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|India Heritage:Performing Arts:Cinema In India:History:The Pioneers|
|Sohrab Merwanji Modi (1897-1984)Minerva Movietone|
Sohrab Modi in Pukar
Sohrab Modi (left) and Prithviraj on the sets of Sikandar
Sohrab Modi ,Mehtab and others in Jhansi ki Rani
Theatre was his first love and in an attempt to take it to a wider public (in the aftermath of talkie films), he set up Stage Film Company in 1935. Plays were filmed and shown, but the venture was doomed.
1935 - Khoon Ka Khoon.
An adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', the film marked Naseem Banu's entry into filmdom.
1936 - Saed-e-Havas.
This was an adaptation of 'King John' by Shakespeare.
Both films failed.
- Minerva Movietone launched.
1938 - Meetha Zahar.
The film dealt with the evils of alcoholism.
The film whilst dealing with the controversial subject of a Hindu woman's right to divorce, chose to play it safe by adopting an equivocal stand.
The films were highly successful but Modi was increasingly drawn to the historical theme. The larger-than-life characters and the opulence of court life were irresistible subjects.
The story of a jailor who keeps his wife prisoner in their home because of a love affair. Her lover had lost his sight : the jailor later falls in love with a blind woman. His wife lost her lover : the jailor loses his love.
The transformation of a rational man into a tyrant was chillingly portrayed by Modi.
1939 - Pukar.
Stellar performances by Naseem Banu and Chandramohan as Noorjehan and Jehangir, as also Kamaal Amrohi's dialogues were the highlights of the film. Jehangir's much-vaunted 'an eye for an eye' brand of justice was put to the test when his queen accidently kills a washerman.
1940 - Bharosa.
1941 - Sikandar.
Background - the battle of Jhelum. Alexander of Macedonia's victory over the proud ruler Porus is diluted by the growing respect of the victor towards the vanquished.
Screening of the film was banned in cantonment areas due to the subject of the film. Mahatma Gandhi's Civil Disobedience movement and the political turmoil in Europe as Hitler conquered most of the Continent were reasons for the censor's insecurity.
1942 - Phir Milenge.
1943 - Prithvi Vallabh.
1944 - Parakh.
1950 - Sheesh Mahal.
1953 - Jhansi Ki Rani.
Among the finest of Modi's films, it centres on Rani Laxmibai's courage against the East India Company and Lord Dalhousie's annexation policy. The famous line ''Main apni Jhansi nahin doongi'' (I will not surrender my Jhansi) and Mehtab's portrayal of the warrior queen are remembered to date.
1954 - Mirza Ghalib.
Replete with the immortal poetry of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, the film records his foray into the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last of the Mughal emperors. Also, Ghalib's love for a courtesan (played by the singer-actress Suraiya).
1957 - Nausherwan-e-Adil.
The film recalls Pukar in its plot of a ruler caught in the web of his own laws (as did Yahudi).
1958 - Yahudi.
1967 - Woh Koi Aur Hoga.
1971 - Ek Nari Ek Brahmachari.
1983 - Razia Sultan.
The film on the volatile subject of the empress Razia's love for a slave was a commercial failure but remains a highly regarded film.
Sohrab Modi acted in many films, and this together with his directorial skills rendered him a consummate film maker. His dialogue delivery, noble bearing and voice set him apart.
Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema.