A friend of mine on Facebook recently posted her favourite daaru song, as she called it: Yeh jo mohabbat hai, from Kati Patang (1970). And since I’m not one to let inspiration go a-begging, I decided I had to do a post on my favourite daaru songs. Classic Hindi cinema is replete with these: songs induced by alcohol, songs praising alcohol, songs reviling alcohol (even if sung in an alcohol-induced half-stupor; remember Yeh laal rang kab mujhe chhodega)?
So here’s a list of ten of my favourite daaru songs, all from films of the 50’s and 60’s that I’ve seen. Cheers!
1. Hui sham unka khayaal aa gaya (Mere Humdum Mere Dost, 1968): Though Mere Humdum Mere Dost had another equally famous daaru song—Chhalkaaye jaam—I don’t count that as a real daaru song, since the hero and his cronies are only pretending to be tipsy in that one. This one, though, is the real McCoy. It’s beautifully sung by the inimitable Rafi Sahib, and picturised on a lonely Dharmendra as he wanders through his home, glass in hand, bemoaning the faithlessness of his beloved.
2. Din dhal jaaye (Guide, 1965): Another example of melancholia brought on by alcohol. Like Hui sham unka, this too is a cry of anguish for a lost love—even though that love is lying just up the stairs. Everything about this song is beautifully done: the camera, as it uses the balustrade and the carving of a chair as frames; the desperation of Waheeda Rehman as she listens to the song, and then eventually follows it down to the distressed singer; the regret in Dev Anand’s expressions; the lyrics; the music, Rafi’s voice… a classic.
3. Hai duniya usi ki zamaana usi ka (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): Yet another example of drowning the memories of an old love in drink, though this song’s also equally in praise of love. This would have been on my list simply because it stars Shammi Kapoor, but it’s also here because it’s been beautifully sung (Rafi, who else?), and because the music is so lovely. It’s picturised well too, with the camera moving between Shammi Kapoor and the two other main characters in the deserted bar/restaurant: the sax player and another befuddled drunk, whom our hero solemnly salutes at the end of it all.
4. Yeh jo mohabbat hai (Kati Patang, 1970): Yes, I have to agree with my pal; this one’s definitely among the best daaru songs there is. Like Dharmendra, Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna too laments a lost love, though he’s a little more cheerful about it as he drinks and prances through a club on a stormy night. But there’s a sadness and a cynicism underlying this song, reinforced by the cut to Asha Parekh as she stands at a window, stricken at the discovery that she is the unwitting reason for this man’s angst. Superb song, and Kishore Kumar is marvellous.
5. Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukaare (Kala Pani, 1958): This song is played out in the light-and-shadow setting of a kotha where the hero sets out to entrap the seemingly heartless tawaif who holds the key to a long-ago crime. Other than the fact that the two leads—Dev Anand and Nalini Jaywant—are very easy on the eyes, the song has superb half-cynical, half-romantic lyrics; and the music, very muted and at times almost not there, is perfect. Not just one of my favourite daaru songs, but also one of my favourite songs, irrespective of anything else.
6. Aao huzoor tumko (Kismat, 1968): Classic Hindi film heroines do not get drunk. But when they do, they do it in style—and Babita is all oomph in Aao huzoor tumko. Clad in a clingy red dress, very bling jewellery, a white faux fur stole (and short black gloves, too!), she careens her way across an outdoor party, flinging herself into the arms of every man she sees, promising to take him to the stars. The men are more than willing to oblige, though a huffy Biswajit, looking like a cross between a baby and a thundercloud, sulks at the bar counter. The band in the background are an old, familiar lot: The Monkees.
7. Chhoo lene do naazuk honthon ko (Kaajal, 1965): I’m not a Raj Kumar fan, and Meena Kumari in distressed mode distresses me. Despite that, this is a great daaru song—a paean to liquor, a ‘mubarak cheez’ (an auspicious thing) even though it’s badnaam, much maligned. There is (or is it my imagination?) an indication that our heroine’s drunk husband is perhaps also hinting that he, like the liquor, isn’t all bad. Excellent lyrics, and Mohammad Rafi is brilliant—he was pretty good at daaru songs, wasn’t he?
8. Na jaao saiyaan chhudaake baiyaan (Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, 1962): If Meena Kumari was at the receiving end in Chhoo lene do naazuk honthon ko, here she’s the one who’s intoxicated. As the neglected wife of a debauch, the Chhoti Bahu drowns her sorrows in drink and then throws her all into one last desperate bid to hold on to her husband. With two of Hindi cinema’s most expressive actors onscreen, this is a song that’s not just wonderful to listen to, but a treat to watch, with Meena Kumari at her seductive best and Rehman, first indifferent, then intrigued, and finally put off. Awesome.
9. Jo unki tamanna hai barbaad ho jaa (Intequam, 1969): Despite the horrendous decor (bright blue and yellow mirrored finishes, a crimson chandelier, plastered pillars—and that’s only some of it), this song’s a favourite of mine. Partly because it’s sung very well and partly because I like both Sanjay Khan and Sadhana. Most of all, I like the way the song plays out the relationship between the two main characters in this scene—the wronged woman who’s seeking revenge, and the loving husband who finds himself an unwitting part of that revenge. What makes the song even more my type is the unusually poignant/romantic scene that follows, after our hero crumples to the floor.
10. Ae mere dil kaheen aur chal (Daag, 1952): Daag had three versions of this superb song, and this one, the slow version in Talat Mehmood’s voice, is a fabulous daaru song. There’s no alcohol to be seen here, but the effects of its consumption are apparent in the way Dilip Kumar stumbles about a deserted village, by turn cheery and melancholy, deriding the indifference of the world around. Not very much happens in the course of the song, and there are no other characters (unless you count a stray dog), yet it’s powerful—Dilip Kumar’s acting and Talat’s voice are a potent combination.
What are your favourites?