Long before I saw the film, I heard the song Ennai Konde Povai – my mom used to hum it to herself, in an undertone so that my paternal grandmother did not get to hear this film nonsense being sung in the house. I also remember that it was my mom who first told me that this song was sung by Lata Mangeshkar. I must have been ten and I must say it intrigued me no end even then that She-Of-The-Divine-Voice-and-Stony-Heart had actually sung a Tamil song.
A couple of years later, mom and I sat through a telecast of Uran Khatola (1955) on DD. The opening song was Mera Salaam Le Jaa and it was of course the same as Ennai Konde Povai. Have you seen this movie? It is actually quite a good one, with bits of Rider H Haggard’s She and other works thrown in. Dilip Kumar, known throughout the film as Pardesi, is the sole survivor in an air crash and finds himself in an island where the women have all the powers. Sooni (Nimmi), the daughter of the Rajguru rescues Dilip Kumar and takes him home, having fallen in love with him of course. But the ruling queen (T Suryakumari) has also got the hots for the same man. Add Jeevan who is lusting after Sooni and you have quite a mix. In the midst of all this, you have Tun Tun, wanting to marry Agha. And there is the kingdom’s patron deity Sanga, a fearsome statue that is forever belching smoke. Some day he will spew out fire and then a young person has to be sacrificed to appease him.
The direction was by SU Sunny but the moving spirit was Naushad, old Bade Miyaan (whom I worship and for whom I went home to take a bath on coming to know of his death), who produced the film and also gave the songs (lyrics by Shakil Badayuni) their delectable tunes. Every song is a gem. I am not sure how Uran Khatola fared commercially.
Now for the Tamil version – the film was dubbed as Vaanaratham and released. The songs for which lyrics were by Kambadasan, had Lata sing for Nimmi, barring one song – Vanthathu raavey, which was the equivalent of Na ro ae dil and had a tune by MB Srinivasan and was sung by Ravu Balasaraswathi Devi (later Rani of Kolanka). The latter’s voice is just wonderful for the song.
Lata’s pronunciation is as abysmal as P Susheela’s when she sang Kya Kya Kahoon Re Kanha. Thereafter each decided to stick to her domain. The male voice was TA Mothi, while in Hindi it was the one and only Mohammed Rafi. Mothi is good but then Rafi was superlative.
I am listing below the Hindi and Tamil songs from the two films –
Among these, I just love O Door Ke Musafir but I find myself humming Mera Salaam Le Ja and also the chorus of Mere Saiyanji more often. The latter song’s boatmen chorus is a work of genius. Even if you don’t have the patience to sit through the film just listen to the songs.
This article is part of a series I do on old film songs, chiefly Hindi and Tamil. You can read the earlier stories here
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