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Kunal Chatterjee


Awara was released in December 1951 and apart from being a runaway hit, it proved to be a milestone in Indian cinema in many aspects. Members are already aware of its great songs and music and its popularity in socialist countries of Eastern Europe and China. In this regard I would like to share my experience with my friends. I was in Moscow in 1989 and as I was going through an underpass, I heard someone playing Barsaat theme song on violin (it may be recalled that later RK used it as a signature tune for all his movies till the last). I stood there enjoying till he finished and before leaving put a $5 bill in his hat. As I was leaving, he asked me in Russian “Are you an Indian?”. My translator answered on my behalf that I was indeed an Indian. Hearing this, he immediately returned $5 to me and remarked that he couldn’t accept money from an Indian. In his opinion it was a great land of Awara, Shri 420, Raj Kapoor and music directors Shankar Jaikishan. He then played Awara Hoon and after finishing hugged me warmly and asked me to carry his best wishes for all Indians. It was an overwhelming emotional experience and I kept wondering why he singled me out for this special treatment as I was neither from industry nor remotely connected wit those films.

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Coming back to Awara. The most poignant scene was when a pregnant Leela Chitnis is thrown out of the house by husband Prithviraj Kapoor on the basis of suspicion planted by villain played by KN Singh. Dilemma and helplessness of Leela Chitnis found Shailendra’s lyrical expression through “Naiyya Meri Majhdar……”. It was turning point of the movie beautifully conceptualised by Mohd Rafi’s soulful singing, SJ’s melodious music and Raj Kapoor’s perfect direction. Incidentally, RK’s brother-in-law Prem Nath was seen in a cameo in the song as the head boatman.

Take a look at this video on YouTube:

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