A Veiled Love Story – Apni Prem Kahaniyan – Mera Gaon Mera Desh
Jabbar Singh ne sirf do hi baatein seekhi hain, ek mauke ka faayda uthana aur do, apne dushman ka naam-o-nishaan mita dena
So said Jabbar Singh in Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) a dacoit thriller by Raj Khosla. It has 2 handsome hunks of Hindi cinema pitched against each other, Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna. Much before Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan), it was Jabbar Singh (Vinod Khanna) who was terrorizing the audience with his on screen dacoit avtar. Time and again the audience of Hindi cinema has been intrigued by bandits and dacoits. And they have loved the on screen dacoits, whether it is Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Amjad Khan, Dilip Kumar, Pran or even Seema Biswas!! They remain the most loved and captivating antagonists. From the stone valleys of Ramgarh to the narrow coves of Chambal, they have emerged winners in unleashing their terror.
Portrayals of outlaw, much loved and cherished. Vinod Khanna as Jabbar Singh is counted as one of the most handsome dacoit. He carried the role with flair. Unsparing and non-caring and along with his killing looks, he played the role to perfection. So much so that Dharmendra looked feeble and humbled in front of him. He is fierce and attractive at the same time. With bullets loaded around his waist, a trademark dacoit black tilak on his forehead, fierce gaze he is viciousness personified.
And Bakshi saab describes him thus, from a female point of view –
Pehli nishani, main hun jiski deewani
Rut jaisi toofani, aisi uski jawani
Rut jaisi toofani, aisi uski jawani, mastani
Uske aage phiki laage, haaye sab ki jawaniya….
Didn’t he cause the frenzy flutter in a female heart!!
But we have a different story unveiling through the lyrics. True all those lyrics point out to Jabbar Singh, but they are through a veil of sweetness. A trap has been set up for him at a local fair and Laxmi Chhaya in an iconic role of Munni bai is the dacoit turned traitor here. She has come with a message for the police, giving all the hints of Jabbar Singh at the fair.
Along with its pacey storyline, another highlight of the movie was Laxmikant Pyarelal’s music. Almost all the songs from this album were the toppers, with 3 lip synced by Laxmi Chhaya, including this particular colourful mela song.
As the song begins with a group of violins, the dholak wallops its rhythm through the mela atmosphere. But the ravanhattha keeps to the sombre side of the situation, highlighting the main aim of the song being there while the straightforward rabaab strums bring us face to face with the barbaric Jabbar Singh!! While the search for him continues, the ghungroos seek your attention along with some more strings as Lata sings coyly –
Kis kis ko bataun
Aise kaise main sunaun sabko
Apni prem kahaniyan apni prem kahaniyan
Baalma ki, zaalma ki teen nishaniyan
But eventually those are the hints given to the police in disguise. She is helping them with his whereabouts, describing him, his personality, his clothes, so that they can track him down.
Pehli nishaani – the first hint!! He is a young man with a good physique. Though Vinod Khanna is dressed up as an old man, it is for the police to keep their eyes open throughout. Look out for a young man!!
The dholak takes the saga further. The violins and the woodwind instruments help it to take the story ahead. The ravanhattha still is on the sombre side as Laxmi Chhaya whispers the real colour of Jabbar’s clothes in Dharmendra’s ears – Kaala kambal, kaale kapde (that’s the 2nd hint). But to the public she announces –
Kurta hai neela,
Rang pagdi ka peela
Roop uska kateela,
Aisa hai wo chhabila
Chaal sharaabi, rang gulaabi,
Tey akkhaan mastaniyaan
So the 2nd hint ends describing his personality, his fair skin, his rollicking eyes, his body built, the colour of his clothes with a Punjabi tinge in the lyrics.
The hysteria has now started to build up. The crowd is ignorant about the happenings while the police continue their feverish search for Jabbar Singh. The chaos well depicted through the instruments. They heighten the restlessness of the situation. The dholak, the violins, the bells, the ravanhattha playing all at once as police seem to be clueless about Jabbar Singh. Laxmi Chhaya once again helps them out –
Aankhon ko meeche
Dekhun saanson ko kheenche
Wahan peepal ke niche
Mele mein sabse peechhe, khada hai
Neend udaye, chaiin churaye
Tey karey beimaniyaan
She is asking them to watch patiently, as he stands under the peepal tree, aloof from the crowd, very conspicuous in his black clothes, he is the one who has given them (the police) sleepless nights, made them restless by his fraudulence. Go get him!!
The song not only describes Jabbar Singh – the brutal, handsome dacoit aptly, but also the physical looks of Vinod Khanna, his place in the hearts of most of the girls and the bout of quickened pulses he caused by these looks!!