When Sadhana passed away at Christmas and I finally got down to thinking what tribute I’d post, the first thing that came to my mind was: a list of Sadhana songs. My favourite ten songs. Then, I realized that I had too much other work to get through (besides being none too well), and that a short piece requiring more heart and less research might be more doable. So that was what I did.
Just as well, perhaps, because otherwise Anu and I might have ended up with mirror posts. Her Sadhana songs list had pretty much all the songs I’d have selected, barring a couple. But I did want to remember Sadhana through songs (she featured in some wonderful songs: some of my favourites, in fact). Then I remembered something that had struck me several years back, when watching Is rang badalti duniya mein: how many songs there are that serenade Sadhana. Yes, a hero singing in praise of the heroine—her beauty, her charm, her overall peerlessness—is nothing new. But there are romantic songs that don’t go on and on about the charms of the loved one.
However, rather like Waheeda Rehman, Sadhana seems to have featured in a fair number of songs that, while being romantic, also lay a lot of emphasis on the irresistibility of the lady. This post, therefore. Ten songs, all (barring one) from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve seen, and all in praise of the character Sadhana’s playing. Some are male solos (like the very first song on the list); others are duets, which start off in praise of Sadhana, before she joins in.
In no particular order:
1. Is rang badalti duniya mein (Rajkumar, 1964): This, since it was the song that sparked off this idea in the first place, seems the appropriate one to launch this list. And what a song. Rafi’s voice oozes dreamy romance in every syllable, Shammi Kapoor is at his restrained, most romantic best—and Sadhana is, despite a costume that I don’t particularly like, gorgeous. (So beautiful, in fact, that I can watch her and Shammi Kapoor intently enough to almost not notice that patently artificial set, swinging plastic vines and all). Hasrat Jaipuri’s lyrics say it all so well: she is so beautiful, so perfect and so irresistible in every way that she will tempt all. Not just the big bad world, but God himself. And her own lover’s pounding heart.
2. Bahut shukriya badi meherbaani (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, 1962): “Kahin dil yeh mera yeh taareef sunkar tumhaara bane aur mujhe bhool jaaye?” (“What if my heart, listening to your praise of me, should leave me and become yours?”) is how Sadhana’s character responds to the song Joy Mukherjee’s amnesiac army officer sings to her. And praise it is, praise of the highest order: because he thanks God for having let her come into his life. Not just because she has rescued him, but because of who she is, of what she is: beautiful and charming, brave and resourceful and sharp-witted… and he hopes that if he, the musafir, should be separated from her, God will ensure that their paths cross again.
3. Mere mehboob tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam (Mere Mehboob, 1963): While my father came close to spoiling this song for me by constantly singing a parody of it—“Mere khoya hua rangeen pajama de de” (“Give me my lost colourful pajamas”)—I must admit to being especially fond of it nevertheless. Mere Mehboob is one of the very few films in which I’ve liked Rajendra Kumar; it had great music, and Sadhana was lovely in her role as Husna. This song has to be a stellar example of the songs in praise of Sadhana: how much more evidence does one need of the effect of this lady, that a man who hasn’t even really seen her face—just a glimpse of her eyes, a fleeting moment when their hands have touched—is so completely smitten by her? He sings about her nargisi aankhein; the rangeen nazaara that she had allowed him so briefly to view. He sings of her mehki hui zulfein, her marmari haath; he talks of how, if his desperate searching for her is fruitless, he will be lost forever.
4. Chhalke teri aankhon se sharaab aur zyaada (Aarzoo, 1965): Her eyes are intoxicating, her lips are like roses. Her presence itself is such that the love-struck lover’s heart goes into a mad tizzy, beating faster than he could ever have imagined.
Aarzoo, like Mere Mehboob, starred Rajendra Kumar opposite Sadhana, and had a bunch of songs that, to some extent or the other, praised Sadhana. The most appropriate, perhaps, in terms of lyrics would be Ae phoolon ki raani, bahaaron ke mallika, which sets her on a pedestal, proclaiming her the queen of flowers, the empress of spring—the very embodiment of all that is beautiful. Then there’s Ae nargis-e-mastaana, which calls her (and a poetic term, this!) ‘a free-spirited narcissus’.
And there’s this, sung by the disguised lover, at a party. She (and the friend beside her) are the only ones who know whom the song is actually addressed to; everybody else thinks the ‘old gentleman’ is singing for his long-dead, much adored wife. With all that near-worship of the lover’s beauty (“Allah kare zor-e-shabaab aur zyaada”—“May Allah grant that your beauty grow greater”), it’s hardly surprising that the gathered company should think so.
5. Gaal gulaabi kiske hain (Love in Simla, 1960): Another party song where Sadhana’s character is serenaded—but a very different one from Chhalke teri aankhon se. Sadhana, in her very first Hindi film role, is the tomboy who undergoes a makeover (supervised by her grandmother) and becomes the belle of the ball—in the process also falling in love with, and being loved by, her cousin’s fiancé.
This song is a veritable litany of Sadhana’s beauty: rosy cheeks, intoxicating eyes, dark glossy tresses, radiant complexion, the one whom the breeze kisses as it flows. “Dekhke jisko chaand jale” (“The one whom even the moon, when it sees her, envies”)… in short, pretty much the epitome of female pulchritude. And while the other people at the club might suggest the names of other women as contenders, the singer knows who really is all of that.
6. Do akhiyaan jhuki-jhuki si (Prem Patra, 1962): Before this list turns into one of ‘Mohammad Rafi singing playback in praise of Sadhana’, a song by Mukesh, from one of my two favourite Sadhana films (the other one being Woh Kaun Thi?). Shashi Kapoor, as the young doctor who, having (literally) bumped into a medical student and then spent several hours on night duty with her, realizes he’s in love. Or at least attracted. Even if it’s only still mere attraction, there’s no doubting his admiration for her: for the demure eyes, the lashes shyly lowered; the lehraati zulfein; her lips, more delicate than buds. Yes, a lovely lady—and one who does think of him, too.
7. Gore-gore chaand se mukh par (Anita, 1967): Another song sung by Mukesh. This one is very specific: the entire song is devoted to the beauty and the character of Sadhana’s eyes. Bright eyes, “inse qayaamat dhaanewaali aankhen hain” (“eyes that will wreak havoc”—with the lover’s heart). Without these beautiful eyes, everything is dark and bleak—and, while one pair of eyes is pretty much like another, there is something special about this set of eyes, so beautiful and in so lovely a face.
A sadly ironic song, in that Sadhana’s health problems had already begun to affect her looks, especially the beauty of those eyes. The somewhat pronounced bulge of them was still to come, but you can see that the eyeliner is perhaps used with a little too liberal a hand in an attempt to disguise that hint of imperfection.
8. Zaroorat hai zaroorat hai (Manmauji, 1962): The very first line of this song puts me off—that requirement of the shrimati being one who is eager to do ‘seva pati ki’—makes me grit my teeth in annoyance. That’s not all Kishore Kumar’s exacting character wants out of a wife, either: he has an entire list ready of all the qualities that the lady must possess.
What helps reduce the annoying MCP-ishness of much of the song is the realization that this man is, quite obviously, telling his sweetheart that she is the one he wants, because she has all the qualities. “Haseen hazaaron bhi hon khade, magar usi par nazar pade” (“Let there be a thousand beauties standing, but she is the one who’ll attract attention”), he says. He praises the tresses caressing her fair cheeks; her adas; the fragrance of her very breath; the rose amongst the flowers. Perfection itself. And he hopes she will agree to be his.
9. Poochhe jo koi mujhse bahaar kaisi hoti hai (Aap Aaye Bahaar Aayi, 1971): The third film in this list which has Rajendra Kumar serenading Sadhana. He was pretty long in the tooth by this time, and her beauty was also suffering the ravages of illness, making this one of her last major roles as a lead. (Despite the fact that her face isn’t as gorgeous as it once was, it’s worth noting that Sadhana’s figure—shown off nicely in that short skirt—is pretty enviable. Not too many actresses of her age, in that era, could have pulled off something like that).
And this is all about how wonderful she is. This admirer thinks the world of her. She is the spring, she is beauty. Her hair are the dark, looming clouds. She is intoxicating; she is a hoor, a fairy straight from paradise.
10. Nainonwaali ne ek matwaali ne (Mera Saaya, 1966): And, to end, a song with a difference. This one is sung by Sadhana’s character herself—but it’s proxy; she’s singing it on behalf of her husband, whom she deems incapable of singing an original song (“Chori ke sher hain,” she teases him—“your verses are stolen”—when he praises the sweetness of her voice and her beauty). So she takes over the task of voicing all his feelings, of putting into words what he would have said. That her eyes hold him captive; that her grace and innocence have won his heart. “Naaz-o-ada se chaand ke aage ghoonghat jab sarkaaye, chaand tadap par uske gore kadmon par gir jaaye” (“When she, in her beauty and elegance, lifts the veil off her face, the moon itself heaves a sigh and collapses at her fair feet”). Yes, this may not be modesty itself, but the man seems to agree.
Which songs would you add to the list?
Oh, and: Happy New Year, everybody. I hope this year is a wonderful one for each of you: healthy, happy, safe, fulfilling.