Cinema of the Week: APRIL FOOL (1964)
“APRIL FOOL” (1964) is Produced and Directed by Subodh Mukherji who earlier Directed “Love Marriage” (1959) & “Junglee” (1961) with SJ as Music Directors. The movie has Biswajeet, Saira Bano, Jayant, Sajjan, Nazima, Rajen Haksar, Sulochana, I. S. Johar, Chand Usmani etc. in it.
Subodh Mukherji was a devotee of the school of movie-making that believed that films were all about great storytelling. In the first two decades of his career from the Mid 1950s he had a high success percentage, but like so many movie-makers of his generation, he floundered from the Mid Seventies and quit in 1985
Like the name of the Movie suggests, Director Subodh Mukherjee along with the entire Cast not only makes April Fool out of themselves but also makes monkeys out of the audience with a weak plot, slapstick comedy, over acting etc. The only saving grace is the racy Tunes by SJ to the beautiful Lyrics of Hasrat Jaipuri & Shailendra
Ashok (Biswajeet) comes from a wealthy family having a business, which is run by his uncle (Shivraj), and elder brother, Alok (Brahm Bharadwaj). Ashok is a troublemaker spending his time slacking and playing practical jokes and his favourite day is Fool’s Day, 1 April, when he outdoes himself. His wealthy family gets tired of his antics and Ashok decides to leave them and their riches. A chance meeting with Mr. Lal (Jayant), an Indian Intelligence officer, lands Ashok a job in his Office. He befriends his beautiful daughter Madhu (Saira Banu), and both fall in love. Saira Banu has a cute sister enacted by Nazima. There is a sub-plot involving I S Johar & Chand Usmani. Sajjan along with Rajen Haksar runs a gang of conspirators who sell Indian Intelligence information to foreign countries and Jayant is their target. Jayant hatches out a plan and plants Saira Banu to impersonate as Rita Christina and get involved with Sajjan so that he can know the gang’s plans better. Then a practical joke hits the truth, and both Ashok and Madhu become targets of the Sajjan/Rajen Hakser gang and must run for their own safety as well as for the safety of their respective families. Soon deadly espionages and double identities surface and Ashok must fool his way out of the grim situation to save the Country and lead the Movie to have a happy ending. The less said about the story of the Movie, the better.
‘APRIL FOOL’ was among the top ten (# 9) grossing films at the Indian Box Office in 1964 the credit of which goes only to its Music & Songs. The 3 songs ‘April Fool Banaya’, ‘Mera Naam Rita Christina’ and “Aa Galey lag Jaa’ stood among the top 25, 31 & 32 songs in the 1964 Binaca Geetmala.
Talking about SJ’s musical blockbusters, here’s one such Movie. ShankarJaikishan aptly leveraged Mohammed Rafi as the voice for Biswajeet. The Movie turned out to be a Super Hit Musical Score with 7 songs, 6 of them penned by Hasrat Jaipuri and 1 by Shailendra, as under:
1. Unki pehli nazar kyaa asar kar gayi – Hasrat Jaipuri – Lata.
This is a very amazingly sober and more Bharatiya-Naari type song which is in total contrast with the other 2 songs, the swimming Pool (Aa gale lag jaa) and the Club (Mera naam Rita Christina) songs. Lata is mindblowing in it and so is Saira. Sitar interludes are amazing.
2. Kah do kah do jahaan se kah do – Hasrat Jaipuri – Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur.
This song is perhaps the best song of the movie. Note the high range that Rafi starts this duet at and Suman follows at the same high range. They gave us some of the high range duets that make our music so delightful. A masterpiece. Rafi is divine as ever, and the same can be said about Suman Kalyanpur and what a sweet and melodious voice she had.
3. April fool banaya – Hasrat Jaipuri – Rafi.
Rafi sings this song with gusto, as was his wont and a song that should have been little more than a timepass song has become an evergreen fun song as a result. Hasrat Jaipuri, as we have seen earlier, was adept in writing superb comical songs and this song is one such example. Shankar Jaikishan, of course, ruled the roost as music directors those days, and they could do nothing wrong. The song picturised on Biswajeet (poor man’s Shammi Kapoor) and Saira Bano was released towards the end of 1964 and this prevented the song from finishing any higher than 25th in the Binaca Geetmala final of 1964.
4. Meri muhabbat paak muhabbat – Hasrat Jaipuri – Rafi.
A beautifully composed song, with beautiful Lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri. Simple wording made great with excellent singing by Rafi in his silky and smooth voice.
5. Aa gale lag jaa mere sapne mere apne –Shailendra – Rafi.
One of the longest and Best Preludes in the history of HFM. The use of instruments by SJ is phenomenal and the picturization shows synchronized swimming for the first time in Hindi films. The prelude lasts longer than the song itself and Rafi touches new heights by singing in such high pitch. He wonderfully goes to a certain height very fast and starts slowly again from deep down his throat with a flick. No one would have sung this better than him. Biswajeet’s style and Saira Banu’s sex appeal adds to the beauty of the song.
6. Mera naam Rita Christina – Hasrat jaipuri – Lata.
Whenever you hear this song, you think it had Helen in it. It definitely portrays Saira Bano in a different avatar in direct contrast to the way she portrays herself in other 3 songs except ‘Aa Galey Lag Ja’
7. Tujhe pyaar karte hain – Hasrat Jaipuri – Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur
Lataji refused to sing this duet with Rafi. Subodh Mukherjee took a firm stand that he would not change the male singer, Rafi, due to which Suman Kalyanpur became the default female voice for the 2 duets in the Movie – this one and ‘Kehdo Kehdo Jahaan Se Kehdo’
In the mid ’60s, though Music Directors thought of Rafi and Lata when they conceptualised duet songs, a difference of opinion on a “Royalty” issue kept both of them professionally apart for several years. Compositions that were envisaged as duets by Rafi and Lata turned into either tandem songs or Music Directors opted for other female singers like Suman Kalyanpur. Rafi chose to bequeath what he could have claimed as “Royalty” to the community of Music Directors and Lyricists for whom he had great regard. Rafi’s decision was largely guided by his heart. If Rafi had agreed to join hands with Lata and established the practice of singers getting royalty, it could have become the industry norm. After this incident, Rafi took a stand that he would charge the same official fee as Lata did. However, Rafi often put this rule aside when he sang for a new entrants in the industry or if someone had a genuine financial problem.
Here is the Youtube Link to the song “Tujhe Pyar Karte Hain”-https://youtu.be/vAD33F3s1VM