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Song of the Day # 691

From: bb on:  Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:44 pm  

Song of the Day: naan raaNiyE rajavin from Aan.

- Saravanan writes:

We have had songs from movies dubbed from Hindi, in SOTD earlier too- Lata’s songs from vanaratham here: http://www.dhool.com/sotd2/273.html and Jikki’s songs from avan here: http://www.dhool.com/sotd2/492.html

Today let us listen to a song from another such dubbed venture: Mehboob Khan’s Aan (1952/ Mehboob Productions)

* * * *

Mehboob Khan’s was a typical rag to riches to story. His real name was Rajmal Khan. Gaining valuable experience during his early years in Imperial Film Company and later in Sagar Movietone, his first directorial venture was Judgement of Allah (1935). He followed it up with landmark movies like Manmohan (1936), Jagirdaar (1937), Ek Hi Rasta (1939), Aurat (1940), Bahen (1941) and Roti (1942). He then started making films under his own banner- Mehboob Productions. With Anmol Ghadi (1946) began Mehboob’s historic association with Naushad. Starring Surendra, Suraiyya and Noorjehan, the film was famous for its songs. Mehboob’s next noteworthy effort was the unforgettable classic Andaaz (1949), which brought together Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Nargis.

* * * *

Andaaz was followed by the magnificent Aan (1952)

And though Aan was not such a thumping success as Mehboob’s next classic Mother India was; it still remains among his masterpieces. This time Mehboob Khan surpassed himself in the sheer grandeur of his canvas. Aan is enshrined in the history of Indian cinema as India’s first ever full-length Technicolour movie. Indeed, it was a remarkable achievement in its time- for the film was shot on 16 mm, then blown up to 35 mm and converted to technicolour in London.

Picking an engrossing story of adventure and romance written by R.S.Choudhury, Mehboob got S.Ali Raza to come up with some scintillating dialogues. Imaginative cinematography by Faredoon A. Irani, crisp editing by Shamsudeen Khadri, breathtaking art direction by M.R Achrekar and D.R.Jadhav, thrilling stunts conceived by Azeem- Douglas, spellbinding choreography by Krishnakumar- Suryakumar and dazzling costumes designed by Fazal Din- Chagan Jivan- Alla Ditta were all valuable embellishments that added to the splendour of the movie.

The story had all the right ingredients for a successful costume drama. Jai Tilak (Dilip Kumar) is a brave peasant, and Mala (Nimmi) the village belle madly in love with him. The haughty princess Rajshree (Nadira) is the third corner of the triangle. The benign Maharaja (Murad) disappears suddenly, apparently gone abroad for medical treatment. The cruel prince Shamsher (Premnath) takes over the reigns. His tyranny waves in an air of oppression and unrest; and when he attempts to molest Mangala leading to her death, Jai rises in revolt. He kidnaps Rajshri, and in the process of the taming of the shrew, both fall in love with each other. The dramatic rescue of the old Maharaja and the nail-biting duel between Jai and Samsher form a fitting finale to the proceedings.

This film heralded a complete change in image for Dilip Kumar, who had hitherto been identified with tragic, morose roles. I even remember reading somewhere that donning those roles repeatedly had affected him so much that he took on this refreshing role under psychiatric advice! And as the dashing Jai, he was a revelation. Glamorous Nadira, with a perpetually arched eyebrow, was perfectly cast as the imperious Rajshree. Pretty Nimmi and the stylish Premnath completed the perfect ensemble. Cuckoo, Mukri, Sheela Naik and Amir Bano were the others in the cast.

The extravagant opulence of the sets, the spectacular visuals and the universal appeal of good triumphing over evil propelled Aan to elicit notice even beyond Indian frontiers. Edited to 129 minutes, it was released all over Europe, titled ‘Mangala, the Rose of India’. The enchanting epic prompted Cecil B. Demille write to Mehboob Khan, “I found it an important piece of work, not only because I enjoyed it but also because it shows the tremendous potential of Indian motion pictures for securing world markets. I believe it is quite possible to make pictures in your great country which will be understood and enjoyed by all nations and without sacrificing the culture and customs of India. We look forward to the day when you will be regular contributors to our screen fare with many fine stories bringing the romance and magic of India.”

* * * *

The outstanding feature of Aan, of course, was Naushad’s wonderful music score. Dilip Kumar and Naushad shared a rare rapport, and many of the thespian’s movies were music marvels, thanks to the painstaking efforts of Naushad. Paying glowing tributes to Dilip Kumar, Naushad says “My association with Dilip Kumar sprang essentially from the fact that this thespian brought the same dedication to his craft as I did to my art..”

Naushad reminisces on Dilips Kumar’s reaction to the songs of Aan, “I remember him complaining to me at the time of Andaz and Aan that I composed excellent songs for the heroines but made him sing simple strains like, Toote na dil toote na, toote na... and Maan mera ehsan are nadaan -- ke maine tujh se kiya hai pyaar. And I’d assure him it was not so, that these songs were equally good. On the subsequent success and popularity of the songs he’d say, "You were right, Naushad Saab."

Speaking of Aan, Naushad says “I created a symphony for Aan on stage with a hundred musicians. I had a special tent... made of blankets... on the surface, I laid out coir carpets, so that the sound wouldn't echo. The final recording was done in London. We worked day in and day out for three months. We were under enormous pressure when we received news that the Liberty cinema in Bombay would open with this film. People slept for days outside the theatre to book tickets in advance. My symphony was widely appreciated in Britain, it was played on BBC. Orson Welles who was busy with his Othello also happened to see the rushes of Aan and loved the music.”

Lyrics were by Shakeel Badayuni. The songs were:

Aaj mere man mein sakhi- Lata Mangeshkar & Chorus
Aag lagi tanman mein- Shamshad Begum
Dil mein chhupa ke- Mohd. Rafi
Gao tarane man ke- Mohd. Rafi, Sahmshad & Lata
Khelo rang hamare sang- Shamshad & Lata
Maan mera ehsan- Mohd. Rafi
Main rani hoon raja ki- Shamshad Begum
Mohabbat choome jinke haath - Mohd. Rafi
Takra gaya tumse dil hi to hai- Mohd. Rafi
Tujhe kho diya humne- Lata Mangeshkar

Eight of these vintage delights can be listened to here: http://www.musicindiaonline.com/l/17/s/movie_name.167/

* * * *

Not satisfied with releasing the film in Hindi, Mehboob Khan got it dubbed in Tamil as well. The Tamil version, also titled Aan, had dialogues written by B.S.Ramiah and lyrics penned by the indefatigable Kambadasan. I have heard from several old-timers that the Tamil songs were greatly popular in their time, and were aired ever so often by Radio Ceylon. I have never heard these songs on radio and was naturally eager to lay my hands on them. After a dogged search for many years, I got all the 10 songs from an audio store in Bhavani, near Erode. The Tamil equivalents of the aforementioned Hindi originals were:

indRu endhan nenjil sakhi
aa sududhE en manamE
manathil mei kaathal
paadu singara paadalai
nagaru nagaru mel jal jal
yEtRiduvaai aruL thaan
naan raaNiyE rajavin
mOhamuththam tharum
saNdai mooNdathuvE
izhandhEn unai anbE

Going by the lyrics, Kambadasan seems to have been asked to strike as close to the Shakeel Badayuni’s muse as feasible. And in order to match the lip movements in the close-up shots, the Tamil lines and syntax seem to go haywire in places. To add to this, Lata and Shamshad Begum have themselves sung the Tamil versions of their Hindi songs! Rafi doesn’t seem to have joined this southern sojourn though; the old record sleeve proclaimed the male singer to be S.M. Sarkar. Wonder who this singer was; his Tamil isn’t good at all, and his baritone too is a far cry from the honeyed voice of Rafi. Incidentally ‘mOhamuththam tharum maan thaLirkaiyaaL’ was the inspiration for V-R’s latter day ‘senthamizh thEn mozhiyaaL’.

Mehboob Khan must have got the ‘not-so-positive’ feedback from Kambadasan and other Tamils involved in the dubbing process, for he made some hasty amends. He got M.S.Rajeswari to sing the Lata solos and Soolamngalam Rajalakshmi to sing the Shamshad ones! Thus the record had 14 songs in all.

* * * *

Shamshad Begum was nearly 100 years old when she passed away in Mumbai on August 10, 1998. Born in Amritsar, she started her singing career when AIR Lahore commenced broadcasting. She learned music from the legendary Ustad Hussain Bakshwale Sahab. Music Director Gulam Haider was impressed with her, and made her sing for his films in the early 40s. In 1944, Shamshad sang ‘Naina bhar aayE neer’ for the movie Humayun, and she became a celebrity overnight, for such was the popularity she attained with that single song! Shamshad Begum had arrived……

At a time when stalwarts like Noorjehan, Surayya, Amirbai Karnataki, Uma Devi (later to be christened Tun Tun and pursue the career of a comedienne) and Zohrabai Ambalewali were at their prime, Shamshad, with her unique nasal tones, managed to carve a unique niche for herself.

Shamshad Begum acquired the status of a singing icon even before Lata and Asha made their debut. Music Directors would wait for her dates to complete their recording. Naushad, C.Ramachandra, O.P.Nayyar, Shankar-Jaikishen, Ram Ganguly, S.D.Burman and Khemchand Prakash gave her such immortal songs like ‘ badal aaya jhoom ke’ (Shahjahan), ‘ Darti ko aakaash pukare’ and ‘Taqdeer bani bankar bigdi’ (Mela), 'Duniya me ghareebon ko aaram nahi milta' (Zamindaar), 'Armanon ki basti me hum aag laga baithe' (Shirin Farhad), ‘Ye duniya dil ki chor’ (Shabnam), 'Dil thandi hawa me' (Shama), ‘Chandni aayi ban ke pyar’ (Dulari), 'Mere piya gaye Rangoon' (Patanga), ‘Kaahe koyal shor machaaye’ (Aag), ‘Thandi sadak ki’ and ‘Roop ki dushman’ (Jadoo),’ ek do teen’ (Awara), 'Milte hi aankhen' and ‘Chod babul ka ghar’ (Babul), 'Saiyyan dil me aana re' (Bahaar), 'Boojh mera kya naam re' (C.I.D), 'Kabhi aar kabhi paar' (Aar Paar), 'Maine dekhi jag ki ree.' (Sunehre Din), ‘Humdard ka afsana’ (Dard), 'Kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishana.' (C.I.D), 'Pee ke ghar aaj' (Mother India)……

Shamshad Begum’s daughter Naseem Bano was a famous actress in the 40s, while her granddaughter Saira Bano needs no introduction. The kids of today are familiar with the name of Shamshad Begum too, thanks to the remixes galore of her old classics. Not a day goes by when I don’t happen to listen to the remixed 'Saiyyan dil me aana re' or 'Kabhi aar kabhi paar' on the local radio stations here.

Listen to Shamshad Begum sing ‘naan raaNiyE rajavin’ from aan

I tried to get a link to the Hindi original ‘Main rani hoon raja ki’, but it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere. All I got was a link to a sample clip of the song here:


* * * *

And here is Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi singing the same song

More on this exceptional artiste here: http://www.dhool.com/sotd2/386.html

Rajalakshmi was born in 1940; hence she would have been just 12 years old when she sang this song!

So listen on to these forgotten songs from a bygone era…

Discussion Page in DhooL on this Song