Truly immortal melody

I have constantly been awestruck at the shelf life of some of Bollywood’s musical creations. Just as other movies from other major centres of World Cinema are remembered for the direction, storylines, acting, Bollywood stands apart by the music which is an integral and very important part of its USP. Everyone can surely recount favourite songs that one likes / remembers from memory, many times one may not know anything about the movie/ may have never seen the movie and may even have forgotten it totally.

A similar thing happened to me with this set of duets from the early 50s. I knew the songs purely from their being played on the AIR. I saw the songs on the Sunday morning Chitrahaar on DD Mumbai much later and actually saw the movie in FF mode on YouTube recently. I don’t think I missed out on much by doing that.

Tarana, is historically, an important movie, as it was the first that had Madhubala and Dilip Kumar as the lead pair, the first of only four such projects. (Sangdil, Amar and Mughal-e-Azam were the other three, for the diehard quizzers amongst you). The movie flopped badly when released, but has since then become a niche cult classic for the fans of both Madhubala and Dilip Kumar. Anil Biswas composed the score and I find the songs just amazing. So many of the songs are truly unforgettable. D N Madhok and Prem Dhavan wrote the lyrics and the singing is just divine. The musical tracks have therefore made a far greater lasting impression in my mind (as well as surely of millions of other movie buffs) than the movie could ever have.

The movie made by the Daryani brothers, had the corniest imaginable storyline. Haven’t we seen the hero stranded in a remote, godforsaken village in a god-knows-where location after a plane crash as the sole survivor ., suffering amnesia or injuries and is rescued by the family of a beautiful village belle who invariably flips for the Shehri Babu (or vice versa) and the rest of the movie is all about this interaction.

Tarana has this Dr Motilal (Dilip Kumar) whose plane crashes in a small village, where he gets stranded, is offered shelter by a kindly old blind man (who is called SURDAS in the movie, couldn’t they be a bit more creative with the choice of the name?) and whose sight Dilip Kumar restores by surgery !! Don’t ask how and where and what does he perform the surgery with, what are his exact qualifications and other such very relevant , spoilsport questions. So our man, having little else to do than a stray operation and staying in a village with well fitting clothes that come out of nowhere in an allegedly remote location after a plane crash where no one else is in similar attire, sings wonderful love songs with the lady (Madhubala as the eponymously named Tarana) that he has fallen head over heels (who wouldn’t with the lady’s vivacious beauty) for in sylvan surroundings that look even more enchanting in monochrome photography (and atrocious see through sets of the day that are easy to spot as fakes as Pewter Silver)

Madhubala looks absolutely amazing , although she was just a teenager. She had started her career as a child artiste and had made a debut in an adult role at the age of 14 in Neel Kamal, tasted first success at 15 in Lal Dupatta and set the scene afire with her breakthrough role in the Classic, Mahal. She had shown us enough at that young age and her acting in Tarana despite being so young, is already very accomplished and mature (after all she had already been around in movies for more than a decade by the time Tarana was made) . Gope was in an unusual role for his usual jovial image. He is actually the scheming villager who has ambitions of marrying the village belle Madhubala and goes to the extent of maligning her reputation, besmirching her with rank falsehoods like being pregnant thanks to the good Doctor.. (I can imagine the scandalous nature of the charge in the early 50s). The father of the girl is enraged to the extent of burning down his entire house knowing that the girl is within, then repents when the villainous Gope recants in a moment of contrition and the repentant father tries to save her and kills himself in the process. Dilip Kumar the city dweller, now has a rich father, who in keeping with the Bollywood traditions of the era, has promised to wed his son to a rich beauty , Shyama. Of course in the hoary Bollywood traditions, the decision is taken without the knowledge (and therefore without the consent) of the son. The resultant fun and games are entirely predictable. Dilip Kumar thinks Madhubala is dead in the fire her father set off, Madhubala (who is of course very much alive) thinks the Shehri Babu (Pardesi) has married the rich city dweller (and so doesn’t bother telling him about her being alive pretty much unscathed by the inferno that destroys her home and kills the pater, after all there were no mobile phones, sms/whatsapp/ social media at the time to tell her about his actual status — imagine, Dilip Kumar describing his status as “It is complicated ” ) . Some more twists and turns later, Shyama is left high and dry as Dilip Kumar and Madhubala (re)discover each other’s unattached status and finally marry. The storyline had been pretty much bandied about often enough before Tarana to be stale and was later done to death a few hundred times more with even more insignificant variations.

The saving grace in the stupid movie was of course the music by Anil Biswas. At least six of the solos/ duets are truly outstanding (of the total of nine) and it is little surprise that the album has been included by various people and bodies in the list of Bollywood’s all time great albums.

Stay safe , folks and beat the second surge. Take care and beat the Wuhan Virus

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

8 replies on “Truly immortal melody”

Lovely share of an iconic movie in the sense that….Dilip Madhubala romance started here in TARANA…🌷👌🌷
You saw it in FF mode hence mentioning 😄👍in many scenes you can see beyond the camera…how they were head over heels in love…How Dilip was so possessive of her..and she typically…giving type of a lover..!!!
Yesss the songs are a beauty…the one in which Shyama and Madhubala both can be seen also good one ..must b the first of its kind where in both the actresses sing for the same boy…
In my music group a highly talked about film ..some have seen it 80 times😮😮
Have a nice day SIR🙏

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Anil Biswas, better known as Anilda among his fans made his entry on the stage of Bombay film industry in 1934. He made his impact slowly with hits like Aaj himalay ki choti se fir hum ne lalkara hai & Dheere dheere aare badal, mera bulbul so raha hai, shorgul na macha (Ashok Kumar in Kismet – 1943).
This man has an enormous number of feathers in his cap. If one were a composer & if one had composed something similar to Man mein kisi ki preet basa le (Aaram) even once in their lifetime by even sheer accident, one would have quit composing & rested on their laurels. Piano has never sounded any sweeter than that. But Anilda never minded such compositions. He went on to compose Aa mohobbat ki basti basayenge hum (can you really believe that it is actually Kishoreda with Latadidi in that song!) & then Tumhare bulane ko ji chahata hai (Laadali).
Anilda gave break to many a singer in his long career. Two of the superb voices ever known – Talat Mahmood & Mukesh were introduced by Anil Biswas to us. The Talat-ace Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal was the first effort of the pair & what a gem it was! Anilda got the best out of Talat in Tarana . Talat simply sang his way to hearts of millions through Seene mein sulagate hai aramaan with Latadidi. Then there was this one more masterpiece from the duo, Nain mile nain hue baware. The Talat solo Ek main hoon ek meri bekasi ki shaam hai also had its share in the gargantuan success of the film.
There’s this anecdote… when Talat met Anilda for his first trial with him, he already had at his back two quite popular private songs Tasveer teri dil mera bahela na sakegi (Music: Kamaldas Gupta) & Ro ro beeta jeevan saara. Both the songs are melodious but Talat wanted to act rather than sing in the films. Anilda listened to his velvet voice & asked him to forget about acting. That was a very critical advice in Talat’s career & success. As Talat gave the audition for the first song for Arzoo (1950), Anilda asked him to come the very next day for the recording. When Talat reappeared the next day, his voice was all different. The slight vibration in the voice had disappeared. Anilda was very angry. “Aise kyun ga rahe ho ?”, he asked Talat, “Where is the modulation in your voice?”. Talat informed him that he had purposefully kept out the quiver as people told him that that was a major drawback in his voice. Anilda scolded him for that & asked him to sing the way he used to. Talat obeyed the king. This is the story of the birth of the breathtaking Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal. Other Talat-Anilda beauties include Tera khayal, Raahi matwale, chhed ek baar, dil ka sitaar, jane kab chori chori aayi hai bahar (Waaris), Shukriya ae pyar tera (Aaram) and the sweet sentimental Muhobbat tark ki maine, garebaan see liya maine (Do Raha). One more worth mentioning is Jeevan hai madhuban.
Mukesh was introduced to the audience by Anilda in his debut song Dil jalata hai to jalane de.The nephew of Motilal first hit the fans of Saigal with his Saigal-inspired style. But later went on to cultivate a style of his own. There exists a story regarding this song also. Mukesh did not appear for the recording at the pre-decided time. Anilda found him sleeping & got angry, but then Mukesh immediately got up & recorded the song which changed his destiny. Mukesh sang the unforgettable melody for Anilda picturized on Premnath for Aaram – Ae jaane jigar, dil mein samane aa ja & the famous Jeevan sapna.
Latadidi has always been Anilda’s first choice. A number of brilliant pieces were composed for Latadidi. Tarana sported an all time great from Latadidi. Yaad rakhana, chand taaro, is suhani raat ko (Anokha Pyar 1948) & Intezaar aur abhi, aur abhi, aur abhi (Char Dil Char Raahen 1959) will be certainly rated among Latadidi’s top notchers. Her Allah bhi hai, mallah bhi hai, Kashti hai ke doobi jaati hai (Maan) was originally composed for Haar Singaar by Anil Biswas but the movie never saw the light of the day. So this beautiful song was wasted on a begger in Maan. Jaana na dil se door aankhon se door ja ke, Ek dil ka lagana baki tha to dil bhi laga ke dekh liya, Bol papihe bol re & Katati hai ab to zindagi are just a few of the wonders the duo created for us.
Anil Biswas did not confine himself to the top playback singers once he made them. He got the all time great Door papiha bola, raat aadhi rah gayi (Gajre) from Suraiyya. Suraiyya also sang Raahi matwale (Waaris) for him. The first one is certainly one of her bests with Anilda’s out-worldly touch of mystic added to it.
Artists like Anil Biswas are seldom born & when they create such ethereal musical beauties as he did, they leave behind a great treasure of first class music to bring joy to the lives of millions. Today’s music directors would make a living for the next thousand years plagiarizing the wealth of music that he has created so humbly in the last forty years & yet, they will not be able to explore even one tenth of what Anil Biswas did.
Hats off to this genius!!

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