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?

Hawa mein udta jaye, mora lal dupatta malmal ka!

Although malmal is strictly out of vogue these days, just for this song I wouldn’t mind donning a complete velvet dress 🙂

P.S: Please note the correction here – malmal is muslin, not velvet! Madhulika – thank you!

I speak to you ladies and gentlemen, about none other than Barsaat (of which we have been having a little too much in Delhi these days). The film was a blockbuster, as we call them these days, but what else could it POSSIBLY be, when it starred the oh-so-in-love Raj Kapoor and Nargis?

Such a hit was Barsaat, that RK earned enough money to buy a studio of his very own – RK Studios. And now an interesting story behind that – about how the RK emblem was created. No idea what I am talking about?

Well, look at the image below:

This is a scene from the film itself – where RK is stringing the violin in the  typical Hindi-film-hero way, slow and deliberate, pining for Nargis’ love while  she, guided by the soulful music runs towards him. Very intense, indeed. It’s  one of the most iconic scenes of all times, I think (there’s their pyaar hua  iqraar hua scene too). Anyway, I suppose this scene became so etched in RK’s  mind that he decided to turn it immortal – as the emblem of RK Studios.

So now if you see the emblem it looks something like this–> 

Pretty Damn Cool, I say!

By the way, he bought this studio when he was just 24, making him the youngest film director of those times. Ambition, good looks and Nargis – I wonder if there’s anything he didn’t have.

But if we are going to talk about good looks, Premnath (the other actor in  the film) can’t be left too behind. Just LOOK at him – wow.

Now a little bit of trivia – sadly unrelated to Premnath. After Aag, RK  wanted composer Ram Ganguli to write music for the film but Lata  Mangeshkar apparently found him offering the same tunes to someone else!  Needless to say, Ganguli was dropped. Sad.

Then came Jaikishan, who offered to take up the offer only if his friend,  Shankar could come on board too. RK complied, and therein lies the history  of one of the most prolific music directors of all times. The stories films tell!

Oh, guess what, I DO have Premnath-related trivia! 🙂

Thanks to this blog, I came to know that RK and Premnath were good friends and RK would often end up at his house.  It seems RK had a thing for Premnath’s sister (well if she was even half as good looking as he, I don’t blame RK). Funny thing is, RK actually ended up marrying his sister, Krishna.

Another very well written review of the film says that before Premnath turned to his method-actor type villainous roles, this film was his first taste of success following which he went on to become a leading actor in many films with stars like Meena Kumari and Madhubala.

Lata Mangeshkar, who was a newbie at the time, got a big break (not the first one) because she got to sing for both Nargis and Nimmi (the other actress opposite Premnath – lucky girl).

Raj Kapoor also signed Shailendra to pen songs for the film – at a starting salary of Rs. 500. (That was huge then.)

Well, that’s all from me for now, hope you had a good read, Cheers!

Our very own Charlie Chaplin…

Mera Joota Hai Japani,

Yeh Patloon Hindustani, Sar pe Laal Topi Roosi,

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani…

The quintessential Indian-Charlie-Chaplin-tramp played by Raj Kapoor is simply put, unforgettable. It is said that this film (Shree 420) gained a huge fan following in then Soviet Union where he was said to be as famous as Nehru!

In THAT age, this film earner over 20 $mn. This record was eventually surpassed by the epic Mother India. At the time, (1955) India was a newly emerging Soveriegn and this particular song, with its patriotic tone, grew immensely popular amongst Indians everywhere.

Shatrughan Sinha also sung this song at a function under supervision of the music director. Fancy that.. I never thought Shatru ji could say, much less sing, anything apart from his “KHAMOSH!” 🙂

Check out the picture on the left.. Remember this classic scene? Two lovers standing under one umbrella in the rain, I remember this song as an integral part of every Antakshari game I have ever played 🙂

Pyaar Hua, Iqraar Hua Hai, Pyaar Se Phir Kyon Darta Hai Dil… Raj Kapoor and Nargis didn’t just sizzle on-screen, they were rumoured to have an affair off screen too. No wonder it translated so beautifully in the films they did together! They say she took to wearing white dresses and saris because it was his favourite colour. By the way, if you have seen the song, you might notice 3 kids in raincoats – they are all Raj Kapoor’s sons!

Talking about unforgettable songs, I can’t possibly forget to mention Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya, Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya, another favourite Antakshari number. The words Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya mean “Oh Rama, will you come to me?” It is said that the lyricist Shailendra was walking under a building where there was construction work being done, and he heard the workers singing. He liked it and decided to use the words in this song.

Talk about finding inspiration in things around oneself, eh?

One last tidbit: The beautiful Nadira, who featured in the song Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh who played a negative role in this movie is a star in her own right. You may have seen her in another film called Dil Apna Preet Parayi. Still can’t place her? Remember the song Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh.. that featured Meena Kumari too.

She shot to fame because of her beautifully chiselled features and was quite a heartthrob then. Although she acted as a leading lady in several films, her portrayal of the negative character in Shree 420  was so convincing that she never received the role of a heroine. She went on to play other roles but never the leading lady again.

Reminds you of Helen who was stereotyped as a cabaret dancer in Bollywood. Funny how being good at something becomes more of a bane isn’t it?