Sikkim’s date with Bollywood began in 1975. Celebrated Sikkimese blogger Shital Pradhan tells the story.
Sikkim began her date with the world of Indian Cinema in 1975 when Romeo in Sikkim was made in Sikkim. It was the same year when Sikkim’s tryst with the Indian Union began. Over the last 37 years the small Himalayan kingdom transformed itself into one of the most beautiful tourist centres of the world. However, more than three decades later the Romeo in Sikkim remains forgotten, untold.
This write up is an effort to re-introduce the readers to the journey of Romeo in Sikkim. It was the first Hindi film to be produced in Sikkim. It was also the first Bollywood movie in which a Nepali actor Shyam Pradhan played a lead role.
Shyam Pradhan went on to act in another first: the first Hindi-Nepali bilingual feature film. It never saw the light of the day. He later went on to make two successful Nepali movies Bhool and Sanjiwani. Sanjiwani was also made in Bengali and Hindi. The Hindi version is yet to be released.
It was Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’, Sansthapak of famed Singtam Basibiyalo, Praveen Pradhan, President SPARK NGO from Singtam and me who visited residence of the Shyam Pradhan couple of weeks ago. He was about to leave for Siliguri but delayed his programme for us. Such was his friendly persona that the anecdote he shared with us about Romeo in Sikkim and his other projects made me just listen to him…silently.
Shyam Pradhan, then 19, from a Gangtok based well established business family played the lead role in a colour Hindi movie “Romeo in Sikkim”. It was shot exclusively in Sikkim and in some parts of Darjeeling and the then Bombay, now Mumbai.
Amina Kareem was opposite Pradhan. Kareem later played a small role in Danny Denzongpa’s hindi film Mere Apne. Romeo in Sikkim had a gifted star casts of the caliber of legendary KN Singh, Kundan, Om Prakash, Seema Kapoor and others. Harikrishna Kaul directed the movie, while the shooting of the film was completed in 3 months and the beautiful songs were composed by Vishwanath.
The film was shot in 1973 in 33 mm and released in 1975 at Bombay. In Sikkim it was first released in Denzong Cinema Hall and later on at Vajra Cinema Hall. It ran for 15 successive days according to Shyam Pradhan.
I first heard about “Romeo in Sikkim” from an audio music cassette of legendary Bollyhood Singer Mukesh. Romeo in Sikkim had four songs and the list of singers was equally amazing: Mukesh, Mohammad Rafi, and Suman Kalyanpur. Being a big fan of Mukesh, I found it very surprising to read the lines on the cover of the audio cassette that mentioned a song “Jiska Sapna” from the movie Romeo in Sikkim. I later found another song sung by Mukesh from another Hindi movie that had another interesting title “Road to Sikkim”. So when I first got an opportunity to speak to Shyam Pradhan himself, I just wanted to know about his memory on Mukesh.
Pradhan says that Mukesh was a big name and he was very interested to know about the place called Sikkim and meet the hero of Romeo in Sikkim. When Mukesh finally met the lead actor, Mukesh was bit surprised and in a sarcastic way asked his music director, “How can I sing for him”. Definitely it was hard for Mukesh to give a feel to the song looking at the young artiste from Sikkim, the place he had never heard. Mukesh just went near Shyam Pradhan, hugged him and told him, I will try my best. After 18 retakes the recording of the song was completed and after 37 years of the first release of Romeo in Sikkim, the only thing that remains popular is that immortal song …..Jiska Sapana.
About the author:
A teacher by profession, Shital Pradhan is an avid blogger from Sikkim. You can read his blog sikhim , a frequently updated blog which focuses on news and history of the Sikkim state. To read his other post on iSikkim click on the link below:
To read other stories by Shital Pradhan click on the link below:
Sikkim remembers its Jewel Thief: Dev Anand
Bindeshwari Prasad felicitated at Basibiyalo
SPARK celebrates Prakash Sundas’s triumph
Geetanjali Thapa : with love from Sikkim