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Romantic Duets Shankar Jaikishan

Giving in to love

I woke up to this song going around in my head. That was a bit of a surprise as I had been woken up in the middle of the night by a medical emergency. One of the immortal and personal favourite songs of all time. The movie dates back to the mid 50s and was one of a series of movies that Raj Kapoor made on a single theme: A virtuous lady tries to reform the man she loves who has gone astray from the narrow and correct path. The theme of a poor man who gets rich (albeit through rather dubious means) and then is brought back to the rightful line of thought was a huge sell in Communist Europe (USSR and the Soviet Bloc) as well as in China and gave Raj Kapoor, the quintessential showman from Bollywood , a huge geographical footprint. Some of his movies have clocked 200 million in ticket sales and that isn’t a figure to be taken lightly, irrespective of one’s personal likes/ dislikes. He succeeded (and in a way and scale) where others could not and that defines the man’s amazing ability to “feel the pulse” of the cinegoing crowd and please the critics as well, a guaranteed formula for success. Khwaja Ahmed Abbas frequently wrote the stories/ scripts for his movies of this genre and he did for this one as well.

Shree 420 has the number from the IPC, where the section refers to cheating/fraud. The country boy (Raj Kapoor) walks from Allahabad to Mumbai in search of a livelihood. The virtuous and upright (and of course necessarily poor, to fit in Raj Kapoor’s scheme of things) Vidya (Nargis) falls in love with him (and he with her) and Raj is unfortunately entrapped by the racketeer quaintly called Sonachand (an actor by the incredible and somewhat disingenuous screen name of Nemo) who makes an ace cheat out of him, a card sharp to boot. The sultry siren Nadira also does her bit and Raj Kapoor has now rapidly risen in the ranks of the crooks. Sonachand now launches a Ponzi scheme promising a home for Rupees 100 and this of course sets off a stampede.

The scheme pays off, as people start hoarding money for a home, even at the cost of other important things. Nargis (poor lady) now develops contempt for Raj due to his habits and lifestyle. Raj becomes rich but soon realizes the high price he has had to pay. When Raj discovers the crooks have no plans to fulfil their promises, he decides to rectify the situation. Raj Kapoor, now the latter day Robin Hood, takes all the bond papers of the people’s homes and tries to run from the Don’s home, only to be caught by the baddies. Soon he is shot by Nemo and becomes unconscious. When people hear the shooting, they come and see Raj nearly dead. Nemo tells police that Raj was trying to run after stealing and he had to shoot him to stop that.

A minor miracle now ensues, the (Presumed Dead) Raj springs back to life, and lays the burden of guilt in the baddies’ laps, who are now arrested. and of course Vidya happily forgives Raj. The film ends with Raj Kapoor saying “Yeh 420 Nahin, Shree 420 Hain” implying that white collared/ respectable criminals are afoot in society. https://youtu.be/oXLzfldeDcM

The music by Shankar Jaikishan is sublime, they were truly at the zenith of their talents that time. Shailendra wrote lyrics that are eternal and one has to listen to the song repeatedly, savouring the clever wordcraft. Amazing, truly, his felicity with simple words and enviable ability to string them together to create beautiful poetry. Manna Dey and Latadidi come together to sing one melody for the ages.

प्यार हुआ इक़रार हुआ है
प्यार से फिर क्यों डरता है दिल
कहता है दिल, रस्ता मुश्किल
मालूम नहीं है कहाँ मंज़िल
प्यार हुआ इक़रार हुआ…

कहो की अपनी प्रीत का मीत ना बदलेगा कभी
तुम भी कहो इस राह का मीत न बदलेगा कभी
प्यार जो टूटा, साथ जो छूटा
चाँद न चमकेगा कभी
प्यार हुआ इकरार हुआ…

रातें दसों दिशाओं से कहेंगी अपनी कहानियाँ
प्रीत हमारे प्यार के दोहराएंगी जवानियाँ
मैं न रहूँगी, तुम न रहोगे
फिर भी रहेंगी निशानियाँ
प्यार हुआ इक़रार हुआ…

I have always found a lot implied in the last verse : रातें दसों दिशाओं से कहेंगी अपनी कहानियाँ
प्रीत हमारे प्यार के दोहराएंगी जवानियाँ
मैं न रहूँगी, तुम न रहोगे
फिर भी रहेंगी निशानियाँ
प्यार हुआ इक़रार हुआ..

And especially in the lines: मैं न रहूँगी, तुम न रहोगे
फिर भी रहेंगी निशानियाँ. Apparently referring to the young kids in the frame during the filming, I feel in retrospect there was so much more. The Nargis- Raj relationship had hit a wall and here is Raj alluding poetically to that and saying the evidence of their love story will always remain forever by way of these wonderful movies they made together and the amazing on-screen chemistry the two shared.

Stay safe, folks, stay happy and healthy. The clouds draw ever closer, albeit a tad slower than one would want them to.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

6 replies on “Giving in to love”

That “Phir bhi rahengi nishaaniyan” perhaps was also about an enduring dynasty. The three kids shown were Randhir, Ritu and Rishi.

Liked by 1 person

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