Hrishikesh Mukherjee and his films are remembered for the great stories , superb editing which would survive on their own without the support of songs and the music in today’s story-based film-world. But thank God he didn’t exercise this option for he, himself was a Sitarist, the art he couldn’t pursue further due to physical reasons, and the rich cultural Bangla background which included music and dance as main art forms.
His films didn’t also rely on big budget, outdoor film and song locations and are often said to be having a shoe-string budget but his music, like his films, didn’t fail to tug at the heartstrings of the viewers. Many of the actors/ actresses of his movies were shown musical artists that automatically created the situations for classic(al) songs. They weren’t essentially needed to be at the big concert stages; even the homely gathering would provide simple, pure, yet musically rich entertainment in the warm ambience.
1. Kaise din beete kaise beeti ratiya – Anuradha
Let’s start with a somber/ poignant song with a small gathering of a doctor husband who is totally lost in his work, the visitor who is no stranger to her and the heroine who expresses her present stage of life through this song, the art which had once been her life.
The heart-wrenching strings of Sarangi and Sitar lead Lata to sing one of her most memorable pathos filled songs. Her opening ‘haaye’ is sure to take your breath away.
2. Ab ke sajan saawan mein – Chupke Chupke
The couple in love is separated by the walls of lingual eccentricities of her brother-in-law, Om Prakash, whose eccentricities provide the centre point of the story. But this situation doesn’t let the resourceful couple down. Lata is in absolutely happy and naughty mood for equally pranky on-screen Sharmila Tagore and so is the tune and the orchestration by the Old Monk. Even the greedy munching of Asrani gets the right musical complement.
3. Jiya laage Mora – Buddha Mil Gaya
His film stories weren’t often led by good looking heroes and beautiful heroines alone. This film and the song is a classic example of how a suspense story could be built around the ‘bald and beautiful’ Buddha , Om Prakash. The young hero brigade of Naveen and Deven get the help of musical instruments and the singing of a ‘sanvali yet mohani’ Deepa (Archana) to pin down the rich budhdha.
Lata, again, does an absolutely heavenly rendition of this raga based song composed by Rahul Dev Burman. Majrooh doesn’t fail to catch the essence of romance between the young couple not even the drowsy wink of Om Prakash to come up with ‘sun ke meri baatein palak teri kyun jhooki’
4. Bhor aayi gayaa andhiyara – Bawarchi
That saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” doesn’t seem to apply here at all, especially when maestro the Bawarchi Kaka heads the cooking show and hands over one of those extravagant musical breakfast on the platter.
How much you long for those inwardly looking homes with a central chowk in these times of privacy homes! Any activity done here can attract and involve all members.
Hrishikesh Mukherji has worked with stalwart music directors like Salil da, the Burmans , Shankar Jaikishan but he maintains that the music of this movie, the only association with the great Madan Mohan, was closest to his heart and watching this delightfully presented classical song, you exclaim, why not ?
5. Maine tere liye hee saat rang ke sapne chune – Anand
To be simple yet attractive is the most difficult thing to achieve but the one who achieve it easily is called genius and Hrishi da was one such genius. Not only the leading ones but even the side characters like the Marathi couple portrayed by Ramesh and Seema Dev have strong character making the ‘Kulkarni’ in me real proud.
This is such a simple and informal party as Seema puts in which doesn’t allow the extravagance, strong perfumes, rich robes, bouquets or exquisite presents. And Kaka doesn’t miss to retort with ‘to kya cash lete ho? ‘ with the help of the quintessential Gulzar.
No cash, no credit but music is always on the cards and the chords of piano of the maestro composer-arranger Salil da. Anand doesn’t hesitate in case of the ‘khaana’ and ‘gaana’, the ‘gaana’ sung by another simple yet candid Mukesh which really unfolds Kaka’s ever well-wishing character so beautifully.
6. Mere chehre mein chhupa – Naram-Garam
Like Om Prakash, Utpal Dutt has been an important cog in the machinery of the storylines of his film, around the eccentricities of whom, he weaved many immortal films and Naram Garam was such a film. In this film Hrishi da presents him in the multi faceted central character which is absolutely commanding when it comes to dealing with his brothers, illogical when it came to astrology, partly lustful when it comes to wishing to marry a young Swaroop Sampat who is nearly his daughter’s age although it partly owes to his belief of reuniting with his deceased wife.
This song is a lovely rendition of his daughter in front of her hum-shakal mother’s photo that unfolds her sentiments about her mother and father. That quintessentially difficult lyrical meter of Gulzar is beautifully melodised (coining my own term) by Pancham and Asha Bhosle.
Just like the mother, the capture of visual frame of Utpal Dutt by Hrishi da, at the stroke of ‘baba kahte hai bade laad se mujh ko’ is equally priceless bringing the side of his loving father to the fore.
7. Aane wala pal jaane wala hai – Gol Maal
This is certainly one of the immensely popular philosophical songs which you cannot really leave out. I would, however, have loved to include the title song sung by the legendary music director and his assistant, equally popular, but for its outdoor location.
Somehow, I can’t really find the relation of this song with the scene. It’s either out of place or I am yet to fathom the depth of the lyrics of Gulzar to establish the relation. Kishore da’s outstanding rendition, however, is too much to ignore the song.
8. Chanda dekhe chanda – Jhoothi
This immensely beautiful romantic duet is a borderline case. Not fully indoor not fully outdoor , we are in the verandah of one of the resort , probably of Mabaleshwar, its lighting and surrounding just enough to illuminate the invaluable expressions of the romantic couples and let them feel the loving warmth of the lunar rock in the sky.
Hrishida’s simple setups made even the disco King Bappi da to return to soft melodies like this.
9. Chhoti si ek kali khil thee – Jurmana
Just like the first entry of Anuradha song, we conclude this musical concert journey with one which is sung by Lata and is pathos filled still never melodramatic. Again, not only the heroine but her father is shown as classically trained singers
The tender love with which Rakhi invited her love to the monsoon swings is betrayed by the rich brat played by Amitabh and she comes up with this melodic beauty, the tune of which is said to be inspired from Tagore music.
The song gets an apt visual complement with the lovely camerawork that pans across the set to capture the ‘devastated’ maali , the distant and brooding ‘flower-merchant’ and the really loving ‘phool wala’ with the flashes of her outdoor past in the interludes to timely return to pathos filled present verandah.