Sharada Iyer

In the recently released film Begum Jaan starring Vidya Balan, singers Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal have tried to recreate in their voices the popular Mukesh-Asha Bhonsle number ‘Woh Subha kabhi toh aayegi…’ from the 1958 film Phir Subha Hogi . Though they are good singers, their version is not a patch on the original and fails to evoke any kind of emotion in the viewer’s heart and mind. The much needed pathos seems missing in their voices and they are unable to do justice to Sahir’s thought-provoking lyrics.

The reality of this hits us even more because the original was sung by Mukesh, a master of poignant songs! After all, how can a meaningful song written and composed for a different situation of a different film from a different era and for a different generation of audience have the same effect in any random film of today? In Begum Jaan which deals with prostitutes, the song comes at the end of the film and they have even tampered with the lyrics by changing the words ‘Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi…’ to ‘Woh subah hami se aayegi…’!

Remix – (Begum Jaan)

Original – (Phir Subha Hogi)

-This year seems to be particularly standing out for the record number of remixes that have hit the music scene so far. In March, directors Abbas-Mastan launched Abbas’s son Mustafa in a film called Machine which flopped badly but the only thing which caught the public eye was the remix version of the popular dance number from Mohra- Tu cheez badi hai mast mast…



-The upcoming Sonakshi Sinha starrer Noor has a remixed version of Mohammed Rafi’s popular song ‘Gulabi aankhen jo teri dekhi…. from Rajesh Khanna’s 1970 thriller- The Train. It has been composed as a party song  by taking the first few lines of the original song and a lot of new lyrics have been added. We will have to wait and watch how popular this song becomes for the audience response has not been flattering so far!


Earlier in 2012, in Alia Bhatt’s debut film Student Of The Year, there was a remix version of the same song with a lot of brand names in English added to the lyrics.

Remix- (Student of the Year)

Original-(The Train)

-In the film Kaabil which released in January this year, singer Jubin Nautyal’s version of ‘Dil kya kare jab kisise kisiko pyaar ho jaaye…’ (Kishore Kumar’s song from Julie ) sounds so weak and diluted and if Hrithik and his father thought that they would win any brownie points for remixing this song for their film, they were clearly mistaken! And after all this trouble the song never made it to the film . Maybe it was deleted from the final cut or was made only as a promo video.



-The same film boasts of another remix song. This time the Kishore Kumar number ‘Saara zamaana haseenon ka deewaana…’ from the film Yaarana has been sung by a female singer- Payal Dev and the song is picturized as an item number. While the choreography in the original was funny the remix version somehow looked vulgar.




-In the remix version of the above song  while Kishore Kumar’s number was remixed in a female voice, we have a number from the film I Me aur Main where Kavita Krishnamoorthy’s song ‘Na jaane kahaan se aayi hai… from Chaalbaaz was rendered by a male singer and sung from a male perspective-‘Kisike haath na aayega yeh ladka…’



-The 2013 film Boss starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi had the remix version of the song Har kisiko nahi milta yahan pyar zindagi mein…’ from Jaanbaaz.



The film Student of The Year had another song in remix version included as part of college fun:

‘Ye chaand sa roshan chehra…’  


Remix as enjoyable as originals?

-In some cases like the songs of Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya, Queen and Raees, the remixed songs had a pulsating energy of their own and thanks to some imaginative choreography, these remixes managed to garner a popularity on their own merit. But that cannot take away the credit from the original compositions.

In the remixed version of ‘Laila main laila…’ newcomer Pawni Pandey’s spirited rendition coupled with Sunny Leone’s electrifying dance moves and SRK’s fight sequence, managed to capture the magic of the original song to some extent. Since both are picturized as club dances, the effect was not diluted.

Remix (Raees)

Original (Qurbani)

In case of ‘Tamma tamma loge…’, the situation is a club scene where this retro number is being played. This seems to justify the inclusion of the remix version of the original and our current stars get to dance and pay a ‘tribute’ to the original song. In fact, after watching Varun Dhawan’s pleasing moves, Sanjay Dutt’s awkward dance movements in Thaanedar do look funny.

Remix (Badrinath ki Dulhaniya)

Original (Thaanedar)

-The signature line from the song ‘Chalat musafir moh liya re… from Teesri Kasam , which itself is said to be inspired from a Bihari folk tune, has been used to compose the songs ‘Thaana mein baithe on duty…’ in Dabangg 2 and the title song of the film Badrinath ki Dulhaniya. The remixed versions are  a rage no doubt due to the extremely catchy  beats and lively picturization … and yet can the composers really take much credit?




-Another song which became a rage was the remixed version of the Asha Bhonsle number ‘Hungama ho gaya…  from the film Anhonee which was included in the 2012 super-hit Queen. The remix song has some lines from the original song and  soon became an instant hit when released.



Remixes included to show a particular era:

-Sometimes remixes are included under the pretext of recreating a particular era and time-frame of the story in question. For instance the biopic Azhar, based on the events of cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin’s life, had the remix version of the superb song from TridevGajar ne kiya hai ishaara…’. As he had had an affair with actress Sangeeta Bijlani, a song picturized on her was conveniently lifted and remixed. But the remix was bad both in terms of rendition and picturization.



The film Once Upon a Time in Mumbai showcased the life-story of a fictional character based on the lines of the underworld Don- Haaji Mastaan who was very popular for his crimes in the seventies. What better way to recreate the era then to have a cabaret number reminiscent of Helen-R D Burman combination which dominated the film scene at that time! The makers attempted to capture the magic of Helen by combining tunes of two popular songs!

‘Parda Parda…’



Combination of two famous songs- ‘Duniya mein logon ko…’ from the film Apna Desh and ‘Piya tu ab to aaja…’ from the film Caravan.

-Bombay Velvet was a period drama set in the sixties and dealt with the world of crime and jazz clubs in Mumbai at that time. Once again filmmakers felt justified to include the remixed version of an old song- a Geeta Dutt classic from CID this time…

‘Jaata kahaan hai deewaane…’



Full original song but sung by a different singer:

In the film Bombay Talkies, a small beggar girl is shown to sing old film songs and beg at a railway bridge. So director Karan Johar included two evergreen songs of the unbeatable duo of ‘Lata Mangeshkar-Madan Mohan’-‘ Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh…’ (film: Dil Apna aur Preet Paraya)  and ‘Lag ja gale…’  (film: Woh Kaun Thi) in the voice of a young singer Rashi Harmalkar.






Original songs- new picturizations-

There are some songs where the original track of the old song is kept intact but picturized on the current stars:

‘Kajra mohabbatwaala….’

Full original song but picturized on Kangna Ranaut in the film Tanu weds Manu

Original (Kismet)


‘Aapki nazron ne samjha….’

In the film Aligarh based on the real life story of a gay professor, Manoj Bajpai plays the title role. He is shown to be fond of old Hindi film songs and this classic song from the film Anpadh is shown to be played on the radio with the professor enjoying the song. It is okay to show a man enjoying a song but to have the full song picturized on his face was a tad too much to sit through in the film…


Incidentally this song had a remixed version which appeared in the Hollywood film Mistress of Spices starring Aishwarya Rai

‘An evening in Paris…’

The song ‘An Evening in Paris…’ in Mohammed Rafi’s original voice from the film An Evening in Paris is played in the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and the scenes showed Ranbir and Anushka dancing on the streets of Paris listening to the song on their ipod! But when this film had such original gems composed by music director Pritam, where was the need to include his song in the album? But it sure managed to create a justifiable reason(!) to include an old classic. The funny part is this was not included in the film when it released.


‘Inhi logon ne le li na dupatta mera…’

There was a dance situation in the film Naya Andaz, where Rekha lip-syncs to the entire original song from Pakeezah.


You Tube videos:

It is common knowledge that remixed versions of old songs are continuously churned out as D J remixes everyday with new faces. But a new trend seems to be to make these YouTube videos with established stars. It is one thing for young entrants and newcomers to indulge in such videos but it is weird to see stars like Hrithik Roshan and Sonam encourage remixes by acting in such videos.



Doing remixes of old film songs is not a new thing in our music industry. This has happened before in earlier times also. Ashok Kumar’s rendition of ‘Koi Humdum na raha… from the film Jevan Naiyya (1936) was sung again by younger brother Kishore Kumar in Jhumroo in 1960. It is not just a question of which version was better. The song was composed by Saraswati Devi and Kishore Kumar gave it a more melodious twist but the work of the original music director was not acknowledged.

There is also the case of the song ‘Inhi logon ne le li na dupatta mera…’. Though this song is remembered for the Lata Mangeshkar version, there were two more versions before this:

The original version was sung by Shamshad Begum in Himmat in 1941. Only the audio of this song is available but that has wrongly been superimposed on a dance sequence from a different film. One can still hear the audio clearly. The 2nd version is sung by Yakub in the film Aabroo. Did the original lyricist get credit for the words which were later altered a little bit in the newer versions?

Even if the acknowledgement is given, sometimes it robs the identity of the older stars on whom the song was picturized and the new generation starts associating the song with the new faces which is not morally correct. For instance, the ‘Hungama ho gaya… song from Anhonee is like a signature song of Bindu’s yet today people associate it more with Kangna. Similar is the case with Tamma Tamma loge…’. How then is the inclusion of the remixes justified?

In some cases the argument offered is that the old number had been long forgotten and it is only due to the popularity of the remixed version that the old song also came into limelight once again. So this way awareness is being increased in the younger generation who have otherwise no time to go back and hear the original old songs… Could this be true?

Instead of giving the new singers time, space and opportunity to leave their own footprint, why are they made to croon already popular old numbers? Neither the singer nor the composer nor the lyricist can take any credit…

Honestly what is the point of rehashing and re-recording the old songs which are now part of our heritage? They belonged to a different time and represent a different era and they need to be preserved in their original state. Respecting our legacy is important. Recreating old tunes in the name of ‘tribute’ does not spell progress or advance creativity.

Long after the artistes, song writers and all others associated with a song pass away all we have left to remember them is these songs… Take the case of the song ‘Gulaabi aankhen…’. If we pause to think, none associated with the song are around today- hero Rajesh Khanna, heroine Nanda, singer Mohammed Rafi, music director R D Burman, lyricist Anand Bakshi, director Ravikant Nagaich and producer Ramesh Behl- and yet they all will continue to live through this song which is a culmination of all their efforts.













Sharada Iyer

Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar have been the two glorious pillars of our Hindi film music whose invaluable contribution to playback-singing was instrumental in laying the foundation of the ‘Golden era’ of Hindi cinema. This was the era when melody reigned supreme and songs formed an integral and inseparable part of our films.

Together they have given us several incomparable solos and many remarkable duets which are embedded in the psyche of every cine-lover. In fact, many a time it was the expressive and evocative rendering of these singers which infused more life into the song and the on-screen character than the emotive ability of the actors who were lip-syncing!

Interestingly, there were also some rare songs where these two giants got the opportunity to sing different versions of the same song! In this musical blog, I bring to you 21 such songs and a little note on the situations in the films where these dual versions were inserted. Such songs appeared at different times during the narrative of the film and depending on the situation in the story and mood of the characters singing, the versions were either sad or happy.

In some songs the male version sounds superior while in some the female version sounds better but there is no doubt that these two great singers created magic with their divine voices making both the versions memorable in their own inimitable way …

YAKEEN (1969)

The melodious song ‘Gar tum bhula na doge…’ from the taut thriller has dual versions and both are sung in a happy mood. Dharmendra gets to portray a brilliant double role- that of a noble scientist and a ruthless killer. While the Rafi version is sung by the scientist Dharmendra declaring his love for Sharmila, the Lata version is sung by Sharmila to the killer Dharmendra who is incidentally impersonating the scientist and pretending to have a memory loss. She sings this to remind him of their happy times spent together.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

CHIRAAG (1969)

This film has the lovely number ‘Teri aankhon ke siva…’ sung in two versions. While the happy version is sung by Rafi where Sunil Dutt describes the beauty of Asha Parekh’s eyes, the sad version is sung by Lata after Asha Parekh loses her eyesight in a tragic way. In this case, though both the versions are nice, it is the Rafi version which became far more popular.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

JUNGLEE (1961)

Both versions of the song ‘Ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar… are poignantly rendered as the words convey Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu’s unwavering love for each other. In the movie the songs appear almost back to back with only a couple of scenes in between. The next scene after Shammi Kapoor pledges his love for Saira through this song, he has an argument with his mother where she forbids Shammi from marrying Saira Banu. To this Shammi Kapoor also tells his mother that if he cannot marry Saira then he would not marry anyone else either. A disillusioned Shammi then wonders what will happen to his promise to Saira! He feels guilty and then dreams of Saira singing this same song to him!

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


The film is a triangular love-story. Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari love each other but by a quirk of fate she gets engaged to Ashok Kumar. The way music director Roshan has extracted two totally different versions from these two singers conveying contrasting emotions is just incredible. In fact, Roshan  gives Rafi one of his career-best songs in –‘Dil jo na keh saka wohi raaze dil kehne ki raat aayi…’ and the kind of hurt and pain Rafi Saab manages to convey in his version is unbelievable!  On the other hand Lataji infuses a quiet dignity to her sensuous romantic version,  Majrooh’s lyrics are simply awesome.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


Though both versions of the film’s title song ‘Jiya o jiya o jiya kuch bol do…’ are fast paced, one version conveys happiness and the other imparts a sad feeling. Rafi’s lively singing matches Dev Anand’s on-screen ebullience and also brings a unique ‘X’-factor to the song which is completely missing in the Lata version. The memorable image of Dev Anand atop a car singing to Asha Parekh sitting on the train remains etched in the viewer’s mind till date. (Incidentally the picturization of this song reminds one of the famous song ‘Mere sapnon ki rani …’ from Aaradhna where Rajesh Khanna sings from a jeep to Sharmila sitting on the train and both songs were picturized in Darjeeling.)

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


This Muslim-social of the sixties was not only a super-hit at the box-office but also had super-hit music with Naushad churning out some of his best tunes to give us outstanding songs. The title song Mere Mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam…’ had two versions and both are sung in a romantic mood. The Rafi version is sung by Rajender Kumar during a college poetry competition where he not only pours out his feelings for his unknown lover but also pleads with her to come out in the open and meet him again! Incidentally he had had only a brief chance encounter  with the heroine Sadhana during which he had actually seen only her beautiful eyes. Yet he falls crazily in love with her. Rafi is simply brilliant bringing in all these feelings in his singing.

The Lata version is sung by Sadhana to her friends where she sings the same song remembering her unknown admirer whom she had heard in college. So the feelings evoked in the female version are somewhat different and lack the passion he brings to it. So this turns out to be a light romantic number and was not half as popular as the Rafi version. 

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


This musical film is remembered for the outstanding ‘qawaalis’ which are beautifully woven into the narrative of the film. Bharat Bhushan is a poet and his brief encounter with Madhubala on a stormy night not only makes him fall in love with her but also becomes his inspiration for his song which he sings on radio the bext day. The song ‘Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat…’  is set to raag Yaman and once again the genius Roshan gives Rafi Saab another one of his career-best songs.

The second version or the duet version is sung under stressful circumstances. While these two are happy and in love with each other, Madhubala’s father  K N Singh is against their relationship.  Though she runs away from home to be with Bharat Bhushan, she is disillusioned by the circumstances and sings this song on a sad note. Rafi joins her at the end trying to pacify her and asking her to be positive. 

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar-Mohammed Rafi duet


Both versions of this haunting melody ‘O meri shahe khuma,o meri jaane janana…’ touch the inner recesses of our heart and leave a deep impact. Both the male and the female versions are happy with a touch of poignancy as the lovers are confessing their love but are missing each other.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


This film is quite an atypical Shammi Kapoor film where he has only one dance number. He is crazily in love with Helen for a good part of the film and not the heroine Asha Parekh. Further for some time he pretendst to be  madman and gets admitted to a mental asylum and after a while he really becomes mad and comes back for actual treatmenrt this time! Phew!not exactly on e of Shammi’s best!!!

In the Rafi version of the song ‘Tum mujhe yun bhula na paaoge…, Shammi Kapoor sings this song thinking of Helen and tells Asha Parekh, who happens to be the doctor treating him, how much he loves Helen. Actually in the beginning of the film, he sings a few lines of this lovely song to Helen on the beach.  Because of the heartfelt meaning of the lyrics- ‘…jab kabhi bhi sunoge geet mere sung sung tum bhi gungunaaoge…’ (you cannot forget me for whenever you hear my songs you are bound to sing them with me), this song became an iconic song and was played on the sad occasions when both Rafi Saab and Shammi Kapoor passed away. The words are so truly applicable to both of them.

Meanwhile Asha Parekh falls in love with Shammi Kapoor and helps him recollect his old memories by singing this song. She ends up adding her own feelings also. In comparison, the Lata version was not able to match the male version and did not become popular…

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

GHAZAL (1964)

During the sixties, many Muslim socials were made which opened up the prospect of including lovely ‘ghazals’. This film had the beautiful ghazal ‘Naghma o sher ki saugaat kise pesh karoon…’ and is remembered for the haunting version of Lata Mangeshkar picturized on Meena Kumari. In the film, Sunil Dutt overhears this song, falls in love with the poetry and the voice but is unable to find out the person singing. The next day uses a few stanzas of the same ghazal to sing his version at a get-together of poets being held in the same house. He does this in a bid to come face to face with the woman behind the voice he had heard the day before. This Rafi version is  a playful romantic number and not an exact copy of the Lata version as the tune is slightly modified and though the song is very nice, this time it is the Lata version which scores.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

DEEDAR (1951)

The evergreen song- ‘Bachpan ke din bhula na dena…’ has a solo and duet version. The duet version is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum and picturized on child artistes enacting the younger roles of Nargis and Dilip Kumar. In the film these two childhood friends get separated soon after the song as her father forces the boy to leave town with his mother. Years pass and she forgets about him and is happily engaged to Ashok Kumar. But Dilip Kumar  who had become blind after an accident had spent all these years thinking about her and yearning for her.

On getting his eyesight back he is shocked to see that not only is his childhood friend engaged to the doctor who had restored his eyesight but sadly has no recollection of him from her younger days. One evening when the three are out on a horse-cart, Dilip Kumar is unable to control his emotions and sings the same song hoping to revive her memory. But here Rafi Saab’s version is totally eclipsed by the duet version and Lataji’s innocent voice resonates in our ears to this day giving the song the status of a classic…

Lata Mangeshkar-Shamshad Begum

Mohammed Rafi

BETI BETE (1964)

This is a highly emotional and very interesting family drama where three siblings (Baby Farida, Master Shahid and a small baby) abandoned by their blind father are left to fend for themselves. Things become worse when the three get separated from one another tragically and grow up under different circumstances with different people. The adult actors in the role of the siblings are Jamuna, Sunil Dutt and Mehmood. Incidentally this film has the famous Rafi song ‘Raadhike tune bansuri churaayi…‘ which became so popular that it eclipsed the beautiful dual version song from the film.

Baby Farida is shown to sing this beautiful lullaby ‘Aaj kal mein dhal gaya…’ to put her younger brothers to sleep. Her brilliant acting along with Lata Mangeshkar’s evocative singing and the scene of the poor orphaned kids leaves an indelible and deep mark in the viewer’s heart. The duet version is sung when they are adults, as the sister and brother ( Jamuna and Sunil Dutt) sing this sad song remembering their childhood days and feel the pain of separation.  

Lata Mangeshkar

Mohammed Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet


This super-hit film with superb songs turned the ‘jodi’ of  Shashi-Kapoor-Nanda into a popular pair. Here Mohammed Rafi gets to sing a happy and a sad version of the super-hit song ‘Pardesiyon se na akhiyaan milana….’. The happy one he sings  as a happy-go-lucky boatman and guide in Kashmir and the sad one comes in the film when the rich tourist Nanda whom he falls in love with, goes back to her city after her visit and he thinks she is engaged to someone else. Both are superb songs conveying the perfect emotions. There is also a Lata version of the song which is a happy song and one in which Shashi Kapoor imagines Nanda singing on the boat just like him.

Interestingly the Rafi version became a super-hit while the Lata version is hardly known to many.

Mohammed Rafi-happy version

Mohammed Rafi-sad version

Lata Mangeshkar

ISHAARA (1964)

Both the male and female versions of this beautiful song ‘Dil beqaraar sa hai humko khumaar sa hai…’ set to tune by Kalyanji-Anandji are happy romantic numbers. The film belonged to the typical ‘family-drama’ genre so popular and prevalent in the sixties. While the happy version by Rafi was sung by Joy Mukherjee to Vyjayantimala, the Lata version comes as a flashback to Vyjayantimala when she reminisces their happy days as now they have been separated due to a misunderstanding. Once again Rafi Saab scores as his version definitely had an edge and that soft ‘x-factor’ required for such songs!

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


The hit songAgar bewafaa tujhko pehchaan jaate…is from this unheard of film which starred Sonia Shani and Dev Kumar. Not much information is available about the film and the video for the male version is also missing. Will update as and when I get more information. For now the two versions of the song can be heard and the Lata version can be seen and both are sad songs sung under some hurtful circumstances.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

TAQDEER (1967)

This family drama of separation and reunion had enough scope for multiple versions of the popular song- ‘Jab jab bahaar aaye aur phool muskuraye…’ to appear at different times in the narrative. The Rafi version is sung in happier times by Bharat Bhushan to his family. He plays a music teacher and teaches the song to his students also. But one night returning from an overseas trip his ship is caught in a storm and life takes an ugly turn. He gets separated from his family and he is thought to be dead. His wife ends up marrying the very person whom Bharat Bhushan had disliked. The Lata version is sung by one of his students as part of a program at a school function. She is now a music teacher there and is touched to meet her teacher after so many years. This version is also a happy version. (There is also a third version of the song which is a sad version sung by his three grown up children at a party but the singers are Mahendra Kapoor and Usha Mangeshkar).

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar

SEHRA (1963)

This film directed by V Shantaram tells the story of two warring tribal groups set in the deserts of Rajasthan. Not surprisingly, the hero and heroine who belong to these opposite groups fall in love and face extreme opposition from their families. In fact the heroine Sandhya is then forcibly married off to another much against her wishes. Both the versions of the song ‘Taqdeer ka fasana jaakar kise sunayen.…’ are sad as they convey the hurt and pain of lovers who have been separated permanently. The Rafi version is sung on the day of Sandhya’s marriage and Lataji’s version echoes the same feelings before marriage. The film’s super-hit music was given by a now-forgotten composer Ramlal. He was the music director of the film ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne‘ also

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


This super-hit musical thriller based on the ‘lost & found’ theme had the perfect script for the inclusion of a dual version song- a Lata Mangeshkar solo and a Rafi-Kishore duet. The Lata Mangeshkar version of the title song ‘Yaadon ki baraat nikli hai aaj dil ke dwaare… is sung by the mother to her three sons in happier times. However, soon after this happy family song tragedy strikes. The parents are assassinated and the three sons are separated. Years later they are reunited through the same song which the youngest son sings every day in a club in a bid to attract attention and to get in touch with his elder brothers…

Mohammed Rafi-Kishore Kumar duet

Lata Mangeshkar


In this musical rom-com, Dharmendra and Rajendra Kumar play twin brothers (wow!) separated at birth but as their mother has been sworn to secrecy they grow up without knowing this truth about their identity. Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu fall in love with each other and interestingly both the versions of this song Tum Kamsin ho nadaan ho…’ appear in the film almost successively with just one scene in between. Both are happy numbers sung equally brilliantly by the two greats.While the Rafi version has a little teasing quality to it, the Lata version is slightly more subdued but both bring out the love between the hero and heroine in their own subtle way.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar


Directed by Satyen Bose this Dharmendra-Raakhee starrer had an interesting plot with Dharmendra coming up with one of his best performances. Music directors Laxmikant-Pyarelal gave us the evergreen haunting number ‘Jhilmil sitaron ka aangan hoga…’ which had two versions. The happy version is a Lata-Rafi duet which is fast-paced romantic number sung in happier times by them. But fate intervenes and their marriage never takes place. Dharmendra is wrongly framed of a crime he does not commit and sent to jail. Later she gets the wrong news that he is dead and decides to don the garb of a widow and live her life in his memory. Out of jail, Dharmendra changes his appearance to that of a Sikh businessman to take revenge. One day when he enters Raakhee’s house he hears her singing the sad version. Both versions are wonderful but the duet became far more popular and remains so even today.

Mohammed Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet

Lata Mangeshkar

GEET (1970)

This Ramanand Sagar directed film had the immensely popular duet ‘Aaja tujhko pukaare mere geet re…’ composed by Kalyanji-Anandji . Not many are aware that there was a fabulous solo version also of the same song by Rafi Saab. This solo version comes in the film when Mala Sinha, a stage artiste from the city, comes to Kulu for a holiday and is mesmerized by the cowherd Rajender Kumar’s voice! The duet version is sung by both after they fall in love with each other.

Mohammed Rafi

Lata Mangeshkar-Mohammed Rafi duet



Sharada Iyer

When I wrote my blog titled ‘Bollywood’s Drag-Queen Acts’ last year (https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/bollywoods-drag-queen-acts/), which dealt with a few instances of Bollywood actors dressed up in female attire in our films, there were a few requests from friends to do a post on the ‘Drag-King’ acts wherein our actresses decided to dress up as ‘males’ on screen! So here goes…

Though the variety of scripts demanding the actresses to don the guise of a man was far lesser than in the case of actors dressing up as a woman, I managed to find 19 films (from 1954-2014) where our heroines took on this challenge! While some of the actresses had quite a few scenes in the male guise, others got to masquerade in the get-up only for one scene. The reasons for donning the male get-up varied from as simple a thing as playing a prank to something as grave as taking refuge in it to escape from being forcibly married off to a man of their parents’ choice. In some instances it was to take revenge  and in some it was to save their dignity from lecherous men ready to pounce on single women living alone. In one instance it was just to be included in an ‘all-boys’ sports team! 

VIDYA BALAN in Bobby Jasoos (2014)

Vidya plays Bilqees Ahmed a Hyderabadi girl who takes the name of ‘Bobby’ to become a ‘jasoos’ or private detective and solves the neighbourhood cases. During one of her cases she gets the opportunity to don several disguises as a guy to find the necessary information regarding the whereabouts of two girls in the area and to track them down. Vidya looks very convincing in the various get-ups but sadly she has not been allotted enough screen-time to make a great impact.


RANI MUKHERJI in Dil Bole Hadippa (2009)

In this Yash Raj film Rani Mukhejee plays Veera a  village girl who is crazy about cricket and wants to be in her village squad as a batsman but is rejected by the selectors and the team captain (Shahid Kapoor) for being a girl. So she decides to become Veer Paratap Singh – Veera’s brother. Her make-up as Veer is very convincing, her acting is outstanding and the film is thoroughly enjoyable. Shahid who falls in love with Veera does not come to know of the real identity of Veer Pratap for a long time. The final innings of the match in the climax has both these ‘batsmen’ at the crease and has an interesting ending!


RAVEENA TANDON and ISHAA KOPPIKKAR  in Ek Se Badhkar Ek (2004)

This was Kundan Shah’s last directorial venture. Here Raveena Tandon is a police inspector and Ishaa Koppikkar plays a RAW agent. To get some important information to nab the real culprits, these two dress up as Sikh guys. They do look convincing but the scene is a very short one and there is not much to write about.


SHILPA SHETTY in Pardesi Babu (1998)

Shilpa Shetty is the daughter of a rich businessman and is going to be forcibly married off to the guy chosen by her father. She runs away from her house and lands up in Govinda’s small rented accommodation. But the landlady’s condition before renting out had been that since Govinda was a bachelor, he should not bring any woman into his room! For a while Shilpa Shetty disguises as a Sikh guy to escape being spotted until the truth is revealed and the two get thrown out of their tenement.reverse32reverse 33

SRIDEVI in Mr India (1987)

In this fun-filled film, Sridevi dresses up as ‘Charlie Chaplin’ in a scene. In this guise, she enters a casino along with a young boy and inadvertently ends up creating havoc. Unknown to her Anil Kapoor, who is invisible to everyone except the young friend who can see him through a special lens, bashes up the goons in the casino and to the onlookers it looks like Sridevi is the one doing it. This hilarious scene was included to elicit some fun and expectedly the audience loved it.

Here is the link to the above scene from the film:

SAIRA BANU- Victoria No.203 (1973)

This is a fast-paced comedy cum thriller which involves the theft of some valuable diamonds which are hidden in the Victoria No.203 unknown to its owners Saira Banu and her father. Unfortunately her father gets blamed for a murder he didn’t commit and she and her younger sister are left alone to fend for themselves. She decides to become a Victoria driver but she has to disguise as a man because she is informed politely that the license to drive a Victoria is given only to men. Saira Banu looks quite convincing and the hero Navin Nischol becomes chums with ‘him’!

saira banu-victoria no 203reverse16

KUM KUM in Lalkar (1972)

This Ramanand Sagar war film starring Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Mala Sinha and Kum Kum  was well-made and had lovely songs. Kum Kum plays a tribal princess who secretly loves Dharmendra and to help him from getting attacked by the enemy camp, she disguises as a tribal boy and helps them by being their guide and accompanying them on the dangerous mission. Of Course! After a while Dharmendra does find out the truth!


TANUJA in Do Chor (1972)

Tanuja dons the guise of a man at night and goes about robbing specific pieces of jewellery from the houses of some rich businessmen and leaves a Swastik sign as proof of the thief’s presence. As the film’s name signifies, the film’s hero Dharmendra also happens to be a thief and catches her during one of her robberies, falls for the disguise and decides to become ‘partners in crime’ with this new thief. Tanuja fools him for a while and pretends to be the normal Tanuja’s brother but ultimately the truth is revealed. Tanuja has quite a few scenes in the thief’s get-up and looks smart and quite believable as a guy.


PADMINI in Mera Naam Joker (1970)

This magnum-opus acted and directed by Raj Kapoor for R K Films was a classic and had a unique story-line. There are three leading ladies whom Raj Kapoor meets at different stages of his life and Padmini who comes in the third part of the film is initially introduced in the film as a boy working in a circus. Later when Raj Kapoor discovers her true identity she explains that it was to protect her dignity from the lecherous gaze of men and to earn a decent living that she had to forcibly pretend to be a boy. There are however very few scenes of her in the get-up.


MUMTAZ in Himmat (1970)

This film directed by Ravi Nagaich had just one scene in which Mumtaz disguises as a young lad. After the death of her parents, the man she looked upon as a brother tries to molest her and she runs away in this disguise. She gets into a truck waiting at a level crossing which is incidentally being driven by Jeetendra and his friend Jagdeep. Taking her to be a boy, they decide to help her.Though Jeetendra finds out her reality he teases her for a while pretending not to know just to have some fun.


BABITA in Kismat (1968)

This film has the evergreen Asha Bhonsle- Shamshad Begum duet composed by OP Nayyar-‘Kajra mohabbat waala, akhiyon mein aisa daala...’. The film released nearly fifty years ago yet this unique song retains its freshness and charm and remains a top favourite even today. This film is a fast-paced thriller, where a man hides an important coded message inside a guitar before he is murdered. Now the gang of crooks is after Biswajit-the owner of the guitar and thereafter the whole film is just a series of chase sequences with the villains running after his life and his guitar. He meets Babita and a friend on the way and to ward off the gangsters, they enter a dance troupe’s tent, disguise themselves and sing this awesome number. She dresses up as a guy and he as a girl.

ASHA PAREKH in Love in Tokyo (1966)

In this musical rom-com, when Asha Parekh learns of her father’s idea to marry her off to Pran-the man she dislikes, she dons the disguise of a Sikh and runs away from her house. She meets Joy Mukherjee and falls in love but continues to fool him in the guise of his Sikh friend as well. Expectedly after a while the truth is revealed. Though her outfit is well done, her shrill voice does seem a giveaway but then poor Joy Mukherjee does get fooled!


SAIRA BANU in Junglee (1961)

In her debut film itself Saira Banu gets to disguise as a man albeit for just a scene. To play a prank on Shammi Kapoor, she disguises as a ‘sadhu’ or ascetic and  predicts that to avoid a catastrophe in his life he is required to travel to a distant place and bow before the Lord regularly for 15 days. He falls for the trick and starts on the journey but soon discovers that it was Saira Banu fooling him.


MALA SINHA in Bewaqoof (1960)

In this full-on comedy film starring Kishore Kumar, I S Johar, Pran and Mala Sinha, this get-up is used just to play a prank. To escape from Pran who is following them, Mala Sinha and her friend (I do not know the name of this actress) decide to dress up as bearded men and drive away to a distant place. Coincidentally at the same time, Kishore Kumar and I S Johar who have also decided to disguise in ‘drag’ end up getting a lift from Mala Sinha in her car. On reaching the destination, the girls discover their truth and decide to fool the guys for some more time before revealing the truth. The scene is quite hilarious. While Mala Sinha and her friend look decent in their get-up, Kishore Kumar and I S Johar look obnoxious dressed as females!!!

mala sinha-bewaqoofmala Sinha bewaqoof2

KALPANA KARTIK in Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Vijay Anand makes his directorial debut with this film produced by Dev Anand. In the film Kalpana Kartik is being forced by her father to marry the good-for-nothing Jeevan. On the day of her marriage, when she is pondering over her plight, she overhears a conversation between Dev Anand (who had just dropped by to attend the wedding) and his friend where he suggests jokingly that if he were in the bride’s place he would run away. Taking a cue from this idea, she decides to run away. She disguises as a boy, caries with her some cash and jewellery and hides in Dev Anand’s trailer-truck conveniently parked outside her house.

She becomes his companion for a while before the truth of her identity is revealed. Interestingly later on towards the end of the film she reverts back to this disguise to thwart Jeevan’s plans to usurp a hidden ‘will’ meant for Dev Anand which would make him inherit Rs 9 lakhs of cash and Rs 2 lakhs worth of property (nau do gyarah! )


MADHUBALA in Raj Hath (1957)

Produced and directed by Sohrab Modi, the film has him playing the King of an empire whose ego is hurt when his proposal to have his daughter (Madhubala) married to the neighbouring kingdom’s prince (Pradeep Kumar) is rejected. He then declares war on them but is aware that to enter the enemy’s fortress and navigate through its various secret passages, they need to get hold of the blueprint of the palace which has to be retrieved and for this purpose, a brave person is required to enter that kingdom stealthily and get the map from inside the King’s palace.

Madhubala dressed up as a young warrior comes forward for the task and is proud when ‘he’ is lauded for ‘his’ bravery by the King and granted permission to undertake this difficult task. She returns home after successfully completing the mission and in the process also ends up falling in love with Pradeep Kumar. But her disguise is successful as no one comes to know of her true identity.


GEETA BALI in Rangeen Ratein (1956)

This is a unique film because here Geeta Bali does not just dress up as a man for a few scenes, but plays a male character ‘Gullu’ in the film. It is said that Shammi Kapoor and she were at the height of their romance around the time of the shooting of the film. The shooting was to be in the hill station Ranikhet which would require Shammi Kapoor to be away from Bombay for a while. So in order to be near him, Geeta Bali requested the director Kidar Sharma (who had incidentally given her the first break in films) to create a role for her. As there was no scope for a female character in the script, a male character was created and so Geeta Bali turned into a man for the film.


VYJAYANTIMALA in Kismet Ka Khel (1956)

Vyjayanthimala is a street urchin and she and her street friends indulge in petty thieving and robbery to make a living. During one of her late-night outings where she had gone to steal some bread and bun for her friends and herself, she comes across Sunil Dutt who is hiding in the bakery. She is dressed up as a boy but a few scenes later her real identity is revealed.

reverse drag queen 2

reverse drag queen1

KALPANA KARTIK in Taxi Driver (1954)

In this film Dev Anand plays a taxi-driver and during one of his trips manages to rescue Kalpana Kartik from the clutches of two goons who take her to a lonely place and try to misbehave with her. After this, he takes her to live with him in his small tenement as she is new to the city and has come in search of a music baron who had promised to give her a break. Unexpectedly his old and orthodox ‘Bhabhi’ (sister-in-law) decides to come and stay with him for a few days. Dev Anand realizing the problems that can crop up if his Bhabhi comes to know that a girl is staying with him decides to chop off Kalpana’s hair, gets her to dress up in his loose-fitting clothes and turns her into his ‘cleaner and helper boy’ who is staying with him.

Kalpana looks convincing as a helper boy and also acts well.

Interestingly, the film produced by Dev Anand himself is directed by Chetan Anand, with dialogues written by Vijay Anand. The story  is by Chetan Anand, his wife Uma Anand and Vijay Anand and it is during the shooting of this film that Dev Anand and Kalpana fell in love and got secretly married also!!!



Here are the YouTube links of a few songs featuring our ‘drag-kings’:








Badrinath ki Dulhaniya: A well-crafted rom-com


Sharada Iyer

Badrinath ki Dulhaniya is an out and out ‘paisa-vasool’ entertainer and makes for delightful viewing thanks to the dollops of humour laced into the enjoyable narrative and superb performances from Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. But it is not just another flimsy entertainer because entwined in the plot are topical issues like dowry, male chauvinism, our society’s ridiculous obsession with a male child and above all the parental pressures which mentally and emotionally influence the youngsters and rob them of their freedom to choose the kind of life they want to lead or the life-partners they want to be with …


badri 1

To writer-director Shashank Khaitan goes the credit for putting across all these points without making it look too grim and preachy yet conveying the message loud and clear. The dialogues are really hilariously written and in a way the movie is like a mirror being held in front of the audience to show them the senseless mind-set which still exists in our country especially in the smaller towns and villages. Here young girls are still not allowed to dream, their wings being clipped as they are forced to ‘to settle down’ due to various reasons. And guys grow up thinking that just being a guy (literate or not) and that too the son of a rich landlord not only makes them ‘perfect’ groom material but also grants them the right to stalk the girl they fall for and harass her till she says yes! (Yes, that is a frightening reality!)

The story of Badri (Varun Dhawan) and Vaidehi (Alia Bhatt) who hail from the small towns of Jhansi and Kota respectively starts off when he sees her at a friend’s wedding and he falls for her immediately but at that time she is not interested. However being the film’s hero our stalker is in reality a good man but brought up on warped principles which have instilled in him the wrong perceptions of marriage and relationships. So he is not able to handle or understand her rejection.

And Alia-our new-age ‘dulhaniya’ is no Madhuri Dixit of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun who wordlessly agrees to marry her brother-in-law when her sister dies or Kajol of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge who accepts her fate and is ready to bury her love for SRK to become the bride to the man of her father’s choice. Alia has a mind of her own and is not willing to compromise at any cost. However she is also in a dilemma for she genuinely starts liking Badri. But the claustrophobic old-fashioned outlook of his parents and his inability to fight for her leave her with no alternative but to turn him down. When her repeated pleas to him and to her parents fall on deaf ears, she agrees to the proposal but leaves him in the lurch at the marriage altar much to the embarrassment of her parents and humiliation of her would-be in-laws.

She flies off to Singapore to become an air-hostess. Not one to give up Badri follows her there too till circumstances start to change his understanding and he learns it the hard way that a woman wants respect more than love and that her ideas are also equally important in a marriage for there is but one life for everyone… He is deported  and he comes back a changed man. He realizes that the free-spirited Vaidehi would be miserable in his household where his father’s rule dominates unless he has the guts to stand up and oppose him.

Of course! In the end things are sorted and the lovers do get together but not before the interesting scene where Badri gathers enough courage to confront his father on the day when his family is conducting a puja to pray for a grandson to be born to their pregnant daughter-in-law! Badri then has a show-down with his father and questions him on the absurdity of the very idea of such a function and reminds him that the city of Jhansi where they live is known for a daughter –the Rani of Jhansi– and not for any son. The era of gender equality had arrived and the earlier people like him accepted this truth, the better it would be for all of them…

The story may sound clichéd but the treatment is definitely not. Further it is a fact that however much we may talk of women empowerment in reality social evils of dowry and patriarchy still exist. Hence such love-stories will always find takers and hit the jackpot in whatever era they are made.

(Note: Actors Yash Sinha and Shweta  Basu Prasad  playing Varun’s ‘Bhaiyya’ and ‘Bhabhi’ respectively will definitely remind us of Mohnish Behl and Renuka Shahane from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun!)

The choice of Kota as the film’s setting deserves a special mention for attractively capturing the ‘Seven Wonders Park’ on the banks of Lake Kishore Sagar . Frankly, I had no idea of its existence and now it has made it to my list of ‘must-see places’!

Finally, no film is perfect and there are situations and scenes which need to be taken with a pinch of salt. And yet the film does stand out for raising some pertinent issues. As the framework is within a typical family drama, it will appeal to a large section of the audience across the country. Added to that the songs are catchy, the canvas is colourful and pleasing and the performances are good. Both Alia and Varun are not only perfectly cast and look good, their acting is spot-on and their on-screen chemistry is terrific!

So just go and enjoy this ‘typical’ Bollywood block-buster… It won’t disappoint you!










The 9th Royal Stag MIRCHI MUSIC AWARDS: An unforgettable night of music and ‘masti’


Sharada Iyer

Being a die-hard fan of Hindi films and an ardent lover of Hindi film music, I was thrilled to get an opportunity to attend this year’s Mirchi Music Awards held on 18th February, 2017. Though this was the 9th year of these awards, this was the first time the function was thrown open to the general public and the tickets were sold online through ‘BookMyShow’.


For those who may not be aware, the Mirchi Music Awards were instituted by the FM radio station ‘Radio Mirchi’ in 2009 to honour both the artistic and technical excellence of the professionals in the Hindi film music industry of that particular year. The awards are given in seventeen different categories and include awards like Best Arranger, Best Sound Engineer, Best Song Mixing, etc. apart from the usual ones like Best Lyricist, Best Composer, Best Singer, etc. These winners are chosen by an eminent team of jury members which include lyricists, composers, singers and film directors and the jury this time was headed by veteran lyricist, writer and poet Javed Akhtar.

Source: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirchi_Music_Awards)        (http://www.mirchimusicawards.com/?rm983=mma)

A night to remember:

Unlike the innumerable Bollywood award shows held throughout the year where the film stars hog the entire limelight, here the focus was only on the music fraternity of Bollywood- the inimitable veterans, the upcoming young talents and the current top-notch favourites…


I have seen so many award shows on Television and YouTube but nothing can match up to seeing the actual event live.Indeed it is not every day that one gets to attend such a unique award show…so not wanting to miss out on any part of the fun, I had booked my ticket well in advance and procured a seat in one of the front rows- the ‘Diamond’ row!!!

mirchi24The show was being held at NSCI Dome, Worli (National Sports Complex of India). As I reached an hour ahead of the show time, the excitement at the venue was palpable. Each person entering was greeted with a huge smile making us feel like a celebrity and there were plenty of volunteers to guide us personally to our seat…

The atmosphere inside the dome was charged, the stage decoration looked exciting and the fabulous semi-circular seating arrangement of the dome ensured that the stage would be visible beautifully from wherever one was seated. A surprise gift in the form of an attractive hamper of pastries and cookies had been kept on the chairs for people seated in the first few rows of the seats…and yes, my ‘Diamond’ row was one of them !

While some last minute final touches were being done for the show to begin, the previous year’s programmes were being screened on two giant TV screens on either side of the stage. Finally the programme commenced around 8.00 pm with a medley of the hit songs of 2016 with the younger generation of singers like Amit Mishra (Bulleya’ song) Aman Trikha ( ‘Jaaneman aah’ song ), Jonita Gandhi (‘Break-up’ song), Aditi Singh Sharma (‘High heels Te Nachhe’ song) singing their hit songs while dancers from Shiamak Davar’s dance troupe performed energetically to these songs.

Sonu Nigam who was the host of the evening conducted the program excellently and with his magical voice he regaled the audience with many superb songs. He also had a good sense of humour and turned out to be great mimic as well. With a line-up of artistes which included the legendary Usha Uthup who walked away with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ to the current heart-throb of the music industry Arijit Singh who won the ‘Best Male Vocalist’ of the year for the song ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, the evening turned magical with every performance…



When Karan Johar was called on stage to be honoured with ‘Mirchi Make it Large’ award for his immense contribution to Bollywood music, many of the older lot of singers like Shaan and Udit Narayan, music director Jatin Pandit and Sonu Nigam himself sang a few lines of  some  of the melodious songs from his films.


The young sensational musical duo of Armaan Mallik and Amaal Mallik (Anu Mallik’s nephews) sang superbly and so did newcomers Jubin Nautyal, Papon, Jonita Gandhi, Neha Bhasin and Aditi Singh Sharma. The King of Rap- Badshah and veteran Sukhvinder Singh brought the house down with their unique style of rendering.

Amaal Mallik and Armaan Mallik

Usha Uthup received a standing ovation when she took her award from Anandji (of Kalyanji-Anandji fame). Incidentally they were the ones who first gave her an opportunity to sing in Hindi films with a small part in a song from Purab aur Pashchim.



The two young sensations- Sartaj and Sarvar Khan Barna– discovered by music director Pritam and who sang the immensely popular track ‘Haanikaarak Bapu’ from the film Dangal were awarded the ‘Best Upcoming Male Artistes of the Year’. When they sang their award-winning song, there was no doubt in anybody’s mind regarding the magic in their voices.


The film ‘Basant Bahar’ (1956) received the award for the ‘Best Album from Golden Era’ and as a special gesture any one family member (son/daughter/wife) of the people associated with the album were invited on the stage to receive the award. So Pallavi Jaikishen, Shahid Rafi, Dinesh Shailendra, and Kishwari Jaipuri were all invited on stage and as the audience welcomed them with resounding applause and with the songs of the film being played in the background, everyone present felt a tinge of nostalgia remembering the music of the days gone by…

Some film promotions also took place. We had the young stars Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan (to promote Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya) as well as Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh ( to promote Phillauri) on the stage dancing and announcing some awards. Alia Bhatt- one of the finest talents to enter the industry in recent times looks even more youthful, charming and petite in person than she does on the screen and all in the audience went crazy just looking at her…



We had directors Ramesh Sippy and Subhash Ghai, actors Jimmy Shergill and Shilpa Shetty and even cricketer Virendra Sehwag called upon to give some of the awards.


Not surprisingly, the film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil won most of the honours- Album of the Year, Best Music Director, Best Song , Best Male Vocalist and Best Lyricist…

Here is the audio of Channa Meriya with lyrics …it won the ‘Song of the year’ and  Amitabh Bhattachrya won the’Best lyricist of the Year’…

‘Listener’s choice Song of the year award went to ‘Soch Na Sake’ from Airlift

Female Vocalist of the YearJonita Gandhi for the song ‘Gilehriyaan’ from Dangal:

The program went on till almost 2.00 am but neither the enthusiasm of the audience nor the energy level of the performers waned. As the program came to an end I carried with me memories of an unforgettable night and it was a surreal feeling of having been part of the glitz and glamour of the film world albeit for a short time…

An afterthought:

Songs have always been an integral and inseparable part of our films and yet the people associated with the music of films- the lyricist, the arranger, the sound engineer, the composer and the singer take a backseat as compared to the stars acting and doing the lip-synching in the film. Kudos to  Radio Mirchi  for instituting these awards exclusively for acknowledging and encouraging the music fraternity!


For those who are interested, here is a link to a blog-post I had written on the best songs of 2016: ( https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2016/12/)

RANGOON: Kangana steals the show in this ‘love and war’ saga


Sharada Iyer

Director Vishal Bharadwaj spins an intriguing, interesting and imposing tale of love set against the backdrop of World War II packing it in his inimitable style with well-etched out characters, authentic settings, excellent cinematography, imaginative song sequences, unique music and a touch of suspense.

Rangoon is probably the director’s most lavishly mounted project and transports us to the year 1943-1944 when many wars were being fought across the world. It was the period when Indians were on the brink of getting Independence from the British but within the country there was a clash between Gandhiji’s principle of ‘ahimsa’ and Subhash Chandra Bose’s ideology of war. It was also the time when Bose’s INA joined forces with the Japanese army and Hitler’s German forces to get the British out of India. At the same time, many Indians were part of the British army and were forced to fight for them because we were ruled by them.

Though the backdrop sounds heavy-handed, it cannot be called a war film as the actual war scenes though spectacularly shot are limited and the concentration is more on the ‘Saif-Kangana-Shahid’ love story…


Russi Billimoria (Saif Ali Khan)- who was once an action hero but now a film producer loves his discovery and protégé Julia (Kangana Ranaut)- an action heroine and reigning queen of the Bombay film industry. He is in favour of the British and has no qualms in accepting their request to send Julia to Burma to entertain the troops there and raise their spirits. Much against her wishes she sets off without him and though she is assured of security of the highest order, things go haywire when the train they are travelling by is stopped and they become vulnerable targets of an unexpected and horrific aerial bombing attack by the Japanese war planes.

Jamadar Nawab Malik (Shahid Kapoor ) – an escaped POW from the Japanese camp has been assigned to be her bodyguard and gets stranded with Julia after the bomb attack. In their quest to find a path to safety, the two unexpectedly end up spending quality time together and their close proximity ignites unbridled passion. Now the triangular love story gets interesting with unexpected twists which keep us engrossed till the end.


The USP of the film is the brilliant performances of the three protagonists. Saif Khan is superbly cast as the suave, classy and polished gentleman who can be ruthlessly possessive of his Julia. Shahid  Kapoor as the serious soldier with an unwavering focus on his mission is comparatively restrained but equally brilliant in his act and comes up with another memorable performance.

The film however belongs to Kangana right from her grand introductory scene where she is seen swinging on chandeliers and doing stunts to the very last scene where her action scenes leave us asking for more. It is her character we carry home with us when we leave the cinema hall. Easily one of the best roles a heroine can dream of getting, Kangana excels in every department-action, emotion, romance and dance- she goes about them all with great panache and her unique charm is endearing.


She gets to display a wide range of emotions ranging from an innocent vulnerable girl in love with her mentor, to a passionate lover totally besotted by the soldier, from a compassionate human being who is torn inside on witnessing cold-blooded killings to a fearless rebel who fights with an unabashed fervour to prove her love. Her persona is modelled after our very own stunt film heroine of the forties ‘Fearless Nadia’ and it is evident that Kangana has worked very hard to come out on top.

The stunning locales of Arunachal Pradesh form a perfect setting and have been captured brilliantly. Meticulous detailing of every little thing to recreate the era is really praiseworthy. The aerial bombing scene is fabulously shot and deserves a special mention and so does the well shot climax scene.

Music in Vishal’s films always sound different  and two of the songs-‘Bloody Hell’ by Sunidhi Chauhan  and ‘Yeh Ishq Hai…’  by Arijit Singh deserve special mention.

Bloody Hell



At 2 hours 47 minutes, some people may find the film a tad lengthy and maybe some tighter editing would have made it crisper. With the result, the first half is a little slow.

There is a British actor Richard McCabe who plays Major General Harding and gets ample scope as the main antagonist. After a point his dialogue delivery gets a little irritating  and unfortunately he has a lot of scenes in the film.


It is not everyday that one comes across films with the backdrop of war and when the project is helmed by a director of Vishal’s calibre, the result is bound to be splendid! On the whole the film is definitely worth seeing especially for Kangana’s outstanding act. Three cheers to her!!!







THE GHAZI ATTACK: A gripping war saga


Sharada Iyer

Debutant director Sankalp Reddy comes up with India’s first underwater war film and needs to be lauded for his superb attempt. Well scripted and brilliantly directed, The Ghazi Attack is a gritty tale of the possible events which could have led to the sinking of Pakistan’s Naval submarine ‘PNS Ghazi’ near Vishakapatnam on 3rd December, 1971.


Though at the beginning  of the film there is a big disclaimer stating that it is a fictional account and cannot claim authenticity, yet some of the startling facts revealed about the war at the end of the film succeed in making us believe this fictional account of courage and heroism of our Indian Navy. It is said there is still a mystery shrouding the sudden sinking of PNS Ghazi on 3rd December and coincidentally it is a fact that on the same day Pakistan launched a series of pre-emptive air strikes on Indian airfields…


The movie starts with the rich baritone of Amitabh Bachchan briefing us about the tense political scenario existing in 1971 in the Indian subcontinent with fighting and mayhem on both sides of our border (East Pakistan and West Pakistan-as they were known then) adding to the chaos. It is against this backdrop that the war drama unfolds and directly gets to the plot with no distraction and maintains the grip to engage the audience for the next 2 hours and 20 minutes.

The Indian Naval headquarters intercepts a coded message which makes them suspicious of a very sophisticated and powerful Pakistani submarine ‘PNS Ghazi’ ‘to have entered our waters surreptitiously. To rule out the possibility of any impending secret attack and to be on high alert, the Indian Naval High Command decides to send our own submarine ‘S-21’ to search the waters around The Bay of Bengal. There are strict orders to keep it a classified mission and to not make the first attack without orders from headquarters.

Thereafter the movie takes us on a thrilling ride of attacks and counterattacks with firing of torpedoes adding to the excitement. Some scenes give us goosebumps and the movie definitely makes us pause and salute our armed forces as they go about facing dangers and making sacrifices to protect our borders for the safety of the citizens. The film is indeed a tribute to The Indian Navy!



Heading this mission are Captain Rann Vijay Singh played by Kay Kay Menon, Lt. Commander Arjun Verma played by Rana Daggubatti and Execitive Officer Devraj played by Atul Kulkarni. Apart from dealing with the tension of the enemy submarine, the crew is witness to the tension mounting inside S-21 in the form of clash between the Captain and his Lieutenant-at every step. Atul Kulkarni as the XO tries to pacify them both but is clearly inclined towards the Captain in his support.

ghazi attack-2.jpgThe performances of these brilliant actors and the authentic atmosphere recreated inside the submarine form the USP of the film. Each one of them has done a brilliant job and makes the mission look so believable. The supporting crew members are all unknown faces thus adding to the authenticity of the proceedings. It was nice watching Om Puri who fits the role of the Naval High Command  perfectly. This is probably one of the last films he acted in.

The director takes his time to introduce us to the working of a submarine and skilfully manoeuvres the riveting plot by alternating the scenes between the Indian and Pakistani officers and their attack strategies. Shots of torpedo attacks add thrill to the proceedings.



It is not that the movie is without minor flaws. There are places when the proceedings get a little dramatic and the special effects of the underwater shots could have been better but there is no doubt that the film has its heart in the right place. These points can easily be overlooked as they do not in any way take away the essence of the film.

Our industry is not known to make too many war films and even if they do the plot generally deals with Army (Haqeeqat, Border, LOC Kargil, etc.). Films like Vijeta and Mausam had the hero playing a fighter pilot. This is perhaps the first attempt at a full-length naval war film played out at the seas and it is definitely worth a dekko!

Once in a while it feels nice to just watch a film for its story and cinematic experience where the director does not have to twist a good plot to cater to a star’s image and The Ghazi Attack is one such film…

The film has been made simultaneously in Hindi and Telugu and dubbed in Tamil. The Hindi version has been distributed by Karan Johar.

Here is the trailer of the film: