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Holi And The Unholy

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Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Holi. This is one of the most important festivals for us as it marks the victory of good over evil. Yes, Dussehra/Diwali are not the only festivals celebrating the end of sin/sinners; but Holi also is celebrated for the same reason. If we go back to mythology, Prahlad sat on the lap of Holika, the evil sister of Hiranyakashyap, on the pyre and she was burnt to death while Prahlad was unharmed due to his devotion to Lord Vishnu. We still re-play this in the form of Holika Dehan.

Hiranyakashyap had been granted a wish that he would neither be killed by man nor creature, neither in the day nor night, neither inside the palace nor out, neither on sky nor on earth and neither by knowledge/debate nor by weapons. Vishnu then appeared as Narsimha, and killed Hiranyakashyap at dusk with his clawed hands, laying him on his lap with each leg on either side of the mukhya-dwar.

Ok, now that we are through with mythology lets get down to films. Although the festival is marked with wonderful colors, its usage in our cinema has always been as a dark plot or as a turning point. The cheerfulness around is lost due to some gruesome incident, its probably the air which does it. People are so high on emotions that they end-up being a part of some life-changing events.

The most disturbing Holi sequence I have seen was in Damini, where a bunch of rich-spoilt-brats rape the maid-servant of the house. And although Damini[Meenakshi Sheshadri] is a witness to this horrific incident, they try to shut her up to maintain the dignity of the family, khandan ki izzat ka sawaal. What an irony, if they did have some dignity to begin with, such an incident would not have occured. From hereon, the whole movie revolves around this event and Damini’s fight for justice. Some of the sequences in the movie are repulsive, like the court-room sequence where the opposition lawyer Chadha[Amrish Puri] asks awkward questions to Damini.

Silsila was another movie which had a brilliant Holi sequence. The song Rang Barse is legendary, and any Holi is incomplete without this song. The song is a part of the narrative and brings out beautifully the relationship that Amit[Amitabh Bachchan] and Chandni[Rekha] share, which otherwise would have been difficult to disclose. The song penned by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, is so suggestive:

Bela chameli ka sej bichhaya
Soye gori ka yaar, balam tarse, rang barse
Rang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse

It might have taken lots of scenes and dialogues, but this one song did the trick. The body language of all the characters involved in this song is marvellous; Jaya Bhaduri and Sanjeev Kumar as the helpless spouse, Amitabh as a poet lost in their celebration of love, and Rekha caught in-between the reality of the situation and the fantasy world of endless love.

Another Amitabh Bachchan movie Baghban had a lovely Holi song holi khele raghubeera awadh mei holi khele raghubeera. The song was sung with great gusto by Amitabh himself, but what followed the celebrations was heart-breaking. Amitabh’s children decide that the aged couple must live separately with each of the brothers for a period of 6 months, thereby helping them reduce the financial burden. The happiness of the moment is marred by the heartless call taken by the very kids he brought-up with such love and affection. This culminated in him writing a book, and changing the course of their lives.

Of course nobody can forget Gabbar Singh roaring Holi Kab Hai? Kab Hai Holi? He plans an attack on the Ramgarh village on that day, spoil the festive mood, and to teach the villagers a lesson that Gabbar se tumhe ek hi admi bacha sakta hai, khud Gabbar! His plan is thwarted, but not before some action, some gunshots, some cleverness by Amitabhsome cleverness by Amitabh and some blood to add more colors to the already colorful day.

In stark contrast with the many hues of the festival is the presence of a widow in a white saree. This has been captured many-a-times in movies like Kati Patang, Mohabbatein and Sholay. Holi is the symbol of free spirit and boundless joys, and film-makers have juxtaposed this with the colorless world of a widow who is constrained by society and she has no freedom whatsoever. In Sholay, this festival is showcased twice; both with a marked difference. While the first Holi was shot with Jaya Bhaduri making merry on the occasion and sparing nobody; the second Holi was a colorless bland affair as she was a widow then. These contrasting images stay with us for a long time.

Holi marks the breaking of shackles in the song Aaj Na Chhodenge Bas Humjoli where a gushing Rajesh Khanna sings to Asha Parekh in Kati Patang. The sorrow and loneliness of a widow is brought out well in the simple words of Anand Bakshi as Lata Mangeshkar sings the following lines:

Apni apni kismat hai
koi hase koi roye
rang se koi ang bhigoye
koi Asuan se nain bhigoye

Holi brings the winds of change in Gurukul of Mohabbatein where it was never celebrated before. SRK adorns Amitabh Bachchan’s forehead with a tilak and its followed by a Holi song Soni soni aankhiyon wali. Here, the widow played by Preeti Jhanghiani is caught-up in the persuasion of playing Holi :

Jimmy Shergill:
Gam ho ya koi khushi, Purva ka jhonka hai.
Ek aaye ek jaayega, Kyon dil ko roka hai.

Preeti Jhanghiani:
Is dil ko humne nahin, Hame dil ne roka hai.
Koi bata de zara, Kya sach kya dhoka hai?

SRK:
Ye duniya saari, Badi hai pyari,
Yahi ek sach hai, Ye sab rang bade suhaane hain.

The movie Darr also has a famed sequence involving Holi where an obsessed lover is trying to get a glimpse of his  beloved, wants to share the happiness and joy of Holi with his object of affection. Rahul, played by SRK, takes up the challenge of showing himself up at Kiran’s door and smearing gulaal on her face. Juhi Chawla, playing Kiran, is totally engrossed in the festivity; while paying money to the bandwala guys, Rahul applies gulaal on Kiran’s cheeks  and wishes her in his menacing words  KKKKKiran. There begins a chase where a furious Sunil, played by Sunny Deol, is after Rahul. The scene which starts with gulaal, ends in blood with Sunil smashing a bottle on SRK’s head.

Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain, rangon mein rang mil jaate hain
Gile shikwe bhul ke doston, dushman bhi gale mil jaate hain

Although the above lyrics were from Sholay, it was totally justified in the case of Saudagar. The two friends-turned-enemies, Veer Singh played by Dilip Kumar and Rajeshwar Singh played by Rajkumar, get back together on Holi festival. Rajeshwar declares that nobody dare throw color on him, thats when Veeru takes a handful of gulaal and hurls it at him, thereby ending ages of hatred between them and brings them together once again.

The above sequence is what I wish for everybody around, heal the world. Lets take this opportunity to make love, not war; win friends and not create enemies; that’s the true spirit of Holi.

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2010 in bollywood, movies

 

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Fun Mode : Kishore-da’s Unbridled Enthusiasm

Just the other day I was listening to Kishore songs, not the sad depressing numbers which can make even a normal person melancholic, but some fun songs for a change. One thing that came out loud and clear was the fact that he enjoyed singing those songs, however silly the lyrics was or however absurd the tunes were; he gave it his all.

If a singer himself does not seem kicked about a song, how will he ever enthuse others? That’s the feeling I get when I hear those inane new talents on the numerous talent hunt shows. They come, they sing, they don’t even bother to work on the comments given by the judges [some of the judges are not even worth their salt, better not hear their comments at all] and mechanically appear again in some other show.

Anyways, back to Kishore da. He totally gets into the mood, full-on, unplugged. There are legends about Kishore and the manner in which he rendered the Khaike Paan Banaraswala number. It goes like this: Kishore actually asked for a bunch of pans which come in those cases [as seen in Padosan] and a peek-daan to spit out the paan. He sat on the floor or some kinda bed and literally rambled the words Bhang Ka Rang Jama Ho Chaka-chak. I go back to my previous para where I mentioned that unless the singer does not enjoy the song, there is very less chance that others will. And Kishore was a master of that. The kind of energy that he would blow into the song and the infectious jovial nature is unparalleled.

Since his Padosan songs have been talked about no end, I shall refrain from doing so. Let me talk about his other songs, especially from the black & white era. In the same genre as Mere Bhole Balam from Padosan was a song called Gaana Na Aya Bajana Na Aya, Dilbar Ko Apna Bana Na Aya. Its a hilarious song that blows your top-off. Kishore is seen trying to create a new song and the result is pure comedy. The lyrics were again by Rajendra Krishen and music by Hemant da. There is a small Brit accent piece, Kishore trying an imitation, really funny. Who could imagine the ever-serious Hemant Kumar composing such a number, but such was the exuberance of Kishore that everyone was affected by it. Also seen in the video clip is Gemini Ganesan along with Meena Kumari who are baffled by Kishore’s antics. Probably the only time that the south matinee was seen with Kishore in the same frame.

How funny can Kishore da get? Well, turns out very funny. So funny that in the movie Aansoo Aur Muskaan, there is a song picturised on Kishore in a ashram which is called Swami Kishore-aanandam Kirtan Ashram. And the song itself is Guni Jano Bhakt Jano, which sees Kishore in the garb of a sadhu. The lyrics of the song even goes on to list all the stars of bollywood in a fine spin of words sounding like bhajan

brahmaande he koti sitaram prithvi par bhi anek sitaram
arre aashirvadam ashok-kumaram
prithvi-putram raja-kapuram shammi-kapuram shashi-kapuram
ramam shyamam dilip-kumaram purab-pashchim manoj-kumaram
arre premapujari dev-anandam, roopa-pujari IS-joharam
arre nilam-kamalam raj-kumaram, yade yadam sunil-dattam
are ittefaqam rajesh-khannam jai jaani rajendra-natham
uchhalamakudam jai mahamudam

Two of the wackiest Kishore songs feature Pran, and Kishore himself in motley attire, thats pure coincidence. In Cheel Cheel Chillake, he is dressed in a school uniform, probably on some tour in scouts jamboree. The movie was Half Ticket, I haven’t been able to see the movie yet. But if the movie is even half as good as the song, then it shall be a treat to watch.

No one can forget a pre-supposed duet song being sung by the same singer. Kishore achieved that feat in Aake Seedhi Lagi where he not only cross-dressed but also cross-voiced. He sang as Kishore for Pran and then as squeaky/screechy and rustic village-belle-Kishore for himself. I am not even finding words to describe Kishore’s ludicrous yet fantastic act. No one could have pulled it off, but him.

‘Kahani Kismat Ki’ had an unprecedented song picturisation. And much before Dharamendra had climbed atop a tank in Sholay, he was seen in a crane elevated carrier singing Rafta Rafta Dekho Aankh Meri Ladi Hai; which he does after gathering a small crowd. Towards the end, he even starts singing ghati lyrics which is hilarious, and an embarassed Rekha looks around for some kind of sanity.

Then, there is the Eena Meena Deeka number. The mukhda of the song is a string of garbled words that make no sense but have been sung with great conviction as though it were the commandments. Kishore totally believed in the song and executed it with perfection, just watch his choreography; amazing. And the lyrics of the song has some insensible wisdom. Check this

Mat socho ki sasta hai sauda
Phal paayega lagayega jo paudha
Dil ki ye kyaari banegi phulwaari
Ye duniya jalegi, jalan ki hai maari
Hasegi hasegi hasegi meri pyaari

If you thought Kishore had sung only romantic and sad songs for Rajesh Khanna, then you are wrong. Rajesh Khanna too had a fair share of Kishore’s masti songs. One of them being the Saasu Tirath, Sasura Tirath from the movie Souten. The lyrics literally mean that in-laws are are to be worshipped and visited regularly as a duty and a pilgrimage.

Another lesser spoken about song from the movie ‘Chalti Ka Naam Gadi’  was Hum The Wo Thi Aur Samaa Rangeen Samajh Gaye Na. The two brothers, Anup and Kishore, discussing the forbidden topic of an encounter with a woman which Anup hasn’t had and Kishore teases him with lyrics which go like this:

Khoya Mai Kaise Uski Baton Mei
Kehta Hoon Dam To Lene Do Ahhaha
Khoyi Woh Kaise Meri Baaton Mei
Kehta Hoon Dam To Lene Do Ahhaha
Kya Kya Keh Dala Aankho Aankho Mei
Kehta Hoon Dam To Lene Do Ahhha

Another song from the same movie, worth mentioning, is the Panch Rupaiya Barah Aana song. It so happens that Kishore repairs Madhubala’s car and she still owes him Rs.5.75. And Kishore is out to get that money, even if it means earning it by entertaining her.Watch Kishore dressed in leather pants, jacket and a feathered cap. And watch him each time he says Chahe Namoona Dekh Le and tunrs up in a different costume. This song later became an inspiration for a song in movie ‘Jeevan Ek Sanghursh’, where Amit Kumar crooned Dede Mera Dede Tu Bees Rupaiya, Twenty Rupees My Twenty Rupees.

Vinod Khanna has rarely been seen in comical acts, except for the movie Hera Pheri with BigB. But in this song Priye Praneshwari from movie ‘Hum Tum Aur Woh’ is a song which sees Vinod Khanna in never-seen-before getup. The only other funny getup Vinod Khanna ever did was in Hera Pheri. In this song, Vinod is singing to his lady love in chaste hindi and even I did not know the meaning of a few of those words. The lyrics of the song and Kishore’s rendition is just awesome.

priye praaneshwari, hridayeshwari
yadi aap hamey aadesh karey to
prem ka hum shri ganesh karey

If anyone is depressed, thinking about love and missing their loved ones, should listen to Hum To Mohabbat Karega from ‘Dilli Ka Thug’. Its another comical song which describes the extent to which a person can go, to prove his love and to stay with loved ones. After hearing words like Joota Polish Karega Tel Maalish Karega, they are bound to smile at their own stupidity and limitless affection for their loved one, what with thoughts like … joota paalish karega lekin tum par marega, laila laila karega thandi aahen bharega and doobegaa nahin tairega pyaar se ham nahin darega

A song which encapsulates the qualities that a man looks for in a woman is very humorously penned in Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai Zaroorat Hai, Ek Shirimati Ki, Kalavati Ki, Seva Karey Jo Pati Ki. It may sound a bit regressive, but its to be taken with a pinch of salt; because the song is really a romantic one at heart. Sample this:

haseen hazaaro bhi ho khadey, magar usi par nazar padey
ho zulf gaalo se khelti, ke jaise din raat se ladey
adaaon mei bahaar ho, nigaahon mei khumaar ho
qabool mera pyaar ho to kya baat hai 

itar mein saanse basi basi, vo mastiyo mei rasi rasi
zara si palkein jhuki jhuki, bhavey ghaneri kasi kasi
phoolon mei gulaab ho khud apna jawaab ho
vo pyar ki kitab ho to kya baat hai

And with Kishore enacting it, his facial expressions and the naugtiness in the voice was great.

This is just the beginning of a long list of Kishore-da’s songs which continue to enthrall us. The man was a complete maverick and no one entertained us, the way he did; whether it was infront of the camera or behind it, be it in the recording studios or shooting a movie. Whereever there was a fun moment, he was there; or may I put it like this – wherever he was there, there were fun moments. So, please go ahead and list your fave Kishore songs which tickled your funny bone, I am sure that won’t be a tough task!

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2010 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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