Lucknow is said to be one of the world’s greatest cities for Muslim culture, but hasn’t the culture of Hindus mixed and amalgamated traditionally so well, which has been captured and featured in our Hindi movies time and again.
The dialect, the aristocracy, the conduct, the mannerism, the body language of Lucknow – all have been vividly so adopted by Bollywood over the years. Remember Raj Kumar in Mere Huzoor (1968), shot in Lucknow, wherein he delivers so powerfully, in full command, “Kaun se aise sheher mein kaun si aisi Firdaus hai jisey hum nahin jaante!’
Then the opening song of Palki (1967), sung by Mohd. Rafi for Rajendra Kumar – “Aye sheher e Lucknow tujhe mera salam hai” – is in praise of the historical city. And who doesn’t know that Guru Dutt shot Chaudvi Ka Chand (1960) in Lucknow only. You have to believe that one of the songs in the movie begins by lauding Lucknow at least five times before it grows on – ‘Ye Laknau ki sar-zameen, Ye rang-roop ka chaman, Ye husn-o-ishq ka watan, Yehi to wo muqaam hai.” The lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, who himself has been associated very closely with the city, concludes in these words: ‘Nibhaye apni shaan bhi, Badhaye dil ki shaan bhi, Hain aise meharbaan bhi… Ye Lakhnau ki sar-zameen.’
Lucknow has been the city of Mirza Ghalib, Mir Anees, Mirza Dabeer, Begum Akhtar, Naushad Ali, Talat Mehmood, Kaifi Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sudhir Mishra, Amrit Lal Nagar, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Wajahat Mirza, Birju Maharaj, Nadira Babbar, Mir Taqi Mir and Atul Tiwari among others.
Don’t tell me you haven’t heard Agha in Sansar (1951) – ‘Lucknow chalo ab rani, Bambai ka bigda paani’, sung by Geeta Dutt and G.M. Durrani? Even if you haven’t, the IIM Lucknow students were heard taking lessons in Bollywood. True, Lucknow conventionally has had impacted Bollywood’s films by various means, be it shooting, scriptwriting or story background.
That Lucknow has been a major influence on the Hindi film industry is clear from the fact that Pakeeza (1972) song ‘Chalo dildar chalo, Chaand ke paar chalo’ was shot with Gomti river in the backdrop. There also came a movie starring Meena Kumari in the same year, named Gomti Ke Kinare. Muzaffar Ali, another Luknowite, picturised one of the best known films in Hindi cinema – Umrao Jaan (1981) – in the city itself. Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) was also shot in Lucknow.
Interestingly, on occasions, Lucknow has been used to depict some cities of Pakistan as well, like in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. Other notable shoots in the city have been for Ashok Kumar’s Nazma (1943), Rajendra Kumar and Sadhna’s Mere Mehboob (1963) and Anwar (2007).