I had been thinking about an off-beat theme for my next post, and I found one which turned out to be quite interesting.
The 50’s and 60’s saw a lot of black and white movies where comic sequences were picturised on tunes which had their base in pure classical music. The recurring pattern was that of the hero/comedian trying to woo his lady love by disguising himself. Or it would be a dance teacher, music teacher, a music competition- any situation contrived to fit in a classical music based song, What is unclear is, was this something akin to the item numbers that we have today, as a selling point for the movie? I dont know, since I am of a later generation. Perhaps readers of the blog who have lived through that time could shed more light on this.
The songs themselves were big hits, highly melodious tunes, but extremely entertaining to watch as well. It shall be my endeavour to bring such songs to light, and focus on the picturisation and musical aspects of those.
Chandrashekhar and Agha have a gala time. Although Agha appears briefly in the mukhda, he makes a big impact to the comical aspect of the song. The carelessly stitched-in moustache and Chandrashekhar’s facial expressions contribute to the comic element.
As for the music, this is an exceptional composition by Chitragupta, oozing with the flavour of Kedar – his initial training under S.N.Tripathi standing him in good stead. As usual, Lata’s voice has the characteristic Chitragupta sweetness, and Manna Dey-well no words to describe him.
This song epitomises the antithetic concept of a comic sequence wrapped in a classical tune. There is so much fun in the picturisation of the song, Mehmood and Shubha Khote do a great job, but a lot of credit must go to Hrishikesh Mukherjee, who is the director ,who gave us such great comedies later.
This is a composition in Raag Shyam Kauns, close to Chandrakauns, but has a sampoorna structure in the avaroh (Keerawani scale), which differentiates it from Chandrakauns. (If the jargon is too heavy for the readers, then please stay tuned, I shall be covering these aspects in later posts).
Agha at his comic best, in this filmy adaptation of the traditional thumri in Bhairavi. Music by Roshan, lyrics by Sahir. Manna Da in full flow.
Few people are aware of this priceless rendering by Rasoolan Bai in the year 1935, where she has sung this thumri. I rate it as one of the altime best renderings in Bhairavi.
Picturised on a handsome Subbiraj, this gem of a song deserved a better picturisation, surely. I am not sure what Subbiraj is doing here, I can only assume he is trying to be comic. The dance is terrible, the lip-sync , the body moments of the dancer and the singer are terrible. What stands out is a brilliant composition by Chitragupta and Rafi Saab’s golden voice.
It is Ashok Kumar’s turn to go in disguise, the makeup suits him well, and he gives a credible performance-it is clear that he has understanding of music. The comic aspect is well retained, in keeping with the lyrics, the visual is highly entertaining. Nice to see Dadamoni in a light role.
Dileep Dholakia, a very talented music director, has composed this immortal composition in Bageswari, which serves as a benchmark for the raga in Hindi cinema. A keen ear would notice the beautiful use of the sarangi and sarod in the interludes. As usual, Manna Da’s rendering is flawless.
Raj Kapoor in a different role here, the buildup to the song is clear from the video. He has a done a great job, especially in the tarana at 4:55. I am sure there is nothing much to be said about the musical aspects of this hugely popular composition. There is talk that the dancer is Saroj Khan, but I am not sure.
Roshan’s supreme musical abilities are on display here. He was trained under Pandit Ratanjankar, and hence had a strong foundation in Hindustani music.
Mehmood comic abilities and musical sense come to the fore here. Lots of close-ups, great abhinay. Not sure if this is the right handling of a famous traditional thumri musically though.
A typical comedy song, Mehmood trying manaao-fy a roothi Shubha Khote. My word-the two made such a wonderful pair. Lovely picturisation.
This is a favourite of mine from Love in Tokyo, this song has been overshadowed by other hits in this movie. When I heard it for the first time on tape, I could tell that this must have been picturised on a comedian. Thats because there is a strong element of comedy in the music itself, and Manna Dey has done a wonderful job.
One of the rare occasions where Yaman has been used in such a light mode, and it is a delight. Shankar Jaikishen are the music directors.
Thats it then-this is my list. It has been a Manna Da festival of sorts; it had to be, for he had the best training in classical music and hence most of the difficult songs which required that knowledge were recorded by him.
It would be interesting to see if there were any songs recorded with a female voice picturised on a comedy sequence featuring an actress.
Whats on your list?