Tag Archives: Kalyanji-Anandji

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 : Zanjeer (1973)

Zanjeer 1973I picked this film today out of my big stack of yet to see films almost with a sense of duty. You see, my movie watching was censored by my parents in the seventies and violent films like this never made the list. My own leanings also kept me away from this genre. ‘My’  Amitabh Bachchan was the Amitabh of Anand, Abhiman, Silsila, Chupke Chupke and Mili. Realising that I had quite missed the whole ‘Angry Young Man’  phase, I picked up a DVD with three of Amitabh’s action films.  Today I come to the first of these, to a film which was a super-hit and propelled Amitabh to the top tier of Bollywood stardom.

A little boy watches his parents being murdered, traumatised and scarred for life. Vijay grows up to be police officer, an officer who doesn’t hesitate to go out of established procedures and boundaries to deal with criminals.  In short, he has the personality of a vigilante in the garb of a policeman, not a man I could like at all. But I have to say that Amitabh does this ‘brooding, suppressed violence’ personality very well.

Sher Khan (Pran), who runs gambling dens, comes to Vijay’s attention and he takes him on. In a very unconvincing episode, Vijay challenges Sher Khan to a fist fight, after which Sher Khan magically reforms! He also gives his hand in friendship to Vijay. Pran as the Pathan is very well cast and does an impressive job as Sher Khan. Mala (Jaya Bhaduri) is a knife sharpener+ street performer who also comes in contact with Vijay. The gentrified Mala from the later part of the film is more suited to Jaya rather than the loud and rough-edged Mala at the start.

The Big Bad Man in his locality, Teja, who coincidentally happens to be the man who killed his parents, is the next one Vijay unknowingly takes on. In one of the episodes, Mala comes to risk and Vijay invites her to stay with his brother and sis-in-law for safety. They develop a rapport and an understanding. Again, I find this relationship unconvincing. How did they breach the divide of the classes so easily? How did a rough, uneducated woman become so easily gentrified? Its telling that the sis-in-law calls Mala’s clothes as ‘fancy dress’  when she first meets her. The chasm between the educated middle-class and the uneducated low-income workers is real; intimate relationships cannot be built that easily.

Teja manoeuvres Vijay into being convicted of taking bribery and he is jailed for six months. When he comes out of jail, he is an embittered man. Mala convinces him to give up revenge, which he tries but Teja still comes after him. With Mala’s permission Vijay returns to the fray and the ending is satisfyingly predictable.

The film is well-paced with good performances not only by the leads but also by the supporting cast. The script, with coincidences galore, stretches one’s credulity but no more than other Bollywood films of that era. I dislike revenge as a theme; I consider it to be one of the baser instincts of mankind, why celebrate it? I neither admired nor respected the protagonist, so I could not quite like the film. But I am in the minority evidently, this film enjoyed a huge success.

Coming to the music by Kalyanji-Anandji, I can only call it average+. The lyrics are by Gulshan Bawra; there is some decent poetry in places.

  • Chakku Chhuriyan – Asha Bhonsle. A pedestrian song. Asha’s high pitched vocals do not suit Jaya at all. Confused smile
  • Dil Jalon Ka – Asha Bhonsle. This is a club number with Bindu shimmying and wriggling to this song. I like this better than the previous Asha solo, still it is not something I am going to pick out to listen.Thinking smile
  • Diwane Hain Diwanon Ko – Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar. A nice song with good harmonium interludes. Smile
  • Bana Ke Kyon Bigade Re – Lata Mangeshkar. Well written lyrics and a beautiful melody, sung well by Lata.  Smile
  • Yari Hai Iman Mera – Manna Dey. Undoubtedly the most celebrated song from this film, it is the ultimate ‘bromance’ song. Memorable words. Listen to this :
    जान भी जाए अगर, यारी में यारों ग़म नहीं
    अपने होते यार हो ग़मगीन, मतलब हम नहीं
    हम जहाँ हैं उस जगह, झूमेगी नाचेगी ख़ुशी
    Such a positive spirit !! And then there is this :
    तेरा ममनून हूँ, तूने निभाया याराना
    तेरी हँसी है आज सबसे बड़ा नज़राना
    यार के हँसते ही, महफ़िल पे जवानी आ गई, आ गई
    What a lovely sentiment!
    The music director has delivered the spirit of the words. It is an excellent composition with a lovely melody and interesting changes in tempo. Add to it Manna’s impeccable singing, Pran’s naturalness, Amitabh’s brooding intensity ..and you have a truly memorable song.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart 

My choice for today must be evident by now, enjoy!!


Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Manna Dey

Listening to: Sachaa Jhutha (1970)

Sachaa Jhutha (1970)Since Rajesh Khanna passed away last month, I have wanted to review one of his films but have been deliberately procrastinating. I think perhaps I am having trouble coming to terms with his death. He represents an era in the Hindi film world which is personally meaningful to me. Through his films I passed from childhood to my early teenage years, learnt to appreciate filmi music and became more aware of the world in general. A coming of age as it were. With his passing away a bit of my world has passed away too. The sand castle of my life has already been assaulted as the tides have started coming in; this is one more step towards its destruction.

So when my husband picked up Sachaa Jhootha as our late night watch yesterday, I did have a few moments of reluctance. Surprisingly, I have never seen this film before! On the whole it was not a bad film; the first half was well-scripted and brisk but the director somewhat lost control of the plot in the second half.

Bhola (Rajesh Khanna) is a dirt-poor young man from a village. He lives with his disabled sister under the cruel treatment of his step-mother. Uneducated but with some musical skills, he decides to go to the city to earn a living. Good hearted but extremely naive, I could not find this character as appealing as the film makers wanted it to be.

Ranjit (also Rajesh Khanna) is a rich diamond merchant by day and a jewel-thief by night, a leader of his own gang. He is clever and cunning but ruthless, not stopping at even murder. Thankfully there is no background story to wring sympathy for him. Bhola and Ranjit look, as you can well guess, exactly alike. And no, they are not long lost twins, thank God!

When Bhola comes into town, he gets mistaken for Ranjit at a costume party. Ranjit, who is in disguise, sees this and immediately thinks of all the opportunities this presents. He cons Bhola into training to be his double. His in-house moll Ruby (a meaty role for Faryal) is Bhola’s trainer.

The police have suspicions that Ranjit is the jewel thief but have no proof; they make elaborate plans to trap him. The plot is devised by Inspector Pradhan (a very dashing young Vinod Khanna). Another officer, Rita (a gorgeous Mumtaz), is to act as the lure to catch Ranjit who has an eye for a pretty lady.

What follows is typical Bollywood fare of the 70’s. There are uses of unspecified chemicals by the thieves  – a truth serum and some kind of stunning mixture. There are police bugs and inefficient snipers. There is a clunky recording device. There is a sword fight. And best of all, there is a really clever dog chasing a car, two cars chasing the same dog, and the dog finding its way to the court to identify the bad man in the climax!!

Rajesh Khanna is adequate as Bhola but quite good as Ranjit. His representation of innocence and naiveté borders on imbecilic which I quite object to. His dancing has always been abysmal and surely he could have done better with his wardrobe choice? Red trousers with a bright red shirt, a bottle-green suit..honestly!! However he does know how to deliver dialogue and has his signature charm. And as Ranjit, he does ‘cold-hearted’ very well. This role won him a Filmfare award.

Mumtaz is not at all convincing as a police officer. But in her role within her role to attract Ranjit she just has to look pretty and she does that and how! This film was one of her stepping stones from being a supporting actress to a lead one, and she looks tentative at all times.

Vinod Khanna too seems somewhat amateurish at times but so very handsome that I didn’t much care! Again, this was before he started playing lead parts and his skills are obviously raw. The supporting cast members do reasonably well.

The music by Kalyanji-Anandji is not of uniform quality. There are two good songs but the others left me cold. The lyrics are by Indivar, Gulshan Bawra, and Qamar Jalabadi.

  • Meri Pyari Behaniya – Kishore Kumar. The song which was to be played in thousands of baraats (marriage processions) in the future has a slightly melancholic air. Normally the baraat songs are cheerful and the bidai songs are sad, but this is a strange mixture of two emotions! Well tuned and well sung, I am unable to judge its true merit as it is overly familiar! Open-mouthed smile
  • Dil Ko Dekho Chehra Na Dekho – Kishore Kumar. Rajesh cannot dance but Kishore can certainly sing! The melody is not too bad but somehow doesn’t quite hit the mark. Thinking smile
  • Duniya Mein Pyar Ki – Asha Bhonsle. A totally pedestrian tune warmed up slightly by Mumu’s wriggles. I am sorry to say that even her dancing at places is stiff and unconvincing. Don’t bother listening. Sad smile
  • Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat – Mohammad Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar. This superb gem is a surprise in the otherwise middling album. Kishore Kumar was in his ascendency at this time yet it is Rafi who strikes a chord with this song. Melodious and beautifully sung. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • O Kehdo Kehdo – Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar. Another rather pedestrian song, I can’t recall this song ever playing in the radio. Did it? But this is at least well sung. I don't know smile

My song choice for the day is evident I guess. Enjoy !!


Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi