan, who was popular for playing villains, do a comic role in the film. Though many people were sceptical about this decision, Rawail remembered his mentor Raj Kapoor’s advice that ‘a great script would always work’ and went forward with it. 

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