Caution: Long post!
It’s been a while now, but last year this blog hosted a Classic Bollywood Quiz. The prize for the runner-up was the chance to dictate a post: a theme for a list, for example.
Our runner-up, Anu Warrier, like me, likes both Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand a lot. So, when we were discussing how both Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor had acted in some similar films, Anu submitted her request for her prize post. Ten similar situations in which these two heroes find themselves in their films, and one song, respectively, that they sing in that situation. Easy? No, it wasn’t, as you can see from the fact that it’s taken me a long time to compile this list. But fun? Oh, yes!
So, Anu: here you go. Two of our favourite leading men in ten similar situations, and twenty songs that arise out of those situations. Enjoy! All of these are from 50s and 60s films that I’ve seen. And, no two songs from the same film.
Situation 1: Driving off with an unwilling heroine: Not a difficult task to achieve when you’re capable of charming the birds out of the trees, and both Dev and Shammi manage to – eventually – get the lady in question to smile, even if she does it on the sly.
Jeevan ke safar mein raahi (Munimji, 1955): Miffed at being constantly doled out baksheesh by the foreign-returned miss, our hero gets out of his drab munimji disguise and hijacks the heroine’s car, with her in it. She’s furious, even more so when he insists on driving like a maniac – or singing; he tells her to choose. So she grudgingly allows him to sing. And though the song is a philosophical one with a hint of sadness (travelling companions come together only to be separated), it does appeal to her.
Raahi mil gaye raahon mein (Dil Deke Dekho, 1959): Here, too, our hero drives off with a lady who’s already met him, and has been trying hard to pretend she’s not attracted. In this song, Shammi Kapoor meets Asha Parekh and her fiancé – played by a clownish Rajendranath – when their car has a flat tire. Our man sees that the fiancé’s no good as a mechanic, so offers to help: but only if she will go the rest of the journey with him, in his jeep.
A happier song, this: also about travellers, but about travellers coming together and falling in love.
Situation 2: Going in disguise to a kotha: That may sound not-done (the ‘going to a kotha’ bit; good men don’t, not in the type of films Shammi and Dev Anand starred in), but when you’re trying to bring the baddies to justice, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Hum bekhudi mein tum ko pukaare (Kala Pani, 1958): Kala Pani is about Dev Anand’s character realising that his father was convicted, years ago, of a murder, and is still in jail. He sets out to clear his father’s name – and discovers the person who gave important, damning evidence: a tawaif (played by Nalini Jaywant). So he disguises himself (in a pyjama and achkan! Shame on you, Dev Saab, for being so subtle!), turns up at her kotha, ridicules her poetry, and subsequently floors her with his own shers. One of my favourite songs follows.
Bada qaatil hai mera yaar China-Chin-Chin-Choo (China Town, 1962): Like Dev Anand in Kala Pani, Shammi Kapoor in China Town is pretending to be a poet – but first, he’s pretending to be his own twin, the notorious (now jailed) gangland boss, Mike. He helps the police by impersonating Mike, and the job calls for meeting shady characters in shady places – like a kotha.
This being Shammi, he’s worlds apart from Dev Aand in Hum bekhudi mein tum ko pukaare: his disguise is totally OTT, and the singing and dancing – a duet with the tawaif, Roshanara Begum – is as madcap as it gets.
Situation 3: Coaxing a beloved to stay a while: Not an unusual situation in Hindi films. Evening, a romantic rendezvous, a sweetheart saying she must go – and her man pleading with her to stay, just a little longer.
Abhi na jaao chhodkar (Hum Dono, 1962): The quintessential ‘don’t-go-yet song’: Dev Anand pleads with his girl, and even resorts to mild emotional blackmail: the evening has barely set in, she has only just arrived, they haven’t had any time to talk… if she is in such a hurry to leave, how can she ever claim to be a true love? Melodious, romantic, faintly flavoured with a boast: I know this girl loves me; I can tease her mercilessly.
Aasaan hai jaana mehfil se (Junglee, 1961): Same situation, and a fine example of how different Shammi Kapoor’s style is from Dev Anand’s. This song sparkles with sheer physicality – especially dancing and clapping – and brims with affection, playfulness, and romance. Personally, I like this version of the situation more than Abhi na jaao chhodkar. Perhaps a lot of that has to do with the chemistry between the two gorgeous leads.
Situation 4: Trying to earn some money: By the early 60s, both Dev Anand and Shammi Kapoor were usually acting suave, wealthy (or at least wealthy enough to be always well-dressed) urbanites. There were occasional departures, though, when the characters they played needed money. What did they do then?
Zindagi hai kya sun meri jaan (Maya, 1961): Dev Anand’s character in Maya isn’t poor – he’s just pretending to be, because he’s so disillusioned with wealth. But he does have to pay rent for his kholi, for which he needs money – and, therefore, must earn that money. So he gets himself an ice cream cart, and sings as he wheels it around. He ends up giving away more than he sells, but anyway…
Govinda aala re aala (Bluffmaster, 1963): One of my favourite festive songs, and fabulously picturised on Bombay’s streets. Here, Shammi plays the poor Ashok – the ‘bluffmaster’ – who makes his way through life tricking everybody. Now, needing money for a birthday gift for his girlfriend, he comes up with an interesting (and, surprisingly for him, above board) solution.
It’s Krishna Janmashtami, and a wealthy seth has strung up a dahi handi containing a hundred rupees, high above the street, for the men of the neighbourhood to grab for themselves – if they can get it. Our hero, drenched and uninhibited, is in the forefront, building up support, aiming to get that money – and enjoying himself hugely in the process.
Tujhe jeevan ki dor se baandh liya hai (Asli-Naqli, 1962): Dev Anand plays Anand, the spoilt grandson of a wealthy man, who keeps chastising Anand for his worthlessness. Anand finally snaps, leaves home, and ends up pretending to be a poor man – and in the process falls in love with a poor girl. In this song, Anand – now a bus driver – and his girl sing a romantic song out in the open.
Mujhe kitna pyaar hai tumse (Dil Tera Deewaana, 1962): Dev Anand Shammi Kapoor plays Anand Mohan, the spoilt grandson of a wealthy man, who keeps chastising Anand Mohan for his worthlessness. Anand The father finally snaps, leaves home, and sends Mohan off to a jailor friend to be ‘put in his place’. Mohan switches places with a friend, ends up pretending to be a poor man – and in the process falls in love with a poor girl. In this song, Anand Mohan – now a bus taxi driver – and his girl sing a romantic song out in the open.
Situation 6: Following an irritated girl – with a song: Not an unusual situation, this – at least not in the 60s, when just about every hero did at least one stalkerish song per film before the girl fell in love with him. And both our heroes were very good at it.
Maana janaab ne pukaara nahin (Paying Guest, 1957): Dev Anand gets on the nerves of an already-huffy Nutan here, and she retaliates (a bit) by whacking him with her badminton racquet. A cute song, with bicycles and the badminton racquet playing an important part as he follows her through town.
Deewaane ka naam toh poochho (An Evening in Paris, 1967): The lady (a very chic Sharmila Tagore) is a little more restrained, but she’s irritated, all right – in a cold and distant way. Shammi Kapoor is his usual self: bounding around, flinging himself about, and giving a hoot about what onlookers think. Good song, but more than that, it’s a great tour of Paris – by car, on foot, on a bus, and even on a bateau mouche.
One landmark film originally supposed to star Dev Anand – but which eventually featured Shammi Kapoor – was Teesri Manzil (1966). For me, Teesri Manzil is Shammi Kapoor; I find it impossible to imagine Dev Anand as Rocky. Dev Anand dancing to Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera or O haseena zulfonwaali? Umm, no. Deewaana mujhsa nahin or Tumne mujhe dekha are more believable as Dev Anand picturisations, but here’s one song picturised on a situation close to that of a Dev Anand song.
Dekhiye saahibon woh koi aur thi (Teesri Manzil, 1966): Rocky (Shammi Kapoor), supposed to meet his girlfriend, mistakes another girl – a complete stranger – for her, and ends up being chased by the insulted lady slap bang into the midst of a crowd at a fair. The crowd’s instantly up in arms against this supposed lecher, and he – finally seeing his girl – quickly sets about introducing her to the crowd and letting them know that she is the one he meant. Peppiness rules.
Yehi toh hain woh (Solvaan Saal, 1958): Slightly different from the situation in Teesri Manzil, because Dev Anand’s character, while in love with the girl in question, doesn’t quite rule her heart yet. In fact, she’s distinctly annoyed that he’s claiming her as his sweetheart in front of this large and amused crowd of strangers. A cute song with fun lyrics (I like that “Romeo chal basaa jinki tamanna liye”!)
Incidentally, another interesting similarity: there’s a surprising amount of aerial acrobatics by both heroes in these songs. Shammi, of course, goes on a ferris wheel and a carousel, but Dev Anand isn’t to be left behind – he swings on a rope, and goes clambering up into a loft as well.
Situation 8: Sneaking into a girls-only picnic to romance the heroine: We all know that going on picnics ranks (along with partying) as the favourite pastime of urban, wealthy characters in 50s and 60s Hindi cinema. It also offers a great opportunity to indulge in some romance – genuine or otherwise.
Yeh duniyawaale poochhenge (Mahal, 1969): Asha Parekh and her girl friends go on a picnic here, and Dev Anand – pretending to be his own boss – goes along with the pretence. While the other girls are busy playing with their colourful umbrellas, he spends his time singing a love song to the heroine, who reciprocates prettily, since she doesn’t know who he is.
All hell does break loose after the song (when she learns the truth), but during the song itself, all is bliss.
Tumse achha kaun hai (Jaanwar, 1965): Shammi Kapoor here gatecrashes a riverside picnic just so he can let the heroine (Rajshree) know what he thinks of her. Much very vigorous dancing by Shammi, indignant pouting by Rajshree, and a somewhat more active role being played by the girl friends – they even get to offer the spurned hero a thermos of hot tea (coffee)?
Shammi Kapoor, by the way, seemed to make a habit of this in his films. Check out Laal chhadi maidan khadi (also from Jaanwar); Megha re bole ghanan-ghanan (Dil deke dekho) and Ae gulbadan (Professor).
Gustaakh nazar chehre se hata (Jaali Note, 1960): Dev Anand, as the cop Dinesh, sets about infiltrating a gang of forgers – and runs straight into a pretty problem: a dancer (Helen, who else?) who quickly and deliberately comes between him and the villains he’s chasing – by intercepting him with a song and dance. Though he doesn’t dance, our hero does join in the song, and even toots a bit on a clarinet.
Dhokha khaayegi na yaaron ki nazar (Singapore, 1960): Similar story here, except that the villains, instead of being forgers, are involved in all sorts of other nefarious activities, including murder. The hero – being Shammi Kapoor – though he finds himself being thwarted by the villains in a dance club, makes the most of it and joins in, shaking a leg and playing along with the band. Besides being the sole singer, of course.
Situation 10: Drunk and in despair: A common enough situation to be in, especially for Dev Anand – he seemed to specialise in portraying the tipsy hero. Philosophical, cheery, wild, inspired, or (as in this case) simply trying to drown his sorrows in drink. Shammi Kapoor, to my surprise, has fewer ‘drunk and in despair’ songs to his name; this, frankly, is the only one I could think of, offhand.
Din dhal jaaye (Guide, 1965): One of the classic daaru songs, and dripping bitterness all the way. Even I, who have no sympathy for the fraudulent Raju (Dev Anand’s character, the tourist guide, in Guide) ended up feeling a bit sorry for him in this song. He’s brought this depression on himself, but the way he expresses it is touching.
Hai duniya usi ki zamaana usi ka (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): Like Din dhal jaaye, Hai duniya usi ki also bemoans a lost love – but the situation is a little different. Our hero here hasn’t brought it upon himself; circumstances have. And so, instead of merely weeping over the sweetheart he’s lost, he also expresses pride over the love he once knew.
It’s interesting, I think, to see that even when depicting drunk men – and in an almost similar state of inebriation – Shammi Kapoor’s character is more physical than Dev Anand’s: he stumbles across the room, and uses props to almost ‘dance’.