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.

Friday, November 4, 2011


The release of the Tamil film KATHALIKKA NERAMILLAI in the year 1964 was an important event in the history of Tamil film industry. The film produced by Chitralaya and directed by late C.V.Sridhar, the celebrated producer director of Tamil films, was probably the first full length romantic comedy in Tamil and was a trend setter and an instant super-hit at the box office. The film, with an array of damsels, dances, disguises and witty dialogues had in it a big star cast comprising Muthuraman, Ravichander, Nagesh, Kanchana, Rajshri, Sachu, T.S.Balaih and so on.It was a wholesome entertainer and what made the comedy so enjoyable was that it was never allowed to be vulgar or fall below level.

Apart from the slick direction, and other tec
hnical values what contributed to the appeal of the film was the beautiful songs penned by Kannadasan, tuned by the outstanding duo of Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy and rendered melodiously by P.B. Sreenivos, P.Susheela,L.R.Easwari and Jesudoss.The soft number 'Unga ponnana kaigal' by P.B.Sreenivos is an outstanding melody in his remarkable sweet voice. The romantic duet 'Enna parvai' by Susheela and Jesudoss with the typical MSV beats in the background is another superb effort. The hilarious number 'Madi mele kodi katti kodi kodi nedi vetra sreemanee', with the intermittent shouting of the slogan 'Viswanathan Velavendum', by P.B. Sreenivos with the energetic background music was a trend setter and it still stands as one of the greats in the category of 'rollicks'.The song scene with the heroes staging a sort of 'dharna' singing and dancing in front of the house of their antagonist was a fresh and till then unfamiliar form of pressure tactic catching the imagination of the audience who thronged in large numbers at the theatres. Equally good are the duet 'Nalam nalaam' by P.B.Sreenivos and Susheela and the chorus 'Nenjathil' by Susheela,Jesudoss and Easwari. What made all the songs so catchy was the foot tapping , rhythmic background music so enchantingly used by the maestros MSV and Ramamurthy. The LP record of the film gives all these songs on side 2 with the side 1, for a change, giving the dialogues of the several scenes enacted by Nagesh and Saraswathy(Sachu) who dominated the comedy scenes of the film.

The film was a feather in the cap of director Sridhar who had earned a place for himself in Indian cinema with his debut film 'Kalyana Parisu' which was later made by him in Hindi titled "NAZRANA with Raj Kapur and Vyjayanhimala in the lead with music by Ravi.The songs of this film,viz., the interactive duet 'Bikhrake zulfen chaman' by Lata and Mukesh and the melodious Rafi number 'Baazi kisine pyarki were very popular besides the pathos filled 'Ek woh bhi Diwali thi' by Mukesh. The film 'Kathalikka Neramillai' itself was remade in Hindi by Sridhar titled 'Pyar Kiye Ja' with Sashi Kapur, KishorKumar and Mahmood doing the roles done by Ravichandran, Muthuraman and Nagesh. The female roles were done by Mumtaz, Kalpana and Rajshri. The music was by Laximikant -Pyarelel. In fact Rajshri had the distinction of acting also in the Telugu version of the film, 'Premichi Choodu'.Besides, she had also acted in several Malayalam films in the screen name Gracy.

An enviable feature of the film Kathalikka Neramillai was th
e fact that all its actors had very successful career in films with Ravichandran active till his death in July 2011. The contributions of Muthuraman and Nagesh to Tamil films were great as those of director Sridhar with so many successful films in Tamil and Hindi; Vennira Aadai, Nenjam Marappathillai, Nenjil Oru Alayam, Theen Nilavu, Saathi, Dil-e-Naadan and the remake 'Dil Ek Mandir', of Nenjil Oru Aalayam to name a few. In Dil-Ek-Mandir the roles handled by Muthuraman, Kalyan Kumar and Devika in the Tamil version were done by Rajinder Kumar, Raaj Kumar and the legendary Meena Kumari and the film had outstanding music by Shankar Jaikishen. The title song, a duet by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur,' Dil -ek mandir hai' was extremely popular.

That also reminded me about Sridhar's Rajanikant-Kamal Hasan film 'Ilamai Oonjal Adukirathu' which was remade in Hindi in 1982 as 'Dil-E-Nadaan' with super stars Rajesh Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha,Jayaprada and Smitha Patil with music by the great Khayyam. This also was a great hit at the box office. The LP record of this film has a well designed two fold jacket with a huge centre spread in beautiful colour.

Tail piece:One of the earliest full length rollicking comedies is Satyan Bose's
'Chalti ka Naam Gadi'(1958) starring the Ganguly brothers, Asok Kumar, Kishor Kumar and Anup Kumar, with Madhubala as the leading lady and music by S.D.Burman. The film had inspired Kishor Kumar to make another film later titled'Badthi ka Naam Dhadi'!!