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Daag : First Movie Under Yashraj Banner

Only when you want to fly so badly that you give up being a caterpillar, is when you can become a butterfly. That’s exactly what must have been going on in Yashji’s mind. He had directed five movies under the shadow of his brother Balraj for BR Films, and now he was itching to start a production house of his own where he could make movies of his choice. And Daagwas the first movie of Yashraj Films.

The story of Daag was written by Gulshan Nanda, who had earlier written Kati Patang. Gulshan Nanda had adapted the novel Mayor of Casterbridge, and the story came to Yashji. Wonder what Yashji saw in the story that he was all excited and wanted to produce/direct it. If you see the movie, you will realise that this unconventional movie has no safety net. The only way he could have kept the audience hooked was by having a face that the audience loved seeing, no matter what he did. Rajesh Khanna was a superstar in the early 70′s and his stardom may have prompted Yashji to sign him on as a safe bet. So, Rajesh Khanna was just incidental to the movie, rather than integral.

Sunil Kohli, played by Rajesh Khanna, is a die-hard romantic. He loves Sonia and amidst Ab chaahe maa roothe ya baaba, yaara maine to haan karli, they get married soon after college. While on their way to honeymoon, a heavy thunderstorm blocks their path. Sunil meets a dear old friend Dheeraj who helps them out in this rough weather.

Dheeraj plays the perfect host, but only for a while. His animal instincts get the better of him, and he attacks Sonia with the intention of outraging her modesty, while Sunil is out trying to make alternate travel arrangements. Sunil returns just in time to save Sonia and in the ensuing fight, a violent strike from Sunil leaves Dheeraj dead. A criminal case is slapped on Sunil and he is decreed with death sentence.

Most movies would end with such a climax during the 70′s and 80′s. But this movie only begins to find a footing at this juncture. Sunil and Sonia get separated even before they could start their new lives together. All their dreams, hopes and aspirations get shattered. To make matters worse, the police van which was used for transporting Sunil to the jail, meets with an accident and he is the lone survivor. Sunil is caught in a situation with no option. He understands that life has given him another chance to live. If he declares himself ‘alive’, he would be sent back to serve the punishment.

As I earlier said, its an unconventional love story. Sonia lives like a widow while Sunil re-settles with a new assumed identity. And here, Chandni enters the scene. She is a woman who has inherited a lot of wealth, palatial home but her heart is a cup in which no happiness has been poured, its brimming with sorrow.

Some people look for love, but instead get trapped in lust. Such was the story of Chandni. The person she loved, gets her pregnant and leaves her, absolving himself of all responsibilities. Our society is very cruel where having a child out of wedlock would never be acceptable. The necessity to give her child a social acceptance and to save Chandni and her family of the ignominy of the situation brings the story to its first cross point between characters. The story progresses when a turn of events brings Sunil into Chandni’s life. It could be out of a selfish necessity of Sunil or the unfortunate desperation of Chandni that Sunil agrees to give Chandni’s unborn child his name and agrees to be her husband albeit just for the society. This arrangement was a symbiotic one, where it led to a new identity for Sunil and a respectable name for Chandni and her new born.

It may have been a situation of convenience for Sunil where he would be shielded from the law and would enjoy the amenities of a palatial house and luxuries he had never thought of and at the same time, to be in the company of a beautiful and attractive woman. His true love for Sonia may have prevented him from acting on it, but who is to say that he was not resisting any attraction that any man with any degree of romance in him would have for a woman as virtuous as Chandni. And who is to say that Chandni, on realising that a man who lived with her in the same house and who she at some level may have accepted as her husband had not made any advances at her, was not compressing a sense of frustration within herself.

Just when Chandni had finally managed to forget her horrible past and had got used to Sunil, Sonia comes into their life like a thunderstorm; and she shakes the foundation of their relationship. There was a volcano of emotions bottled up between of Sonia and Sunil that needed an eruption point. Something that took the situation by the scruff of its neck and shook the characters to realise their true feelings.

Sunil & Sonia find themselves in a difficult situation yet again, where inspite of being under one roof, they couldn’t be together. Mere dil mei aaj kya hai, tu kahey to mai bata doon, but there is so much to say that Sunil didn’t know where to begin from. Sunil is obligated to Chandni due to societal pressure, but his heart beats for Sonia. Chandni is unaware of Sunil’s past and in enraged by his sudden proximity with Sonia.

Love also results in jealousy. Sometimes people think they are not jealous/envious, but when they see their loved one having a good time with somebody else, the green monster appears from nowhere. Sonia is jealous of Chandni because she can’t be seen with Sunil in public, while Chandni is jealous of Sonia because although Sunil is with her, his heart is with Sonia.

This is a story that has happened in many a household, and such peculiar problems require unique solutions. This awkward situation leads to a nonconformist end, possibly the only ending that could be an acceptable solution to all three characters. Only an iconoclastic director like Yash Chopra, with his deft handling, could have made the movie palatable. Its his understanding of a man-woman relationship, that results in creating such credible characters.

This poem of love had some really good music from Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics was written by Sahir Ludhianvi. Some songs are timeless pieces and are hummed to this day. Sahir captures the sense of the drama very well and pens his thoughts nicely.

This was the last superhit movie of Sharmila & Rajesh Khanna together. Sharmila Tagore, as Sonia, gave a very good controlled performance. But it was Rakhi who walked away with the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her role as Chandni. And Yashji won the Best Director award for this movie.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Discerning Few : Rafi Sings For Bachchan

Today is Rafi’s 29th death anniversary. Hope his soul is in peace.

na fankaar tujh sa tere baad aya
mohammed rafi tu bahut yaad aya

– A song from movie Kroadh

Just the other day I was watching the song and something struck me. I felt that the song was ironical in so many ways. Although its a tribute to Rafi Saab, it was sung by Md.Aziz, a so-called Rafi clone, whose voice is such a far cry from the soothing and melodious voice of Rafi. And the fact that the song was filmed on Amitabh Bachchan, whereas Rafi hardly sang a dozen songs for him.

That got me thinking of all the songs which Rafi Saab rendered for AB. Among the pearls of Kishore da songs, I really had to try hard to find the gems that Rafi had sung. And quite truly I found very few of those. I still wonder why the legendary singer was given such few songs to sing for the megastar. While I do agree that Kishore had become the defacto voice for AB, but you still had Mukesh singing for him in Kabhi Kabhie, Manhar Udhas sang a song in Abhimaan, Shabbir Kumar sang a dozen of them during the mid-1980’s in movies like Coolie and Mard, Md.Aziz sang for him in Khuda Gawah and more, Kumar Sanu gave us a nasal AB in Jaadugar and Geraftar; then why did music composers of 1970’s not give more songs to Rafi Saab? Anyways, instead of cribbing about what did-not and could-not happen, let us just enjoy whatever little that’s available of this actor-singer combination.

While I was making a quick list of the songs, much to my surprise I found that Manmohan Desai was the only director who got Rafi Saab to record for a lot of those BigB songs. And invariably, Laxmikant-Pyarelal was the music composer for the Desai flicks like Desh Premee, Naseeb and Suhaag. In fact, even outside of Manmohan Desai films, LP made use of Rafi’s tones for Dostana and Ek Nazar.

Let me start with one of the most melodious duets of Indian cinema, Teri Bindiya Re, what a composition it is! Everytime I hear it, I go into a wonderland of my own dream sequence. Lata-Rafi, at their very best, just take us back to the basics of classical training; and without straining a single chord deliver such fantastic melody. SD Burman, the music director who made this possible, should be given huge credit for this evergreen song. I only wish that Majrooh Saab had written a few more stanzas so that Lata-Rafi could cast a longer spell of magic. Why the hell is this song so short? Under 4 minutes! Ok, here I go cribbing again….forget it. Let me enjoy, thanking God for those little mercies that the song still exists in the hearts and minds of people.

Another Lata-Rafi duet, which did not get much airtime because the movie did not do well, was the song Patta Patta Boota Boota from the movie Ek Nazar. It was a LP composition, much in sync with the movie but not with the times that were. Its a forgotten song which comes up only when people talk about Mir’s poetry and/or Rafi’s voice and the effortless rendition. What a fine song, and it does not look odd on Bachchan’s persona either.

Let me stepback for a minute, one of the first songs which Rafi sang for BigB was for the movie Parwana and the song was Yu Na Sharma . Madan Mohan was the music composer and the situation was party-like where Kishore da sang the happy version of the song picturized on Navin Nischol. The same song is later sung in a sad version by Rafi for AB. The mood changes, the flavor changes, the voice changes, face changes but the melody remains. AB’s sullen expression and Rafi’s tones of dismay makes for such a beautfiul watch.

Another somber song which Rafi rendered wonderfully for AB was Mere Dost Kissa Ye Kya ho Gaya in Dostana. The strained relationship between AB and Shatru is brought out so well in this song. A restrained Rafi and a clean-shaven, boyish hair-cut and yet a grave-looking Bachchan was a treat. There is so much emotion in those words sung by Rafi and the expression on AB’s face is just unforgettable. In fact, except for this song, all other songs of Dostana were sung by Kishore da; including the title song, Dillagi Ne Di Hawa etc. And yet, for this song LP chose Rafi who did total justice to this gloomy song.

Having mentioned the above songs, let me now come to the Manmohan Desai and LP combo. Desh Premee was quite a long winded movie with so many twists and turns, typical of any Desai movie. The movie was based on patriotism, regional, caste, creed and racial differences. Kishore da sang the fun songs Khatoon Ki Khidmat Mei, Gore Nahi Hum Kaale Sahi etc. But it was Rafi’s song of unity in diversity that won hearts. The title song, Nafrat Ki Lathi Todo, was symbolic of Desai’s movies. Though this song may not count among best of Rafi songs, but its the perfect song for national integration. And keeping in tradition with all the patriotic songs that Rafi has sung.

Teri Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi song, which later gave the title to Adi Chopra’s movie, was sung by Rafi for another Desai movie Suhaag, with music by LP. BigB in the disguise of a ek tara strung sardar and Rekha behind the garb for almost the entire song could have spelt disaster. But AB and Rekha carried it off, with Rafi crooning this playful number and Shailendra Singh lyrically rebutting him.

Another song from the same movie was the dandiya number, Sabse Bada Tera Naam O Sherowali, was devotionally sung by Rafi. Much later, Mehul Kumar copied the same sequence in Krantiveer, where the hero sings for Maa Sherawali while waiting for the villain to arrive on the scene. Anyways, Suhaag was an exceptional case where Rafi sang entirely for AB. There were two other songs, Athra Baras Ki Tu Hone Ko Ayi filmed on AB and Rekha in her kotha; and Aye Yaar Sun was a silly song where AB was training a blind Shashi Kapoor to ride a bike on his instructions, basically AB literally doing a backseat driving. Nowhere in the movie do we feel that Rafi’s voice does not suit BigB, at least this movie should have opened more doors for this combo. But probably the box-office report and producer’s superstition held them back from doing so.

Betwixt Desh Premee and Suhaag came Desai’s Naseeb. And much before the Hey-Baby’s and the Om-Shanti-Oms, there was John Jaani Janardhan. A star-studded song which was opportunistically filmed during the golden jubilee celebrations of Desai’s Dharam Veer. Desai made the best of the situation by shooting the song as guests kept coming in; they swayed a little, lip-synced a little and the song created history. This was another song which is a symbol of Desai’s secular credentials and all-inclusive approach. And Rafi singing to the tunes of LP was icing on the cake. He gave the song the much required gaiety and enjoyment without missing a single beat. It was one of the more overtly commercial songs of Rafi that went very well with AB’s merriment.

I would like to mention two more songs which were not sung for AB, but nevertheless AB was the proxy of the voice. The song was filmed on unknown faces, but the thoughts and feelings were of AB. One of the song is Deewane Hain Deewano Ko Na Ghar Chahiye from Zanjeer which reflected AB’s thoughts in the movie; and the other is Ruthe Rab Ko Manana Asaan Hai from Majboor. Both songs were sung with great enthusiasm by Rafi Saab, although they were not to be shot on the main lead. That goes on to show the humility of this man who valued the song for what they were, nice compositions.

Amidst all these amusement let me not forget one of my favourite romantic songs of Rafi which also happens to be picturized on AB, which is Tumse Door Rehke. The movie was Aadalat and the music composer was Kalyanji-Anandji, perhaps the only time that the duo got Rafi to sing for AB. The song has such a nice ring to it, filled with fondness and yearning and the magic of Rafi’s voice and expression.

Although Kishore da has sung more songs of AB, memorable ones too, I cherish these Rafi tracks as well. These songs should not be lost in the vast ocean of AB songs.

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2009 in bollywood, movies

 

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