I was reminded of this song first up today morning. The song is central to the movie Navrang made by V Shantaram in the late 50s. It was based on a story of a poet obsessed with an imaginary muse (entirely modelled by him on a glamourised version of his loving, but rather plain vanilla wife). The original story was by the great poet / writer from Maharashtra, Ga Di Madgulkar, who with Sudhir Phadke gave us the immortal and amazing creation that is virtually part of every Marathi Speaking person’s psyche: The Geet Ramayan. The original kernel of the story was adapted as a screenplay by V Shantaram himself who also produced and directed the movie. The final form clearly shows his wanting to display the dancing skills of Sandhya, his long term companion who he married after many years (decades) of companionship. She became his third wife.
Mahipal is the poet Diwakar, the poet who is hopelessly in love with his wife (Sandhya) . He however tends to live a Walter Mitty like existence and fantasizes about his muse – that he calls Mohini. His all consuming obsession with Mohini leads his wife to suspect that he is having an affair with the lady. On his part, the husband is just not able to allay her fears and suspicions and the wife leaves home with their infant son. Meanwhile the poet gets into trouble with the officials and patrons as he keeps on writing pro-Independence verses. The denouement is very dramatic with the truth finally revealed that Mohini exists only in his imagination and that he is very much in love with his wife, whose absence has led to his pitiful condition : in the absence of creative inspiration from her presence as a muse in his life, the flow of his poetry has dwindled to a mere trickle. In the course of this song, Mahipal reveals all, telling his wife, he has really never loved anyone else, that SHE IS HIS MOHINI.
The music is by C Ramachandra and the lyrics by Pandit Bharat Vyas. This divine duet is sung by the unparalleled genius Manna Dey and Asha Bhosle. Mannada’s metier as a singer was streets ahead of his peers, but fate was not as kind to his amazing vocal range. He was arguably the most versatile of the singers of his generation and could manage compositions based on Hindustani Classical Music to Rock and everything in between. The song is one of the rare songs sung by Ashatai for C Ramachandra, although he has made her sing perhaps an octave higher than her usual singing voice. The composition with the low notes and hectic pace being dictated by the bells, cymbals and drums, is amazing. Sandhya’s impressive dancing skills are amply demonstrated as is Shantaram’s obsession with creating gigantic sets in his fantasy sequences. Look at the monstrous bells on which the dancing belles swing. Much as Sandhya’s skills as a dancer were to be admired, her emoting skills and those of Mahipal’s leave a lot to be desired. It would have been better to have Sandhya only as a dancer (in the form of the muse) and leave the acting to someone else. Mahipal, the severely emotively challenged actor that he undoubtedly was, could also have been substituted by a more expressive face.
The movie also marked the debut for Mahendra Kapoor. “Aadha hai Chandrama” a duet with Ashatai is the first song he sang in films. He also had 2 more solos in the movie which had a dozen songs in all.
Here’s to all the muses who exist mostly in the fantasies of creative minds and not in real life at all and cause so much heartburn by the obsession these folks show for their muses.
Stay safe folks, stay healthy, away from the Wuhan Virus and take the jab.