Blast from the past: HUM KISISE KUM NAHIN

May 31, 2012

This post was initially written some years ago for my friend Atul’s popular blog, atulsongaday.me. This piece is reproduced here with his permission.  

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I have this blue rexine-clad diary of mine, now thirty-odd years old, which I still preserve. I was into my mid-teens when someone gave me this diary. Not that I wrote in it about the humdrum of small town India of the time, life was too humdrum in the city to write about. There was no TV station, not even a TV relay center in Jamshedpur. The day’s newspaper came in the evening from Calcutta (still Calcutta those days, not Kolkata!) as there was none from our city. No theatre of note, no hobby clubs, nothing whatsoever to engage a teenager those days.

However, there was one source of excitement, the Hindi cinema. Our town had five single screen cinemas (“talkies”, as they were called), three more if one counted the three cinemas on the town’s outskirts. Life revolved around Fridays, the day a new movie would get released. Not that new movies were released in our town the day they were in Bombay or Delhi. (As they would mention in the venerable trade broadsheet weekly, “Screen”, Bombay circuit, Delhi/ Punjab circuit or Nizam circuit (Hyderabad etc.). Never mind if the movie was being screened three months after the Bombay release, Fridays were most looked forward to!

I kept a record in my blue diary all the movies I had seen. Even the name of the cinema and the date.
Another section of the diary also recorded the countdown of songs in Binaca Geet Mala.

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1977 was a most interesting year for film buffs like me, that last few months of the year saw the release of two of the best movies I had ever seen, “Amar, Akbar, Anthony”, and “Hum Kisise Kam Nahin”. But the catch was that these movies got released in Jamshedpur close to my 10th standard (ICSE) exams. Using techniques I have discussed in my blog, I managed to see both just before the exams. That I got reasonably good marks is perhaps a testimony to the good feelings these movies suffused me with!

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Now coming to the song under discussion. As per my blue diary, I saw “Hum Kisise Kam Nahin” on 14th October 1977.

And what a movie it was! If there ever was a musical, this was one. Some nine songs, and each one of them a gem! From Rafi, to Kishore, to Asha, to RD. And all set to music by the great RD Burman.
Right from the word go when the logo of “Nasir Hussain Films” appeared with shayari in the background:

Kya ishq ne samjha hai, kya husn ne jaana hai,
Ham khaq-nasheenon ke, thokar mein zamana hai.”

Huge round of applause from the enraptured crowd in the cinema followed, but naturally.

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A summary of the story:

Sanjay (young Tariq played by Master Bunty) is (kind of) betrothed to Kaajal (Young Kaajal Kiran played by Baby Rani Bannerji); you should see the movie to know the circumstances. They are very much in love, and as all the 9 year olds in the Hindi cinema of yore, even sang heavy-duty numbers like “Kya hua tera vaada” with appropriate actions for lines like “dil ki tarah se haath miley hain, kaise bhala chhootengey kabhi.”

When Master Sanjay become Mr Sanjay, he realizes that Miss Kaajal has vanished from his life. Throw in Mr Rajesh (Rishi Kapoor) who is in love with Miss Sunita in London (Zeenat Aman in a guest appearance) but she is planned to be married off to Mr Ranjeet by her tyrant father (the great Ajit in a guest role).

Mr Sanjay’s and Miss Kaajal’s paths cross several times but the socio-economic divide between them is too acute for them to even get to know each other‘s pasts. And Mr Rajesh is trying to woo Miss Kaajal for an agenda of his (and a couple of villainous characters, Amjad Khan being one) own. He still pines for Miss Sunita.

The goal for him: a leather belt bulging with diamonds worth Rs 25 crores (in 1977, this was of some value!!)

Note: Please do notice the usage Mr Rajesh, Miss Kaajal etc. Hindi movies somehow do not accept the fact that it is perfectly OK to call someone Mr Singh or Miss Gupta or Mr Verma. A character is always identified by his/ her first name, never the surname lest the mention sully the character with caste implications! When child artistes are named in the credit rolls, they are always Master him and a Baby her.

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Never mind the story, this film is bursting with some great songs. Including the ones in the “All India Pop Competition” being conveniently held in Nainital where the entire dramatis personae of the movie is working, holidaying, plotting, romancing. The right guys get the right girls in the end, the right set of diamonds show up with the right claimant. All is well in the end as it ought to be.

The key highlight of the movie is Rafi’s song: “Kya hua tera vaada.”

This is the song which reunites Mr Sanjay and Miss Kaajal in a pub. (We, in the audience, had all lost hope that they would ever meet up.) But Master Sanjay and Baby Kaajal show up in a flashback-like sequence as Tariq sings.

The beauty of the song is that even in the then disco-ized environs of Bollywood, Rafi held his own with this somber number. This fetched him the National Playback Singer of the Year as well as the Filmfare award for the best male singer. Those I think were the last of his National and Filmfare awards. This was some 2-3 years before his demise.

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My blue diary records that other songs pipped “Kya hua tera vaada” to the post in the finals of “Binaca Geet Mala 1978”. It was placed at the 3rd position. The number one song of the year was Hemlata’s “Ankhiyon ke Jharokhe sey” from the eponymous film and the number two was Rafi’s own “Aadmi musafir hai” from Apnapan.

Pity!


Blast from the past: DON

May 3, 2012

This piece was originally written at Atul’s request for his immensely popular blog (over 5900 songs and thirty lakh hits at the last count) http://www.atulsongaday.me. I have not met Atul ever but somehow I have ended up writing a few pieces for his blog. These I have subsequently posted on my blog too with Atul’s permission.

In his blog Atul covers Hindi film songs- nearly all pre-1980. Each article has a short write up about a song a video link, and sometimes if a video is not available in case of some very obscure movie, then an audio link as well. It is a goldmine of information for a Hindi film music lover. In case you are one, visit Atul’s blog now before proceeding with reading the piece below!

“Khaike Paan Banaras Waala”:

If you are an Indian, and you have not been to Varanasi (or Banaras, or Kashi) you have not seen an important part of your heritage. If you are a foreigner interested in India and not been to Varanasi, you have not seen one of the key centers of the Indian essence. And if you have been to Varanasi, and not had a paan there, your visit to Varanasi was incomplete, please return to the city. I think I have gone off-track, this blog is about film songs. Sorry!

So let us begin from the very beginning.

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Once upon a time, many, many years ago there was a super smuggler by the name Don. He was handsome, powerful, rich, and had many henchmen (in fact a whole “galaxy” of them: Kamal Kapoor, Mac Mohan, Zubisco, Shetty etc etc. He had utter disdain for human life. He could shoot someone whose shoes he did not like (“Paon dekho iske, mujhey iskey jootey achhey nahin lagey“). (it is another matter that his third eye could see through the right heel of the killed man’s shoe. The deceased had tucked into it some major incriminating details about Don and his gang.) And after the kill Don nonchalantly requests his moll to get him a drink!

This, in turn, causes two pretty women to itch for his death. The first one, Helen, the fiance of the deceased, does remarkably well and ingratiates herself to Don in a matter of a few hours and enters his bedroom. Of course she wants to get the police to sweep in as she is seducing him with a great cabaret number (“yeh mera dil pyaar ka diwaana”). Unfortunately she becomes Don’s human shield in the police raid and loses her life. The other woman, the luscious Zeenat Aman, the deceased’s sister gets trained in martial arts and stage-manages her way into Don’s gang.

Don had one big enemy. The incorruptible, efficient, diligent police boss, Iftekhaar. (I would love to know the per cent of movies where this gentleman has not played a police officer.) And surprise, surprise, the upright cop wins, pretty much in the initial part of the movie when Don gets killed after a gory shoot-out. The catch is that only the dear cop knows Don is dead, no one else does. And that is great as the top cop wants to reach the rest of the gang. He spreads the news that the Don escaped from the police and is at large.

Lo and behold, he remembers meeting Vijay, who looks identical to Don. Who else can be Vijay in a Salim Javed movie but the great Amitabh Bachchan! The look-alike is traced out and the cop boss strikes a deal with him to act as Don in return for something dear to him (the look-alike). The return gift is that while Vijay is in Don’s den working like the Don and getting the gang exposed, the cop would take care of his two “adopted” kids (the adoption is another story, but very intrinsic to the plot of the movie).

Vijay is a rustic (presumably from a village near Varanasi, or maybe Varanasi City itself, it does not matter!) who earns a living in Bambai (Bombay or Mumbai) by dancing and singing on the streets (“Ee hai bambai nagariya, tu dekh babua“). One of his big loves is paan, he chews it almost constantly. Spitting the paan juice to his side, wiping his lips with his fingers and which in turn are wiped on his kurta. His concerns in life are very simple. Like fretting about his accompanying percussionist Shambhu who plays a beat not to Vijay’s liking. (“Ee Sambhu dholakia bada paaji hai, kaharwa chhod kuchh bajata hi nahin“, while Vijay’s request is to get into the teen-taal beat). On his meager earnings for the day he laments that it is low and would have difficulty making the two ends meet (“Ismey koi kya nahaaye, kya nichodey“). Another small regret he has is that during the training to be Don he is advised to refrain from chewing paan as Don never partook of this essential.

Anyway, Vijay is trained adequately and he reaches the Don’s den posing as an amnesiac. Amnesia to cover for his lack of knowledge about his gang members and his exploits and his habits. Very convenient, no?

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Back to Varanasi and its paan. Yours truly was funded by his parents to live in Varanasi for five years academic pursuits. (this incidentally was just a couple of years after Don was released in 1978). I enjoyed my pursuits, which much to the chagrin of my parents, were nearly all non-academic. I hugely enjoyed my stay in the famed city. I would not go into the details of that but just one confession. I was hardly a paan afficionado, but I took to it in Varanasi with gusto. The market place just outside the campus had two famed paan shops. They were known by the paanwallah‘s names. Keshav and Mahender. Their’s was a non-fussy paan. No fancy spices or sweetening agents like gulkand. Just some kattha, choona, supaari (geeli or saadi) and a laung if you wanted one). The magic lay in the precise formulation of the kattha and the choona. The quality of supaari and paan leaf being used. This was loving rolled into a triangle and passed to you. With some extra kattha/choona/supaari if you requested. A paan was not just a delight to the sensory buds, but merely being in the immediate vicinity to a paan shop was an experience by itself.

To start with you could catch up on the local politics.

Ee Bechu ke chunav mein iss saal inka saara panelwa haar jayega”. “Bechu” being the local speak for the university I was studying in, BHU aka Banaras Hindu University. Panelwa= Panel. Student politics was a hot item in the campus (and outside it) when I was studying there.

The other person would react: “Arey aap janbey nahin kartey, oo panelwa ko poora bhot mil raha hai Brahman chhatron ka aur poori IT ka.” My partial translation: Bhot= VOTE, IT is the abbreviated form of Institute of Technology of the BHU.

This exchange would continue while Keshav ji would keep preparing dozens and dozens of paan servings, all the while shaking his head and his body seated on his perch in the tiny paan shop.

Not that only BHU politics was discussed, even the city, national and international topics was brought into focus. But that is a long story, a subject matter of another post.

Such was the passion a paan induced. One last thing about the BHU paan. The paanwallah next to our hostel used to offer a “palang-tod paan” if he got the right price. I wonder now as to what a male-only hostel inmate would do after consuming the said offering. Palang= Bed or cot and Tod= break. So this palang-tod paan induces bed-breaking energy in the consumer! I leave it to you to guess what this could mean!

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I digressed again. So back to the story. I will keep it simple and short. Vijay, posing as Don, “learns” all he needs to “get out of amnesia”. “Mujhey sab kuchh yaad aa gaya hai“. He resumes life the way the real Don would have. His henchmen are impressed.

Just one catch, the whole world thinks of him as Don, only the good cop knows he is not Don. This one is a no-brainer to predict, the good cop dies and we have the whole world baying for Vijay’s blood. The (remaining) cops, the bad guys etc etc. But for Zeenie baby. She has been taken into confidence by the good cop before his death.

This post is not meant to be a narration of the story of Don. Suffice it to say that Don and Zeenie are running away late one evening from both the cops and the baddies and they find find refuge in a dhobi ghat which is populated by Vijay’s ilk, men from Varanasi. They are preparing for an evening session of bhang when they are stumped by the appearance of a western outfit clad Don (=Vijay) and the lissome white-skirted lady (Zeenie).

As you can guess, Vijay is offered glassfuls (and then lotafuls) of bhang which he consumes much to his girlfriend’s consternation. She beseeches him to leave, which he does as she tugs him off till the local paan wallahoffers him a Banarsi paan. That does something to Vijay. He has not had a paan for ages and he must have one. Now. And one more. And then some more. GF gives up when Vijay exclaims: “pehle paan phir gaan“.

And that is when he breaks out into that all-time hit song which you must see right now in this wonderful blog of Atul’s…….

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PS: That paan shop sequence also has a poster of Rajesh Khanna’s hit film “Dushmun” (released 1971 but then spelt as Dushman- I know as I have seen the movie). Was that the time when Don was active?


Blast from the past: MUQADDAR KA SIKANDAR

April 30, 2011

Remember this is late 70’s and yours truly is a teenager. Like a teenager I have confused views about life, where to head to, what to do. One keeps toying with various idols, various “ideologies”, multiple ideals (heavy words for a kid!). There is no clear solution in sight. There is one beacon however in this miasma, Amitabh Bachchan. Or rather the persona of Big B those days (who was called AB still, not Big B), the angry-young-man, ready-and-keen, to take on the establishment. He, from the dregs of the society, taking on the heavyweights. Remember Trishul, Ganga Ki Saugandh, Adalat, Deewar? If he was not from the dregs, he was tortured soul personified. Mili, Namakharam, Zanjeer, etc. etc., remember?

Sorry, I digressed, I do not mean this piece to be a discussion on Amitabh Bachchan’s filmography. Let me just tell you that I loved this movie, loved enough that after watching it for the first time, I saw it twice again within seven days of its release.

Let me tell you a small story. I was born and raised in Jamshedpur, a small town in what is now called Jharkhand. After I completed my 10th in the city, I had to move out as there were limited options for +2 in Jamshedpur. My classmates and I chose Nagpur. There were two simple reasons behind this. Nagpur was just 12 hours away by train (Geetanjali Superfast Express) from my hometown and more importantly the Maharashtra Board exams (for +2) got over in March which gave me enough time to prepare for the IIT-JEE scheduled for May. Those were the rational reasons. There was one more reason, known only to me then, Nagpur had many more cinema theaters, compared with Jamshedpur. And me, a hard-core movie buff, this was incentive enough to relocate from home in Jamshedpur to a hostel in Nagpur.

The year was 1978. The year I saw many interesting movies including AB’s Trishul, Kasme Vaade and Don. And MKS!

It was during my early days in Nagpur when MKS was released. And I saw the movie on the 8th day of its release in a theater called Liberty, in the Sadar area in Nagpur, close to my college hostel. To say I was bowled over would be an understatement. This was the movie about an underdog going down fighting!

I will not go into the details of the movie, but suffice it to say that the great Kadar Khan’s “speech” in the graveyard when young AB (the hapless Master Mayur) is moping on his foster mother’s grave was inspirational:

Sukh mein hanstey ho to,
Dukh mein kehkahey lagaao.
Zindagi ka andaaz badal jaayega!”

(If you laugh when happy, chortle aloud when sad. You will then find an altogether novel way of living)

And the adult AB comes on screen soon enough riding around in South Bombay on his motorcycle dressed in a natty jacket, singing aloud: “Rotey huey aatey hain sab, hanstaa hua jo jayega.”

Sometime during the song he crosses a hearse on the street. He pauses and sings:

Zindagi to bewafaa hai, ek din thukrayegi,
Maut mehbooba hai apni, saath lekar jayegi

Enjoy this song, one of the greatest movies of AB, ever, and one the greatest songs from Amitabh Bachchan/Kishore Kumar combo.

PS: This song was placed 13th in the “Binaca Geetmala 1979”. However the top two songs were AB’s. In fact of the 39 top songs of the year, 16 were from AB’s movies.

PS2: This post was written a few months ago for my friend Atul’s excellent blog on Hindi film songs http://atulsongaday.wordpress.com


Blast from the past: TRISHUL

March 25, 2011

 

Here is one more post I did for Atul’s remarkable blog http://atulsongaday.wordpress.com/ . Enjoy!!

May 5th 1978 was a most awaited day for an Amitabh Bachchan fan. That day his latest movie Trishul got released. Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay, Adalat and Khoon Pasina had been released in the preceding years and had proved to be super-duper hits. Amitabh Bachchan’s distinctive “positioning” as the “angry young man” in the rather cluttered world of Bollywood heroes was firmly established. That the above-mentioned movies were interspersed with blockbusters like Kabhi Kabhie (romantic hero) and Amar Akbar Anthony (comedian) only helped to intensify the hero’s aura among his fans.

Yours truly, then a gangly teenager growing up in Jamshedpur, was one of his millions fans. Jamshedpur, in small town India with five cinema halls, four of them were called “talkies” (like Basant Talkies, Regal Talkies) and the fifth reverentially known as “cinema”; Natraj was its name, Natraj cinema. The nomenclature perhaps drew its source from the fact that Natraj was the newest cinema in town and it was the only one to have air-conditioning and push-back chairs in the “Dress Circle” section. (The others had intermittently working ceiling fans and torn seat cushions). Of course the ticket price was higher for Natraj Cinema as compared with the lowly talkies. Rs 3.72 for a first class ticket in Natraj and Rs 3.15 for one in the talkies.

I have digressed. Let me now tell you why the date was so important. Jamshedpur was participating in a simultaneous all India release. Trishul was premiered on in Jamshedpur on the same day as its all India release!! Truly historic for a kid in the city used to seeing “new” movies only after a few months after its release in the metros and other lucrative circuits. So how could I miss the first-day-first-show of this movie!

Together with my regular movie-going pal, we figured out a way of raising the finances and also – more importantly-  an excuse to stay away from home during those hours. Soon enough I was groping my way into the darkness towards my seat in Natraj Cinema.

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After a rather long build-up, Amitabh Bachchan emerges on the screen through a cloud of smoke-and-dust at a construction site. The lanky Amitabh with fitted jacket and trousers, puffing at a bidi. He puts his bidi to a better use when he nonchalantly picks up the fuse of the dynamite and lights it up casually. He unhurriedly walks away from the site even as we see his co-workers running away from the blasting area. When the cloud clears after this most recent blast, his colleagues asked him how he could do it without being scared. His reply,”Jisney pachchis saal sey apni maa ko dheerey-dheerey marety dekha hai, usey maut sey dar kaisa?” I still remember to this day the thunderous applause this dialogue received from the already noisy crowd in the Cinema! Needless to say, my friend and I were two of the more voluble ones!

The magic had begun!

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The magic had actually begun twenty minutes prior when the director, Yash Chopra, started laying the foundations of the story.

Young R. K. Gupta (Sanjeev Kumar) is in love with Shanti (Waheeda Rehman). His mother (I forget her real name now, Sudha something?) persuades him to marry Kamini (Priya Siddharth) who is his boss’ daughter. (Compare and reflect on the meanings of Shanti (the wronged one’s name) and Kamini, the usurper’s!). The boss is a construction magnate in Delhi.

R.K. Gupta succumbs and ditches Shanti who most “stoically” wishes him well and informs him that she is carrying her child. And that she does not need his patronage, as she does not want to assuage his guilt feelings of being a ditcher. She declares she is leaving town and that she will most certainly bear their child. She works on construction sites to support the child, a son. She, of course, dies rather prematurely and her son swears to take revenge on his biological father, RK Gupta, who has now inherited his father-in-law’s business and is now the biggest builder in Delhi.

That child happens to be Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan).

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He walks into Delhi, penniless, “merey paas paanch footi kaudiyaan bhi nahin hain”, as he informs his father in their first encounter. He demolishes competition with devices fair-and-foul and soon rivals RK Gupta’s empire and finally bests him. Along the way he meets his half brother, Shekhar, (Shashi Kapoor), and his half-sister (Poonam Dhillon’s debut movie). He befriends an RK Gupta loyalist Geeta (Raakhi) and nearly ensnares Sheetal Verma (Hema Mailni). What a multi-starrer! Throw in some more in the picture, Sachin, Yunus Parvez, Prem Chopra etc., etc. Total multi-starrer!

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The crowd in that first-day-first-show in Natraj is besides itself with joy, admiration, and adulation! We are supporting Vijay- and his Shanti Constructions- all the way in its contest with the “RK and Sons” banner. Till, after the denoument in the movie, this hoarding transposes into “Shanti Raj Constructions”.

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This song is from a party thrown by AB; Shashi Kapoor and Hema Mailni celebrating the joys of love; by dancing, and singing. “Mohabbat bade kaam ki cheez hai”. Shashi Kapoor in his jerky but lovable self and Hema Malini as only Hema Malini would. AB, who is the host, responds with “Ye bekaam, bekaar si cheez hai”- utterly useless stuff this romance is. This is understandable, considering the tribulations his mom went though. “Kitabon mein chhatptey hain chahat key kissey, haqeeqat ki duniya mein chaahat nahin hai” , AB goes on to sing in Yesu Das’ voice.

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Blast from the past: KALA PATTHAR

February 28, 2011

 

Kaala Patthar Poster

 

This post first appeared many months ago in Atul’s immensely popular blog on Hindi film songs. atulsongaday.wordpress.com In his blog, Atul discusses songs- generally old- and also gives the full lyrics and a link to the video. I contribute occasionally to his blog. While ostensibly the post is on the song “Ik rasta hai zindagi”. I have written more about the movie itself!

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It has been one of those big mysteries of Bollywood which I have not been able to fathom yet. Just why did Kala Patthar not become one of the biggest block-busters of all times! Heck, it is not even among the top 50 grossers of 1970’s (it was released in 1979)

To start with it was the multi-starrer to beat all multi-starrers. I do not think any other movie has brought so many stars together in one film. The only notable exception being the recent film “Om Shanti Om” and that too in just one song only, “Deewangi, deewangi”.

The director of Kala Patthar was Yash Chopra, the man with the Midas touch, fresh from the successes of Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie and Trishul. Story and script were by the duo Salim-Javed who could do no wrong. Remember Sholay, Deewar and Zanjeer? They are the ones who created the angry young man persona of Amitabh Bachchan. Music was by Rajesh Roshan (Des Pardes, Doosra Aadmi and Swami fame). The story was based on the Chasnala mine disaster of 1975 which was fresh in people’s minds.

As far I am concerned this movie deserved to be a super-hit, but it actually did average business at the BO. But first the story.

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Kala Patthar is a story of migrants and refugees. Nearly all of them victims of their pasts.

Vijaypal Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, a disgraced shipee, is tortured by his past. He was court-martialled after he abandoned his sinking ship, instead of “going-down” with it like a dutiful Captain. To escape his internal demons he takes a ride on a goods-train. And lands-up in the coal-mining area around Dhanbad.

Mangal Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, is also, somewhat “tortured” by his antecedants. He, a convicted crook, needs to escape from the long arm of the law. He too takes a train. And lands up in Dhanbad.

Ravi Malhotra, Shashi Kapoor, is also on a trip, except that he is on a mo’-bike trip. Just out-of-college after his studies in mining engineering.

Anita, Parveen Babi, a new-age journalist, and an old friend of Ravi’s, is there on the spot- at that mine near Dhanbad- on the invitation of the mine owner, Dhanraj Puri (Prem Chopra).

Dr Sudha Sen, Rakhi, is a dedicated young doctor at the local clinic. She has deliberately chosen a posting at this mining outpost as she wants to help the marginalized. (She had seen her father die in her village when she was young.)

Chhanno, Neetu Singh, lives in the village but we are not told where she has migrated from. She is that poor, parentless, village belle eking out a living selling talismanic finger-rings and other knick-knacks.

Each character well-written, well-etched.

There is a “reverse-migrant” too so-to-speak. Sanjeev Kumar in a cameo of a Doctor. He runs away from the mine’s clinic in just three months, he is so sick of it.

Even the relatively smaller characters, Yunus Parvez (the chief engineer), Parikshit Sahni (a truck driver), Manmohan Krishna (tea-stall owner), Bharat Saxena, MacMohan (miners) are given their clearly defined spaces, albeit small. Poonam Dhillon, Satyen Kappu, Iftekhar (Vijay’s dad), etc. etc., I could on-and on!

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Vijaypal is on this major guilt after he has got court-marshalled.To add to his woes, his dad, a retired army officer, disowns him. He is the quintessential angry young man, but this time his anger is not directed towards the injustices heaped upon him or his family. He is angry with himself, he is seething with blind rage at his own cowardice. This makes him nearly masochistic, ever ready to embark on dangerous missions.

Witness the scene where, when confronted by a co-worker- a local toughie (Bharat Saxena)- he grips the sharp-edged knife held by the latter, wrenches it off his hands, chucks it and walks away nonchalantly.

The scene when he enters into the mine to rescue a fellow-miner even when he knows that his life is in danger.

In a classic scene at the clinic he refuses local anaethesia which his doctor (Rakhee) wants to administer to ease his pain as she tends to the wound on his leg. She beseeches him to take the medication: “Why don’t you understand?” She bursts in English, she is so exasperated. Right comes this killer from AB, “Why don’t you understand? Pain is my destiny and I can’t avoid it!” In AB’s crisp English, of course.

Mangal Singh runs away from the law at a stone quarry where the prisoners are laboring with a cleverly executed escape behind a screen of smoke and rubble after he ignites the dynamite at the quarry. Destination: Dhanbad’s coalmines.

Vijay and Mangal loathe each other, it is very evident from the beginning. The tension which builds between them is a highlight of the movie. The director holds the maar-peet between the two till much later, he just makes taut the already tense animosity between the two at each encounters of theirs’.

But it is not hatred all across, romance is blossoming between Vijay and Dr Sudha, between Mangal and Chhanno. And of course Ravi has charmed his way into Anita’s life.

Dhanraj Puri, the classic villainous character, is plotting a watery graveyard for his miners. He has instructed his engineers to drill deeper ignoring the large body of accumulated water in the depths of the mines. Till one of the walls is breached and water floods in.

The good guys all come together and finally they win. The evil is vanquished.

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Amitabh’s performance is A++ grade, no one else could have essayed the role of a man at war with himself. Seething with inner rage, his brooding eyes, his sullen looks. With weighty one-liners delivered in a manner in which only AB can. To wit, the one in English mentioned above.

Shatrughan Sinha has the role of a lifetime, written it seems, specifically for him. The petty, uncouth, foul-mouthed ruffian, but, as it eventually turns out, one with a heart of gold. The sparkling dialogues which the S-J duo has written for him are delivered with elan. Some of them are all-time classics:

Examples:

Shotgun is playing a round of “teen-patti”, flush. He draws two Kings and one minor card. His opponent draws three Jacks. The opponent is flush -pardon the pun- with anticipation when he does a “show” of his three Jacks. Shotgun nonchalantly “shows” the two Kings and tears into bits the minor card as he makes a grab for the cash on the table. When challenged to show his third card, he thunders, “Teesra badshah main hoon.” (I am the third king)

His terms of endearment, or scorn, are unique. More notably when he addresses his lady-love, Chhanno:

Ai meri bholi banjaran” (Oh, my naïve gypsy woman!)

Ai meri gulshan ki bulbul.” (Ah, the sparrow in my orchard)

Referring to her derisive repartee to him to sell him bangles when he refuses to buy the tantric finger-rings: “Kyon fakeeron sey mazaak karti hai, balikey! Waisey ham kadey zaroor pehentey hain kabhi kabhi, lekin lohey key aur who bhi sarkari”. (Why do you joke with us mendicants, young lady! I do wear bangles, but those are made of steel, and are standard police department issue). As you would have guessed he means the handcuffs!

Haaayyy, aisa lagta hai ki ek-saath chhey darzan choodiyan kanon mein chhank gayi hon…”, when she introduces herself to him as Chhanno. (When I hear your name Chhanno, I can feel the clink of six dozen bangles are ringing into my ears!)

To the others:

Arey o ullu key patthey, teri duty meri bhookh sey badhkar hai kya?” (Oh, you SOB, you think your duty is more important than my hunger?) Shotgun says to the truck driver, after he has just stopped the truck he was travelling in, just to spite AB who was a co-traveller.)

Abey o arthi key phool, ham apni line khud banatey hain, samjha. Abey hat”! (Oh you wreath-on-a-corpse! I make my own line, understand? Now you get lost!) Shotgun to a patient in a queue at a doctor’s clinic.

I could go on-and-on.

Salim and Javed have excelled in this movie. Hats off to them!

Rajesh Roshan, the music director has also done a wonderful job, with so many hummable numbers in the movie. The most enjoyable of all being “Ek rasta hai zindagi” sung by Shashi Kapoor as he drives to “Dhanraj Coal Fields” to take up his job. A classic Rajesh Roshan song with the typical beat of bongos. And very hummable.


Blast from the past: AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY

November 7, 2010

To me, “Amar, Akbar, Anthony”, a 1977 release, defined the Bollywood of late 70’s to mid-80’s. The ubiquitous lost-and-found formula, rocking songs, maar-peet, vendetta, incredibly hirsute villains…. you name it and it was there. It was a multi-starrer too, multi-starrer being a buzz-word in the era. A multi-starrer to beat all multi-starrers!

Amitabh Bachchan paired with Parveen Babi, Vinod Khanna falling in love with Shabana Azmi and Rishi Kapoor serenading Neetu Singh. With supporting cast like Shivraj, Kamal Kapoor, Nazir Hussain who played the foster fathers of the three lost-and-found brothers Rishi, Vinod and Amitabh respectively. Jeevan as the villain with henchmen Ranjeet and Yusuf Khan. Pran and Nirupa Roy play the roles of the real parents. Mukri is the father of Neetu Singh. You even spot the dialogue writer Kadar Khan voicelessly lurking in a scene in Jeevan’s den.

The story in brief: Pran (Kishanlal) is a driver in the employ of a smuggler, Robert, (Jeevan). His family of five (husband, wife, three sons) get separated on a tragic morning of 15th August. The details are too complex to recount here. However, suffice it to say, Pran ends up being a smuggler, his wife runs away to commit suicide but has an accident, turns blind but survives. Their three sons also get separated, and each ends up being raised differently, one a Hindu, another Muslim and the third a Catholic!

The eldest gets adopted by a Hindu police inspector, Kamal Kapoor. Hence Vinod Khanna retains his original Hindu name, Amar. He also takes up his foster father’s profession, that of a cop. The middle fellow lands up at Mount Mary Church, Bandra (though the movie places the church in Borivali) and is adopted by the priest and christened Anthony Gonsalves. Anthony, Amitabh Bachchan, grows up to be a country-liquor vendor and a local mawali. The youngest chap is adopted by a tailor-master and is named Akbar. He becomes a qawwali singer. Their mother, Nirupa Roy, now blind, thinks her entire family has perished in a car crash is now eking out a living selling flowers.

All this goes to prove the syncretic nature of the Indian culture typified by this oft-repeated ditty:

Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Eesai,

Ham sab hain bhai-bhai.”

(Whether Hindu, or Muslim, or Sikh or Christian, we are all brothers.)

Bhai-bhai, of course!!

I bet if Pran-Nirupa had son number four, he would have been raised in a Sikh household!

Very tellingly, early on in the movie, the three brothers -all grown up now- and unknown to each other, get together to donate blood to a street-accident victim, Nirupa Roy, their mother. Of course they do not know who the other is, or that the beneficiary is their mother! You see these three young men, next to each other on hospital beds, with tubing into their arms carrying their blood directly into their mother’s body. Forces of gravity be damned! Blood is thicker than water, and it has properties which negates all principles of physics. Period! When asked what their names are, each speaks out, even as their blood is being drawn, “Amar”, “Akbar” and finally the baritone of Amitabh, “Anthony”. Then starts the credit roll with Rafi’s song in the background: “Khoon, khoon hota hai, paani nahin” (Blood is thicker than water). Taaliyan from the spectators! More taaliyan!

The sons grow up, and they fall in love. Vinod fancies Shabana who is a part of an extortionist gang. Amitabh is in love with Parveen, the foster daughter of Pran but who is actually Robert’s daughter. Rishi is besotted with Neetu Singh who is a doctor at a local hospital. Nirupa Roy, the flower seller, keeps bumping into her sons without realizing that they really are her sons. Pran, now a smuggler, reduces Robert, his ex-employer- and tormentor- to penury. He even kidnaps his daughter. If your mind reels at all this, worry not, check out the movie!

Over time, all pieces of this jigsaw come together. Each member of the family of five discovers the other eventually. Mom dearest even gets her eyesight back in a Shirdi Sai Baba temple. And all is well in the end.

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This film is directed by Manmohan Desai, then the king of Bollywood. Remember “Dharam Veer”, “Parvarish”, “Chacha Bhatija”, etc.? He was the man with the Midas touch. Whatever he touched, turned to gold (jubilee). By the way, all the above-named movies were released in the same year- 1977- as also AAA, the movie under discussion. Needless to say all were bumper hits!

Manmohan Desai., MKD, would have been an outstanding cartoonist, if he had not taken upon film making. Larger-than-life characters, totally improbable situations, lots of action, tons of emotions, complex and confusing story lines, but all converging to an altogether satisfying conclusion. It seemed each of his movies had scenes ripped off from pages of comic books, but strung together so entertainingly. A pity he died early; he committed suicide in 1994, when he was in his late 50’s.

One short section of AAA encapsulates the utterly engaging comic-book approach of MKD, this song “My name is Anthony Gonsalves” and the events which follow after that. Amitabh, who is besotted with Jenny (Parveen), shows up at the Easter party where she is a guest. And how he shows up! Ensconced into a giant Easter egg wheeled onto the stage which opens up to reveal Amitabh in a dark suit, bow-tie and monocles. Carrying an umbrella which he uses as a prop to execute his dance moves. The bi-lingual lyrics are utterly zany. Specially the incredibly-worded English bits.

Amitabh gets beaten to pulp by Jenny’s bodyguard (Zebisco- played by Yusuf Khan) in the party. In the classic scene which follows, a drunken- and badly injured – Amitabh chats with himself in his bedroom mirror administering first-aid to his image. This scene is one of the most hilarious ones I have ever seen in Hindi cinema!

And from an acting stand-point, this is one of the best movies of Amitabh Bachchan I have ever seen.

Without further ado, I will now let you enjoy this song: “My name is Anthony Gonsalves”.

PS: I saw this movie twice, when I was in my 10th standard; just before my school-leaving ICSE exams, on 8th and 12th October, 1977. And the third viewing was on 30th November a day after the exams got over. Not that on the intervening day I was idling. On 29th November I watched “Zanjeer”, an older AB movie I had missed earlier was in town for a rerun. The movie that started the phenomenon AB is!

What a way to end my school-going days!!


Blast from the Past: KHOON PASINA

November 1, 2010

The charm of Hindi films for me began the time I began watching them avidly. The charm lay in those unique features of the Hindi film; multi-starrer, great fight scenes, action-packed, zingy songs and scintillating dialogues. If this was coupled with a lost-and-found brother/friend plot, with messages on religious harmony, and with good triumphing over evil, what more could a teenager want!

Yes, it was better if the movie had Amitabh Bachchan! And if AB was paired with Rekha, it was sheer bliss! If you were born in the 60’s can you think of a more exciting plot than mentioned above?

“Khoon Pasina” was one such movie.

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It had AB and Rekha. And Vinod Khanna. And in supporting cast it had the motherly Nirupa Roy, and the villainous Ranjeet and Kadar Khan. A true multi-starrer, if you ask me! Fight scenes; one every eight minutes on an average. Songs galore, not the really class ones for a music connoisseur, but great nevertheless. And the plot had all the elements of what I have mentioned above. Let me give you a snapshot of it:

Ram and Rahim are the thickest of friends, circa 1947. They, as their names connote, are Hindu and Muslim. And appropriately enough, Yunus Parvez- a Muslim- plays Ram, and a Hindu- whose real name I forget- plays Rahim. They are really close, close enough for one to remind the other of his festivals. Like the Hindu forgets his Diwali and the Muslim forgets his Eid till the other reminds him, they are so thick! They have an offspring each, Shiva and Aslam. And they have adorable wives too.

The tyrannies of Zaalim Singh (please note the tyrant is a Hindu played by a Muslim, Kaadar Khan) eventually destroy this dream world. So much so that the fathers are killed in the mayhem of the 1947 partition and Shiva goes on to stay with Aslam’s mother. Aslam’s mother has lost her husband in the madness and also, she thinks, of her young child, Aslam.

Shiva, now popularly known as Tiger, grows up to be the local Robin Hood and Aslam Sher Khan, now known as Shera, when grown up, surfaces as yet another Robin Hood of sorts.

Note the close resemblance between “Tiger” and “Shera”, both from the same feline family! Uncanny?

The “Tiger” nickname is justified when Shiva, in a fit of madness accepts the challenge from a nubile lass (played by Rekha) in a mela, and grapples with- and bests- a tiger.

I shall not narrate the entire story to you, suffice it to say that the good guys win in the end and the bad guys lose. Which was a concept altogether appealing to me those heady days when I was a teenager in the 70’s. (It still does!).

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What added to the charm of this film from “Prakash Mehra Productions” were its captivating dialogues.

Dialogue, as you would rightly imagine is an exchange of thoughts between two people- two people- hence “di”-a-logue. In Hindi movies the descriptor “dialogue” is given to any utterance which is essentially a monologue but carries enormous punch- or import.

Khoon Pasina’s dialogues are supreme, coming as they are from the maestro Kadar Khan, could they have been anything else?

Here are some vignettes:

Zaalim Singh (a gunda, played by Kadar Khan himself) tells his henchmen:

“Loge hamein gunda kehtey hain. Gundon ka mazhab gundagardi hota hai, aur gundagardi mein paap aur punya ki koi jagah nahin hoti.”

(People call me a toughie. The religion of a toughie is being a toughie. And “toughness” has no space for right or wrong!”

AB (Tiger) to his surrogate mom:

“Jaanta hoon, maa, jaanta hoon! Wohi toh chingari hai job arson se apney seeney mein liye ghoom raha hoon. Wohi zakhm hai jo bachpan mein laga aur aaj tak bhar na saka. Din-ba-din nasoor banta jaa raha hai.”

(I know, I know. This is this fire alit in my heart for ages. That’s the bruise I suffered in my childhood and it has not healed as yet!)

VK (Shera) in an introspective mood:

“Sari zindagi mein maut ko dhoondhata raha, aur maut daaman chhudakar bhagti rahi. Aisa lagata hai mujehy zindagi sey bair hai aur maut ko mujhsey.”

(I have hunted for death all my life while death has been evading me. I think, somehow, I dislike life and death dislikes me.)

Shera- now menacignly:

“Pistolein, bandookein aur tamanche aajkal bachchey bhi chalaate hain…..”

(Even kids are comfortable with pistols, guns and shotguns….)

AB to a bunch of goons:

“Aisi dhulayi karoonga ki saat pushton tak aapki aulad ganji paida hogi.”

(After I thoroughly bash you up, please do remember that for seven generations henceforth your lineage would be born bald!)

And here is the killer:

AB proposing to a hitherto stranger Rekha in the village mela:

“Meri baat maan ley. Mera haath thaam ley. Tera husn, meri taaqat. Teri teji, meri himmat. Is sangam sey jo aulad paida hogi, who aulad nahin faulad hogi.”

(Listen to me! Hold my hands. Your beauty, my strength. Your passion, my courage. The union of ours would give birth to men of steel, not wimpy kids.)

The gutsy –and busty- Rekha then sets off into motion a clash between the biped Tiger with his quadruped namesake. The hapless tiger, which had been brought into the mela to fetch some money for the mobile “zoo” owner ends up doing something even more noble. Losing to AB in a fair-and-square fight. AB defeats him in their “wrestling” game resulting in the nubile lass singing the song, “Tu mera ho gaya, mein teri ho gayi”.

Resulting in the marriage of these two dashing young persons. Rather early in the movie.

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Which is rather different from what happened/ happens in the ordinary Hindi films, “he” and “she” meet in the end. After all the song-and-dance and maar-peet (bashings).

Remember this is no ordinary movie, this is Khoon Pasina, the epic tale of two friends lost to each other since childhood. Yes! To be sure, “he” and “he” meet in the end, in rather dramatic circumstances.

I shall leave you to enjoy the movie, for now, just enjoy this lovely song!

(I wrote this a few months ago for an excellent blog of a friend of mine on Hindi film songs I have reproduced this piece here with his permission. Do visit Atul’s site: http://atulsongaday.wordpress.com/