For those of us who have seen The Man Who Knew Too Much, the song Que Sera Sera, sung by Doris Day, will always bring with it an air of suspense. Ostensibly a song sung at bedtime by a mother to her child, it has a touch of unease that only Alfred Hitchcock could have brought. The film was a huge hit and naturally the song too became an all-time favourite, to the point that it is still sung, invariably off key, at parties. The tune, which won an Oscar, was by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
The Man Who Knew Too Much was made in 1956. Naturally, when Salem’s Modern Theatres released Aravalli the next year, it had to have a song based on this tune. It is attributed to G Ramanathan in the film, but a dispassionate jury would have demurred. The lyrics for the song, Chinna Pennana Pothile, were by Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram. It was a duet, sung by Jikki and AM Rajah. The film starred G Varalakshmi and SG Eshwar. Wikipedia has details of the storyline but whoever contributed the entry needs a good English tutor. I challenge you to make sense out of it.
Nine years after the Man Who Knew Too Much, Vijayabhat Movies made Thodu Needa in Telugu, a remake of the 1963 Tamil film Karpagam. The Telugu film starring NT Rama Rao, as a human being for a change, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna and Jamuna. And, surprise! Bhanumathi sang, not a song based on Que Sera Sera but Que Sera Sera itself! The scene is more or less identical, with her singing it to a baby girl while Doris Day sings it to a boy. The song was suitably changed in lyrics to suit our prudish sensors. The second stanza has Bhanumathi asking her teacher and not her sweetheart. And there is I think an inside joke as well for she sings, “Will I paint pictures, will I sing songs?” The lyrics, presumably for the other songs, were by Acharya Athreya, while the music, once again for the other songs, was by KV Mahadevan. I love the way Bhanumathi sings about how when she was jaast a leettil chaild.
I doubt if Hitchcock ever saw either film.
This article is part of a series where I look at old film songs, chiefly Hindi and Tamil. The other parts can be read here