Sunday, January 22, 2012

Romeo in Sikkim ; Sikkim’s first Hindi film (1975)

Sikkim became a part of mighty Indian Union in 1975 and in the last 37 years a small Himalayan kingdom transferred itself to become one of the most beautiful tourist center of the world. The same year a milestone was accomplished from Sikkim in the world of Indian Cinema but more than three decades later the story seems forgotten to the wheel of clock. 
I wanted to be part of the history in re-introducing behind the stories of Romeo in Sikkim, a Hindi film that had few landmarks still unknown to many. Romeo in Sikkim is the first Hindi film to be produced from Sikkim and first Nepali actor to play a lead role in a bollyhood film (Shyam Pradhan).

Shyam Pradhan went on to act in another film, the first Hindi-Nepali bilingual feature film that never saw the light of the day. He later went on to make two successful Nepali movies Bhool and Sanjiwani. For information, the Nepali film Sanjiwani film was made in three languages simultaneously Nepali, Bengali and Hindi. The Hindi version is yet to be released.  
It was Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’, Sansthapak of famed Singtam Basibiyalo, Praveen Pradhan, President SPARK NGO from Singtam and me who visited residence of the Shyam Pradhan couple of week back. He was about to leave for Siliguri but delayed his programme for us. Such was his friendly persona that the anecdote he shared with us about Romeo in Sikkim and his other projects made me just listen to him…silently.
Shyam Pradhan (middle) with Mohan Pradhan, Sansthapak of Singtam Basibiyalo and Praveen Pradhan, President SPARK NGO

Shyam Pradhan, then a 19 year old from a well established business family from Gangtok acted in a lead role in a colour Hindi movie “Romeo in Sikkim” shot exclusively in Sikkim and in some parts of Darjeeling and in Bombay, now Mumbai. With Amina Kareem as a lead actress who had played a small role in Danny Denzongpa’s hindi film Mere Apne, Romeo in Sikkim had a gifted star casts in the caliber of legendary KN Singh, Kundan, Om Prakash, Seema Kapoor and others. Harikrishna Kaul directed the movie, while the shooting of the film was completed in 3 months and the beautiful songs composed by Vishwanath.  
The film was shot in 1973 in 33 mm and released in 1975 at Bombay; in Sikkim it was first released in Denzong Cinema Hall and later on at Vajra Cinema Hall too, where it ran for 15 successive days, says Shyam Pradhan.
I first heard about “Romeo in Sikkim” from an audio music cassette of legendary Bollyhood Singer Mukesh. Being a big fan of Mukesh, I found it very surprising to read the lines on the cover of the audio cassette that mentioned a song “Jiska Sapna” from the movie Romeo in Sikkim. Similarly in few days I also found another song sung by Mukesh from another Hindi movie that had another interesting title “Road to Sikkim”.  So when I first got an opportunity to speak to Shyam Pradhan himself, I just wanted to know about his memory on Mukesh. 
He went on to say, Mukesh was a big name and he was very interested to know about the place called Sikkim and meet the hero of Romeo in Sikkim. When Mukesh finally met the lead actor, Mukesh was bit surprised and in a sarcastic way asked his music director, “How can I sing for him”. Definitely it was hard for Mukesh to give a feel to the song looking at the young artiste from Sikkim, the place he had never heard. Mukesh just went near Shyam Pradhan, hugged him and told him, I will try my best. After 18 retakes the recording of the song was completed and after 37 years of the first release of Romeo in Sikkim, the only thing that remains popular is that immortal song …..Jiska Sapana.
Romeo in Sikkim had four songs and the list of singers just amazing, Mukesh, Mohammad Rafi, and Suman Kalyanpur, a classic collection.