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It was Shakti Films, a movie banner set up by the late filmmaker Shakti Samanta, that consolidated the late superstar Rajesh Khanna's position as the "soft romantic hero". The 1969 film Aradhana, the banner's seventh production, brought out the adorable crinkle-eyed look of Khanna and tilting of his head that became the passport to his superstardom.
Though Shakti Samanta went on to do nine more movies with Khanna — each one of them cashing on his romantic appeal — the director had tried to elicit a similar effect from actor Shammi Kapoor as well as Ashok Kumar and Dev Anand in the past. After making its debut with Howrah Bridge, the banner made popular films of the '60s, including Kashmir Ki Kali, Pagla Kahin Ka, Jaali Note and An Evening in Paris. Before the banner took a break in 2008, it made films like The Great Gambler, Don Muthuswami, Ahankaar, Palay Khan and Aankhon Main Tum Ho.
Now, after five years, when the banner is making a comeback, it seems pragmatic to fall back on its tried-and-tested formula of love and longing. So, Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai, scheduled to release on August 3, is a romantic movie that also marks the debut of Shakti Samanta's grandson Aditya. The name of the film, derived from a famous song from Kati Patang, is produced by Aradhana Films, an off-shoot of Shakti Films, and directed by Shree Narayan Singh, the editor of Gandhi to Hitler and Taranyache Bait. "My brother did not want to be a part of the films I was doing, hence I started Aradhana Films in 1992, after which we started making movies under this banner. Shakti Films is still the parent company," says Ashim Samanta, son of Shakti Samanta.
Seated in their Andheri office, one can live through the five decades of films the banner has made. The office wall is covered with photos and posters of movies such as Howrah Bridge, Anuraag and Kati Patang. Having worked with some of the top artistes of the industry like Ashok Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, Madhubala, the banner was among the top-rated ones in Bollywood in the '60s, '70s and early '80s.
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