Art, culture, and tradition have always found a home in Lucknow. The city has had a long-standing relationship with art and films, be it modern or traditional.
The city has been an inspiration to many artists, film directors, and writers and thus it comes as no surprise that Lucknow has become the most sought after destination for filmmakers.
Ashok Kumar in 1943 shot for Najma in Lucknow. Outdoor locations weren’t popular at the time but glimpses of the city were included in the film to give it a more authentic feel.
Following his footsteps, Guru Dutt shot Chaudhavi Ka Chand (1960) in Lucknow. The iconic Chappal wali Gali makes an appearance in the film. The film is set in Aminabad and Chowk and several references to these places are made throughout the film.
In 1963, Rajendra Kumar and Sadhna shot for Mere Mehboob in the city although the city only makes a special appearance in it. Ironically, one of the most popular films featuring Lucknow until the 1970’s was actually never shot in the city. Pakheezah (1972) is a story of tawaif living in Lucknow and her unfulfilled love for a prominent prince of the city played by Ashok Kumar. Lucknow was recreated in Mumbai studios for the film since the ailing Meena Kumari could not travel to the city itself.
1977- Shatranj Ke Khiladi
The story, written by Munshi Premchand is about two taluqadars of Lucknow who play chess and pass time while the city is taken over by the British. The film is iconic in so many ways. The only Hindi film directed by Satyajit Ray, Lucknow of the ’70s is magically transformed to the Lucknow of 1851.
(Still from Shatranj ke Khiladi with Bada Imambara in the background)
From Safed Baradari to Rumi Darwaza, the narrow lanes of old city, evenings filled with music and dance – the film is emblematic of the grand Awadh legacy Lucknow is known for!
The last film to showcase the city’s past at its prime was Muzzafar Ali’s Umrao Jaan starring Rekha. Shot entirely in the city, the film is based on Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s novel Umrao Jaan Ada.
But with the turn of the century, Lucknow found its image and appeal taking a 360° turn. Continue reading Part II of Films With Lucknow Connect.