Because my Ravi tribute was swiftly turning into a Joy Mukherji tribute – and because I thought Joy merited a tribute all his own – I decided to do a Joy Mukherji post. My intention had originally been to review a Joy Mukherji film – until I realised that I’d already reviewed all my favourite Joy starrers.
Joy Mukherji (Feb 24, 1939-Mar 9, 2012) was the son of Shashadhar Mukherji, one of the founders of Filmalaya. Filmalaya, therefore, was the company which launched Joy in the 1960 film Love in Simla (which also marked the debut of Sadhana). Of all the aspiring young actors who tried to emulate the vastly successful Shammi Kapoor in the 60s, the tall and handsome Joy Mukherji was probably the best at projecting some of the effervescence, the joie de vivre, and the sheer attractiveness that made up Shammi’s onscreen persona. Where Shammi danced up a storm with Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera, Joy was joy personified with Duniya paagal hai. While Shammi oozed romance with Ae gulbadan ae gulbadan, Joy was tender in O mere shaahekhubaan, seductive in Aa jaa re aa zara aa.
You will be missed, Joy. Sorely.
So, here are the songs. Ten of them, all male solos (no duets, etc), from films that I’ve seen. And, for once, I’m making an exception to my self-imposed rule of not including more than one song per film – just because omitting some songs (you’ll see them in the list) would have been sacrilege for me; they’re just too wonderful.
1. O mere shahekhubaan, o meri jaan-e-janaana (Love in Tokyo, 1966): This list isn’t in any order. But, for the record, this is my favourite Joy Mukherji song. Because the music is so gentle, the lyrics are so tender (this is a song I’d have loved to have sung to me!), the Japanese garden is so tranquil and beautiful, Asha Parekh is so pretty – and Joy is perfect. I love the way he flits, just on the edge of his beloved’s vision, teasing her yet enticing her at the same time. He’s mischievous, but only a little – more than that, he’s amazingly tender, overflowing with love for his girl.
A little bit of trivia: This is one of two Joy Mukherji songs that include a line by famous Delhi poets. “Tum mere paas hote ho, koi doosra nahin hota” is from a work by Momin. (The other song is Zubaan-e-yaar-e-mann Turki from Ek Musafir Ek Haseena; the title line is Amir Khusro’s).
2. Aaja re aa zara aa (Love in Tokyo, 1966): Another romantic song from Love in Tokyo, but very different from O mere shahekhubaan. Aa ja re aa zara aa is blatantly seductive, and seething with passion (in fact, I rate it as the best male come-hither song I’ve ever come across). Rafi’s voice is gorgeous, of course – but Joy Mukherji really brings the song to life.
The purposeful (yet relaxed) way in which he follows Asha Parekh to the dance floor and across it. His intent look as he focuses only on her, ignoring everybody else around. The heavy-lidded eyes and the smile when he looks at her as the rain comes pouring down… Mmm.
3. Laakhon hain nigaah mein (Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, 1963): This is an ‘introducing the hero’ song. Wasti, playing the father of his long-lost (then infant) son, looks wistfully up at the baby’s photo, and wonders where that son is now, after all these years.
And then we – in a treat the father doesn’t get right now – get to see who that baby has grown up to be. Big and handsome, in a striking red sweater and white trousers, striding through the gardens of Kashmir with a guitar perched on his shoulder. And later, with the guitar beside him in a shikara.
He’s fun, he’s flirtatious, occasionally dreamy-eyed – and obviously unattached. No wonder all the girls look so interested.
4. Dil thhaam chale hum aaj kidhar (Love in Simla, 1960): This is the ‘introducing the hero’ song for Joy Mukherji – because it’s the first time Joy was seen onscreen. In his very first film, he travels in a train, headed for Shimla to meet his girlfriend’s family. And we are introduced to this young man through this delightful song. Joy is the fun hero here: romantic (since he’s singing to his absent girlfriend), but also clownish. He goes teetering across the compartment as he gets dressed, falling about between the berths, lurching and overbalancing, hitting his head on the roof, but not giving up on his song.
5. Duniya paagal hai ya phir main deewaana (Shagird, 1967): …and neither is this. Duniya paagal hai is the absolute opposite of all the tender, romantic songs Joy Mukherji ever lip-synched to. He’s totally uninhibited in this one, deriding love and marriage (at someone’s engagement party, too!) His dancing is whacko, but actually pretty good too. And he’s a ball of energy as he leaps about and goes pretty nuts.
A bit of personal trivia: ages ago, when we were teens, my sister and I tried replicating that dance sequence where Joy is lying on the floor, raises his chest off it and shakes. It’s impossible. We girls were both pretty fit at the time, but we just couldn’t manage it. Since then, I’ve had a lot of respect for Joy Mukherji’s fitness and stamina: you can’t be a wimp and manage something like that.
6. Aanchal mein sajaane kaliyaan (Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, 1963): Another song from Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon. This is a beautiful, romantic song, sung (unfortunately against a rather tacky ‘faux medieval’ set). It’s all about a brief ‘it-might-have-been’ encounter: two strangers spending a day together, a hint of chemistry – and then the unhappy realisation that it was all a fleeting moment in time. A few more minutes, and they will be separated for ever. (He’s fooling her, by the way).
Joy Mukherji does tender and regretful wonderfully. No wonder he has this lady – who’s not met him till a few hours before – crying at the thought of never seeing him again.
7. Dil ki aawaaz bhi sun (Humsaaya, 1968): Joy Mukherji, like Shammi Kapoor, was very good at both extremes of the spectrum: gloriously romantic and totally wild. This is an example of the former, though with shades of pleading, persuasion – even emotional blackmail. Joy here plays a man who’s been (thanks to some very convoluted spy plots) been alienated from his sweetheart (besides having his good name besmirched). Alongside having to clear himself with the powers that be, he needs to woo his girl back – and this is how he does it.
The song’s a lovely one, and while Joy’s eyes (“Meri nazron ki taraf dekh” – “Look at my eyes”) – don’t look especially expressive, he does the pleading and the wooing well. And that slow, calculated prowl (see Aaja re aa zara aa, above) is sexy.
8. Jaanoon kya mera di lab kahaan (Ziddi, 1964): This is the height of being lively and animated. Joy Mukherji serenades his reluctant lady love (a wild tomboy with a fiery temper) with a mad exuberance – but he keeps everybody guessing about who his girl really is. He dances, he somersaults, he slides down hillsides, he flirts with two women – and he’s unbeatably attractive. Again, he’s in a printed shirt. I’m beginning to think there’s something about Joy Mukherji that makes me like him even in a printed shirt.
9. Mujhe dekhkar aapka muskuraana (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, 1962): Ek Musafir Ek Haseena was another Joy Mukherji film with a fabulous score (other favourite songs of mine from this film include Bahut shukriya badi meherbaani and Aap yoon hi agar humse milte rahe). Mujhe dekhkar aapka muskuraana sounds – if you don’t watch it – like a slow, teasingly sweet romantic song. It is that, even onscreen. But it’s also more.
Joy takes it to greater, more endearing levels with his antics. How many men do I think are fun to watch wearing a matka? Or with a dupatta wrapped around their heads? Or dripping wet, in a torn sweater and tumbling over the undergrowth? Very few.
10. Hum chhod chale hain mehfil ko (Ji Chahta Hai, 1964): Finally, a change of mood from every other song in this list. This one’s a truly sad song (oddly, just from the point of view of lyrics, it bears a resemblance to Aanchal mein sajaa lena kaliyaan, though that is actually a farce). A young man discovers that the woman he loves (and who loves him in return) is already married – she was a child bride, though her husband has been missing for years now.
This is all emotion, lots of deep sorrow at a parting one hadn’t anticipated.