Listening to: Kala Pani (1958)

Kala PaniMy today’s movie selection is in honour of Dev Anand, who passed away this week. Though I was never fond of his films, I respect anybody who has lasted so long in the cut-throat business that Bollywood is.

The last time I saw Dev on the big screen was in 1978, when I went to see Des Pardes. I was a teenager and I found the thought of a the 55 year old thespian romancing the young Tina Munim very objectionable. I walked out after 30 mins of the film.  Subsequently, I have never been able to see his films without a rather bad taste in my mouth. And also, I absolutely disliked his mannerisms.

Kala Pani was therefore a wonderful surprise! He is young (35) and handsome and thankfully makes minimal use of the mannerisms which annoy me.  The movie starts with Dev discovering that the father he thought was dead was in fact serving a life-sentence for murder. He meets is father, is convinced that he is innocent and decides to find the true killer and clear his father’s name. The beautiful Madhubala is the owner of the guest house where he stays and the gentle take-off of the romance is very convincing -there is neither stalking, nor over-ardent behaviour! Nalini Jayawant is a tawaif, a dancing-girl, who has proof of the real killer. The two ladies look beautiful and add a feminine touch to this semi-dark crime story. In spite of some loose bits (for example, confrontation with the lawyer at gunpoint, the speech making in the court), the script is good, the editing brisk, the black-and-white cinematography is quite beautiful, music is melodious and performances are very good indeed, especially by Dev Anand and Nalini Jayawant. A very stylistic film; a recommended watch. 

The music by S.D.Burman is very melodious and Majrooh Sultanpuri provides some memorable lines. I must bring your attention to the background score as well; it is especially beautiful. Listen to the music when Dev is in the newspaper office, quite lovely.

  • Najar Lagi Raja – Asha Bhonsle. A very good Mujra song, Nalini Jayawant adds to the allure of the song with her own beauty. I love the sound of Ghungroo integrated into the music. Open-mouthed smile
  • Hum Bekhudi Mein – Mohammad Rafi. SD has produced a masterpiece. Rafi displays a mastery which leaves me in awe! What an interesting mood the song creates! Its not sad, but rather reflective and accepting of lost loves and lost chances.Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Dil Lagake Kadar Gayee – Asha Bhonsle. Another Mujra song but this didn’t please me as much. Disappointed smile
  • Jab Naam E Mohabbat – Asha Bhonsle. SD has tried a new concept, mixing traditional poetry delivery style of singing with ‘modern’ bits interspersed.  I liked the traditional part which reminded me strongly of the later (1963) song ‘Ham Tere Pyar Mein Sara Alam’ with music by Shankar Jaikishen. But the mix of the two styles, I found very jarring. Disappointed smile
  • Acchaji Mein Hari Chalo – Asha Bhonsle, Mohammad Rafi. When it comes to expressing emotions with her voice, Asha is just incredible. Listen to her say मान जाओ ना – the modulations in her voice!! Oh!! Add to it Madhubala’s superbly expressive face and you have a winner. The heart is for Asha’s voice.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Dilwale Ab Teri Gali – Asha Bhonsle, Mohammad Rafi. A banjara song, quite good. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My pick for today is Rafi’s Hum Bekhudi Mein, a most well-known and well-loved of songs. Enjoy!

 



Footnote (Lyrics) :

Set to Raga Chhayanat

हम बेखुदी में तुमको पुकारे चले गये
साग़र में ज़िन्दगी को उतारे चले गये (हम)

देखा किये तुम्हें, हम बनके दीवाना
उतरा जो नशा तो, हमने ये जाना
सारे वो ज़िन्दगी के सहारे चले गये (हम)

तुम तो ना कहो हम, खुद ही से खेले
डूबे नहीं हम ही यूँ, नशे में अकेले
शीशे में आपको भी उतारे चले गये (हम)

4 Comments

Filed under Bollywood 50's Music, Mohammad Rafi

4 responses to “Listening to: Kala Pani (1958)

  1. The only song I can comment upon is Accha ji main haari… Both Rafi and Asha sound to be in a masti mood and the moods are really reflected in the song.

    I remember the slow tune of “Hum bekhudi mein..”, but I don’t remember much of it, and even faintly remember “Nazar laagi raja..” I would try to listen them carefully when I get them next time!

    P.S. Again, no comments on Dev Anand, I have watched nothing of him, except half of the Guide (before I fell asleep, I was too young back then to understand it)!

    • Hi Ganesh, Accha ji main hari and Hum Bekhudi mein are both very good songs, very well worth adding to your old-film-music collection🙂 If you get the opportunity, do watch Kala Pani. It doesn’t feel dated at all, even a young man like you should find it entertaining. In fact my 21 year old, brought up totally outside India with very different musical taste, still finds this era of Indian film music very much nicer than the current music – he was saying just yesterday.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Hmm, I have Kala Pani somewhere in my stack of to-watch DVDs, so your appreciation will probably make it come closer to the surface! Thanks Suja.

    • Hi Yves, I have a feeling that you will enjoy it very much. In fact there were quite a few interesting points which bear discussion but as I do only a mini-review in my blog, I didnt mention them. I’ll be interested in reading your thoughts and discussing a few things when you do write your review one day🙂
      Cheers. Suja

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s