Sunday, November 13, 2011


One of the notable events of the early 60s was the release of Mehboob Productions' film SON OF INDIA written, produced and directed by the renowned director Mehboob Khan who had given us such wonderful films like Jagirdar, Watan and Ek hi Raasta in the 30s, Anmol Ghadi, Aurat, Andaz and Anokhi Ada in the 40s and Amar, Aan, and Mother India in the 50s. In fact after the release of the film Mother India in 1959 there was not a single significant film from him. The film Son of India was ,therefore, a much awaited release from Mehbood Khan’s stable.
There was a lot of excitement ever since the film was announced and launched by Mehboob. The casting of his son Sajid Khan as the real hero-cum child artiste was the vital USP. There were extensive advertisements in film magazines like the Screeen and over the radio especially the Commercial Services of Radio Ceylon. The cast included, apart from Sajid Khan, Kamaljeet, Kum Kum, Simi Garewal, Jayant and so on. The music was by Naushad and along with Rafi, Lata and Geeta Dutt a new singer Shanti Mathur was introduced to sing the songs of the boy hero Sajid khan.

The film did not disappoint the film goers and it ran to packed houses throughout the country. The story, direction, acting and the songs all made it a hit. The Rafi number ‘Zindagi aaj mere naam se ‘ was a typical Naushad tune and the duet ‘Dil Torne wale tujhe dil dhoond raha hein’ (Rafi – Lata) was haunting. But the three songs rendered by the new singer Shanti Mathur in a boyish voice were the most popular. The song ‘Insan tha pehle bunder’ was good. Sajid khan as a newspaper boy running around singing the song,’Aaj ki taza khabar’ was a great hit. But the song ‘Nanna munna raahi hoon, Desh ka sipahi hoon, bolo mere sang, Jaihind’, was the most appealing ranking even now as one of the greats in the patriotic/childrens’ songs category. The LP album containing the songs of the film was released in 1985 and it was in the nostalgic memory of seeing the film when it was premiered and hearing the songs so many times over the radio that I acquired the LP record in my collection.

Although the film was a big hit and a landmark in the history of Indian cinema it turned out to be the last directorial venture of Mehboob Khan as death overtook him in the year 1964. Though Son of India was a success his production house, Mehboob Productions, had incurred debts and had stopped work. The famous Mehboob studios survived as it was leased out to other producers . I understand that the studios are still there being used as an art gallery. The lead actor of the film Kamaljeet could not hit it big in Hindi films in spite of roles in films like Mr.India, Shagoon, Sher Khan, Bhai Bhai etc. The child artist Sajid Khan who gave huge promise also did not hit it big in spite of a number of films like Zindagi aur Toofan, Savera, Heat and Dust and the successful U.S. Production Maya. Actress Kum Kum was already a busy actress and Son of India did not add much to further the position. Simi Garewal, in spite of some ‘revealing’ role in film ‘Mera Naam Joker’ and more revealing, in fact leaving nothing much to imagination, role in Conrad Rook’s ‘Sidhartha’ could not make it really big in films eventhough she did make a lot of impact with TV chat shows like ‘Rendezvous with Simi’.

As to the talented singer Shanti Mathur it appears she sang for a few more films but without the success she deserved. That reminded me about a very popular jingle, repeatedly heard on Radio Ceylon in the 60s and early 70s, for a prominent brand of tooth paste. Papa Kahte hai, I love you, Mummy Kahti hai, I love you, Mein bhi kahte hain, I love you, My My, Bi.......... Flouride. Not many knew that the voice behind this sweet and catchy jingle was that of Shanti Mathur!

Tail: That again reminded me about another song of Kishore Kumar, this from the Dev Aanand- Rakhee film Banarasi Babu(1973) with music by Kalyanji Aanandji. The tune matched the jingle of Shanti Mathur though the jingle was fast and the song slow. . (The errors if any, in the reproduced lyrics may please corrected by readers if any!).
‘Bure bhi hum Bhale bhi hum,
Samajhiyo na kisi se kum
Hamara naam Banarasi Babu,
Hum hain Banarasi Babu.

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