Woh chand khila woh taare hanse

By the time the 1959 film Anari came along, Raj Kapoor was a well established presence in the Hindi film world, as was his his slightly-awkward and naive Chaplinesque on-screen persona, made famous by such films as Awaara (1951). So perhaps in some ways he was playing to type in this mix of romance and intrigue. Along with co-starring the effervescent Nutan, the film did give us some very memorable songs, chief among which is the chirpy well-remembered Woh chand khila woh taare hanse.

In keeping with the mildly comedic mood of the song, both and Nutan, both very capable serious actors, are at their light-hearted best here. Kapoor is fittingly awkward and lacking in confidence as the naive (anaari) of the title. Nutan is in parts playful and and romantic in a song that is beautifully shot and lit by cinematographer Jaywant Pathare, with some great timing and pace to the shots, directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. It’s little surprise that stills from this song are often used as supporting imagery whenever Nutan is mentioned online and in print. While not one of her most subtle or magical performances in a song she is quite radiant here, in a most forthright way.

Shankar-Jaikishen gave some extremely lilting and memorable music for the song, with the interstitial accordion pieces particularly standing out as a very identifiable signature note to the whole affair. I’ve sat through many an amateur renditions of this song where the modern electronic-keyboard players have tried in vain to match the flow of those accordion melodies, and where percussionists have gotten carried away in the upbeat spirit of the song’s rhythm. Lata Mangeshkar is youthful and high-pitched in her rendition of the song, adding to the girlish charm of it, with the mood much enhanced by the very picturesque lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri.

Chaandi ki chamakti raahein,
Woh dekho jhoom jhoom ke bulayen
Kirnon ne pasaari baahein,
Ki armaan naach naach lehraye


Look how the shimmering paths of moonlight call out in pleasure
Moonbeams spread their arms as hopes dance and sway for good measure

Woh chand khila woh taare hanse is a light-hearted song in a film that is not all light-hearted. But it endures and many people main memory and awareness of this film, and as a lasting image of Nutan‘s talent.

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