Listening to: Mehbooba (1976)

MehboobaRaga Shivaranjani has taken root in my mind since my classical music post a couple of days back.  Remembering a haunting song (pun intended!) set to this raga, I sat down to see Mehbooba. Of course, knowing that its Shakti Samanta film, I felt confident that it would have a certain class.

Mehbooba belongs to the Bollywood genre which I call Lost-Love-From-A-Previous-Life. This genre boasts some interesting films like Milan, Mahal and Karz. As always in films such as this, there is an abandoned palace, a photograph or painting to trigger memory and a haunting tune plaintively sung by a spooky woman trailed by the hero looking enchanted (I would have been terrified and run in the opposite direction!). And of course, people look exactly the same in all their lives so as to make recognition easy!!

So here is Rajesh who comes to a haunted and haunting mansion on a stormy night. Subsequent events lead him to remember his tragic love story from the previous life where he is a court singer and Hema Malini the court dancer. They fall in love but there is a childhood marriage which must be honoured and it all leads to the death of the lovers. In his current life, he comes across his lost love and has to work hard (ie. sing the haunting melody very often) to make her remember. There is a current life villain in Prem Chopra but after the most unconvincing of climaxes and fight scenes, all ends well.

I confess to being slightly bored by the predictability of the story. The actors I don’t blame; they did their bits well enough except for Yogeeta Bali who is quite wooden. Asrani’s role reminded me of a similar role in Abhiman. Its a good enough time-pass film.

The music by R.D.Burman has some memorable moments. The background score has some lovely lilting melodies as well. The lyricist, Anand Bakshi has woven some good lines.

  • Mehbooba – Kishore Kumar. I listened without attention to the title song as I got distracted by a bad guitar-playing act by Rajesh. He is supposed to be a musician here, surely he should have made a better attempt? Kishore has sung this well enough but there are no surprises. Thinking smile
  • Mere Naina – Lata Mangeshkar. People are always divided between which version they like, Lata’s or Kishore’s. See below for a comparison. Open-mouthed smile
  • Gori Teri Painjaniyan– Manna Dey. When it comes to classically based songs, its difficult to touch Manna Dey. He has sung this with his usual verve and energy. Hema has danced well. At some instances, the lyrics leave much to be desired – घर से निकलती है तू गिर के संभलती है तू  Is that supposed to be poetry?? Still, a very nice song indeed.Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Aapke Shahar Mein – Lata Mangeshkar. Mujra song. Loved the turquoise-black ghagra set that Hema was wearing, other than that nothing interested me. Disappointed smile
  • Chalo ri – Lata Mangeshkar. A nice ethnic dhun but it does remind me of a myriad other songs. Nothing unsual. Smile
  • Mere Naina – Kishore Kumar. A memorable performance and definitely the better version of the song. See below for analysis.Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Parabat Ke Peeche – Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar. The only duet of the movie, I remember it being played on the radio quite often so I reckon it was quite popular. I like the refrain very much indeed, very unusual and it is also beautifully sung. Open-mouthed smile

Why do I like Kishore’s version better? Lata’s version starts better, with a lovely little alaap which is repeated mid-song as well. This establishes the more ‘ghostly’ effect for the female version. The musical interludes are also prettier, with lovely sounds of the ghungroo.  Still, I prefer Kishore’s version. There are some long notes in the song (eg. the word deewane in ae dil deewane)  which in Lata’s version is uninteresting while Kishore’s voice has a natural vibration which makes even the flat notes lovely. The composer has used Mishra Shivaranjani, with the extra note G3 (Carnatic system) while Shivaranjani uses only G2. In the first verse, in the line Dard Bhara Yeh Geet Kahan Se in Hoton Pe Aye-Door, the G2-G3 slide comes on Aye-Door. This only presence of G3, that too only in the upper octave, lends the most important haunting quality (sad G2-happy G3) to this song. And is therefore very important. Lata’s voice unfortunately sounds quite sharp in this slide while Kishore simply shines. For lyrics click here.

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My pick for the day is of course Kishore’s version of Mera Naina.

and Gori Teri Painjaniyan to enjoy Hema’s dancing.

6 Comments

Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey

6 responses to “Listening to: Mehbooba (1976)

  1. Banno

    Suja, Not only people have the same faces, but they also have the same talents, i.e. singing, dancing, and the same voices. It’s fascinating, no?

  2. True🙂 But the talents thing I kind of half-believe – its a good way to explain child-protigies, if some people can carry their skills or knowledge from one life to another..

  3. Filmbuff

    Should i say join the club? about liking Kishore’s version of Mere Naina better than Lata’s? Parbat ke peechey is my fav no from this movie. I some how liked the Rajesh/Jumri story better than the Rajesh/Ratna segment.

  4. True..I guess I am stating the obvious🙂 The Kishore version has more ‘dard’ and is easily the better version. And yes, you are right, the Rajesh-Jumri section was more interesting!

  5. g narayanan

    I am now 63 . think it was 1976 -more than 3 decades back when I was full of romantic mood and Rajesh khanna,kishore kumar and amitab were house hold names for us–i saw this moviee in devi bala three times for the very same song. My! my !! what a haunting memory this brings back. I also vaguely remember there was a remake with rishi kapoor-sridevi starrer
    But oldis gold

    • Its lovely, isn’t it, that our memories are linked with all this lovely music?🙂 This used to be on Vividbharati all the time and I loved it then as I love it still. Some things are not meant to be forgotten.
      Cheers. Suja

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