by – Jay Subramanyam
The film `Kahin Aur Chal’ and its music are shrouded in obscurity. Though the film was in news off and on during the 60s, I doubt if it had a proper release anywhere in India. I even remember an interview of Asha Parekh in `Filmfare’ in the late-60s, where she did mention `Kahin Aur Chal’ and `Mahal as her soon-to-be released films with Dev. However, as everyone knows only `Mahal’ had a proper release of the two. This is quite perplexing as the film also boasted of Goldie Anand who was quite a formidable name as a director and S-J, who remained the biggest draw as a composing duo right upto 1971.
The film was not released in Lucknow in 1968. Curiously enough, some five or six years later [’73 or thereabouts] I remember, some small size posters of the film pasted on the walls of the Prince theatre in Lucknow, with a full-size image of Dev Anand with his meticulously tousled hair silhouetted against a bluish background, that I was often riveted to as I passed it by in the bustling market area swathed in the sundowner heat. Of course, it all flattered to deceive as the film wasn’t released this time round either and the posters were taken off in due course. A feeling of déjà vu, paradoxically that is!! The film strikes me as an oddity in S-J’s oeuvre as the songs were not quite on par with their otherwise sanctimonious works with debonair Dev. I heard most of them for the first time when HMV released the LP of the film in combination with ‘Janwar’ and it did set me thinking, dwelling, cogitating, for an S-J score had to be special in some way.
This had me swaggering across the entire spectrum of subtle variations in the soundtrack –
* The very first song ‘Re aanewale aa, tu der na lagaa..’ with Lata’s honey-tinted vocals creates an ambience so very similar to ‘Aane laga jeene ka maza..’ from ‘Singapore’ – the flourish of the guitar strains, the lively and infectious samba beats complementing a highly wrought pattern of metre, rhythm and poetry make it an `aural’ delight for the listener. You even get to hear S-J employing the blue guitar in the interludes, which gives it away as a song recorded in the early 60s for sure. Remember, the blue guitar disappeared from their orchestra after the mid-60s. The guzzling strains of the accordion add to the quaint robustness to the number. This is the song which, more than any other in the album, bears the S-J imprimatur.
Shailendra ji’s genius as a wordsmith weaves in a perfect spot-serenade of unrequited love –
Kabse teri raahon mein khadi main beqarar,
bola jo papiha thi voh meri hi pukar,
Phoolon ko sajaye jaise baaghon mein bahar,
aankhon meion sajaye maine sapne hazar,
Re aanewale aa…
* Then the Asha-Rafi duet ‘Shokh aankhein dekhkar, soorat pe pyar aa hi gaya..’ has some interesting elements as it has S-J employing the castanets, which they rarely ever did in their scores. The interludes sound quite subdued with the pronounced use of the flute and the mandolin. The voices of Rafi and Asha resonate in perfect harmony, complementing Hasrat Jaipuri’s penchant for lyrical idyll. Rafi’s inimitable stress on `Shokh aankhein..’ after every stanza is a sizzler, frothy with its masculine timbre folds. The zaniest exposition of unbridled love as Rafi delivers a poetic sledgehammer –
Kaisi kaisi uljhane thi, zindagi ke mod par
Saath tere aa gaye hum, sabko peeche chod kar,
Aankh jab tumse mili, dil ko qarar aa hi gaya,
Shokh aankhein dekhkar, soorat pe pyar aa hi gaya…..
On hindsight, one would imagine this song would have suited Lata’s métier more but I would imagine, it was recorded during a period when the nightingale had professionally parted ways with Rafi and as a result, Asha steeped in with her typically sinewy rendition keeping pace with a singer in peak form.
* If Raju Bharatan were to be believed Lata’s ‘Zindagi sehra bhi hai aur zindagi gulshan bhi hai..’ was one of Jaikishan’s personal favourites for the songstress. It was in fact, the only number that was heard off and on in those days. The clutter of violins announces the grand entry of the nightingale and you are instantly riveted to your system. The number with its philosophical undercurrents emphasized by the mandolin interludes, makes you try and gauge the depth, the emotion, the sentiment of noble feelings that momentarily erupt in a flicker and then surge forth in a cascade. More than anything else, it was in a way symptomatic of the plight that befell Hasrat Jaipuri himself in the years ahead – that `life indeed is a roller-coaster’ if one were to translate its essence!!! But as you listen to the verses, Lata ji adds solace and succour with a neo-idealistic tug –
Raat mit jaati hai lekin,
hota hai savere ka janam,
Dheere dheere toot jata,
hai andhere ka bhi dum,
Hanste suraj ki tarah se zindagi roshan bhi hai…
Sadly, once he fell into bad days, Hasrat’s plight never found redemption right upto his sad demise. But hats of to him for this lovely, dainty nugget.
* We find Lata ji sounding daisy fresh in her third number, `Pani pe barse jab pani, jab ho fizaayen deewani…’ with its alliterative wording style that was Shaliendra’s forte. Another flourish of violins in the prelude before the nightingale unfolds her mesmeric magic!! So much so that you can actually feel the drips and dribbles of the first monsoon shower serenading a parched land!! A choral effect is used In all the three interludes giving it the essence of a `choir’
– and as the nightingale breezes over, you feel the parched land metamorphosing to a refreshing, verdant green. However, it is credit to Shailendra ji’s amazing semantic jugglery that gives it such a winsome touch. Just listen to this –
Bijli chamak chamak kar kyun,
hame munh chidhaye jaati hai
Natkhat ishare kar kar ke,
kyun muskuraye jaati hai
Paani pe barse jab paani…..
Simple, yet so appealing. Such will o’ the wisp word-spinning was Shailendra ji’s tour-de-force for not often would you find colloquial phrases like `munh chidhaye jaati hai..’ used so effectively in an expressive flow of verse. Had it been in the hands of a lesser song-writer, it might have turned out a tad jarring. Yes, the one thing we missed so badly in S-J’s songs from 1967 to 1971 was Shailendra ji’s sculpted lyrics!!
* Now is the turn of Rafi to charm us with his honey-tinted vocals. The first goes ‘Doobte hue dil ko tinke ka sahara bhi naheen..’ with its idiomatic overtones, a startling metaphor in the cumulative consciousness of one’s state of affairs. Wonder of wonders, this one too is to the accompaniment of violin preludes. In the interludes, they rise to a crescendo, followed by the mandolin for the effect of
`cadence’ before Rafi returns with a conspicuously wistful salvo
Maut ne mujhko thukraya,
Lagaya bhi na gale se mujhe,
Koi batade jaaun kahan,
Koi hamara bhi naheen…
‘Doobte hue dil ko tinke ka sahara bhi naheen…
conviction, such obstreperous wails of an individual shell-shocked by the depredations of destiny and circumstances.
* Finally we have the diametrically opposite ‘O Laxmi O Sarsu, O Sheela, O Rajni..’ – an ode to `unbridled’ philandering that is as effusive as it can get – a perfect song for Dev who was always a `ladies’ man!!! One can visualize a warbling Dev in all his sartorial elegance enrapturing a bevy of beauties with the opening strains and even as they are left gasping, comes up with a rejoinder –
`Jaane kya kya lekar aaya yeh mausam is baar,
voh gulaab bhi khilega shayad, jiska naam hai pyar’.
The opening bars of the song I must admit lack a sense of completeness and follow a zig-zag pattern. However, as the congo beats take over, Rafi unveils his bagful of mischevious gags with –
Hamse bhi kuch keh rahi hain yeh hawayen,
sabr dil ka azmaati hain ghataayen,
Chedti hain humko bhi natkhat adaayen,
phir bhi kyun majboor hain hum kya bataayen…
As Rafi returns with his ‘O Laxmi O Sarsu, O Sheela, O Rajni..’ motif straight after the verse, you gape in wonder whether speech is striking across meter or meter is striking across speech. A genius at work no doubt!! And yet another genius in Shailendra once again demonstrates how poetry can depict a just and lively image of human nature in all its passions and subtle humours. Another number that has S-J employing the blue guitar to good effect.
On hearing the entire score, one gets the feeling the songs were recorded much before its official release. I would put it as sometime between 1962 and 1964. Rafi in particular, sounds exactly the way he did during this period. I have always felt that 1967 onwards, his voice did undergo some changes, hich on reflection one could easily decipher, especially when he hit the higher notes. Yet, it is the legendary combo of Lata and Rafi [both then at their resonant peak] that enriches the entire album in the gushing fountainheads of verve, vitality and substance.
Collectively speaking, the score does not inspire that much confidence, when compared with S-J’s otherwise lofty standards but so often it is the entire set-up that inspires good music. One would imagine had ‘Kahin Aur Chal’ been a Navketan or a Nasir Hussain film, S-J would have palletted a much more superior score, regardless of the subject or the storyline. Shahrukh ji has pointed out that the producer of the film was continually tardy with the instalments, something which often fails to draw out the best from the composers and thereby has a `cascading effect’ right from the assistants to arrangers to the musicians, none of whom is inspired enough to give off his best. [Shammi Kapoor in one of his interviews in ‘Screen’ recently pointed out that the music of his film ‘Budtameez’ suffered on this count as the film was perpetually in the making and as a result, everybody associated with the project lost interest eventually]. It therefore, is akin to a Russian roulette where you languorously pull the trigger in an unseemly scramble and hope for the spaces to fill up on their own. It was the producer himself, who eventually proved to be a bete-noire for all concerned with his relative inexperience, which nipped the prospects of the film in the bud even before its release.
`Aye Mere Dil… Kahin Aur Chal…’, so goes an evergreen musical sonnet. So do I move ahead?? Not quite, I would rather stay back for yet another hearing of this score, even if it doesn’t quite qualify as a ‘sacrosanct musical template’ of S-J’s. Haven’t yet come across a print of the film in any form but if I do, the first thing I would look out for is `Re aanewale aa..’ on the presumption that it is a dance number, picturised on the swelte & twinkle-toed Asha Parekh. If for nothing else, then just to see if she matches the effervescent Padmini who filled us with paroxysmal delight in the song-alike `Aane laga jeene ka maza…’. That is S-J’s music for you, always making you ponder over numbers that you haven’t quite seen on screen but you still savour in your mind [albeit vicariously] in all their `iridiscent’ glory!! So for the moment, let us cast aside any critical twiddle-twaddle about style and form and enjoy a musical track that is a throwback on S- J’s `salad’ years as an irrepressible musical duo.
POSTSCRIPT – Incidentally, there was another Dev Anand starrer ‘Sajan Ki Galiyan’ that made considerable news around the same time and had it been completed and released, would have been the first S-J film to have been directed by Raj Khosla, who had a penchant for unique song picturisations. Who knows what results might have been achieved with the triumvirate of Dev-Raj Khosla-SJ in aesthetic collaboration thriving in a virtual `cornucopia’ of creative wealth.
the writer Jay