Wishing Merry Christmas to all with a tribute to Naushad, Rafi and Noorjehan
I heralded 2015 with Naushad’s Crown Jewel, Rattan (1944), and decided to celebrate the year as The Year of Naushad. I cannot think of a better way to conclude the year than to remember his next Priceless Moment in his career, Anmol Ghadi, which came two years later. A blockbuster of its times, it is the only movie which links Naushad with two other greats together – his would-be most favourite male singer, Rafi, and the reigning actor-singer of the era, Noorjehan. Naushad, Rafi and Noorjehan are also linked in an incredibly eerie way – Rafi was born on 24 December (1924), Noorjehan’s death anniversary falls on December 23 (2000) and Naushad’s birth anniversary falls on December 25 (1919). If you believe Raju Bharatan, Naushad was actually born on December 26, but he chose December 25 as his ‘official’ birthday for better optics (Naushdanama). He, later, firmly settled for Rafi even after tasting great success with Mukesh and Talat Mahmood. Anmol Ghadi remained Naushad’s first and the last work with Noorjehan. Though the film links the three greats, ironically Rafi did not have a duet with Noorjehan – with Surendra being the singing star of the film, there was no occasion for such a duet (though they would have a duet a year later in Jugnu – Yahan badla wafa ka bewafaai ke siwa kya hai – but that was composed by Firoz Nizami, who was also among those who migrated to Pakistan along with Noorjehan).
Suraiya, the other major singing star of the era, completed this multi-starrer by Mehboob Khan, who had ‘borrowed’ Naushad from AR Kardar. This also marked Mehboob Khan severing his long association with his friend Anil Biswas, clearly showing who the new Great Music Mughal was. He would launch a series of ‘A’ films (Anokhi Ada, Andaaz, Aan, Amar) with his now-favourite composer. Their association would reach its apogee with Mehboob’s magnum opus Mother India (1957), a remake of Aurat (1940), which naturally had music by Anil Biswas.
Anmol Ghadi was a Priceless Moment in many ways. When Noorjehan returned to India after 35 years, she started the emotion-laden concert in Bombay with Awaaz de kahaan hai, which is actually a duet with Surendra, who was present in the audience, but too frail to be able to sing. Rafi had passed away two years earlier. It was Naushad’s show all the way. Isn’t there some magic in Naushad that with just one film Noorjehan is so integrally linked with him in public consciousness, with this duet and her four solos? And, the top Surendra recall is this duet and his two solos in the movie Kyun yaad aa rahe hain guzare hue zamaane and Ab kaun hai mera kaho ab kaun hai mera. Nuashad had had four years’ association with Suraiya prior to this film, and followed it up with many great films with her later, but her three solos in the film are very melodious and complement the magic of the film.
With this star cast, the readers can make out it was love triangle. SoY regulars, who have followed my theory and classification of Bollywood triangles, would recall I mentioned it was solved as ‘Imperfect quadrilateralisation’. Thus, I have given away the story in one sentence. But the film is primarily Naushad’s music, in spite of it being the mighty Mehboob’s creation. For those interested in a very scholarly and witty review I would recommend Philip Lutgendorf. There are some more on the net, but now all seem to agree that while the movie looks dated, Naushad’s music is everlasting. So, without much ado let me conclude the Year of Naushad on SoY with the songs from Anmol Ghadi, as a tribute to Rafi and Noorjehan too. All the songs are written by Tanvir Naqvi.
1. Udankhatole pe ud jaaun by Zohrabai Ambalewali and Shamshad Begum
The girl on a horse-drawn carriage, and the boy running after her on the ground – Mehboob Khan leaves no ambiguity that it is a story of rich-poor childhood romance. Chandar (to grow into Surendra), son of a wheel-grinding widowed mother (Leela Mishra), and Lata (to grow into Noorjehan), the pampered daughter of an aristocratic Deputy Saheb (Murad), like each other intensely, regardless of the huge chasm in their social status. In an interesting combination, Shamshad Begum sings for the girl, and Zohrabai for the boy. (A trivia courtesy Madhu of Dustedoff: The girl playing the child Noorjehaan on the carriage is Noor, who later married Johnny Walker. Noor was a sister of Shakila, and had earlier acted as the child Munawwar Sultana in ‘Dard’. Later, when grown up, ‘Are na na tauba’ in ‘Aar Paar’ and ‘Chhota sa ghar hoga’ in ‘Naukri’ were picturised on her.)
Their worlds are going to be physically separated apart as the Deputy Saheb is transferred from the mofussil town, Jehanabad, to Bombay. Lata gives her pocket watch, which her father had gifted her, to her dear Chandar, as a memento.
2. Tera khilona toota baalak by Rafi
The poor boy is again running after the horse-drawn carriage to give a return gift to Lata – a humble toy cart. But as a portent of things to come, his toy is crushed under the wheels of the carriage, when you hear this Rafi solo coming from some distance. Soon a toy seller comes in view, singing this song, with philosophical overtones. His cart is full of similar lowly toys, and he is surrounded by poor children, looking at his wares longingly. A significant landmark in Rafi’s career in that this is his first solo with Naushad, though their association started two years earlier with Pahle Aap (1944). Naushad had so far used Rafi as a minor voice with GM Durrani, or in a chorus-backed Saigal song (Ruhi meri ruhi, mere sapno ki rani, Shahjehan).
The mother urges Chandar to study seriously to become something in life. Otherwise, how would he ever be able to go to Bombay to meet his Lata?
3. Kyon yaad aaa rahe hain guzare huye zamaane by Surendra
The boy, who has now grown up into Surendra, does read a lot, but his passion is one Renu’s romantic writings, which seem to capture so uncannily his and Lata’s relationship. His mother wished he became a Thaanedaar, but alas this romantic character has become a repairer of sitar. A handsome, brooding Surendra fondles the watch which Lata gave him, as he sings one of his most memorable songs ever. So Anmol Ghadi is literally the watch, which will come up again and again as the object linking the lovers, as the story moves further. A parting lover’s gift, playing an important role later in establishing identity when they meet up, perhaps dates back to Dushyant-Shakuntala. In the epic story the drama was based on Dushyant’s complete memory loss about his ring (on account of a curse by a sage), but in the movie the lovers have not forgotten, but there are other complications.
With this kind of resumé and his station in life, Surendra would have never made it to Bombay. But his rich friend, Prakash (Zahoor Raja) turns up – out of the blue, as far as the audience is concerned – and admonishes his wastrel friend for being so inconsiderate to his old and hard-working Mataji. Nothing doing, he would take them to Bombay, and set Surendra up as Manager of a music instruments’ shop. Suraiya lands into the shop to get her sitar mended, and falls hook, line and stinker for this handsome Manager-cum-repairer-cum-musician, though he is openly contemptuous of her musical capabilities. The very first meeting has given her a deep dil ki chot, which she promptly reports to her bosom friend – you have already guessed – Noorjehan (Lata). You must have also guessed that Noorjehan (Lata) is the one writing those enormously successful romantic stories and poems under the Nom de plume, Renu, which so captured the imagination of her childhood lover, Surendra, who unknown to her is now in Bombay. And also unknown to her, it is her lover for whom her good friend, Suraiya, has started pining so deeply.
4. Aa ja meri barbaad mohabbat ke sahaare by Noorjehan
Noorjehan’s father is very pleased by his daughter’s success as a writer, and promises to gift her another bigger watch, in lieu of the pocket watch he gave her as a child, which she had lost. Oh, only if he could understand! The reference to the watch, and Suraiya having found her love, rekindles her own yearning, expressed in this wonderful solo, the first of the four in the movie.
5. Aawaz de kahaan hai by Noorjehan and Surendra
The lovers have never forgotten each other. They accidentally bump into each other for a fleeting second, but it is enough for the two to realise that this was what they were looking for. Alas, it is too short and they don’t know how to find out again. Naushad beautifully captures it in this iconic long-distance duet of separation (LDDS). We have seen Naushad is an unrivalled master of this genre of songs.
6. Main dil mein dard basa laayi by Suraiya
While Noorjehan’s world is sad and uncertain, Suraiya is on the upswing.
7. Mere bachapan ke saathi mujhe bhool na jaana by Noorjehan
The story now meanders to a good deal of mix-ups, complications and misunderstandings. Without boring the readers with details, this sad solo happens when Noorjehan realises that Surendra is the object of Suraiya’s love (the blessed watch again, which Suraiya had picked up as it slipped from Surendra in the park). She does not yet know that it is completely one-sided, and Surendra still pines for her.
8. Man leta hai angadaayi by Suraiya
I should have said earlier that the watch is one of the important characters in this multi-starrer. Suraiya, still in love, sings this melodious song as she dances around with the watch.
9. Jawaan hai mohabbat haseen hai zamaana by Noorjehan
How come this chirpy solo after everything was lost for Noorjehan? As soon as Surendra realises that he has lost the watch, his whole world is shattered, and he becomes totally disoriented. Suraiya reports to her friend that her lover still pines for another one – the one who is connected to the watch. Now everything is joyous for Noorjehan again.
10. Socha tha kya kya ho gaya by Suraiya
How the tables have turned between the two friends! Suraiya has also come to know that Noorjehan loved the same man, and unfairly accuses her of not telling her about her affair.
11. Kya mil gaya bhagwaan tumhein dil ko dukha ke by Noorjehan
The already messed-up love triangle is further messed up as Noorjehan’s marriage is fixed up with Prakash, who is obviously a very compatible match for her. In this hopeless tangle, Noorjehan remonstrates with God what He has gained by putting her through this misery.
12. Ab kaun hai mera kaho ab kaun hai mera by Surendra
Surendra is even more shattered. Not only he had lost his beloved – to his friend – he also lost his mother with whom he had come back lock, stock and barrel to Jehanabad.
Twelve songs already, and too many loose ends still – how does all this square up? Prakash, who is completely oblivious of the storm between his betrothed, her friend and his friend, insists marriage will not take place until his friend is also present. Surendra gracefully turns up, and gives back the watch to Noorjehan, thus severing the only link between the two. Noorjehan tells Suraiya, now she must trust she (Noorjehan) had no intention to hurt her. Surendra walks away from all this. As he recedes into the horizon, Suraiya is seen running after and catching up with him. Q.E.D.