Monsoons in India are a source of joy, of rebirth, rejuvenation of an entire country after the scorching heat of the summer that’s left a subcontinent parched and the earth thirsty. We have an entire set of activities centred around the onset of the rains.
The plentiful rains always augur well for a country where the majority of the populace still looks to survive on agriculture.
There are so many raags created to capture the joyous spirit of the rains. As also innumerable rain songs. This is one such that I particularly love as it is from the King of Soul who was more used to give voice to more sombre melodies. The beauty of monochrome photography is unmistakable and truly eternally awe inspiring. https://youtu.be/pZsmUHNwsas
Mukesh sings this fun song to celebrate the joy of rains on music by Kalyanji Anandji. Raj Kapoor in his trademark style jumps around as women hurriedly pull clothes from the clothesline, people pull out umbrellas and run for shelter. It is the joy of first downpour that you see when you see this eternal song in black & white from a 60s movie, Chhalia with Nutan, Rehman and Raj Kapoor.
The movie was directed by Manmohan Desai and the lyrics are by Qamar Jalalabadi.
Have fun, folks as I am mentally already in the great outdoors. In the rains it will be just sublime. Stay healthy and happy.
Bollywood has had a long tradition of establishing partnerships of various kinds. Producer-Director, Producer/Director- Male/Female lead, Producer-Music Director, Music Director-Singer , Music Director-Lyricist, Male-Female leads, and even Actor-Singer (gender insensitive). In an industry where the chance of glorious success is rather a much smaller fraction as compared to the much larger risk of ignominious failure, every straw is clutched at in a desperate measure to achieve the elusive success.
Raj Kapoor turned producer very early on in his professional life and formed a long lasting partnership with the young instrumentalists (that he knew from his apprenticeship at Pruthvi Theaters), Shankar and Jaikishan. In a symbiotic relationship, both fed on ( & contributed to) each other’s success and their association was hugely successful till Raj Kapoor’s ship struck an iceberg in Mera Naam Joker. The Titanicesque tragedy was crippling and dealt the old man a near-mortal blow. His movies after this showed a sharp turn towards becoming skin flicks and pandering the voyeurs in the audience.
In his career, he formed strong alliances with a number of people in the Team RK. Shankar Jaikishan, Shailendra, Hasrat, and Mukesh were integral parts of the jigsaw he put together to achieve success. His fascination bordering on obsession and hero-worship of a Chaplinesque tramp-underdog was very apparent in his early movies, and it was little wonder that these movies found a massive market in the Socialist ( read COMMUNIST) bloc in Eastern Europe and China. Some of his movies enjoyed the largest geographical footprints in the history of world cinema. His partnership with Nargis was also notable on the professional ( & for Raj Kapoor at the time the line between personaland professional lives was thin and rather blurred) front. The two came together when Raj Kapoor was already married and fathering children of his own ( he would go on to have 5 in all ). L’Amour fuelled his creativity and the two were romantically linked for more than a decade. Raj Kapoor’s refusal to divorce the wife (& his kids) finally put paid to the affair. This song is from the last movie the two did together, not an RK Films project. The movie was produced by L B Lachman and directed by Anant Thakur. It was distributed by AVM Films, the giant production house from Chennai (then called Madras); and their stamp on the movie is unmistakable in the locales, sets, music, dances, and cast as well. The movie based on theHollywood hit, It happened one night with some threads from Roman Holiday, was called Chori Chori in Hindi.
Raj Kapoor carried Nargis along as well as Shankar Jaikishan, but Mukesh was missing. He had somehow managed to get himself shackled by a very restrictive contract by rather unscrupulous people that forbade him from singing for others. As a result there were a clutch of films in the early to mid 50s where the honest, untiring ( & somewhat hapless) singer Manna Dey stepped in. The duet is one of my all time favourite ones. https://youtu.be/gK4p4hDYLHg
Manna Dey and Latadidi create magic together. A set of magical lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri and voila, an eternal , timeless classic was created just out of the blue. The passionate on-screen chemistry the two shared is apparent.
Unfortunately for Manna Dey, Mukesh returned and he was relegated to the bench once again, a perennial substitute. I always wonder what would have happened if a Burmanda, or an SJ/LP/OPN stuck to Manna Dey . We would have surely seen him in an entirely different light.
Nargis stopped working with Raj Kapoor after this superhit, bar a very short cameo at the very end of Jaagte Raho.
C’est la vie
Stay healthy and happy, folks as the sluggish monsoon hopefully picks up pace and helps drop the mercury.
Very few films have been made with such a temporally taut and telescoped script. The movie in Hindi, one of the most celebrated products to come out of RK Films, was actually made in two languages: Bangla (Ek Din Raatre) & Hindi ( as Jaagte Raho). Based on a story by the left leaning Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, it deals with the happenings of one night when a country bumpkin who has come to the city in search of a better life, meanders into a large housing complex in search of water, is mistaken for a thief, turning his life (& also those of the denizens of the urban abodes) upside down. His discovery of the seamy sides of lives of apparently respectable people changes the perspective for him (& for the audience). A wonderful, slick, straightforward storyline, narrated effectively. It had a wonderful musical score by the genius Salil Chowdhury. This is a wonderful song filmed on Motilal who was an amazing actor of the black and white film era. https://youtu.be/GQZaG5SZRYk
The song in the Bangla version was sung by my favourite singer and an undercelebrated maestro, Manna Dey, Ei Duniya Shobi Hoi, and picturized on Chhabi Biswas, a very big name in Bangla films of the era. There is an extremely interesting metaphorical interaction between the fugitive Raj Kapoor anda young Daisy Irani towards the end of the movie. Nargis is seen in a cameo at the end singing Jaago Mohan Pyaare ( changed to Jaago Mohan Pritam in Bangla), & would mark her last on-screen appearance with Raj Kapoor. A very symbolic slaking of his thirst at her hands.
The film was a huge popular and critical success, directed by Amit Maitra and Sombhu Mitra, it’s leftist ideals appealed in particular to the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, (as with many of Raj Kapoor films) & it won (albeit in a shortened version) the Crystal Globe at the Karlovy Vary film festival in Czechoslovakia. It was a massive hit in the USSR, collecting nearly $10 million in box office collections in that country alone. (Equivalent to ₹ 600 Crores in today’s terms). Great lyrics by Shailendra and fabulous lensmanship by Radhu Karmakar make this movie a must-watch delight to the senses.
Have a great day ahead, folks. Take care as the summer recedes.