Monday, July 21, 2008

Beeti Na Beetai Raina: Forgotten Stars, Unforgettable Songs

Recently, Mad Momma came up with an uncharacteristic post on songs that became massive hits despite non-entity actors and/or flop movies. Needless to add, she got 711 comments on her post. So, taking the discussion forward, I thought of adding some favourite songs of mine - which meet the criteria defined above. However, knowing my tendency to ramble, there is fair possibility that this post might degenerate into a reminiscing post about songs I liked, but ones that did not become adequately successful…
Confession: I have not read the comments so there are bound to be many repeats. Anybody who has read all the comments are advised to stay away!

According to me, Neele neele ambar par (from the film, Kalakaar) is the biggest hit from a flop film. Kunal Goswami's turn as a guitar-toting singing sensation did not make any impact as he behaved like his father in Kranti (which I am told, was Kunal’s first movie as a child star). I vaguely recall the song being sung in a college-picnic / bonfire kind of setting in which Sridevi falls in love with Kishore Kumar's voice and had contend with Kunal's wooden looks.

Maula mere maula from the UFO called Anwar has suddenly emerged as a strong contender for the above title. A lovely song in the sufi style, it had taken over all the FM channels in the last few months while its film had a blue-faced Krishna-type character gracing some posters, which I saw in multiplexes. The film also apparently released but sank without such a lack of trace that it is ranked alongside Atlantis and Hoffa among the greatest disappearances in world history. On the other hand, Shootout at Lokhandwala with Ganpat did not vanish as cleanly.

Sili hawa chhoo gayee from Libaas made it to the top of every countdown show in town despite having two major disadvantages. One, it had no jhankaar beats. Two, the song was filmed on Shabana Azmi and Raj Babbar, who are not exactly teeny-bopper favourites. They are not quite pushovers either but in the context of Divya Bharti in the days of Superhit Muqabla, they were quite unknown. Come to think of it, the film never flopped because it never found a theatrical release! Probably the last film of the RD-Gulzar combine, the music had everything except for distribution.

Ajay Devgan and Sonali Bendre are not exactly flop stars though they have acted in innumerable flop films. One of their biggest flops is undoubtedly Diljale. Produced and directed by Harry Baweja (of Love Story 2050 fame), this came on the back of a reasonable hit called Dilwale, causing Nilendu and me to speculate if Mr Baweja is on a Dil**le series. Dilwale starred Ajay Devgan, Sunil Shetty and Raveena Tandon among others and is famous for a romance brewing between Ajay and Raveena on its sets because of which Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor had a showdown in Bombay airport causing Ajay to dump them both and hook up with Kajol while Raveena Tandon went ahead with Akshay Kumar. Damn, my asides are longer than my main points! Anyway, Diljale had one song (a moderate hit, picturised on Ajay Devgan) which was played all over but I have forgotten by now. It had an even better song - Kisse poochhoo us ladki ka naam - picturised on Parmeet Sethi, which was never played on the music channels because he was a non-entity. Anu Malik redeemed himself of his early 90's crap with this one song, lovingly written by Javed Akhtar.

Another example of a hit song from a flop film needs unravelling of a very dark chapter from my past. In college, I hung around the fringes of the Calcutta quizzing circuit, which is unquestionably the toughest (and also, the most sarcastic!) circuit of the country. But in a strange snobbery, the Bollywood questions asked in Calcutta quizzes were terribly easy because it was still unfashionable for the Bangali bhadralok to admit that he derived pleasure from Govinda's pelvis... okay, that sounded a little odd but you know what I mean, right? In one such quiz, they played the music video (starring Anupama Verma) Boom Boom and asked us to name the original film the song was from. The other participants - who were used to questions like 'what is the full form of DDLJ' - froze. My team relaxed because they knew I would get it. Nilendu was in the audience and again wondered all is not well with the world. I, of course, forgot the name of the Kumar Gaurav starrer (of which Nilendu owned a LP record in a dog-eared cover). It was from a movie called Star and my inability to answer that caused me more embarrassment that my flunking Engineering Mechanics in the first semester! As a footnote, one may add that most (if not all) of Kumar Gaurav’s songs can feature in hit-gaana-flop-hero list. He acted in a reasonable large body of musically competent but cinematically crap films.

How many of you have heard / remembered a film called Don II? However, most of you would remember the Hawa Hawa (e hawa, khushboo luta de) song from the album, performed by one Mr Hassan Jehangir who was supposed to be a Pakistani star. The album had some eight or ten songs, all of which were quite good and some of them were runaway hits, despite the rather poor quality of recording. Enthused by the success of his album, Hassan landed up in India and made a film (which looked worse than a music video) to fit in all his songs and dreamt of having an affair with Raveen Tandon but all his fans vanished in a puff of smoke the moment they say his hennaed hair and pot-bellied figure! No, the film never released. In fact, I don’t even know if the full film ever got made.
But then, it is probably unfair to put Hassan Jahangir’s shoddy music video as a film. Nevertheless, in the same breath of music videos, one must fit in a quick nod to Altaf Raja – who sold a platinum disc of platinum discs with his song – Tum toh thehre pardesi, saath kya nibhaoge / Subah pehli gaaaaaaadi se, ghar ko laut jaogaaaayyyy. His success was so stupendously mind-blowing that it was Mithun Chakraborty – and not multiplex darlings like Karan Johar – who offered him a guest appearance in one of his films. I stand ashamed before GreatBong and his cohorts as I completely fail to remember the name of the film which has the landmark song – “Thoda intezar ka mazaa lijiye…

At one point in the early 1990's, the most powerful man in Bollywood was not Amitabh Bachchan, it was not Yash Chopra, it was Gulshan Kumar. The T-Series baron - with a little bit of help from Nadeem-Shravan, Kumar Sanu and Anuradh Paudwal - churned out hit album after hit album, clocking massive sales of the tapes irrespective of the movie's box office fate. But as Hindi film villains keep on saying, "Har insaan ki koi kamzori hoti hain...", Gulshan had a brother called Krishan who had ambitions to become a film star. Among his assets was an ability to wear heavy leather jackets in summer (including beach scenes), extremely bushy & expressive eyebrows and of course, his brother's undying love. Armed with this, he acted in a series of devastating flops (which would have sunk many a lesser producer but not Gulshan!), almost all of which had decent soundtracks. Particularly nice is the title song from the film Aaja Meri Jaan (which was a teen-romance-murder-mystery on the lines of Khiladi), which also starred his eventual wife - Tanya Singh. The wound of the posters - "Starring Dashing Krishan Kumar and Cute Tanya" - on my memory is still raw. Another movie of his (with another hit-but-hated song Achha sila diya tune mere pyaar ka / yaar ne hi loot liya ghar yaar ka) was called Bewafa Sanam (not to be mistaken with Sanam Bewafa, starring Salman Khan and Roshni) - in which his best friend framed him, got him jailed and married his childhood sweetheart. Something like what Nadeem did to Gulshan Kumar.

At this point of time, it would be advisable to take a couple of steps backward and land in the 50-60’s. For example, Pradip Kumar Batabyal is a total non-entity as far as my wife and sister are concerned, his film Taj Mahal is a flop in their eyes but even they cannot deny the power of the brilliant Jo wada kiya wo toh nibhana padega. Just as people would be hard-pressed to remember the stars of Saraswati Chandra (which was a moderate success, at best) but Retro Café on Radio City (9 PM, weeknights) would have folded up long time back if they were not allowed to play Chandan sa badan, chanchal chitwan.
Does Joy Mukherjee qualify as a non-entity? A lot of youngsters would probably agree but I would join my mother in protesting very strongly as the 1960's scion of the Mukherjee family was a big star and a string of hits like Love in Tokyo, Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon and most importantly, Shagird.

So, I would leave the discussion here. Ever since I saw an Indian Idol contestant (incidentally, a Bengali) whose life’s ambition was to meet Aftab Shivdasani and Nauheed Cyrusi, I realized that it is futile to classify success and failure according to conventional wisdom.
After all, Pran singing Yaari hain imaan mera along with a non-entity hero in Zanjeer could well have been part of this list.

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