Phase Three

Vijay Bhatt directing Amita for Goonjh Uthi ShehnaiIn 1959, Prakash Pictures made 'Goonj Uthi Shehnai', another memorable film with enchanting classical. The celebrated Shehnai player, Ustad Bismillah Khan played the background score of shehnai music for the Shehnai-playing hero Rajendra Kumar. In fact, some of these exquisite compositions of music director Vasant Desai were liked so much by Bismillah Khansaheb, that he even included their tunes into his vast concert repertoire.

Vijay Bhatt and Mala Sinha shooting outdoors for Hariyal aur RaastaVijubhai once again wanted Rajendra Kumar to play the male lead in his next venture, 'Hariyali Aur Raasta' (1962). But the actor had heavy commitments in the South. Instead he promised to send a young new actor, who according to him was very good and would do justice to the role. The outcome saw the introduction on Manoj Kumar into films as a leading man opposite Mala Sinha. The music by Shankar Jaikishan, became a big hit and the new leading man, Manoj Kumar, came into his own.

Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha in Himalaya Ki God MeinPrompted by this success, Vijubhai decided to cast the leading pair once again in 'Himalaya Ki Godmein'. Written by Viju Bhai's son Arun Bhatt, it was about a doctor who dedicated his life serving tribals. A huge blockbuster this one, its compositions by Kalyanji-Anandji were a huge hit too.

NaushadPrakash was a spring-board to many a later day film celebrities. One day, in 1941, M. Zahur, an actor on the staff of the studio, brought along with him his eleven-year old niece, who was a good singer. Naushad who was then serving there, took her test and pronounced her "very good". She was Suraiya, who was cast as a singing child star in 'Station Master'. A couple of years later, she was going places in films made by A.R. Kardar and others.

Playing a character role in the film was O.K. Dar. He went on to play character roles in other Prakash movies. When theActor-Jeevan mythological 'Bhakt Dhruv' (1947) was about to go on the floors, producer Vijay Bhatt worried, "Who would play the role of Narad?" What prompted Dar, one doesn't know. He shaved off his head one morning, leaving a sleek lock of hair in the back portion of the shaved head and presented himself before Vijubhai saying, "Here is your Narad!" He was promptly cast to play the mythological and was given a simple name by Vijaybhai, Jeevan, who was to play Narad in over hundred films besides other character roles.

Among other films produced and directed by Vijay Bhatt were the socially relevant 'Samaj Ko Badal Dalo' (1947), which dealt with matrimonial problems, 'Chaitanya Mahaprabhu' (1954), a devotional, projecting the life and work of the great medieval saint of Bengal and 'Patrani' (1957), a historical.

He also directed movies outside of Prakash Studios. They included the Thai government's Buddhist period film, 'Angulimaal', 'Banphool' and 'Heera Aur Patthar'. In 1959, he directed 'Bapu Ne Kaha Tha' for the Children's Film Society. Mr. Morarji Desai appeared in the film and spoke to children about Mahatma Gandhi.

Committed to social and cultural causes, Vijay Bhatt was a member of several advisory and awards committees in Maharashtra and Gujarat. He also served as president of the film industry's Gujarat Flood Relief Fund and was associated with various charitable and community welfare organisations and functions in Bombay.

Vijay Bhatt's Vijay Bhatt being honoured by Indira Gandhicontribution to the Indian Film Industry was recognised even after he stopped making movies. In 1978, the late Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi honoured him on the 75th anniversary of the Indian Film Industry. In 1990, the Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association (IMPPA) felicitated Vijubhai for his outstanding contribution to the film industry.

Vijubhai passed away peacefully on October 17, 1993. On hearing the news, all the Municipal Offices in the suburb of Vile Parle declared a holiday in memory of Vijay Bhatt as a mark of respect.

Vijay Bhatt with the IMPPA trophyThe following year in January, Bhatt was honoured with a retrospective of his films at the International Film Festival, Calcutta. Both filmmakers and artistes paid glowing tributes, and at the same time lamented the fact that he was never given the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, which he rightly deserved.

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