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Music Review: Blast From The Past

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)

Blast from the Past….
These are a few of my favourite…….Rajesh Khanna movie songs…..

Women worshipped, garlanded and married his photographs…they sobbed and were devastated and attempted suicide when he married the young Dimple Kapadia – his guru kurtas, hairstyles, etc became fashion statements…such was the magical and enchanting spell cast by Rajesh Khanna, the original superstar!  Quintessential romantic hero whose beautiful twinkling eyes spoke volumes – evoking love, passion, sorrow and naughtiness and whose gentle and soothing voice one could listen to all day long – dreamy, soft, gentle and so lovely on the ear…

Even at the height of his career as romantic hero, he was not averse or afraid of doing roles without female leads as in Bawarchi, Anand, etc. After reigning supreme for a few decades, Rajesh slowly faded away and almost disappeared from the Bollywood scene – his marriage was over, his career in shambles…(even though reruns of his movies and songs continued to enthrall audiences and music lovers). His comeback in 2010 with the eminently forgettable wafaa did not prove successful – battling illness and thankfully not abandoned completely, he died on July 18th 2012 with Dimple and his children by his side -leaving behind a host of grieving fans and friends and followers who proved that out of sight is not necessarily out of mind…tributes and accolades kept pouring in (and still are) about Rajesh Khanna the late superstar…the first superstar of the Hindi screen….

My first and cherished memory of Rajesh Khanna was when my entire family went to see Aradhana and we all wept copiously especially in the end when mother and son are reunited! I grew up with his films that had some of the most excellent songs that have been composed in Hindi film music and recollecting them has taken me down memory lane with a heavy heart and a lump in my throat as I recall and share some of my favourites here….  

Aur kuch der theher –(1966) – Aakhri Khat (released a year before Raaz, which was actually Rajesh’s acting debut) boasted some great music by Khayyam. This lovely song written by Kaifi Azmi, sung with so much romantic feel by Rafi is picturised on Rajesh Khanna and Indrani Mukherjee.  Trivia: This film also had Bhupinder making his playback debut with a beautiful song Rut jawan picturised on himself playing his guitar and singing!

Akele hain – Raaz (1967), with music by Kalyanji-Anandji, was Rajesh’s first break (as mentioned above).  Akele hain was rendered with emotion and sadness by Rafi and also had a Lata version (which was more ghostly and mysterious).  Babita was the female lead in this mystery/thriller that had some other lovely numbers especially the sensuous duet Socha ta hoon by Rafi and Krishna Kalle.

Roop tera mastana –(1969)- Aah….  passion and sensuality ooze out of this mind-blowing song – this song and its picturisation had the screen sizzling with the chemistry between Sharmila and Rajesh – Kishore was just superb in this SDB classic with lyrics by Anand Bakshi.  Aradhana was a musical delight with Mere Sapnon ki rani, gun guna rahe hain, Kora Kagaz tha, Baghon mein bahar hai, Chanda hai tu and the most beautiful saphal hogi teri aradhana.  And Rajesh and Sharmila were simply terrific in this melodrama that was based on the Olivia De Havilland/John Lund starrer ‘To each his own’.

Wo shaam kuch ajeeb – Kishore Kumar’s rendition of this song absolutely tugs at your heartstrings - picturised on Rajesh and Waheeda as they sail along the river…. Khamoshi (1969) had amazing music by Hemant Kumar with Gulzar penning the lyrics and also had the other fabulous number tum pukar lo by Hemantda.

Khizan ke phool (mere naseeb mein aye dost) from Do Raaste (1969)– Beautiful, sad and moving melody that can bring a lump to the listener’s throat and a tear to the eye as it does to the heroine of the film Mumtaz. Kishore is amazing in this song written by Anand Bakshi and set to music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

Jeevan se bhari – Safar (1970) that won Asit Sen the Filmfare award for best director and was considered amongst the best films of 1970 had some great music by Kalyanji-Anandji with lyrics by Indivar. Beautiful orchestration and wonderful singing by Kishore make this beautiful composition a classic indeed!  

Ye shaam mastani from Kati Patang (1970) - Truly a song for all seasons - enchants the listener from the whistle intro to the yodeling of Kishore whose voice suits Rajesh (and his familiar head shake) to a T as he charms and croons his way into Asha Parekh’s heart! This RDB/Anand Bakshi song is my favourite amongst other gems in the film– pyar diwana, na koi umang hai, jis gali me, Ye jo mohabat hai.

Kahin door jab –(1970) philosophy and melancholy rolled into one – and who better to croon it than Mukesh and who better than to film it on than Rajesh Khanna.  Anand was Rajesh’s crowning glory in terms of acting and his role of a cancer patient who cheerfully accepts his illness – he loves life and wants to live it to the fullest despite the short lease he has had the audiences completely floored and hooked – the movie boasted of beauties like Maine tere liye, Zindagi Kaisi hai paheli and Na jiya lagena –penned by Yogesh and set to music by Salil Chowdhury.

Chingari from Amar Prem (1972)– My all time favourite Rajesh Khanna song. Who can forget an inebriated Rajesh playing Anand Babu offering philosophical laden solace to the beautiful Sharmila playing Pushpa as they sail along the river Hoogly with the lights of Howrah bridge twinkling in the background (according to a few articles on the web, the song was actually shot in a studio setting interspersed with shots of the Howrah Bridge…) This Anand Bakshi/R.D.Burman classic is perhaps one of the most beautiful songs ever written and composed and picturised. Kishore was truly Rajesh’s ghost voice. In fact, with songs like Ye kya hua and Kuch to log kahenge and Raina Beeti jaaye, doli mein bithai, bada natkhat, the movie was nothing short of a music lover’s paradise…but Chingari somehow just sits in my heart and refuses to leave…..

Tum bin jeevan – (Bawarchi) – 1972 – Bawarchi was a clean and lighthearted family entertainer where Rajesh had no romantic lead – his part of the cook, who brings the squabbling family together and unites Jaya and her love, was a hit with music by Madan Mohan.  This Manna Dey raga based semi-classical composition written by Kaifi Azmi is indeed a treasure.

Diye Jalte hain – From Namak Haram (1973) a film that had Amitabh and Rajesh vying for acting honours….sentimental tearjerker about friendship and loyalty that is tested to the very core. Though closely competing with Main Shayar Badnaam and Nadiya Se Dariya – the lilt of this song with the magical combine of Kishore/Anand Bakshi/RDB is my pick from the film.

Mere Dil me aaj kya hai – Daag (1973) had some beautiful songs of which this dreamy Kishore Kumar number penned by Sahir with music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal is my favourite. Picturised on Rajesh (mustache and all) and Sharmila who were one of best on-screen couples, right from their Aradhana days.  

Zindagi ke safar me from Aap ki kasam (1974)- J.Om Prakash’s directorial debut was an emotional tear jerker with Mumtaz and Sanjeev Kumar co-starring and a lineup of wonderful songs – this emotionally wrought number (Anand Bakshi/R.D.B) has never failed to touch me and move me each time I listen to it.

Mere Naina – Heavenly and ethereal song from Mehbooba (1976) with lyrics by Anand Bakshi and music by R.D.Burman – both Kishore’s and Lata’s versions of this melody based on raag Shivaranjani are each so special and distinctive, touching the listener’s soul with the beauty and richness of the rendition. Strings and flute are employed so beautifully in the background.

Aap ke anurodh pe from Shakti Samantha’s Anurodh (1977) written by Anand Bakshi and composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal is part of the opening credits of the film…set in raag yaman it is a aural delight with rich and full fledged orchestration (and kishore’s inimitable rendition).

Hame tumse pyar kitna – Kudrat (1981) a most beautiful ballad and filmi ghazal – popularized by both Kishore and Parveen Sultana with Majrooh’s lyrics beautifully set to music by R.D.Burman.  Both singers were nominated for the filmfare awards but Parveen walked away with the honours that year.

So many more memories of Rajesh Khanna’s films and his gorgeous songs keep pouring in…..zindagi ek safar, o mere dil ke chain, chala ja tha hun, gulabi aankhen, ek ajnabi, hame aur jeene ki, zindagi ka safar, ye jo chilman hai, ye laal rang….mmmm…I can go and on……but it’s time to call it quits….okay….I know what you are saying or thinking when you come to this line….where are all those wonderful duets from his films – how come there is no mention or even murmur of these…..I just meant quits for now and Part II of this blast from the past will continue in the next issue of Lokvani…..with my favourite duets from Rajesh Khanna’s films - do let me know if you have any favourites and perhaps we can include them as well……

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao is a singer specializing in Hindi and Tamil golden oldies – sings with Saptaswar (based in the New England area) and Friends’ Orchestra (based in Madras, India) and also gives track-based performances.  Has hosted and sung at many a tribute to many a music director/actor/singer/lyricist and other themed shows over the last 24 years.  Closely associated with TANKER Foundation (www.tankerfoundation.org) in Madras that helps the poor and needy affected by kidney ailments.  Sudha’s music website: www.youtube.com/user/sudsless

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