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.
Unlike a string of later Manmohan Desai hits starring Amitabh Bachchan, this film starred the ever underrated Randhir Kapoor. While he never achieved the fame of his siblings in film, he had a presence of his own and was quite unique in the palette of actors of the time. Here playing a man brought up in a village, he brings a great comic timing and over-the-top propriety to the role and to this song. With him is Rekha who being quite a new entrant in Hindi cinema at the time was mostly a pretty face, and is utilised as such in this song. The director and cinematographer create an interesting range of shots for a song that is set in an extra-large backyard garden. This is one of those songs I had never seen visually until recently, and while the claustrophobic setting is not quite the impression you get from the very free-ranging music, it still works surprisingly well. Part of it is that the entire song is in the form of a dialogue between hero and heroine, as he dictates a letter for her to write. An interesting trope that makes for a playful song while also moving forward the plot of the film.
The music by RD Burman is rife with that usual hustle that I have mentioned before in relation to the junior Burman‘s music. And yet the pace of the song manages to be slow and relaxing rather than too energetic. That dichotomy is quite an achievement of composition. Both Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar are at the top of their game here, having developed mature and infinitely flexible voices over their vast decades of experience by this stage, while still maintaining the youthfulness of their tone. They are both a pleasure to listen to in this song, and the casual expertise of their singing makes it truly shine.
Majrooh Sultanpuri delivers such simple beauty as:
Socha hai ek din, main us se milke
Keh daaloon apne, sab haal dil ke
Aur kardoon jeevan, uske hawale
Phir chhod de chaahe, apna bana le
One of these days, I will go meet her apart
To share with her the state of my heart
And I will leave my life in those hands of hers
Then she may leave me or accept me, as she prefers
… making this not only an infinitely hummable song but also a very sing-able one for its apparently casual lyrics.
Gum hai kisi ke pyar mein is a perfect masala song from the king of masala, with talents all of whom were in a very good place at the time. Such confluences happen rarely and it’s nice when they happen in pieces like this, with the minimum of gravitas. It makes for much more enjoyable history.