Every autumn Channel 4 screens its longest Bollywood season of the year.
In 2009 ‘the golden age of Indian cinema’ was the theme for a run that featured the films of Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Nargis and others.
The first of the films, Mother India, was preceeded by a 75 minute Movie Mahal special. I’ve had a couple of comments on A Tangle Of Wires recently asking if I know where to get hold of this film – I don’t, but on behalf of you dear readers I tried to find out a little more about it.
So, not for nothing was the Contact Us page invented, and I emailed Channel 4 about it.
First a little information about the documentary and the Movie Mahal series, which ran between 1987 and 1989 (full list of episodes).
The Movie Mahal programme that Channel 4 screened 18 months ago was a 75-minute special, The Golden Years of Indian Cinema, based on the series of the same name and covered Hindi cinema from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.
The programme focused on songs, singers, composers and lyricists, with interviews with Lata Mangeshkar, Helen, Javed Akhtar and Gulzar as well as archive footage featuring songwriters and singers Talat Mahmood, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Laxmikant.
It also looked at the work of actors including Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Amitabh Bachchan.
Unfortunately for those looking, Channel 4 told me it has no plans at present to repeat the documentary .
A spokesman said: “We don’t automatically have the rights to release all the programmes we broadcast on DVD and as a rule we tend to choose titles to release that we feel will be financially viable.
“Unfortunately, this particular programme was not released through Channel 4 DVD or any other distributor, and we have no plans to do so in the future.”
Presumably to forestall anyone asking, he added: “We are sure you can appreciate, we receive hundreds of calls and letters requesting copies of programmes that were not released commercially, therefore, Channel 4’s policy is that we do not provide one-off copies.”
So that’s it. No plans to show it again. No plans to release it on DVD.