It has been quite a while since I wrote something on the way song tunes in Indian cinema were ‘inspired’ from earlier hits. I hesitate to use the word plagiarise because that immediately raises the hackles of many fanatics. And these days fanatics are everywhere. But let us brush them aside and focus on the topic at hand.
I take up the Geeta (Roy) Dutt number Yaad Karoge Yaad Karoge – this is from the film Do Bhai (1947) and one of this supreme artiste’s hits. Wikipedia has an entry on this movie which focuses entirely on how this was Geeta’s debut film as playback singer if you discount her singing two lines as part of a chorus in a film made a year earlier. She was 16 when she sang this song. I have seen a bad print of this song on YouTube and much prefer to listen to just the audio version I present here. Music is by SD Burman and lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and the song is pictured on Kamini Kaushal who is amazingly still happily with us-
The next number is also a favourite of mine. It is from the delightful Vijaya Vauhini’s Patala Bhairavi (1951), shot in Telugu and Tamil. The film stars a young and sprightly NT Rama Rao, who was then not obsessed with being God in all productions. There is also SV Ranga Rao in a phenomenal performance as an evil magician. All songs in this film were great hits and the one I like best is Enta Ghatu Premayo (Ennadan Un Premayo in Tamil) sung in playback by P Leela and Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao. But that is not the song I take up today. I focus instead on Prema Kosamai Valalo Padene sung by VJ Varma, a visually challenged artiste in the Vijaya Vauhini orchestra. Many mistakenly attribute this song also to Ghantasala. Just listen to the opening lines and you will see how the tune for that part is almost straightaway that of Yaad Karoge. I am not complaining. It is an ideal tune for a background song where two people are walking along a forest. The score is so much that of an Indian ‘pathik’ (wayfarer) tune. The Tamil version Prema Pasathal was sung by the same artiste.
Lastly, I come to a Ghantasala number, from the MGR-Bhanumati hit Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum. It is a scene by scene (and sadly also song by song) lift from the Hindi Alibaba and Forty Thieves (1954), featuring Mahipal and Shakila (ahem… an earlier actress) and made by Wadia Brothers. A crucial scene is the stitching up of Ali Baba’s elder brother’s dismembered corpse by a cobbler, Baba Mustafa. The scene is depicted most sensitively with not a single shot of the body. But you can make out from the stitching movements and the expressions of those watching that this gruesome task is going on. The cobbler rather incongruously sings through the process, may be to distract his mind from the task at hand. The song? Phati hui kismet ki chadar by Mohammed Rafi. The lyrics are by Chitragupt and the music by SN Tripathi. The actor, whoever it is, is great but it is of course Rafi who lifts the song from the ordinary. The tune as you can see is quite close to Prema Kosamai but has been speeded up.
When it came to the Tamil version, made at Modern Theatres in 1957, the song was transformed to the cobbler (played by Thangavelu) rejoicing over his reward, after he has completed the stitching. The song, Ullasa Ulagam Unake Sondam is sung by Ghantasala, with lyrics by A Maruthakasi and music by S Dakshinamurthy. Of course the tune is really SN Tripathi’s. Nevertheless, it is a delightful piece, made all the better by Ghantasala’s grand voice.
Four songs, two happy, two sad and yet all inspired by the same tune, spread over ten years. Music is quite amazing is it not?
The Geeta Dutt and Rafi pics are from Wikipedia while Ghantasala is from The Hindu