Nasir Hussain: A trendsetting film director

Nasir Hussain: A trendsetting film director

Two weeks ago, this column was about one epic filmmaker, K Asif who rewrote the rules of Indian cinema with his all-time great ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. We...

Two weeks ago, this column was about one epic filmmaker, K Asif who rewrote the rules of Indian cinema with his all-time great ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. We have yet another helmsman – Nasir Hussain (1926-2002), who is remembered fondly by generations of Hindi film lovers for his brand of films, a delectable blend of action and romance, music and masti.

Sustaining a genre over decades, as trends changed rapidly in the movie world is by no means an easy task. Yet Nasir Hussain seemed a master in matching expectations of audiences, both old and new. As he went about his task diligently, he set fresh benchmarks, which were followed by a whole legion of directors over the years.

As a director, his repertoire is 14 films in a span of over three decades, beginning with ‘Tumsa Nahin Dekha’ in 1957 and ending it with ‘Qayamat Se QayamatTak’ in 1988, the launch pad of his nephew, Aamir Khan who was earlier seen in one of his 1970s hits ‘Yaadon Ki Baraat’ as a child artiste.

Observers of Hindi cinema credit him for pioneering the Bollywood masala film genre, which went on to be a sustainable activity all through the 1970s and 80s. From here on, Hussain moved on to unearthing the musical romance trend, which was the mainstay of movie makers all through the 1990s, when the delectable combo of Kumar Sanu and Nadeem Shravan made the millennials sway to their haunting music and melodies.

Not only this. In post-independent India, Hussain is credited for giving a break to a woman music director – Usha Khanna - for the first time in 1959 with his film ‘Dil Deke Dekho’, a big hit with Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh playing the lead roles. His first colour film in 1963 was ‘Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon’. Four years down the line, his film of 1967 ‘Baharon Ke Sapne’ was a black and white one, but he shot its evergreen song ‘Kya Jaanu Saajan’ in colour, as a striking contrast.

Of course, till date, people have not forgotten the eternally hummable number ‘Tum Bin Jaaoon Kahan’ in ‘Pyar Ka Mausam’, wherein the redoubtable RD Burman used the voices of both Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi as playback for Bharat Bhushan and Shashi Kapoor respectively. The jury is still out whose version is more famous, even as mixed versions of the song of both the singers are doing the rounds in social media currently.

If this was the golden run of success, Nasir Hussain had all through the 1960s, the ‘70s extended his glory to stratospheric heights. ‘Caravan’ in 1971 was a runaway hit, which was followed by the cult ‘Yaadon Ki Baraat’ in 1973. A relatively damp ‘Aangan’ followed in the same year, a blip of sorts, but the hit machine bounced back with ‘Hum Kisise Kum Naheen’ in 1977.

All of the above had a common point – RD Burman - who bagged his first hit with the 1966 release ‘Teesri Manzil’ produced by Nasir Hussain. He went on to be a permanent fixture with the director by working with his films till 1985, a period close to two decades. Another repeat highlight was the continual casting of Asha Parekh as his heroine for close to 12 years, where she featured in all his hit films. The dalliance between the two was an open secret and the leading lady went public about it in her recent autobiography.

Like all good things coming to an end, the 1980s turned out to be a reality check for this accomplished celebrity as a relatively directionless phase of the cinema blighted its progress. Despite leading stars like Rishi Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure in ‘Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai’ (1981) and the much-in-the-news pair of Sunny Deol and Dimple Kapadia in the next two ventures of his, the game was up for Hussain as they tanked at the BO.

A small consolation was the 1992 film ‘Jo JeetaWohi Sikander’, which was directed by his son Mansoor Khan for which he wrote the script and dialogues, which was an all-family affair and turned out to hit the bull’s eye. Yet, he is an icon who cannot be forgotten by serious followers of the movie industry. Nasir Hussain died on March 13, 2002, at the age of 76.

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