जो शक्ल नज़र आई तस्वीर नज़र आई
मीर तक़ी मीर
The localities of Delhi are none, but sketches of an artist
When ever seen, looks as if beautiful paintings
History awaits us in Delhi!
Every monument in Delhi has its own story to tell. Whenever a Bollywood movie is picturised in this city, it is bound to show one or more heritage monument. And why shouldn’t it be, considering the fact that city has a innumerable monuments bestrewed in every nook and corner, representing perhaps every period of the history, be it…ancient, medieval or modern.
It had been more than one year since we had shifted to Delhi and surprisingly we didn't visited any of these notable monuments. To circumvent this culpable deed, we planned to commence our exploration with one of the most famed heritage monument of the city- the Qutab Minar.
Monsoons set up early that year, but they didn't seemed to recede even in month of September. The sky was leaden with dark clouds on that Sunday morning, but the fresh breeze with sporadic rain has forged pleasantry in the weather. It appeared to be an ideal day for such an outing during this part of the year. The Qutab compound seemed flared up with glistening light piercing through the clouds and greenery all around has added allure to its grandeur. More than the monuments, children seemed engrossed by the undulating grass turf that surrounds these ruins.
After strolling around the courtyard of a ruined mosque which seemed to be plastered with the leftover material got after demolishing an earlier existing temple we reached the famous "Iron Pillar". Instantly, the climax scene of movie “Cheeni Kum” flashed in our minds where Amitabh Bachchan was shown hugging it, depicting the belief that if someone can encircle it with their arms while standing with their back to it, their wish will be fulfilled. Shucks! we couldn’t rub our backs to it any more, thanks ASI which has erected an iron railing all around it. Several Bollywood movies have been shot at this location: “Fanna”, “Jannat 2” and most recently Amir Khan’s “PK”. But the most remembered song sequence “Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar” from 1963 black and white classic "Tere Ghar Ke Samne” directed by legendary Vijay Anand is peerless. Anyone who has seen the movie when ever visits Qutab minar gets instantly reminded of this immortal love song picturised on dazzling Nutan and evergreen Dev Anand inside the minaret.
Vijay Anand wanted to shoot the song on a sea beach. But since the story line represented city of Delhi so as to bring the feel of this heritage rich city onscreen, Dev Anand suggested his younger brother to shoot the song at some local monument preferably Qutab minar. The entire unit packed for Delhi to pasteurize this song inside the minar. Being acrophobic since her childhood, the very thought of climbing up the tower and romanising over the top shuddered the leading lady. However, the director convinced her with cogent assurance that she‘ll be comfortable at the top and the song sequence shall be filmed while descending. The crew got permission to shoot in the Qutab complex and even inside the minaret. Dev once wrote that carrying the cameras, sound recording and lighting equipment etc. inside the dark and narrow steps and then ensuring smooth hassle free shooting was a real tough job for the team. He further added that for these technical reasons, only some portions could be actually picturised inside the minaret, while a major part of the song was picturised inside a replica set of the monument contrived back in the studios of Bombay.
Perhaps the last Navketan movie to be shot in monochrome, it was an instant hit. During the picturisation of this song, the leading pair actually came down from the top through dingy ‘n’ drabby steps of the minaret surrounded only by stone walls and a staircase, with not even a speck of sky around? With no acting gimmicks and contrivance, and for close to 5 minutes, at that! One would think of the entire scene as dull and dreary, but Nutan’s radiant smiles, battling eyelashes and sparkling eyes lit-up the song while Dev Anand’s charm splashed it with flamboyant colors. Both climbed the Minar as friends but come down as lovers. This interaction between the two was more than enough in weaving a dazzling magic in the minds of the cine viewers since then.
Flabbergastingly, Vijay Anand also did a fair bit of acting in the song, but this one of his most famous appearances lasted just for five seconds or so. As the pair was dallying on the winding steps of Qutab Minar, getting just a little close, they’re interrupted by a group of scholars making their way up the stairs. The group is led by none other than bespectacled Vijay Anand, who overreacts most amusingly, gesturing unsubtly to his companions in order to give the two lovers wider berth on that narrow staircase. Adjusting his glasses at Dev and Nutan, and covering up a giggle he abruptly walks out of the view. That an elder brother is being judged for public romancing by his younger sibling makes this moment even funnier.
This was first and perhaps the last song sequence ever picturised inside the minaret. A mishap took place in the early eighties, when a group of school girls panicked as the lights went off inside the tower leading to a stampede and casualties. Since then, the gates of this minaret, which is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site have been locked to the public. All the subsequent movies were either shot in the compound facing the minaret or around the undulatory lawns encircling the monument.
With modern day malls and multiplexes coming up all around the city space, visits to monuments and heritage site has become occasional. But, Bollywood has some how kept us trussed with these transcendent ruins through its songs and scenes.
It has been a fortune to be born and brought up in culturally rich Lucknow and then settling down in historically engraved Delhi. Reminiscence of Lucknow and Delhi keep promenading in my thoughts which I often scribble down. Leaving both of them even temporarily has been a great agony.
लखनऊ छूटा था पहले, क्या अब दिल्ली भी छोड़ दें
दो ही तो शहर थे अपने, दोनों तबाह निकले...