Category Archives: Mahendra Kapoor

Listening to: Purab aur Pachhim (1970)

Purab aur Pachhim To celebrate India’s Republic day on the 26th of January, I decided to watch a film by Bollywood’s own symbol of patriotism, Manoj Kumar. Browsing through his works, I picked Purab aur Pachhim with vague memories of some likeable songs. ‘The East and The West’ says the title, and I knew I was in for some Indo-centric worldview which will appal me in its exaggeration, bias and fabrication. Is this the definition of Patriotism? Not to me. Preparing myself mentally, I readied myself for the film.


The film bravely starts with Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’’s soul-stirring words

सरफरोशी की तमन्ना अब हमारे दिल में है।
देखना है जोर कितना बाजु-कातिल में है?”

sarfarOshI kI tamannA ab hamArE dil mE.n hai
dekhnA hai zOr kitnA bAzu-E-qqAtil mE.n hai

The wish to sacrifice is now in our hearts
It is to be seen what strength there is in the arms of our executioners

The tale starts in 1942, in Allahabad. A freedom-fighter falls, betrayed by his a neighbour Harnam (Pran). As he breathes his last, his wife Ganga (Kamini Kaushal) goes into labour and gives birth to a boy, Bharat, who will grow up to be the hero (Manoj Kumar) of our story. Harnam and his wife Kaushalya (Nirupa Roy) break-up over his betrayal and he steals away in the night with their young son Omkar (adult role by Prem Chopra). Kaushalya soon gives birth to a girl, Gopi. The two ladies and the children live with their Harnam’s father (Ashok Kumar).

A grown-up Bharat goes to UK to complete his studies and is invited by his father’s friend Sharma (Madan Puri) to live with his family. His family (wife Rita (Shammi), daughter Preeti (Saira Banu) and son Shankar (Rajendranath))  are not Indian in their outlook, though they are decent folk. Bharat’s coming affects them all in different ways. Sharma remembers again his connection with India and wallows in nostalgia. Shankar is attracted to Indian spirituality and starts exploring it. Preeti is bewildered at first but then starts admiring and later loving Bharat. Rita rests bewildered.

Coincidentally (well, this IS Bollywood!) the Sharma family is acquainted with Harnam and Omkar. Omkar is obsessed with Preeti and wants her at any cost. Preeti is more interested in Bharat and by the time he finishes his studies, they have an understanding that they will marry. But she wants him to stay back abroad while he wants to go back to India. Bharat agrees that if she dislikes India even after an extended stay, he will return to UK with her.

In India, the Sharma family (sans mum) are drawn to the way of life. Drama arrives when Harnam returns and then later Omkar, with evil intentions. After a complicated climax, everything comes to a happy conclusion.

In general, this is a decent enough plot. An Indian family is alienated from its roots; the presence of a patriotic and good Indian man makes them question their values and find a new way of life which they like better. No harm in that at all. Yet there are these not-so subtle messages which are piously put forth in the name of patriotism, but are galling to any intelligent person, especially to an Indian woman like myself who lives outside India. See what Manoj Kumar says

  • An unfaithful and violent husband who abandons a woman is still to be considered God and begged to fulfil his wife’s life !
  • Non-resident Indian women are chain-smoking, alcohol-swigging ladies with no value systems. By the way, this view has not changed much over the years; I recently saw Cocktail in which Deepika Padukone plays a NRI woman who is shown as a party-girl and Diana Penty is, in contrast, the ‘good’ Indian girl!
  • Non-Indian women are all easy!
  • Indians have a monopoly on culture, wisdom, sobriety etc.

‘Love India’  is a message I can live with but ‘Disrespect all other cultures’  is the subtle-undertone of this message, and that I cannot live with. It is to be noted that while spouting Indian values, the writer-director-producer of the film does not hesitate to use nubile sparsely-clothed young ladies to titillate and sell the film at the box-office. Such hypocrisy!

Leaving my (serious) objections aside, the film is well made and watchable. Manoj Kumar’s acting is very low-key which I quite like. Saira Banu is ideally cast for this role and though she does not handle her one emotional scene well, she does a decent enough job for the rest. Supporting cast are all better than the lead actors, especially Pran. Vinod Khanna is totally wasted.

The music by Kalyanji-Anandji is melodious, with Mahendra Kapoor as the star performer – and he does very well indeed!  I found that his voice suits Manoj Kumar very well. The lyrics are mainly by Indeevar with a song contribution each by Santosh Anand and Prem Dhawan.

  • Dulhan Chali – Mahendra Kapoor. Lyrics: Indeevar. Despite the 42 years which have passed by, I reckon this song is still well-recognized in India thanks to its suitability for both baratis and for telly-time on patriotic occasions! A rousing song, well sung. Smile
  • Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet -Mahendra Kapoor. Lyrics: Indeevar. Though I am not much for over-preachy songs, I was struck by the words. Well done Indeevar! Another patriotic song, with a catchy refrain भारत का रहने वाला हूँ भारत की बात सुनाता हूँ . Shot in a revolving floor of a restaurant, I remember watching the clip as a kid and being quite amazed! Open-mouthed smile
  • Raghupati Raghav – Mahendra Kapoor & Manhar. This traditional and well-loved chant is used in multiple places in the film. Too much drama in some renditions, but Mahendra Kapoor is in good voice. Smile
  • Koi Jab Tumhara-Mukesh. Lyrics: Indeevar. Sad songs somehow sounds sadder in Mukesh’s voice! Well written, well sung song. Open-mouthed smile
  • Purva Suhani Aayi Re – Mahendra Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar, Manhar. Lyrics: Santosh Anand.  The rather sad melody doesn’t match the cheerfulness of the words. Shot like an ad for tourism, it is an entertaining watch. Smile
  • Om Jai Jagdish -Mahendra Kapoor, Shyama Chittar, Brij Bushan. This traditional aarti song always sounds good to me. Smile
  • Twinkle Twinkle – Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhonsle. Lyrics: Prem Dhawan. Naaaaah…doesnt work for me, this strange mix of nursery rhymes and bhangra music. Sad smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

For today, I have selected Dulhan Chali as my featur song simply because you can enjoy a glimpse of the Republic Day parade in its picturisation. Enjoy!


Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Mahendra Kapoor

Listening to: Aadmi (1968)

AadmiRemembering the glorious music of this film, I picked this from my long list of to-watch films. On reading the synopsis, I didn’t have much expectation but no matter. For me, the story is just the space between songs!

The theme of the film is reflected by the protagonist saying at the end of the film ‘मैंने भी इक भूल की थी | और अनगिनत आंसू बहा के यह जाना कि ग़लती करने वाला आदमी होता है और पछताने वाला इंसान |’  The first half was quite enjoyable. The unbelievable plot twists and melodrama of the second half bored and frustrated me but still, it wasn’t too bad on the whole.

The story is about Rajesh (Raja Saheb), a wealthy young (introduced as Naujawan)  man  played by a 46 year old Dilip Kumar!! By his own words, he needs to win at everything and has a greed for all that his mind wants.  In a childhood incident he kills his friend over a doll (a doll? young boys? !!!). This haunts him and leaves him mentally instable yet there is much that is honourable about him.  Dilip Kumar is very good at portraying deeply conflicted characters such as this one, but I appreciated his effortless and natural style more in the simple scenes, like the one in which his friend Shekhar talks to him of his lost love.

Shekhar is a young doctor played by a 31 year old Manoj Kumar. He is a friend but his obligation to Rajesh seems to take precedence over friendship. I am not much of a Manoj Kumar fan but he was decent enough. His struggles in emotional scenes is a bit pitiable to watch. His misfortune is to be up against the smooth strength of Dilip Kumar’s acting.

The triangle is completed by Meena played by a 32 year old Waheeda Rehman. I have always admired this beautiful actress and she delivers a quiet and dignified performance.  A class act.

Shekhar and Meena love each other secretly but circumstances lead to Meena being engaged to Rajesh.  An accident leaves him disabled. When Rajesh’s suspicions rear-up, the negative side of his personality takes hold. How will everything be resolved? Who will get the girl?

Able support is provided by an excellent Pran as Mayadas, who is conniving to ‘catch’ Raja Saheb for his daughter Aarti, an elegant but very bland Simi. Sulochana does well as the normal filmi weeping mother. Padma Chavan as Meena’s sister and Agha as Prem, her love interest, provide a small side story and a bit of comedy.

It is the music by Naushad which is the real strength of this film. It is quite glorious! Shakeel Badayuni pens the words which are equally good.

  • Kari Badariya – Lata Mangeshkar. How lovely Lata sounds! A lilting song with immediate appeal, Lata does it full justice. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Kal Ke Sapne – Lata Mangeshkar. A song which enjoyed a lot of popularity, it is very appealing. Open-mouthed smile
  • Kaisi Haseen Aaj – Mohammad Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor/Talat Mahmood. Simply Fabulous!! A rare combination of a wonderful melody matched by lovely poetry (see footnote for lyrics) sung to perfection. The song was recorded first with Talat Mahmood but Manoj Kumar requested a change so it was recorded again with Mahendra Kapoor. The film features this latter recording but the album features the Talat version.  Open-mouthed smileRed heartRed heart
  • Main Tooti Hui Ik Naiyya – Mohammad Rafi. A sad song, not bad. I don't know smile
  • Na Aadmi Ka Koi Bharosa – Mohammad Rafi. The title song is a beautiful, heartbreaking song. Open-mouthed smile
  • Aaj Purani Rahon Se – Mohammad Rafi. A gem. Naushad ably demonstrates his genius yet again. And Rafi conducts a masterclass in singing. I am in awe of his voice which scales the octaves so effortlessly and with such beauty! Shakeel Badayuni’s poetry has a ring of truth and quite beautiful. (see footnote). Open-mouthed smileRed heart

To listen to the whole album, click here.  An album to be treasured; one can seldom find music like this nowadays!

My selection from the film is Kaisi Haseen Aaj. Listen first to the Mohammad Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor version from the film. [youtube]

Now listen to the Talat version. Which do you like better?


Given the beauty of my other selections from the film, I include them in this post as well.

Kari Badariya – Lata Mangeshkar

Aaj Purani Rahon Se – Mohammad Rafi

Footnote (Lyrics) :

कैसी हसीन आज बहारों की रात है |
इक चाँद आसमां पे है इक मेरे साथ है ||

ओ देने वाले तू ने तो कोई कमी न की |
अब किस को क्या मिला ये मुक़द्दर की बात है ||

छाया है हुस्न-ओ-इश्क़ पे इक रंग-ए-बेख़ुदी |
आते हैं ज़िंदगी में ये आलम कभी कभी ||
हर ग़म को भूल जाओ खुशी की बारात है |
इक चाँद आसमां पे है इक मेरे साथ है ||

आई है वो बहार के नग़मे उबल पड़े |
ऐसी  खुशी मिली है कि आँसू निकल पड़े ||
होंठों पे हैं दुआएं मगर दिल पे हाथ है |
अब किस को क्या मिला ये मुक़द्दर की बात है ||

मस्ती सिमट के प्यार के गुलशन में आ  गई  |
मेरी  खुशी  भी आप के दामन में आ गई ||
भँवरा कली से दूर नहीं साथ साथ है |
अब किस को क्या मिला ये मुक़द्दर की बात है ||

आज पुरानी राहों से कोई मुझे आवाज़ न दे |
दर्द में डूबे गीत न दे ग़म का सिसकता साज़ न दे ||

बीते दिनों की याद थी जिनमें मैं वो तराने भूल चुका |
आज नई मंज़िल है मेरी कल के ठिकाने भूल चुका ||
न वो दिल न सनम न वो दीन-धरम |
अब दूर हूँ सारे गुनाहों से ||

जीवन बदला दुनिया बदली मन को अनोखा ज्ञान मिला |
आज मुझे अपने ही दिल में एक नया इंसान मिला ||
पहुँचा हूँ वहाँ नहीं दूर जहाँ |
भगवान भी मेरी निगाहों से ||


Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Mahendra Kapoor, Mohammad Rafi

Listening to : Nikaah (1982)

I remember Nikaah (Marriage) very well; I too was married in the same year!  The popular genre of Muslim social dramas had been very popular in the 50s and 60s but hadn’t been made for some time when this film was released so it created quite an interest. It was also often in the news because it starred a Pakistani actress who sang for herself. All these memories flit through my mind as I pick this album today with lots of nostalgic pleasure.

As I hear the music, I am charmed anew. I so love the music of yesteryears where attention was given to the lyrics and melody rather than orchestration as is popular today. I love many of music director Ravi’s albums. The thing that grabs me today are the lyrics by Hasan Kamaal.  How well he expresses the emotions of a woman hurt in the past and afraid to take a risk again –

हमने उदासियों में गुजारी है ज़िन्दगी
लगता है डर फरेब बेवफा से कभी कभी
ऐसा न हो कि ज़ख्म कोई फिर नया मिले
अब तक तो जो भी दोस्त मिले बेवफा मिले

All the competitive verses of the Qawwali Chehra chupa liya hai with the man vs woman perspectives are so very cleverly written !

इक परवाना जला किस क़दर शोर मचा
शमा चुप-चाप जली लब पे शिकवा न गिला
क्या है जलने का मज़ा हुस्न से पूछो ज़रा
क्यों कि
परवाने को जल जाना हमने ही सिखाया है…

The second thing which catches my attention is the unusual combination of Salma Agha’s nasal and rather plaintive voice with the deep and well modulated voice of Mahendra Kapoor. A very pleasant combination.

So here are the songs, with my recommendations :

  • Dil ki yeh arzoo thi – Mahendra Kapoor, Salma Agha Open-mouthed smile
  • Fazaa bhi hai janwan janwan – Salma Agha Smile
  • Beete hue lamhon – Mahendra Kapoor Smile
  • Dil ke armaan – Salma Agha Open-mouthed smile
  • Chupke Chupke – Ghulam Ali Open-mouthed smileRed heart What a fantastic ghazal! This is one of Ghulam Ali’s ghazals and I believe the lyrics are by Hasrat Mohani.
  • Chehra Chupa Liya Hai – Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhonsle, Salma Agha Open-mouthed smileRed heart

To listen to the whole album, here’s a link. For this post, I wanted to present the Qawwali Chehra Chupa Liya hai – I so love qawwalis! Unfortunately I couldn’t find a good video online. Ghulam Ali’s song is his own, so not a credit to the music director or the lyricist.  So I offer for your viewing pleasure Dil Ki Yeh Arzoo..enjoy!

Dil ke yeh arzoo–Mahendra Kapoor, Salma Agha

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Filed under Bollywood 80's Music, Mahendra Kapoor