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A rare beauty

Composers in Bollywood ( or as Bollywood prefers to call it, Music Directors) have contributed hugely to creating a distinct identity for the industry. (Unlike Hollywood films which post WW II started using songs from multiple sources, and usually played in snatches in the background rather than lip synched as in Bollywood) Our films have always had a very important contribution from the music and songs as much as (& in many a cases, even greater one) the storyline and acting. A movie with a great musical score was nearly almost always a guarantee of success for the project. This resulted in the creation of an aura around the composers.

Some composers became big stars in their own right and started demanding and commanding a huge fee as a result, with some charging more than the lead pairs. Naushad and later O P Nayyar were the outstanding examples of this.

A few music directors became producers too. Naushad’s Babul was an early example. Hemantada of course started his production company and produced many outstanding, truly unforgettable movies.

Babul was made in 1950 by Naushad Ali, and turned out to be a huge box office success, it was the 2nd highest earning film of 1950, earning a gross of Rs. 12,500,000 and a net of Rs. 70,00,000, making Naushad richer than he would ever have dreamt of, having once slept on the footpath in Dadar opposite Broadway, and later having started on a salary of Rs 40 a month. He went through much struggle. His career choice was carefully hidden by him from his family. To the point where the band in his marriage procession played songs he had composed from Rattan, his family cursed the one who created that music and he couldn’t disclose it was he who had done it. Rattan was made by Kardar for a total of Rs 75000, and the royalty from music sales alone earned him Rs 3,00,000 in the first year alone. As a result, Naushad who had very humble beginnings, (with his job as assistant to Ustad Jhande Khan fetching Rs 40 per month), could command Rs 25,000 per film. 26 of the movies he gave music for celebrated jubilee runs in various theaters in multiple towns. (18 Silver, 4 Gold and 4 Diamond jubilees– exclusive lists. I have NOT included Golden and Diamond jubilee films in the lower ranking)

He made Babul with Sunny as the director, and the lead troika of Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Munawwar Sultana. The simple daughter of a widower falls in love with the young postmaster ( who inexplicably is from a rich family). Things are fine, but the young beautiful daughter of a rich landowner’s family steps into the fray and wants him for herself. The movie runs on an expected path.

The outstanding feature in the 127 minute movie is the score with no less than 11 outstanding songs, all penned by Naushad’s trusted poet, Shakeel Badayuni. I love this Lata Mangeshkar melody with Nargis shown as a simple girl with quaint dancing steps. https://youtu.be/c20AP5tPebs

A simple, very hummable eternal melody. Isn’t it an amazing quality that the songs are remembered 70 years on …

Stay safe, folks and happy as well as healthy. Stay away from the newspapers whose sole intent is to spread fear and misinformation.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

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