RAANJHANAA, Varanasi and Hindi Cinema
RAANJHANAA is perhaps the first full length feature film by the mainstream producers and directors focusing on the enigma and mystique of Varanasi. It indeed is a matter of self-trepidation that while Varanasi has been arguably the oldest city in the world, it has not got the due cinematic attention that it ought to have received, though it has been compensated to an extent by the attention that has bestowed on it by the filmmakers from around the world. As the film releases today, it is a worthwhile occasion to take a trip down memory lane and see the films which have used Varanasi as a backdrop in one way or the other:
1. APARAJITO: it was the master, Satyajit Roy who shot the magnificence of the ghats of Varanasi in his black and white master piece which perhaps would have been instrumental in translating the magic of this city around the world.
2. RAAM TERI GANGA MAILI: Symbolically Varanasi was used in the climax shot of this film, underlining the fact that by the time the holy river Ganga reaches Varanasi it becomes polluted and gasps for breath, marauded and systematically exploited by the humanity on its banks. It would have been more realistic had the film been shot on the real sets.
3. LAGA CHUNRI MEIN DAAG: Pradeep Sorcar's film starring Rani Mukherjee, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kunal Kapoor and Anupam Kher also dwelt upon the fact that how innocence of the small town citizens is lost when they try to eke out their living in the metropolitan cities.
4. BENARAS- A LOVE STORY: Directed by Prakash Jha and starring Urmila Matondkar in the lead role it was a film that was shot in Varanasi and captured the old world charm of the city in great detail, but it could not make a major headway at the box office.
5.WATER: A part of Deepa Mehta's triology, WATER focused on the state of decay that the widows had to endure in this city and it indeed was an eye opener for the audience around the world as also in the country.
6.GHATAK: Raj Kumar Santoshi's magnum opus had few scenes from Varanasi, especially which showed Sunny Deol indulging in wrestling on the ghats of Varanasi and the contrast of cultural nuance that Santoshi had used in comparing value systems of Varanasi manifest from the role enacted by Amrish Puri and Sunny Deol, and the value systems that his other son had acquired after reaching Mumbai was a nice contrast.
7.MOHALLA ASSI: Based on literary work of Kashi Nath Singh- Kashi Ka Assi which has won various literary awards, this film has been in making for quite a long time, and when it releases, it should unravel the flair of comedy by Sunny Deol, the lead star, as it is out and out comedy.
8.ISHAAQ: Prateik Babbar and Amyra Dastoor starrer ISHAAQ is another film in offing that has been shot in Varanasi.
Let's hope that RANJHANA gets the blessings of Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Varanasi and it sets in motion for more number of films to be shot in Varanasi.
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