Sad Film Songs Shailendra Shankar Jaikishan

In a maudlin moment…..




  1. self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental. “a bout of maudlin self-pity”. Similar: sentimental, over-sentimental, emotional, overemotional, tearful, lachrymose, weepy,
  2. Opposite: austere, undemonstrative
    • (of a book, film, or song) highly sentimental.”a maudlin jukebox tune”

My picture and couplet today were about solitude and a serene twilight moment captured a couple of days before. As I was posting it, it was only natural that I was reminded about this song. One of the best of the Lata Mangeshkar- Shailendra- Shankar Jaikishan troika. And that’s a very beautiful class of eternal melodies.

Aah was the directorial debut of Raja Nawathe, who had been a directorial assistant for Raj Kapoor’s earlier projects: Aag, Barsaat, and Aawara. Raj Kapoor’s greatness and vision is seen in this very act. He spotted talent, nurtured it and even invested in it. He did this to so many, and sometimes would turn up in cameo roles (or occasionally not turn up on-screen altogether) . The movies were produced and used the RK Films banner, assuring the neophytes excellent exposure, publicity and a more than an even chance of success.

Aah’s storyline wasn’t revolutionary or pathbreaking in any sense of the word. A rich man fixes his heir’s (Raj Kapoor) marriage with a young , beautiful girl (Vijayalakshmi) & the son writes a romantic letter dripping love in every word to the girl, but (this being Bollywood, triangles are a must) it falls in the hands of the younger sister (Nargis) who replies and the two fall in love (only in Bollywood). Raj Kapoor now discovers he has tuberculosis, which has killed his mother, too. He is certain he will die too, and now has to make efforts to dissuade Nargis from marrying him, asking her to marry his best buddy, the good Doctor, (Pran, bespectacled and in a nonvillainous really respectable role that he pulls off very well indeed) pretending he actually loves the sister, Vijayalakshmi, instead (who the parents had zeroed in on anyways!). The movie was initially released with a (then) unconventional ending, with Raj Kapoor dying at the exactly the same time as the wedding procession of Nargis and Pran proceeding past his window. Pran and Nargis were initially shown to be married at Raj Kapoor’s haveli. But at the premiere, Raj Kapoor, sitting in the audience, realised that this tragic film ending of sacrificing the hero (himself) would not work.

As Raj Kapoor himself said at the time,
The atmosphere in an auditorium is like a living,  palpitating thing. It told me again and again: “Your picture is a flop.”

The theme of the tragic hero and the consequent sufferings of the heroine were actually inspired from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Devdas, a novel that has spawned several other films. As a result of this “unacceptable” end of the film and the rather cold vibes he got in the theater that day, Raj Kapoor then actually had the end changed from a tragic one to a conventional happy one, but the change ended up destroying the thematic continuity of the plot. The twist with the (then) miraculous recovery from tuberculosis to full health and the marriage to Nargis actually looks utterly contrived and the change didn’t quite change the fortunes of the film by much. As a result, the film was rated “Below Average” at the box office (for Raj Kapoor that is, it did help him recover his investment several times over but against the humongous collection of Awaara, this kind of looked like loose change), but has several unforgettable hit songs. Shankar Jaikishan created a sublime score with Hasrat and Shailendra writing the lyrics for four and five songs respectively. The song “Chhoti Si Yeh Zindagani” sung by Mukesh was actually picturised on him, such a handsome man who could actually emote better than many of the actors of the time.

Subsequently, the film was later dubbed in Tamizh as Avan and Telugu as Prema Lekhalu .

The film was remade in Turkish as well, twice as Ah Bu Dünya as well as Boş Çevçere a few years later. I am sure some day WhatsApp University will come up with the utterly outlandish theory (as they did with Aawara) that the Hindi movie is a remake of the Turkish “original” or that an obscure band in New York was the inspiration of an immortal O P Nayyar melody that first appeared  a quarter century before the members of the band evolved out of their diapers.

Bunny Reuben, who wrote Kapoor’s biography “Raj Kapoor, The Fabulous Showman“, gives his rationale for the change: “The film had some of Shankar-Jaikishan’s loveliest music, and a ‘Devdas’-ian tragic ending which was changed to the conventional happy ending because the film didn’t do well in its first release.” Changing the movie’s “climax” needs guts and Rajji certainly had dollops of that. Listen to the awesome song.

Nargis emotes superbly and I wonder why Bollywood can’t free itself from the grip of a narcoterrorist. They just don’t seem to make such movies these days except as an extreme exception.

ये शाम की तन्हाइयाँ

ये शाम की तन्हाइयाँ ऐसे में तेरा ग़म - २
पत्ते कहीं खड़के हवा आई तो चौंके हम - २
ये शाम की तन्हाइयाँ ...

जिस राह से तुम आने को थे - २
उस के निशाँ भी मिटने लगे - २
आये न तुम सौ सौ दफ़ा आये गये मौसम - २
ये शाम की तन्हाइयाँ ...

सीने से लगा तेरी याद को - २
रोती रही मैं रात को - २
हालत पे मेरी चाँद तारे रो गये शबनम - २
ये शाम की तन्हाइयाँ ...

What a beautiful composition based on Shuddha Kalyan. Shankar Jaikishan were masters of their craft with the two complementing one other beautifully. They straddled the entire spectrum of music across all the genres wonderfully and have left behind an amazing musical legacy.

Have a wonderful day ahead, folks. The summer is blazing and I will doubtlessly run away from the city over the weekend. My mind escapes every single week starting Wednesdays after the effects of the previous weekend are wearing by Tuesday. Hydrate yourself well (plain water works best, not the sugary carbonated poison that will actually make you sick) & stay healthy.


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

24 replies on “In a maudlin moment…..”

Cool stuff!.
This is what I think of it
Beautiful post! Loved reading about the history of the film and the beautiful composition based on Shuddha Kalyan. Have a wonderful day ahead!
Thanks, Ely Shemer

Liked by 1 person

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