Hum Do Daku (1967)

“Us two thieves” would be the literal translation of this 1967 film “Hum Do Daku”. Had never heard of this film, nor do I think I have heard the songs ever… but one ne…

Source: Hum Do Daku (1967)

Guide (1965) – Part 3

Well, when the music composer Sachin Dev Burman himself sings two songs out of ten magnificent compositions he created for this film, I choose to place him up here in this post. Perhaps I will also…

Source: Guide (1965) – Part 3

Guide (1965) – Part 2

With ten songs to its credit, Guide (1965) certainly merits a Part 2, so here I go. In Part 1, I had posted four giants of not only this film, but which would feature among the top songs of Sachin …

Source: Guide (1965) – Part 2

Guide (1965)

Over 50 years ago, surpassing himself in poetic proficiency, Shailendra, the film lyricist par excellence wrote 10 songs for the iconic Hindi film classic “Guide” (1965). With these lyr…

Source: Guide (1965)

In Just One Shot!

“Roop Tera Mastana, Pyar mera deevana”…  Make no mistake, “Bhool koi hum se na ho jaaye”. Just this one song, shot in one go, seemed to have catapulted Rajesh Khanna t…

Source: In Just One Shot!

In Paris… meeting Mohanjeet!

On 12th October, just over two weeks ago, while strolling along Rue Saint-André des Arts, I suddenly saw this storefront that read, “Diwali”. I was delighted. No pun intended. It was still my third day on my first visit to Paris.  😉

diwali_store_paris_october2016_chitralekhan_pictowrit_wordsnmotion_kalpashahmaniar

The bigger joy followed just moments later, when I met Mohanjeet! I was admiring the architectural details on the buildings of this delightfully narrow street, when a lady stopped me in my tracks, held my forearm, and asked, “Are you Indian?” I nodded in the affirmative. (Why would I deny a fact that’s written all over my desi face.) 🙂 I said, “Hello” with a broad smile I could not contain. The lady introduced herself, asked if I was in a rush to go somewhere… No, I wasn’t in any tearing hurry to get anywhere. I’d just got to this city a couple of days ago… and had many more to go. She said, “Then come with me, let’s have coffee, but first I have to go to the post office.” I followed her… we walked together to the post office, then to a café not far away – I remember it was Café Brasserie Le Danton at Boulevard Saint Germain. She asked if I would have a glass of wine. I preferred to have café at that hour. Glad I did — it was Lavazza, my everyday favorite. No sooner was l’addition du restaurant placed on the table — along with a bowl of chips, a glass of wine for my host, and a coffee for yours truly, Mohanjeet quickly put the bill in her pocket, saying she had invited me! Hmm… 🙂 Well, I learned some most interesting facets about her while we chatted. She was rather pleased to see I was with camera et al… and that I was traveling all on my own, immersed in the sights and sounds of this French city, which she seemed to have embraced as her home for almost 60 years! When she learned that I was writing a book – a biography – it brought on a smile. Soon I would learn why.

MohanJeet_Collage.jpg

She cajoled me to eat the chips from her bowl, and when one bowl was empty, she quickly called for another… obviously, a regular patron there. 🙂 It was getting close to 7 p.m. By now we had been together for a good hour or two. She said she owned a store not far from there and invited me to go with her. We walked back to 21 Rue Saint-Sulpice. Voilà, haute couture, that’s what the boutique was… Earthy colors, elegant styles, this was women’s fashion… classy, chic and a cut above much I’d seen in the past 15 years — garments worn by Indians in the US. All of it was her own creation! While she talked to her staff, my eyes took in all the pretty stuff. She said, “Go up, there’s more to look at up there.” I went up the spiral staircase… ooh la la… more beautiful pieces… Shortly after, she closed the shop, I walked her to her bus-stop, and she invited me to see her again, if time permitted. We met again a few days later. I invited her for dinner. We ate at Cafe Comptoir Tournon, a short walking distance from Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe. It was indeed a unique experience. She shared some stories from her life – personal, and professional. By now – through a Google search – I had also learned that she had played tennis with Elizabeth Taylor, and that Hollywood stars from Jane Fonda to Cameron Diaz had worn her creations. Originally from Lahore, she had survived Partition, but had left India when she was 19. She had rubbed shoulders with the likes of Yves St Laurent, and her creations had splashed across Vogue, Bazaar and such… but what may be of interest to my friends here is that she also had lunch with renowned actors Raj Kapoor and Nargis in 1952, with personal autographs from them. That was in Los Angeles, when she was a student of Political Science and Literature at UCLA. 🙂 This store – since 1968 – the only active one now, was among 11 that she had owned in Paris! Once upon a time, Mohanjeet had even worked for The New York Times. Oh, wow…

There’s much I could write here… but this should suffice… I was very fortunate to meet such an interesting person… serendipity! A memory I will cherish, and which I doubt will fade anytime soon… Mohanjeet, please take care of yourself. 🙂 I look forward to meeting you again someday. When I knew not even a single soul in Paris until a few days ago, from out of nowhere, you held my arm, and spent time with me. Thank you, for reaching out…

Pancham’s Debut – Chhote Nawab

 

mehmood_helen_chhotenawab

Mehmood dances with Helen in a very classy performance. Both, a pleasure to watch, as she plays the castanets onscreen; as well as a joy to listen to. Pancham’s score for the comedian’s home production is wonderful.

Indeed, Rahul Dev Burman, ‘Tablu’ made his debut as a music composer with the film “Chhote Nawab” (1961) – an apt title for the young ‘prince’ who hailed from the royal family of Tripura. His father, Sachin Dev Burman’s unavailability to score music for this film was perhaps a blessing in disguise.

Although Chhote Nawab’s musical success did not bring a mad rush of film makers to Pancham’s doorstep, in no way does that undermine the beauty in the songs here; and speaks of a gifted RDB, as time would tell. Whether it was a classical-based “Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye”or one with a Latin beat “Matvali Ankhon Vale”, here was a music composer making his mark in no uncertain terms. Deserving as much credit, in no small measure, are Shailendra’s lyrics, and the voices of the playback singers Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, and Shamshad Begum. But these were artistes who had arrived a long time ago. Some extra credit to the young Tablu is certainly in order.

वाहिला या या ला ला आ
ह ला ला ला ला लू लू ला या या
ला ला ला ला ला ला ला

हो ओ मतवाली आँखों वाले
ओ अलबेले दिलवाले
दिल तेरा हो रहेगा
गर तू इसे अपना ले
मतवाली आँखों वाले
ओ अलबेले दिलवाले
दिल तेरा हो रहेगा
गर तू इसे अपना ले
मतवाली आँखों वाले

हो ओ तुझको शायद होगा हो गया
सुन ऐ हसीं मैं वो नहीं
मैं वो नहीं
हो तू है तो महफ़िल में रंग है
तू जो नहीं कुछ भी नहीं
हाए हाए कुछ भी नहीं
हो ओ मतवाली आँखों वाले
हो अलबेले दिलवाले
दिल तेरा हो रहेगा
गर तू इसे अपना ले
मतवाली आँखों वाले

हो ओ जब से तुझको दखा एक नज़र
मुझे क्या हुआ मेरे दिलबर मेरे दिलबर
हो ओ मुझ पे अपना जादू न चला
कहा मेरा सुन कहीं और जा कहीं और जा
हो ओ मतवाली आँखों वाले
ओ अलबेले दिलवाले
दिल तेरा हो रहेगा
गर तू इसे अपना ले
मतवाली आँखों वाले

हो ओ मैं तेरी दुनिया में अजनबी
कहीं और है मंज़िल मेरी मंज़िल मेरी
ओ कह-सुन ले दो बातें प्यार की
दुनिया तेरी महफ़िल तेरी महफ़िल तेरी

हो ओ मतवाली आँखों वाले
ओ अलबेले दिलवाले
दिल तेरा हो रहेगा
गर तू इसे अपना ले
मतवाली आँखों वाले
ओ अलबेले दिलवाले
दिल तेरा हो रहेगा
गर तू इसे अपना ले
मतवाली आँखों वाले

 

The song: ‘Saanvre, Saanvre’ – Film “Anuradha” (1960)

Outstanding in every way, ‘Saanvre, Saanvre’ is a splendid example of lyrics, composition and the singer’s voice unifying into a sublime creation! Shailendra the poet-lyricist, sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, and melodious Lata Mangeshkar were all in their prime, as was the gorgeous actress Leela Naidu making her Hindi film debut with the title role “Anuradha” (1960). Paired with Balraj Sahni, my favorite actor from that era, the film has an interesting role for Abhi Bhattacharya also (I’ve surmised from another song that I listened to).

I was so overwhelmed by Saanvre Saanvre feeling compelled to transcribe it straightaway, lest it escaped me and was forgotten from my memory. Of course, it is in Hindi. Someday, if I get a chance, will transcribe in English as well… As the film begins, this ‘ten-year-old’ song plays on the radio, with the announcer/anchor introducing the listener to the singer “Anuradha Rai”. The film credits begin to scroll onscreen, but I’m not certain if this song appears again later. I should watch this award winner some point when I have time. https://youtu.be/ikeys1kkQCs

फिल्म: अनुराधा
गीतकार: शैलेंद्र
संगीत: पंडित रविशंकर
साल: १९६०
गायक: लता मंगेशकर

सांवरे … सांवरे

सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे सांवरे
काहे मोसे करो जोरा-जोरी
बैयां ना मरोड़ो मोरी
दूंगी दूंगी गारी हटो जाओ जी
सांवरे सांवरे

संग ना सहेली, पाएके अकेली
संग ना सहेली, पाएके अकेली
अब ना जाहते मोरे शाम
रोको ना डगर मोरी
हा आ आ आ

सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे सांवरे
काहे मोसे करो जोरा-जोरी
बैयां ना मरोड़ो मोरी
दूंगी दूंगी गारी हटो जाओ जी
सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे

गोपी-ग्वाले, देखने वाले
गोपी-ग्वाले, देखने वाले
बिन विचारे कहेंगे सारे
पकड़ी राधा की चोरी
हा आ आ आ

सांवरे सांवरे
जाओ सांवरे सांवरे
काहे मोसे करो जोरा-जोरी
बैयां ना मरोड़ो मोरी
दूंगी दूंगी गारी हटो जाओ जी
सांवरे सांवरे

मुरली बजाओ, गैयां चराओ
मुरली बजाओ, गैयां चराओ
हमरी गैल छोड़ो ऐ छैल
मिलो जब आवे होरी
हा आ आ आ
सांवरे
हा आ आ आ
सांवरे
आ आ आ
सांवरे
आ आ आ
सांवरे

Lata Mangeshkar ji… kudos to you.

Lata Mangeshkar_Raj Kapoor_Krishna
Photo Courtesy:

 

Now this is a story about conflict between two of Indian Cinema’s biggest names who had worked together with great success since the beginning of their major film careers. A fall-out between the two occurred when Lata ji asserted herself raising the issue of royalty to be paid to her; while Raj Kapoor believed that her request was preposterous. Many years later, the two did work together again… RK passed away in 1988; but a little bit first, about Lata Mangeshkar ji.

Lata Mangeshkar is endowed with an inherent talent for music. Under her father’s tutelage, her formal training had commenced when she was six. Upon her father’s death, when she was thirteen, Lata turned towards classical singing as a means of livelihood. Her struggles continued for almost seven years. One day in the late 1940s, her melodious voice caught the attention of a new film production company – RK Films. At 20, Lata was in the prime of her youth. She sang all the songs for the film (film history), composed by music director team  Shankar-Jaikishan, lyrics written by Shailendra ji and Hasrat Jaipuri ji. The film, its music, and Lata’s singing were a stupendous success. There was no stopping Lata  after that. With her head held high, her career graph went higher and higher but she stood her ground, and refrained from songs and music which she viewed as crass. In an era of films that relied heavily upon music for their success, one success followed another. There was no stopping her. As a playback singer, she worked long hours. At the time of her fast-rising success, her youngest brother was not even a teenager.

Time went by, and as playback singer she was much sought after by filmmakers, and music composers across Hindi cinema and also in regional cinema. A voice that was popular and recognized by the people, reached the ears of the nation’s leader. In 1963, by the end of the Sino-Indian War after India had suffered many casualties, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India then, invited 33-34 year old Lata to sing at the Republic Day celebrations. As a true patriot, she rendered Kavi Pradeep ji’s Aye Mere Vatan ke Logon, astounding everyone. Her crystal clear voice was like balm in the aftermath of war that had taken away many soldiers, leaving behind weeping families.

When her own father had died, almost twenty years prior, Lata was just a budding teenager. There was nobody at the time to wipe her tears. As the oldest among her siblings, she assumed the role of breadwinner while her widowed mother cared for the other four children. She had little choice but to forego her own future and her education so as to fulfill filial duties. There was no time to indulge in frills or fanciful thoughts. She had three younger sisters, and a brother almost eight years junior to her. Their education, their well-being, their future was her responsibility. To this day, even as Lata ji is pushing 87, she has remained single… this lady never did marry. She pursued her passion for music since childhood; and embraced it as a career even before reaching adulthood. Her own personal reasons must be respected for who she is today – single, with head held high, and one who knows her own worth and value. She learned that a long time ago. Therefore, one day, she raised the issue of royalty fee for her singing. Well, she was snubbed by him — the one who was born and raised and had lived like royalty, living up to his name.

Raj Kapoor was born in the mid-twenties, with the figurative ‘silver spoon’ in his mouth. He was the oldest among six siblings. Their grand ancestral home in Peshawar now stands as a museum. When Raj was just four-five years old, his father, the grand Prithviraj Kapoor (recall ‘Sikander’ 1941, or Shehenshah Akbar of latter day ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ 1960) was training to be a lawyer. But he had started to lean towards cinema, playing his first roles as an actor in films. Thereafter, many movies followed – both, in the silent era, as well as in Alam Ara (1931) India’s first talkie film. As is oft stated, success begets success, so this saga of success continued to flourish across generations in this opulent family. In the meanwhile, Raj and his two brothers studied at elite schools, and colleges.

When he was 10 years old, Raj Kapoor had already appeared in a film role. By 1948, at the age of twenty-four Raj had struck out on his own, setting up is own film banner that went on to make many films… R.K. Films not only made their own films, but the Kapoor family was even deemed as the First family of Hindi filmdom. History of hindi cinema is filled with stories about the entire Kapoor clan, their successes… and even their occasional failures. But then decades in the film industry – making films, stars, and film history is bound to have its ups and downs… it is, after all, a business, right?

Now… in a rare interview with Lata ji, the host asked the lady about her fallout with Raj Kapoor. Finally, after years of riding the wave of success, Lata ji had requested Raj Kapoor to discuss her ‘royalty’ for the songs she sang, going forward. To him her request was preposterous. RK responded thus: (Lata ji narrates on camera as:) “Tumhein kya lagtaa hai, mein yahaan kya karne aaya hun? Main yahaan business karne aaya hun.” Transliteration of RK’s words: “What do you think I’m here for? I’m here (in the film industry) to do business.”  Lata ji’s response (also on camera:) “Aap ko kya lagtaa hai, mein yahaan rani ke baagh mein ghoomne aayi hoon? Lata Mangeshkar ji’s repartee to Raj Kapoor ji was: “So what do you think I’m here for, to take a stroll in the Queen’s park? (referring to Mumbai’s local Zoo, then known as “Victoria Gardens”) Even in this interview, many years after the fallout and subsequent reconciliation, her eyes gleamed. She said, that was it! Raj Kapoor took away all the songs that were assigned to her for his forthcoming film and brought on another singer/s.

In my view, Lata Mangeshkar’s request for royalty on the songs she sang was not misplaced. She was not an employee, and no longer on any fixed payroll. Lata’s voice, her singing, and the records that were selling… it was all a rip-roaring success. Heroes and heroines were increasingly demanding astronomical signing fees, while music composers and lyricists had their own standards. There was little harm done, isn’t it, if Lata Mangeshkar asked for this change in remuneration structure for all the songs that were lining the pockets of film folks across the board. So… yes, she knew her worth, was astute and made a business-like call in an industry where everyone was in it for oneself.

How can anyone think or believe that Lata Mangeshkar was being ‘greedy’! You must be in Lata ji’s shoes to visualize those ominous days she must have faced after her father died. Ironically, today, those who fail to ask for a raise, or demand a fair competitive fee, are viewed by others as fools.

Lata ji’s continued success over the decades cannot erase the past she had faced… alone! That must have shaped her own beliefs, steered her own path… whether or not others concurred with her or not.

In lyricist Anand Bakshi ji’s words (and he was a huge fan of Lata ji), “Kuchh toh log kahenge. Sita bhi yahaan badnaam hui (“Amar Prem”). Now, if a woman asserts herself, there will always be those who condemn her.

In any case, I think of the heroines of that past era — when it was viewed as taboo —  who bared bosoms before they became ‘stars’ in RK Films. Was it necessary? I mean not for the ladies, but for RK to have at least one scene in each of his films — sort of the secret sauce — for assured success? Wasn’t it enough to have an outstanding music team of prolific lyricists, dynamic composers and mellifluous singers? Plus wouldn’t he rely on his own skills as an actor, director, and/or producer, just wondering. Albeit, there’s little doubt that many fans in RK’s defense would say, it was all part of RK’s artful film-making… but I’m guessing… he was wary of hinging the entire success of his films to just one basket. Therefore, he had to include something — there had to be a sure-success reason — the singular draw for popular masses for whom he made films… after all, wasn’t making films foremost his business!

 

 

I say, have a heart… for this lady, who has withstood the test of time. Just because she appears stoic while being successful, pause to ponder, before you condemn her. Somewhere along the line, it’s her gender that’s bothersome to those who do point a finger at her… some even happen to be the same gender. Women can be a woman’s worst enemy.

Her voice will prevail… and continue to entertain generations. Although he may have played those ‘overly-humble’ roles often, RK as a filmmaker was no one’s fool… he was, after all, a shrewd businessman. You may — or may never – watch those films portraying RK as ‘clueless’, but somewhere around you, there’s always a song playing… that will move you deeply, emotionally… and that voice is that of Lata Mangeshkar.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

This post is in no way meant to hurt anyone’s reputation, nor to disturb anyone’s feelings. This post is because I was saddened by someone’s unsavory remarks about Lata ji after they watched this interview. RK has gone.  He had entertained the world. May his soul be at peace. May this world let Lata ji live in peace. Her voice calms many a crying soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can replay your favorite song, but…

Life moves on, and you can never rewind nor replay it, ever. That is a fact, my friend, even if this song is drawn from fiction.

Aap Ki Kasam
Rajesh Khanna in “Aap ki Kasam” (1974). Background score “Zindagi ke Safar Mein Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makaam”

 

Over four decades ago, for a film situation, a very special lyricist wrote a song sprinkled with beautiful metaphors. Today is his 86th birth anniversary.

Story Context: A man, blinded by suspicion, throws his wife out from his life. Much later he realizes his folly. Alas it is too late; she is now married to another man. Deeply saddened, forlorn, he wanders around, regretting his rash decision, aching for the love he had recklessly abandoned.

Here is my transliteration of that iconic Hindi song.

Flowers will bloom, but some will fall off in autumn, to never bloom again next spring. Consider this, you meet thousands of people along life’s journey, but although you call out for some over a lifetime, alas, they may never return… you may never again meet those who had parted – disappointed with you – a long time ago some day.

A note of caution. What your eyes see may not be the entire truth. Don’t open your doors to suspicion… it is the darkest foe of friendship. Pay heed, ’cause if you don’t, you will regret it deeply, and all through your lifetime. No matter how often you call out to your friend (read ‘beloved’), your ‘hello’ will meet a deep ‘silence’. Those who have gone, will never return… ever. Refrain from such recklessness.

A new day will dawn, and dusk will bid goodbye, then another day will dawn, and this cycle of night and day will go on. Time moves on, the moment is here, and before you realize it, it’s gone… it won’t ever return. Man barely takes in the scene on screen, but in a flash it’s gone.

In life, the milestones that go past, will never return.

Here’s the song, I’ve just transcribed in Hindi.

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र में गुज़र जाते हैं जो मक़ाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र में गुज़र जाते हैं जो मक़ाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

फूल खिलते हैं, लोग मिलते हैं
फूल खिलते हैं, लोग मिलते हैं मगर
पतझड़ में जो फूल मुरझा जाते हैं
वो बहारों के आने से खिलते नहीं
कुछ लोग इक रोज़ जो बिछड़ जाते हैं
वो हज़ारों के आने से मिलते नहीं
उम्र-भर चाहे कोई पुकारा करे उनका नाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

आँख धोख़ा है, क्या भरोसा है
आँख धोख़ा है, क्या भरोसा है सुनो
दोस्तों, शक़ दोस्ती का दुश्मन है
अपने दिल में इसे घर बनाने न दो
कल तड़पना पड़े याद में जिनकी
रोक लो रूठ कर उनको जाने न दो
बाद में प्यार के चाहे भेजो हज़ारों सलाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

सुबह आती है, रात जाती है
सुबह आती है, रात जाती है यूँही
वक़्त चलता ही रहता है रुकता नहीं
इक पल में ये आगे निकल जाता है
आदमी ठीक से देख पाता नहीं
और परदे पे मंज़र बदल जाता है
इक बार चले जाते हैं जो दिन-रात सुब-ओ-शाम
वो, वो फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

ज़िन्दगी के सफ़र में गुज़र जाते हैं जो मक़ाम
वो, फिर नहीं आते, वो, फिर नहीं आते

The melancholy that seeps through Rahul Dev Burman‘s music composition, and Kishore Kumar‘s voice, along with the visual portrayal of Rajesh Khanna‘s helplessness, his forlorn state in the film, especially during the height of his career, has made this song from “Aap ki Kasam” (1974) memorable. These lucid lyrics, the mastery of Anand Bakshi saab’s metaphors in this film’s context are endearing, easy to sing along, soulful.