Cult film

Rajkummar Rao isn’t the only one who is trapped – he shares his agony with Sunil Dutt in ‘Yaadein’

Both films document the travails of men stuck in an apartment.

The March 17 release Trapped, about a man stuck in an apartment, and Sunil Dutt’s Yaadein (1964), a solo-act drama about a man returning to an empty house, couldn’t be more dissimilar. The characters are in a house arrest situation, but their efforts to break free aren’t alike.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped is the story of Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), who finds himself locked in an apartment he cannot break out of. In Yaadein, Anil (Sunil Dutt) returns to his apartment after work and is shocked to find out that his wife Priya (Nargis Dutt) and child have left him.

While Shaurya panics and tries to escape the apartment because he has a date to keep with his girlfriend Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa), Anil loiters inside his spacious apartment and doesn’t step out to look for his family even though he is free to move.

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Trapped (2017).

Unlike in Trapped, where the camera follows Shaurya around the apartment, we stay with Anil for the duration of the 113-minute Yaadein. The narrative has experimental layers and jumps between genres. The movie becomes one long show reel for Sunil Dutt’s capabilities as an actor, producer and director.

After appearing in BR Chopra’s multi-starrer films such as Gumrah (1963), Waqt (1965) and Humraaz (1967), Dutt’s career had flourished enough to encourage him to branch out as a producer. His first production, Yeh Raastey Hain Pyar Ke (1963), was inspired by the sensational Nanavati adultery and murder case.

In his next production, Moni Bhattacharjee’s Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), Dutt played a hot-headed dacoit. Emboldened by the movie’s success, Dutt embarked on Yaadein the following year.

The opening credits of Yaadein proudly champion it as the “World’s First One-Actor Movie”. Dutt took a big gamble with Yaadein. The movie’s mix of arthouse and commercial elements divided critics and moviegoers.

Som Dutt, the actor’s brother and production manager, was apprehensive about the project. In Kishwar Desai’s book Darlingji, a biography of Sunil and his wife Nargis, Som Dutt told the author that he had advised his brother against Yaadein. An undeterred Sunil Dutt said, “You don’t know, it will definitely run.”

In the opening scene, Anil returns to an empty house and begins to fret and fume. He then sobs and prays for Priya to return home. He launches into several lengthy monologues, revealing in one about an altercation he had with Priya the night before. Cartoonist Mario Miranda’s murals appear in flashback scenes along with balloons standing in for real actors.

Yaadein is devoid of formulaic elements, but is a Hindi film ever complete without a song? Lata Mangeshkar croons Dekha Hai Sapna Koi, giving Yaadein its dreamy ending.

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Dekha Hai Sapna Koi from Yaadein (1964).

The film was inspired by incidents from Dutt’s life. Nargis was attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival as a judge, and had taken their children Sanjay and Namrata with her. Dutt was consumed by the silence in the house. The experience encouraged him to explore the idea of whether loneliness and grief affect men the same way they do women – and whether these emotional states have been depicted in a solo performance in cinema.

Raaj Grover, who worked on the film’s production, told Kishwar Desai that the unit shot for 47 days in Kardar studio in Mumbai. Everyone, including Nargis, wondered what Dutt was up to, but the stubborn actor was confident. “I will achieve wonders with this film,” he predicted.

Dutt shot the film in black and white at a time when colour film was popular. With an unconventional plot, little room for multiple songs, and no co-stars, the film was a box office risk. The reviews didn’t help – the influential Filmfare magazine called it a “worthy experiment”.

A Hindi newspaper wrote a ditty about the film:

“Suni Dutt! Sunil Dutt!! Sunil Dutt !!!
Duniya uski soojh par, jabki de rahi hai daad,
Kalakaar chotey karen ro ro kar fariyaad!
Ro ro kar fariyaad, haath kya unke aaya?
Saheb ney apney matlab ka chitra banaya!”

“(While the world is paying tributes to his intelligence
All the junior artistes are crying and pleading before him!
For what have they got out of his film?
He has made a movie meant only for himself!)”

Friends and colleagues appreciated Dutt’s brave experiment, but moviegoers were less enthusiastic. “We found out that the film would be removed in a week,” Grover told Desai. The panic-stricken team decided to invite dignitaries from Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka to watch the movie and talk it up in the media.

Yaadein was selected by the Berlin International Film Festival for a screening. The hype helped the film run in theatres for five weeks. Yaadein later won the Grand Prix at the Frankfurt Film Festival in 1967, and was mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records in the category of fewest actors in a narrative film – a record that Trapped comes close to but still cannot beat.

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Yaadein (1964).
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From catching Goan dances in Lisbon to sampling langar in Munich

A guide to the surprising Indian connect in Lisbon and Munich.

For several decades, a trip to Europe simply meant a visit to London, Paris and the Alps of Switzerland. Indians today, though, are looking beyond the tried and tested destinations and making an attempt to explore the rest of Europe as well. A more integrated global economy, moreover, has resulted in a more widespread Indian diaspora. Indeed, if you know where to look, you’ll find traces of Indian culture even in some unlikely cities. Lisbon and Munich are good cities to include in your European sojourn as they both offer compelling reasons to visit, thanks to a vibrant cultural life. Here’s a guide to everything Indian at Lisbon and Munich, when you wish to take a break from all the sight-seeing and bar crawling you’re likely to indulge in.

Lisbon

Lisbon is known as one of the most vibrant cities in Western Europe. On its streets, the ancient and the modern co-exist in effortless harmony. This shows in the fact that the patron saint day festivities every June make way for a summer that celebrates the arts with rock, jazz and fado concerts, theatre performances and art exhibitions taking place around the city. Every two years, Lisbon also hosts the largest Rock festival in the world, Rock in Rio Lisboa, that sees a staggering footfall.

The cultural life of the city has seen a revival of sorts under the current Prime Minister, Antonio Costa. Costa is of Indian origin, and like many other Indian-origin citizens prominent in Portugal’s political, business and entertainment scenes, he exemplifies Lisbon’s deep Indian connect. Starting from Vasco Da Gama’s voyage to India, Lisbon’s historic connection to Goa is well-documented. Its traces can be still be seen on the streets of both to this day.

While the Indian population in Lisbon is largely integrated with the local population, a few diaspora groups are trying to keep their cultural roots alive. Casa de Goa, formed in the ‘90s, is an association of people of Goans, Damanese and Diuese origins residing in Lisbon. Ekvat (literally meaning ‘roots’ in Konkani) is their art and culture arm that aims to preserve Goan heritage in Portugal. Through all of its almost 30-year-long existence, Ekvat has been presenting traditional Goan dance and music performances in Portugal and internationally.

Be sure to visit the Champlimaud Centre for the Unknown, hailed a masterpiece of contemporary architecture, which was designed by the critically-acclaimed Goan architect Charles Correa. If you pay attention, you can find ancient Indian influences, like cut-out windows and stand-alone pillars. The National Museum of Ancient Art also has on display a collection of intricately-crafted traditional Goan jewellery. At LOSTIn - Esplanada Bar, half of the people can be found lounging about in kurtas and Indian shawls. There’s also a mural of Bal Krishna and a traditional Rajasthani-style door to complete the desi picture. But it’s not just the cultural landmarks that reflect this connection. The integration of Goans in Lisbon is so deep that most households tend to have Goa-inspired textiles and furniture as a part of their home decor, and most families have adapted Goan curries in their cuisine. In the past two decades, the city has seen a surge in the number of non-Goan Indians as well. North Indian delicacies, for example, are readily available and can be found on Zomato, which has a presence in the city.

If you wish to avoid the crowds of the peak tourist season, you can even consider a visit to Lisbon during winter. To plan your trip, check out your travel options here.

Munich

Munich’s biggest draw remains the Oktoberfest – the world’s largest beer festival for which millions of people from around the world converge in this historic city. Apart from the flowing Oktoberfest beer, it also offers a great way to get acquainted with the Bavarian folk culture and sample their traditional foods such as Sauerkraut (red cabbage) and Weißwurst (a white sausage).

If you plan to make the most of the Oktoberfest, along with the Bavarian hospitality you also have access to the services of the Indian diaspora settled in Munich. Though the Indian community in Munich is smaller than in other major European destinations, it does offer enough of a desi connect to satisfy your needs. The ISKCON temple at Munich observes all major rituals and welcomes everyone to their Sunday feasts. It’s not unusual to find Germans, dressed in saris and dhotis, engrossed in the bhajans. The Art of Living centre offers yoga and meditation programmes and discourses on various spiritual topics. The atmosphere at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Sabha is similarly said to be peaceful and accommodating of people of all faiths. They even organise guided tours for the benefit of the non-Sikhs who are curious to learn more about the religion. Their langar is not to be missed.

There are more options that’ll help make your stay more comfortable. Some Indian grocery stores in the city stock all kinds of Indian spices and condiments. In some, like Asien Bazar, you can even bargain in Hindi! Once or twice a month, Indian film screenings do take place in the cinema halls, but the best way to catch up on developments in Indian cinema is to rent video cassettes and VCDs. Kohinoor sells a wide range of Bollywood VCDs, whereas Kumaras Asean Trades sells Tamil cassettes. The local population of Munich, and indeed most Germans too, are largely enamoured by Bollywood. Workshops on Bollywood dance are quite popular, as are Bollywood-themed events like DJ nights and dance parties.

The most attractive time to visit is during the Oktoberfest, but if you can brave the weather, Munich during Christmas is also a sight to behold. You can book your tickets here.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indian diaspora abroad, even lesser-known European destinations offer a satisfying desi connect to the proud Indian traveller. Lufthansa, which offers connectivity to Lisbon and Munich, caters to its Indian flyers’ priorities and understands how proud they are of their culture. In all its India-bound flights and flights departing from India, flyers can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalised by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.