Bloomsbury to Publish Yeh Un Dinoñ Ki Baat Hai: Urdu Memoirs of Cinema Legends by Yasir Abbasi
A rich and unusual treasure trove of translations from old Urdu magazines that were immensely popular from the 1930s to the 1990s
Peppered with heartfelt accounts and charming anecdotes, Urdu film magazines were in great favour with the public from the 1930s through the 1990s – a considerable period of seven decades. Unfortunately, as Urdu got progressively marginalised in later years, these magazines were not archived, for the most part; leading to their inevitable disappearance from popular imagination.
Tracking down these lost publications, Yasir Abbasi followed leads – some futile, some fruitful – to obscure towns and people’s homes in a last ditch effort to save valuable records of Indian cinema. As challenging as it was to locate faded issues and original texts, he managed to uncover and translate many fabulous memoirs covering a wide gamut of our favourite old artistes at their candid best.
A gloom-laced piece on Meena Kumari by Nargis, a rollicking description by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan of an eventful evening with Manto (not to mention a mysterious woman and a house on fire), Jaidev writing about his chequered career, Balraj Sahni introspecting about the relevance of Hindi and Urdu in films – it’s a rich mix of engrossing narratives brought back from oblivion.
- In a country that is crazy about its film stars this is a wonderful collection that gives rare insights into the workings of the Bombay film industry.
- Despite being hugely popular for a good period of time, these writings have all but vanished from the mainstream – this rare and wonderful access to these articles will be exciting for anyone remotely interested in Bollywood.
- Originally written in Urdu, these pieces reflect how the language sustained and even prospered in cinema while simultaneously falling apart elsewhere in the society.
Author Biography: A trained cinematographer by profession, Yasir Abbasi completed his early education from Gorakhpur and Lucknow. Following his Masters in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in 2002, he has been involved with shooting documentaries and independent films, and has won several awards at film festivals for his work.
A lifelong film buff who watches The Godfather and Gunda with equal sincerity, he lives in Gurgaon with his wife.