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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kabhi sochta hoon, ki main kuchh kahoon, ki dekha hai zindagi ko kuchh itna kareeb se

The 1970s will always be very special for me from a Hindi film and songs perspective.

Although I know hundreds of songs of earlier decades (and love many of them) – and a fair number of songs of subsequent decades (without unfortunately being able to muster quite the same level of love for a vast majority of them) - the decade that I experienced as a young boy and early/mid-teens was the seventies.

I would like to think that the seventies was a special decade in terms of world events. And, events in India in particular. It certainly felt like a lot was happening at that time in the world and in India (for many of us India was “the world”, given our limited exposure to the wider world). “Foreign” in those days was really “foreign” – if you know what I mean.

I have my own recollections of world and Indian events.

It started with the war in Bangladesh (I vaguely but definitely do remember “blackouts”).

I remember the silver jubilee year of Indian Independence in 1972. I was in primary school then and our “March Past” and other events on that August 15th were celebrated with special pride.

I recall a lot of talk about oil price hike. I remember hearing the term OPEC a lot and knew it had something to do with oil but I had no clue what. All I knew was that prices shot up overnight and everybody blamed it on oil. So what’s new ?

I remember May 18th, 1974. Pokhran. India suddenly became a somebody from a nobody in the world of nuclear powers.

I remember the death of Railways Minister L N Mishra in “somewhat mysterious” circumstances. I had no clue what all the ruckus was about but I do remember there was a lot of ruckus.

I remember the imposition of Emergency. Again I had no clue what its constitutional implications were but I do remember people saying “arrey Emergency chal raha hai na”. And I do remember trains often running on time during that period (now, in those days, a train running on time was a major achievement !).

I remember reading, on Independence Day, headline news of the assassination of Mujibur Rehman, Bangladesh’s first President.

I remember my dad – a lifetime Congress supporter till the general elections of 1977 – talking at home about the upcoming elections and saying he would not vote for the Congress this time because Indira Gandhi had abused the Emergency. Guess what ? Right or not, millions of other Indians thought the same and she lost that general election very badly.

I remember the assassination of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto – and the pleas that preceded it.

Oh, I have so many memories of that decade, I could write a book.

And I have not even started discussing about my cricket memories. Now THAT could fill a book. :-)

Or, for that matter, a discussion about my memories of Hindi movies. Definitely another book here. :-)

See ? Yet again, I have so easily travelled to Malad from Churchgate when my destination was Colaba. :-) And people say travel on Mumbai locals is difficult ? :-)

Anyway, getting back on that crowded Western train, barely able to breathe (and in fact trying hard not to) I am getting back to Churchgate – and back to the topic of this thread, old Hindi songs.

I would like to think that the 1970s was still a decade when music was pleasing to the ears. At least it was to mine. I know some oldtimers of that period (the “Pankaj Mullick” and “K L Saigal” types) frowned at some of what the 1970s dished out but if they had lived through the 1980s they would have gladly embraced the 1970s. Many things are relative in life and the 1980s helped to put the 1970s in perspective.

Musically, the decade belonged to Kishore Kumar. The female voices were still Lata’s and Asha’s but they were just continuing their hegemony of the sixties. Kishore, who till the end of the sixties had delivered many fine songs but never ruled Hindi music, now virtually ruled it.

It was Aradhana in 1969 that pretty much kicked it off for him. This movie and its songs were such a success all over India that even my grandmother, who knew only Tamil, was humming “roop tera mastana” and “mere sapnon ki rani” without knowing the words.

Of course, that was only the start of Kishore’s dream run. Rajesh Khanna became a superstar partly because of his own style – and partly because of the voice that Kishore lent him with his hit songs. One after the other, Kishore rolled out hits. Even non-Rajesh films, like Sharmilee, Blackmail, Anamika, Piya Ka Ghar, Aandhi, Parichay, Aa Gale Lag Ja, Chalte Chalte, Kora Kaagaz and many other movies had Kishore hits that are popular even today.

The other phenomenon was the change of guard in the world of superstardom. Shammi Kapoor had handed over the baton to Rajesh Khanna at the end of the sixties. Rajesh enjoyed it for about six years or so – I may be wrong but I think the balance of power began shifting around 1975 or 1976.

I distinctly remember discussing with my friends on my school football field about who would take over from Rajesh. We were all agreed that Rajesh Khanna “to gaya” (with movies like Chalta Purza, he was definitely on his way to becoming a Chalta Purza). At that time, the debate was mainly between Shatrughan Sinha and Amitabh Bachchan.

I cannot help smiling now, thinking about how far Amitabh ended up leaving Shatrughan behind. But at that time, Shatru himself felt he was number one material. To his credit, he had converted his villain image to a hero image (like Vinod Khanna had also done) and had just had a big hit, Kallicharran, to boost his position and ego.

But once Amitabh took off, there was no stopping him. Even pre-Sholay, and I daresay, pre-Deewar, he exuded a certain charisma that did not go unnoticed. Zanjeer and Majboor, two Amitabh movies that I saw in the mid-seventies, had plenty to suggest that here was definitely a new star in the making.

My two songs today are both Kishore Kumar songs. I am very fond of both these songs – as I am of many other Kishore songs. But these two seemed to complement each other very well in my “jugalbandi” presentation.

One of them is from one of the films I have discussed above – Majboor. Released in 1975, it was an average hit (remember this was before all that Amitabh touched became gold). But I liked the movie a lot and I liked the storyline a lot. I loved Amitabh's acting.

Above all, I loved this song. I used to sing it all the time. The lyrics are simple – typically Anand Bakshi, who was well-known for his simple lyrics. (remember, aadmi musafir hai ?). But they are meaningful and rich too – listen to them carefully.

The music is by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Don't miss Amitabh's acting - here he shows some glimpses of what would make him a superstar in the coming years.

Guess who the heroine is ? Yes, it is none other than the glamourous Parveen Babi. When I saw this movie, I did not even know who the heroine was. She had a fairly insignificant role in the movie anyway. Years later, I read that she was the heroine in the movie and I said to myself "What ? The heroine was Parveen ?").

Aadmi jo kehta hai, aadmi jo sunta hai


So Amitabh became the runaway number one hero of the decade but what about the hero of the masses ? He continued to deliver hit after hit throughout the decade and yet somehow people always said “after Rajesh, it was Amitabh”. True it was – but even before Rajesh, there was Dharmendra. During Rajesh, there was Dharmendra. And during Amitabh, there was Dharmendra. He always had his following – and I don’t think anybody’s coming or going dented his following in the slightest.

My second song is therefore from a Dharam film “Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka”. Also from 1975, it was also no great hit but I liked this movie too a lot. Apart from this song here, it also has another nice song “dil mein kisi ke pyar ka jalta hua diya”.

The song is written by that master poet and lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi. As I have said before, I have a huge amount of respect for lyrics in general. Sahir, especially with his more cynical take on life and love, ranks right up there. If you listen to the lyrics of this song, it is small wonder that it is penned by Sahir. The music is by Ravi, better known for many glorious songs of the late fifties and sixties.

Dekha hai zindagi ko, kuchh itna kareeb se


Without throwing in spoilers, I want to say that I just realized that both these movies have one thing in common. They have medical diagnosis as a subject central to their plot. I will say no more.

I hope you enjoy the songs. In any case, let me know what you think about them.


squarecut.atul said...

Wonderful, Raja. It is just the kind of post that I was looking for from you.

It was a wonderful discussion on 1970s. make no mistake, India was really going thorough huge changes and transformations in that decade. And let it not be forgotten, India was nowhere the economical power that it is threatening to become these days.

India was a superpoor, and USA actually threatened to nuke India during the Bangladesh war. So it mus be said that Mrs Gandhi was far too gutsy than any of the present generation India politicians.

You can definitely write many books on that decade. And I will buy your books in case you decide to write them. I will not shout at the door to door salesman if he tries to sell your books to me.;)

Bharath Hemachandran said...

As always your posts are a pleasure to read Raja :)

I didn't know you had a blog until I saw some comments on Atul's wonderful blog as well.

Almost makes me want to start blogging again!

Anonymous said...

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Corinne Rodrigues said...

It's been a long while since I visited your blog and seems you haven't written for a while too, Raja. Hope all is well....

This was a great post.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Raja - that was really wonderful - linking the common plot (about wrong medical diganosis)in both Majboor and Ek Mahal Ho Sapno ka. I watched Ek Mahal in 1985...on TV and it took me a whole week to forget it.It was a good entertainer. The other song was also a great hit - Dil Mein Kisi Ke Pyar ka. The one scene in the movie where Sharmila Tagore removes the fly from the tea which prompts Leena Chandavarkar to test if she is really blind - it is still etched in my memory and of course the tragic ending - it was a Devendra Goel film - even the title song is great.
The other movie - well what can I say - a poignant plot. remember the scene where Amitabh drops the fish tank on the road, a handicapped farida jalal, pran's michael act and the songs - "Dekh saktha hoon main" an ode to brotherhood.Let me say unabashedly that this was a gem of an Amitabh movie.i saw this movie as a child - don't know exactly whether in TV or a movie hall, but I really cried on seeing Amit's plight.The song that you have mentioned - Admi Jo Kehta hai is a gem. Thanks a ton for taking me back to my childhood - one more similarity - i am also an avid vivid barati listener, the only difference i am not a mukesh fan like you.