Helmer-producer Subodh Mukherji died in Mumbai, India, on May 21of leukemia.Mukerji produced and directed Bollywood’s first color hit “Junglee” (Wild One, 1961). Pic, which introduced Saira Banu and made a star of Shammi Kapoor, set the trend of lensing in striking locales — including the strife-torn state of Kashmir.
Mukherji came from a Bollywood family. His older brother Shashdhar set up studios Bombay Talkies and Filmistan and his nieces include current Bollywood stars Kajol and Rani Mukherjee.
He started out as a screenwriter and assistant director in Filmistan Studios, going on to make his directorial debut in Filmistan’s “Munimji” (Clerk, 1955).
He carved a niche with light romantic musicals, which never strayed from a simple formula — boy meets girl and the villain, many lilting melodies later, boy gets girl. Among Mukherji’s hits was Filmistan’s “Paying Guest” (1957). Mukherji turned producer with his next “Love Marriage” (1959).
He went on to produce hits including “April Fool” (1964), “Saaz aur awaz” (Sound & Voice, 1966), “Shagird” (Pupil, 1967) “Sharmilee” (The Bashful One, 1971), — never straying from his set formula. His last production, “Ulta Seedha” (Upside Down, 1985) disappointed at the box office.
He is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons.
— Shilpa Bharatan Iyer