Hits Behind Superhits
What better song to start with our journey through memory lane than to remember the prayer which even after 50 years of its first rendering by prisoners in V. Shantaram’s classic ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’, thousands of school children all over the country continue to sing ‘Ae malik tere bande hum’ as their morning prayer. Ironically, the other immortal prayer song, ‘Tu pyar ka sagar hai’ was also sung inside the prison walls in fifties’ great hit Seema. ‘Hum ko man ki shakti dena’ from film Guddi (50s) is often heard temples and schools as a prayer till today. When it comes to songs specially meant to please children, K. L. Saigal’s ‘Ek raje ka beta leke udnewala ghoda’ from film President of the Thirties was, perhaps, the first popular song in the category. One of the best written and thought out verse, that moves beautifully into a chorus for children comes from Raj Kapoor’s classic Boot Polish – ‘Nahne munne bachche teri muthi mein kya hei’. Over the years millions of mothers must have put their children to sleep with one or the other of these lovable moonshine lullabies – ‘Badal dheere dheere aa, mera bulbul so raha hei shor gul na macha (Kismet-40s), ‘Nahni kali sone chali hawa dheere aana (Sujata-50s).
As the patriotic cauldron began to bubble and broil across the country and came to climax with Quit India call given by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942, the spirit of the slogan was clearly visible in the song ‘Aaj Himalaya ki choti se phir humne lalkara hei, dur hato ai dunia walo Hindustan hamara hei’ (Kismet). Indeed, it was a befitting tribute to the freedom fighters that the era of independent India began with ‘Watan ki rah par watan ke naujawan shaheed ho’ (Shaheed). And what a wonderful way to guide the new generation to guard the hard won freedom – ‘Hum laen hein toofano se kashti nikal kar, is desh ko rakhna mere bachcho sambhal kar’ (Jagriti-50s). Then came the greatest hit on the patriotic theme – ‘Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle, ugle here moti’ (Upkar-60s), which proved a gold mine for producer/actor Manoj Kumar.
In the mythological genre, there is none to beat ‘Bharat ki ik sannari ki ham katha sunate hein’ from Ram Rajya (1943), the most popular film ever made on the epic Ramayana. Another hit mythological of the Forties, Har Har Mahadev owed much of its success to ‘Kankar kankar se mein poonchu, Shankar mera kahan hei’. During the same decade, singer actor Surendra sang the immensely popular number ‘Bhiksha de de maiyya Pingla, jogi khada hai dwar’ (Bhartrihari). But the song that created a sensation by turning Jai Santoshi Maa into the biggest grosser amongst mythological movies was the super hit song – ‘Jahan tahan mat pooch kahan kahan hei apni Santoshi maa. But the song that is sung by millions of Mata’s devotees is the hit from Avtar –‘Chalo bulawa aya hei, Mata ne bulaya hei’
Almost all the runaway hit films owe their success to one or more hit songs in the movies. The best example of such a movie was Parasmani, which owed its success entirely to the super hit song – ‘Zara samne to aa o chalia, chup chup chalne mein kya raaz hei’. The song also gave a flying start to the career of the music directors, Laxmi Kant Pearey Lal. One of the earliest runaway hits was Ek Thi Ladki (1949) and the song that made it so was ‘Lara lappa lara lappa layee rakhda. The song became so popular that the film’s heroin Meena Shorey on whom the song was filmed came to be known as the Lara Lappa girl. After 40 years the history was repeated when Madhuri Dikshit was known as Ek Do Teen girl after the release of another runaway hit Tezab, which owed its success to the hit number ‘Ek do teen char’. Nagin was the biggest surprise blockbuster of the 50s, and the credit for its astounding success goes to ‘Jadugar sayyan chor mori bayyan, ho gayee aadhi raat ab ghar jaane do’ and other hit songs in the movie. Ratan (40s) became a big hit because of ‘Sawan ke badlo, unse yeh jaa kaho’. The low-budget Dosti became a big grosser by the magic of the touching melodies – ‘Teri dosti mera pyar’ and ‘Chahunga tujhe sham savere’. Mahal was a mega hit largely because of Lata’s immortal number ‘Aaega, aaega aane wala’.
Quawalis had their own contribution in success of some movies, more so in the case of Zeenat (40s). It had all time popular quawali – ‘Aahen na bhari shikwe na kiye, kuch bhi na zaban se kam liya’. Twenty years later came the next best number, ‘Yeh ishq ishq hei ishq’, which made Barsat Ki Raat a big hit. Dhrma owed its success to “Raaz ki baat kehdoon to jane mehfil min kya ho”. Some movies were declared big hits even before their release because of the pre-release of a super hit song from the movie. Qurbani was eagerly awaited because of ‘Aap jaisa meri zindagi mein ae to baat ban jaye’. ‘Jumma’ song did the same thing to film Hum and ‘Choli’ song to Khalnayak.
The theme song became a fad, especially after the internationally famous ‘Awara hun’ from Raj Kapoor’s Awara. Many producers made it a point to focus attention on the theme song bearing title of the movie and found the effort rewarding, as in the success of these movies: Geet Gaya Pathron Ne, Chowdhvi Ka Chand, Dil Apna Preet Parayee, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hei, Haryali Aur Rasta, Hathi Mere Saathi, Kabhi Kabhi etc.
The comic songs, like the popular comedians, contributed to the success of many movies. These are joyous, naughty, swinging songs with deliberately clever wordings which were immensely enjoyed by the audiences. Perhaps the earliest popular song in this category as ‘Mere piya gaye Rangoon wahan se kiya hei telephoon’ (Bazaar-40s). Soon followed another hit ‘Ana meri jan Sunday ke Sunday’ (Samadhi). “Sar jo tera chkraye, dil dooba jaye’ (Pyasa), not only proved lucky for the producer but also brought fortune to the new comer comedian Johney Walker. Lighter songs based on country rhythm were received extremely well to boost the box-office returns of the films – ‘Jhoot bole kawwa kate (Bobby), ‘Mere angana mei tumhara kya kaam hei’ (Lawarris), ‘Khaeke paan banaras wala’ (Don), ‘Rang barse’ (Silsila) etc.
Besides, there are hundreds of beautiful haunting melodies that brought grace and good luck to the films and honor and awards for the great singers. We miss some of them – K. L. Saigal, Mukesh, Mohd. Rafi and Kishore Kumar – the legends of their lifetime whose melodius voices continue to entertain us, from generation to generation. The era of musicals is here again, thanks to the fresh talents with melodius voices – Kumar Shanu, Udit Narayan, Shan, Sonu Nigam, Sukhvindar, Sunidhi Chowhan, Alka Yagnik, Shreya Ghoshal, Alisha Chenoy and of course, the legendary sisters, Lata Mungeshkar and Asha Bhonsle, who continue to give Midas touch to movies with their haunting melodies, as they have been doing for over six decades.