As a director, Manmohan Desai will always be known as the one who took the Hindi masala movie to its pinnacle from the 1960s to the early 1980s. He had a dream run of mostly successful films, all depending on a cornucopia of drama, a focus on mass entertainment above all other considerations, and a list of tropes that made his moves near-formulaic while also being very separate entities. He was most prolific in the 1970s and the 1972 film Raampur Ka Laxman was one of his early hits during that era. In an utterly rollicking smorgasbord of a movie involving long lost brothers, crime, conspiracies and romance, to name a few elements, the song Gum hai kisi ke pyar mein is a quiet little happy moment of romance acknowledged. Continue reading →
The girl at the window or the balcony is a classic romantic trope, probably tracing back to ancient theatre, lost in the mists of time. In Hindi cinema, with the majority of the audience living in an increasingly crowded urban environment, that quickly turned into lovers at windows in adjacent houses or apartments, forever separated by the insignificant but fathomless divide between buildings. Many a romantic tale, some serious, some light-hearted, have been woven across that gap over the decades. Being Indian cinema, inevitably, songs were sung across the abyss, and Aise to na dekho from the film Teen Devian is a wonderful example of the genre. Continue reading →
By the end of the 70s, Amitabh Bachchan was the undisputed king of Hindi cinema and he had settled into a comfortable niche of angry action hero and romantic rogue that worked out quite well for him with almost every outing. Kaalia, released in 1981, was another in this line of Amitabh starers, along with Parveen Babi as his partner in on-screen romance.
Tum saath ho jab apne inherits a long history of Hindi songs set in strange parties where everyone seems satisfied to stand around and enjoy the song and dance unfolding before them, peppered with layers of meaning between the protagonist and the antagonist, who also happens to be invited, or is the host in some cases! Continue reading →
When Pehla nasha, from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, first played on screens large and small in 1992, and Aamir Khan appeared in a loud red shirt and flung his sweater into the picturesque landscape behind him, in slow motion, you knew something had changed and that something new was beginning. Pehla nasha went on to establish many firsts, firsts that would change the way Hindi songs were made and visualised for the decades to follow. Continue reading →
Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi is the first Hindi film I remember seeing in its entirety. I’m sure there were others before then, but this one made an impact as a film, something separate and different from all that other stuff on TV. That effect was in no small part because of the songs.
As an Indian kid, film songs are a reality that you are exposed to from the day you’re born, but watching Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi and seeing this, the first song in the film, flow in from the unfolding story, was when it all seemed to fall into place. At last, a film song made sense as something with a story behind it and a story in it, rather than as random music and lyrics on the radio.
Beyond my personal reasons for loving this song, however, it is a song worthy of being remembered and enjoyed. It was in many ways ahead of its time, or at least it captured a perfect intermingling with the story of the film, which Hindi film music as often lost and gained and lost again over the decades. Continue reading →