Untold, Incomplete and Unreleased…

Let’s start with the obvious. India is easily the largest Film ‘Industry’ the world over or what one could call the largest Institution of the Imaginary. And yet even though we release films by the hundreds every year, there are many, many more that fail to make it to the finish line.

A film has a long, arduous journey before it finally hits the screens and even after with obstacles abounding at every stage. How many films are announced in the hope that once a current project will be successful, the next will take off with the same team only to come to a crashing halt when the earlier one tanks? Then, there are the lot that even make it to the floors, only to be unable to complete their shooting. Some luckier ones finish their shoot and struggle to move further and it is even more frustrating  for the ones that are complete but lying unsold and hence, unreleased.

A lot of films are stuck due to market dictates. A star’s saleability dipping or a previous film crashing quickly puts the brakes on a new project. I myself have been witness to a project I had done the screenplay for way back in 1995 halting not once but twice with a different cast each time thanks to the heroes being considered no longer economically viable. You can check aboriginalbluemountains for more information.

Another factor is of course the mercy of the star. Once a star is signed up, he or she has to be ‘kind’ enough to give dates, adhere to them and see the film is completed on time. Thankfully, stars and filmmakers appear comparatively more committed today looking at the high stakes involved. But who can forget possibility the worst era of Hindi cinema, the 1980s to the mid 1990s, where it was not unusual for a film to limp towards a release after 2-3 years having gone hugely over budget only to flop spectacularly since what was the flavour of the month on a particular Friday 3 years ago is no longer so. Hmmm, the market again…

Little wonder we are in an era where marketing and hype is of utmost importance. A filmmaker can only say he or she has made a feature film after it has a decent theatrical release and is seen by audiences. And as the industry is still such a star dominated one and at a loss as to what to do with the smaller films and how to promote them, some well deserving films I have seen in recent times – Daayen Ya Bayeen, Doosra or Antardwand are fighting their battles to get to the theatres.

Sometimes it is the filmmakers themselves who will never let a film release unless they are completely satisfied with it. Kamal Amrohi took 14 years to make Pakeezah (1972) and another 12 to bring Razia Sultan (1983) to the silver screen, while Guru Dutt began and scrapped many films without a thought to the money he was losing if he was dissatisfied with the way the film was shaping up. But such artists are rare.

Then there are other spicy reasons. It is said the Dilip Kumar-Suraiya starrer Janwar came to a sudden halt as after a romantic scene, the hero made a not so nice comment about the heroine to his cronies and at that time being a bigger star than he, she simply walked out of the project when she heard what he had said about her.

And then there is the entire system of raising finance from the market of course, which is another nightmare altogether and the less said about the entry of the so called corporate entity into the world of entertainment, the better!

OK, I am digressing. This piece is not really meant to be some deep analysis of what ails the Hindi film Industry or an essay on the fate of incomplete films. But being an avid collector of old Bollywood memorabilia particularly the song booklets of yore and other stuff, I came across some announcements of films that in their time in the1950s, could not take off, or lay incomplete. As one looks at these, one can only wistfully imagine what might have been…

This film was announced as a forthcoming attraction by Nigaristan India Films starring their earlier pair of Moti Mahal (1952), Suraiya and Ajit. The flopping of Motilal Mahal put paid to this.


Nargis and Kishore Kumar. Talk about the odd couple!


The unaffiliated Marxist Zia Sarhadi and Madhubala. Was this to be another IPTA type influenced realistic film like Hum Log (1951) or Footpath (1953)?


Back to Suraiya. Another unrealised film. Seems quite a bit was shot though judging from the poster.
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  1. I would KILL to know what Dilip said about Suraiya 😀

    Even so many films which WERE completed and released are so elusive today 🙁 It’s very hard to be a Hindi film fan. Very very hard indeed. (Especially if you don’t speak Hindi….)

  2. Well memsaab, I remember reading years ago in the gossip section of some old film magazine that apparently after a shot where Dilip Kumar had to caress Suraiya, he commented “Maide ki Bori Jaisi Hai!” Meaning she is like a sack of flour! 🙂

    By the way if you ever get a DVD of a film called Film Hi Film do check it out. Pran plays a Chandulal Shah type down in the dumps producer-director who decides to make a comeback with a film starring newcomers since established stars will not work with him and to train the newcomers he shows them scenes from films and what they did was use scenes from incomplete films! I remember extracts from a Raj Kapoor film where he has a talking dog for company, a song I think from Sajan ki Galiyan starring Dev Anand and Sadhana and directed by Raj Khosla and a scene from Shikwa starring Dilip Kumar and Nutan.

  3. OOH thank you 🙂 A sack of flour! LOL! I have Film Hi Film in my cart at induna. Must place an order soon 😀 There’s a Helen song in there too that never was released.

  4. Loved the posters! Chin Chow!!! Suraiya in a body suit surrounded by Chinese looking bandits about to decapitate her – WOW! Seems to be a Freudian take on ‘Indo-Chini Bhai Bhai’ or rather the lack of it 🙂
    Also very intrigued by the Nargis – Kishore Kumar line-up. Was it the on the theme of Beauty and the Tramp?!

  5. Monish, Could be. We know how often Nargis acted with a ‘tramp’ opposite her! 🙂

    Got some more interesting stuff. Films that were announced and advertised with a certain cast but finally making it without certain actors. Meenar was announced with Madhubala only to be finally made with Bina Rai and even saw an initial poster of Bambai ka Babu where it was announced that Madhubala would co-star opposite Dev Anand. Of course, we know it was made ultimately with Suchitra Sen and remains her best Hindi film to me, ahead of even Mamta and Aandhi.

  6. Hv photo clip dilip Kumar shelved movie Bank manager /dev anand movie sansani with Gita Bali etc will post if interested thanks

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