Centenary Of Indian Cinema

Raj Kapoor’s ‘Around The World’ Was India’s First 70 MM Film

With the invention of color in Bollywood in the ’60s, Raj Kapoor made Sangam (1964) in Technicolor. To attract the audience to cinema halls Raj Kapoor shot the film in exotic foreign locations like London, Paris, Russia, etc. The movie was a runaway hit! Impressed by the superlative success of Sangam, Pachhi, a close friend of Raj Kapoor insisted Raj Kapoor to make a big-budget film. It may be noted Pachhi was an actor and had worked with Raj Kapoor in films like Teesri Kasam, Kanhaiya, etc. Pachhi had even made a few B-grade films like Singapore (1962) as producer and director.

Hence on the insistence of Pachhi, Raj Kapoor agreed and thus was made India’s First 70mm cum Technicolor movie Around the World (1967). The film was produced and directed by Pachhi and had Raj Kapoor in the lead role. Besides, the film had a galaxy of Top Stars like Pran, Mehmood, Prem Chopra, Om Prakash and beauty sensation Rajshree. The film had hit music by Shankar Jaikishan.

The highlight of the film was that the film was shot exclusively at ‘Outdoor locations’ of world’s most popular tourists’ attractions. The other highlight of the film was mesmerizing cinematography that captured captivating scenes that Indians had never witnessed on Silver Screen! For the first real airplane scenes were shot and the ski chase was also new to Indian.

Surprisingly despite all the ingredients’ of a Masala Entertainment; the film Around The World was a box-office disaster! According to the film critics the reason why Around The World failed was not the film’s poor quality; the film was excellent and had very good music. Remember the hit songs like Duniya Ki Sair Kar Lo…..; Chale Jana Zara Thahro….; Joshe Jawani Hai Re Hai……

However, the prime reason for the film’s failure was that India had no theaters to screen a 70 MM Films that required a gigantic screen. Around The World was thus released at New Delhi’s Shiela cinema hall that was India’s first cinema hall capable of screening 70mm films. Thus due to fewer cinema halls, only four prints of 70MM were released.  Two prints were released in Mumbai at Plaza and Liberty cinema halls while two were released in UP and Delhi.

Since the 70MM prints were released at high-status cinema houses their ticket rates were beyond the reach of the common Indian. And the common Indian who was hoping to watch the wonders of 70 MM was duped and shown the film on the ordinary 35 MM. Hence cine buffs were angry and the film failed!

Due to failure of Around the World some other filmmakers who had shot films in 70 MM like Jeetendra‘s Gold Medal and Pachhi‘s second film International Crook were released only in 35mm print due to lukewarm response by cine buffs! Other ambitious films like megastar Dilip Kumar’s Kaar Begaar were shelved. Thus none of the big banners tried to burn their hands in the 70 MM Technology.

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