Have you ever heard Gagan Jhanjhana Raha from the movie Nastik? It is a wonderful piece and just by listening to it you know that there is a storm brewing somewhere in the vicinity. Something about the menacing way the opening lines are sung and then the rising to a crescendo always gives me goosebumps. The next line – O nayyavAlE ho – is in a boatman’s tune indicating that this is a song with a vessel tossed about in choppy waters. This is one of C Ramchandra’s best compositions (lyrics by Kavi Pradeep) and sung by Hemanth Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. The sequence of a Godly figure appearing before Nalini Jaywant who is rocked violently in a boat is really evocative.
I am informed by Wikipedia that Nastik, made in 1954 was a super duper hit. People were just emerging from the throes of Partition and the film had the trauma suffered as its central theme. Now a hit song in Hindi in 1954 HAD to have its tune copied in a Tamil film of 1955. (The Tamil enthusiasts may please note that I am not for imposition of Hindi and that a casual read of my earlier instalments in this series prove beyond doubt that this was definitely a trend). And so we have Aram Kaatha Deviye in the film Maheswari in 1955.
Made by TR Sundaram’s Modern Pictures in Salem, the film starred Gemini Ganesan and Savitri. The song, pictured as a prayer scene (dancing in groups before a giant statue of a fierce deity was de rigueur in old films – Uran Khatola, Vani Kottai Valiban, Gul-e-Bagavli are just three), has AM Rajah and Jikki singing the song with a chorus. The lyrics were by Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram and the music by G Ramanathan (in this song we should actually correct it to C Ramchandra). I think the lyric is the king in the Tamil version, more than the music. Maheswari bombed at the box office (not surprising for the storyline given in Wikipedia is poor) but the songs are still good to listen to. Truly music is immortal. And if TRS did not pay any royalty to C Ramchandra, may be somewhat immoral too.
This is a series I write on old film songs, chiefly Hindi and Tamil. You can read the earlier parts here