MS Sathyu: “Bal Thackeray wanted to see Garm Hava before release”

Posted on July 5, 2020


To celebrate the 90th birthday of the filmmaker, Bangalore International Centre asked me to be in conversation with him about his best-known work. Here are some excerpts. (The full video is below.)

Sir, it is a pleasure to be doing this talk with you and congratulations on your 90th birthday. Before we begin talking about Garm Hava, I wanted to ask you about the social and cinematic changes of the period. In the 1960s, we had a flourishing sub-genre called the Muslim social, with films like Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Mere Mehboob and stories about Nawab-s and their loves doing so well at the box office. But when we come to the early ’70s, when you were making Garm Hava, there seems to be some cynicism and disenchantment in the air.

The Muslims are also a part of a secular India and we had to look at them as mainstream citizens and this was not done in Hindi cinema. The Muslim population represented in Hindi cinema was decadent and more about the Nawab-s and there was seldom a realistic approach.

But it was not a planned effort to make Garm Hava. The finance for another script was not sanctioned by the Film Finance Corporation (FFC). But they said they would like to fund something else, and we spoke to Ismat Chughtai. She narrated a story about what happened in her family during the Partition. Shama [Zaidi] made that into a script and the FFC granted us Rs. 2,50,000. We went to Agra. It was difficult to shoot in such a crowded city, and it was important to work out means of making the camera invisible. A lot of candid photography was also done.

Garm Hava became different because it was a touching story. In fact, the sentimental part of it was of greater appeal to the audience because Indian audiences always like tear-jerkers, and Garm Hava was an excellent tear-jerker.

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