Madhuban mein radhika naache re!

Few other films or songs saw Dilip Kumar depicting a personality so unlike what he was usually known for – the tragedy king. Kohinoor can well be called a fairy tale with all the masala and pizzazz of a prince-loves-princess-evil villain-who-wants-princess and throne formula. But it was also instrumental in converting Meena Kumari, who was seen more in sobbing/tortured soul/unhappy for eternity/quiet roles, into a lovable, chirpy princess.

Wikepedia says Dilip Kumar’s psychiatrist advised him to perform lighter roles to bring him back from the brink of utter depression that came from his earlier emotionally demanding roles. Phew.

I do have a question about the song: Who sang for Mukri?

Moving on, the sitar: Yes, Dilip Kumar played it! How impressive is that? Not much, compared to the next bit I am about to tell you
about! See the screenshots on the left? Got it from this ( blog – it is a mongoose. Who wants horses and elephants when you can get a mongoose? And a pet on a leash that saves your life by killing a snake that’s let loose on you by the bad guys? I’d say the mongoose had a big hand in making this film a hit.

I know this is cheap but I wrote this post only for the mongoose. There’s not much other trivia I can give you this time! Hope you were surprised enough 😛



Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe…

Exploring the complex nature of a friendship between a man and woman wasn’t the characteristic of many films of the golden era. One such film, however, tread in the territory and did quite well – Andaz – which featured Nargis, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.

First a little backgrounder to explain what I am talking about – Dilip Kumar befriends Nargis, who is the daughter of a rich businessman and starts visiting her frequently and predictably, falls in love with her. Nargis, meanwhile, is oblivious to Dilip’s feelings but the twist arrives in the form of Raj Kapoor, who, unbeknownst to Dilip, is Nargis’ fiance. The look and feel of the film is very western, very unlike other films of the period. It aims to explore the dynamics of a platonic relationship between men and women.

Moving on, this is the only film  that Raj Kapoor and  Dilip Kumar acted in together.  I suppose they emerged as  actors of very different kind of  personalities – with Kapoor  playing a naive man (Shree  420, Anari) and Kumar playing the role of a lost-in-love kind of man  (Devdas, Madhumati) in films following this one. Maybe  there was also the fact that either man was entirely capable of carrying a film on their own, very capable shoulders.

We also know that Mukesh’s voice was perfectly suited to Kapoor’s and Md. Rafi to Kumar’s, for this film the director decided to switch the playback singers. It was something Kumar had objected to but all’s well that ends well! In fact, Mukesh seemed to have come into his own with this film, especially since many believed he imitated K L Saigal’s voice for a long time. Good for him 🙂

Speaking of imitating styles, for one of the songs, ‘Uthaye ja unke sitam’, Naushad told Lata to imitate Noorjehan. Apparently, he said,   “Achha Latabai Ab Apni Pakistani Behen Ko Yaad Kar
Ke Yeh Gaana Gayiega.

Beautifully said, don’t you think?

Uden jab jab zulfein teri!

kavariyon ka dil machle(2), ho jind meriye! I absolutely ADORE this song and cannot resist the impulse to dance along if I hear it 🙂

It’s from the film Naya Daur (1957) that painted a picture of India post independence and the imminent industrialization that came along with it.

Dilip Kumar plays a tongawala whose livelihood is threatened by a man (Jeevan) who wants to introduce buses in the village for people to travel in instead of the horse drawn carts.

This film has beautiful songs and my favourite is the one I mentioned right at the top. The other songs (like Maang ke saath tumhara) are timeless too. The songs are said to be inspired by the folk music of a Punjabi dance troupe that had also performed at the 25th week celebration of another BR Chopra film.

Because the subject of the film isn’t your run-of-the-mill hero-meets-heroin, falls-in-love, sing-songs-around-trees, villain-interrupts, hero-fights-and-wins story, many titans of that time refused the idea outright. Luminaries like Subodh Mukherjee, Mehboob Khan and even Raj Kapoor said a vehement no to the script.

However, when BR Chopra heard the story line, he went straight for it and how! I read somewhere that Chopra went to Ashok Kumar first, who declined because he didn’t think he would fit the role well (personally I think he would have looked too old for it).

So Chopra went to Dilip Kumar who wasn’t even ready to listen to the script! But after he did, Kumar was so excitedthat he wouldn’t leave Chopra’s house till he signed the contract and got a cheque.

This was also Yash Chopra’s first film under the tutelage of BR Chopra for whom he acted as the guiding assistant.

Moving on, Chopra began the shooting with Madhubala as the lead actress but 10 days later, when the crew had to move out of Mumbai and shoot in a village in Bhopal, her father refused to let her go!

Of course, the rumours of Madhubala and Dilip Kumar’s apparent fondness for each other must have made him livid and so he didn’t give her permission for the out-of-town shoot. A deadlock ensued, making matters so bad that Madhubala ended up in court accused of taking advance payment for the film and not completing it! Chopra eventually let her off the hook and asked Vyjayanthi Mala to perform as the heroine. Tough luck!

When VM stepped in, the posters of the film (which still read Madhubala) weren’t changed – instead a black cross was cut across her name to let everyone know that she was sacked. Poor Madhubala – so much humiliation for no fault of hers!

50 years later, Naya Daur was colourized ( I don’t think there’s any such word though, so please consider this my writer’s licence). So while the old film looked like –>

the new one looked like this!

If you ask me, it looks unnaturally colourful. It’s as if the bosses got so excited about  making a coloured film, they just got the palette and flung whatever colour they could find  onto the film. The sense of romance of the black and white is missing! I do not like. :X

Anyway, the process of colourization took more than 2 years and around 30 million! Phew.

Say whatever you will, Naya Daur definitely struck a chord with its audience back then and  was a superhit. In fact, it was the first film ever to celebrate a silver jubilee at more than one  theatre in Mumbai.

P.S: The little kid in the picture is Daisy Irani – isn’t she cute?! Most of you might remember her from that popular serial called Dekh Bhai Dekh. CUTENESS PERSONIFIED.

Suhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen…

Hume dar hai hum kho na jaye kahin!

Hello and a Very Happy New Year to everyone ! Although I wanted to begin my new post on the 1st of January, a wicked hangover and office on 1st (that’s right) didn’t render it possible for me to do so. But now that I am here, let’s begin. The song is from the movie Madhumati (1958) and what other better way to kick off the New Year than a film filled with oodles of drama, intrigue and melodious numbers?

So I present to you ladies and gentlemen, Madhumati. It was one the earliest films to delve into what would become one of the most popular themes of Indian films – life after death or reincarnation.

It was such a tremendous commercial success of the one-time only pair of director Bimal Roy and writer Ritwik Ghatak that it went on to win 9 Filmfare awards, including Best Movie, Best Director and Best Actress.

It was the first film to have ever won so many – and the next film that won as many (and one more) was Dilwali Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. (That should give you an idea of exactly how successful this film really was).

Now, Shailendra was the lyricist for the songs and for the song ‘Suhana Safar aur ye mausam haseen’, he couldn’t find a line to follow this particular one “Ye Gori Nadiyon Ka Chalna Uchhal Kar”. So the song was kept on hold for quite some time till one day, he happened to chance upon a little girl who was crossing a lane and singing to herself. What followed was the line “Ki Jaise Alhad Chale Pee Se Mil Kar” and the song was complete!

Another slightly-haunting, slightly-romantic song “Aaja re pardesi” was going to be cancelled by Bimal Roy because he felt it wouldn’t quite fit in with the feel of the film. But apparently, singer Lata Mangeshkar threatened that she would never again sing for his films (quite tyrannical I say) and he had to bow out.

Interestingly, the same song was used many years later in the film Guddi (1971). (Very nice watch too) Guddi was made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who also edited Madhumati. Jaya Bachchan sings the song during the climax of the film.

I have learnt that Roy was the kind of person who made low-profile films, in that they weren’t masala films, but more socially attuned and talked about more down to earth, closer-to-reality subjects. And according to this blog by Dusted Off, this film was meant to bring in the moolah just so that he could make the films he really wanted to. I would say he hit the bull’s eye!

I also found out that another hot favourite song of mine Dil tadap tadap ke is “inspired” from a Polish folk song called Szla dzieweczka do gajeczka.

Like I said before, Madhumati kickstarted a trend in films based on re-incarnation and till date, we see examples of them. To name one, Karz (1980), which starred Rishi Kumar and Simi Grewal. Of course, Karz itself inspired Karrzzz (think they took it too far with the extra r’s and z’s though, it’s kind of sad).

And more recently came Om Shanti Om (2007), which starred SRK and Deepika Padukone. Apparently, Bimal Roy’s daughter Rinki Bhattacharya even accused Farah Khan of plagiarism and threatened legal action against the producers of the film! Sad bit, that.

But I do have a FRESH piece of gossip: If you have heard the name Dhobi Ghaat, Aamir Khan’s latest venture, check
this out: he has taken exclusive permission from Bimal Roy’s family to use the song Dil tadap tadap ke in the film and this time, the song will feature him! Let’s see what zing Khan can add to the song, eh?

Anyway, the film is a great watch and the songs – very madhu-like!

Jidhar dekhoon teri tasveer nazar aati hai…

Ok, so the song has nothing to do with what I am going to tell you, but it fits in to the anecdote I am going to write about perfectly!

She ruled every man’s heart once – a lopsided smile that could make you laugh,twinkling eyes that made heartbeats skipMumtaz when they fluttered and a face so innocent and devoid of pretense, it could melt your heart – it could only be Madhubala. (sigh)

Born Mumtaz and named Madhubala later by Devika Rani, she went on to be one of Hindi film’s most loved actresses, and why wouldn’t she have?

Despite any formal training or education, she had the uncanny knack of sensing the audience’s pulse – she knew what they wanted to see, what made them cry and laugh – and she could glide from one to another with an ease befitting a veteran actress.

There is, however, one interesting occasion on which she couldn’t quite get her lines right, no matter how hard she tried.


It was a time when her torrid love affair with Dilip Kumar was at its zenith. She was shooting a scene for the film Mr. & Mrs. 55. In the scene, Lalita Pawar (THE most popular “vamp” of those times) is supposed to show Madhubala a photograph of her husband in a compromising position with another woman, seeing which, the heroine was expected to leave him.

As it turned out, no one on the set had a photo of the kind, so someone borrowed one from Mehboob Khan’s (owner of Mehboob Studios, I presume) office.

No prizes for guessing whose picture it was!

Abrar Alvi, the film’s screenwriter revealed that Madhubala refused to shoot the scene when she saw the picture!

She said she couldn’t concentrate, Alvi explained. And no amount of persuasion helped, she would just not budge! In the end, they had to bow down.

I think that’s rather sweet – not being able to focus because of his photo! Did you know that Madhubala was born on Valentine’s Day? It’s no wonder that love had this much effect on her. I, for one, can’t imagine how dashing Dilip Kumar must have been to make a beauty like her lose her cool!

Learning to see from the blind…

The everlasting King of Tragedy, Dilip Kumar surpassed his talent in this film and left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was the best at portrayal of tragedy.

In this film, where he worked with Nargis, Ashok Kumar and Nimmi, Dilip Kumar’s character turns blind due to an accident. When Dilip Saab asked Ashok Kumar how he should go about acting blind, Ashok Kumar suggested he close his eyes. But he wasn’t satisfied. It occured to him that closing his eyes wouldn’t create the effect of reality, and plus, he had been asked to perform the role with his eyes open anyway.

Ashok Kumar then suggested he go to Mahalaxmi, where a beggar sat who was blind but his eyes were open. When I read this bit, I couldn’t believe how observant Ashok Kumar must have really been to give this bit of advice!

Anyway, Dilip Kumar went to Mahalaxmi, and met the blind man. He spent time with him and observed how he was. The man was quite an amicable person and Dilip infused that quality into his own character in the film too. (see the pic above?) The effort is visible in the film where he really does lend an air of authenticity to his character. Goes to show what extent true, dedicated actors like him would go to to attain perfection in everything they do.

Credit: Dilip Kumar, The Last Emperor, Sanjit Narwekar, Rupa & Co Publishers.

P.S. The name of the film is Deedar.

Madhubala instead of Waheeda

Remember Pyaasa, the story of a writer and Gulabo which was played by Guru Dutt and Waheeda? Well, turns out that it could have turned out quite differently had Guru Dutt abandoned the lead role.

Dutt wanted someone else to take the role for two reasons. One, he thought himself not to be good enough, simply put. And two, he wanted to focus all his attention on directing the film. He was very keen on taking Dilip Kumar, who was at the top of the industry at the time and would have played out the character beautifully, without a doubt. This despite the fact that a considerable length of the film had already been shot with him in the lead.

Such a perfectionist was he, that he made no compromises on the quality of his films. The story as narrated to Dilip Saab who argued that Gulabo’s role shouldn’t be so important, the heroine’s should be. Of course, he wanted Madhubala to play the heroine instead of Mala Sinha, who eventually played the role.

Dilip Kumar argued quite a bit with Abrar Alvi, the scriptwriter, but Alvi wouldn’t hear of it, and Kumar had to give in.

So it was Waheeda, afterall who played Gulabo and not Madhubala.

Although Dilip Kumar agreed to play the hero, he never turned up on the sets on the day the shoot was to begin. No one knows why, till date.

More trivia: While Waheeda replaced Madhubala, the role of Mala Sinha was originally offered to Nargis. Because the two actress couldn’t arrange the dates, they were eventually given to these two.

Pyaasa was also the last time the famous duo S.D Burman and Sahir Ludhianvi worked together.