As any child of the sixties—like me—will attest, one of our most exciting, and biggest sources of entertainment was going to the movies. We’d plan days ahead and try to get that first-day-first-show if it was a favorite star and then, keep bragging about it until the next movie.
While we went to the cinema theater most of the time, I have especially fond memories of hundreds of movies watched under the stars in the open air theater we had close to our house, since we lived in near the Air Force and the Military area. The tickets were cheap and the timings perfect. We could have a leisurely but early dinner and walk across to the grounds where the huge white screen was raised and we’d get there in time to get the front seats.
You are probably thinking, what if it rained. Well, elementary, dear Watson! We just carried umbrellas and held them while we watched the movie. Duh!
I’ve always had a soft corner for the villain’s role. Invariably this would be a dashing, usually charming actor and I would secretly find myself taking his side. Hey, I was young and quite willingly impressionable!
Of the various villains of the silver screen, one of my favorites is Prem Nath, and I am happy to announce that Zee Classic will commemorate his 25th death anniversary with ‘Prem Nath Film Festival’. But more important is the tribute by his son: a series titled Amar Prem Nath.
This iconic villain started his acting career in the 1940s and I’ve seen almost every movie he starred in. He has over 150 movies to his credit and he showcased a different style with every movie. While most actors want to project as heroes, Prem Nath chose to take on the dreaded villain role. In fact, he shot to fame in brother-in-law Raj Kapoor’s directorial debut, Aag, in 1948 as its lead. But he was happiest thrilling his audiences as the antagonist.
Most people are familiar with his legendary villain roles in Karz (1980) where he communicated by tapping on glass—or that terrifying saint in Sanyasi (1975). I was an 8th grader when I saw the movie with my friend’s family in a late night show—and had nightmares. Through the 70s and the 80s, the name Prem Nath struck terror in every house—as though he would actually appear and do bad things!
But Prem Nath’s versatility saw him wear a number of hats—he was perfect as the frightening villain, but also a formidable comedian. Of course you must be familiar with his delightful brother–Rajendra Nath!
Did you know that he was the maternal uncle of the Kapoor clan – Randhir Kapoor, Rajiv Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor.
Amar Prem Nath on Zee Classic
So, remembering the actor on his 25th death anniversary, Zee Classic, through its series “Woh Zamana Kare Deewana” will air a four-week festival titled ‘Prem Nath Film Festival’ starting 11th November 2017.
As a part of this special initiative, Zee Classic will also showcase a documentary-biopic created by his son, Monty Nath, titled ‘Amar Prem Nath’ as a tribute to his father, every Saturday, for four weeks, at 11:30 a.m. immediately after a popular Prem Nath movie. A filmmaker himself, the biopic is a retelling of his father’s journey in the film industry, and his rise as India’s much-loved villain.
Commenting on the airing of the biopic, Monty Nath said,
“Even in his time, Dad was a visionary. His approach towards movies was very different. He didn’t want to be the hero, he just wanted to entertain everyone. He soon realized that playing the antagonist brought him real thrill. Amar Prem Nath is my way of showing the world what kind of person my father was, and I am really thrilled to be able to share this film with everyone. I would like to thank Zee Classic for celebrating my father’s life journey!”
‘Amar Prem Nath’ will air rare unseen interviews of Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Subhash Ghai, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna, Amrish Puri, Ajit, Dara Singh, Pran, Feroz Khan, Beena Rai, Sunil Dutt, and Dharmendra, amongst others.
To reminisce Prem Nath’s incredible film journey,
tune in to watch ‘Prem Nath Film Festival’
followed by a special feature Amar Prem Nath at 11:30 AM
on Zee Classic every Saturday starting 11th November
Catch the movie at 8.30 am, followed by the biopic at 11.30 am–here is the schedule.
Each of these movies holds great memories for me and I look forward to watching them with my movie-buff husband—and reminisce the fabulous actor’s incredible film journey.
Do join me!
Enjoy this song from the classic 1951 movie “Abe Hayat”
Reminiscing about Prem Nath, here’s what prominent Bollywood stars had to say:
Shashi Kapoor said, “He would work as an extra for Rs.75. His lunch usually comprised of sugarcane juice and ground nuts. I still remember that he and my elder brother, Raj, would travel in a rickshaw with loud speakers to publicize the play in small towns. …They would say, ‘Come on people, come watch the play presented by Prithvi theatres with famous actors – Raj Kapoor and Prem Nath’. …..When RK films was being conceptualized, it comprised of the theatre group members like Shankar Jai Kishan, Ram Ganguly and Prem Nath himself.”
Shatrughan Sinha said, “I have seen many of his films and admired his work like Barsaat, Rustom Sohrab and Aan have been terrific films. What made him stand out was that whatever he did, he was original. …He never aped anyone and neither was he jealous of any actor, in fact even the greatest actors would feel inferior to him. They say nobody is indispensable but with Prem Nathji that holds no truth.”
Dharmendra said, “His manliness was often the talk of the town and as college students we would always say that one should have a physique like Prem Nathji. Prem Nathji would do his stunts himself and never used a body double….”
Manoj Kumar said, “He played the role of a villain opposite his closest friend. The villain’s role over shadowed the hero’s role and left a lasting impression. He was not jack of all traits but the master of all traits. He knew 72 raagas. In the film industry there is no actor who even knew 12 raagas.”
Parikshit Sahni said, “He had written three books in Hindi and English. One was titled ‘Tears of the Heart’, and in Hindi he had written ‘Shraddhanjali’. The books reflected his maturity.”
Subhash Ghai said, “He had perfect timing and a fabulous knowledge of music. He had become so famous that producers would shiver at the thought of approaching him. … For my first movie, ‘Kaalicharan’, I did not know whom to cast for the role of the Inspector General, which was the most difficult role of the movie. My director refused to speak to Prem Nathji and asked me to convince him. …After narrating the script to him at 4am, he shook hands with me and said that the movie will be a super hit and that’s when I asked him to essay the character of IG.”