KALANK – A visually stunning love saga

By
Sharada Iyer
A film like Kalank is what keeps the magic of the movies alive on the big screen! As the epic love drama unfolds in the darkness of the cinema halls we are left mesmerized by the sheer scale of the film the likes of which are indeed rare to come by. The breathtaking grandeur of the stunning sets, the magnificent costumes, superb choreography, awesome song picturizations and above all brilliant acting by the ensemble cast all add up to make this a grand experience!

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The film was conceived by Karan Johar’s father Yash Johar many years back and work was to start but the film got shelved 15 years back. The film definitely has an old-world charm about it and it is this aspect which forms the USP of the film. It does bring back memories of a bygone era of Hindi cinema when we had stories set in the Mughal era, boasting of grand sets and excellent songs and superb acting.
The touching story of unrequited love between Roop (Alia Bhatt) and Zafar (Varun Dhawan) is set against the backdrop of the pre-partition period of our country and transports us back in time to 1944-1945 when communal tensions were also riding high. Though it is a love-story between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy their religion is not the bone of contention here. It is the web of circumstances in which the protagonists are caught that starts creating obstacles in their path.

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The incidents takes place in a fictional area called Husnabad in Lahore. Here we are introduced to the various characters and slowly all of them get interconnected through the course of events as the love saga unfolds.
Writer-director Abhishek Varman who gave us the brilliant ‘2 States’ in 2014 is back with his second film and once again passes with flying colours. The treatment of the story and the freshness lent to every aspect is what engages the viewer totally even though the story does not have any ground-breaking suspense.
The characters are very well etched out and each one of them is fighting his/her own battle dealing with the past and its consequent repercussions on the future of their lives. Sanjay Dutt in a special appearance plays Balraj Choudhary, the scion of the richest family of Husnabad and along with his son Aditya Roy Kapoor-Dev Choudhary runs a newspaper-The Daily News. Their paper forms an important forum to report the viewpoints and incidents surrounding the sensitive emotions and religious sentiments running high during the time. Sonakshi Sinha plays Satya and is married to Aditya Roy Kapoor and thus becomes the respected daughter-in-law of the Chaudhary household.
There is Zafar played by Varun Dhavan who works as a ‘lohar’ or a blacksmith in a factory owned by Abdul played by Kunal Khemu. He is an illegitimate child who is angry about his birth but his friendly demeanor makes him very popular with all the young girls of the area. He even parts with an interesting bit of information to Alia when he mentions that it is because of the ‘lohars’ of the area that the city of Lahore derives its name.
Abdul’s viewpoints are always clashing with Dev Choudhary’s and there is an undercurrent of tension building up between the two which threatens to burst if limits are crossed. Then there is the dancer-singer Bahar Begum played by Madhuri Dixit who stays in a palatial mansion in Heera-Mandi, the notorious red-light area of Husnabad. Once a top-notch dancer herself she now spends her time training the girls in dancing and singing.

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Into the lives of these characters arrives the young Alia Bhatt who is beautiful and intelligent yet vulnerable and sad. She plays the main protagonist-Roop. The film is basically her journey and how her life gets intertwined with all these other characters. She shares a separate equation with each of them and a special wonderful relationship with Zafar.
The Alia-Varun pair is the top star-pair of today and their palpable chemistry on screen is really endearing to see. This is their fourth movie together and their comfort level off-screen gives this pairing a special fillip and lends credibility to their love-story. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles and have done full justice to the characters. As we leave the cinema halls the images of Roop and Zafar stay with us for a long time.

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Alia Bhatt is only getting better with every film and there seems to be no limit for this young and brilliant actress who seems to excel in any and every character she plays. In this film she also gets to prove her dancing prowess. Her effortless ‘kathak’ performance in front of Bahar Begum is one of the highlights of the film and leaves us amazed at her fluidity. Varun Dhawan has also given an excellent performance and dances like a dream. His song ‘First class…’ had the audience in the hall clapping and rooting for an encore!

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Aditya Roy Kapoor generally not known much for his acting surprises us by underplaying his role with a quiet dignity and restraint and the result is commendable. He fits the role and looks good with both Sonakshi and Alia. The silent glances between him and Alia are eloquent enough to convey the underlying emotions. Sonakshi after a long time gets to play a good role reminding us of her ‘Lootera’ days and is perfectly cast. Kunal Khemu excels in the character with negative shades and this film could give him a new lease of life. This talented actor has not really got roles to utilize his worth.
Sanjay Dutt has very little role and one wishes his role had been meatier. There is just one scene between him and Madhuri Dixit. She on the other hand gets a lot of screen time, looks graceful and has a good role befitting her age and talent. She even gets to do a grand ‘kathak’ dance which was a treat to watch. This year first was her outing in Total Dhamaal with Ajay Devgn and Anil Kapoor and now she has done this film with Sunjay Dutt. It is good to note that she is getting special roles written for her.
A special mention for the set designer Amita Mahal, ace cinematographer Binod Pradhan and dialogue writer Hussain Dalal who raise the bar of the film with their brilliant work. The choreography of the bull fight scene done with CGI is thrilling. The song where the Ramayana scenes are enacted is quite unique and the first encounter of Varun and Alia against this backdrop stands out.
Music by Pritam is outstanding and many songs are brilliant. After Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the duo of KaranJohar-Pritam come up with yet another musically excellent film. Arijit Singh is superb in the title song as well as the ‘First Class…’ song, Shreya Ghoshal is brilliant as always in ‘Tabaah ho gaye…’ and gets good company in Vaishali when they sing ‘Ghar more pardesiya…’ Here is a brilliant song from the film:


In Conclusion:
So much effort has gone into making this film an amazing experience for the viewer. And there are enough reasons for a true Bollywood aficionado to rush to the nearest cinema hall and enjoy!
Happy Viewing!!!

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A LOOK AT SOME OF THE POPULAR GUITAR SONGS OF BOLLYWOOD

By

Sharada Iyer

The musical instrument ‘Guitar’ has always been associated with love, romance and a youthful vigour in Hindi cinema. From the Black & White era to the present scenario we have had various actors and actresses lip-syncing to some fabulous songs in different situations in our films.

Many songs were picturized in clubs and party settings while others were solo numbers sung by the hero to the heroine and in rare instances vice versa. Still others became part of the film’s story when the actor concerned was playing the role of a singer in a band in the film. Some directors imaginatively picturized guitar songs as part of the background in a situation.

Ironically many of our popular stars like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dharmendra, Salman Khan, etc., never got the opportunity to have a full-fledged guitar song picturized on them. On the other hand some of the supporting artistes like Jalal Agha and newcomers like Kunal Goswami and Tariq were extremely lucky to have memorable guitar songs associated with them.

Then again if a song did start with the actor strumming the guitar hardly did the strumming continue throughout the song. Many an actor/actress just threw the guitar and started dancing for the rest of the song. In some songs, the actor in question played the guitar somewhere in the middle of the song or just in between some stanzas for a very short while. In some funny instances, the guitar was just hung on the shoulder or held in the hand but never used in the song!

Another noteworthy point is that while there are numerous songs picturized on male actors, only a handful can be found on female actors. Probably the stories never really centred around such a female character or is it that the popular mind-set gets a thrill only when a male figure is playing the guitar? Hindi cinema has always had more piano songs as compared to any other instrument hence not many guitar songs could be found in the early films.

Interestingly, the earliest guitar song I came across while researching for the blog belongs to a female actor- Geeta Bali and the song composed by S D Burman is from the film Baazi which released in 1951.

In the film Geeta Bali is not playing Dev Anand’s love interest but is a dancer in the club where Dev Anand ultimately ends up working. She becomes his friend and in the song she is just asking him to make the most of life’s opportunities and not think too much.

GEETA BALI- Baazi (1951)

‘Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana le…’

The songs of the ‘Black & White’ era had a unique charm- the lyrics, the music and the picturization, the setting etc., captured something so magical that it remains entrenched in our minds even today. They sure set the trend for the future songs to follow and of course! Subsequently every era added its character to the guitar songs.

The earliest male guitar song is again picturized on the same pair but here the roles are different. Here Geeta Bali is the heroine of this film and is attracted to Dev Anand even though he is a character with slight negative shades.

DEV ANANDJaal (1952)

‘Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahaan, sun ja dil ki dastaan…’

This song picturized on Dev Anand from the film Jaal is the best example of a perfect guitar song clubbed with the perfect romantic setting for conveying the feelings of a lover. One can see how the heroine Geeta Bali is drawn towards our hero and the feelings are imparted so effortlessly and beautifully! Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics set to tune by S D Burman and sung in the husky voice of Hemant Kumar make it one of the best guitar songs of Bollywood.

DEV ANAND –Munimji (1955)

‘Dil ki umange hain jawan…’

Here Dev Anand and Nalini Jaywant are taking the villain Pran for a ride and making a fool out of him and the guitar song adds to the zest and fun.

SHAMMI KAPOOR-China Town (1962)

‘Baar baar dekho hazar baar dekho…’

This song sung in a club to his girlfriend still remains a rage and continues to be the only one of its kind found in Bollywood. Shammi Kapoor’s charisma adds magic to Rafi’s vocals and lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics are set to a very catchy tune by music director Ravi.

MEHMOOD-Bhoot Bangla

‘Aao twist karein…’

Although Mehmood is not playing the guitar in this song the music is heavily guitar based and there are enough supporting artistes on the guitar to figure in this blog.

BHUPINDER SINGH -Aakhri Khat (1967)

‘Rut jawan jawan jawan,raat meherbaan…’

This was Rajesh Khanna’s first film. Singer Bhupinder who had debuted in Haqeeqat in 1964 gets to appear on the big screen again. Being a singer as well as a guitar player in real life he featured only in this song as a club singer and had this soft number picturized on him. Music director was Khayyam.

BISWAJIT- Kismat (1968)

‘Laakhon hain yahan dilwale…’

In this musical thriller Biswajit’s guitar plays an important role. Unknown to him the owner of the guitar shop who happened to be a police informant hides an important microdot inside his guitar before the goons catch him. The rest of the movie is all about the gang members following him to get their hands on the guitar.

Here is another song from the film and is a duet sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhonsle. She is a dancer in the same club where he is a singer.

‘One two three baby ya ya ya…’

JOY MUKHERJEE- Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1962)

‘Laakhon hain nigah mein zindagi ki raah mein…’

In the film the hero Joy Mukherjee’s entry is only after about 20 minutes after the film starts. Here the song is used as an introductory sequence for the hero and leaves quite an impact though one wonders why the hero never plays the guitar even for one second and only holds it in his hand throughout the song!!!

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https://youtu.be/XCp_Qm4PA3o

RAJESH KHANNA- Mehbooba (1976)

Mere naina saawan bhaadon…’

The resonating vocals of Kishore Kumar in this song set to raga Shivaranjani by music director R D Burman and picturized on romantic hero Rajesh Khanna make it a haunting song and make it one of the strong contenders for the best guitar song of Bollywood. The story which deals with rebirth and reincarnation is heavily dependent on this song which serves as the main lifeline for the lovers to remind each other of their previous birth.

AMITABH BACHCHAN

Surprisingly for an actor associated with the ‘angry young man’ image Amitabh Bachchan has not one or two but four guitar songs of different kind picturized on him.

Film- Zameer (1975)

‘Phoolon ke dere hain saaye ghanere hain…’

This story of this film is based on the old B&W Dev Anand film Bambai ka Babu where the hero impersonates as the long-lost son of a wealthy businessman only to shockingly find out that the girl he falls in love with happens to be his ‘sister’ and now he is caught in a strange position.

Here is another song from the same film a sad song sung when he realizes the situation he has landed himself in

Zameer- ‘Tum bhi chalo hum bhi chalein…;

AMITABH BACHCHAN- Yaaarana (1974)

‘Saara zamaana haseenon ka deewana…’

This song is a stage performance and has only a small portion showing Amitabh with the guitar but he carries it in a strange way like a gun and the choreography is quite funny.

AMITABH BACHCHAN- Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

‘Aaj aaja aaja ishq di khol gutiyaan…’

Amitabh sports a unique get-up to suit his character of a street singer in London stations. He has a small supporting role and a superb catchy song sung by Shankar Mahadevan picturized on him. Even his guitar looks different but he plays the guitar only in the first part of the song.

AAMIR KHAN- Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)

‘Papa kehte hain bada naam karega…’

Aamir Khan could not have asked for a better song in his debut film. The scene is the college farewell party and Aamir playing the guitar and singing formed a perfect setting for such a catchy number. Sung by Udit Narayan and set to tune by music directors Jatin-Lalit, the song was a major hit.

JALAL AGHA- Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1970)

‘Sama hai suhana suhana…’

Yet another contender for the best guitar song of Bollywood, this mesmerizing Kishore Kumar number sounds fresh, romantic and soothing whenever one listens to this and is a perfect guitar song even today during any get-together. Actor Jalal Agha is indeed fortunate to have such an evergreen song associated with him. Music directors Kalyanji-Anandji have excelled themselves in this song.

RAKESH ROSHAN- Priyatama (1977)

‘Koi roko na deewane ko man machal raha kuch gaane ko…’

While Rakesh Roshan was a silent lover in the previous song, this one has him playing the guitar as part of the background to Jeetendra-Neetu Singh love-story. The soft song is a typical composition of music director Rajesh Roshan.

KUNAL GOSWAMI- Kalakaar (1981)

‘Neele neele ambar par…’

While Manoj Kumar became very popular in Bollywood his son Kunal Goswami could not get even a small footing in the industry and he crashed out after his debut film flopped. However he was lucky to have this lovely Kishore Kumar guitar song picturized on him. He played a struggling singer in the film and music was by Kalyanji-Anandji.

SHAHRUKH KHAN

Shahrukh Khan had the opportunity to be part of guitar songs at least 3 times in his career. But none really did justice to his romantic image

 Pardes (1997) – ‘Do dil mil rahe hain magar chupke chupke…

He plays guitar and sings this in the background for the heroine Mahima Choudhary who is getting married to Apoorva Agnihotri.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1997) – ‘Mujhko kya hua hai kyun main kho gaya hoon…’

A typical fun-filled college dance number which had Rani Mukherjee opening the song with her strumming the guitar and then Shahrukh Khan strums it a couple of times in between the stanzas. This could have been a great guitar number had the choreographers made him the guitarist instead of just the dancer.

Jab tak hai jaan (2012) -‘Challa…’

Years later SRK tried to play an ebullient youngster singing on the London streets with the guitar by his side but somehow the look did not gel and the song was a very average number which did not suit him either.

RISHI KAPOOR

Here is an actor who was the quintessential chocolate boy hero of Bollywood and had some great songs picturized on him. He looked perfect playing the guitar-strumming hero and the get-up suited him a lot.

Khel Khel Mein (1975) – ‘Humne tumko dekha…’

Another college number and Shailendra Singh who became he voice of Rishi Kapoor for a while did a superb job of this R D Burman composition.

Sagar (1985) ‘Chehra hai ya chaand khila hai…’

Rishi Kapoor re-unites with his first heroine Dimple Kapadia after a gap of 15 years to give us this romantic guitar song written by Javed Akhtar and composed by R D Burman.

TARIQ SHAH

Here is a rare instance when there were two senior heroes in the film-Dharmendra and Vijay Arora and yet it was newcomer Tariq who had so many lovely guitar songs picturized on him. Composed by R D Burman and sung by Kishore Kumar this actor who never really made a mark in Bollywood ensured his place amongst actors who had superb guitar songs picturized on them.

Yaadon ki Baaraat (1973)-‘Lekar hum diwana dil…’

This clip has two songs- ‘Yaadon ki baraat…’ and ‘Aapke kamre mein koi rehta hai…’

Tariq was also part of another successful musical blockbuster Hum Kisise Kum Nahin and this time he had the great Mohammed Rafi sing for him.

‘Kya hua tera vada…’

‘Chaand mera dil…’

He was also part of the medley competition between himself and Rishi Kapoor whre he gets to sing two small guitar songs.

RAJ KIRAN- Arth (1982)

A triangular love story dealing with extra-marital affair may not have been the kind of film to find a guitar song but this film had some great songs by ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh. This particular song is a soft number sung at a party by Raj Kiran playing the guitar when the Shabana discovers her husband’s affair with Smita Patil.

‘Koi yeh kaise bata de ke hum tanha kyun hain…’

RAHUL ROY-Aashiqui (1990)

This film directed by Mahesh Bhatt with newcomers Rahul Roy and Anu Agrawal was a blockbuster at the box-office thanks to its mind-blowing music by composers Nadeem-Shravan who later dominated the music scene for a few years. All songs were super-hits. This song sung at a club has Rahul playing the guitar and lip-syncing to Kumar Sanu’s superb song.

Saanson ki zaroorat hai jaise, zindagi ke liye bas ek sanam chahiye aashiqui ke liye…’

HRITHIK ROSHAN- Kaho Na Pyar Hai (2000)

‘Chaand sitare phool aur khushboo…’

When Hrithik Roshan made his debut he got to play double role in his first film itself and his uncle Rajesh Roshan scored the music. Here is a song where Hrithik sings a song for his girlfriend at her birthday get-together. Sadly after the initial one minute he abandons the guitar and starts dancing.

RANBIR KAPOOR- Rockstar (2011)

‘Sadda haq…’

Ranbir Kapoor plays a singer and this guitar song composed by A R Rehman became a hit.

MITHUN CHAKRAVORTHY-Disco Dancer (1982)

‘Yaad aa raha hai tera pyar…’

Though Mithun plays a dancer there is one song where he gets to play the guitar as well.

FARHAN AKHTAR

The actor-director is also a singer in real life and he sang his own songs in the film Rock On!! where he debuted as an actor. He plays the lead singer in a band and walked away with many awards for his performance and his song as well.

Rock On!! (2008)

‘Socha hai kya…’

The sequel to this film Rock On 2 relesed in 2016 but the songs did not live up to expectations. Farhan again got to strum the guitar in the film- Lucknow Central. He is in prison and as part of hi escape plan forms a music group.

Lucknow Central- (2017)

‘Meere karwaan, tu le chale jahan…’

AYUSHMANN KHURRANNA- Vicky Donor (2012)

‘Paani da rang dekh ke…’

Youngster Ayushmann Khurrana made his debut both as an actor and a singer in 2012 with this film. He got crtical acclaim and also walked away with several awards for singing and acting. His award-winning song Pani da…had him playing guitar.

After the Geeta Bali number in 1951, there was a gap before another actress made her mark strumming the guitar on screen. The year was 1973 and the film was Yaadon Ki Baraat. This Rafi-Asha duet remains an iconic song till date.

ZEENAT AMAN- Yaadon ki Baraat

‘Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko…’

RANI MUKHERJEE-Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)

‘Mujhko kya hua hai kyun main kho gaya hoon…’

KATRINA KAIF- Mere Brother ki Dulhan (2011)

‘Dhunki laage…’

It was good to see Katrina Kaif doing a different kind of role and the character of a singer suited her.

SHRADDHA KAPOOR – Half Girlfriend (2017)

‘Tu thodi der aur thehr ja soniya…’

This film based on Chetan Bhagat’s book by the same name had young Shraddha Kapoor playing  a singer but the song she got was sadly was a very ordinary one and the film did not do too well. However it was good to see an actress play a singer in the film.

The following four actors can be seen strumming a guitar for a very short time during the particular song mentioned.

Dharmendra in the song ‘Tu mera , main teri, duniya jale toh jale…’ from the film Pyar Hi Pyar

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Shashi Kapoor in the song ‘Dilbar dilbar kaehte kehte…’ from the film Haseena Maan Jayegi

Salman Khan in the song ‘O o jaanejaana, dhoonde tujhe diwana…’ from the film Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya

 

Saif Ali Khan in the song ‘Piyu bole, piya bole…’ from the film Parineeta

The Forgotten Lyricists of Hindi Cinema: Part I-Naqsh Lyallpuri

By

Sharada Iyer

Lyrics impart soul to the song and form an integral and important part of any song. Not only do the lyricists have to use their talent to express in words a variety of feelings and emotions but they also need to have the knack to fit the words into a 3-minute song format to suit the character and the demands of the scene as conceived by the director. Indeed it requires tremendous skill, a lot of imagination and mastery over the language to come up with winning results.

Our film industry has been blessed with some brilliant poets and lyricists in every era but not all of them attained the same level of popularity. Though we may recollect the names of some top lyricists like Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Anand Bakshi, Indeevar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, etc., not many of us can remember lyricists like Naqsh Lyallpuri, S H Bihari, Yogesh, Verma Mallik, Prem Dhawan, etc.

In spite of being immensely talented, these lyricists remained in the background and are not spoken of or written about as often as they deserve. The songs written by them became hits and super-hits but their names were forgotten and with the passage of time not many pause to remember them and their contribution to the world of Hindi film music.

This blog-post is an attempt to bring to fore the contribution of lyricist Naqsh Lyallpuri by recollecting some of the wonderful songs written by him.

naqsh 1Naqsh Lyallpuri was born as Jaswant Rai Sharma on February 24, 1928 in Lyallpur district now known as Faislabad, in Pakistan. He came to India during partition and initially settled in Lucknow but later shifted to Bombay (now Mumbai) in the late 1940’s to try his luck in films. Though he got his first break in 1952 as a song writer, real success eluded him till the early 1970’s.

Writers of Urdu poetry usually took on a pen name or ‘takhkhallus’ in those days and he decided on the name ‘Naqsh’ meaning impression or mark and added his home town ‘Lyallpur’ to become Naqsh Lyallpuri as he came to be known in the industry. Due to his mastery over Urdu language many people thought he was a Muslim and could not associate his real name with him.

SOME OF HIS MILESTONE SONGS:

It was after a long struggle through the fifties and sixties that Naqsh Lyallpuri had a major hit in the film Chetna (1970) where this song composed by Sapan Jagmohan and sung by Mukesh became a great hit. The song had a happy and sad version both sung by Mukesh but with different lyrics to suit the situation:

SONG: ‘Main toh har mod par tujhko doonga sada…’

Happy version-

Sad version-

This song could be considered as the song which changed Naqshji’s fortunes and was soon followed by the hit ghazal ‘Rasme ulfat ko nibhayen…’ for the film Dil ki Raahein (1973) sung by none other than Lata Mangeshkar. The music director was ghazal maestro Madan Mohan. This song helped in giving this great lyricist the standing he deserved in the industry and led him to sign many films.

SONG: ‘Rasme ulfat ko nibhayen toh nibhayen kaise, har taraf aag hai daaman ko bachayen kaise…’

Here is another example of a beautiful song written by Naqsh Lyallpuri which was sung by Runa Laila in the film Gharaonda. Except this song all the other songs of the film were written by Gulzar sahab and even today this gem of a song stands out for its winsome lyrics. Music director was Jaidev.

SONG: ‘Tumhe ho na ho mujhko toh itna yakeen hai, mujhe pyar tumse nahin hai nahin hai…’

Here is another one of his very popular songs from the film Call Girl (1974). The song has dual versions and has been sung as solos by both Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Music is by Sapan Jagmohan.

SONG: ‘Ulfat mein zamaane ki har rasm ko thukrao,phir saath mere aao…’

Kishore Kumar version:

Lata Mangeshkar version:

Naqsh Sahab made his mark in this superb solo number sung by Lata Mangeshkar from the super-hit film Noorie (1979) under music director Khayyam:

SONG: ‘Chori chori koi aaye chupke chupke…’

This song from the film Khandan composed by music director Khayyam was also a super-hit and remains one of Naqsh Lyallpuri’s greatest hits:

SONG: ‘Yeh mulaqat ek bahana hai,pyar ka silsila purana hai…’

Naqsh Lyallpuri’s childhood was not a very happy one. He had endured a lot of pain in his life. His mother died when he was just 8 years old and he grew up missing her and yearning for her love. His father soon remarried but his stepmother did not treat him well and he felt very lonely and sad.

His father was a mechanical engineer and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps but Naqsh had his heart set on writing, literature and poetry right from the beginning. He was also a victim of partition and saw sights which remained entrenched in his mind all his life.

After a point when things became too much to handle for the young Naqsh Lyallpuri, he ran away from home to chart his own destiny which eventually led him to Bombay. While in Bombay, he worked in the Department of Posts for a while to make ends meet. Later he also worked as a proof reader in The Times of India.

In Bombay he became friends with Ram Mohan who worked as assistant to director Jagdish Sethi. It was Ram Mohan who introduced Naqsh Sahab to Mr Sethi and immediately he was signed him as a lyricist for the film Jaggu in 1953. The song was sung by Asha Bhonsle and music was composed by Hansraj Behl.

SONG: ‘Agar teri aankhon se aankhen mila doon…’

Over the years he wrote soft melodies, romantic numbers and ghazals for Hindi films and in one of his interviews admitted to having worked with around 140 music composers during his lifetime. Though many of his songs were hits many a time they were either picturized on not so famous actors or else the films did not too well which resulted in his name not registering in people’s minds.

After his break in 1953, luck did not favour him and he did not get many assignments for social cinema/family dramas. Competition was tough and for a while he turned to writing lyrics for stunt films and Punjabi cinema.

ROMANTIC SONGS:

SONG: ‘Tu laali hai savere waali gagan rang de tu mere man ka…

This Kishore Kumar-Asha Bhonsle duet from the film Abhi toh Jee Lein was picturized on Danny Denzongpa and Jaya Bhaduri when the two actors were newcomers and composed by R D Burman’s assistants Sapan-Jagmohan

Here is a Kishore-Lata duet from the film Dil-e-Nadaan. Music director was Khayyam and the song was picturized on Rajesh Khanna and Jaya Prada.

SONG: ‘Chandni raat mein ek baar tujhe dekha hai…’

Another lovely song this time a Lata Mangeshkar solo from the film Dard and once again music director was Khayyam:

SONG: ‘Na jaane kya hua jo tune chu liya…’

SONGS DEALING WITH YEARNING:

Naqsh Lyallpuri also had a penchant for writing haunting lyrics for films dealing with rebirth or lost love. Sample these superb songs where the poignancy of separation and yearning on the part of the lovers is brought out evocatively:

SONG: ‘Tumhe dekhti hoon lagta hai aise ke jaise yugon se tumhe jaanti hoon…’

This song from the film Tumhare Liye (1978) is based on raga Shivaranjani and the story of the film deals with rebirth.

SONG: ‘Teri talash mein, kitne janam mite…’

Here is a song in Asha Bhonsle’s mesmerizing vocals from the film Teri Talash Mein (1968):

The film Milaap (1972) was yet another film dealing with reincarnation and was directed by B R Ishara who shared a special friendship with Naqsh Lyallpuri and had a high regard for his talent. The film had a superb song by Mukesh which became a sensational hit-

SONG: ‘Kai sadiyon se kai janmon se tere pyar ko tarse mera man…’

The music director was Brij Bhushan. Another song from the film in Mohammed Rafi’s voice also became a hit:

SONG: ‘Kahin aisa na ho tum ajnabi raahon mein kho jao…’

Here is a song from the film Kagaz ki Nao which again talks of love across several births. It is a duet by Manhar and Asha Bhonsle.

SONG: ‘Har janam mein hamara milan ho…’

SAD SONGS:

Naqsh Lyallpuri also wrote some touching sad songs dealing with heart-ache and pain. Here are a few examples:

SONG: ‘Maana teri nazar mein tera pyar hum nahin…’

This song sung by Sulakshana Pandit is from the superb film Ahista Ahista and became a very big hit of its time.

The film Dard (1981) had several hit songs. The film had Rajesh Khanna playing a double role with Hema Malini and Poonam Dhillon as his two heroines. The story was based on the Ashok Kumar-Suchitra Sen hit starrer Mamta. This song was again a dual version song with Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder singing the two solo versions.

SONG: ‘Ehle dil yun hi nibha lete hain…’ Bhupinder/Lata dual version of same song

For R K Films Henna Raj Kapoor was looking for a lyricist who could write authentic Punjabi lyrics to suit the character as the heroine in the film was from across the border. Music director Ravindra Jain immediately roped in Naqsh Lyallpuri and thus was born this hit song in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar.

Naqsh Sahab in his interviews always remembered how much Raj Kapoor had loved the song and had stated that this was probably the only song in his career as a director/producer which he had passed without a single alteration to the lyrics. Sadly Raj Kapoor passed away before completing the film.

SONG: ‘Chithiye ni dard firaaq valiye…’

There was another song in the film ‘Anardana…’ which had also been written by him but he was sadly not given credit for the song. But he took it in his stride and did not raise an issue.

Naqsh Lyallpuri’s first song written and recorded for music director Madan Mohan was a ‘mujra’ dance number from the film Prabhat which was also appreciated for its lyrics.

SONG: ‘Bharosa kar liya jispar usine humko loota hai…’

Here is a fun-filled ‘masti’ song picturized on college students capturing the essence of youthful freedom sung by Kishore Kumar for the film Abhi Toh Jee Lein:

SONG: ‘Na jaane agla pal saathi hoga kaisa, aayega jo bhi kal saathi hoga kaisa…’

Here is a nice song which sums up the feelings and excitement of girls when they leave behind their childhood. Tesong is in Asha Bhonsle’s voice and from the 1971 film Purani Pehchaan.

SONG: ‘Bachpan ka saath chuta hai…’

In the absence of film work, his friend Jaidev suggested he write songs for Television serials. His first break was for the Doordarshan serial Shrikant (1987) and soon he went on to write songs for about 40 serials.

Naqsh Lyallpuri could write any type of song. It is just that he did not get many opportunities in films. To his credit goes the fact that the songs for which he wrote lyrics are remembered to this day as much for their simple and meaningful words as much as for the tune of the song.

At the age of 88 years, he had a fall which resulted in a hip-bone fracture. He never recovered from that and passed away a year later leaving behind a small but meaningful legacy to the world of Hindi cinema. His journey was beset with hurdles but he faced them bravely and he found a wonderful life partner in his wife who stood by him through thick and thin.

I end the blog with one of my absolute favourite Kishore Kumar songs from the film Maan Jaiye. Though the picturization of this song on Jalal Agha leaves much to be desired, Kishore Kumar’s resonating vocals ensure that nothing can take away the magic of this beautiful composition and the wonderful lyrics by Naqsh Sahab…

SONG: ‘Yeh wohi geet hai jisko maine dhadkan mein basaya hai…’

According to Naqsh Lyallpuri his life could be summed up in this line:

‘Main woh diya hoon jise aandhiyon ne pala hai…bujha na paaoge ae waqt ki hawaaon mujhko’

(Translation: ‘I am that lamp which has been nurtured by storms… O winds of time, you cannot douse my flame’)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BADLA: A gripping and suspenseful ‘Whodunnit’!

By

Sharada Iyer

Note: No spoilers ahead…

After thrillers like Kahaani (2012), Kahaani 2 (2016) and the outstanding short film Ahalya (2015) director Sujoy Ghosh is back again with yet another edge-of-the-seat thriller Badla. With a brilliant cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Amrita Singh the film gets us hooked on to the intriguing plot right from the first scene. The narrative is taut and the suspense which is unravelled slowly in the beginning catches speed as the story progresses and ends in a thrilling climax!

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The setting is Glasgow, Scotland and there are mainly only two protagonists in the film. Taapsee Pannu plays Naina Sethi- a young, upcoming and hotshot businesswoman who is blamed for the murder of a man in a hotel room. She is convinced that there is someone out to implicate her by blaming the murder on her. But the circumstantial evidence against her is very strong and the case looks airtight.

She is convinced that her only hope to prove her innocence is to hire Badal Gupta the top criminal advocate, played by Amitabh Bachchan, as her defence lawyer. He has an experience of 40 years and during this period he has never lost a case. He gets to know that the prosecution has come up with an eyewitness whose testimony could further tighten the noose around her neck. They have three hours before trial starts to prove their innocence.

A lot of the film revolves around the conversation between these two as they mull over the sequence of events over and over to see if there is any clue or any detail they may have missed out. There are plenty of flashbacks to the scene of crime which adds to the edginess.

BADLA 1

There are a few other important characters -the policemen, an old couple staying in the woods, the victim and another lawyer, who are added to the narrative. The build-up is really gripping as the flashback scenes are played several times and the twists and turns ensure that the audience also gets sucked into this guessing ‘cat and mouse’ game!

The superb cinematography, the fast-paced narrative, the sharp editing, the apt background music, the perfect dialogues at times laced with humour and above all the outstanding performances make this a slick, classy thriller without a single false note. There are no songs to distract and no diversions from the story.

Amitabh Bachchan never ceases to amaze. The kind of roles written for him truly justify his enigmatic screen presence and bring out a new side of his acting persona in every film. His presence lends the necessary gravitas to the role and he adds a rare dignity to every character that he plays. He has even sung a rap song for the film which is played when the title credits come in the beginning.

BADLA 2

His easy-going camaraderie and perfect chemistry with co-star Taapsee Pannu is palpable in every scene. Just like their first outing Pink, here again they are in perfect sync with each other and their convincing performances forms the highlight of the film.

Youngster Taapsee Pannu deserves full marks for holding her own against a seasoned veteran like Amitabh Bachchan. She is getting better with every film and in a short span of time has become an asset to this industry. Of the supporting cast Amrita Singh comes up with an excellent performance and leaves a mark. She is a real natural and it was good to see her in the film. Manav Kaul as Taapsee’s friend-cum-lawyer and debutant Tony Luke (Malayalam actor) as the victim are also good.

BADLA 3

Badla is incidentally produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment  and the film is yet another feather in director Sujoy Ghosh’s cap as here is a director who seems to have mastered the thriller genre perfectly. Such films do not get the publicity of an Aamir Khan or Karan Johar film and it is essential to maintain the aura of secrecy around the plot. The film will find an audience only through positive word of mouth reviews.

A well-directed murder mystery always makes for compelling viewing and if it is supported by stupendous performances then the result is mind-blowing! Do not read too many reviews. One never knows how much of the plot may be revealed. So without wasting time just walk into the nearest cinema hall and catch the film before the suspense is let out…

TOTALLY UNMISSABLE!!!

 

 

ASHA BHONSLE LIVE: An Unforgettable Experience!

By

Sharada Iyer

Never in my wildest dreams had I ever expected to witness a live concert by our living legend- the one and only ASHA BHONSLE, but on 22nd February 2019, I was truly blessed to get this historic opportunity to hear her golden voice on stage and that too at the prestigious ‘Shanmukhananda Hall’ in Mumbai. This hall has been the venue for many concerts and award functions of our film industry and is treasured as an important part of our cinematic legacy.

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The program was a tribute to the genius music director R D Burman (fondly known as Panchamda) with whom she had not only shared a magical professional relationship but had also been married to him for 14 years. As this year happens to mark 25 years since he passed away, this evening’s programme was dedicated to him. For a non-stop three hours the veteran singer belted out many of the famous and iconic numbers of the RD-ASHA combination mesmerizing the audience with her unbelievable energy, verve and enthusiasm.

Pancham’s timeless music would always be remembered as he continues to live in the hearts of listeners through his evergreen songs and this fact was clearly evident that evening as the hall resonated with his songs and had the enthusiastic audience enjoying every part of the brilliant orchestra by Nitin Shankar and his band of extremely talented musicians.

Nitin Shankar is a percussionist, rhythm arranger, rhythm programmer and music composer and incidentally has been the music director of Asha Bhonsle’s live shows for the last ten years. He has been working in the Indian music industry for the past 36 years. 

We had reached the venue by 6.00 pm- well in advance of the start of the program. The crowd started to trickle in around 6.30 pm and soon the hall was completely packed. The atmosphere was charged with excitement and even at this stage it was difficult to imagine that Ashaji would actually be walking in and come face to face with us and perform live!

My apprehension soon evaporated with the entry of R J Anmol-our compere for the evening- on stage amidst loud beats of the orchestra. He was a bundle of energy and set the tempo in his amazing voice with a superb introduction and also made sure that all of us would sing and clap with Ashaji imparting the necessary vibrant atmosphere befitting the legendary singer.

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He also congratulated all present in the audience and stated that the program about to start would never be forgotten by one and all present in the auditorium for it was nothing short of divine intervention that so many factors clicked together and eventually made it possible for Ashaji to take the stage that day. For starters she had not been keeping too well and had been down with a cold and throat problem because of the Mumbai weather but had managed to get better and make it to the programme.  Also it was after many years that she was going to perform in her own city Mumbai.

Further it was the culmination of the relentless efforts made by Durga Jasraj (daughter of classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj and granddaughter of filmmaker V Shantaram) and her company ‘Art and Artistes’ as well as the efforts of the associate sponsors SaReGaMa CARAVAN, Mahindra Finance and Aditya Birla Capital that the evening which had been just a thought in Durgaji‘s mind some months back turned to reality.

After a grand introduction a few chorus singers took the stage and along with the audience started singing the number ‘Aaja aaja main hun pyar tera,allah allah inkar tera…’ from TEESRI MANZIL and lo and behold Ashaji made her grand entry from one corner of the stage swinging and swaying to the beats of the song and reached the centre and started singing the song amidst thunderous applause and a standing ovation… It was an unbelievable sight! Dressed in a pure white silk sari with a shining silver ‘zari’ border and matching diamond jewellery with long hair and a flower clipped on one side she looked like Goddess Saraswati herself.

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It was truly incredible to see 85-year old Asha Bhonsle perform live and that too with such passion. The unmistakable Asha touch and magic were still intact and the aura had only strengthened with age. Though she had a notebook in front of her she hardly glanced at it and seemed to remember the lyrics of many of the songs sung so long ago!

She stated during the program that her association with the film industry has been 75 long years and thanked her well-wishers and fans throughout the world whose love and adoration is what keeps her going even now and gives her impetus to perform live shows at this age also! Imagine out of the 106-year old history of our cinema, she has been part of it for 75 years!!!

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She also sang another number from TEESRI MANZIL‘O mere sona re sona re sona re, de doongi jaan juda mat hona re…’ which she mentioned had not been an easy song to sing at that time. She mentioned how R D liked to experiment with her voice and test her skills by giving her tough compositions. There were many songs where she had to sing in different scales during the song. She demonstrated this by singing from the film CARAVAN-‘Daiyya ye main kahan aa phansi…’.

She not only sang many of the iconic songs composed by him but also shared interesting anecdotes related to him and intriguing incidents behind the making of some of his songs. For instance she went on to describe how once they both were sitting by the river silently admiring the beauty of the sunset with the gentle noise of the splashing water and flipping oars by the boatmen  when suddenly he went into a reverie staring unflinchingly for a while. Ashaji knew that this was a cue for her to remain silent as the germ of a tune must be taking shape in his mind and that he was not to be disturbed. Apparently something in the atmosphere had triggered his creative mind and soon he told her that he had found his next song.

The song went on to become one of Ashaji’s most popular numbers to date: ‘Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahani, ya hai mohabbat ya hai jawani…’ from the film THE GREAT GAMBLER and picturized romantically on Zeenat Aman and Amitabh Bachchan cruising around Venice in the water taxi.

Ashaji also mentioned R D Burman’s talent for using any common everyday sound and his ability to use it in his songs. As an example she cited the use of glass and spoon for his song ‘Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko…’ and how he used a bottle of ‘Listerine’ mouthwash and by blowing air into it he produced a particular sound in the song ‘Mehbooba mehbooba…’ in the film SHOLAY. Nitin Shankar demonstrated this for us.

At an age when most people are either finding it difficult to walk properly or even recollect normal everyday things here was this living legend performing live in front of a packed audience with absolutely unbelievable enthusiasm and fervour. Her stage presence and ability to engage the audience does not seem to have dimmed with age.

Giving her company on stage for singing duets and a few solos of his own was the talented singer Sudesh Bhonsle who has been with Ashaji on all her live shows for a number of years now. He also recounted some of his interactions with the late RD Burman. He sang some lovely Kishore Kumar songs- ‘Musafir hoon yaaron…’ from the film PARICHAY , ‘O mere dil ke chain…’ from MERE JEEVAN SAATHI and ‘Dekha na haaye socha na haaye …’ from BOMBAY TO GOA Among the duets were some priceless numbers from AANDHI, KHEL KHEL MEIN, etc.

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That was the era when the music directors had a lot of regard and respect for one another’s work. And apparently one of R D Burman’s personal favourite was the Madan Mohan composition ‘Jhumka gira re Bareilly ke bazaar mein…’ from MERA SAAYA. When he heard that he had commented as to why this wonderful tune had not struck him and how he wished this had been his composition! Ashaji regaled the audience with this scintillating number and had the entire hall clapping and dancing.

She also introduced her grandson Chaitanya Bhonsle popularly known as Chintu or Chin2 in the music circle. He also sang very well and had some extraordinary energy dancing and singing simultaneously to the song ‘Bachna ae haseenon lo main aa gaya…’ from the film HUM KISIS KUM NAHIN.

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She surprised everyone by making an entry in a different sari after several songs were over and this time she wore a lovely blue sari with golden border and golden polka dots. She also recounted her first meeting with R D Burman and sang a few lines of the song from KATI PATANG- ‘Mera naam hai Shabnam log pyar se mujhe Shabbo kehte hain…’ , but changed the lyrics to ‘Mera naam hai Asha, log pyar se mujhe Tai kehte hain…’ ! There was also an emotional moment when she sang the touching song ‘Mera woh samaan lauta…’ do from the film IJAAZAT.

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The choice of R J Anmol as the compere for the evening was laudable for not only does he have the energy and the voice to engage the audience, but he also happens to be one of the few people who have contributed a lot in keeping the spirit of the golden era of our films alive by conducting scores of interviews on radio and YouTube channels and by sharing rare and interesting bits of information about the journey and the struggle of many veteran artistes of our film industry.

During the programme there was a beautiful moment when he requested every member of the audience to switch on the torch on their mobile phones and in the darkness of the auditorium, the lights from the phones glowed like millions of stars in the galaxy. Ashaji was touched by the gesture.

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When the time for finale came, she ended the program on a grand note with two of her most popular and evergreen songs- ‘Dum maro dum, mit jaye gham bolo subah sham…’ from HARE RAMA HARE KRISHNA and finally ‘Piya tu ab toh aaja…’ from CARAVAN. She once again said that it was the people in the audience who were the real stars for bestowing so much love and affection throughout her long innings. When she finally bid good bye she also expressed her doubts whether she would ever get to do another evening like this again! It was an emotional moment difficult to describe for both her and her fans alike.

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As we left the auditorium taking with us the wonderful memories of an unforgettable evening, it still felt surreal like I was living a dream! I could not help pondering that if at 85 she could sing like this then what an enthralling  experience it would have been to attend her shows at the peak of her career!

Along with her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle brought to playback-singing a rare dignity, gave it a unique identity, meaning and respect, and finally helped in strengthening the foundation of female playback singers in Hindi cinema. They are the living representatives of the golden era of our industry when music was at its peak and were fortunate to have had the opportunity of working with the best of music directors and lyricists of our industry-who put life into their songs and discovered and honed their talent to the hilt.

We should count our blessings to have this living legend in our midst today and I thank all those people from the heart whose dedicated efforts made this evening happen. We love you Ashaji

Here are some YouTube links to some of the songs she sang

 

Hindi film songs based on Raga ‘Charukeshi’

By

Sharada Iyer

“Your classicism is of value only if you know how to fine-tune it to the peculiar visual needs of instant cinema. In the end in the recording room it is not who knows classical singing but who has the ability to modulate classicism to the adolescent needs of mainstream cinema”

– Raju Bharatan (taken from his book- ‘A Journey Down Melody Lane’, 2010)

The repertoire of our century old Hindi film music boasts of a wide range of songs based on a variety of classical Hindustani ragas. As the object of a raga is to express a certain emotional mood and sentiment each music director has captured the essence of the raga in his/her own way to fit into the milieu of the narrative- ranging from deep love and longing, to the agony of separation, a heart-felt devotional ‘bhajan’ or just a peppy dance number.

Instead of composing these songs in a typical classical style which may appeal only to a select niche audience, our music directors have time and again proved their mettle to draw inspiration from our vast legacy of classical music and modify it to suit the mood and setting of the visual medium of cinema.

Sometimes the song completely adheres to the basic technicalities of the raga, sometimes the raga is touched upon only lightly and at other times the raga is mixed with other ragas to give the necessary appeal. Lyricists, singers and finally the actors and actresses add their own magic to enhance the appeal and reach of these ragas to the large base of film-viewing populace of our country.

In this blog-post, I have chosen Raga Charukeshi (one with beautiful hair) a comparatively recent entrant from Carnatic music into Hindustani classical music. It is a ‘sampurna’ raga which has all seven notes symmetrical in both ‘aroha’ (ascending) and ‘avaroha’ (descending) and known to induce feelings of pathos and devotion.

In Hindustani music a specific time is considered best to bring out the emotions of the raga and Charukeshi is associated with late afternoon or night .

The basics of the raga:

A lovely musical piece by ‘Dilruba ‘player Saroja to understand the essence of this beautiful raga:

Here is a superb piece on the raga rendered by Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar. Not only do the intricacies of the raga become evident, the film songs based on the raga also come to our mind when we listen to this clip.

The essence or character of the raga is brought out most effectively by the way it is handled emphasizing certain notes more than the others.  The way our music directors put to use these ragas in the perfect song situations speaks volumes of their talent and is a testament to their intrinsic knowledge and deep understanding of the notes of these ragas. 

Let us start the blog with this evergreen composition by master music-director Madan Mohan whose association with nightingale Lata Mangeshkar has given many magical songs to the world of film music. The film Dastak is remembered till today because of its haunting music and it rightfully fetched Madan Mohan the National Award for the Best Music Director that year.

FILM: DASTAK (1970)

SONG: ‘Baiyyan na dharo…’

Music director- Madan Mohan

At times our music directors have used the raga in a very subtle way and in an unexpected setting where the lover is thinking of her loved one in a joyous way. The listener is unknowingly drawn to the essence of the raga and flows with the emotion as seen be seen in this fast-moving number ‘Ek tu jo mila…’. 

FILM: HIMALAY KI GOD MEIN (1965)

SONG: ‘Ek tu jo mila saari duniya mili…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

And then there are a whole lot of film songs for which ragas have been used in the most ingenious and creative ways. The scene is rarely one of a classical music or dance setting. And yet the intricate elements and characteristics of the raga are included in a subtle way to create the mood. Along with meaningful lyrics and imaginative picturization the singer brings to life the magic of the raga in the most appealing way.

CONFESSION OF LOVE:

FILM: HASEENA MAAN JAAYEGI (1968)

SONG: ‘Bekhudi mein sanam, uth gaye jo kadam, aa gaye paas hum…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

This film had Shashi Kapoor in a double role and director Prakash Mehra churned out a box-office super-hit with his very first directorial venture. The heroine was Babita.

FILM: AAMNE SAAMNE (1967)

SONG: ‘Kabhi raat din hum door the, din raat ka ab saath hai…’

Music directors: Kalyanji-Anandji

Once again handsome Shashi Kapoor is the hero of the film and this time Sharmila Tagore is his heroine. The film is a mystery thriller where Shashi Kapoor is suspected of having killed his first wife. Songs of the film became very popular and here is one duet which has shades of raga Charukeshi.

FILM: DEEWANA (1992)

SONG: ‘Teri ummeed tera intezar karte hain, ae sanam hum to sirf tumse pyar karte hain…’

Music directors- Nadeem-Shravan

This rare raga based romantic song from the nineties sung by Kumar Sanu and Sadhna Sargam became one of the super-hits of the year.

FILM: MERE HUMSAFAR (1970)

SONG: ‘Kisi raah par kisi mod par kahin chal na dena tu chodkar…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

Here is a song from the Jeetendra-Sharmila Tagore love story directed by Dulal Guha. 

As this video cannot be embedded. Do click on the link and watch on YouTube.

FILM: PYAASA SAAVAN (1981)

SONG: ‘Megha re megha re,mat pardes ja re, aaj tu prem ka sandes barsa re…’

Music directors- Laxmikant-Pyarelal

SAD SONGS OF SEPARATION AND OF PINING FOR THE LOVED ONE:

Sometimes the tear in the eye is of joy or sadness or relief. Raga Charukeshi is considered a raga very close to the heart. The canvas that the raga evokes is lingering hope, loneliness, sympathy and a wish to be close to the loved one. In the following song situations the hero/heroine is reminiscing about the wonderful times spent together and the yearning left in the heart… 

FILM: RAAZ (1967)

SONG: ‘Akele hain chale aao jahan ho…’

Music directors- Kalyanji Anandji

Superstar Rajesh Khanna got his first break as a hero with director Ravindra Dave’s Raaz where he essays a double role.

FILM: AARZOO (1965)

SONG: ‘Bedardi baalma tujhko mera man yaad karta hain…’

Music directors- Shankar Jaikishen

FILM: MARYADA (1971)

SONG: ‘Mohabbat ke suhane din…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

FILM: MILAN (1967)

SONG: ‘Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin…’

Music directors- Laxmikant-Pyarelal

This lovely song based on raga Charukeshi was unfortunately not included in the final print of the film when it was released.  Being a film based on rebirth, the idea of separation and yearning makes it a perfect setting to use this raga for a sad song.

A TOUCH OF PHILOSOPHY:

These two songs have meaningful lyrics with a message sung by the lover for his/her loved one expressing a significant point about love, life and expectations . 

FILM: SARASWATI CHANDRA (1968)

SONG: ‘Chod de saari duniya kisike liye…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

FILM: PURAB AUR PASHCHIM

SONG: ‘Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

LULLABY:

FILM: SWADES (2004)

SONG: ‘Ahista Aahista nindiya tu …’

Music director- A R Rahman

Music director A R Rahman gave a new twist to the raga by using it in a lullaby. Though it is a lullaby, there are memories of their childhood which the characters recall and remember and the raga beautifully enhances the mood and emotions of the situation. This song is also rare as a lullaby is seldom sung as a duet!

DEVOTIONAL SONG (BHAJAN):

FILM: GEET GAATA CHAL (1975)

SONG: ‘Shyam teri bansi pukaare Radha naam…’

Music director-Ravindra Jain

Raga Charukeshi is also used in devotional songs while sketching the beauty of the Lord or requesting him for blessing especially during suffering.

Trust a genius music director like Ravindra Jain to use this beautiful raga to come up with a mesmerizing bhajan for the film Geet Gaata Chal. The movie which launched child actors Sachin and Sarika in adult roles is remembered till today for the superb songs. Sung in the voices of Jaspal Singh and Aarti Mukherjee-two singers who did not get the attention they deserved in Bollywood, this remains till today remains one of the best bhajans composed for Hindi films.

A look at the above songs brings to fore the fact that music directors Kalyanji Anandji seem to have had a special fondness for the raga as most of the songs in this post are composed by the duo. Once again they come up with a soothing song in this category also.

FILM: GEET (1970)

SONG: ‘Tere naina kyun bhar aaye…’

Music director- Kalyanji-Anandji

 

 

Film Review: Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga

Same sex love handled with sensitivity and dignity

By

Sharada Iyer

Writer Ghazal Dhaliwal and co-writer-director Shelly Chopra Dhar need to be lauded for their brave, bold and genteel attempt to bring to mainstream cinema this new perspective on love and to decode several myths surrounding such a relationship. Instead of showing the couple in a weird light or making a mockery of people in such a relationship, Bollywood for the first time brings a love story between two women with an ensemble cast comprising of top stars.

There is a dialogue in the film when the hero Rajkummar Rao who essays the role of a playwright requests his audience to watch his play with their heart to understand the underlying sensitivity and not be angry or judgemental towards the issue. This applies to the movie perfectly as the story unfolds to depict the life of a girl who at a very young age realizes that her sexual preference does not seem to be in conformity with the ‘norm’ as outlined by the society. She is made fun of and alienated in the school and there is no one either in school or at home to understand her. As she grows older she learns to suppress her feelings but always lives in fear of being ridiculed or becoming an outcast.

She has no mother and though the father is very loving he sadly misses picking up the signals and has no clue to her inner turmoil and pain. She starts recording her thoughts and feelings in her diary. He mistakes her silence as being a sign of shyness and introverted nature. Her elder brother who had been loving and protective in childhood becomes angry when he gets an inkling of her feelings and starts verbally abusing and threatening her to ‘turn normal’ or face dire consequences.

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According to him this is a kind of disease about which she should not come out in the open as it would disgrace the family. At this juncture enters into her life a young and budding playwright Rajkummar Rao, who falls in love with her the moment he lays his eyes on her. After an initial misunderstanding and shock they develop a strong bond of friendship and he takes it upon himself to help his dear friend and bring her out of this predicament.

Living in a society where even a ‘love’ marriage is frowned upon and an inter-caste marriage vehemently opposed, trying to make people just understand the idea of same-sex relationship is certainly a herculean task. It requires acceptance and adjustments on the part of the people involved.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Treatment: The film scores highly in the treatment of the delicate subject. More than focussing on the romantic scenes between the lovers, the film lays emphasis on the general reaction of people on seeing or hearing about such a relationship, the reaction of the family members and close relatives. Her brother who continues to vehemently oppose, condemn and criticize her is very believable as this is the general reaction of many people. 

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The opposition she faces in the movie is a reflection of the feelings generally prevalent in the society against same-sex relationships. The film goes to show how wrong we are in our actions just because we have been conditioned to heterosexuality being the ‘normal’ sexual preference.

When Sonam discloses her secret to Rajkummar Rao, his first reaction is to laugh. And many in the audience were also laughing. But if we think with a little empathy, this is no laughing matter and by the end of the film the director packs enough punch to convince the audience of the underlying sensitivity of the issue.

There is another subtle angle of parental interference also woven into the narrative. Parents sometimes do not allow their children to follow their heart and force them to take up careers and which is not what they actually want. Both Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla are victims of this kind of interference and this has repercussions on their lives throughout.

There is also a romantic angle between Anil and Juhi which is charming and it was great seeing the veteran pair unite after a long time.

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Performances:

The entire ensemble cast with their natural acting lend credibility to the narrative. Anil Kapoor as the father gives a sterling performance. Here is an actor who has never shied away from taking on any kind of role and once again is in top form. He gets the opportunity to bring out the emotions of anger, shock, regret, empathy and finally understanding for his daughter. He shines with his comic timing in the scenes with Rajkummar, Juhi and his mother.  He is at the heart of the story and having his real life daughter act as his reel-life is an added charm.

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Rajkummar Rao plays an endearing character and his breezy performance is absolutely delightful. His presence adds gravitas to the narrative and this talented actor is excellent in the film.

Sonam as the main protagonist playing a lesbian comes up with a sensitive performance treading the bold path with restraint. She fits the role and her fears and trepidation come across very well. Her chemistry with Rajkummar Rao as good friends is also refreshing.

Actress Regina Cassandra who plays Sonam’s lover does not have too much role but sparkles whenever she comes on screen and does her role well.

The actors playing the grandmother, the elder brother, the cook and domestic help, Rajkummar’s parents are all aptly cast and blend well with the storyline.

Music is good with the main focus being on the remixed version of the R D Burman classic ‘Ek ladki ko dekha toh aisa laga…’. Though not a patch on the original, this one keeps playing in the background and makes for pleasant hearing.

IN CONCLUSION:

The film does not go overboard yet puts across the message of same-sex love effectively. It is an appeal to treat such people as absolutely normal, healthy and very much part of the same society where we all live. No one should be shunned or judged upon because of their sexual preference and certainly should not be treated as criminals and punished.

The film is definitely worth a watch for the theme, the writing, the direction and above all excellent performances especially Anil Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao…