Eena Meena Deeka is a fascinating glimpse into the world of Indian screen comedy, peopled by known, as well as once-important but now-forgotten comedians, who helped evolve the genre from its first slapstick beginning to the polite comedies of manners aimed at the urban middle class. The comedian or 'vidushak' has always been an indispensable aspect of the Indian dramatic tradition.
Comedy or 'hasya' is one of the nine 'rasas' as defined in Bharatmuni's Natyashastra. It was, therefore, natural for Indian cinema to readily imbibe this aspect of the dramatic tradition, with the first Indian comedy, directed by Dadasaheb Phalke, making its appearance as early as 1913.
The book traces the evolution of the genre from Dhirendranath Ganguly, the first recognized 'filmmaker-comedian' who made comedies on a regular basis to the true 'godfather' of the Indian comic art, Noor Mohammed 'Charlie', who, along with his contemporaries Dixit, Ghory and Kesari, set the comic pace through much of the 1930s and 40s and much of what was to follow.
The 1950s and 60s were truly the golden era of Indian film comedy-with Johnny Walker's antics, Jagdeep's rolling eyes, Johar's sardonic wit, Om Prakash's miserliness, Radhakrishen's shrill high-pitched comebacks, Mukri's playing-to-the-gallery. The list is endless. The icing on the comic cake was, of course, Kishore Kumar who eventually sacrificed his comic talent to emerge as a star singer and the inimitable Mehmood whose penchant for the bittersweet has made him an unforgettable icon.
Author : Sanjit Narwekar
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