Thursday, November 21, 2013

Matwali Aankhon Wale

There have been item numbers & item dancers - aplenty - on Hindi screen, but there has been only one who could be sexy, seductive and yet so graceful. Yes, this is about Helen, who celebrates her birthday today.

If Zeenat was lucky to have RD as composer for her initial movies, RD was lucky to have one of the best dancers of Hindi movies to dance on some such compositions of RD that seemed to be made only for her. 

O Haseena to Piya Tu Ab to Aaja to Mehbooba - the songs that RD composed for her were much more than just the dance numbers. Those fluid and sensuous moves of Helen, in sync with the variety and often innovative compositions that RD created - seemed almost heavenly.

Actually this teaming seemed pre-ordained - with RD's very first movie had Helen grooving like a doll with Mehmood to one of the evergreen compositions of Chhote Nawab - RD.

Here it is:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ab Jo Mile Hain...

I mentioned yesterday about how difficult it was to differentiate the voices of Mangeshkar Sisters - when they sang in tandem in Dulhan Maike Chali. It was all the more difficult because each of them, like a true playback singer, were trying to ensure that their voice was matching with the performer on-screen. Fortunately, each one was singing for only one of the characters.

Now here is a song, where there were two different performers on the screen - in two different kind of characters exhibiting two contradictory moods - and yet RD used only one singer. 

Ab Jo Mile Hain to - from caravan picturised on Aruna Irani & Asha Parekh had Asha Bhosle singing for both the actors. Starting seductively to match the on-screen persona of Aruna Irani wooing Jitendra, the song has a strong bossa-nova influence - perfectly matching the moves of Aruna Irani.

Half-way through, the seduction gives way to unrequited love and as the song changes the mood, one can not but notice that subtle yet distinct variation - in Asha's voice, in the lyrics and in the music. With Asha Parekh performing at her best, the song manages to bring out the pain that she is going through. 

No wonder, this song has remained one of the most popular one of Asha-RD-Majrooh combination.

Tu hai hawa, shola hu main,
Mil key bhee jo mil naa sake
Bujh naa sake tere bina, 
Tere bina jal naa sake

Listen to this here:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dulhan Maike Chali..

With the advent of 70s India was changing. It was becoming more modern and permissive - at least on surface. Zeenat Aman was the poster child of this era. 

Starting from her first movie Hulchul, she brought in a kind of glamour, which Hindi movie heroines were not generally known for. She was also one of the first heroines whom Indian male gaze looked at with lust. Ajnabee, Qurbani, Pukar, The Great Gambler, Dostana... the list is endless.

She was also one of the luckiest heroines - specially when it comes to Music. 
Starting from Hulchul (a songless movie though), there were a number of movies where Zeenat surely got her moves right - purely because the music was by RD. If Hare Rama Hare Krishna catapulted her into a zone which most of the newcomers can only dream of, movies like Yaadon Ki Barat, Heera Panna, Ishk Ishk Ishk, Ajnabee, the Great Gambler ensured her an everlasting presence in the memory of hindi music lovers.

On her birthday today, the song that I would love to showcase is from Manoranjan - a movie that brought out the chutzpah Zeenat & RD's combination was capable of. 
The song is also very special because it has three of the Mangeshkar sisters - Lata, Asha & Usha, singing in tandem - and actually it becomes difficult to differentiate their voices.

Another reason I love this song is about the inherent positivity about the characters, which Hindi movies seldom showed. In fact, never ever the Hindi movie have shown prostitutes with such joie-de-vivre (except perhaps Utsav) - absolutely unapologetic of their profession, as they mouth Anand Bakshi's lyrics while being rounded up by the police:

Suno ji suno unhe pakdo 
Jo jamane me gum bechte hai
Hamen chhodo 
sari khushiya
Is jamane me hum bechate hai
JKahe ko tu ro rahi hai
Dulhan maike chali 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kitne Aadmi The?

He was a struggler, trying to find a good role - despite his father having been in the film industry for more than a couple of decades - when he landed this role. Actually he was not even the first choice. Rather, this was a role that came to him due to the actor preferred first could not find dates to do this role.

The movie was a multi-starrer with actors of great calibre and well repute, among whom he had to ensure that his presence did not remain as just another actor. Fortunately for him, the role was meaty, of a kind, which Hindi movies had never seen earlier. Yet, the movie, when finally released, to take advantage of the long weekend coinciding with 15th August, was found to be lengthy, violent, and was trashed by almost every one. In fact, within its first week of release, it was written off as a flop - a complete commercial disaster.

Years later, this movie remains, one of the highest grosser of Hindi Cinema - and the first movie to have run for an uninterrupted period of five years in one theater. The actor, or rather the character he played, an evil personified, has retained the highest recall. He, of course, went on to create some more memorable characters and was rated as one of the finest actors of Hindi cinema. 

Amjad Khan aka Gabbar Singh of Sholay!

Wondering, Where does Pancham fits in? 

Well, one of the lesser talked about talent of RD was his penchant & attention to the details for a background score. Using different instruments, sometimes innovative ones, was a trick he often used to highlight the mood of a scene. In Sholay, apart from the four central male characters, Pancham's background score & Dwarka Divecha's photography further enhanced the impact of the movie.

Have a look at this scene from the movie - perhaps one of the most well-known ones!

The Banshee kind of wail (created through organ & cello) in the background, the highlighted sound of Gabbar's boots as he walks, a bit of guitar stumming, and then the rolling sound of the revolver, while Gabbar plays the Russian roulette with the life of his failed comerades! If Amjad played the character to the hilt - doing complete justice to the thought process that Salim-Javed had while scripting Gabbar, the music brought out the menace he was supposed to be, and helped in creating a character that is iconic even after 4 decades.

This was the magic of Pancham! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gori Tori Painjaniyaa

Hi All..back again after a brief break...

During this break, the country lost one of its finest & most versatile singers...and last of the male playback legends... Manna Dey! 
Manna Dey, had started his career as an assistant to SD Burman, and sang his first song for him. Quite possibly, that was one of the reasons, RD & him had a special bond. 

While RD's preferred singer seemed to be Kishore, it was Manna Dey, he banked more upon - specially when it came to bringing a variety - either for the composition or purely for balancing the movie's second male voice requirement.

As a result, he utilised Manna Dey's voice for a range of actors - from Mehmood, Pran & Om Prakash to Dharmendra & Rajesh Khanna. The versatile performer that Manna Dey was, he never sounded out of place for any one of them - be it Buddha Mila Gaya's Aayo Kahan se or Padosan's Saawariya or Seeta Aur Geeta's Zindagi Hai Khel.... 

However, my most favourite song of this duo is this one, where RD created a composition that perhaps Manna Dey alone could have done justice to.

Picturised on Rajesh Khanna, this is a classical raga based composition, a medley of Kaamod and Malhar. 

The song has RD creating magic with a fusion of Indian as well as western instruments. Apart from the traditional instruments, one can distinctly hear Veena & Pakhavaz as well as Violin. Since, it was a classical dance composition, the choreography was done by another legend - Gopi Krishna, who set the moves for Hema Malini. This confluence of talent also got something unusual from the lyricist Anand Bakshi also. As a result was created a song which is not only classical in composition, but also a classic by itself.

Here it is..

Ghar se nikalti hai tu, 
Girati sambhalti hai tu
Kuchh aise chalti hai tu
Thumak thumak ke 
Ghaayal jaise koyi hiraniya
Gori tori paijaniya