Sunday, May 15, 2011

Love in Canada

No, it's not about Matthew Perry or Michael J. Fox or William Shatner...or a tell-all from my graduate school years at the University of Toronto. To celebrate finally booking my flight to Toronto for the 2011 IIFAs, here are some excerpts from a 1978 Filmfare article on the film Love in Canada called "Vinod Mehra: Shooting the Canadian Way." My status as an hono(u)rary Canadian demands I share this 70s take on Indo-Canadian interpersonal relations in the true north and star Vinod Mehra's thoughts on working in contemporary Hindi films, complete with snark from me in brackets.


"Love in Canada" deals with the problems that arise when people belonging to two different cultures and used to two different ways of life try to come closer. It is the story of a brain surgeon settled in Canada. His attitude towards life is still basically Indian. He does not like the [presumably white, going by the pictures] Canadian girl with whom he falls in love dancing cheek to cheek with someone [note from Beth: hello, Jab Jab Phool Khile!] nor her posing in bikinis.

Eventually they understand each other and come together but without losing their individual identities.

There is another couple in the film, different in upbringing and outlook, a playboy (Jeetendra) and a young Indian widow (Moushumi) from an orthodox Indian family.


Jeetendra and Moushumi featured in a roller coaster scene. "I too sat in one of the rear cars for the experience," Vinod [Mehra] remarked. "It was my first ride in a roller coaster. I used to think people on roller coasters screamed for the fun of it but now I found the screams just come out of you. I screamed like mad, every person screamed. And when they got out of it after just a minute's ride, they looked pale, as if they had just escaped death. It lasted about a minute and you felt like it was an eternity. The coaster traveled at 80 miles and hour, often taking a sharp curve and suddenly falling down the height of a ten story building...."

The hotel rooms all had attached kitchens. "The fridge was always flul of beer, mutton, ham, vegetables, curds, milk," Vinod said. "It was big fun: we cooked by turns, Jeetendra is a good cook, his chicken preparations are a specialty."

When the shooting was over Vinod went on a short holiday to America, his fifth visit to that country. In Las Vegas, he saw "Hallelujah Hollywood".... Some 500 topless women were dancing on the stage but their dresses were so colorful that you didn't notice the nudity part of it, Vinod says. Singers descended on the stage from the sky, from all sorts of places. A ship comes on the stage, a palace appears, then come elephants, monkeys, lions.
The article then discusses Vinod Mehra's career.
Vinod says some top heroines had declined to work with him but he has no quarrel with them. "After all this is a hero oriented industry and the heroine is all the time leaning on the hero. And when they reach the top the heroines are scared to work with middle cadre men like me."

But he had good relationships with younger actresses like Rekha, Moushumi, Reena Roy, Yogeeta Bali, Bindiya, and Asha Sachdev. "I never think of them as heroines," he says. "We have an informal relationship which I enjoy. The other day I got the only air conditioned room reserved for Reena Roy opened and occupied it. Everyone ewas worried about what would happen when Reena came. Some thought Reena would walk out of the studio and the shooting would be canceled. When Reena came and was told that I was in the room, she straightaway barged in and we shared the room. When she had to change she went into the next room. So did I."

Vinod blames both actors and journalists for the gossip mongering. Though hundreds of film magazines have sprung up in recent years, barring two or three magazines like Filmfare or "Madhuri," they have nothing serious to discuss. [So says the writer for Filmfare!] "Generally they have a section devoted to gossip, a second section also devoted to gossip, under a different heading, a third section devoted to gossip under a third heading, a fourth section, a fifth section...nothing but gossip in different styles and garb. And one or two star interviews where either the stars talk more than necessary or interviews cooked up by the magazine itself. If these magazines can devote even two or three pages to discuss serious aspects of cinema—you can talk of photography, editing, sound, themes, trends in cinemas in other countries, there are so many topics [amen!]—it would be not only informative, they would be doing a service to the cinema in this country. And let me assure you there will be lots of people interested in reading this."

The state of affairs in our industry can improve only if the Government steps in to help, says Vinod. It must plough back at least a small part of its income from films. "The government can finance good films. Or it can engage directors, writers, artistes, and others to work in films with good themes, films which will awaken people socially. Who will not act in a good film with a good theme and a good role? [I wish he had elaborated on what a "good theme" would be!] And when a good film or good role comes who talks of price? The Rajshri Productions are doing a good job; I might make a film for them."
—V. S. Gopalakrishnan

All images and text from Fimlfare, July 1–15, 1978.

4 comments:

harvey said...

A pity that nothing came out of it!
The story sounded interesting!

bollyviewer said...

"Eventually they understand each other and come together but without losing their individual identities." I wonder what "coming together without losing their individual identities" means in the context of 70s Bollywood! She stays 'herself' as long as she wears a saree, learns to manage a kitchen and (even more important) gives up dancing with anybody but her husband? :) I must admit that I am more interested in Jeetendra's "chicken preparations" - they sound yummy!

Shell said...

can't wait to meet you! Only 5 weeks or so to go!

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