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Director’s Chair, ‘Sui Generis’: A Book in a Class of Its Own

July 2, 2024 | By

Director’s Chair: Hindi Cinema’s Golden Age, is sui generis – a must read for the dilettante as well as the aficionado! Ramendra Kumar reviews Manek Premchand’s acclaimed study of Hindi film directors through the decades.

Directors Chair Hindi Cinema's Golden Age book

Director’s Chair – Hindi Cinema’s Golden Age


“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested,” wrote Francis Bacon. In the case of Manek Premchand’s Director’s Chair: Hindi Cinema’s Golden Age, I would like to add that it also needs to be relished, savoured and valued.

The book offers a delightful ringside view of the ‘Director’s Chair’ and its truly amazing occupants who helmed the most incredible films from the silent era to the eighties.

To me it was a perfect serving of delicious filmy cuisine covering the oeuvre of my all-time favourite directors including Guru Dutt, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Raj Kapoor and Vijay Anand.

Each profile is garnished with important milestones of the individual’s journey, the crests and troughs, vignettes from personal life and filmographies. The unique facets which made the work of each artist stand out are also brought to the fore. For instance, in the section on Guru Dutt, Manek Premchand talks about the lighting technique called chiaroscuro, which the filmmaker used in the song Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam (Kagaz Ke Phool)! “The song with its evocative poetry underscores an existential crisis that identifies Time as the central culprit of their (the protagonists’) once beautiful relationship, with the stark setting and lighting combining to create an electric effect!” Touche!

While writing about Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the author emphasises how the director championed the cause of the common man, which made him win the title ‘God of middle-class cinema’. “His films give us views of his mind, showing us that the poor very simply need to be given a context in which they can express their predicament. Perhaps Mukherjee took inspiration from the writings of the French philosopher Albert Camus whose stories looked at poverty in much the same way as Mukherjee’s films did.”

My slight complaint against Manek Premchand here is that he has mentioned Anand, one of the greatest movies ever made, in passing. It deserved the author’s keen analysis a lot more.

Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Sumita Sanyal in Anand (1971)

Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Sumita Sanyal in Anand (1971)

In the segment on Raj Kapoor, Manek Premchand writes about the showman’s obsession with music and how one had to forget looking at the watch and even the calendar while collaborating with him. To underscore another key element of the icon’s filmmaking the author quotes Bunny Reuben, well-known film journalist, “Somebody once said that it was Raj Kapoor who invented love on the Indian screen. There is a great deal of truth in this. What Raj Kapoor actually achieved when he first stormed the gates of ‘Follywood’ in the late forties was this: he kicked open the gates of prudery and let in a gust  of fresh air which visualised the art and technique of filmmaking in general and the art of filming the love scene in particular, both of which had for years suffered from an overdose of dialogue.”

Manek Premchand’s tribute to Vijay Anand, too, is bang on —“The world remembers him through his films, most of them great value for money, some exceptional, and one, Guide, sui generis, meaning in a class of its own.”

The book offers priceless nuggets, delicious trivia as well as an empathetic gaze at the hearts, minds and souls of the colossuses of Hindi cinema. The quality of printing and production, as in the case of every book published by Blue Pencil,  is par excellence.

To borrow from the author’s own words Director’s Chair is sui generis – a must read for the dilettante as well as the aficionado!

Genre : Non-Fiction/Cinema
Binding : Paperback (6.14″ x 9.25″)
Pages : 572 pages
Published : January 2024
ISBN: 978-81-956660-8-9

Available on Amazon | Flipkart | Blue Pencil | Kunzum Books | UN Dhur (Kolkata)

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Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning writer, performance storyteller and inspirational speaker with 49 books. His writings have been translated into 32 languages and included in 26 textbooks and many anthologies in various countries. Ramen has written across all genres ranging from picture books to adult fiction, satire, poetry, travelogues, biographies and on issues related to parenting and relationships. His writings have been published by the major publishing houses in India. His books brought out by National Book Trust (NBT), India have notched up sales of more than 4.9 lakh copies in just one year. Ramen has been invited to several international literary festivals as well as Indian events such as Jaipur Litfest and seminars organised by Sahitya Akademi and IGNOU. The author has won a total of 41 awards in the competition for writers of children’s literature organised by Children’s Book Trust (CBT) over the years, which is among the highest by any writer. Ramen was chosen as the ‘Author and Storyteller of the Year’ (2022), on ‘Talking Stories’, London, UK’s number one Radio Programme dedicated to the art of storytelling. He was nominated as a Jury Member for the Best Children’s Author Category of The Times of India’s ‘Women AutHer’ Awards, 2020. Ramen was also selected as a mentor for the Scholastic Writers Academy. An alumnus of the prestigious Hyderabad Public School (HPS), Ramen is an Engineer & an MBA. He and his inspiration, his wife Madhavi, were General Managers at SAIL, when they took Voluntary Retirement to pursue their respective passions. Their children are bonsai celebrities in their own right. While Ankita is a youth icon and a travel blogger with an Instagram following of 296 K, Aniket creates cool Apps and designs covers for his dad’s books. Ramen is now a Cancer warrior and an inspiration to many. His website is and he has a page devoted to him on Wikipedia.
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4 thoughts on “Director’s Chair, ‘Sui Generis’: A Book in a Class of Its Own

  • N.S.Rajan

    “Somebody once said that it was Raj Kapoor who invented love on the Indian screen. There is a great deal of truth in this.” ‘That’ was very well put.
    I would like to cite the very imaginatively conceived and beautifully picturised “Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere. O Chanda. Main unse pyar kar loongi”. Coming after Andaz (1949), and the series of films from AR Kardar with his “Karodon mein ek: “Naushad” for their musical boost, Raj Kapoor in the film ‘Aawara’ (1951) created this delectable song with melting lyrics and a superb SJ tune for a love duet on a boat at night, perfectly shot in Monochrome.
    Raj Kapoor was the quintessential Showman with a brilliant conception of what people like in a film and how that should be presented on the screen.
    I have read the book and I fully agree with Shri Ramendra Kumar on all that he has written in praise of it. It has revelations that even veterans would welcome with astonished delight.

  • Manek Premchand

    I’m grateful to Ramendra Kumar for writing the kind of review that I would like to hug when I’m in a long dark tunnel. It reminds me of the poem, Say Not The Struggle Naught Availeth. Thank you sir 🙏 Thank you too, NS Rajan ji. Grateful 🙏


      Hi Manek Sir, I am so glad that you liked the review. Your remarkable writing and erudition deserve this and lots more. Wishing ‘Director’s Chair’ many more readers and an enriching and fulfilling journey ahead.
      I request – please write a book on Shailendra as well.

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