Tag Archives: Shankar-Jaikishen

Listening to: Lal Patthar (1971)

Lal Pathar1यह है फतेहपुर सिकरी | इसे शाहंशाह अकबर ने बसाया था | इसकी वीरानी और ख़ामोशी में अजीब कशिश है| जादू सा है | इसलिए मैं यहाँ बार बार खींचा चला आता हूँ | और फिर भी दिल नहीं भरता |

“This is Fatehpur Sikri. Emperor Akbar established it. There is strange attraction in its emptiness and silence. A kind of magic. That is why I am drawn to come here again and again. And even then I remain unsatiated.”

Thus starts the film in Raaj Kumar’s Lal Pathar2impeccable voice. How could I not like this film? I feel exactly the same way! Here’s the Durgah of Salim Chisti where I heard the most beautiful music many many years ago.

The protagonist is Prince Gyanshankar, a man tortured by what he considers to be his inherited ‘bad blood’ – there is madness in the family. He lives a controlled life to keep a reign on himself. His character is briskly established at the start of the film and though I did cringe at the tiger hunt, it added to describing him as a man.

He rescues a young and beautiful widowed woman from bandits and then from her in-laws who ill-treat her. He establishes her as his concubine in his palace, going so far as to give her the jewellery his mother had left for his future wife. He says ‘तुम्हे इन गहनों पे पूरा अधिकार है’ – you have full rights over this jewellery. It sounds like a defining moment in their relationship. He gives her a new name to cement their relationship – does that symbolise a cut-off from her previous life? Saudamini is dead and Madhuri comes to life. 

Hema is gorgeous once she sheds her window’s whites. Gyanshankar seems to have Pygmalion like intentions, trying to change an illiterate and uncultured woman to be a suitable partner for a Nawab. But Madhuri is no Eliza.  Her English teacher says ‘Rani sahiba is rather dull-headed’. Though she cleans up well and learns to read, she falls short of his needs in a companion.

Ten years pass. When he realises it, he is shocked. But why? Was this not the life he chose? In spite of his apparent acceptance of his ‘tainted blood’, he must have had some expectations of his life which did not come to pass.

He chances upon a Lal Pathar3young and lovely singer and as before, he selects another woman to adorn his life without really getting to know her. Its consistent with his character but not normal for a prince who is marrying ‘to do his duty’, as he puts it. In effect, he buys her from a drunkard father with gambling problems. History repeats itself; once more he picks a beauty in a helpless situation. Does he have a need to be needed, to be looked up to ? Does he not feel equal to women of his own social level? What happens when the concubine and his wife have to share his favours?

Well, you’ll have to see the film to answer that! I have to warn you that the climax is a bit of nonsense, totally illogical. Script-writers seem to like mad characters so as to get away with anything, but it doesn’t work. However the strength of the first half carries the film. Raaj Kumar gives a controlled performance and Rakhee does reasonably well. Hema Malini has lost an opportunity to shine as her role is strong, but she doesn’t impress. Her interview  here seems to be a bit of an excuse. Vinod Mehra provides very decent support.

Shankar-Jaikishen have given a solid album with some very good music here.

  • A Aaja Dikhaoon – Asha Bhonsle. Disappointing. Sad smile
  • Unke Khayal Aaye To – Mohammad Rafi. A beautiful ghazal with some memorable lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri.   इस दिल से आ रही है किसी यार की सदा, वीरान मेरा दिल था बसा के चले गए Open-mouthed smile
  • Sooni Sooni Sans – Asha Bhonsle. A classically based song, with good lyrics by Neeraj. Open-mouthed smile
  • Phoolon Se Meri – Asha Bhonsle. A beautiful poetry recitation with next to no instrumentation. Admire Asha’s voice and these beautiful lines by Neeraj.
  • फूलों से मेरी सेज सजादो आज मैं लूंगी जनम दुबारा
    चंदा की बिंदिया  तारों का कंगन सपनों की लाओ हार
    साँसों में मेरी केसर महके अंगों में झूमे बहार
    ऐसा करो सिंगार सखीरी सुध-बुध भूले श्याम हमारा Open-mouthed smile

  • Geet Gata Hoon Main – Kishore Kumar. An excellent melody with superb singing by Kishore. Lyrics by Dev Kohli are quite touching. I was going to give it a heart but I found the instrumentation to be below par and also the beat of the songs seems too fast. Open-mouthed smile
  • Re Man Sur Mein Ga – Manna day, Asha Bhonsle. A superb classically based song in Raag Kalyan (Yaman) with lyics by Neeraj. Manna Dey is in his element and Asha proves that she can out-sing any singer when she sets her mind to it. Open-mouthed smileRed heart

You can listen to the full album here.

My selection for the day is Re Man Sur Main Ga. The movie has used only one stanza, so listen to the audio version below.

And as a fan of Kishore, I cannot help but feature this song as well! You can admire the pretty ladies too!


Filed under Asha Bhonsle, Bollywood 70's Music, Manna Dey

Listening to: Amrapali (1966)

AmrapaliI do like historical / mythological films! I don’t see many of them; I am too squeamish to see the likes of Troy or the Gladiator. So when I get to see a historical without too much blood and gore, I am mighty pleased! Anyway, a nicely tied dhoti and lots of man-bling is nicer to look at than short skirts on men, don’t you agree?

The story is based on records from both Buddhist and Jain literature. The makers have used cinematic license and the story as presented differs from recorded versions. The film is about  Ajatashatru, the king of Magadh around 500BC, who falls in love with Amrapali, the royal courtesan and dancer in Vaishali, an enemy state. Interestingly, its ending is anything but typical Bollywood. Perhaps that’s why the movie didn’t fare well?

Sunil Dutt as the blood-thirsty warmonger is reasonably good. Though he has the physique to pass off as a soldier, there is something intrinsically soft about his face which makes me question his suitability.  Vyjayanthilamala, on the other hand, is perfect as the courtesan. Not just the beauty and the dancing skills, but something lush about her makes her look just the part. There are some supporting characters who too aren’t very convincing.  On the whole, though, the movie is entertaining.

The music by Shankar-Jaikishen is memorable. There are only four songs, all sung by Lata but what lovely songs! Neele Gagan is penned by Hasrat Jaipuri, the rest by Shailendra.

  • Neele Gagan ke chaon mein – Lata Mangeshkar. A lovely song, Lata does it justice. I find it rather sombre as a dance number but Vyjayanthimala carries it off. She looks like a lovely temple sculpture in her period costume!  Once Sunil Dutt enters the screen, the dance becomes fast and cheerful with many traditional Bharatnatyam steps executed very well by Vyjayathi. An auditory & visual treat. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Tumhe Yaad Karte Karte – Lata Mangeshkar– Another soulful number with a simple tune which Lata sings hauntingly. Haunting also are Vyjayanthi’s eyes. Open-mouthed smile
  • Tadap Yeh Din Raat Ki – Lata Mangeshkar– Moonlit night, a lake, a boat and Lata singing. It should have been perfect but something in the tune doesn’t appeal to me.  Thinking smile
  • Jao Re Jogi Tum Jao Re – Lata Mangeshkar – With what ease Lata sings this beautiful little song! I remember it vividly playing on the radio a lifetime ago. Unfortunately its not included in the edited version of the film on Youtube; I would have liked to see the picturisation. Open-mouthed smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

Neele Gagan has Vyjayanthi dancing so that’s my choice for the day :

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Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Lata Mangeshkar

Listening to: Professor (1962)

Wednesday evenings were special when I was growing up for it was Chitrahaar night on the telly. For half-an-hour I would happily watch the song-and-dance clips from Hindi films, both old and new. Over time I would see most of the songs from a given film and for films I hadn’t seen (i.e. most of them!) I would make up my own story to link the songs all together! Professor is one such film.

I remembered well Shammi Kapoor horsing about in an old man’s disguise in one song. Today at last I decided to find out why. I will leave reviewing to people better qualified to do so,  I just have a few messages to pass on to the cast & crew:

  • To the casting directors : Good choice, Shammi is a natural at comedy. No wonder he got a best actor nomination! You’ve done well with everyone else too.
  • To the  script writers : Good plot. BUT It is NOT funny to poke fun at the overweight, the short and middle-aged single woman who has soft feelings for a man. Have some taste for God’s sake!
  • To the script writers again: In a caper story, think carefully how to rescue your hero at the end. Muddled endings leave a bad taste. Going from comedy to melodrama leaves a worse taste.
  • To Shammi: blue eye-shadow? Really? And you let them do it to you?
  • To Shammi again: Looking a bit portly in some scenes, aren’t you? And you’re still quite young..Just a friendly warning: you are going to end up obese if you don’t do something now!
  • To Darjeeling: I want to see you too, you look a bit like where I live now but with an Indian touch !
  • To the music composers and lyricists : Shabaash!!! Bravo!!! You deserve your Filmfare award – lucky too, lots of good competition that year..

Shankar-Jaikishen, the composing duo have indeed done a wonderful job. The songs sound lovely even after the passing of nearly 50 years. You can hear the whole album here. These are the songs :

  • Hamare Gaon Koi Ayega – Asha Bhonsle & Lata Mangeshkar, Lovely lilting tune with the flavour of the hills of India. Beautiful scenery, pretty girls in colourful costumes dancing on the hillside…what else can one want? Smile
  • Yeh Umr Hai – Asha Bhonsle, Manna Dey, Usha Mangeshkar. Not bad. If you watch the clip, you can admire Shammi’s fantastic old-man-moves. I don't know smile
  • Main chali main chali – Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi. A happy little tune. Rafi at his best can melt one’s bones. Open-mouthed smile
  • Aye Gulbadan – Mohammed Rafi. If bones not already melted, this can absolutely finish the job! Admire Rafi’s vocal range. Good lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Khuli Palak Mein – Mohammed Rafi. Enjoyable. Smile
  • Awaaz deke – Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi. Lovely song. Good lyrics too. Lata and Rafi at their best. But doesn’t suit the movie at all. The song has so much depth and emotion, doesn’t fit in this comic romp of a film.Open-mouthed smileRed heart


Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi