Sunday, June 03, 2007

Golden Oldies: 7 from the 70's

I was driving back from a dinner alone tonight and heard about 30 minutes of uninterrupted golden oldies on FM radio. I am aware of such a show and have heard it before but what blew me away was today's sequence of hits - all from 70s and 80s - which represented the best of director-composer combos of the two decades.

Har kisi ko nahin milti - Jaanbaaz
Feroze Khan and Kalyanji-Anandji had a series of hits starting with FK's first directorial venture (Apradh) till this one. Jaanbaaz did not meet with the super-success of Qurbani and in any case, the biggest hits of Qurbani was composed by Biddu. But it did have some good numbers including this one and one club song (Ek pal hain zindagani) picturised on Rekha.
This particular song was picturised on Sridevi - who played FK's girlfriend, killed by the villains by a drug overdose. The song was shown as being shot for a music video, which FK was watching 'stylishly'. Since he was a mediocre maker of reasonably big hits, FK is credited as being the most 'stylish' director of Bollywood - whatever THAT means!

Mohabbat bade kaam ki cheez hain - Trishul
Trishul is known to be a powder-keg of anger and revenge but its music was surprisingly strong, thanks to the Yash Chopra-Khayyam partnership. The producer (Gulshan Rai of Trimurti Films) was known to get great music for his films and even badgered his directors to put in songs. Deewaar was one film in which songs were forced on the producer's insistence while the director wanted it to be song-less.
To come back to Trishul, it had this song performed on screen by Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini and Shashi Kapoor - three of the biggest stars of the day. It also had a young and peppy fun number - Gapuchi gapuchi gum gum - picturised on Poonam Dhillon and Sachin, who formed the young couple in the film. (The second line of the song is Kishiki kishiki kum kum - for those who are interested.)

Dard-e-dil, dard-e-jigar- Karz
Subhash Ghai and Laxmikant-Pyarelal had innumerable hits together. They teamed up for the first time on this one and continued till Khalnayak. The combo broke up slightly acrimoniously when Ghai signed Nadeem Shravan for Pardes.
The team had a set formula of having a chartbuster, a classical-based hit and a haunting theme tune which keeps getting repeated in the movie. This is easier said than done because a memorable theme tune (without lyrics) is very difficult to compose but LP did it for Ghai in Karz (the famous guitar riff), Hero (a flute tune), Meri Jung (the title song played on piano) and Saudagar among others.
Karz is continuously reviled as being a 'copy' of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud by Anglophiles but if you check out the antecedents of the 'original', then you would realise that it is very unlikely that any Indian would have seen this movie ever and people just parrot what they perceive to be erudite. Karz had bigger stars, was a much bigger hit and had only the reincarnation theme common with the English film. And of course, the music was to die for - not something Mr Proud could have done!

O majhi re - Khushboo
Gulzar and RD. I have written (twice!) about this pair, which is probably the best lyricist-composer pair in Hindi cinema.
I say this with conviction not only because they gave their best with each other but because they tested their boundaries with each other. Otherwise, how else do you see the RD of Teesri Manzil composing this song, whose bhatiali touch would have done his father proud? And who have expected Jumping Jack Jeetendra to eschew his white loafers for thick-rimmed glasses and dhoti-kurta?
This film was based on a story by Saratchandra Chatterjee, which is one of the few Bengali authors Gulzar has raided for his stories. The other notable one is Subodh Ghosh, who won the Filmfare Award for his story of Ijaazat.

Hoga tumse pyaara kaun - Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hain
Another producer-director for whom RD reserved hits for is Nasir Hussain. His frothy romances were garnished by RD's music (always) and Rishi Kapoor's charms (almost always).
This one had Rishi (in his trademark ankle-length muffler) singing the song on top of a train as it passes through tea gardens, with the tea-pickers providing the 'Hey Kanchi' chorus!
The slightly echoing quality of the background score, the use of drums typically heard in North Bengal and of course, the catchy tune was something only RD could have pulled off!

Kabhi Kabhie - Kabhi Kabhie
Yash Chopra and Khayyam continued their partnership for the first film under the Yash Raj Films banner and this film became a benchmark of film poetry as Sahir Ludhianvi came up with some of the greatest lyrics of Hindi cinema.
The title track is available in two versions - the romantic song version and the tragic poem version (which Amitabh recites the way ONLY he can do). The shooting of the song - with its romantic scenes - was a bit of an embarrasment for Amitabh and Rakhee as Gulzar was like an elder brother to the Bachchans (having performed brotherly duties for Jaya at their wedding).
This was beginning of the Yash Chopra Mark II brand of filmmaking as he gradually made a transition from the 'angry' films to silk and chiffon in Switzerland. This was probably the influence of his marriage to Pamela (during the honeymoon of which this film was shot).

Jaane kaise kab kahan - Shakti
Very aptly, the last film of the lot is by Ramesh Sippy who broke into the scene with a film noboby (including himself) could match. But his talent shone through all his films - before and after Sholay - as he straddled different genres.
The best music of his films came with RD Burman (that man, again!) with whom he never worked after Saagar, despite the film having monstrously good music. Quite inexplicable because none of his later films had good music.
Shakti was meant to be a serious sort of film, with Amitabh and Dilip Kumar pitting their ideals and acting talent - as the latter got chewn up, in my humble opinion. Of course, some people swear on their left testicle that Dilip Kumar's was the better performance but then, they are probably the ones who think TRO Peter Proud is better than Karz!
But this one song was a massive hit and I remember being a little embarrassed at Amitabh's 'sex scene' with Smita Patil.
Question: Did Ramesh Sippy have a S fixation? Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay, Shaan, Shakti, Saagar... why did he change it to B for Bhrashtachar and flop? Maybe because Buniyaad was such a massive hit!

Lovely... two back-to-back Bollywood posts really make your Sunday!
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