An unforgettable adaptation

The romanticised folk tale of a Prince/Princess falling head over heels in love with a commoner is a theme which has been repeated through many cultures and has resonance in many countries and continents. I don’t know if it is a case of Art imitating real life or vice versa. One such very famous story was rooted in folklore, then found it’s way to Urdu/Parsi theater and made into 2 Blockbuster movies, both truly blessed with musical scores (an inseparable part of Bollywood ever since Silent movies in India found a voice; I can recollect all the songless movies I’ve seen in the last 6 decades in a trice, and perhaps film music and songs help defined Indian Cinema as a distinct class distinct from World Cinema) that helped make both movies truly eternal. Anarkali had music by C Ramachandra, Mughal-e-Azam by Naushad. The former was legendary for his unique ability to spin extremely melodious and truly unforgettable tracks from diverse genres in a flash. He was much more prepared and adept at dabbling with many musical forms and experimented with everything from Bossa Nova through to Hindustani Classical music at either end of the spectrum. Naushad on the other hand was very much a protégé of Khemchand Prakash, who he considered (& publicly acknowledged) to be his Guru, and was deliberate, slow in his musical creations, a tad more folksy and also skilled at popularizing Hindustani Classical Music based compositions in Hindi Film Music. Take this one song. From the second of the famous movies made that was based on the legend of Anarkali.

Madhubala was an electrifying on-screen performer who could make the dead arise from their graves, catch a glimpse and then return to their resting place , somewhat satiated. She arguably had the most memorable roles, was very brave in her choice of roles when her career was floundering in her late teens and knew how to romance the camera a bit better than her peers. The tragic demise at a young age, sadly due to congenital heart disease (virtually untreatable at the time it was diagnosed, anywhere in the world, given the state of infancy of cardiac surgery in the early 60s) undoubtedly added to the magnetic aura of the lady who will always be remembered by wistful sighs by successive generations of Indian Men all over the world.

Very few know this famous , timeless classic has its roots in a folk song. Naushad himself came from Uttar Pradesh and had heard this famous song of Uttar Pradesh ‘Prem kiya kya chori kari hai’. He loved the song and it’s militant attitude to love. The folk song was embellished with modified lyrics and then moulded it to the beautiful musical piece which we have gotten addicted to since 60 years.

The song is actually a clever fusion of two sublime raags from Hindustani Classical Music.  Jab pyar kiya to darna kya  starts with the raag Darbari (where only the Taan and a string of bols are  heard in a male voice) and moves on to the main song which is based chiefly on raag Durga. An amazing and skilful blending by Naushad.

K Asif, the producer almost went bankrupt producing his dream project, with multiple hurdles, with the original producer legging it to Paapistan, the original hero kicking the bucket (Chandramohan) & a tortuous and torturous pre-production course of events. The gestation lasted nearly 2 decades, and ultimately Shapoorji Pallonji had to be brought in to salvage a floundering project. He did despite (or maybe because of) having no knowledge of films and film making. The final product made after several, humongous cost overruns actually owes it’s existence to a clever editor Dharamvir who made 197 minutes of the final cut out of more than a million feet of film shot. In the original movie this was the only song to be shot in Technicolor, Asif was so impressed, he shot two more reels in the same format. In the final cut, almost half of the songs recorded were left out.

Stay happy and healthy, folks. The wait for the promised downpours stretches on interminably.


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

14 replies on “An unforgettable adaptation”

Brilliant analysis and information on a very popular creation by Naushad…
Yess it was his hard work with Shakil Badayuni which bare fruit and was born this beautiful song which boldly says…
मौत वही जो दुनिया देखे
घुट घुट कर युं मरना क्या?👍👍👍🙏🏾

Liked by 1 person

A fascinating analysis and quaint anecdotes about a truly magical song and film — equally wel enacted in the drama by the same name and performed live equally well on stage — aan absolute favourite leading — lady very beautiful to see on screen — thanks a million sirji for this review

Liked by 1 person

As usual beautiful analysis of a beautiful song. Hats off to your selection, sir. Grand, when she reaches the top when she says
परदा नही जब कोई खुदासे
बंदोंसे परदा करना क्या..
Very nice.

Liked by 1 person

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