The Golden Pen to Premiere at the 12th Annual ReelWorld Film Festival

That’s right ladies and gentleman, The Golden Pen has been accepted to the 2012 ReelWorld Film Festival, which will be happening in Toronto April 11-15th. You can catch our Canadian premiere on April 13 at the Famous Players Canada Square Cinema. The making of The Golden Pen has been an incredible journey, and after almost two years, we couldn’t be more excited to share our film with you. CLICK ME to buy tickets for the premiere, which are $10 each; $5 for seniors and students..

For the still uninitiated, The Golden Pen is about the life of Aghajani Kashmeri and unfolds through the stories told by his descendants and a historian in Lucknow.  In Mumbai, the heart of Bollywood, the film picks up with footage from his films, interviews Bollywood actors such as the late Shammi Kapoor and Joy Mukherjee, and the veteran sweetheart of early Bollywood, Nimmi. Others such as Amin Sayani of the radio show that could make or break movies, Binaca Geet Mala or hit parade, reminisce about a man who entertained six generations of Indians, and was a celebrity who lost much of his wealth on the racetrack before finally moving to Toronto late in life.

In the upcoming weeks, we are looking to use this site and our Facebook page as platforms to share more information about the film and the incredible life of Aghajani Kashmeri, so if that is something you’re interested in please join us on Facebook or check back here regularly.

Finally, we sincerely hope that you can join us April 13th in Toronto as we celebrate Aghajani Kashmeri, a man who lived to make movies, with a cinematic tribute told with the deepest admiration by those that knew him best. If you cannot make it, stay tuned for our upcoming Television premiere on Omni-TV and other screening opportunities as they are announced.

Click here to read the full press release.

A Young Aghajani Kashmeri Travels From Lucknow to Rangoon to Calcutta

We begin of course in Lucknow, Aghajani Kashmeri’s

Just before aghajani kashmeri ran away to join bollywood posing at a friend's home in wazir gunj

Just before he ran away to become a Bollywood hero (CLICK to enlarge)

birthplace, the city in Northern India that raised him, the city where he imbibed Urdu poetry and literature,

rubbing shoulders with the most famous Urdu writers and poets, being taken on as the pupil (shagird, in Urdu) of Arzoo Lucknowi, the giant among poets in those days. No wonder that he decided in his late teens that his classroom would not be in front of a blackboard.

A rare still photo from the film zamindar starring aghajani kashmiri and Begum Akhtar

Rare still of Aghajani in Zamindar with Begum Akhtar

Arzoo’s most famous quatrain is about his first sexual encounter, first night, after reading a heavy tome on love. The whole experience is like a blizzard and the book is lost in translation. As the blizzard continues, the book wonders whatever happened to the logic it had imparted to its reader! Babba’s life was like a blizzard, to the end. Both his own autobiography, Sahar Hone Tak, and the documentary bear witness to this.

But given the finite nature of books and the superficiality of timing in a documentary, there is a lot of interesting but extraneous material that is left out. I am going to try and recreate some of that here, in the hope that a bell goes off in the mind of somebody out there. And a comment or many comments appear on the post like the magic of day and night, the seasons, love. Continue reading

Aghajani Kashmeri’s Scrapbook Contains Gems from Bollywood’s Early History

Life they say is full of pleasant surprises. For me, one of them came when I was in the middle of translating my father’s autobiography, Sahar Hone Tak, and making notes for a documentary proposal I was going to make to OMNI-TV for a one-hour TV show on Babba.

I was rummaging through a large box containing the personal possessions of my father.

program booklet for Kali Film's Ameena 1934

More on this 1934 film in the next installment of scrapbook…

My wife Carlotta Cattani had already dived into some other boxes and discovered several rare photographs of my dad during his early bid to become a Bollywood hero in Calcutta (Kolkatta). To my pleasant surprise, I found that Adda my mother (Khursheed Kashmeri, nee Khursheed Kabiruddin Kazi) had kept a scrapbook which contained even more gems, everything from Babba’s filmography to the reviews of his movies, little pamphlets of rare films that I had no idea he had written or in which he had acted. It even included invitations to the premiere of several of his movies.

Continue reading

Bollywood icon Shammi Kapoor passes away

Shammi Kapoor in a scene from The Golden PenThe crew of The Golden Pen offer their condolences to Shammi Kapoor’s wife Neela Devi, our gracious host when we filmed him; and to his children Aditya Raj and Kanchan Desai.

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It is hard to believe that the most flamboyant star of Bollywood, an actor who lived life to the fullest, driving the fanciest cars and drinking the finest Scotch whiskies, has passed away, just nine months after being interviewed by me for The Golden Pen, a documentary on the life of my father, Aghajani Kashmeri, being produced in Canada with funding from OMNI-TV.

How can I or anyone else from my generation forget the most famous song, better known as the Yahoo song, in his best known hit, Junglee, written by my father. More on that later in this post. Watch just the song and you’ll understand why he was also called the Elvis Presley of India. Continue reading

Production Journal: Mumbai

 

If shooting “THE GOLDEN PEN — Following the Footsteps of a Bollywood Scriptwriter” in the city of Lucknow was like a romp through fantasyland, filming in Mumbai was like stepping back in time, despite the vibrancy of a metropolis that I and everyone I know still call Bombay.

 

As we walked up Cumballa Hill Road, the street where Babba, my father, moved to after he wrote hit after hit, and rented a flat in a building called Keki Court, it did not seem like anything had changed.

The tiny cigarette shop at the foot of the Lane was still there and I could have sworn that the bidiwala had aged chronologically backwards. But no, it was his son Suresh.

The only difference: with globalism and liberalization of trade, Lucky Strike and Marlborough could now be purchased at more reasonable prices. Talk of marketing death with panache. Continue reading

An Interview With Aghajani Kashmeri Reveals the Source of the Golden Pen’s Title

Our one-hour documentary on legendary film writer AGHAJANI KASHMERI has been officially titled THE GOLDEN PEN — Following the footsteps of a Bollywood scriptwriter — The previous working title was Bollywood or Bust.

 

The Golden Pen - documentary on the life of Aghajani Kashmeri

THE GOLDEN PEN is being produced with funding from OMNI-TV under its independent producers program. It will be aired later in 2011, exclusively on OMNI-TV in Canada for one year. We have begun to market the documentary in India, England, America and other parts of the world.

The title, The Golden Pen, is taken from the last interview that Aghajani Kashmeri gave in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, in March 1991. The journalist was the veteran writer, Rafique Baghdadi. It was published in Mumbai Daily, Mid-Day, and we reproduce it below. Continue reading