Badalta Samay… Badalta Cinema

Badalta Samay… Badalta Cinema – Part 4

How Eastmancolor succeeded over Technicolor in Indian cinema!


Remember the hits song Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya from K.Asif magnum opus film Mughal-E-Azam (1960) or Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho Ya Aftab Ho… from Guru Dutt’s Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960) or the super hit song Hasta Hua Noorani Chehra from the film Parasmani (1963)? Guess! What is common in these songs? Well, all these films were black and white, and these songs and some spectacular scenes were in color. Even Dev Anand’s film Teen Devian (1965) had some color sequences. These films were labeled partly as color films.

Since Technicolor was expensive, most filmmakers could not effort hence started the trend of partly color, which lasted till the early ’70s. However, to counter Technicolor, an American company Eastman Kodak launched Eastmancolor, a less expensive and equally magnificent color technology that proved a boon for the film industry. Unlike Technicolor, whose prints were sent to London for processing, Eastmancolor films, could be processed in India. Hence the production cost was almost slashed to almost half of Technicolor.

Movie legend S. Mukherjee’s used Eastmancolor for the first time for his film Hum Hindustani (1960) but the film was a flop. Interestingly, the same year, S. Mukherjee’s Junglee (1961), starring Shammi Kapoor, was released. The film was a huge hit! Besides, hit songs like Yahoo… Chahe Koi Mujhe Jungli Kahe…. and the fascinating color of the film became the talk of the talk!

Inspired by the success of Junglee, Nasir Hussain used Esatmancolor in his Shammi Kapoor staring film Teesri Manzil (1966). The hit film gave a major boost to Eastmancolor films. Soon followed a chain of color films like Dev Anand’s Guide, Pradeep Kumar’s Taj Mahal, Rajendra Kumar’s Mere Mehboob, Dharmendra’s Phool Aur Pathar, Jeetendra’s Farz, Sunil Dutt’s Waqt, Raaj Kumar’s Hamraaz, Shashi Kapoor’s Jab Jab Phool Khile, etc.

In the ’60s, there was a huge demand for fantasy, adventure, and mythological films. Since such films were B-grade and C-grade, the producers could not effort Eastmancolor hence to suit the pockets of these films, some cheaper colors were introduced like Gevacolor. It was used in the fantasy films produced in the ’50s like Devta (1956), Maya Bazaar (1958), Zimbo (1958), Hatimtai (1956), etc.


Surprisingly, despite Eastmancolor being not so expensive still, the black and white film continued to be made till the early ’70s. Even top star films like Shammi Kapoor’s Budtameez (1966), Manoj Kumar’s Shaheed (1965), Dharmendra’s  Haqeeqat (1964), Sanjay Khan’s Dosti (1964), Nutan’s Saraswatichandra (1968). Interestingly, despite Rajesh Khanna becoming a superstar with his color film Aradhan (1969), yet he did a few black and white films post-Aradhana like Khamoshi (1970).

In the ’80s, Fujicolor was introduced, with Rajesh Khanna’s hit film Souten (1983). Unlike Eastman Color, Fuji Color was less expensive and a good bet for film producers of limited budgets. However, in the early ’80s, Indians hosting the Asian Games, Color TV landed in India, and color TV proved a threat to the film industry!

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