DVD Review: Zindagi Ek Safar

MOVIE DETAILS Featuring: Kishore Kumar, R.D. Burman, Amit Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Ashok Kumar along with Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Shah Rukh Khan and others. Director: Sandip Ray Commentary: Ameen Sayani THE FILM This is truly criminal. A DVD of a documentary on the life of none other than Kishore Kumar arrives on stands and that too completely unannounced. Worse, it is either not available or not even prominently displayed at any of the stores, whether major retail outlets or petty shops which pretty much tells the tale. What a pity because this is actually a rare piece of work which was made two decades ago after the death of Kishore Kumar. Directed by Sandip Ray, son of Satyajit Ray, Zindagi Ek Safar is a documentary that was hardly seen by many when it first arrived but it definitely deserves a dekko when made available on a DVD. Alas, the presenters (Moser Baer) themselves seem to be under confident about the product that they have in their hand and have made no effort to market or promote it all. Since the film is two decades old, there is a disclaimer at the very beginning stating – ‘The video from which this copy was obtained is old and extremely rare but is the best available material’. This hardly matters though because it’s the ‘content’ that does the talking here. Taking a viewer through the personal and the professional life of Kishore Kumar, the best part is that other than being a documentary on his life ‘after his death’, it also turns out to be biographical at a few places because the subject in question, Kishore Kumar himself, is seen and heard at number of junctures. Sandip Ray has put quite some effort in making this film and it is visible in the way he has procured clips from not just Kishore Kumar’s earlier interview (in conversation with Lata Mangeshkar) but also some of his own home videos. An easy part is to get hold of songs and scenes from the current crops of films but stepping into the library of the 50s and the 60s and bringing to fore some lesser heard songs and lesser seen scenes definitely makes for a rare viewing. This is where Ray scores because he gives his viewers something to really cherish for years to come. So what one gets to see is Kishore Kumar’s rise from being a singing actor to someone for whom singing became a full fledged career in decades to follow. It may have well become a boring documentary had Ray followed a ‘lets talk business’ approach.

However, he spices it up by sharing quite a few anecdotes about the personal and professional life of Kishore Kumar that makes this DVD much more than just a ‘paisa vasool’ moment. This is where commentator Ameen Sayani comes handy as he adds on his personal touch to make the viewing interesting. In this endeavour of his, Ray finds the goodwill shared by Kishore Kumar come in handy as the entire industry comes forward to talk about the man that he was. Right from his brothers Ashok Kumar and Anup Kumar to colleagues like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle to composers like Rajesh Roshan and Kalyanji Anandji – everyone has at least one interesting incident to share about Kishore Kumar, the eternal entertainer. Meanwhile there are also superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna, who share their professional relationship with Kishore Kumar and what makes the copy further interesting is to see these actors as they were 20 years back when the video was made. However, the best is reserved for the points where R.D. Burman remembers Kishore Kumar. No melodrama, no overly emotional moments – it is plain fun when Panchamda gets into his casual avtar and narrates number of interesting moments that he shared with Kishore Kumar. Yet again, the DVD becomes interesting not just for Kishore Kumar but also the fact that the current generation gets to see and hear Panchamda as he was. On the other hand Kishore Kumar’s immediate family members like wife Leena Chandravarkar and son Amit Kumar succeed in taking viewers through an emotional ride. From the current generation, Shah Rukh Khan too comes up with more than just a byte and this is where the DVD seems compromised because it is just an added snippet shot before the release of Om Shanti Om. A tribute from Shaan also looks a little unwarranted and how one wishes if Ray would have just stuck to his original video before re-shooting it with some celebrities from the current generation. However, these are just minor blemishes in the DVD which has dozens of songs and scenes featuring Kishore Kumar that make for a nostalgic viewing. Add to that the spice around his numerous love affairs, alleged eccentricities and the sheer uniqueness that he brought around and Zindagi Ek Safar turns out to be a not-to-be-missed affair. PACKAGING DVD of Zindagi Ek Safar comes in a very ordinary and not-to-striking packing which is quite unfortunate since a documentary film like this deserved to be presented in a much better manner so as to attract maximum eye balls. The dull cover layout doesn’t help the cause either. Sad.

DURATION The film’s duration is 140 minutes SPECIAL FEATURES – None TECHNICAL DETAILS – No subtitles – Enhanced Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo PRICE Rs. 149/= CONCLUSION Pick it up before it gets hidden somewhere further into the stands!

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