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MASOOM (1983) - A must watch gem & its link with MAN WOMAN & CHILD (1983)

08 Mar, 2009 | Movies To See Before You Die / Drama / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / M

The first movie of director Shekhar Kapur who later shifted base to Hollywood after getting an instant international recognition post BANDIT QUEEN (1994), this is certainly one of the most sensitive and intelligent Hindi films made on the subject of Polygamy. Never making you feel as the director’s first attempt, MASOOM has a brilliant script progression executed delicately as per the Indian sensibilities. Plus its fabulous performances (Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi along with the kids including Baby Urmila) and exceptional soundtrack (R.D. Burman & Gulzar) help it to reach much greater heights in totality.
Widely appreciated by both masses and the classes together 'Masoom' is actually based on the novel by Erich Segal, called “Man ,Woman & Child” and the story is about an “innocent but illegitimate” child brought home to live with the family. It caringly talks about the dilemma faced by a wife and her children in accepting the stranger kid as a new permanent member of the family. And Shekhar beautifully captures the tender moments involving both the children and the lead couple superbly using all the melodious songs.
However there is an interesting twist in the story where we also have a movie based on the same novel released in the same year and that too named after the book itself as “Man Woman & Child”.  The movie is directed by Dick Richards and has its screenplay written by the original writer Erich Segal himself. So obviously the authentic adaptation is the English flick having a possibly inspired Indian version once again.

Nevertheless, despite having this discouragingly undisclosed inspirational angle, MASOOM still remains a must watch indeed for every true lover of Hindi Cinema unarguably.

Tags : Masoom & Man Woman & Child, Inspired Movies, Inspired Cinema, Bollywood Plagiarism, Plagiarism in Hindi Cinema, Copied Movies, Movies Inspired From, Borrowed Concepts, Inspired Plots, Bollywood & Hollywood, Reviews by Bobby Sing, Bollywood Gets Inspired, Cinema Gets Inspired, Bollywood & World Cinema, Inspiration from World Cinema
08 Mar 2009 / Comments ( 6 )
Neel Trivedi

Hey Bobby,

Excellent write-up on Masoom, one of my favorite Bollywood films of all time. Here is some trivia taken from interviews by Shekhar Kapur and Gulzar:

Gulzar, in a Filmfare article, said Shekhar Kapur told him he wanted a story based on the novel Man Woman & Child. He asked Gulzar to read the book, but Gulzar declined, opting for just a basic outline of the story from Shekhar and writing the screenplay from there. Hence, there\'s a lot of originality in the film.

Shekhar has said in multiple interviews that he went to the producer\'s house pitiching a different story all together. When the producer looked bored, Shekhar\'s eyes darted to his bookshelf where he saw a copy of Man Woman & Child. Having read the book before, he started narrating the story to the producer, who despite having the book, was completely clueless and thought it was Shekhar\'s original idea.

I wasn\'t sure if you were aware of these anecdotes as you didn\'t mention them in your article.

Either way, keep up the great work!

Bobby Sing

Hi Neel,

Thanks for writing in with a valuable insertion. However it will be great if you can send me a scan of that magazine article.
Please let me know if that would be possible.


Neel Trivedi

I couldn\'t scan the article but I\'ve reprinted it verbatim.
It\'s Gulzar\'s Filmfare article as mentioned in my previous comment.

Shekhar Kapur\'s story was told by him in an interview by Vir Sanghvi which I couldn\'t find at the moment.

"No one writes better nonsense than me".. Gulzar at his best

What has sustained you for so long, people often ask me. The answer: first-time directors. I\'ve imbibed so much from their zeal and their enthusiasm. When they\'re new, they\'re brimming with energy, there\'s so much going on in their head. They want to do everything in their first film. So while you\'re tackling their enthusiasm, you\'re learning along with them. I genuinely believe this is what has sustained me for so long.

I\'ve had the opportunity of penning the first film for many a director. Off-hand, I remember writing Andaaz for Ramesh Sippy, Gharonda for Bhimsain, Ek Pal for Kalpana Lajmi, New Delhi Times for Romesh Sharma, Palkon Ki Chaon Mein for Meraj, Hip Hip Hurray for Prakash Jha, Filhaal for my daughter Meghna, Saathiya for Shaad Ali, Chupke Se for Shona Urvashi.

Shekhar Kapur\'s Masoom was also one of them. Shekhar had just switched lanes from acting to direction and he was very excited about his new venture. I had to write the script and the screenplay for his first film, he said. To begin with, he narrated a story which I liked very much. He asked me whether I\'d read Eric Segal\'s novel Man, Woman And Child. I hadn\'t. He wanted to know whether I wanted to read it now that I knew the story. I refused, saying his narration was enough. I told him, let it remain with me, let it churn inside. Then, after I\'ve written it, if you feel the script lacks something, and you feel I should read the novel, I\'ll do it. He told me not to read the novel and to work on my instinct. (Incidentally, I still haven\'t got around to reading the novel.)

I drew a general graph of my script and then went away to Bangalore, to my favourite haunt, the West End hotel, to write the screenplay (I\'ve written all my scripts at this hotel).

I remember Bosky had her summer holidays, so I took her along; I thought it would be a good outing for her too.

Shekhar joined us there after a few days. He had just got into a relationship with Medha and was he on a high! He simply couldn\'t stop talking about her. Every time he sat with me, he would start raving about her. It was a naya naya romance, so I could understand his need to talk. Even a blind man could tell that he was terribly in love.

But his ramblings would disturb me a lot. So every morning, I\'d deposit Bosky and Shekhar at the poolside and go up to my room to write. It became a kind of ritual. He\'d teach Bosky swimming the whole morning, then he\'d come up to my room and I would narrate a few scenes to him, he would then talk about Medha and then I would get back to work once again.

It was while writing the script that the lines Tujhse naraaz nahin zindagi, hairan hoon main, tere masoom sawalon se pareshaan hoon main came to me. Shekhar reacted very intensely to them too. So we decided to use them in a song.
We retained the lines for the mukhda and I wrote the antaras when we came back from Bangalore and Pancham (R D Burman) and I sat on the songs. Shekhar wanted a new voice for the male version of the song and he sent for Anoop Ghoshal. Pancham liked his voice too. But I had to work a lot on his diction because his Bengali accent would creep in. For instance, he\'d say hoiraan hoon main instead of hairaan hoon main. And whenever I corrected him, Pancham glared at me: Theek to bol raha hai. I retorted, you\'re a Bengali, how would you know the right pronunciation? His accent notwithstanding, Anoop\'s voice has a charm, and because his rendition is very kacha, not perfect, it sounds very heart-rending and honest, straight from the heart.

For another song situation in which Naseeruddin Shah and Saeed Jaffrey get drunk, Shekhar told me, Gulzar saab, please don\'t be poetic in this song. I want ordinary lines, something which two Punjabis would recite after getting drunk. The result was Huzur is qadar bhi na itra ke chaliye. Funnily enough, when we met up in London years later, we were discussing music one evening, when he told me, Gulzar saab, that song wasn\'t ordinary!

Shekhar is a very passionate director and it was a pleasure to work with him. Also he had definite views about what he wanted. So much so that we were at loggerheads about the children\'s song. He was absolutely sure he didn\'t want a regular song. His reasoning was: how can kids sing a song with perfect lyrics? He wanted all three kids to speak their own mind. I replied, how would they do that? So we had a huge argument about that. But Shekhar insisted he wanted the kids to throw irregular lines at each other. In fact, he had riddles written in English, which he wanted the kids to spout. Frankly, I was confused. So was Pancham because there was no metre to anything that he was saying. And after all the discussions, even Shekhar himself was confused as to what to do.

Then he spoke to Shabana about it. And the next day he grumbled good-naturedly, Because of you, I got yelled at by Shabana.� I was baffled. Why, what did I do, I asked him. He replied, Shabana told me sternly, \'Get out of his way when it comes to children\'s songs. He\'s the best at nonsense rhymes.\' After that he gave me a free hand to write the song. And thus came Lakdi ki kaathi, kaathi pe ghoda.

And after all these years, I still believe no one writes better nonsense than me.


Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot Neel Trviedi for your huge effort in writing the complete text and its indeed going to be very useful for everyone reading it.
However do let me know the issue details of this magazine since I might be able to get it.

With a big thanks once again,

Neel Trivedi

I believe it was Filmfare, November or December of 2005.

Bobby Sing

Thanks for giving that specific details Neel Trivedi and keep visiting & writing in.

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