My Journey through Films and Film Songs 21

Continued from Previous Page

One evening in Bombay in 1954, passenger taxis were scarce. No, the taxi drivers were not on strike. Most of the taxis were parked outside a prominent cinema hall as their drivers watched a film about one of their ilk. An old friend of Dev Anand suggested to him that after the success of his role in Baazi, the role of a taxi driver would suit his image. Dev Anand’s elder brother Chetan Anand took charge of the project with a story developed by his wife Uma along with his youngest brother Vijay Anand, who was then a teenage student active in dramatics. Vijay also wrote the dialogues for the film christened Taxi Driver. “City of Bombay” is credited among the key protagonists of the film as the taxi travels across its famous landmarks.

With the music of Taxi Driver, SD Burman won the Filmfare Award in 1955, and the song Jayen to Jayen Kahan topped the Binaca Geetmala annual program of 1954. SD Burman picked Talat Mehmood to sing Jayen to Jayen Kahan, which has some similarities with Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Hey kshaniker atithi’, in preference to Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, and Hemanta Kumar, because the tune had a series of tremors.

By this time, Lata Mangeshkar had become the favourite playback singer of all the major music directors of Hindi films with Geeta Dutt close behind. Geeta Dutt had a knack for singing erotic numbers and was preferred for item songs. In Taxi Driver, Lata Mangeshkar ‘did a Geeta’ with dil se milake dil pyar kijiye, dil jale to jale and Ai meri zindagi, picturised on Sheila Ramani playing a night club dancer. But the purist in Lata, who took great care about the wording of her songs, could not bring herself to sing the words chadhti jawani ke din hain in jeenedo aur jiyo and Asha Bhonsle had to step in to render the song. Lata Mangeshkar rarely sang such songs thereafter.

Asha Bhonsle also sang a duet dekho mane nahi, shot on the leading pair of Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik, with a new singer called Jag Mohan Bakshi. Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics rhyming haseena with paseena came in for criticism. Kishore Kumar only got to lead a chorus song mastram banke zindagi ke din guzar de.

Jag Mohan, who was a refugee from West Pakistan, sang a few songs in Hindi films but joined Sapan Sengupta, a refugee from East Pakistan to form the duo Sapan-Jagmohan, providing music for Begana (1963), Doraha (1971), Chetna (1970) and other films.

Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik married secretly during the shooting of Taxi Driver.

After the disastrous failure of Aah, Raj Kapoor produced a low-budget film entrusting the direction to another young director Prakash Arora. Boot Polish deals with the problem of destitute children, and their fight against organised beggary. Prakash Arora did a good job and got the best out of Rattan Kumar and Baby Naaz who played the destitutes as well as from Chand Burke, their wicked aunt. David practically carried the film on his shoulders, for which he won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. Initially, the film was envisaged without songs but after Raj Kapoor saw the rushes, he decided to insert songs. Shankar Jaikishen created some memorable numbers, chorus songs, raat gayee phir din aata hai and thahar zara who jane wale and the delightful parody of Megh Malhar, lapak jhapak to aa re badaruwa by Manna Dey, nanhe munne bachche teri mutthi men kya hai and tumhare hain tumse dua mangte hain by Mohammed Rafi, and the poignant Talat Mehmood Asha Bhonsle duet chali kaun se desh.

The film was successful, both commercially and critically, despite the absence of stars, except for a fleeting glimpse of a dozing Raj Kapoor in a suburban train in his Awara get-up, with no romance, no spectacular visuals, and with a debutant director. Ranking eighth in the top grossers of 1954, it won the Filmfare Awards for best film in 1955. It was entered for the Cannes Film Festival in the same year and won a special mention for Baby Naaz.

Mehboob Khan followed up his megahit Aan with a romantic drama that was initially touted to be inspired by A Place in the Sun, but the story was altered beyond recognition. The three main characters remained but there were drastic changes in the events. The affair between Montgomery Clift and Shelly Winters that results in pregnancy in the American film becomes an unexpected and inexplicable rape, completely out of character with the hero. Sterling performances from Nimmi, Dilip Kumar and the ravishingly beautiful Madhubala, and Naushad’s excellent music score saved the film and it rose to rank ninth among top grossers in 1954. Lata Mangeshkar’s Na hota gham to barbadi, tere sadke balam and jane wale se, and Mohammed Rafi’s insaf ka mandir hai were hits. insaf ka mandir hai ranked fourth in the Binaca Geetmala annual program, while Na hota gham stood at sixteenth.

Naushad continued his affair with classical music with his compositions for Sadiq Productions Shabab. All the songs were hits. For a change, he got Hemant Kumar to sing chandan ka palana, an important song in the film. Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar duets man ki been matwari baje, marna teri gali mein and Lata’s solos jogan ban jaungi and jo main janati kept Naushad’s flag flying. man ki been matwari baje was ranked seventh in the Binaca Geetmala annual programme.

After the failure of Guru Dutt’s first production Baaz, music director OP Nayyar decided to leave Bombay and approached Guru Dutt for his fees for Baaz, to defray his expenses for returning to his native Punjab. Guru Dutt persuaded him to stay and score music for his next film. Parting ways with Geeta Bali, Guru Dutt launched Aar Paar under Guru Dutt Productions with Shyama as the heroine. Aar Paar was also about a taxi driver in Bombay, with a cabaret dancer and underworld crime. Guru Dutt brought innovations in filming songs, inside a taxi (ye lo main hari piya), inside a garage (sun sun sun sun zalima), and at a construction site (kabhi aar kabhi paar). Debutante Kumkum stole the hearts of youth of the day in kabhi aar kabhi paar and, Shakila, a struggling actress until then, vowed viewers in babuji dheere chalna, rendered by Geeta Dutt with her usual flair. Aar Paar made Guru Dutt’s position secure and settled OP Nayyar’s position as a gifted music director with all the songs becoming hits. ye lo main hari piya stood third in Binaca Geetmala annual programme of 1954 and kabhi aar kabhi paar took 11th position.

Two big-budget films launched with great fanfare came a cropper. After several successful films, director SK Ojha launched his ambitious, expensive film Naaz starring Ashok Kumar and Nalini Jaywant, the hot pair of the time, shot partly in Egypt and England, the first film to be shot abroad. When released it turned out to be a damp squib.

Kishore Sahu produced a Technicolor film with British actors starring alongside himself and Sumitra Devi. The film failed to take off although songs composed by Shankar Jaikishen were popular. The most popular song mohabbat ki dastan aaj suno was picturised on Helen, who appeared for the first time as a street singer, but she had no dance, as dancer Cuckoo took precedence with main to paschim and Sheila Vaz with tandana tandana. Lata Mangeshkar’s solo tu kyun mujhko pukare was my favourite. A feature of the film was a classical dance performed by well known Kathak dancers Vajifdar sisters for the song ye barkha Bahar.

Bimal Roy Productions Naukri focused on the problem of unemployment. Kishore Kumar and Sheila Ramani gave a good account of themselves and Kishore Kumar’s songs chhota sa ghar hoga, ek chhotisi naukri ka talabgar hoon main and arzi hamari, tuned by Salil Chowdhary won people’s hearts.

Bimal Roy also directed Biraj Bahu based on the novel by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. Sterling performances by Abhi Bhattacharya and Kamini Kaushal and music by Salil Chowdhary made it one of the best films of the year. Hemant Kumar’s mere man bhoola bhoola and jhoom jhoom manmohan re are steeped in devotion. Biraj Bahu won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in 1954 and Bimal Roy won the Filmfare Award for Best Director in 1955. The film was also nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.

After Ashok Kumar disposed of his shares in Bombay Talkie, workers of the studio got together to form a cooperative to complete the unfinished film Baadbaan. Directed by Phani Mazumdar, this emotional drama is distinguished by powerful acting by Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar, and Usha Kiran, who won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. kaise koi jiye, tuned by Timir Baran and sung by Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar was ranked eighth in the Binaca Geetmala annual programme.

SS Vasan of Gemini ventured into Hindi films again in 1954 with Bahut din Huve, based on a popular folk story from Andhra Pradesh, starring Madhubala. Hindi film viewers did not like the theme and the film bombed. During the shooting of the film, Madhubala fell ill. She vomited blood and it was detected that she had a hole in her heart, a congenital heart defect, that was incurable at the time. Despite living on borrowed time, she continued acting and had a string of hits until she became incapable of working. These films include Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), Kala Pani (1958), Phagun (1958), Howrah Bridge (1958), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Barsaat Ki Raat (1960), Half Ticket (1962) and Sharabi (1964). Her last film was the posthumously released Jwala (1971).

MV Raman left AVM Productions to float his own company and produce Pehli Jhalak with Vyjayantimala and Kishore Kumar in the lead roles and a music score by C Ramchandra. Vyjayantimala’s dance numbers included a Lavani achhi surat hai ya museebat and a classical style song kaise bhaye rut savan ki. Kishore Kumar was up to his tricks in charan das ko peene ki, which we enjoyed thoroughly.

V Shantaram’s Subah ka tara was about widow remarriage, with his first wife Jayashri starring opposite Pradeep Kumar and their daughter Rajashri as a child star. Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar duet gaya andhera huwa ujara took the eleventh position in Binaca Geetmala annual program.

KA Abbas’s Munna was the first Indian film without songs and dances. It is the story of a mother and her six-year-old son who keep missing each other. It was a critical success but failed at the box office. The story was later used by Chetan Anand for his film Aakhri Khat (1960).

Pehli Tarikh is a film that few people will recall but will not forget the Kishore Kumar song din hai suhana aaj pehli tarikh hai played regularly on the first day of each month by Radio Ceylon continuously from 1954 for decades. Written by Qamar Jalalabadi, the song is a reflection of the travails of middle-class families.

Around this time I began to watch Marathi films. The output of Marathi films was low, and they were made on low budgets and without the advanced equipment used in Hindi films. Nevertheless, they scored over Hindi films in terms of story content and characters. One possible reason was the association of well-known writers in Marathi films. There were some very good directors too in Marathi films, including V Shantaram, Datta Dharmadhikari, Raja Paranjpe, Sadashiv J Row Kavi, and PK Atre. Shantaram’s Marathi films are in a class of their own. Datta Dharmadhikari’s Bala Jo Jo Re, Chimani Pakhre, Stree Janma Hi Tuzhi Kahani and Mahatma, Ram Gabale’s Doodh Bhat, and Sadashiv J Row Kavi’s Vahininchye Bangde are very realistic and emotionally fulfilling films. Raja Paranjpe’s Lakhachi Goshta was a laugh riot. PK Atre’s Shyamchi Aai based on a story by well-known Marathi author Sane Guruji won the first Golden Lotus Award for best film at the National Film Awards instituted in 1954. Several Marathi films were remade in Hindi and South Indian languages and several artists from Marathi films found fulfilment in Hindi films. During this period, I saw the early Marathi films of Usha Kiran, Sulochana (Latkar), Seema and Ramesh Dev. Baby Shakuntala, a child artiste in Chimani Pakhre grew to be beautiful Shakuntala in Parichay and Biraj Bahu but left acting soon afterwards. Sudhir Phadke is ensconced in the memory of lovers of Hindi film music through his compositions jyoti kalas chhalke from Bhabhi ki Chudiyan and din hai suhana from Pehli Tarikh. Marathi music lovers remember him for recording Geet Ramayan written by G. D. Madgulkar. Geet Ramayan is considered a "milestone of Marathi light music" and the "most popular" Marathi version of Ramayana. My brother-in-law T Ravindranath was the sound recordist as an Assistant Station Engineer at the Pune station of All India Radio.

Stree Janma Hi Tuzhi Kahani was based on a short story Aaj Ka Sawaal written by Pandit Mukhram Sharma, who had worked in Pune as a dialogue writer in Marathi films from 1942. After the success of this film, he moved to Mumbai and wrote the story and screenplay of Aulad directed by Mohan Segal. It was a down-to-earth story of an old couple, played by Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy, who give their only child to their childless employers, Usha Kiran and Prabhu Dayal, for adoption and suffer the mortification of watching the child being ill-treated when the adopting couple gets a child of their own. Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy lived their roles. The film won the Filmfare Award for Best Story in 1955. Mukhram Sharma followed up with Adhikar, starring Usha Kiran and Kishore Kumar, once again directed by Mohan Segal.

Motilal got good reviews for his acting in Mastana. Madan Mohan composed some good songs including Mat Bhool Are Insaan, Duniya ke sare ghamo se begana and Jhoom jhoom ke do deewane.


More by :  Ramarao Annavarapu

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Views: 524      Comments: 2

Comment Thanks for an absorbing account of films and related info shared in an engaging and enlightening manner sir. Unless some one writes like this many precious jewels remain un noticed and forgotten in the mighty flow of time. Salute your peerless service and passion to share with people.Regards.

T.S.Chandra Mouli
24-Jun-2024 11:00 AM

Comment Another great episode.i am awe stuck at your memory.i salute and thank you.should be published in a book form.

16-Jun-2024 07:50 AM

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