Working Title: Bollywood or Bust — A Character in Search of His Author; Official title: The Golden Pen — Following the footsteps of a Bollywood scriptwriter
Not many people get the opportunity to write and produce a TV documentry on their father. Well, I am one of those lucky ones, thanks to funding from OMNI-TV, a division of Rogers Communications.
Who was Aghajani Kashmeri? For starters, my dad. But he was more than that. He was a movie legend in Bollywood, who entertained generations of moviegoers with his screenplays, dialogues, stories, poetry and humour. He was the product of a generation that is only recounted in books, a man with a colorful life that begins in the literary city of Lucknow in northern India, plays itself out in Bombay (now Mumbai), and ends in Toronto, Canada. (Yes,there is a very special Canadian connection that this documentary will explore.) Click his name at the beginning of this paragraph for more information on him in Wikipedia.
What happens in between is the stuff of legend, contained in an autobiography in Urdu and Hindi calledSahar Hone Tak, published in the late 1960s. Our documentary draws its inspiration from this autobiography. In the 1930s, Bollywood was an industry of ill repute, hence, he had to run away from home after being offered the job of a hero in a movie called Shan-e-Subhan (a citation which I managed to track down in the archive of the U.S. Library of Congress). He was about 19, had just finished a soccer game in Lucknow and was approached by two movie makers who bought him some juice, told him he was very handsome, and recruited him as their hero for an advance of 300 rupees (about seven dollars in today’s exchange rate). The only record I have of this movie is the still photograph below from the film (circa 1936). But more on all this in the documentary and when I finish translating his autobiography, Sahar Hone Tak, published in the 1960s in Urdu and Hindi.
We are excited about producing it. Our first stint of shooting begins in September 2010 in Toronto, followed by shooting in Lucknow and in Bombay, India, in November. We are hoping to complete this one-hour documentary by March 2011.
I am joined in this effort by a wonderful team that includes my co-producer, co-writer and story editor Howard Bernstein and director Lani Selick. (Read their bios.)
Both through the documentary and my eventual translation, I am hoping to offer a rare insight into the early days of Bollywood, when the industry was taking its first baby steps and slowly catching the imagination of Indians that would eventually rise to a groundswell.
Our site offers you our storyline and treatment that forms the basis of the documentary along with photos and video of the shooting in Lucknow and Mumbai (Bombay). Click Here to check these out.
Goodbye until then from all of us.