Tag Archives: R.D.Burman

Listening to: Kati Patang (1970)

Kati PatangSeeing my ironing pile increase to an Everest-like magnificence, I decided to get down to some movie-watching. What’s the connection you ask? Well, I can’t iron without entertainment! I checked my list of to-see films and chose Kati Patang.  Though I know the music intimately, I have never seen this film before.

A young-woman, Madhu (Asha Parekh), runs away to her beloved on the day of her arranged marriage to a man unseen (which era is this?!!). Her beloved does not deserve the title, for he is a cad, only after her money. She is shocked (but why? this is Prem Chopra, what can she expect?) only to find her uncle and guardian is dead. She leaves then (no funeral?), running to nowhere, when she meets a widowed friend travelling with her small child to meet her in-laws for the first time. The train crashes and her friend dies, demanding a death-bed promise that Madhu pretend to be her (but why?) and go to her in-laws with her baby. The taxi she catches turns out to have a dastardly driver and she is rescued by Kamal (Rajesh Khanna) who happens to be the groom she has run away from!

Do the coincidences befuddle your brain as much as they do mine?

Kamal and Madhu fall in love, but she is a pretending to be a widow and re-marriage is not easily accepted in society. Kailash the Cad (Prem Chopra) is alerted by his girl-friend Shabnam (Bindu) and comes to blackmail Madhu. She tries to resist but it is not easy. In the meanwhile, Madhu writes to Kamal confessing her story but the letter falls in the hands of her father-in-law Dinanath (Nasir Hussain). He is angry at first but then he accepts her and even talks to Kamal’s father, arranging Madhu’s marriage with Kamal.

Tragedy strikes when Kailash the Cad poisons Dinanath the FIL and Madhu is taken into custody by the police. Will her innocence be proven? Do Kamal and Madhu have a future together? Well, you’ll have to watch the film to find out!

I do hate it when script-writers pretend to give a social message but are in fact manipulating the audience. Is this film meant to encourage widow re-marriage in traditional families? But then Madhu is not really a widow, is she? Blast, I am not supposed to see through their ruse, am I? There were other instances of audience manipulation which I found distasteful but I admit, I am just being picky. This is Bollywood, its par for the course.

Rajesh Khanna proves why he was such a success. He has this certain intensity….hmmm, I am a woman after all, you must forgive me if I fall for a man’s charm now and then!  Asha is not my favourite but she does a reasonable job. Prem Chopra is as slimy as a badly cooked okra and Bindu is Ooooomph incorporated, especially in her next-to-nothing costume for her dance sequence. I imagine she caused a sensation in those more innocent times!  Overall, the film is watchable especially given the lovely songs.

The music by R.D.Burman is the highlight of this film and Anand Bakshi has done a superb job of the lyrics.

  • Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai – Kishore Kumar. Charming. Truly. Is there anyone who can emote so beautifully with their voice like Kishore? Is there anyone who can emote to Kishore’s voice like Rajesh? A masterclass in Bollywood singing-lip synching. Open-mouthed smile
  • Pyar Diwana Hota Hai – Kishore Kumar. Its impressive how Kishore never over-does things, however capable he is. This is a simple melody and he has sung it simply without any flourishes. I like the simplicity of the lyrics too – सुनो किसी शायर ने यह कहा बहुत खूब, मना करे दुनिया लेकिन मेरे महबूब (Some poet has wisely said, the world may deny it, but my beloved is still my beloved). Well said!  Smile
  • Mera Naam Hai Shabnam – Asha Bhonsle. Hmmm. Not much to my taste but Bindu looks sensational! Disappointed smile
  • Jis Gali Mein – Mukesh. I love this song! I know there are many Mukesh detractors out there, but when he does a superb job, what’s there to say but वाह वाह ? Anand Bakshi has outdone himself with the romance of his lyrics.

    जिस चमन में तेरे पग में कांटे छुबे
    उस चमन से हमें फूल चुनना नहीं
    (In the garden where your feet are hurt by thorns,
    I don’t wish to pick flowers from that garden)

    Ah, I melt! Open-mouthed smileRed heart

  • Yeh Shaam Mastani – Kishore Kumar. A cheerful number with Kishore showing his yodelling skills. And his masterful rendition of  ऐसा लगे जैसे की तू हसके ज़हर कोई पिये जाय !  Oh! Smile

  • Na Koi Umang Hai – Lata Mangeshkar. Lata’s voice is flawless and the interludes lovely. The lyrics are excellent, if a bit depressing. Judge for yourself :
    आकाश से गिरी मैं इक बार कट के ऐसे
    दुनिया ने फिर न पूछो लूटा है मुझको कैसे
    ना किसी का साथ है ना किसी का संग है
    मेरी ज़िन्दगी है क्या इक कटी पतंग है
    (I have been cut (like a kite) and fallen from the skies
    don’t ask how the world has treated me hence
    I have no one by my side, I have no one to be with
    My life is but like a kite with its string cut
    )
    Beautifully written and sung. Open-mouthed smile

  • Aaj Na Chodenge – Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeskhar. A popular enough Holi song, sung with enthusiasm by Kishore. See how different his voice sounds compared to Yeh Sham Mastani – he brings a roughness, an earthiness into his singing. Clever. And R.D has created an equally clever mix between the exuberance of Kishore’s singing and the sadness of Lata’s verses.Smile

My choice for today is Mukesh’s song. This in no way denies my worship of Kishore’s voice!

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Listening to: Gol Maal (1979)

Gol MaalI always fear re-watching old favourites – what if they are not as good as I remembered? Would it not take away the residual pleasure which has lingered over the years? I had seen this film as a young woman, in a theatre in Green Park, New Delhi along with my giggling friends. We had lovely chaat and kulfi-falooda afterwards – oh how it makes me long for those days! It was with trepidation that I sat down to see a film for I did so want it to be good!

And it was more than good!

The most natural of actors, Amol Palekar, is a young man who, for the sake of finding a job, lies about himself. His weird and rather manic boss is the incomparable Utpal Dutt. His daughter, Bindiya Goswami, is Amol’s love interest. Soon one lie adds on to another and Amol not only has to be his own evil twin, he also has to acquire a mother, the wonderful Dina Pathak. Devan Varma, Shubha Khote and David are very good in their small supporting roles. How does it all end? Hrishikesh Mukherjee has made a film which provides a gamut of emotions, from smiles, giggles, guffaws to hysterical laughter. Bindiya is the only weak link in this film, otherwise its a great watch! Highly recommended.

Amol Palekar may be the ‘hero’ but it is Utpal Dutt who is the real lead of the film. When the film finished, I got up in my little living room to bow to this man who makes it all seem to easy. Utpal Dutt is  man of immense talents coming with an illustrious career as actor and playwright in Bengali theatre and film as well as forays into the Hindi film world. His contribution to Indian theatre and cinema is to be lauded. If you want to read more about his career, click here.

As the music is by R.D.Burman and lyrics by Gulzar, one can always expect a certain standard.

  • Gol Maal Hai – R.D. & Sapan Chakravarthy. This very popular title track has a very nice beat and good lyrics. RD has thrown in some harmonies, making it ‘modern’. I was in awe of Amol Palekar’s lip-synching, he does such a wonderful job! The song reminded me of ‘Haal Chaal Thik Thak Hai’ from Mere Apne which has the same mood.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Sapne Mein Dekha Sapna  – Kishore Kumar, Amit Kumar. What fun lyrics! Made me smile.  Kishore is great in this genre of song.  Hema, Zeenat and Rekha make brief appearances adding to the fun factor. Smile
  • Aanewala Pal – Kishore Kumar. Lovely song. Beautiful lyrics. Kishore’s voice strumming the strings of my heart. These words really speak to me-

    आनेवाला पल जानेवाला है, हो सके तो इसमें जिंदगी बिता दो
    पल जो ये जानेवाला है
    and also
    थोडा सा हँसा के, थोडा सा रुला के, पल ये भी जानेवाला है
    What’s not to like? Open-mouthed smileRed heart

  • Ek Baat Kahoon – Lata Mangeshkar. After listening to the Lata of the 50’s and 60’s, I did not quite enjoy her voice here. The melody is quite ok but the final effect did not appeal. Disappointed smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My selection for today is Kishore’s voice in Aanewala Pal.

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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.

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

Listening to: Sholay (1975)

Sholay

The first time I saw this film in 1985, it was already ten years old, a legend even then. What at impact it had! Sometimes, very rarely, different facets of a movie come together and magic happens because the movie becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Sholay is one such film.

Today I watched it 26 years after I saw it last.  It still had tremendous  impact. People who know my dislike of bloodshed would wonder at my statement about a film which has so much violence. Yes, I cringed in places and hid my eyes in quite a few others but in spite of that I say emphatically – if you haven’t watched it, do.

A Wild-West story Indian-style, it seems to be inspired by films such as the Magnificent Seven, except the odds are even worse, there are only two to defend the village. Yet the movie is 100% Bollywood Masala – there is a great mix of action, violence, tragedy, emotion, drama, comedy, love. Its a buddy movie, an action movie, a romance and a drama. And it has nice music too!

There are funny little cameo roles by Asrani, Jagdip and Keshto Mukherjee but its Dharm, Hema and Amitabh who provide the best comedy. Dharm is a natural, his performance in the water-tank suicide attempt scene had me in giggles. Amitabh is no less when he goes to speak on Dharm’s behalf to Hema’s aunt. Even though I am not a big Hema fan, I think she’s great here; she has a definite flair for comedy. Jaya’s performance is understated but excellent. I did not much like Sanjeev’s take of the avenging Thakur. His teeth-clenching to show anger in every other scene quite tired me. I would have a preferred a colder, more controlled performance. The supporting cast have done a commendable job.

Dharmendra and Amitabh carry the film with their contrasting styles. But I give the award to the superbly evil Amjad; he is just unbelievably good.  His eyes, his dialogue delivery, his smile – everything is as evil as can be!

There are, of course, holes in the script. Why don’t they organise better defences? Why spend so much time drinking and romancing instead of keeping lookouts? Why would Hema plan to meet Dharm  in so lonely a place when they know they are surrounded by villains? Is it still important to capture the enemy alive when one’s life is in danger? Why do they attack the enemy with so little smarts and so much emotion? And isn’t the idea of a handless Sanjeev beating up Amjad quite ridiculous? And really, does it have to be SO long? There are many whys but we shall ignore them because its still a good film.

R.D.Burman weaves his magic wand for the music with good lyrics by Anand Bakshi.

  • Yeh Dosti – Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey. This is THE buddy song of that era. Is the sidecar a metaphor for friendship? Smile
  • Holi Ke Din – Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar. There are better Holi songs but its not too bad. Smile
  • Mehbooba – R.D. The song is so famous that it is difficult to make an unbiased judgement. Helens gyrations and RDs gruff voice made an impression the first time I saw it, and it still remains startlingly good. I don’t have the qualification to critique RD of all people, but sometimes the voice seemed to be getting ahead of the beat..it disturbed me, so no dil. Open-mouthed smile
  • Koi Haseena – Kishore Kumar. This always make me smile; the song suits Dharm so very well! The picturisation is very amusing too. Open-mouthed smile
  • Haan Jab Tak Hai Jan – Lata Mangeshkar.  Hema’s big dance number is very good, Lata does a good job. Smile

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Listening to: Aap Ki Kasam (1974)

Aap Ki Kasam

Remembering how good the songs of this film are, I bought a DVD of this film recently and set down to watch it yesterday. Oddly enough I remembered the first part of the film very well but had totally forgotten the later half so it was almost like watching it anew. I am surprised to have forgotten it; its quite a good film.

Rajesh Khanna’s character is not the typical Bollywood hero, all glitter and gloss. He has his good side, but also suffers from irrational jealousy, lack of trust and is unable to recover from setbacks – essentially a weak character. Rajesh Khanna does a commendable job of portraying the descent from happiness to jealousy & anger and then to realisation & despair. Towards the end he hams it up a bit, but as I spent the last 10 mins of the film sobbing into my tissue, I didn’t notice it much!

Mumtaz is also not the typical heroine. She shimmers as a young girl in love, stands up for herself against an irrationally accusing husband and leaves him, breaks down after the eventual divorce and dazedly follows her father’s decisions for her. Her performance is very good and she looks delectable in some scenes.

Rehman & Dina Pathak are her non-typical filmi-parents. On her choosing a man not from their own well-to-do background, they happily support her (it’s rare as a dodo in a Hindi film!) and when she comes back to them, they are supportive in quite another way. Both actors are SO good, I admire them tremendously!

Only Sanjeev Kumar’s character is not that convincing, but he does a remarkable job as always. My only gripe is his not taking even the minimal effort to convincingly portray playing a sitar! Very annoying!

Should you watch it? Oh yes! If all these interesting personalities don’t grab your attention, the 70’s wardrobe surely would !! Stitched-into-tight pant-suits in bright colours at the start and glorious saris later, Mumu looks alluring at all times. As for Rajesh, remember Guru-shirts with belts outside? Safari suits in vivid colours? Its such fun to re-live all these old fashion trends! Available free on Youtube (legally), click here to watch the full movie. There is a good review and synopsis of the story in this site.

The music by R.D.Burman is very good indeed, just as I remembered.

  • Suno, Kaho – Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar : Nice perky duet, beautiful scenery, Mumu in a super-tight yellow gharara, what’s not to like? Smile
  • Karvate Badalte Rahe – Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar : Very VERY romantic song with the leads cavorting happily in the snow (thankfully well dressed unlike normal Bollywood leads!). My husband remarked that Mumu seems to have put on weight..but I reminded him that she was always like this, and much admired too! Our eyes have started to expect slimmer ladies.  Rajesh looks handsome & stylish in a cap and Mumu glowing as always. Any female heart would melt if Kishore were to croon तुम चले जाओ नहीं तो कुछ न कुछ हो जायेगा . Lovely song. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Paas Nahin Aana – Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar : A playful song, its quite melodious and easy to listen to. Smile
  • Jai Jai Shiv Shankar – Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar : Now this is a seriously fun song, exuberant, joyful and Mumu & Rajesh have acted it out very well. I love Mumu’s orange sari with black applique work, I want it!! As for Lata & Kishore, they have outdone themselves! Unforgettable song.Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Chori Chori Chupke Chupke – Lata Mangeshkar. Lata’s solo is beautifully sung, another lovely song.Smile
  • Zindagi Ke Safar Mein – Kishore Kumar. Kishore’s solo is the better one, he is helped by a sombre note to the music which he does so well. The lyrics are very meaningful and well written – पतझड़ में फूल जो मुरझा जाते हैं वो बहारों के आने से खिलते नहीं  Kudos to Anand Bakshi for penning these lines. Open-mouthed smileRed heart

I recommend listening to whole album here, there are no duds in it! As I am finding it too hard to select just one song, here are my top selections :

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar which is so very happy..

and Zindagi Ke Safar Mein to showcase the talent of Kishore, RD & Anand Bakshi, a superb combination! (sorry, no embedding)

http://youtu.be/j2K0VGzQ8gY

Enjoy!

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Listening to Namak Haraam (1973)

Namak HaramOnce upon a time, a Phenomenon called Rajesh Khanna ruled in India. He was a true romantic and wooed the world with his twinkling eyes and charming smile. All that he touched became gold. He had it all – name, fame and a young Dimpled Queen. Into his kingdom came a dark and morose man. Who knew then that he would be the new King; in fact that he would set up his own Dynasty? But we should have known…yes..there was this unleashed power, a violence, within him…and it was in Namak Haraam that we had the first inkling of this.

As I re-watch the film today, I am surprised that this was the role which was the turning point for Amitabh. I didn’t find his role particularly appealing; it was rather one-dimensional and contradictory. Take, for example, how he looks down on his household staff and the workers at the factory. Would a man like that have a friend who is so middle-class? How can he miss the fact that his manipulations to make Rajesh popular make him look weak and ineffectual? Shamed by apologising to Hangal, why did he accept losing face to Rajesh publically? I see holes in Gulzar’s development of Amitabh’s character. But Amitabh does a good job of his material, especially towards the end.

Rajesh definitely has the better role. You can see how the character grows and changes over time and Rajesh is very convincing in his role. I was sold on him, cynical as I am. The ladies, Rekha and Simi, appear decorative but have very little to do. Other supporting actors like Hangal, Asrani, Om Shivpuri and Raza Murad have small roles but impress nonetheless.

One mustn’t forget the part played by Alcohol !  It is ever present as the young men bond over their shenanigans, its over alcohol (and bhang!) that Rajesh bonds with his new friends, Rajesh’s ‘conversion’ is complete when he realises that one peg of Amitabh’s whisky costs more than a month’s wages of his other friends and its over alcohol that the friends have their final confrontation. Ah, the power of nasha !

But I was drawn to the film by the memory of one particular song and it doesn’t disappoint. The rest of the album is average and Anand Bakshi’s lyrics are adequate.

  • Suni Re Sajaria – Asha Bhonsle. A mujra song, its rather formulaic. Not bad. I don't know smile
  • Diye Jalte Hain – Kishore Kumar . A good ‘Bromance’ song, its too slow to be truly light hearted. Kishore’s singing carries it through. Open-mouthed smile
  • Nadiya Se Dariya – Kishore Kumar. Sharabi songs have quite a place in Bollywood and this is a good example. Smile
  • Main Shair Badnaam – Kishore Kumar. I was moved when I heard it the first time all those years ago; I was moved again by Kishore’s fabulous singing. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  •  Holi Ke Rang – (unknown chorus) I always look for fun in a Holi song but this was isn’t that interesting. Sad smile
  • Woh Jhoota Hai – Kishore Kumar. Kishore has obviously had fun singing this, but it doesn’t quite grab me either. Sad smile

You can listen to the whole album here. But for my post today, I have no choice really;  it has to be Main Shair Badnaam!

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Listening to Seeta aur Geeta(1972)

‘I need something to cheer myself up’, I think as an excellent but sad English  film I saw on TV keeps lingering in my mind. Cheering up film? I immediately think of Seeta aur Geeta which I haven’t seen since the seventies. But it left a happy impression on my mind then so I am hopeful about it. Though the music is no classic, I remember a couple of cheerful numbers. The presence of a very handsome Dharmendra and an endearing Sanjeev Kumar is a definite draw!

The film is as much fun as I remembered. A light-hearted plot, you shouldn’t look for too much logic in it otherwise you’ll just get frustrated. Take it as it comes and you’ll get a couple of hours of amusement. Some off-the-cuff observations :

  • Hema is more convincing in the fight scene at the end than Sanjeev! Its nice to see the leading lady see some action instead of simpering in a corner.
  • Dharmendra has such great comic timing! He shows it off in a number of movies, I remember Chupke Chupke in particular.
  • Sanjeev is so natural! When it comes to making acting look effortless, he and Balraj Sahni stand apart, as far as I am concerned.

The music I found to be just average, but perhaps its unfair to expect R.D.Burman to deliver each time.  Or is it? However, thanks to Asha, Lata, Kishore and Manna being in great voice, even ordinary compositions provide easy listening pleasure. In short, an album for good time-pass, but no more.

  • Zindagi Hai Khel – Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle . Manna’s voice doesn’t suit Dharmendra, in my opinion. These days they never look for voice match but films in the seventies used to do a good job of it. Nevertheless its well sung. Smile
  • O Saathi Chal – Asha Bhonsle, Kishore Kumar. This is the song I associate with this film so I have to mark it as my favourite ! Very catchy tune, Kishore & Asha enhance each other’s singing. Open-mouthed smile
  • Abhi To Haath Mein Jaam – Manna Dey. It was as if I heard the song for the first time, I don’t remember ever hearing it. Its quite a well sung song but I don’t know….I don't know smile
  • Koi Ladki – Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar. A cheerful song, I found myself singing along and remembering all the words! Yet I haven’t heard it at least for 25 years!! Open-mouthed smile
  • Haan ji Haan – Lata Mangeshkar. Hey, why not Asha? Isn’t it her kind of song? I must do a post on sharabi songs, there is such a wealth of them in Bollywood! A good song.Smile

To remind all of you in my generation of our carefree years, here is O Saathi Chal with Hema looking beautiful and Sanjeev charming as ever.

 

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