This week on Flashback, we take a look at the times and life of Nasir Hussain. Born in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on 16th November 1926 the fourth of five children, he was just 15 when he lost his father and his family moved to Lucknow. Along with studying in college, he was writing stories and short plays for All India Radio (AIR). After studies, he almost became a diplomat but then he shifted to his aunt’s house in Bombay and it is there that he met Majrooh Sultanpuri poet songwriter and through him in 1948 joined Filmistan headed by S Mukherji as a writer.
The film that established him in Filmistan was Anarkali. In Filmistan he met S Mukherji’s younger brother Subodh Mukherji as well. The two hit off and when Subodh Mukherjee directed his first film, Nasir Hussain wrote the screenplay and dialogues for Munimji (1955) and then Paying Guest (1957), both hit films. By now he had written a film for himself to direct and the studio gave him Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) to direct. Tumsa Nahin Dekha was a frothy, easy on the eyes and mind film. Following Tumsa Nahin Dekha’s success, Shammi Kapoor and Nasir Hussain teamed up again in the equally successful Dil Deke Dekho for Filmalaya, the breakaway group of Filmistan. The film introduced Asha Parekh and she went on to play the lead thereafter in all of Nasir Hussain’s films right till Caravan. He introduced and perfected rom-com musical. His phenomenon track record of entertaining, romantic, musical superhits are ample testimony of his fine filmmaking skills and understanding of what exactly audiences want. He confidently tackled stories with lost and found intrigue with energetic romance, witty dialogue, repartee and of course fabulous music. Indian motion picture writer, director, and producer Nasir Hussain who made a score of lighthearted Bollywood films and ushered in a new idiom at a time when his contemporaries like Raj Kapoor, Guru Duttt, Bimal Roy, V Shantaram – were making nation building films or socially conscious films.
Nasir Husain may be branded as a frothy, fun filmmaker but to dismiss his cinema as non-serious is doing him great injustice. He along with a handful of other directors took Hindi cinema away from the Nehruvian socialistic, nation-building narratives of the 1950s but quite like the Fred Astaire and Grace Kelly musical Nasir Hussain’s films are an important part of Hindi cinema.
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