Happy birthday, Dharmendra!
Considering I am so fond of Dharmendra (and I’ve reviewed so many of his films—including his debut film, the forgettable Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere), it seems odd that I’ve never created a list of my favourite Dharmendra songs. Even though he did have a lot of good songs picturised on him. And he acted in some excellent films.
Born on December 8, 1935, in Sahnewal (Punjab), Dharmendra arrived in Bombay after winning the Filmfare New Talent Award. His first films weren’t huge successes: Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere, Shola aur Shabnam, and Boyfriend were all flops, despite (in the case of Boyfriend) having an otherwise very popular lead pair. Within a couple of years, though, by appearing in hits like Anpadh and Bandini (in both of which, though, he didn’t have very major roles), Dharmendra began to be a known face—and was soon, by the mid-60s, one of Hindi cinema’s hottest (literally). He was to go on to become the ‘Garam Dharam’ of the 70s, but to me, the Dharmendra is the 60s hero: the quiet, sensitive poet of Anupama; the idealist of Satyakam; the dashing spy of Aankhen.
So, to celebrate Dharmendra’s 79th birthday, a list of ten of my favourite songs of his, from pre-70s films that I’ve seen. To make this challenge a little tougher for myself, I’m restricting the songs to solos in which Dharmendra’s character does the singing. No duets.
In no particular order, here we go:
1. Tum pukaar lo (Khamoshi, 1969): I first watched Khamoshi as a pre-teen, and for many years later, retained the impression that Dharmendra played the main male character—in my mind, his role was far larger than that of Rajesh Khanna. Which says a lot for Dharmendra’s presence; when I rewatched the film a few years back, I was surprised to discover that he actually has a guest appearance, and is never shown full face.
But one of my favourite songs ever, in any voice, any film, any era—was picturised on Dharmendra in Khamoshi. Tum pukaar lo, a hauntingly beautiful song about waiting for one’s love. And though one can only see Dharmendra from the back, his body language reflects the song: the restlessness, the loneliness, the waiting, the pacing about, the moments of reassuring oneself, of reminding oneself that the beloved will come. Unforgettable.
2. Ya dil ki suno duniyaawaalon (Anupama, 1966): A lot of Dharmendra’s films during the 1960s were women-oriented films. Khamoshi was one such; so was Anupama. This was also one of the films (the other was Satyakam) about which Dharmendra was to say in later years that when he didn’t receive a Filmfare Award after having put in so much effort, he gave up trying to act altogether.
And his acting in Anupama was good. Here, as the young poet called upon to sing at a party, he chooses to use his voice to speak up for the repressed and timid girl he’s fallen in love with. Like Tum pukaar lo, Ya dil ki suno duniyawaalon was also both scored and sung by Hemant. A quiet, poignant little song of unhappiness and neglect.
3. Hui shaam unka khayaal aa gaya (Mere Humdum Mere Dost, 1968): Beginning in the mid-60s and right through till well into the 70s, Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore (who, incidentally, also has her birthday today) worked together in a bunch of films, some brilliant (Anupama, Satyakam, Chupke-Chupke), some average. Mere Humdum Mere Dost was among the average ones as far as storyline went, but it had one redeeming feature: some really nice songs. I was torn between the title song and this one—but Hui shaam unka khayaal aa gaya won.
One of those quintessential daaru songs, the betrayed lover wondering why the woman he loves deceived him—but unable to forget her. Dharmendra wanders about an empty house, bemoaning his lost love as he drinks. He doesn’t do maudlin too well (who does, actually?), but he looks good anyway—and I like the music and Rafi’s singing.
4. Mujhe dard-e-dil ka pata na thha (Akashdeep, 1965): Those who know Dharmendra as the brawny, “Kutte, main tera khoon pi jaaoonga!”-spouting he-man of the 70s would have a hard time recognizing him as the romantic hero of so many of his early films. In this song, he’s a very far cry from the Dharmendra of the 70s: a dreamy-eyed man singing a song of love for the woman he adores. A softly romantic song, where he marvels at how fate has brought them together, and how a man as unexceptional as he should have been fortunate to win her hand.
What a simply beautiful song, and how gorgeous Dharmendra looks. Plus, his emoting is actually pretty good: there’s a sort of wistfulness at times, as well as a sense of wonderment at this new-found love.
5. Aapke haseen rukh pe (Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi, 1966): Another wonderfully romantic song, and with everything necessary to make it a classic: a handsome man, two beautiful women (sisters, and both in love with him), a piano, and a quiet evening at the sisters’ home. Our hero is invited to sing a song for the ladies, and chooses to make it a romantic one—aimed, of course, at the younger sister (played by Tanuja), whom he loves (and who returns that love). Neither of them realize that the older sister (Mala Sinha) thinks the song is being sung for her.
As I was creating this list, I realized just how many of the most romantic songs of the 60s are picturised on Dharmendra (and I’m not even counting what I consider the most romantic song of the 70s, Pal-pal dil ke paas tum rehti ho): looking at his later avatar, who’d have imagined this was how he started out? I’m not complaining, of course.
6. Ek haseen shaam ko (Dulhan Ek Raat Ki, 1967): Another love song in the evening, this time out in the open. In a film which was otherwise rather grim and depressing (it was, after all, based on Tess of the D’Urbervilles, not the most amusing of novels), Ek haseen shaam ko was one bright spot: a melodious, beautiful song about falling in love. And the picturisation of the song is as beautiful as the song itself: a handsome Dharmendra, a delicately lovely and shy Nutan wandering through pine woods, bamboo groves, and under a grove of flowering trees. Exquisite. And Dharmendra has that softly loving look in his eyes as he smiles at Nutan… he could act well.
7. Mere dushman tu meri dosti ko tarse (Aaye Din Bahaar Ke, 1966): When all that romance sours (thanks to horrible misunderstandings and a reprehensible desire to sacrifice one’s love for one’s friend)… there’s this. A washing of dirty linen in public. As Anu mentioned in her post, why are these songs of bitterness, deriding the treacherous ex for his/her betrayal, invariably sung in public? It’s the same here, and the curses showered on the supposed betrayer are poetic but cruel. The good thing is the music, which is lovely; Rafi’s rendition, impeccable; and Dharmendra—as ever, handsome (he, incidentally, is one of the few actors I’ve come across who manages to look as good in a crumpled kurta-pyjama as he does in a suit).
8. Mujhko is raat ki tanhaayi mein (Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere, 1960): Dharmendra’s very first film wasn’t a great one, and he was a little gawkish, awkward (in my opinion, Dharmendra is one of those actors who didn’t start off looking great—though he was never bad-looking—but developed into utterly droolworthy some years into his career).
Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tera didn’t even have very noteworthy songs—except for this one, which appears in two versions, one sung by Lata for Kumkum, and this one, sung by Mukesh for Dharmendra. Mukesh isn’t a name I tend to associate with singing playback for Dharmendra, but the bleakness of this song somehow makes the combination work. This is a man whose sweetheart is suddenly dead, supposedly drowned at sea: life stretches ahead of him, lonely and sad… and though he begs her memories to not torment him, can he really live without even them for company?
9. Dekha hai teri aankhon mein (Pyaar Hi Pyaar, 1969): Pyaar Hi Pyaar was one of the last films Vyjyantimala worked in: she was due to get married and was putting her career behind her; the result was that she was not particularly interested in working in this film. As Dharmendra mentioned in an interview later, she didn’t even speak to him—other than her dialogues, of course—during the making of the film. (I’ve heard elsewhere that they weren’t introduced to each other).
Despite that, Dharmendra and Vyjyantimala had three good songs picturised on them in this film. One (Tu mera main teri duniya jale toh jale) was a duet; two were Dharmendra solos—Main kahin kavi na ban jaaoon, and this one. I like Dekha hai teri aankhon mein because the picturisation is fun (plus the landscape is true-blue 1950s and 60s picnic spot), what with Dharmendra being all lovey-dovey and Vyjyantimala (who’s got him convinced she reciprocates his feelings for her) making faces on the side.
10. Gar tum bhula na doge (Yakeen, 1969): The same year that he starred with Vyjyantimala in Pyaar Hi Pyaar, Dharmendra appeared in Yakeen with an old and familiar co-star: Sharmila Tagore, with whom he’d already worked in Devar, Anupama, and Mere Humdum Mere Dost (and with whom he would go on to make other films too, including the brilliant Chupke-Chupke). The level of comfort between the two of them shows in this song, a romantic one with a touch of the sensual in its picturisation—even up to the drenching in the rain (which, as we all know, has fairly predictable consequences). Rafi, as Dharmendra’s most usual voice, is perfect. As is Dharmendra.