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The cry of pain

Funtoosh, the movie saw the entry- albeit laterally- of Pancham into Bollywood. The movie was made by Navketan, Dev Anand‘s production company with his older brother Chetan Anand directing. The movie was a hit the year of its release and I would always remember the movie not so much for its storyline (?) but the great musical score by the great Sachindev Burmanda and equally meaningful lyrics by Sahir. To me also important is the role the movie played in creating a partnership between Dev Anand, Sachindev Burmanda and Kishore Kumar.

As storylines go, the movie has the rather lame premise of the hero going insane and committed to an asylum after his family dies.

The strongest suit is the songs (SD Burman, with awesome lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi) which are lovely both in the musical and poetic senses. Dev Anand looks debonair and very handsome even if the character he plays doesn’t really quite suit his persona. Sheila Ramani (who I had seen in Dev Anand’s Taxi Driver) is the female lead.

Funtoosh (Dev Anand) is being discharged from an asylum called rather grandiosely “International Mental Asylum” because psychiatrists there feel that he is as sane as he is going to get, and any further prolongation will only lead to his truly getting insane. So stepping out of the asylum, Dev Anand hasn’t really got over his suicidal ideas, but he meets a scheming Kirorimal who insures him for a big sum so that he can grab the dough once our man kills himself.

But Bollywood being full of (un)expected twists and turns, Dev Anand not just lives, but manages to get to know, woo and succeed in winning the daughter of the scheming villain, so throwing a huge spanner in the works. The movie is now quite predictable.

The music of the movie was an instant hit and contributed to the success (along with Dev Anand’s charisma which brought the ladies – and envious men thronging into the movie theatres) and songs such as “Dukhi Man Mere” topped the hit parade show Binaca Geet Mala. Other hits included “Ae Meri Topi Palat Ke Aa” which incidentally was composed by Pancham , who assisted his father. Pancham was barely 17 when he composed this song.

Kishore Kumar gets as soulful as only he can, singing such a sweet lamentation, a real cry of pain. Once in this mood, few can match him. The underpinning of pain is too apparent for anyone to see. Burmanda’s sublime creation brings through the beauty of his singing with a perfect instrumentation and soft, non intrusive composition. I loved the fact that he relegates the few accompanying instruments totally to the background when Kishoreda is singing and only the interludes really have any notable instruments. No conventional percussion instruments either to break the soulful reverie. Time is being kept with just a triangle.

As a general rule I don’t like any cover versions, but this song has been rendered with a totally different flavour by my favourite Jagjit Singhji who has done justice to the original with a significantly different composition.

Jagjit Singhji’s voice is soft, silken and caresses the soul as can be expected from him. This was part of the Close to My Heart Concert (later made into an album). The live concert has Gulzar amongst the audience, which has countless other luminaries as well.

Have a great day ahead, folks, stay happy, healthy and safe. Stay away from all stuff that the empire of evil to our North east and its murderous lackey to our Northwest have to give to the world.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

8 replies on “The cry of pain”

Dev Anand with the toothy smile and tilted walk had a way of being totally at ease with his co- stars, especially those who sang those light-hearted and melodious duets with him. However, there was another side to him in the movies; the sad, lonely and the forlorn Dev Anand, seeking happiness and just like he did in his chirpy roles, he excelled in the melancholic ones too. The lyricists must have loved to write such creative numbers for him because he played them to perfection and some of these sad songs also came in a way to prove his acting talent.
The reason for Dev Anand’s perfection in lugubrious roles is not known but, the lyricists and directors seemed to have worked on this theme very well. The lyrics of the desolate songs picturised on him often seemed to ask the same questions, “What have I got of my own?” or “Is it worth wandering through the world without finding love and happiness?”
And in this 1956 , movie Funtoosh, those who helped Dev Anand to express these feelings of despair and despondence are none other than the most abiding combination for him; Sahir Ludhianvi, who penned this political satire, SD Burman and Kishoreda. The movie was inspired by Meet John Doe, which was a Frank Capra movie about a man agreeing to impersonate a person who said he was committing suicide in a political protest with the number ‘Dard hamara koi na jaane, Apni garaj ke sab hai deevaane, Kisake aage rona roye, des praaya log baigaane Dukhi man mere sun mera kehana… They
have together not just created a song but a complete era of such unforgettable and adorable pulchritude…
Since this is based on the Raag Kirawani, a midnight raag, if you listen carefully, Kishoreda, the genius pronounced the word raina as if symbolising night and not as rehna to help Devsaab not only by modulating his voice but furthering it with the correct pronunciation of the words in feeling the blues onscreen that helped him to further sink into melancholy. This unique versatility has earned Kishoreda the legions of fans spanning across generations. An actor, director, composer and above all a singer par excellence, it’s difficult to find an artiste with such a wide range of skills.
This Raag is said to be adapted into the Hindustani classical music from Carnatic music and is used in instrumental music very often. The scale is the same as the harmonic minor in western music and there are shades of Raag Pilu in Kirwani.

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