I saw this movie in 1972 on Doordarshan Mumbai on the Sunday evening show. Since the name had been announced from Wednesday, my Dad was happy. The name of the movie took him back to his younger days. He sang a few bars of this song. As a teenager I thought that quite amusing but we weren’t quite used to telling our parents such feelings in so many words.
Kismet was a blockbuster movie of the era made by Bombay Talkies. It actually was the first blockbuster of Bollywood and made huge waves for a variety of reasons. It showed, for starters the hero with distinct shades of dark grey, as a pickpocket. Ashok Kumar who had already established himself earlier with Bombay Talkies was cast with Mumtaz Shanti. The movie had a wonderful score by Anil Biswas, who introduced the full chorus for the first time in Bollywood. This wonderful song was sung as a duet between Ashok Kumar and Amirbai Karnataki, one of the leading playback singers of the era . The score was a rage of the time and undoubtedly contributed to a massive collection at the box office. The movie which cost less than 2 Lakhs to make, grossed 1.1 Cr , an unheard of sum those days. Remember the movie was made in 1943!!
In the early 40s, Devika Rani invited Anil Biswas to join Bombay Talkies, where he gave music to many a movie, including this, the first true superhit Gyan Mukherjee’s Kismet (made during WWII years and which had a very unsubtle patriotic subtext, which starred Ashok Kumar and Mumtaz Shanti. The movie is remembered for the song, ‘Papihaare’, sung by his own sister Parul Ghosh, (the wife of Pannalal Ghosh, the legendary flautist) the patriotic hit, ‘Door hato ai duniyaa waalo’ (for which poor Pradeep, the lyricist had to go underground to evade certain arrest and torture), and this song ‘Dheere dheere aare badal, mera bulbul so raha hai, shorgul na macha’ . Pradeep’s patriotic song got past the censors with a thinly veiled subterfuge of using a reference to the Japanese and Germans purely as a subterfuge. But of course someone squealed on him and got him into hot beverages.
I loved the way the song is picturized with an impish Ashok Kumar tying a necklace around the neck of Mumtaz Shanti who has somehow fallen asleep sitting up. Amazing that no one expected her to wake up during this…
The movie also had some bold firsts like introducing a pregnancy out of wedlock.
Even today, watching the movie nearly 80 years after it was first released, one finds it relevant in so many ways. Gyan Mukherjee the director and Ashok Kumar the leading man achieved enormous fame. So much so that mobs stopped Ashok Kumar’s car on the streets. The first superstar to face this degree of adulation.
Stay safe folks, stay healthy, happy and away from all things from the empire of evil. Take the jab