Posted on Trivia – The Spice of Life on 03/07/2022
This is a post that I wanted to write for a long time. Simply put, it is an attempt to chronicle those movies/songs in which the songs of the vintage era are remembered sometimes as a tribute and sometimes are very craftily woven into the situation of the film as a parody.
The first name that comes to mind for this post is that of Kishore Kumar. Kishore Kumar was so spontaneous, especially in comic roles. Added to that was the fact that he was a singer par excellence. Thus, several of the movies he acted in had him either breaking into a vintage era song, almost impromptu, or singing bits and pieces of them as a part of another song. This way a connect with the vintage era or with one of his own songs was established with great élan. The one movie which takes the cake is Padosan. This in a sense was a culmination of the art of reliving the old that Kishore had mastered.
But much before that, were two movies that chronicle this aspect – Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) and Half Ticket (1962). In the song Paanch Rupaiyya Bara Anna from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Madhubala is trying her best to entice Kishore and in each antara, he relents but again retraces his steps to the task of recovering his dues. In this song, Kishore reminisces the magic of K.C.Dey in one of the antaras. He effortlessly sings the mukhda of K.C.Dey’s popular song – Teri Gathri Mein Laga Chor Musafir Jaag Zara from Dhoop Chhaon (1935).
bekhabar pyaar kar dhan ki duniya kya hai dhalti chaayaa hai dilruba sach kaha saach tera pyaar baaki maaya hai tere liye jogi ban sakta hoon jangal jangal phir sakta hoon chaahe namoonaa dekh lo haay teri gathri mein laaga chor musaafir jaag zara tu jaag Zara
In the same song in another antara, he sings S.D.Burman’s popular non-film song recorded in the early 1940s – Dheere Se Jaana Bagiyan Mein – emulating Burman’s style very successfully. It is interesting to note that the music director of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was S.D.Burman!! The Bengali version of the same song was recorded by S.D.Burman in the 1930s.
gham bhulaa saaz utha raag mere roop ki tu gaaye jaa haay dilruba haay dilruba haan isi andaaz se farmaaye jaa geet suna sakta hoon daadra ginkar poore barah maatra chaahe namoona dekh lo haay dheere se jaana bagiyan mein dheere se jaana bagiyan me re bhanwra dheere se jaana bagiyan mein ho ye lala dhing lala hoy ye lala haay
This masterpiece, interspersed with lyrics of other songs, would obviously not have been possible without the compliance of the music director S.D.Burman and the lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri. [The mukhda of the same song is sung by Kishore Kumar in Padosan as well when he is ambling into his Pancharatna Naatak Mandali office.]
This song Dheere Se Jaana was again sung in Chhupa Rustum (1973), a Navketan film by Kishore Kumar with a topical twist as Dev Anand (on screen) is trying to get rid of bedbugs. Dheere Se Jaana khatiyan Mein is a song with innovative and humorous lyrics penned by Neeraj. This time too, S.D. Burman was the music director. The song ends with the original words dheere se jaana bagiyan mein in the true S.D.Burman style of singing.
The other song that comes to mind is from the film Half Ticket. Just as the song Cheel Cheel Chillake ends, Kishore is confronted by the ticket collector. He starts singing – Man Ki Aankhen Khol Baba – a popular song of K.C.Dey from Dhoop Chhaon (1935) where he plays a blind singer. The lyrics of the song were penned by Pt. Sudarshan.
Padosan – Icing on the Cake
Like I said earlier, Padosan is the movie which is replete with vintage era music and references. It is interesting to note that Kishore Kumar’s character is called Vidyapati in the movie. His love story is obviously not the focus of the movie but there are sequences and songs where he refers to Anuradha. Anuradha is one of Saira Banu’s friends who calls his bluff. This sub-plot of course is never developed. Interestingly, Vidyapati is a famous movie made in 1937 by New Theatres based on the life of the famous Mithila poet Vidyapati. One of Vidyapati’s followers was called Anuradha. This role was essayed by Kanan Devi. Thus, the names of the characters were not picked up randomly in Padosan. In fact, when he sings the song Meri Pyaari Bindu in typical Baul style, he inadvertently utters the name ‘Anuradha‘ and his naatak mandali tells him it is Bindu, not Anuradha.
Another vintage era song that finds place in Padosan is O Jaanewale Balamuva from Rattan (1944). When Kishore Kumar is convinced that Sunil Dutt is incapable of making any progress in singing, he resorts to lip syncing. He asks Sunil Dutt the lyrics of any film song that he remembers. It is this song from Rattan that Sunil Dutt reminisces. Kishore Kumar latches on to it and begins to sing as Sunil Dutt merely lip syncs. And in this fashion, another musical gem is relived.
The icing on the cake of course is Ek Chatur Naar which is not only a musical treat but a musical duel worth watching for all the antics of Mehmood on one side and of the Pancharatna Naatak Mandali on the other. To begin with, this song actually drew from the same song Ek Chatur Naar originally featuring Ashok Kumar who sang it on screen as well in the 1941 movie Jhoola. The lyrics were by Pradeep and the music composer was Saraswati Devi, one of the first female music directors of the film industry. Apparently, it was Kishore Kumar who suggested to Rajinder Krishan that this song be used for Padosan albeit in a more elaborate form with customised lyrics. Kishore Kumar also improvised on the spot when the song was being recorded to add more lyrics of his own.
The song draws from so many different sources. The words badh ke budhan tir vi takkar – which actually make no sense – were originally used by Kishore himself in one of the songs of Half Ticket – Aake Seedhi Lagi.
The tune of the song changes so frequently that Mehmood is exasperated and he even exclaims – ye sur badla…. ye sur kidhar hai jee? The reason for this is that tunes of some vintage songs have been incorporated in bits and pieces. The tune of the song Chanda Re from Ziddi (1948) is used for the lines kaalaa re jaa re jaa re khaare naale mein jaake tu munh dhoke aa (which sounds like a racist slur that the lyricist got away with!!). An irritated Mehmood who is at his wit’s end can only say ye gadabadji..ye sur badla.
The tune of the line – are dekhi teri chaturai, tujhe sur ki samajh nahi aai is borrowed from ban chale raam raghuraai from Sant Tulsidas (1939). Mehmood can only say ye phir gadbad.. phir bhatkaaya.
All in all this song is a laugh riot. The entire cast and crew of the movie must have had a blast while creating this song. It is perhaps one of the funniest songs with some quirkiest lyrics, drawing inspiration from vintage era music and lyrics.
Other movies which relive vintage era music
Qayda Todke Socho Ek Din (Khubsoorat, 1980) Lyricist : Gulzar; Music Director: R.D.Burman; Playback Singers : Rekha and Sapan Chakraborty. This song is all about wishful thinking – of how the laws of nature could be bent to suit one’s whims and fancies. Written by Gulzar, it has Rekha speaking as well as singing (she does a decent job as a singer!) along with Sapan Chakraborty. Sapan Chakraborty worked closely with R.D.Burman as his music assistant. He also worked as an independent composer in a few Hindi films, though he was more prolific in Bengali films. You must listen to these lines sung by Sapan Chakraborty:
daata toone kiya kamaal upar gagan vishaal
These are picked from the mukhda of a song from the movie Mashaal (1950) – Upar Gagan Vishaal written by Kavi Pradeep, composed by S.D.Burman and sung by Manna dey.
Preetam Aan Milo (Mr. & Mrs.55, 1955) Lyricist : Saroj Mohini Nayyar ; Music Director: O.P.Nayyar; Singer/Playback Singer: C.H.Atma/Geeta Dutt. This song purportedly penned by O.P.Nayyar’s wife was first sung by C.H.Atma as a non-film song and then subsequently used in Mr. and Mrs. 55. O.P.Nayyar was the music director of both versions. The male protagonist in the movie Mr. & Mrs.55, is called Preetam (literally meaning lover). Thus, the song is apt in many ways. The song in the movie is sung by Geeta Dutt. Her haunting voice leaves the listener mesmerized.
There is a third version of the song which is a parody that Gulzar wrote for the movie Angoor. It was sung by Sapan Chakraborty and the music direction was by R.D.Burman.
Prem Nagar Mein Banaungi Ghar Main : In the movie Professor (1962), an old Lalita Pawar starts falling in love with a young Shammi Kapoor who is disguised as an old professor. As she harbours such feelings, she begins to play the song Prem Nagar Mein Banaungi Ghar Main from Chandidas (1934).
Tumse Badhkar Duniya Mein : In the movie Kaamchor (1982), this song is played on the gramophone player. The opening line of the song is sung in vintage style by Chandru Atma, the younger brother of the legendary singer C.H.Atma. The record gets stuck and it is then that Kishore Kumar takes over.
Kukat Koyaliya Kunjan Mein : I would want to end this post with Kukat Koyaliya Kunjan Mein which is played on the gramophone in the movie Mirch Masala (1987). This is a song of the movie Bharathari (1944). It is sung by Kajjan Bai (Jehan Ara). This song is played when the villagers meet the tax collector. They look in awe at the gramophone. Since Mirch Masala was set in the 1940s, this song was contemporary.
I am sure there are many more instances of vintage songs/characters/singers finding a mention in later movies. As long as there is no disrespect meant to the original song/artists associated with these musical gems, I would say that this is a very innovative way of remembering them and reliving their glory.
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