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Sasadhar Mukherji (1909 – 1990)

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Sasadhar Mukherji with Asha Parekh

As the leading light of three successive studios — Bombay Talkies, Filmistan and Filmalaya, Sasadhar Mukherji was justly famous for making films that represented cloth cut to the viewers’ exact proportions.

In keeping with Himanshu Rai’s policy to employ graduates, Sasadhar, an MSc, was offered the chance to work with Bombay Talkies as a sound recordist. Soon, he graduated to being the producer of the trilogy of silver jubilees: Kangan (’39), Bandhan (’40) and Jhoola (’41), starring his brother-in-law Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitnis. Mukherji’s romance with Chitnis resulted in Bombay Talkies not renewing her contract when his wife put her foot down. Mukherji’s professional life too was caught up in a maelstrom after Himanshu Rai’s death. A power struggle erupted between Rai’s widow, Devika Rani and Mukherji.

Despite producing the famous blockbuster, Kismet (’43), Mukherji left Bombay Talkies to start Filmistan along with two other partners. He struck lucky with the letter `S’ in a row of hits like Shehnai, Shaheed, Samadhi, Sangram and ,Sargam. Later came two gigantic superhits — Anarkali (’53) and Nagin (’54).

Mukherji’s restless spirit now propelled him to construct his own studio — Filmalaya. Picking on a youthful pair (Shammi Kapoor and debutante Asha Parekh) and using pop music, Filmalaya’s first film, Dil Deka Dekho (’59), announced the imminent arrival of a new decade. After Asha Parekh, he discovered Sadhana (Love In Simla, ’60) and recommended Saira Banu to brother Subodh (Junglee, ’61) before retiring at his peak in 1964.

His keen eye for talent induced music maestro, O.P. Nayyar, to laud him saying that Mukherji would inspire even his ashes after his death.

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