Think of ‘Hindi film song’ and chances are, you will think of a romantic song. A hero and a heroine, in a garden or under a moonlit sky, singing of their love for each other: the quintessential Hindi film song. But besides the heroes and heroines, there were often, too, the secondary couple. The man was often the hero’s sidekick, the best friend who helped him defeat the villain, overcome the objections of the disapproving father, and so on. The comic best pal’s love interest, too, was often of a similar bent of mind: good-hearted, nutty, comic in her own way. Also (oh so stereotypically) often an Anglo-Indian or a Goan, a girl who had few inhibitions about dancing and singing with her man.
The secondary romantic pair served several purposes. They provided, if not comic relief, at least some moments of light-heartedness (think Johnny Walker’s and Kumkum’s characters in the otherwise so grim Pyaasa). They brought a ray of hope, a refreshing change from the melodrama and seriousness that might plague the hero and heroine; they often helped in very concrete, practical ways. And, thankfully for us, they invariably had at least one romantic song to lip-sync to, and it was often just as good as the ‘main’ romantic songs. Some of these, in fact, are iconic songs in their own right.
So, to get down to this list: ten songs picturized on a secondary romantic couple. Most of these are duets, but some are not. As always, these are all from pre-1970s Hindi films that I’ve seen. In no particular order:
1. Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji (Mr & Mrs 55, 1955): Johnny Walker must hold some sort of record for most songs picturized on somebody who wasn’t usually a lead actor (though he did play the lead in several films). In any film in which Johnny Walker was a supporting actor, and his character was given a romance of his own, you could be sure there would be a song picturized on him and his leading lady. This one is my favourite, as he and Yasmin go singing and dancing through an office that’s mostly deserted (though there’s a peon around, watching them with a bemused look) because everybody else has gone for lunch. The lyrics are delightful, the music is bubbly and peppy, and Johnny Walker and Yasmin are simply superb.
2. Sanam tuh chal diya rasta (Maya, 1961): Agha teams up here with none other than a bubbly and very pretty Helen as he romances her (by basically telling her that her going away and leaving him to his own devices isn’t going to dampen his spirits). The setting is very public: they’re in a chawl, surrounded by all the people who live there (including Edwina Lyons, dressed in a kashta sari, though sadly not dancing). A peppy and delightful little song; what I love is the playfulness in Helen’s expression and in her dancing (pretending to waltz with her tiny little handbag, for instance) and Agha’s corresponding funniness. I love that he does dance a bit, but that it’s a slapdash sort of dancing: he is no Fred Astaire, and he doesn’t pretend to be one.
3. Nain tumhaare mazedaar (Junglee, 1961): Her bubbliness suppressed (ineffectually, as it happens) by a tyrannical mother (Lalita Pawar) and a stiff, unbending older brother (Shammi Kapoor), Shashikala’s character, nevertheless, escapes their tyranny every now and then—and falls in love with one of her brother’s employees (Anoop Kumar). As they sing about how delightful they find each other’s company, these two do the rounds of all the conventional ‘romance song’ backdrops: the lakeshore, the seaside with the pounding surf, the mountainside, but with their mad cavorting, his tripping and falling every now and then, her vivacious teasing: no, you can’t mistake this couple for the (usually) more sedate romantic lead pair.
4. Arre na na na na tauba tauba (Aar Paar, 1954): Johnny Walker was arguably the one actor who had umpteen songs of this type picturized on him: his character romancing a feisty female, often with as good a sense of humour as his, both of them getting up to various antics that made romance a funny, playful, teasing matter, not the serious stuff of the leads. Also (unlike some of his contemporaries, notably Mehmood), many of the songs Johnny Walker lip-synced to were very good songs in their own right.
Take this one, where he is paired with the girl whom he married shortly after, Noor. Noor and Johnny go all over the zoo, keeping one step ahead of her bossy mother. He tries to woo her, she rebuffs him, but with a twinkle in her eye: she isn’t immune to his charms, after all. A delightful song (and what delightful lyrics, too).
5. Hum toh hain tum pe dil se fida (Bewaqoof, 1960): IS Johar was not always the supporting actor; in several films (mostly his own productions) he was the hero. In Bewaqoof, though he did have a fairly major role to play as Kishore Kumar’s friend and confidant, it was Kishore who got first billing. Even then, IS Johar got to lip-sync to Mohammad Rafi’s wonderful rendition of a very romantic song. IS Johar’s character walks along, following his lady love (played by Krishna Kumari), singing to her of his feelings. He’s persuasive enough to have her melt by the end. This also one of the rare songs where Johar isn’t looking half bad, really; even handsome in places.
Interestingly, the music of the opening lines/refrain bears a striking resemblance to that of a section from Kya teri mehfil hai sanam from China Town (1962). China Town had its music composed by Ravi; Bewaqoof by SD Burman.
6. Jaa jaa re jaa deewaane jaa (Grahasti, 1963): Mehmood and Shubha Khote were paired in many films, often with him playing the role of the hero’s friend, she the heroine’s saheli. And when they co-starred, they invariably had at least one song together, from melodious classical ones like Ajhun na aaye baalama saawan beeta jaaye (Saanjh aur Savera, 1964) to wacky ones like Main tere pyaar mein kya-kya na banaa (Ziddi, 1964) to lots in between. This is one of my favourites, because it’s such a hummable song, and so likeable. Shubha Khote is very pretty and vivacious, and the nutty sort-of dance in the garden lets them match steps well.
7. Aaja meri jaan tere qurbaan (Ummeed, 1962): Ummeed is a film which left me a bit mystified. It’s nothing exceptional, but not awful either. And while it does have a release date (supposedly) of 1962, the film was obviously made much later: Joy Mukherjee, Nanda, and Leela Naidu, all look considerably older than they did in 1962. But the film had excellent music (by Ravi), including some hit songs like Mujhe ishq hai tujhi se meri jaan-e-zindgaani and Humne chaaha magar kuchh keh na paaye. And, this delightful little song, picturized on Agha and Sabita Chatterjee, who plays his love interest. Peppy and fun, it’s a cute little romantic number that I like a lot.
8. Thoda sa dil lagaake dekh (Musafir Khana, 1955): The thing in common between this song and the previous one? In both the love birds find their song and dance broken up by the arrival of a disapproving parent (parents, in this case). But before that happens, Shammi and Johnny Walker are in their element, she trying to bolster his spirits and telling him that even if he can’t be hers, he’d do well to try making her his. A sweetly romantic sentiment, and I love the joyous playfulness of these two, as he strums on his Hawaiian steel guitar and Shammi prances about. The music itself is fabulous (OP Nayyar, obviously heavily inspired by Sugarbush when it comes to the refrain, but putting his own spin on the popular tune), and Shamshad Begum and Rafi sing it with characteristic verve.
9. Suno suno Miss Chatterjee (Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi, 1966): Johnny Walker again (and no, even this isn’t the last song featuring him; he acted in so many songs of this type, there could be a Johnny Walker post dedicated only to secondary romance songs in which he appears). From the classic love triangle, Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi, is this frothy and light-hearted song in which Johnny Walker’s character goes all across Kolkata, trying desperately to win back his sweetheart (Madhavi). When, to shake him off, she climbs into a tram, he pursues her on a bicycle, before getting on to the tram himself; and then, into a garden which is (of course, this being Hindi cinema) full of dozens of young Anglo-Indians, dancing for all they’re worth. Johnny Walker is, as always, fun, and the first half of the song is quite a good showcase of Kolkata in the late 60s.
10. Kal talak hum theek thha (Detective, 1958): And, to end the list, yet another Johnny Walker song. Detective, with music by the underrated Mukul Roy (Geeta Dutt’s brother) is mostly known for the songs picturized on its leads, Mala Sinha and Pradeep Kumar: Do chamakti aankhon mein kal khwaab sunehra thha jitna and Mujhko tum jo mile being the standouts. But right up there among my favourites from this film is this song, with Johnny Walker and an actress I don’t recognize singing of their love under a moonlit sky. I love the pep and fun of this song, and I invariably end up comparing it to Mujhko tum jo mile: two similar situations (lovers meeting at night), but played out so differently!
Which other songs of this type do you like? Please share.