… sung to a single person, not an audience.
Let me explain that a bit.
Hindi cinema, especially in the glamorous and colourful world of the 60s, is full of songs inviting love (or lust, or whatever interpretation one might want to put on it). Whether it’s a Helen with bizarre eye makeup singing Aa jaan-e-jaan to a caged lover in a floor show or a floral-shirted Joy Mukherji openly serenading Asha Parekh in a Tokyo party, there’s a good bit of sizzle, lots of “Come on and give us some love”.
If I started listing all the songs of that type that I like, I’d never get to the end of the list. Because these come-hither songs come in all shapes and sizes: there are dozens, for instance, which are no more than performances. There is the occasional one, too (Yeh samaa samaa hai yeh pyaar ka is an example) which is accidental, an unintended come-hither song.
But, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to a very particular type of come-hither song, and the idea for that came from this brief line-up of ‘sexy Saturday songs’ which I curated for Agents of Ishq. There was no way I was going to be able to replicate that song list on Dustedoff, since it had only six songs, of which three weren’t from Hindi cinema, and of the remaining, three were outside of the time period which my blog focuses upon.
So, a fresh list. And this one consists of songs that are specifically addressed to one person. There may be other people around, but the focus of the song is one particular individual. Plus, the song really is come-hither; not just in the words, but in the acting. There should be a definite element of flirtation, of seduction.
As always, all of these songs are from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve seen.
1. Aaja re aa zara aa (Love in Tokyo, 1966): It’s appropriate to begin this list with the one song that was on my ‘sexy Saturday songs’ list and fitted my blog as well. And, to be honest, of the three Hindi songs that made that list, this is my favourite. It’s an unusual song for Hindi cinema, because a man sings it—and how! Rafi’s voice is deliciously seductive (I cannot help but marvel at his versatility: this, mind you, was the same man who also, so believably, sang Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye and Jangal mein mor naacha). Joy Mukherji manages to pull off the visual equivalent of the sizzle, too, I think, even though Asha Parekh looks rather shocked at it all. But yes, it’s a fairly bold song for 1966 Hindi cinema.
2. Raat akeli hai bujh gaye diye (Jewel Thief, 1965): From a party to a drawing room. From a crowd to a twosome. From seduction to a playfulness that knows it has little chance of success but is game to give it a try anyway. Tanuja’s girlish but determined young miss is infatuated with the older man (personally, I don’t think Dev Anand was at his best in Jewel Thief) and when she’s managed to lure him into her home, sings him a song begging him to stay on. The night’s one of solitude, she reminds him. We’re alone, the lights are all out. Whisper something in my ear… the invitation to do more than merely whisper is implicit in her words. Fun picturization, a vibrant Tanuja, and an excellent rendition by Asha Bhonsle.
3. Tera dil kahaan hai sab kuchh yahaan hai (Chandni Chowk, 1954): This song I had to include because—though it features two relatively little-known actors—it is sublime, and the tune is certain to ring a bell for just about anybody who knows their old Hindi film music. Roshan composed the music for Chandni Chowk, and while I have no idea how the film fared at the box office, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made little mark, despite the presence of Meena Kumari as heroine. A possible sinking-without-a-trace may have been the reason Roshan ended up reusing this tune years later as Rahe na rahein hum.
More than Rahe na rahein hum, I love this song. It’s sultry, it’s seductive and soothing. Smriti Biswas plays an Egyptian dancer-singer trying to attract a much-married Indian who’s washed up in Cairo. The moonlight, the quiet, the solitude: she points them all out, and nudges him towards herself: where is his heart?
4. Aaiye aapka thha humein intezaar (Mahal, 1969): Farida Jalal, for me at least, always typifies—even when young (in films like Aradhana and Taqdeer)—the wholesome, ‘good’ girl next door. Certainly not a sultry siren. Which is why this song comes as a bit of a surprise, and one which she doesn’t pull off too well, despite the flimsy curtains, the provocative pose on the bed, et al: she still looks pretty and sweet rather than seductive. Instead, it comes off (though I’m not sure that was intended) as a sort of reboot of Raat akeli hai, though the playfulness which Tanuja’s character exuded is not what Farida Jalal’s character hoped for. Since her character here was tied up in some pretty shady goings-on (not limited to murder), this come-hither act is much more dangerous than it seems to be, for our hero.
5. Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera (Mere Sanam, 1965): An old favourite on this blog puts in another appearance. Rather like Tanuja in Jewel Thief and Farida Jalal in Mahal, Mumtaz in Mere Sanam doesn’t look a siren. In intent, however, her character is closer to that of Farida Jalal’s: this one, too, is up to no good. Her come-hither song-and-dance, complete with dimmed lights, billowing gossamer-thin curtains, and a clingy blingy outfit (which is not at all flattering) is all calculated to entrap the hero. Not because she wants him to be her lover, but because she wants to get him into some incriminating poses that can then be used to frame him for dark crimes.
Whatever the purpose, though, this is still a classic come-hither song. And Biswajit looks as bewildered as he could possibly be.
6. Haaye mere paas toh aa (Shikar, 1968): Helen probably holds some sort of record for the number of songs in which her character is lip-syncing to a song that’s an invitation. Most of these, however, are outright ‘performances’, on a stage, on a dance floor, or on an otherwise public platform where it’s obvious that this woman’s performing for an audience: the words are empty, just lyrics to a song, no more.
Not here, or at least not completely. A young and very handsome Sanjeev Kumar, playing a police officer (in a role which won him a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor) visits a witness and possible suspect—and when she realizes he might be too close to unearthing a clue, the lady (who, by the way, is a secretary, not a dancer) decides to distract him. Helen sizzles and Sanjeev Kumar’s acting is brilliant: the initial awkwardness (even surprise); the studied indifference, the vaguely amused realization that this is all a ploy—and the final touché, when he foils all her plans and escapes.
7. Aaja panchhi akela hai (Nau Do Gyarah, 1957): For a film made in 1957, Nau Do Gyarah had what could be construed as some pretty ‘bold’ songs. Aankhon mein kya ji has been interpreted by several people (I am not among those) to imply something pretty risqué in that ‘Aanchal mein kya ji…’ line. The come-hither tone in Aaja panchhi akela hai gets disguised a bit by the playfulness of its music (SD Burman, in one of his finest overall scores), but if you pay attention, you see that it’s not mere teasing. This young man, forced to sleep in the bathtub (because he’s pretending—for the benefit of his employer—to be the husband of the woman he’s arrived with), begs her to come to him.
8. Ek nazar bas ek nazar (Munimji, 1955): Dev Anand seems to have been at the receiving end (or, as in the previous song, the one doing the inviting) of several come-hither songs. In this oft-ignored song from Munimji, his character is being coaxed into bestowing a glance—just one glance, no more—on the woman who’s lost her heart to him. Nalini Jaywant plays the city-educated girl who returns home to the countryside and falls in love with a mysterious stranger, unaware that he is also the irritating and plain-looking munim. Here, on the pretext of taking a photograph of them both, she starts off attracting her lover’s attention—and then makes it a song inviting him to look at her. And do more: Dil ke soye taar jagaa de/Chedh de koi afsaana (Awaken the sleeping strings of my heart/Play a tune that tells a story).
9. Lag jaa gale ke phir yeh (Woh Kaun Thi?, 1964): If I ever got around to making a ‘Ten of my favourite songs’ list—no themes, no restrictions—this would almost certainly figure on it. Lata’s voice, Madan Mohan’s sublime music, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan’s lyrics and a gorgeous Sadhana come together to make this one of those absolutely unforgettable songs. A mysterious woman—the hero’s wife, but whom he doesn’t really know, and whom he’s more than a little wary of—lures him away from his work at the hospital one evening and takes him away. To solitude, to a place where she tells him straight out that this is his chance to be hers. This moment is theirs; who knows what the future holds? There’s a sense of impending doom, but also the promise of an exhilarating, very seductive magic that can be in store for them.
10. Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahaan (Jaal, 1952): Dev Anand seems to have a lot of come-hither songs sung to him onscreen (three on this list), and he’s lip-synced to a few of them as well. This is a classic one: the quintessential ‘bad boy’ pardesi whom the innocent village girl Maria realizes is not good for her—but whom she cannot resist. And, because he is attracted to her and he knows she reciprocates his feelings, he makes it even more difficult for her to refuse. Guitar, moonlight, Hemant’s voice and Dev Anand: a potent combination. I first watched Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahaan on Doordarshan, perhaps when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Even I could see how anguished Geeta Bali looked, how torn between love and ‘duty’, how much wanting to go to him. And, young though I was, I could understand why.
Which songs would you suggest for a come-hither post? Please share!