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Kishore Kumar and Laxmikant-Pyarelal – The Pleasant Partnership

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Career of most of the artistes who graced the golden era of Hindi film music with their charismatic art was unfortunately limited only to the golden era. Of course, singers like Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar and composers like Kalayanji – Anandji and Laxmikant – Pyarelal are the exceptions.
Among such long-lasting artistes, Laxmikant – Pyarelal (LP) gloriously reigned over the musical space of Hindi films for three and a half decades and were arguably the most successful composer duo of Hindi cinema. Starting their career as musicians and assistants to many veteran composers in the 1950s, they went on to become an independent composer duo with Parasmani (1963), which was a major musical hit. Of course, the journey till this first break-through was not easy at all. They had to struggle a lot to get films and secondly, a few initial films that they got never saw the light of the day. However, their success spree that started with their debut in 1963 continued until 1998, until Laxmikant passed away. Various accounts quote varying numbers of films for which they composed music, the lowest number being as high as 500! Imaginative tunes, innovative orchestration, adventurous experimentation and the typical rhythm on tabla and dholak (accompanied many a time by bongo and conga) were the remarkable features of their music. However, over the years, particularly after the first decade of their career, the innovative approach somewhat faded away, as they resorted to tried and trusted predictable tunes, which were gaining popularity with the changing taste of the public. However, even after the first decade, LP came up (albeit less consistently) with numerous memorable and melodious compositions demonstrating their great musical acumen.
Though Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi were the leading singers in LP’s repertoire, Kishore Kumar (KK) also became a prominent singer in their camp post the 1960s. He sang a little over 400 songs for LP, the second highest number of songs that he sang for any composer, after 499 for R.D. Burman. Some of the songs that they composed for KK are extremely melodious. Immensely versatile that he was, KK sounded as dulcet and prolific under LP’s baton as he did in the music of the Burmans and Kalyanji Anandji.
Here is looking into some of the lilting songs of the LP-KK combination.

1. Mere Mehhboob Qayamat Hogi (Mr. X in Bombay – 1964)
Soon after LP started their career with flying colours, they got the film Mr. X in Bombay, a science-fiction thriller film, in which the hero could make himself invisible at his will. As KK was playing the lead role, none other than KK was going to be the singer. Thus the commencement of the LP-KK association was marked, though the association was strengthened only in the 1970s.
LP went to KK with the tune of a song composed for the film, with which KK was thoroughly impressed. It was the historic song “Mere mehboob qayamat hogi”, the first song of the LP-KK partnership. The song is extremely popular to date, even after almost 7 decades of its creation. The song has two versions in the film. Though both the versions are pensive, they have different contexts and lyrics.
In the first version, the invisible (or barely visible as an almost transparent figure) KK sings the song to the heroine (Kumkum) to express his dejection due to refusal of his love by her. Kumkum is under the impression that KK is dead and mistakes him to be his un-solaced soul. Therefore, the picturisation of the song also has a bit of spooky effect. The orchestration mainly comprising mandolin, violins and guitar also adds to the mood.

In the second version, KK is visible and is seen ambling along a few landmark places in Mumbai, down in the dumps and expressing his frustration. This version is also orchestrated primarily with mandolin, violins and guitar, with accordion making an occasional appearance.

Both the versions are based on raag Bhairavi. KK’s rendition is superb as usual and he has captured the mood in both the versions so perfectly, that you cannot help but empathise with him. His acting in the second version is also impressive.
Lyrics of both the versions are written by Anand Bakshi. Predominant use of Urdu words in the second version makes it quite different from his usual Hindi-dominated simplistic style. Just like the LP-KK combo, this song marks the beginning also of the LP-Anand Bakshi partnership.

2. Ye Dard Bhara Afsana (Shreeman Funtoosh – 1965)
Shreeman Funstoosh was another science fiction film starring KK and Kumkum in the lead roles. The film had a KK dominated soundtrack.
The KK solo “Ye dard bhara afsana” is a party song in which KK’s lover (Kukmkum) is seen dancing with another man (Anoop Kumar). As it is a party, everyone but the heartbroken KK is happy and dancing to the KK’s song, though KK is expressing his grief through the song. Though a sad song, the composition is a little fast paced with accordion dominated orchestration to suit the party mood. As KK wants the whole world to know his heartbreak, the refrain of the song starts with high notes, as though he is making an announcement. As this is a song from the early years of LP’s career, it is quite different from the style that they later developed. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics support the expression of grief well and needless to say, KK is excellent, both in singing and acting.

3. Ajnabi Tum Jaane Pehchaane Se Lagte Ho (Hum Sab Ustad Hain – 1965)
Hum Sab Ustad Hain was a drama film in which the lead roles were played by KK, Ameeta and Dara Singh.
The song “Ajnabi tum jaane Pehchaane Se Lagte Ho” from the film has 2 versions. The happy version is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and is picturised on Ameeta when she falls in love with KK.
KK sings the sad version when his lover Ameeta forcibly pretends to be a stranger and to not know him, in order to save someone’s life. Not knowing the rationale behind her behaviour, KK feels disheartened and starts singing the song to express his agony.
As a major portion of the song is shot in a hotel, it is orchestrated with violins, guitar and accordion to suit the situation.
Both the versions are penned by Asad Bhopali.

4. Mere Naseeb Mein Aye Dost Tera Pyaar Nahin (Do Raaste – 1969)
Do Raaste was a super hit family drama movie with Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz in the lead roles alongside a few other stalwarts. The melodious soundtrack of the film has songs rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh and KK.
The melancholic number “Khiza ke phool pe aati kabhi bahaar nahin, mere naseeb mein aye dost tera pyaar nahin” is the only KK song in the film. As Rajesh Khanna is lamenting his heartbreak through the song, LP have composed a soft and poignant tune based on raag Yaman Kalyan that is adorned with only a few instruments like violins, flute and santoor, leaving a large scope for the singer.
KK’s rendition drenched in poignancy accompanied by Rajesh Khanna’s adept acting make the expression of sorrow heart wrenching. Anand Bakshi’s simple looking yet hard hitting lyrics convey the feelings aptly.
This composition stands out in juxtaposition to the other racy compositions in the film that make you tap your feet or nod your head in the rhythm.

5. Mere Deewanepan Ki Bhi Dawaa Nahin (Mebhoob Ki Mehndi – 1971)
Mehboob Ki Mehndi was a family and social drama film based on the culture of the bygone Nawab era in Lucknow, starring Rajesh Khanna and Leena Chandavarkar as the lead couple.
The Rafi-dominated soundtrack of the film demonstrating LP’s outstanding musical intelligence has only one KK song – “Mere deewanepan ki bhi dawa nahin”. Through this romantic number, Rajesh Khanna is wooing his lady and apologising for audacious flirting. As he hails from a Nawab family, he is bound to have the respectful Nawabi demeanour; and Anand Bakshi is mindful of this in his lyrics garnished with a plethora of Urdu words.
So far as musical aspects are concerned, this is certainly one of the best LP compositions. The soft and gracefully flowing tune in raag Tilang is suitably embellished with sarangi, flute, violins and santoor, with saxophone showing up occasionally. KK’s rendition is simply mind blowing. Though Rafi was also proficient in singing soft romantic songs, this song seems like it was made only for KK!

6. Ye Jeevan Hai (Piya Ka Ghar – 1972)
Piya Ka Ghar, the Hindi remake of the celebrated Marathi film “Mumbaicha Jaawai”, was a comic family drama portraying the difficulties of life in India’s biggest cities during the 1970s. Anil Dhawan and Jaya Bhaduri were the lead actors in the film.
The soundtrack has two KK songs, out of which the theme song of the film – “Ye jeevan hai” hasn’t lost a bit of its popular appeal, even if almost 5 decades have elapsed after its creation. Its popularity is attributable to both, the haunting composition and philosophical lyrics.
Life is all about aspirations and dreams on one side and compromises and harsh realities on the other. It is also about accepting the realities and moving forward by deriving solace and motivation from the love of the beloved. The simply worded lyrics by Anand Bakshi contain this very deep philosophy of life.
This is yet another wonderful composition by LP. The beautiful use of guitar and chorus alongside only a few instruments make this a hypnotic composition which one can listen to in a loop. KK has softly crooned the song throughout, as though the hero and the heroine are affectionately explaining the reality of life to one another.
Though the picturisation focuses on the lead pair’s uneasiness as they are missing each other, the camera continuously moving from room to room in the house shows the gist of the film brilliantly.

7. Mere Dil Mein Aaj Kya Hai (Daag – 1973)
Daag, a romantic drama film, was Yash Chopra’s debut as a producer and laid the foundation of Yash Raj Films. Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore and Rakhee played the lead roles in the film.
The Lata-KK dominated soundtrack is another set of brilliant compositions by LP. It has only one KK solo – the romantic song “Mere dil mein aaj kya hai”. Lyrics of the song have flown from the prolific pen of one of the greatest lyricists of Hindi cinema – Sahir Ludhiyanvi. The rarely seen LP-Sahir partnership is another unique feature of the music of Daag.
LP have composed Sahir’s words in an evocative tune ornamented with a sparse yet bewitching orchestration comprising only so much as Persian santoor played by none other than Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and guitar played by Gorakh Sharma (Pyarelal’s brother). The Persian santoor particularly leaves a mesmeric impact on the listener’s mind.
KK starts the song by crooning the refrain vey softly and then soon picks it up in full swing with the dholak rhythm. KK’s rendition swinging between a few lines crooned softly (as though he is whispering in her ears) and some lines composed in high notes is astounding – a brilliant example of his proficiency and amazing control over rendition!

8. Aadmi Jo Kehta Hai, Aadmi Jo Sunta Hai (Majboor – 1974)
Majboor, remake of the Hollywood film Zigzag (1970), was a crime thriller film in which Amitabh Bachchan and Parveen Babi played the lead roles.
Through this song, the hero, who is recently detected with terminal brain tumour, is expressing the law of Karma and the evanescent nature of joys and sorrows that he has recently realised. LP’s tune is simple yet catching and is decorated with violins and accordion. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics convey a deep message in simple words and with simple examples. KK’s rendition is marvellous, as always.

9. Kisi Shaayar Ki Ghazal (Dream Girl – 1977)
Hema Malini was promoted as the Dream Girl from her first film. The romantic and thriller film Dream Girl, named after her sobriquet, was her home production. Dharmendra played the lead role opposite her.
Though the film did not do so well at the box office, the title song of the film became very popular and remains so till date. LP have woven Anand Bakshi’s words wonderfully in the tune composed in western style. The rhythm makes you tap your foot.
KK’s fantastic rendition takes the romantic mood of the song to the next level.

10. Aap Ke Anurodh Pe Main Ye Geet Sunata Hoon (Anurodh – 1977)
Last but not the least, the title track of the film Anurodh that unfolds with the credit titles is a quintessence of the mellifluous LP-KK partnership.
Anurodh was a musical drama film directed by Shakti Samanta. LP got an entry into his camp due to some misunderstanding between Rajesh Khanna and R.D. Burman; and Samanta would not have been certainly disappointed with their music.
LP’s mesmerising tune is based on raag Yaman Kalyan. Orchestration comprises beautiful intertwining of a fleet of instruments like violins, piano, sitar, sarod and santoor. Lyrics are written by Anand Bakshi.
KK’s smoothly flowing rendition sounds very euphonious and haunts you.

Hope you enjoyed the bird’s eye view of the pleasant partnership of the musical titans – KK and LP.

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