… and which I am not likely to get around to watching, at least not in the foreseeable future.
Because today is the tenth birthday of my blog, and this is my way of wishing my blog a happy birthday.
Ten years ago, when I launched Dustedoff (with this post), I had imagined it to mostly be a collection of reviews—Hindi and Hollywood films—and some song lists. Dustedoff evolved down the line. A cousin who commented on one of my earliest posts asked if I would review foreign language films, and when blog reader Bawa, visiting Delhi, she gifted me a DVD of a Spanish film, which became the first non-Hindi, non-English film I reviewed on this blog. Still later, a friend suggested I combine my website (which was all about my fiction writing—my books, articles, and short stories) with my blog, so that happened, expanding the scope of Dustedoff. What you see today is still primarily a blog about old cinema (the period of cinema I focus on is one thing that’s remained consistent), but it’s now also about travel and food and history and other things that interest me.
Of all that I write about on this blog, the most popular posts—by a very, very great margin—are the ones that feature song lists. When I compiled my first song list, one restriction I imposed on myself (and how controversial that has turned out to be!) was that I would feature songs only from pre-70s films I’d already watched. People asked me why this was so; some urged me to rethink that decision; some thought I was dumb to limit myself so. But I took that decision (partly because there are some songs, I realize, that need to be understood in context, partly because it helps make compiling lists more challenging for me, and partly because it encourages me to watch more cinema, including obscure stuff). And that is a decision I’ve stayed with.
But. Today is Dustedoff’s 10th birthday. A celebration is in order, I think. And my way of celebrating is to let my hair down a bit—with ten songs I really like but which I’m unlikely to ever get to post, because it’s equally unlikely that I’ll ever get to watch these films. In most cases, the films seem to have completely disappeared off the radar; I have spent years looking for them, both in DVD/VCD format, and on the Internet, but they seem to have vanished. Rare films, or lost films. Perhaps some of these will emerge someday and I’ll be able to watch them, but for now, that seems like a remote possibility. (Note: These are not songs that were originally part of a film but were later deleted—so CID’s Jaata kahaan hai deewaane, or Shikast’s Chaand madham hai don’t qualify, since I have seen the film in question; it was just that the song was missing).
So here we go. As always, these are from pre-70s films. For once, not films I’ve seen. These songs are in no particular order.
1. Do dil dhadak rahe hain aur aawaaz ek hai (Insaaf, 1956): I don’t remember where I first heard Do dil dhadak rahe hain—it was probably on an old LP of my parents’—but I do remember falling in love with it instantly. Talat has long been a favourite of mine, and here, paired with Asha, he sings a beautifully romantic song of two lovers brought together: their hearts beating as one, their voices coming together on one note. I searched for Insaaf high and low, but to no avail: it doesn’t seem to be around, at least not on digital media.
2. Laal-laal gaal (Mr X, 1957): Search for Mr X on YouTube, and you’ll get either of two things: Laal-laal gaal, or Mr X in Bombay (and its many songs, which include the wonderful Mere mehboob qayamat hogi). The latter stars Kishore Kumar and Kumkum, with Kishore as a man who discovers a mantra that makes him invisible.
I have no idea what Mr X—starring Kishore’s elder brother, Ashok Kumar—is about. What I do know is that it features this delightfully peppy number sung by Mohammad Rafi (and supposedly picturized on Johnny Walker, which sounds plausible: somehow, I can see Johnny Walker shaking a leg to a song like this this; Ashok Kumar I cannot envision as the singer of Laal-laal gaal). Such a fun song, and one that always makes me want to get up and dance.
3. Halke-halke chalo saanwre (Taangewaali, 1955): Ever since I’ve been blogging, I’ve made a conscious effort to try and watch (and review) as many Shammi Kapoor films as I can—and I’ve realized that few of his early films seem to be around (Miss Coca Cola and Coffee House, I’d been informed by Induna, were among the films that would be out soon on VCD or DVD, but this was several years back, and no sign of either yet).
One Shammi Kapoor film I’m especially eager to watch is Taangewaali, and that as much for this fabulous song as for Shammi Kapoor. I can imagine what the picturization of this might be like: two lovers, going off in a tonga, singing a song… (Though, knowing how deceptive some songs can sound, that may well not be the case). Till then, I suppose, I will have to satisfy myself with just listening to the song.
4. Baabul mora naihar chhooto re jaaye (Street Singer, 1938): The National Film Archives (and possibly Doordarshan) might have a copy of the 1938 Street Singer, starring KL Saigal and Kanan Devi. A reader on this blog certainly remembered having watched the film on television many years back. However, searching for it yields up only a 1966 Street Singer, not the 1938 one. And I do want to watch the 1938 film, if only for this song. KL Saigal’s rendition of Wajid Ali Shah’s poignant poem, referring to his exile from his beloved Awadh, here symbolized by a bride being taken away in her doli from her father’s home, is hauntingly beautiful. It is even more laudable considering that he sang as he walked along behind the moving vehicle in which the camera and crew were preceding him.
5. Ae gham-e-dil kya karoon (Thokar, 1953): Like Taangewaali, Thokar is another Shammi Kapoor film that seems to have vanished. In this, he starred with his earliest co-star, Shyama, and while I know nothing else about the film, I do love Ae gham-e-dil kya karoon. Talat might seem like an unusual (and possibly not very convincing) playback singer for Shammi, but one must remember, of course, that Shammi of the pre-Tumsa Nahin Dekha days was often slotted as a lovelorn hero, not the madcap romantic hero of his stardom. For such a one, the soulful voice of Talat perhaps fitted well—and what a beautiful song this is.
6. Jaa re badra bairi jaa (Bahaana, 1960): Madan Mohan, the composer almost everyone associates predominantly with ghazals, was far more versatile than that—and in Jaa re badraa bairi jaa he displays his talent with a lilting, lovely song with a definite flavour of the classical in it. The instrumentation is subdued enough to let Lata Mangeshkar’s voice shine through, and she uses that opportunity to the hilt, creating a song that’s rippling and melodious and somehow very evocative of the falling rain, the softly blowing breeze of the monsoon.
7. Le chala jidhar yeh dil nikal pade (Miss Bombay, 1957): I first came across this cheery road song years ago, when I encountered it on Chitrahaar. Back then, my sister and I always used to keep a partially blank VHS tape ready for recording in our VCR when Chitrahaar came on, just in case we came across a song we liked, and that was how Le chala jidhar yeh dil nikal pade came to be recorded on one of our tapes. I watched it many times over the following years, and I’ve never tired of it. It’s got a good tune, Rafi’s sung it well, and the details—the little mannequin with a violin, tucked away in a niche somewhere on the outside of Ajit’s lorry—are charming. Plus, this is from an era when Ajit was still pretty eye-catching, so that’s enough reason for me to want to watch the film.
8. Mera sundar sapna beet gaya (Do Bhai, 1947): One of my earliest childhood memories related to Hindi cinema is of listening to my parents’ collection of Hindi film music—and that too, the LP of The Best of Geeta Dutt. That was where I first heard Mera sundar sapna beet gaya, and (considering I didn’t begin to acquire a liking for pre-50s Hindi songs till many years later), I loved this one even then. Geeta puts her soul into it, and SD Burman’s music plus Raja Mehdi Ali Khan’s lyrics make this an unforgettable song—it’s poignant, it’s bitter, and it is sadly also so true of what happened to Geeta Roy later in life.
9. Mere khwaabon mein khayaalon mein chhupe (Honeymoon, 1960): Vintage Salil Choudhary, this song is one that the composer set to words both in Hindi and Bengali versions (click on the link from the name of this song, and you’ll get to a URL that includes both Bengali and Hindi versions). I will admit that the Bengali version—sung by the honey-voiced Hemant—is my preference, because it is just so mellow and beautiful, but the Hindi version, sung by Mukesh and Lata, comes a very close second. While I prefer Hemant’s voice to Mukesh, the fact that Lata’s voice is brought in to lend that lovely wordless singing in Mere khwaabon mein khayaalon makes it that bit better as a bridge between the verses. A wonderful song on many counts.
10. Lehron pe lehar (Chhabili, 1960): Although the tune of this song is an obvious lift, it’s still a lovely song. The gorgeous voice of Hemant begins tand carries most of it through, in what sounds like a really romantic setting—I can almost imagine the beach, the sea beyond, the moonlight and the stars. Joining Hemant in this song is none other than Chhabili’s heroine, Nutan, who I think does acquit herself pretty well as a singer. The song from which this music was copied, by the way, is The man who plays the mandolino, sung by Dean Martin.
That’s it, then. Are there any other great songs you can suggest from films that are pretty much impossible to get hold of, at least online?