Free and loving it

I woke up with this amazing melody in a continuous loop in my head from a movie that made the careers (in a manner of speaking) for nearly everyone associated with the movie. Azaad was made by Sriramulu Naidu as a remake of his own Tamizh blockbuster, Malaikkallan (“the thief/bandit of the hills”. The original had been seen by the then tragedy king, Dilip Kumar who loved the Bhanumathi and MGR starrer movie. The original Tamizh film was released a year before the Hindi version, and was an astounding success and raked in the highest box office collection of the year. It ran more than 140 days in Chennai and all other major cities. It was the first Tamizh film to win a President’s Silver Medal and was also the first Indian movie to be remade in five other languages. S. M. Sriramulu Naidu of Pakshiraja Studio in Coimbatore bought the rights to the story after the runaway success of the Tamizh original and decided to produce and direct a movie based on it, in 5 languages apart from the original version – the Tamizh (Malaikkallan) was followed immediately by Azaad in Hindi , and then in Telugu (Aggi Ramudu), Malayalam (Thaskaraveeran), Kannada (Bettada Kalla),  and even in Sinhala (Surasena).

Ever the savvy businessman, Sriramulu Naidu of Pakshiraja Studios, Kovai was approached by Dilip Sahab who loved the original MGR role and wanted to essay it.

Amazingly the movie was literally what the Doctor ordered for Dilip Kumar. Apparently he was in a blue funk, terribly depressed with all the morbid, long suffering characters that he had been forced/ typecast to enact over the years. In his autobiography, “The Substance and the Shadow”, Dilipsahab mentions that he was actually advised to switch over to comedy by psychiatrist Dr WD Nichols when he complained of being “seized by a morbid outlook as a result of playing ill-fated characters.”

A similar event took place, albeit too briefly with Meena Kumari. Exactly as with Dilip Sahab the lady was typecast as a tragedienne. She must have happily accepted the movie after knowing the storyline and that Dilip Sahab was to be the male lead. A horseback breeches clad young beauty is hardly something you associate with Meena Kumari.Yes, you will also do a double somersault before believing it is indeed Meena Kumari mouthing these improbable lines…. When she is abducted, she calls out to the goons with “badmaash… kutte… kameene”. When I heard the words, I was half expecting the last word to be followed by “Tera khoon pee jaungi!!“, Garam Dharam style!!! An unusually happy role for her too, and I loved seeing her in the movie.

The movie falling into the lap of C Ramachandra is also part of Hindi Film Folklore and legend. It was narrated to us by Annasaheb himself when he visited our college in 77-78. S. M. Sriramulu Naidu actually approached Naushad for the movie and offered the contract with a rider : the job had to be completed in a month. Filmmakers from the South were , even in those days, much more professional in their work ethic and made movies on tighter schedules and smaller budgets than the profligate Bollywood guys. Naushad not just took umbrage at the deadline, but actually threw the money offered as signing amount and insulted Naidu, saying he didn’t run a Baniye ki dukaan and he wouldn’t guarantee even a single song in 30 days, forget the entire score. Naushad’s petulant behaviour didn’t charm nor impress the professional Naidu. C Ramachandra had made a number of Tamizh movies even before he got any projects in Bollywood. He got the assignment , took it as a challenge and in his own words, finished the entire memorable score in ten days flat. 9 unforgettable songs, all glittering gems, unbelievably in 10 days!!

I love this romantic song by Latadidi.

As good as it gets, this one. The lyrics and the dialogues were all written by Rajinder Krishan who might have influenced Naidu sahab in going to C Ramachandra. The dance steps for Meena Kumari were kept utterly simple to factor in the legendary lack of dancing skills for the amazing actress.

Stay safe, folks, stay healthy and happy. Have a wonderful weekend and take the jab. Boycott the Chinese, the birthplace of bioterrorism in the world we live in.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

10 replies on “Free and loving it”

Iconic share of an equally iconic song my very favourite movie as Meenaji is full comic😅👌
A rare sight in later days!! Interestingly movie was shot near the hills of Coimbtore 👌

Liked by 1 person

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