THE FIERY FILMMAKER WHO GOES TO WAR WITH EVERY FILM HE MAKES
Ali Peter John
A true and passionate filmmaker is like a soldier who is dedicated and devoted to his job which is not just his job, but more than a job, it is his mission to put his best foot forward to fight even at the risk of losing his life and putting the lives of his near and dear ones at stake, all for the love of his country.
A brave soldier like a passionate filmmaker is armed with the weapons of courage, confidence, and the power of his own convictions without which he knows without which no fight and no war can be won.
Who says that only those men with rippling muscles and strong arms and biceps are the only men who are strong? Let me introduce you to a man who is small in size, looks emaciated, and has a scrawny beard who has made some of the best and most powerful Hindi films which no Hercules, Samson, and no Superman can make.
I am talking about Mr.Jai Prakash Dutta, one of the most significant filmmakers in India during the last quarter of a century and more…
“J.P” started his one-man movement when he joined R.K.Films as one of the many young assistant directors and rose to be the chief assistant director of Randhir Kapoor when he made his debut as a director with “Kal Aaj Aur Kal” and assisted Randhir till he branched out as a director with “Yateem” with his friend Rishi Kapoor as the hero .
He went on to direct other big films with big stars, big locations, and grand and thrilling action sequences. He had a strong weakness for the deserts of Rajasthan and shot films like “Batwaara “, “Ghulaami ” “Hathyaar “, “Kshatriya “and other.
The success of these films could have made him a contented young man and he could have continued making similar films as there were financiers and distributors ever willing to back him up financially and every big star was only too willing to work with a director who had a bad temper , but was an extremely talented director who knew how to get the best out of man and his machines .
“J.P.”was a director who mattered to the film industry and was ranked among the ten best dir ectors of the country …..But ,”J.P.”was not satisfied with the way his career as a director was going . He had other ideas and subjects which he wanted to make as films that would place him and his films in a class of their own .
He decided to try his limitless talent as a director of war films . He launched his first film ,”1965 “with his friend Vinod Khanna and Smita Patil in lead roles . The film was started with the recording of a song written by Sahir Ludhianvi which became a rage even before the film could go on the floors .
The Nadiadwalas who were the producers hosted a grand party at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay which was attended by the who’s who of the industry .I remember every moment of that party which was one of the first few big parties I had attented , but my greatest moments during the party was the time I spent with my favourite poet Sahir who in the time I spent with him taught me more about life than several books could .
It was also my first meeting with Vinod Khanna who became a friend and was a friend till the very end .”1965” was however shelved for reasons which are still a mystery after so many years .
The “J.P.” movement reached its peak when “J.P.”directed his first war film , “Border” which was described as one of the best war films made in India after Chetan Anand’s black and white war film which was a classic, “Haqeeqat” in which new stars like Dharmendra , Sudhir , the singer Bhupendra and Priya Rajvansh played small but significant role .
“Border “opened the bright and wide gates of success for “J.P.”and he kept going to war with other war films like “LOC Kargil “, and “Refugee “which were all recognized as the most polished and genuine films about war and “J.P.”was now in the big league of filmmaker and the very name “J.P.”spelt class and the best of craftsmanship in every field of filmmaking .
He tried to go off his own track and directed “Umrao Jaan “even though he knew that Muzaffar Ali had made a classic of the same name with an award winning performance by Rekha and heart -warming music by Khayyam “.J.P.”said he had made the film as a tribute to his father , the veteran writer O.P.Dutta who had tried to make a film on the same subject in the fifties , but couldn’t . Incidentally , O.P.Dutta had written the dialogue for all the films directed by “J.P.”.
I once asked “J.P”about his fascination for war films and he had said ,”my brother , Deepak died during war with Pakistan in 1971 and my family and me were shattered .
I knew I would never be able to fight a war on my own and realised some inner force which kept goading me to make films about war and its many faces “.
“J.P.”had not thought about getting married till he had not established himself, but he change his mind when he met Bindiya Goswami , the actress who had made a name after being introduced by Mrs.Jaya Chakravarthy , the powerful mother of Hema Malini and had done films like “Khatta Meetha “, “Hamari Bahu Alka”and Ramesh Sippys film “Shaan “which came after the grand success of “Sholay “but flopped mi
serably . Bindiya was now the source of inspiration for “J.P.”,she gave up her career to support her husband in making his films .
“J.P.” had a negative feeling about film journalist and hardly entertain them . It was Bindiya who I had known before she came to films who introduced me to “J.P”and I don’t know what contribution I had made but “J.P.”had an entire PR department which was headed by Gopal Pandey who was the leading PR man of the time.
“J.P”had a team of journalists flown down to Bikaner where he was shooting for “Kshatriya “which had stars like Sunil Dutt and Sanjay Dutt and Vinod Khanna (or was it Dharmendra ?) and Sunny Deol , all of them in bare chest and with some of the most dangerous hand fights .
It was during this shooting in Bikaner that I had the opportunity to see the brave and courageous side of “J.P.”. Feroz Khan was shooting for his film “Yalgaar”in Bangalore and he wanted Sanjay to report for his shooting in Bangalore even though he didn’t have the dates of Sanjay .
Feroz sent some tough looking men by an helicopter to Bikaner . The helicopter landed a kilometer away from where “J.P.”was shooting with all his stars and thousands of onlookers . The men sent by Feroz Khan menacingly walked towards Sanjay , grabbed him by his hands and said ,”chalo khan sahab ne bulaaya hai “.
Sanjay looked helpless till “J.P.”went up to the men and said, “agar kisime himmat hai , toh Sanjay ko yaha se le jakar bataye . Uske dates mere pass hai aur usse Yamraj bhi yaha se nahi le ja sakta . Jakar tumhare Khan sahab ko bol dena “. The men left Sanjay and hastened towards their helicopter and flew away in fear of “J.P”(?)
“J.P”once wanted to make “Bandhuaa”a film about bonded labour with Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit for the first time, but the film didn’t go beyond the launching at R.K.Studios . In between making his films in the deserts of Rajasthan ,
“J.P”announced a love story, “Choodiyaan ” with Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit , but this dream too has remained unfulfilled .
His last war film , “Paltan”failed to work the same kind of magic his earlier war films had made . And it has all been quiet on the war front for”J.P.”and his One-Man Army .
WILL J.P.DUTTA FIGHT BACK ? I HOPE HE DOES . AND ON THIS BIRTHDAY OF THE ONE MAN ARMY I SEND UP MY BEST PRAYER FOR THE MAN WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BEND , BOW OR BREAK .