Mr Baburao Patel
is one of the most outstanding men of our times. I deem it an honour to speak on him. My acquaintance with him dates back to my college days. That was in Lahore, now in Pakistan. I very vividly remember when I joined my college in the 1st year, all the University boys in the campus used to carry copies of ‘Filmindia’ along with their text books. That was their Bible.
When his ‘Filmindia’ turned into ‘Mother India’,
when Filmindia was initially launched it was almost exclusively about film, although by the 1950s he wrote generally about politics and other subjects in addition (sex being a favorite as well).
Stardust was the first modern Indian magazine. Not only did it virtually invent literate film journalism (after the broken English of the Baburao Patel and Devyani Chaubal era), it also invented people journalism for the Indian market.
It happened this way. Hira ran Creative Unit, an advertising agency, which employed a talented former model called Shobha Rajyadhyaksha. One day, Shobha told Hira that she was bored of advertising and wanted to leave. “Don’t go,” he told her. “Let’s start a magazine.”
And so, the two of them started Stardust with Nari as the owner and Shobha as the first editor. Not only did Stardust transform the relationship between film stars and journalists, it also began the process of taking Hindi cinema to an English-speaking audience. Throughout the Seventies, even as Bollywood movies were resolutely down-market, Nari and Shobha managed to write sophisticated articles about the stars that were read even by those who never bothered to watch Hindi films.
I may be exaggerating but I do believe that if Stardust had not created this constituency, there would be no audience for the movies of Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar. Stardust made Bollywood hip and a new generation of film-makers reaped the rewards.
In the late Seventies, Shobha said she was bored again. So, Nari encouraged her to start a new magazine. She decided that she wanted to start a woman’s magazine, meant, she said at the time, “for the woman who does not think with her uterus.” She decided to call it High Society until, shortly before launch, Nari found a hardcore porn magazine called High Society on the news-stands in New York.
So, they settled on Society as a title. In a month or two, it became clear that a) the magazine was much better at people coverage than it was at tackling women’s issues and b) that Shobha was bored again.
Shobha left soon after launch to start her own Celebrity magazine and Nari hired Leela Naidu to replace her. Leela turned out to be a figurehead and Nari ran the magazine himself, behind the scenes. His vision was simple: Society would be a people magazine that would refuse to kiss ass just as Stardust had refused to suck up to movie stars in the way that such magazines as Filmfare had done.
Take away Stardust and Society and you have no Indian magazine boom. The two magazines between them set the template for many of the magazines that followed. Editors came and went but the quality never suffered because Nari was always the super-editor.
Since then, Nari has launched many other magazines of which Savvy is probably the most famous. He does many other things and his career has taken in the establishment of Bombay’s Otter’s Club, a successful travel agency in New York, a book-selling operation, various low-budget movies and a home décor exhibition sideline. All of them have made lots of money for him.
But his heart remains in the magazine business. His devotion to his publications is matched only by his commitment to the staff. He will hire people with no experience, will nurture their careers and will make them editors, never ever acknowledging publicly that he has been entirely responsible for their success.
Even now as the Indian magazine market faces an onslaught of foreign titles, Nari’s products have more than held their own. Stardust is a global phenomenon. No magazine of its type has as much impact on any film industry anywhere in the world. Society remains in a class of its own. I won’t compare it to the suck-up magazines, the Hellos, the OKs, Hi Blitzes and the sadly disappointing People, which are content to print any lies that any self-promoting neo-celebrity tells them.
In fact, Society deserves to be compared to other, more serious, magazines. I nearly always learn something I did not know when I read it. And am always astonished by its willingness to tell it like it is, attacking the famous and the powerful if the story demands it.
I haven’t met Nari for years. He must be nearly 70 by now. But judging by his photographs he looks exactly as he did when I knew him in the early 1980s. Because I know his style I can spot his interventions in his magazines and they are nearly always delightful.
In a world that is full of shysters and self-promoters, it is encouraging to find a true pioneer who seeks no credit for himself. But one day, when the history of Indian publishing is written, Nari Hira will get the credit he deserves.
film fare magazine started in 1952
POST SCRIPT:- 'BOLLY WOOD' WAS FIRST USED BY BABU RAO PATEL IN FILM INDIA IN 1950.S .
IN HIS ARTICLES .; HE MADE THE NASTY NAME "BOLLYWOOD"; FOR HINDI FILMS MADE IN BOMBAY TO MAKE FUN OF THEM AS JUST 'chatteratti'
'people who are renowned to chat, argue and debate excessively '[satirical] and as empty drums-empty headed
so bolly stands for empty headed noise makers'bolne wale ' and not bombay
In fact he was very vicious to other indian and foriegn films and artists
'The Illustrated Weekly of India' many years ago reproduced one of babubhai patel's articles crticizing the British film ' The Drum' directed by Alexander Korda. The title of the article:-’Your editor kicks a hole through the drum’
Jan 1, 2013 - Uploaded by lesfilmnoirThe Drum 1938 ... THE DIVORCE OF LADY X (1938) - Full Movie - Captioned ... Cat Stevens` Buddha And The ..
John Greenwood: music excerpts from "The Drum" (1938). Conducted by Muir Mathieson.