In Hindi cinema, the early 90s had a lot of staple giants in the field, and many of the names that would go on to become major forces in Hindi films and music in the following two decades, started off in this era. The 1994 film Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa was an important juncture for many things that were to come, and crucial stepping-stone towards many changes that would happen in the near future. In the film the simple and romantic song, Aye kaash ke hum remains one of my favourites.
In 1994, Shahrukh Khan was still a new actor to films after a memorable showing on television. He’d already made his mark by choosing to do negative roles and playing anti-heroes very soon after his debut as the typical romantic hero. In Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, he mixed the two streams of his career to some extent, a romantic hero that was very far from heroic or admirable. Director Kundan Shah was acclaimed for his first film, a decade previous to this, and had directed several very popular Television serials in the 80s and 90s. This film was for him a return to cinema that panned out quite well.
Shot very simply and cleanly by cinematographer Virendra Saini, Aye kaash ke hum is a romantic song set in a amusement park. In his typical style Kundan Shah creates a very relatable setting with characters you might spot on any street. You can see the very beginning of the romantic hero that Shahrukh Khan was to become here. This was not his first romantic film, but the signature style was developing. This film was a first for Suchitra Krishnamoorthi in Hindi, and she plays the titular wholesome heroine, and object of the affections of many, with enthusiasm and over-the top charm, as is appropriate for the situation. She’d go on to various stints as a singer and actress in the future but this remains for many her most memorable work.
The music by Jatin-Lalit is expressive and flamboyant as ever, in their high after hits such as Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, their urgent violins and trumpeting saxophone music is as recognisable as their other works. Sung by Kumar Sanu, who was arguable the most popular playback singer at the time, this is what I consider his finest work, not always being a fan of some of his more high-pitched renditions around this era. Here he sings with an emotion and weight which lends beauty to this music.
There is another aspect of this song of people walking through an amusement park that cannot be ignored. Soon after she started work as an independent choreographer, Farah Khan took on this project, and her style of very casual dancing through real settings is very apparent here. Also there is the first glimpse of the kind of stunts Shahrukh Khan would do in many of her songs in the future, in this case jumping on to a railing in a white suit as if he did it regularly. It would be the beginning of a personal and professional friendship that would give us many wonderful songs and dances over the next few decades and some great movies too.
The words of the song itself are quite expected, in a romantic song sort of way, but elegantly penned by the ever dependable Majrooh Sultanpuri. The rousing music, and the strong voice have wonders such as these to work with:
Khilti, mehakti, yeh zulfon ki shaam,
Haste, khanakte, yeh hothon ke jaam,
Aa jhoom ke saaz uthaein,
Bas naghme tere pyaar ke, gaate hi jaaye.
The flowering, fragrant evening of each tress,
This laughing, chiming wine your lips possess,
Come, let us dance together and some music brew,
Just let me sing my songs of loving you.
Aye kaash ke hum is a difficult song to describe or write about because it is in many ways simple, clichéd and just what you want from a romantic song, but it proves that the simple things can be done extremely well, and this one is. A well deserved classic.