Just a few weeks back, Anu published a delightful blog post which listed ten songs on the theme of ‘Kaun Aaya’: who is this who comes? A lover, a hope, the much-anticipated partner of one’s life. I commented on that post, liked it, liked the songs, moved on. And then, one day, happening to revisit Anu’s blog, I came across that post again, and it struck me: what about the answer to ‘Kaun aaya?’
Because there are many songs that could well be answers to the question. A name spelled out, or a description provided. The love of one’s life, or the bane of one’s existence. One person may ask, “Kaun aaya?”, and another may well have the answer to that.
Here, therefore, are ten songs that answer the question ‘Kaun aaya?’ To make it a little more challenging for myself, I have included only those songs which specifically answer the ‘Kaun’ of that question; who has come, not what has come. This is why some great songs, heralding everything from the spring to the monsoon to love, have been omitted—because they would be answers to “Kya aaya?” rather than “Kaun aaya?”
As always, these are all from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve seen, and are listed in no particular order of preference.
1. Chaakuwaala chhuriwaala… aaya main mastaana (Al-Hilal, 1957): To start off with, a relatively little-known but fabulously infectious song from the sort-of Muslim mythological Al-Hilal. Shakila, acting as a girl pretending to be a boy but here disguised as a girl (yes, I know how confusing that is), here joins a group of dancers to dance before the evil ruler. Our heroine’s (or, considering everybody thinks she’s a man, hero’s) actual profession is that of a knife-sharpener, so that’s how her fellow dancer introduces herself. As a chaakuwaala, a chhuriwaala, a footloose and fancy-free mastaana and deewaana. So much pep and fun.
2. Dekhne mein bhola hai… Bambai se aaya hai Babu (Bombai ka Babu, 1960): A sister, long separated from the brother who ran away from home years ago, welcomes him back. Or, at least, welcomes the man who introduces himself as her brother, unaware that he is not just a stranger but the man who killed her brother. To her, though, he is her brother, and she sets about teasing him as well as boasting about him. He’s come from Bombay, this babu chhinnana, this urban dandy, she sings: he will be well-advised to steer clear of the beauties of these hills, for they will steal his heart. But she warns the beauties, too. Nicky, Muni, Noor and Begum: don’t laugh at him, for he is the handsomest of them all, and he will rob them of their hearts.
3. Jogi jab se tu aaya mere dwaare (Bandini, 1963): A village girl sings (in his absence) a song to the lover who has recently come into her life. She calls him a jogi, a wandering mendicant, as she smiles and exults over the effect of his love on her life. Little does she know that this man, like the jogi who stays only briefly at one place before going on, will also leave her bereft. Right now, however, as she skips happily along by the riverside, she rejoices in the love which has come into her life.
4. Koi matwaala aaya mere dwaare (Love in Tokyo, 1966): Another woman singing of the man who has come into her life. Asha Parekh’s dancer, however, is far removed from Nutan’s village girl; this is an Indian heiress in Japan, a danseuse who performs for a TV programme. Little does she know that the song she sings (how do film dancers manage to dance vigorously and sing at the same time?) is proving—on the other side of the TV—true, because a passing Indian (Joy Mukherji) finds himself enthralled. He doesn’t say a word, but it’s obvious from the look of goofy delight on his face that he’s assigned to himself the identity of the matwaala come to the doorstep of this dancing beauty.
5. Banda parvar thhaam lo jigar…. banke pyaar phir aaya hoon, (Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, 1963): Joy Mukherji again, and this time playing an active part in explaining who it is who’s come. Asha Parekh (again!) has been duped into getting into his tonga, and when she’s safely ensconced, with no hope of escaping the attentions of her admirer, he tells her who he is. The very embodiment of love, the man who presents his heart to her, always bound to serve her (yes, as often happens, this sounds far better in the original than it does translated). Interestingly, the 1994 film Andaz Apna-Apna has an unmistakable copy of this song, in the shape of Eloji sanam hum aa gaye hain—from the situation down to the music, and the lyrics, where Aamir Khan tells Raveena Tandon that he too has arrived, bringing with him his heart.
6. Mehfil mein jo aaye tum (Vallah Kya Baat Hai, 1962): Who has come into this gathering, to fill the air with magic, and to steal the singer’s heart? You, she tells the man for whom she’s ignoring the rest of the crowd that sits around at the tables, watching her perform. And even though this is really a performance—Nishi Kohli’s character is a dancer and singer—who can fault her for being so besotted? The man, after all, is Shammi Kapoor in his prime, handsome to a fault. So handsome that she tells him quite frankly that her heart has gone completely over to him, and that she doesn’t care what he is: fair, dark, cruel, whatever. Whoever or whatever he is, she wants him.
7. Aasmaan se aaya farishta (An Evening in Paris, 1967): Shammi Kapoor again, and this time doing the singing, explaining who he is, to come barging into this lucky girl’s life. An angel, descended from heaven, to tell her what romance is all about, to show her the picture he carries of her in his heart. I have never imagined angels in orange bathrobes dangling from helicopters, but Aasmaan se aaya farishta is peppy enough. Shammi Kapoor, incidentally, is supposed to have had to steel himself for the hair-raising filming of this scene by imbibing a good bit of alcohol. He does pull it off with characteristic aplomb despite all that liquor sloshing about inside.
8. Leke pehla-pehla pyaar… jaadunagri se aaya hai koi jaadugar (CID, 1956): Dev Anand again, and (as in Dekhne mein bhola hai), the man being sung about by others. Here, in order to woo the girl whom he’s fallen for after hijacking her car, he pays two street performers to put in a word—or more—on his behalf. And they (Sheila Vaz and Shyam) do so with an enthusiasm that does them credit. From jaadunagri, ‘the town of magic’, has come a magician, bringing with him first love, ready to sweep her away. Shakila’s character, not one ready to forgive and forget easily, remains huffy almost all through—but the jaadugar wins a shy smile, eventually, from her.
9. Ghoomke aaya hoon main… Baajewaala Patialewaala (Basant, 1960): For once, a song which doesn’t have any romance to it. Johnny Walker and Kammo lead a group of musicians (an all-girl band, interestingly) into a mansion where the heroine is about to have her life ruined—and he introduces himself. He is the baajewaala, Patialewaala, a musician par excellence whose feats are startling: better than Asha Bhonsle and Mohammad Rafi, the man who’s the ustad of everybody from SD Burman, to Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad and OP Nayyar. Yes, a formidable musician indeed, and not overburdened with modesty.
10. Dilli se aaya Bhai Tingoo (Ek Thi Ladki, 1949): And, to end, another song that has no trace of romance to it, and which (like Ghoomke aaya hoon main bandhu, coincidentally) has an all-girl band. Honey O’Brien is the performer here, singing onstage a light-hearted little ditty about three brothers who come down from Delhi: the skinny Tingoo; the short Pingoo; and the plump Shingoo. How they go promenading along the Mall, how they simper and preen and prance about. How they sing the praises of their country, which is the very best in the whole wide world…
So there we are. Angels, musicians, magicians, and more. Which other songs can answer that ‘Kaun aaya?’ question?