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Is there a factual error or a new surprising disclosure in Nandita Das’s MANTO? - An overview by Bobby Sing

23 Sep, 2018 | Articles on Cinema

As an appreciable, worth watching bio-pic on Saadat Hassan Manto’s last few years of life, Nandita Das’s second directorial venture is rich in its craft, execution, performances and a strongly recommended film, especially for the viewers who are well aware of the phenomenon called MANTO.
The detailed review of the film at BTC can be read at the following link:
However, an interesting insertion in the bio-pic creates a notable confusion related with the Hindi film actor SHYAM who was the closest friend of MANTO during his Bombay days.
In one of the film’s key sequence, Shyam is shown practicing the duet song “Tu Mera Chand Main Teri Chandni” (probably with Suraiya as it should be) singing the lines “Main Tera Raag Tu Meri Raagini” for film DILLAGI (1949) in front of music director Naushad
After a few seconds of his singing, Naushad says,
”Ek Kaam Karte Hain, Reharsal Aaj Khatam Karte Hain” in a dissatisfying mood.
“Nahin Naushad Saab, Ho Jayega, Ek Baar Aur…….” requests Shyam
“Koi Baat Nahin, Kal Recording Studio Mein Ho Jayega, 9 Bajey Miltey Hain” assures Naushad and walks away. 

Shyam Chadha

As Shyam moves out of the room, he finds Manto standing outside, who teases him saying, “Kya Ho Gaya Mere Star, Aaj Tumhara ‘Dillagi’ Mein Dil Nahin Lag Raha?” (the dialogue smartly mentions the film’s title).
So as per this particular as well as focused sequence, Naushad is shown rehearsing with the hero Shyam, making him sing one of the famous songs for film DILLAGI, whereas in reality the song has been sung by another singer, whose name also happens to be Shyam as duly mentioned in its credits and LP.
A different person and not Shyam Chadha (the famous star), this other Shyam used to be an actor-cum-singer (later mostly seen as villain or his associate) who also sang songs for other heroes. And in DILLAGI (1949) it’s the voice of this other Shyam giving playback for the Star Shyam Chadha doing lip-sync on screen. As reported the second Shyam's real name was Syed Gul Hamid.  
What’s even more interesting is the fact that in DILLAGI both of them were there in the cast using the same name Shyam, with one doing the lead hero’s role and other doing a negative one along with singing the songs for the hero.
To avoid confusion in names, their spellings were written differently in the later years as SHYAM (for the actor) and SHAAM KUMAR for the singer-cum-actor making it clear.
In support of the facts mentioned above, Shyam’s nephew Sh. Bimal Chadha, a veteran journalist residing in Delhi personally confirms that Shyam never sang.
Sh. Pavan Jha, reputed columnist, historian and film connoisseur confirms it in his pictorial tweet HERE
Sh. Arunkumar Deshmukh, author of the book ‘Forgotten Artists of Early Cinema and The Same Name Confusion’ penned along Prof. Surjit Singh mentions it in one of its chapters and in a blogpost at Atul-Song-A-Day at this LINK.

The other Shyam

Memsaabstory writes a complete article on the other person as Shyam Kumar – The Cracktastic Villain.... HERE.
The site dedicated to Geeta Dutt also mentions it in its page on Naushad at this LINK.
Pakistan’s weekly magazine THE FRIDAY TIMES quotes the same fact in their article on “The Punjabi Contribution to Cinema”..... HERE.
Critic Sharad Raj also writes about the confusion in his review of film MANTO at the reputed website Upperstall at this LINK.
And then, Raju Bharatan - the renowned journalist and author clearly mentions it in his book NAUSHADNAAMA in the words of Suraiya as,
“Then there were two prize Dillagi duets rendered, do bear in mind, not with film’s hero Shyam, but with the movie’s villain: Shyam Kumar – aspiring, then, to sing playback for the hero! Two duets going as ‘Tu Mera Chand Main Teri Chandni’ and ‘Zalim Zamana Mujh Ko’. While recording those two duets with Shyam Kumar – duets due to be picturized, later, upon the film’s hero Shyam and me in Dillagi – I watched Naushad closely for a reaction.” - (Chapter 7, Page 105)
However, in Nandita Das’s MANTO, its really strange that we get to see Naushad rehearsing the song “Tu Mera Chand Main Teri Chandni” with the actor Shyam who in reality was not a singer and never sang in the films.
Now there can be two possible explanations/justifications for the scene:

One - The director in her research probably discovered the (never before) unknown fact that the music director Naushad actually first tried the song with Shyam - the actor, but later recorded it with the other Shyam for a better rendition, as the idea didn’t work out with the hero.
Two - The actor Shyam was actually rehearsing lip-syncing for his song-shoot with Naushad and not for singing it.
Frankly there are still possibilities for the first case to be true, bringing forward a new hidden fact thoroughly researched by MANTO’s backstage team contradicting all the authors, journalists, columnists, researchers and film connoisseurs mentioned above. 
But the second seems to be out of question as why a music director like Naushad would make an actor rehearse for lip-syncing the song and that too with the musicians, also setting up the next morning’s time for the recording studio.
Anyway, since the scene is right there, prominently incorporated in the film, director Nandita Das and her team must be having a solid reasoning for the same, which would be interesting to know if this write-up somehow reaches her or the team.
So let’s hope for an answer soon.


Tags : A factual error or a new surprising disclosure in Nandita Das’s MANTO - by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing, Confusion over Shyam actor and Shyam singer, Manto and Shyam
23 Sep 2018 / Comments ( 4 )
Shah Nawaz

First case could be true, only Nandita Das can clarify this.


Bobby Sing

Yes Shah Nawaz,
Only the first case can be true if this is not a mistake.
Keep Visiting and Writing in,

Naiyar Jafri

Saw MANTO last nyt, and in order to get the correct details abt the various artistes playing iconic actors I stumbled upon ur article (which in fact is very gud) .... before even finished reading and still not aware of the two options coming up, the first option came to my mind too.... my interpretation is that this scene serves another purpose as well.... to show actor Shyam in a mood that is doubtful of his own career and the success that he later achieved with the film Dillagi.... thanks for ur time .... Naiyar

Bobby Sing

Thanks for writing in.
Your assumption is interesting.
But actually I wrote the article after discussing it with my elderly friend, who is from the family of Shyam and hence an authentic source for the info.
Keep Visiting and writing in.

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