“Raj Kapoor music legacy started with the shower of melody that was Barsaat under the baton of Shankar Jaikishan. But even SJ, innovative as they were, were ultimately mere executors of Raj Kapoor’s musical will. The great Showman was the Great Conductor who audio-visualised his music as an integral part of the film’s script. No wonder Lata Mangeshkar said that all music in RK films was, in the end, given by Raj Kapoor himself-which, here, is the take of point for the RK music story.At HMV’s Taj Function to celebrate the motion picture event that Ram Teri Ganga Maili had proved to be as RK’s greatest money spinner of all times. Lata Mangeshkar certainly drops a brick when, in addressing the august audience, she says,”At RK early on, all music may ahve been credited to Shanker Jaikishen, later Laxmikant Pyarelal may have taken over and it is now Ravindra Jain. But one thing I, as the one who has sung for RK from Barsaat down, have seen is that the music in any RK film is, in the ultimate analysis, given by Raj Saab himself.”Consternation! Ravindra Jain, sitting stumpy, there in a spotless white coat, is aghast, wondering whether this is his reward for reverting from Hemlata to Lata. Hasrat Jaipuri, grateful to be there at all for the solitary song that he has written for Ram Teri Ganga Maili, is at a loss to decide how exactly to react, since he knows, better than anyone else, how dominant, right through, has been Raj Kapoor’s role in ‘envisioning’ and encapsuling Shanker-Jaikishen’s music.So much so, that Hasrat knows that “Sun Saiba Sun” in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, as written by him, is not Ravindra Jain’s tune at all. As far as Hasrat remembers, Sun Saiba Sun is how he, long ago, wrote a certain Lata number, tuned by Jaikishen, for RK’s never made Ajanta.
This was Raj Kapoor’s point even when Laxmikant Pyarelal so sensationally supplanted SJ at RK. All the music that Raj Kapoor wanted he had already got shaped on tape by SJ, on his own audio-visual terms, for his films to come. If at all Raj needed any music director now in 1973, it was to put the SJ tunes, already there on tape, into the final form in which they were to go into Bobby or Satyam Shivam Sundaram or Prem Rog or any other RK movie.In fact, more than once, Raj Kapoor wanted Laxmikant-Pyarelal to utilise, in a RK movie, the Jaikishen tune that was ready at hand in the format of Sun Sahiba Sun. But each time LP shied away, since by that time, this duo came to RK with Bobby in 1973, it had already its own distinct identity as a composer team. The break with LP therefore, when it did come finally, after Prem Rog, came late. It was inevitable that, at some point, LP should have moved away from the idea of merely impersonating SJ at RK.Why then did Raj move away from Shanker after Kal Aaj Aur Kal, if it was merely the SJ way he wanted the RK music to be shaped? The reason was personal. At a time when Raj Kapoor was reeling under the plus half-crore loss he had incurred on Mera Naam Joker, Shanker had mindlessly pushed the cause of Sharda for a song in Kal Aaj Aur Kal. And the song, Kisi Ke Dil Ko Sanam, was certainly there when we saw it at the press show, but was later scrapped from certain prints to teach Shanker a lesson. Intelligence was never Shanker’s strong point. Otherwise in the wake of Barsaat, he would have considered going solo. Hasrat, then teaming with him, insists that Shanker full of composing beans, toyed with the thoughts of going solo sans Jaikishan, but had to give up the idea when he saw that the film trade would only buy the name – Shanker-Jaikishen.Sharda even today maintains that one of Lata’s conditions to sing again for RK(the melody queen’s voice was not to be heard in Mera Naam Joker and Kal Aaj Aur Kal) was that Laxmikant-Pyarelal should replace Shanker for the music of Bobby. Raj Kapoor was not the one to submit to such conditions, of course, but the fact remains that he was under severe pressure at the time, after Kal Aaj Aur Kal had merely compounded the staggering losses sustained on Mera Naam Joker.Shailendra was gone by then(1970) and this meant that Raj Kapoor now tuned that much less with Shanker. When Jaikishen too went the Shailendra way in late 1971, even the one RK composer who vibed with Randhir Kapoor, Raj’s RK heir, was gone. Plus with Bobby, Raj had decided to banish, not only himself as a hero, but also his “soul”, Mukesh. He was out to recreate the Nargis-Raj aura through a younger Nargis, in the nymphet shape of Dimple, and a younger Raj Kapoor, in the fledgling form of Rishi Kapoor.
From the earliest days, I have been interested in music. In fact, my first ambition was to be a music director. I even sang in my earlier films like “Chitchor”, “Chitor Vijay”, “Jail Yatra” and “Gopinath”.In our country, our whole existence, our lifestyles, our cultural fabric is wedded to music. Our life, our birth is wedded to music. Our death is wedded to a lament, which is also a music. Our rituals, our gods, our goddesses, everything is music, is music, is music….Where words fail, it is music that conveys much more than all words put together
Such a setting, as Raj viewed , it also needed a younger pair of music-maker whom he could guide to keep heartbeat with the young lovers. Thus did Laxmikant-Pyarelal come to realise their life’s ambition of erasing the name of SJ from RK. Ironically, it was Mukesh, out of the Bobby singing picture, who brought LP in, pleading that if the duo now failed to show the gumption to take over from Shanker, the honour would go t a rival composer, since Raj had already made up his mind on a change.For all that, when LP themselves lost favour with Raj after Prem Rog, the moment was ripe, music buffs felt, for Raj Kapoor to do the thing that would hurt his duo the most – resurrect Shanker. Any bitterness between Raj and Shanker was by then past. In fact, Shanker’s first reaction, when early in 1973 he had heard that LP were to do Bobby, was to assert that let them come into the music sanctum of RK, for now the world would know who was the better composer: SJ or LP! Shanker was as naive as that. He had finally to be told that, not only was he out of RK’s Bobby, he was not wanted for RK’s Dharam Karam either, since the film’s young director, Randhir Kapoor, tuned out with the Teesri Kasam bullock-cart era, but with the jet age representated by R.D. Burman.So Shanker never turned to RK and Raj Kapoor was seen to feel intensely for the man on his death, as he made a personal appearance in Bombay TV’s Chhaya Geet to pay his salad-day’s composer a touching tribute. Actually, Ram Teri Ganga Maili had been a musical subject right up Shanker’s alley. But the film came to be done by Ravindra Jain and, in assessing the music, you could not argue against the show-world maxim of nothing succeeds like success.But Ravindra Jain and Laxmikant-Pyarelal, they came only later, the men to give RK music shape and substance were Shanker-Jaikishan. Raj Kapoor wanted this duo for his very first film, Aag, but had to submit to the will of his father, Prithviraj, and make do with stage composer Ram Ganguly. Now Aag may have been the first film to fix the vocals of Mukesh on RAj Kapoor through a sonorous unforgettable like Zinda hoon s tarah ki gam-e-zindagi nahin, but the rest of the film score, while popular enough, moved very much with the ambit of tradition. Na aankhon mein aansoo, Kahee koyal shor machaye re, Dil toot gaya jee chhot gaya, Raat ko ji chamken taare, Kahin ka deepak kahin ki baati(as vocalised by Shamshad Begum, Mukesh and Shailesh) could have been songs belonging to any film of the time, there was nothing distinctly Raj Kapoorian about them.SJ maintained that they put in a lot of work on Aag, but I cannot buy this, since Shamshad Begum has told me that, for every single song of hers in the film, she was personally rehearsed by Ram Ganguly. Just as I could not go along with Shanker when he said that Jagte Raho was originally offered to SJ, but they refused, seeing that the theme had scant scope for music. Since Jagte Raho was to be made in Bengali and Hindi from the outsets by stage stalwarts Shombu Mitra and Amit Moitra, it stood to reason that the choice of composer, even by Raj Kapoor, would be someone in the creative mould of Salil Chowdhury.Of Raj, it has been said that he wove the Melody of Life into his films. Interwoven into the fabric of this Melody of Life was a rare visual rhythm that Raj could strike only with Barsaat. It is this visual rhythm, running like a golden thread through his films from Barsaat to Ram Teri Ganga Maili, that came vividly to mind, as Lata revealed at the HMV function how, after recording the first song of Barsaat, Jiya Beqarar hai, all of them – herself, Raj Kapoor and the entire RK unit – came out of the Famous Recording Studio at Tardeo and sat down by the streetside wondering what was going to happen to the song, to Barsaat, to RK. As Lata said this, Raj nodded mistily.
As one critic observed, Raj Kapoor poured every ounce of his inspiration and creative energy into the shaping of the music of his film. He knew exactly what he wanted from his composers, lyricists and singers. He would coax and cajole, badger and pummel his team and call it a day only when hehad got the songs perfect, the tune right, the words correct, the orchestra right and the recording flawless.Then he would lie back and start thinking of a hundred different ways of bringing that song to life on the screen.
If, Jiya beqarar hai, as written by Hasrat to Shanker’s tune, betrays, in its interlude music, traces of Husnlal-Bhagatram as Shanker’s mentor, these were the only familiar notes that your ears picked up in the music score of Barsaat. Right from the Barsaat mein (the second song recorded for the film as tuned by Jaikishen and written by Shailendra) down to other Lata evergreens (like Hava mein udata jaaye, Meri aankhon mein bas gaya koi re, Bichhde huye pardesi, O O O O mujhe kisi se pyar ho gaya and Ab mera kaun sahara), it was something totally new in film music that you heard in Barsaat, while Bhairavi as its strong undercurrent. This lends credence to Raj’s stated view that it was he who had shaped SJ in the Bhairavi strain, starting from Barsaat.Raj Kapoor,by the same token, was entitled to his view(a view endorsed by Lata) that any music SJ made for him, even for films not starring him, was RK music! After all, RK was SJ’s base camp. It is from this base camp that the duo climbed dizzy heights to become the first music directors, in the history of the film industry, to charge Rs. 5 Lakhs for a film. My gut point is, while was Rk was SJ’s alma mater, it never became a mental crutch in the duo’s style of functioning. Like true freelancers, SJ stepped out of RK and dazzlingly proved themselves. Even while doing so, every time they returned to their base camp, RK, they came up with an excitingly fresh stock of tunes. this is where the perspective listeners saw the ever creative conducting hand of Raj Kapoor in operation.It was Raj Kapoor’s vision that conceptualised the dream sequence in Awara, of course. When asked who, Shanker or Jaikishen, score dthe famous dream sequence number, Raj replied that both had a hand in it. The truth came to me in a strange way. Suraiya told me that she had a record of the famous egyptian singer, Om Kulsum, which Nargis wanted to hear. So Suraiya sent it to Nargis through their common hairdresser, Mary. As Mary entered RK, who should espy the record Shanker, sitting there! Shanker took the record from MAry, played it and instantly ang his Raj Saab, to convey the glad tidings that he had found the tune for the famous dream sequence for Awaara!That is how, one supposes, Shanker came to fashion the arrestingly orchestrated Tere Bin aag yeh chaandni part of the Awaara dream sequence, with Jaikishen conjuring up the ghar aaya mera pardesi section. That is how Shanker and Jaikishen came to be two glittering sides of the same box-office coin. But the man who shaped their style and technique was Raj Kapoor. SJ would have remained mere tunesmith if Raj Kapoor, as a versatile musician himself, had not demonstrated to them that any music they composed had to be visual music, music that could be imaginatively filmed. That is why Shanker’s claim that it was he who showed Goody Seervai how SJ wanted the accordion played in Awaara hoon is neither here nor there. It is known that the original Awara hoon tune was Jaikishen’s brainwave. But at some point, Shanker too invevitably came into it-like Jaikishen habitually came into any Shanker tune. And then, at the most vital point, Raj Kapoor himself stepped in. And it was only after Raj so stepped in that the oral music of Awara could take form and meaning as Aa jaao tadapte hain armaan, Hum tujh se mohabbat kar ke sanaam, Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere, Jab se balaam ghar aaye, and Ek bewafa se pyar kiya. Nor were these the only tunes SJ composed for Awara or any other RK film. There were ever so many other tunes that passed into RK’s taped stock, being visually not quite right at that point.
It is on this RK treasure-trove that Raj Kapoor kept drawing to the end. That is how you find, as early as in 1953, in Aah the original tune of Jaane Kahaan gaye woh din in the film’s background score! At other times, it worked in reverse. In Shree 420, for instance, after Nargis and Raj have enacted Pyar hua ikraar hua, you hear, in the background scoring the tune of Chhoti si yeh zindagani re!
What a shame we could not get to view this Chhoti se yeh tune fully(as sung and enacted by Mukesh himself on the screen) when we sat down to watch Aah(with its absurd reshot ending) on TV recently. At some point after Aah, SJ decided, in view of the grooming quantum of work, that Shanker would do all the dance compositions and Jaikishan would do all the background scoring in the duo’s films. In Aah itself, contrast the flamboyance of Shanker’s orchestration in Jhanana jhanana jhanana jhanana ghungarva baaje with Jaikishan’s soft-as-a-whisper tuning of Yeh shaam ki tanhaiyaan. Here are two Aah tunes that we are in a osition to pinpoint as either Shanker’s or Jaikishen’s. Okay, again in Aah, Raaja ki aayegi baraat was by Shanker and Sunte the naam hum by Jaikishan. But this identification exercise is pointless, since the Unseen Hand behind each Aah tune from Jaane na nazar to Jo main jaanti unke liye, Raat andheri door savera to Aa jaa re, was Raj Kapoor’s. Not a note could be recorded until his Unseen Hand had first played it out in his mind.The notes, enrapturing as they were could not prevent Aah from coming a nasty cropper at the turnstiles. This was a great setback for Raj, since he had planned his next, Boot Polish, as a songless film in the noe-realistic de Sica style. The failure of Aah certainly shook Raj Kapoor, since reshooting the film’s ending had only made matters worse. So now, as Raj sat down to view Boot Polish(as directed by his assistant, Prakash Arora), the aspect that the film presented was a documentary.Now this fact is little known – that all the musical situations in Boot Polish were created after the full film had been shot! For the first time at RK, the thing went in reverse- the songs were not written into the films script.It is this amazing context that you have to view Boot Polish again to see how, within a month, Raj extracted, out a SJ, a music which he , by skilful surgery, fitted into the film. Raat gayi phir din aata hai, Thehar zara O jaane waale, Nanhe munne bachche teri mutthi mein kya hai, Chali kaun se des gujariya(picturised tellingly on the man who wrote it Shailendra), Tumhare hai tum se dua maangte hai, Lapak jhapak, tu aa re badarva, Main baharon ki natkhat rani-were integrated into the texture of Boot Polish after the film was shot and ready.
Only the genius of Raj Kapoor could have worked it thus to turn Boot Polish into a hit that neutralised the losses suffered from Aah. If someone were to tell you today that the way Baby Naaz sings in Boot Polish to David(John chacha tum kitne achche) was an afterthought of Raj Kapoor’s, would you believe it?That is why, where the man “envisioning” it all is Raj Kapoor, I attach no value to my belated knowledge that, in Shree 420, almost all the songs, ranging from Mera joota hai japani, Dil ka haal sune dilwaala, Pyar hua ikraar hua, ichak daana beechak daana and Ramaiyya vastvaiyya, were the handiwork of Shanker. to me, it is just an accident that Raj happened to pick up more tunes from Shanker-Jaikishan in this film.To me, Jaikishan’s one Shree 420 creation, O jaane wale mud ke zara dekhte jaana, is symbolic of the very best of SJ at RK. To me, if Shankar admitted no superiority, Jaikishan brooked no equality. Shaping a Shree420 number like Mud mud ke na dekh was a childs play for Jaikishan, since it was a tune in glamorous accord with the Gaylord lifestyle.RAj Kapoor himself initially wanted to be a music director. As to Lata, so to me, therefore, Raj Kapoor himself will remain the Grand Music Director of all his RK Films, with Sj his two conducting hands. Yes, the Great Showman was the Great Conductor too. Raj was the dreamer. Sj were merely the executors of his musical will. But Raj sadly also became a prisoner of his own musical image. Thus the moment listeners heard Zindagi khwab hai on Radio Ceylon, they logically expected the number to go on Raj in Jagte Raho. When therefore Zindagi khwab hai materialised on Motilal, Jagte Raho a super film. stood rejected at the outset itself. The high Bhairavi note on which the film ended, with Nargis putting over Jagoo Mohan Pyare like Dilip Kumar’s Jogan, was not how the public had seen Nargis and Raj Kapoor in the 14 films in which the two had co-starred in a row before Jagte Raho.The ideal in Jagte Raho, of Nargis alone being able to quench Raj Kapoor’s thirst in the end, was therefore given, by the public, a crude interpretation that made Salil Chowdhary almost an interloper at RK. Lost, on such a crassly commercial audience, was the authenticity of his bhangda. Aeven duniya deve duhaii, and his artistry of composition in Thandi Thandi pawan ki puhar and Lo shay wai-wai. How could the public ever accept the idea of a film in which Raj Kapoor, the Eternal Tramp with a song in his heart, did not sing at all! Such a film, if revealing Raj Kapoor as a peerless actor, could only be an award-winner, not a crowd puller.After the trauma of Jagte Raho, Ab Dilli Dur Nahin was an RK show in which Raj Kapoor lost all interest the moment he came to know that the initial offer made to him, to project Chacha Nehru as the star of the children’s show, stood withdrawn by New Delhi. SJ’s assistant Dattaram, took a flying start with Ab Dilli Dur Nahin, coming up with such catchy kiddy numbers as Chun Chun karti aaye chidiya, O maata and Yeh chaman hamara apna hai, but Raj Kapoor’s heart was not in the film as directed by his assistant, Amar Kumar. Probablt the fact that Ab Dilli Dur Nahin’s making coincided with his break with Nargis had something to do with Raj’s apathy. The end result was that Ab Dilli….made no waves.This was a crisis point in Raj Kapoor’s life. He had now to convince his distributors that he could be as effective a romantic opposite the far-from-mini Padmini as opposite Nargis. How Raj Kapoor went to renew his faith in his own brand of cinema with first Padmini in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain and then with Vyjayanthimala in Sangam is by now part of our filmlore. Such a folk-hero was Raj Kapoor a long as he stuck to the simpleton mantle, that even his weird idea of dacoits reform went musically across in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. This was also the film in which Jaikishan proved that he was capable of matching his Chori-Chori classic. Rasik Balama, with something so profound as O basanti pawan paagal.
I do not say that I compose music, but i conduct it. I get my music done the way I visualise it – at what particular moment the woodwinds should flow, at what intensity and volume the percussion….now THAT is the art of conducting.
So it definitely has a very distinct quality about it, no matter who the composer is or who the writer.
Shanker for his part. as is now well known, did not want to do his dacoit film at all. What is not so well known is how Raj brought him around. At RK, the tune had always come first, the words after, since that was Raj’s style of audio-vision. But now, to get a stubborn Shanker going, Raj had Shailendra pen down the opening stanza of Honton pe sachchai rehti hai first. And then asked Shanker whether such poetic words, evoking the flow of Ganga, did not really offer him any musical scope. The composer in Shanker was stirred and this musician’s musician tuned the theme song of Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai on the spot. The other near theme-song in the film, Mera Naam Raju, was equally evocatively tuned by Jaikishan and the musical pace for the dacoits, with Padmini as their peach of a prize, had been set. The wild Ho maine pyar kiya abandon that Padmini brought to her dancing, the equal lack of physical inhibition surrounding her enaction of Kya hua yeh mujhe kya hua, gave the film’s music a romantic impetus by which key situational numbers in it, like Hai aag hamaare seene mein and Aa Ab Laut Chalen, came to be readily accepted in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai.After that, the rest of the RK’s music, from Sangam to Ram Teri Ganga Maili, is still so fresh in th public eye and ear that it needs no detailed recap. Only, by the time Sangam came and went, Sharda had arrived to knock the hyphen out of Shankar-Jaikishan. It had been for long Shankar’s plaint that Ameen Sayani, after acting fair in the Mera Joota hai Japani days, had began playing a Binaca Geetmala Game of his own by which Jaikishan always upstaged Shanker, come Wednesday! Ameen’s plea was that he, like the public, could not tell a Shankar tune from a Jaikishan’s tune – as far as he was concerned, it was all “Shanker Jaikishan’s Sangeet”!Now matters really came to a head, as Ameen Sayani gave preference, in Binaca Geetmala, to Jaikishan’s Yeh mera prem patra padhkar, over Shanker’s Dost dost na raha in Sangam. The fact that Jaikishan had unwittingly, in a signed Filmfare article, identified Yeh mera prem patra as composed by him, had infuriated Shanker further since, according to him, it broke a lifetime pact by which neither composer would publicly identify a tune as either Shanker’s or Jaikishan’s. Shanker maintained that Yeh mera prem patra was not a patch on Dost dost na raha as a composition and that Ameen Sayani was clearly playing favourites. So Shanker approached the sponsors of Binaca Geetmala and got all important pehla paidaan-doosra paidan distinction in it abolished. That killed Binaca Geetmala effectively as ‘a Wednesday must’ for us listeners.As for the film itself, the Vyjayanthimala-Raj Kapoor emotional involvement gave a rare edge to Sangam and its songs, especially to Bol Radha Bol as composed by Jaikishan. Now even this was another change of pace at RK – till then, Shanker had composed all the title tunes, while in Sangam it was Jaikishan’s Mere man ki ganga that Raj had okayed as the film’s theme song. Maybe this piqued Shanker no end, for I recall Mukesh telling me that practically all his theme songs for SJ were done by Shanker. But now it could be Jaikishan here, too, in a Raj Kapoor film – as exemplified by Main Aashiq hoon Bahaaron ka(in Aashiq).After that came joker and disaster. There was no romance left in Raj Kapoor’s life any longer – both Padmini and Vyjayanthimala ahd gone out of it. And Raj Kapoor, it had been crystal clear, could breathe romantic life into his music only so long as he had a affair going. It therefore came as no surprise when Raj Kapoor, already balanced precariously on the circus swings(seeing that he had lived for five years in the RK studios with his narcissistic image of Mera Naam Joker), just came down in a heap.Yet there was nothing wrong with SJ’s music in his magnum opus for all the intrusions of Sharda as the rift in the lute. If Shankar created Jaane Kahaan gaye woh din, JAikishan matched it with Jeena Yahaan Marna Yahaan. Even Neeraj assumed the Shailendra garb effectively enough in Shanker’s Kehta Hai joker and Ae bhai jara dekh ke chalo. If Jaikishan’s Daag na lag jayee had a rare cadence, so did Shanker’s Kaate na kate raina. Only, it was Asha singing in place of Lata! And for all the virtousityof Asha, Lata’s absence was somehow seen as making all the difference in the end. Especially in the light of the way RK’s fortunes were revieved the moment Lata returned with her vocals for Bobby!SJ’s last beat at RK had now been sounded in Kal Aaj Aur Kal by Jaikishan as Tik tik tik tik tik tik. Thus in came LP with Bobby. But for me, Rk music ceases to be RK music sans SJ. Call it my bias, if you like, but it is a bias. I know that is shared by thousands of listeners all over India. How can you possibly try to sit down and analyse LP’s own admission, they were merely required to be musical reincarnation of SJ at RK?When Raj Kapoor himself maintained that by 1972, he already had on tape all the music that he needed for RK movies, that he merely wanted the aid of a music conductor to help him put it together again, let us leave the RK record at that. If the shower of melody that began with Barsaat retained its mellifluent flow right down to Ram Teri Ganga Maili, the baton of that flow was wielded by Raj Kapoor himself. And that is one baton that cannot be handed on – RK’s musical mainsprings dried up the moment Raj Kapoor breathed his tuneful last.”