The restless and creative prolific genius that Dev Anand undoubtedly was, saw him make a slew of movies that he chose to express himself through, irrespective of the consequences. In 1970 he made Prem Pujari, a pacifist antiwar movie that he wrote, scripted, directed and produced. The movie has Dev Sahab in the role of a soldier who has firm antiwar convictions to the extent that he refuses to fight in a war against the Chinese, and is court martialed for this act of unacceptable insubordination and cashiered to a couple of years RI. Actually the sentence for such indiscipline would be much more in real life.
Dev Anand made this movie with his choice of heroine at the time, Waheeda Rehman. The movie was shot in multiple scenic locales including Switzerland. In a sequence in the Grimsel Hotel, Shatrughan Sinha is seen in the crowd that has gathered. The movie had a brilliant musical score by Navketan’s constant composer, Sachindev DevBurman. Burmanda’s scores for Dev Anand and Navketan were always a cut above the rest and Prem Pujari perhaps shows that the best. The movie due to its rather controversial theme, flopped big time at the box office. The strongest and almost universally acclaimed aspect of the movie was it’s musical score, which is truly outstanding, and even by Burmanda’s lofty standards for his previous scores especially those he regularly churned out for Navketan, it was truly memorable and unforgettable. It is one more glittering jewel in the priceless crown the former royal wore.
I love this song a bit more than so many other (equally beautiful) ones from the movie, which is 50 years on, something of a cult classic. The wonderful poetry (the quality is befitting of being called that and not just mere made-to-order film lyrics) is by a great man we studied a bit while in school, Gopaldas Saksena, “Neeraj”. The song is shot in Switzerland and Dev Saab sits lost in his reminiscences wearing a hat at a rakish angle. https://youtu.be/4CwFFWleNNA
The verdant landscape whizzes by in the background, as do picture postcard Swiss chalets and mountains. Kishoreda always had this different, intoxicating voice for Devsaab and Burmanda (who was almost his surrogate father). When he sings कितना मदिर, कितना मधुर, तेरा मेरा प्यार, लेना होगा जनम हमें कई, कई बार… one cannot but marvel at the heady fizz of great words, composition, vocals and locale. This amazing song to me is the most enchanting one from the movie. Amazingly the song is virtually a note for note remake of Burmanda’s highly successful Bangla original. When I discovered it, I loved it too. He has sung that one in his unique voice. https://youtu.be/GVY7xN12hac
What makes the Bangla version unique is that the lyrics are by Meera DevBurman, his wife who was an accomplished poet. She wrote these incredibly romantic lyrics and Burmanda originally made the song as a Sharad Arghya, or a Pooja offering the year before Prem Pujari was made. It was understandably a runaway success in Bengal, and continues to be an eternal favourite one what with the huge number of cover versions with improvisation on the instrumental aspects. Listen to just this one, a wonderful recent rendition by Debolina Nandy. https://youtu.be/wUg8_vCRj98
Have a wonderful week ahead, folks. Enjoy the last few days of a very eventful 2021. I hope the next year will bring us happiness by way of good health and the rogue country will be made to pay for the losses- economic and to human lives/livelihood- by the rest of the world.