Serenades For Ever

Rajiv Vijayakar

He changed the very concept of the Hindi film hero from the over-chaste under-romantic to the ardour-filled lover who serenaded with passionate aggression without – and that was some tightrope act in those days – outraging the sensibilities of the audience of the late ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Quite naturally in the Hindi film context, where emotions are predominantly expressed through music, Shamsher Raj Kapoor, known to the world as Shammi Kapoor, could not have become the modern Icon of Romance without the support of brilliant music. Through the predominant vocals of his peerless vocal soul that was Mohammed Rafi (with Manna Dey at rare second fiddle, and rarer other voices), Shammi inspired simple melodies and rhythms with strong lyrics as the backbone of peppy compositions and crackling orchestration. As Shammi Kapoor celebrated his 75th birthday on October 21, 2006,

Screen looks at an imaginary 75-song album of the Rebel Star’s most ‘note’-worthy songs. In this collection, Rafi’s presence is understood unless another specific singer is mentioned.

Intoxication was a Shammi Kapoor leitmotif, and the album must aptly begin with ‘Jawaniyan yeh mast mast bin piye…’ (O.P.Nayyar-Majrooh/ Tumsa Nahin Dekha) from the film that made Shammi Kapoor not just a star but a brand. Three more Nayyar hits must also come in, the title-track (Sahir’s only contribution here), the Punjabi ‘Sar par topi laal…’(with Asha) and ‘Chhupnewale saamne aa…’. Though Rafi had sung Shammi right from his debut Jeevan Jyoti half a decade earlier, it was O.P. who set Rafi as the voice on the Rebel Star. MIDBANNER

We move to Dil Deke Dekho, where Shammi suggested the ‘Sugar in the morning sugar in the evening…’ tune to debutante Usha Khanna for the title-track, which will be our 5th song. “In those days” says Shammi, “Music directors would add their bit to such songs.” In the fifth place stands ‘Bolo bolo kuch to bolo…’ (with Asha) in this second consecutive hit with S.Mukerji-Nasir Husain-Majrooh. ‘Yaar chulbula hai…’ and ‘Bade hain dil ke kale…’ (both with Asha) were other winners here.

A quick rewind to Jeewan Jyoti (1953) finds Shammi Kapoor himself singing two lines in the film, ‘So jaa re so jaa…’(S.D.Burman, who had also made Raj Kapoor sing earlier). The Rafi-Shammi association, which is to grow to phenomenal heights, begins with the Geeta-Rafi duet ‘Lag gayi ankhiyaan o more baalam…’. Another popular song was Laila Majnu’s ‘Aankhon mein hain tu…’ (Ghulam Mohammed-Shakeel Badayuni/with Asha).

Shammi Kapoor’s association with Shankar Jaikishan began unspectacularly with Ujala (1959). Shammi’s newfound flamboyance as a successful star matched Jaikishan’s, and this probably explained their instant rapport and enduring association, to mark the beginning of which we bring in their first two popular songs, ‘Jhoomta mausam mast mahina…’ (Manna-Lata/Hasrat) and ‘Ab kahaan jaye hum…’. (Manna/Shailendra).

It took S-J and Shammi some more films, however, to find their footing, even if Rafi came in with Boyfriend, College Girl and Singapore. And thus we jump straight to Junglee in which the future president of the Internet Users’ Club of India and later office-bearer of ‘Net-based organizations was ordained by Destiny to use the word ‘Yahoo’ 30 years before it achieved worldwide fame – in the anthem ‘Chaahe koi mujhe jungle kahe…’ (Shailendra).

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But it’s not just this song that makes Shammi the Yahoo Male, so to speak. Endemic is the only word to describe the popularity of songs as diverse as Shailendra’s atypical outing, ‘Aiyiyaa karoon main kya…’ and Hasrat’s ‘Ehsaan tera hoga…’

In this season when the remake of Don is being released, it is perhaps interesting to know that the earlier version itself was a reprise of China Town, the film that boasts of ‘Baar baar dekho…’ (Ravi-Majrooh), a song that has the distinction of being the first Hindi film song whose rights were brought a West Indies music band!

S-J-Shammi hit the charts and hearts again with the Chennai concoction Dil Tera Deewana, with its package of lovelies from which we must include at least three songs, ‘Dhadakne lagta hai…’ and ‘Nazar bachakar chale gaye ho…’ (Hasrat) and ‘Dil tera deewana…’ (with Lata/Shailendra).

By this time, S-J and Shammi were firmly bonded and made for each other. So it was not they got the entire nation listen enthralled to the music of the Professor who made students of film music learn by heart songs like ‘Ae gulbadan…’ (Hasrat), ‘Khuli palak mein jhoota gussa…’ (Shailendra) and ‘Awaaz dekar…’ (with Lata/Shailendra). One song that stood out as different was ‘Yeh umar hai kya rangili…’ in which an ‘old’ Shammi serenaded his girls in Manna Dey’s voice, with Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar singing for the ladies.

Probably there are very few heroes whose film titles have been repeated as often as those of Shammi’s film. One such, though obviously taken from a hit song, was Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, and here is where Ravi went to the opposite spectrum of his China Town hit and delivered the high-pitched lament, ‘Zindagi kya hai gham ka dariya hai…’ (Shakeel Badayuni).

Kalyanji-Anandji were rising slowly then, and they used a record three singers (Rafi, Mukesh and the vocally-incongruous Hemant Kumar) for the man in Bluffmaster, and the Maharashtrian folk-based ‘Govinda aala re…’ has transcended the barriers of film music to become synonymous with the state’s Gokulasthami celebrations. Mukesh’s ‘Socha tha pyar hum na karenge…’, with all its S-J flavour that K-A emulated then, remains the closest Shammi song to the Raj Kapoor ethos.

And what was O.P. Nayyar, who gave Rafi and Shammi a ’fix’ on each other, doing as S-J continued to have an edge in general as well on Kapoor territory? After a few also-ran scores like Mujrim, Nayyar slalomed to the forefront with an all-hit grandslam in Kashmir Ki Kali.

“I remember Shakti Samanta, lyricist S.H.Bihari, Nayyar-saab and I opened a bottle of whisky and sat down to make the music of this film,” says Shammi.”Nayyar had 52 tunes and we selected the 9 best!” And from this brilliant score, we simply must have ‘Deewana hua badal…’, ‘Ishaaron ishaaron…’ and the bhangra ‘Yeh mere haath mein tera haath…’ (all with Asha Bhosle) and the solos ‘Taarif karoon kya usski…’ and ‘Hai duniya ussiki…’.

Kapoor also played an active role in the selection, creation, recording and concept of his music and the final filming of his songs. In consultation with Rafi, the two titans of their respective fields decided that every ‘Taarif’ in the song would be rendered differently and each time the sentence ‘Taarif karoon…’ was repeated it would be enacted with a different and standout step by Shammi!

But in that year, S-J also resounded at the charts with the formidable Rajkumar. Shailendra’s ‘Jaanewalo zaraa hoshiyaar…’ and the uniquely-styled ‘Dilruba dil pe tu…’ (with Asha) with the sound of the whip vied with Hasrat’s peaens of passion for Sadhana in ‘Iss rang badalti duniya mein…’ and ‘Tumne kisiki jaan ko…’.

Changing roles from a Rajkumar to a Janwar was all in the day’s work for the stylized Shammi Kapoor. And S-J backed him up yet again with timeless tunes like ‘Lal chhadi maidan khadi…’ (Shailendra), ‘Dekho ab to…’ (with Asha, Balbir and S.D.Batish/Shailendra) and two very different yet intense winners, ‘Tumse accha kaun hai…’ (later to be the title of a 1969 Shammi hit!) and ‘Meri mohabbat jawan rahegi…’. And in 1966, Shammi and his music team mischievously played on the title Janwar too with their frothy title-song ‘Budtameez kaho ya kaho jaanwar…’ (Hasrat)!

By this time, S-J and Shammi were so inseparable that no other music director was even considered for the actor. But the shrewd Nasir Husain,who had gleaned enough of Shammi’s musical tastes and acumen by allowing him the freedom to choose his music from the Tumsa Nahin Dekha days, got the then-daisy-fresh volcano of talent R.D.Burman to compose tunes and made the musical Kapoor listen with the rider that if Shammi did not approve, his Vijay Anand thriller would go to S-J.

Shammi heard – with immense initial scepticism – and the rest was history as R.D., still three years away from big-time, smashed into fame with songs like ‘Deewana mujhsa nahin…’, the innovative ‘Dekhiye saahibo…’ and the famous trio of Asha-Rafi duets ‘Aaja aaja main hoon pyar tera…’, ‘O haseena zulfon wali…’ and of course ‘O mere sona re…’, all written inimitably by Majrooh for Teesri Manzil.

Two songs from Laat Saheb – the rambunctious ‘Savere wali gaadi se chale jayenge…’ (Shailendra) and ‘Ae chand zaraa chhup jaa…’ (with Asha/Shailendra).

By then S-J had split, and Shammi despite his personal friendship with Jaikishan, knew the stuff Shankar was made of not to sideline him altogether. French songs thus went on to form the framework of what many consider to be Shankar-Jaikishan’s finest work-ever for Shammi – An Evening In Paris.

This crime thriller was studded with exotic locales and an ooh-la-la Sharmila Tagore in a good-’n’-evil dual role, and the master composers rose splendidly – if separately – to the occasion with sheer exotica like ‘Akele akele kahaan jaa rahe ho…’, ‘Deewano ka naam to pooncho…’, ‘Aasmaan se aaya farishta…’ (whose popularity reached the skies thanks also to the vocal coquetry of a swimsuit-clad Sharmila!) and Shailendra’s twin duets ‘Mera dil hai tera…’ and the placid Asha duet ‘Raat ke humsafar…’.

Shammi’s frenzied choreography and the consequent injuries and medications, coupled with his devastation at wife Geeta Bali’s premature death had made the trim leading man put on weight. It was not yet time to quit, but to go a shade mature with Brahmchari. And so as a foster-father to a bunch of kids,the dashing romantic idol of millions sang out his feelings to kids rather than beauties in two diametrically-opposite songs, Shailendra’s boisterous ‘Chakke pe chakka…’ and heartfelt lullaby ‘Main gaaoon tum so jaao…’. Hasrat Jaipuri’s master-stroke ‘Dil ke jharonkhe mein…’ (yet another future title) and the super-zingy ‘Aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charche…’ (with Suman/Rajendra Krishan) saw him belt out his heart respectively to Rajashree and the oomph-laden Mumtaz.

The ‘mature’ and the quintessential Shammi blended in Tumse Accha Kaun Hai as Shammi traversed a gamut from ‘Kiss…kisko pyar karoon…’ to the philosophical and secular ‘Ganga meri maa ka naam…’, both penned by the wonderful Rajendra Krishan as Shailendra’s replacement complement to Hasrat Jaipuri in Shammi-land. Hasrat was there of course, in two sterling numbers, ‘Janam janam ka saath…’ and ‘Rangat teri surat si…’ (with Lata).

Later that year, Shammi became a blue-blooded character again, in Prince. though the film was a disaster at the box-office, it boasted of a cavalcade of hits, led by the immortal ‘Badan pe sitare…’ (Hasrat) and that connoisseurs’ choice – ‘Madhosh hawa matwali fiza…’ (Farukh Kaiser). In keeping with Shammi’s predilections for Western jazz-n-rock, this was a brilliant reworking – without being a copy! – of the title-track of the classic Hollywood comedy Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.

In Pagla Kahin Ka it was time for Manna Dey to step in with the Shammi-as-loony act in ‘Mere bhains ko danda kyoon mara…’, with Rafi shouldered the sonorous ‘Tum mujhe yoon bhula na paaoge…’ (both Hasrat).

1971 saw Shammi close shop finally as a hero, but he went with a bang with Andaz and its cult numbers by Hasrat Jaipuri, like ‘Hai na bolo bolo…’ (with Suman Kalyanpur, Sushma Shrestha and Pratibha), ‘Sun lo sunata hoon…’ (with Mala) and the Beatles-adapted ‘Dil usse do jo jaan de de…’ with its simple, yet amazing philosophy.

When Shammi returned as a character artiste with Manoranjan, he did much more – he also made his debut as director. With Jaikishan gone, he remembered Pancham from Teesri Manzil, and the composer gave a sledgehammer of a score, from which we choose ‘Goyake chunaanche…’ because it is the only song director Shammi ever filmed on himself, with Manna Dey as his voice, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar singing for lead pair Zeenat Aman and Sanjeev Kumar, and Anand Bakshi as lyricist. Shammi’s only other film as director, Bundalbaaz (1977), saw Rafi (shockingly missing from Manoranjan) back , but as Rajesh Khanna’s voice in ‘Naghma hamara…’ (with Lata/Majrooh).

To round off this landmark Shammi Kapoor album that would be a super-seller if it ever came out, we choose that piquant sole example of Rafi singing – in that same year 1977 – for another artiste in a Shammi Kapoor song, ‘Hum premee prem karna jaane…’ in Parvarish (Laxmikant-Pyarelal-Majrooh)! Shailendra Singh was the voice that went on the Kapoor, while Rafi went on Vinod Khanna, and Kishore Kumar on Amitabh Bachchan! Next would come Rafi’s last song for the artiste who brought out his best – ‘Naag devta…’ (Shalimar/R.D.Burman-Anand Bakshi). And we conclude with two Kalyanji-Anandji-Anand Bakshi hits from Vidhaata, where Suresh Wadkar sang with Anwar-for-Dilip Kumar in ‘Haathon ki chand lakeeron ka…’ and Kishore Kumar with seven female playback voices for Padmini Kolhapure rocked the charts for Shammi just once in ‘Saat saheliyaan…’.

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