Starting off as a failed actor, today, Sawan Kumar Tak is a veteran film-maker – a writer-director-producer-lyricist rolled into one. It has been an interesting and intriguing journey.
In 1956, Sawan Kumar left Jaipur and tried to make it as an actor in Mumbai’s film-world. After failing to make any impact, he switched tracks and produced a children’s film- Naunihal based on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s unique appeal. The ploy succeeded and he bagged a National award. For his next project, he approached Meena Kumari. The ailing tragedy queen soon became his muse and advised him to direct that film himself and so with Gomti Ke Kinare, he became a director. Her death sparked off the lyricist in him and songs like Teri Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Kadam flowed from his pen. Over last four decades, Sawan Kumar has made many films and even many stars. Many of today’s successes like director David Dhavan and cinematographer Manmohan Singh have learnt the tricks of trade from him. He even took Amitabh Bachchan’s first screen test for a shelved project – Gaalib.
To be brutally honest, cinematically his film-making has been quite mediocre. Very broad in portrayals and relying on cheap emotionalism, he has got his commercial successes but none of his films really tugs at heart-strings. His talent lies in identifying what the masses want and delivering a neat package containing eye-pleasing picturisation, catchy music (mostly by his ex-wife Usha Khanna) and a supposedly emotional but at core hollow and hackneyed theme. Titles like O Bewafa, Sanam Bewafa, Bewafa Se Wafa, Sautan and Sautan Ki Beti show his obsession with extra-marital love themes. He also shows a penchant for regularly starring over-the-hill actors – like Jeetendra, Randhir Kapoor and Rakesh Roshan wooing Rekha in Mother (1998)!
Saajan Bina Suhagan is a story of a widow (Nutan), who according to her dying husband’s wishes, keeps pretending that he is alive so that her ailing daughter doesn’t get a nasty shock. Mixing the story up with an old flame (Rajendra Kumar), a youngsters’ romance (Vinod Mehra- Radhika Bartakke), blackmail and murder, Tak made it into a pot-boiler, which enjoyed a good run at box-office.
Saajan Ki Saheli is an implausible tale of a husband (Rajendra Kumar), who on learning that his wife (Nutan) has an abandoned, illegitimate daughter (Rekha) decides to teach his errant wife a lesson. How? Simple. He flaunts this daughter as his mistress! Another implausible story but yet another success!
Khalnaaika is almost a frame-to-frame copy of a Hollywood thriller The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. A tainted doctor commits suicide as one his women patients (Jayaprada) accuses him of molestation. Doctor’s widowed wife (Anuradha Patel), now becomes a psychopath nanny to wreak revenge on the lady. Only to be seen to see how a decent Hollywood thriller gets a shoddy Bollywood get-up!