Before there was Bollywood

Uma Anand, who passed away last week, played an important role in the landscape of hindi movies in Mumbai in the '40s. At the very first Cannes Film Festival, just after World War II ended, the movie Neecha Nagar which was directed by Chetan Anand (her husband then) and which starred he and Kamini Kaushal and Zohra Sehgal among others shared the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (Best Film) award!

Arguably one of the first movies in the parallel cinema, Neecha Nagar was inspired by a Gorky short story, and had Ravi Shankar as music director- and many of the IPTA stalwarts in support... Uma Anand did not do many more movies (although she co-wrote Taxi Driver, among others) , but moved to print (as journalist and editor) and moved on.

A couple of years ago she and her son, Ketan Anand brought out a book + DVD on Chetan Anand: The Poetics of Film that analyses the work in films and the craft of the veteran filmmaker who died in 1997. The 160-page book is a nostalgic biography of the filmmaker, vividly brought to life with telling photographs. The book is in two parts: the first by Uma Anand, relating his background and the events that shaped his life and work, and the second by Ketan Anand who worked with his father and his two uncles Dev Anand and Vijay Anand before branching out on his own.

Published by Himalaya Films, Mumbai Chetan Anand is listed in our Film Studies section. Rs 895, with DVD.

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