Films With Lucknow Connect: Part I 10

Lko Bolly

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. 

1940’s- 1970’s

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. 

(Chaudhavi Ka Chand)

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.

(Still from Pakheezah)

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!

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Shatranj ki Khiladi. The Chess Players. 1977. 'It's like a Shakespeare scene. Only three hundred words are spoken but, goodness, terrific things happen', said the Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul on Shatranj ki Khiladi in 1987. With a stellar cast of Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Richard Attenborough, Shabana Azmi, Amjad Khan, Victor Banerjee, Farooq Sheikh, Farida Jalal and Amitabh Bachchan as the narrator, it was Ray's first and only full length feature film in Hindi. Set in 1856, in the last few days of Wajid Ali Shah's rule, two noblemen spend their days lazily playing chess. Even as an important and life changing political event is happening in the backdrop the only thing which concerns these men is when and how they are going to play their next game. To use the words of Martin Scorsese, 'Very few directors have been brave enough to show history in the making. This is the way it must really feel to live through a moment of historic change. It feels distant and tragic at the same time.' Due politics in the Bombay film industry, Shatranj ki Khiladi was not a commercial success in India but it became one of Ray's most internationally successful films. One of Ray's most interesting casting decision was Amjad Khan as Wajid Ali Shah, the foul mouthed rowdy terrifying Gabbar Singh was transformed into the dreamy eyed poetry spewing Nawab of Awadh. #satyajitray #satyajitrayfilms #shatranjkekhiladi #richardattenborough #amitabhbachchan #saeedjaffrey #sanjeevkumar #amjadkhan #wajidalishah #shabanaazmi #faridajalal #victorbanerjee #farooqsheikh #chessplayers #nawabofawadh #sureshjindal

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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. 

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Bollywood is one film industry that has been obsessed with the mujra dance recitals.It has traditional kathak moves with Hindustani classical formats of music, this dance form is commonly performed by courtesans (tawaifs in Urdu) and were commonly staged at their lavish mansions (kothas). This dance form isn’t a cake walk because it requires a lot of poise and elegance while performing it. . 🍿Every time someone says mujra and Bollywood together, we can't think of anyone but Rekha. She looked absolutely stunning in ‘In Aankon Ki Masti, ‘Dil Cheez Kya hai’ and ‘Salaam-e-Ishq'.The queen of mujra – Meena Kumari did a wonderful and inspiring job in classic hit numbers ‘Chalte Chalte', ‘Inhi Logon Ne' and ‘Thare Rahiyo' from the film ‘Pakeeza'. No one can match her elegance and 'ada'. ‘Inhi Logon Ne' is still favourite among people when it comes to mujra.Yesteryears actress Madhubala swayed her fans with her performance in Mughal-e-Azam. Her song ‘Pyaar Kiya Tho Darna Ky'a is evergreen. She was not a trained dancer like most of her contemporaries, but she pulled off the hit Mujra number with elan.Even today actresses like Kareena Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai have given some commendable mujra performances in movies. . 👇Comment below your favorite mujra style dance and dancer from Bollywood. #meenakumari#rekha#madhubala#mujra#mughaleazam#umraojaan#pakeezah#mujradance#inankhonkimastike#chaltechalte#bollywoodclassics#oldhindimovies#oldhindisongs#oldisgold✨#bollywoodclips##oldhindimovies#classicindianfilms#bollywoodclassics#shammikapoor#sharmilatagore#retrostyle#retrobollywood#oldhindimovies#movie#indianmovies#oldbollywoodlovers#70scinema#bombaycinema#choreography #bollywoodactress#kathakdance

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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.     

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