Mumbai: When it comes to perfecting an art form, a dedicated course in the same is what many people opt for. But back in 1950-51, there was hardly any scope for specialised courses, especially when it came to performing arts. This was a time when experimentation was the go-to word whenever something out of the box was thought of.
This experimentation was at its peak in the film industry during that time. Every actor and director wanted to bring something new for the audience and there was ample scope for it too. One of these was Bhagwan Dada, who took a great risk with his film Albela. Although Bhagwan Dada’s experiment paid off and Albela ran for a whopping 24 weeks in cinema halls then, the film had its share of difficulties.
Albela is remembered for its songs and of course Bhagwan Dada’s dance steps but while shooting for one of the songs, Shola jo bhadke, an unexpected problem surfaced in front of Bhagwan Dada. The set was in place, Geeta Bali, who was a big actress then, was to shoot for the song and everything was in order except one thing. There were no backup dancers available. At the last moment, Bhagwan Dada learnt that all the backup dancers had been booked for a song in a Raj Kapoor film. This was a big setback but one that Bhagwan Dada found a solution for.
As is known, the actor-director was a multi-faceted personality. He was called the dancing superstar, action hero and much more. An addition to this list was his presence of mind. When there were no backup dancers available, everyone on the set was in a dilemma but suddenly, Bhagwan Dada saw a wedding procession of one of the fighters (stuntmen) passing by and all of them were dancing. He decided to bring in these fighters, adept with stunts but not dance, to be the backup dancers. Initially hesitant, the fighters agreed and the gamble worked and the result was astounding. No only did the songs become a hit but it got the audience dancing in cinema halls whenever it was played.
The magic of Albela in 1951 is now being recreated for the viewers of today, by Manglmurti Films and Kimaya Motion Pictures through Ekk Albela. The film, which is set to release on June 24, has been directed by Shekhar Sartandel and will feature Mangesh Desai in the lead role of Bhagwan Dada, while Vidya Balan will make her Marathi debut essaying Geeta Bali’s role. The cinematography has been done by Uday Deore and music by Santosh Mulekar.
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