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Bringing the curtains down

The eternal romantic , Raj Kapoor lived a very flamboyant life. His blue eyes and handsome good looks as well as an enviable success that came his way at a very young age, soon after making his debut as leading actor in Neelkamal thanks to Kidar Sharma who he was assisting for a little more than a year, with Madhubala. The movie was the first film for both in a leading role. Kidar Sharma was the multifaceted genius of the times. Raj Kapoor had clearly learnt plenty in his time with him. The very next year, at the ripe old age of 24, he started his own production house and made his directorial debut as well, with Aag. This was the beginning of a fiery and much talked about long lasting relationship with his leading lady of the movie, Nargis.

Aag wasn’t a huge commercial success, but the very next year, Mehboob Khan‘s Andaz  which had Dilip Kumar with the same pair was a huge success. The same year, RK Films had its first really big success with Barsaat.

Nargis and Raj Kapoor had a much talked about relationship that spilled over into their personal lives. This came to a rather abrupt end as Raj Kapoor refused to divorce his wife (& mother of 4 children)

This song is from their last film together as a romantic pair, Chori Chori. The movie, based on It happened one night, was a huge success and both Raj Kapoor and Nargis were appreciated by the public as well as the critics. AVM Productions made the movie. The movie’s only Filmfare went to the inseparable part of “Team Raj Kapoor”: Shankar Jaikishan.

Lata Mangeshkar sang this divine song written by Hasrat Jaipuri, although Shailendra did get the lion’s share of the songs in the movie.

Lata didi sings this unforgettable melody, one of the best solos she sang for SJ.

The lyricists of the era were true wordsmiths, and had amazing literary skills and felicity. Most of these wrote poetry rather than just pushing pens for a living, as sadly, many of this trade do, now. Sahir, Hasrat, Shailendra, Rajinder Krishna, Bharat Vyas, Neeraj wrote wonderful verse. Of the current generation I can only think of Gulzar and Prasoon Joshi.

Latadidi’s ability to emote through her divine voice is so easy to appreciate in this song. The underpinning of pain and scarcely concealed pathos rises to the surface in this song, which couldn’t have been better written to depict the emotional turmoil Nargis was going through at the time. With Raj Kapoor steadfast in his refusal for divorcing his wife, Nargis brought the long relationship to a thudding end. Chori Chori was the last film for Nargis/Raj Kapoor as a lead pair, although Nargis did return 7 years later for a brilliant cameo appearance for a single song “Jaago Mohan Pyaare” in Jaagte Raho. That was a wonderful end to the movie’s story and put paid to the wagging tongues.

The pain in Latadidi’s voice could just hint at this.

An inevitable end to a very famous professional partnership and personal bond , too.

I can listen to this song in a continuous loop.

Have a wonderful Sunday ahead, folks. Stay calm and healthy. Together we must – and Will- beat the designs of the evil empire. Take the jab….

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

8 replies on “Bringing the curtains down”

What a refreshing read………reconnected with songs like Jaago Mohan Pyaare…..it’s been ages and now all of a sudden it is playing at the back of my mind. Jargis Ji’s grace is eternal. Just like we don’t have as many lyricists of the calibre of yesteryears, we don’t have leading ladies whose grace and elegance is anywhere near this amazing lady.

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So extremely well said👌👌👍👍👍👍
Lataji’s easily top 5 inclusion ✅👌👍
You rightly said only Lata could emote this way
Each word comes out like pearls coming out of its oyster 👌👌👌👌👌

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The key character was the heiress. She was flighty who fled from home & generally carried on with total disregard for the existence of breadlines & unemployment. By the end of the film not only does the hero snag the heiress but through him, she is also able to see life & people quite unlike herself & Chori Chori, a remake of It Happened One Night (1934), plays this out perfectly.
The film, directed by Anant Thakur, is also  a typical example of what constitutes a road film. While a popular genre in Hollywood, Hindi cinema has never really embraced this format & the efforts have been few – Bombay to Goa (1972), Dil Hai ki Manta Nahin (1991), which, incidentally, is also a remake of It Happened One Night  & more recent, Dil Chahta Hai (2001). Perhaps this is so because the road is an enduring theme in American culture. The road movie in this regard is like the musical or the Western, a Hollywood genre that catches peculiarly American dreams, tensions & anxieties. Nevertheless, this faithful adaptation of Frank Capra’s movie
is a fun adaptation of its predecessor & is one of the more enjoyable movies seen on the Hindi screen. Director Anant Thakur & writer Aga Jani Kashmiri gave it the bite that localised the final product without weakening the original’s charm. It exploited Raj Kapoor’s talent for comedy & he had an able accomplice in Nargis. 
Kammo (Nargis) is the daughter of businessman Giridharilal (a wonderful, Gope). She throws a tantrum when her father refuses her demand to marry Suman ( Pran) whom her father deems a fortune hunter, she throws herself off the ship & swims like a pro to the shore to the tuneful accompaniment of a fisherfolk’s song.
Can’t say she is not enterprising. She manages not only to escape, but our heroine pawns her diamond ring & buys clothes & accessories (a nifty pair of sunglasses) & sets off to Bangalore where her true love awaits her. Only, she has no clue how to go about it.
Kammo runs into Sagar (Raj Kapoor), a reporter & their first meeting is not very propitious. Their subsequent interaction does nothing to improve their impression of each other. The bus journey from Madras to Bangalore begins with a spat over a seat & then the uneasy peace doesn’t last long.
When they make a pit stop, Kammo insouciantly tells the conductor to wait for her. When, after a song-and-dance through the fields, she takes her own sweet time to come back, she is indignant to find that the conductor did not obey her command. Sagar has since found out that she is an heiress & Giridharilal is not Kammo’s father for nothing. He has promptly advertised her disappearance & offered a reward of ‘ sawa lakh ‘ for news of her whereabouts. We are also introduced to Suman (Pran); he is all that her father fears him to be & more.
In the meantime, Sagar & Kammo have taken the next available bus to Bangalore. She is importuned by a would-be-poet much to Sagar’s amusement. However, his chivalrous instincts cause him to rescue her.
Her thanks are begrudging & he claims he rescued not her, but the unfortunate poet. However, when the poet wants to claim the reward, Sagar takes on another persona – Sultana daku, a dacoit who has the blood of three other poets on his hands.
When the bus breaks down, all he wants is an exclusive story that will make him famous. But he still tries to warn her off Suman, much to her chagrin. Snarky remarks fly back & forth, neither willing to give a quarter. Their masquerade leads to some comic interludes when people, on trail of the reward, come looking for them.
But a fledgling attraction is growing, one that Sagar at least, is beginning to be aware of.
The next morning finds them on the road & the spoilt heiress is in no mood to walk. Sagar is, by turns, irritated & enraged by her recalcitrance. She doesn’t care. A lifetime of having her wishes catered , she believes life owes her & she’s never come across someone like Sagar before. Their mutual attraction simmers unfettered despite the differences. Kammo is very close to her destination, but her steps falter. Sagar is too cynical to be of any help as they vend their way, one reluctant, the other just wanting to get the journey over with. But soon, it is time to part & she is thinking less about her meeting with Suman & more about her parting with her rescuer.
When Kammo leaves, Sagar is forced to confront his own feelings. Yet, the next day Sagar is absconding.
Is Sagar truly absconding? Well the film belonged to Nargis. It is she who drives the story forward & it is her reactions that set off the entire chain of events. Sagar only provides the foil. It is precisely because he is restrained that Nargis is free to take flight & soar she does. Effortlessly she plays the character with class, not allowing it to descend into caricature even once. She is entitled, but clueless rather than snobbish, protected from the realities of life by her father. She is no pushover & gives as good as she gets.. She is the one who is setting off to find Suman, it is she who, when she realises that what she feels for Sagar transcends what she felt for Suman. Watch her in that one scene at the end where her father tells her that he has fixed her marriage to Suman. Shock, horror & grief, all flit across her face.
Sagar is a snappy, sarcastic, hard-nosed reporter, who is willing to help the heiress in return for an exclusive. One can see him he is conflicted – he wants to believe but brushes off his feelings. When she leaves, as he assumes, the hurt is hidden behind a demand to be paid an itemised bill & yet, there is no melodrama; just a request that he be paid for his trouble on one hand & a demand that he be recompensed.
The real-life involvement of the leads lends a certain piquancy to the romance on screen.
They weren’t wholly acting; when Nargis is emoting to Chaand ki pehli nazar she looked like she really meant every word of it.
Bhagwan, Mukri, Rajasulochana & Johnny Walker managed to work the side plots.
And the music by Shankar-Jaikishen must surely count as one of their best overall scores. The picturisations, particularly of Jahan mein jaati hoon, also lend credit to the rumour that surely RK must have shot them himself. (Though that is probably unfair to the director; RK had a well-deserved reputation for not being a director on the sets, unlike his contemporaries.) Keeping in character with the overall flow of the movie, the female voice overrides the male. Raj, in fact, does not even get a solo; he only appears in the three duets. Manna Dey gets to sing playback for RK, leaving Rafisaab to sing for Johnny Walker & Bhagwan. Latadidi rules supreme over the female vocals, lending voice to both heroine & others. And because it was an AVM production, we were also treated to two excellent classical dances by Kamala Laxman & by Sai-Subbulaxmi. Nargis is a revelation in the film as the heiress. She proves she can play comedy as effectively as she could her intense dramatic roles. Just see her as the puppet in the Jahan Main Jaati Hoon song. It is Nargis’ sense of razor sharp timing & it is a sequence she carries off marvellously well just with her expressions. Raj Kapoor of course had inborn comic talent. He is absolutely perfect in the role of the journalist while Pran does his familiar bad man turn with relative ease. They are more than strongly supported by the extremely strong comic element of the film – Gope, Johnny Walker & Bhagwan.The evergreen musical score, with lyrics by Shailendra & Hasrat Jaipuri, ensured Shankar-Jaikishen their first ever Filmfare Award for Best Music. The film has brilliant songs with each song being better than the other.
With Mukesh trying his hand to be an actor, this was the phase when Manna Dey briefly sang as the voice of Raj Kapoor. As one hears Manna Dey, one cannot but think sadly that the film industry never really gave this great singer his due which is a pity because Manna Dey was such a fine singer with an extremely strong classical base himself. Latadidi of course leaves her stamp on the film with perhaps this greatest sad song ever. It is perhaps technically the best composition of the film & the emotion & pathos with which she renders this song is unbelievable. Only such a gifted singer could give such expression to words. She is equally at ease with the bubbly Panchhi Banoon Udti phiron & the boat song. The film also sees an early duet by the Mangeshkar sisters.
Chori Chori also proved extremely popular at the box office.

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