Song Packaging In The Hindi Film Industry – Part I

December 28, 2009

The idea to write this post came to me yesterday on a flight from Hyderabad to Delhi, while I was browsing songs through my iPod. Usually, the hallmark of a great song is one where you lose yourself completely in the song.

I am an avid movie watcher and most often when I listen to certain songs, it brings back vivid pictures of the actors from that song and the emotions they went through. While the interwoven lyrics and melodies are the larger reason why songs work or don’t work, there is yet another critical aspect of these songs that determines how popular the song becomes, which is the picturization and the production values.

As a result, I decided to write and share with the readers of this blog post, songs that are not only melodious in nature, but have brilliant picturizations with regard to the plot of the film, as well as with regard to production values and overall ‘feel’ of the song. Hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I do writing.

Aaj Kal Paon Zameen Par – Ghar (1978); Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Music: RD Burman; Lyrics: Gulzar; Director: Manik Chatterjee; Starring: Rekha, Vinod Mehra

This is a song that has haunted me ever since I’ve heard this song. The visuals of this song further strengthen the impact of the song. To me, it is one of the few romantic songs that strikes a chord, where the synchronization and mood of the song match the picturization as well. Natural acting and excellent cinematography makes it one of my most-loved songs. Simplicity is one attribute that stands out in this song. Incidentally, this is also one of RD Burman’s favourite compositions as suggested during an interview in the 80s. This song was very close to his heart as well.

Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye – Anand (1971); Singer: Mukesh; Music: Salil Chowdhury; Lyrics: Yogesh; Director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee; Starring: Rajesh Khanna

Few songs touch the cord and describe the true meaning of life as this one does. The thoughts of a dying man, who’s living each day painfully at a time come to the fore through the words of the song. A beautiful melody and very few people (if anyone else at all) could showcase a man standing in his balcony wondering about when death will come to him.

Incidentally, there’s an extra paragraph in this video clip that doesn’t exist on the cassette/CD of this movie. Watch this clip just for that paragraph.

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli – Anand (1971); Singer: Manna Dey; Music: Salil Chowdhury; Lyrics: Yogesh; Director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee; Actor: Rajesh Khanna

By now, it must be evident how powerful a screen-presence Rajesh Khanna demanded. Only Hrishikesh Mukherjee could pull off a song where they show nothing but a man walking down the beach with a few helium baloons in his hand throughout the song and not make it boring at all.

Roop Tera Mastana – Aradhana (1969); Singer: Kishore Kumar; Music: SD Burman; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi; Director: Shakti Samanta; Actors: Rajesh Khanna; Sharmila Tagore

Very few people know that this entire song has been completed in a single shot without any breaks. This was not intentional, but just speaks about the intensity and dedication of the actors to their work. One of the best seduction songs ever produced.

Aasma Odh Kar – 13B (2009); Singers: Shankar Mahadevan, Chitra; Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; Lyrics: Neelesh Misra; Director: Vikram K Kumar; Actors: Madhavan, Neetu Chandra

The reason why this song makes this list is because it is perhaps one of the few songs that has been shot in slow motion for the major part of the song. Further, keeping with the theme of the movie, the melody has a haunting feel to it.

Kitni Baatein – Lakshya (2004); Singers: Hariharan, Alka Yagnik; Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; Lyrics: Javed Akhtar; Director: Farhan Akhtar; Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta

If there’s one song where the acting emotes more than the song, it’s this one. The silence between the two actors says a thousand words between them. Simply (and without saying too much), brilliant!

Ye Hawaayein – Luck By Chance (2009); Singers: Amit Paul, Mahalaxmi Iyer; Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; Lyrics: Javed Akhtar; Director: Zoya Akhtar; Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Isha Sharvani

A wonderfully shot song, which was not easy to shoot, especially with two unknown actors trying to re-create romance the way traditionally, good-looking couples do on-screen. However, having said that, this is one song that has been picturized with an aim to please and has the ‘feel good’ factor going for it.

Main Agar Kahoon – Om Shanti Om (2007); Singer: Sonu Nigam; Music: Vishal Shekhar; Lyrics: Javed Akhtar; Director: Farah Khan; Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone

This is one song that has been picturised in a dream-like sequence, creating different themes to suit the mood of the song. A very-well choreographed song and perhaps one of the best romantic numbers in recent times. This is also an insight into how, if certain directors want, can create romantic musicals that can still do wonders for the dying art of creating melody.

Dil Dooba – Khakee (2004); Singers: Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal; Music: Ram Sampat; Lyrics: Sameer; Director: Rajkumar Santoshi; Starring: Aishwarya Rai, Akshay Kumar

Not a great/catchy song at all, but the way it’s been shot in sepia (?) is very interesting and makes it a treat to watch.

Chori Chori Jab Nazrein Mili – Kareeb (1998); Singers: Kumar Sanu, Sanjeevani; Music: Anu Malik; Lyrics: Rahat Indori; Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra; Starring: Bobby Deol, Neha

I am sure that when you read the name of the song and saw the names of the artistes who were involved in making this song, you would have wondered what this song was doing here. However, there’s something about this song and the way it’s been filmed (incidentally, this is the last film that VVC has directed yet), that mesmerizes you. These folks took romance to an entirely new level – twilight, river with ‘diyas’ floating all around, wet actors, waltzing to the song, extra long ‘dupattas’…. It’s unconventional and that’s what makes it different.

Tumhi Dekho Na – Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006); Singers: Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik; Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; Lyrics: Javed Akhtar; Director: Karan Johar; Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee

Of all the songs that have been featured in Karan Johar’s movies, this one stands out as the best. One that contains imagination, emotion, and all the ingredients of making it a song that one relishes audibly as well as visually. Great use of pastel shades and colors. Amongst my personal favourites as well. When lovers meet…this is what happens.

I’ll be back soon with subsequent parts to this thread.

Thanks for watching/reading.



Song Packaging In The Hindi Film Industry – The Concluding Part

December 28, 2009

Continuing my previous post on Song Packaging, I thought I’ll follow up the post with some new additions, many of which have been suggested by my readers and some that I might have missed out in my earlier post.

Kya Karoon – Wake Up Sid (2009); Singer: Clinton Cerejo; Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy; Lyrics: Javed Akhtar; Director: Ayan Mukherji; Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma

A song that captures the youth in its essence. If you want to understand the mind of today’s teenager who wants to live life for today rather than worry and think about tomorrow, here’s a song that tells you exactly that. What especially stands out in this song is that this song is the typical day in the life of a fresh, college-going student. Guess it takes a young director to bring out the emotions and feelings of the younger generation.

The scene where Ranbir seems to be floating in the air without a care in the world is the defining moment of the song and is representative of a feeling that every teenager must have experienced at some point in time in some way or the other. Generalistic, but true.

Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan – CID (1956); Singers: Md Rafi, Geeta Dutt; Music: OP Nayyar; Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Director: Raj Khosla; Starring: Dev Anand, Shakila, Johnny Walker

If there is one song that defines the characteristic of a city like Mumbai, it is this one, which has rung true since the year it was produced. The practical nature of the song is overwhelming and one can really identify with this song. This is also one of the few songs that have been entirely picturized on a comedian (although a song featuring Johnny Walker was but obvious in a Guru Dutt production) and has survived through the ages. Even today, people can’t picture anyone but Johnny Walker singing this song as he roams the streets of Mumbai characterizing everything in sight and telling the story of the city through a crude but true lens.

Dost Dost Na Raha – Sangam (1964); Singer: Mukesh; Music: Shankar Jaikishan; Lyrics: Shailendra; Director: Raj Kapoor; Starring: Raj Kapoor, Vyajanthimala, Rajendra Kumar

Raj Kapoor’s first color magnum opus was a runaway success and brought out one of the best films that Indian Cinema has ever seen – the second coming of the Great Showman. Raj Kapoor’s acting prowess is best noticed in this song when he sings this song knowing fully well what transpired between his wife and his best friend. The pain is evident in his expressions with a sort of self-submission to his ill-fate when he faces the camera and is accentuated very well by Mukesh’s voice. But, the moment he looks at Rajendra Kumar and Vyajanthimala, while he pretends to not know anything, his furtive glances tell them that he is fully aware, but prefers to not acknowledge it.

Rajendra Kumar and Vyajanthimala’s expressions are filled with guilt, and moments of their togetherness float by their eyes, which has been captured extremely well by the cinematographer and the director. Just proves to the world at large that one doesn’t have to bleed or shout in anger to express emotions, unlike today’s movies. This is called ‘acting’, where not a word is spoken, but emotions are communicated via looks.

I have intentionally included the song in 3 parts, where the buildup to the song, the main song, and the concluding portion of the song play out all the emotions of one of the most powerful moments in Indian cinema. A majestic masterpiece.

Roz Shaam Aati Thi* – Imtihan (1974); Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Director: Madan Sinha; Starring: Vinod Khanna, Tanuja

*My dad’s suggestion

One of the few songs that have been experimented with and shot at twilight in the 70s. The colors are magnificient and completes this song. Camerawork and lighting were immaculate in the challenged days when no digital photography existed and means were limited. While the song may not be an all-time favourite, it is one which is apt for the mood that the surroundings suggest.

Dhoom Taana – Om Shanti Om (2007); Singers: Abhijeet, Shreya Ghoshal; Music: Pyarelal; Lyrics: Javed Akhtar; Director: Farah Khan; Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone

This is the second song from the movie Om Shanti Om that has been featured in this series of posts. There are only 3 reasons why this song makes the cut:

a) The music has been composed by Pyarelal, yet he doesn’t find mention in the inlay card of the CD. This is incidentally, the only song that he has composed after his partner’s death (Laxmikant).

b) Digital morphing and photography at it’s best when Deepika Padukone is seen dancing with superstars of yester-years. Very cleverly done. Makes me imagine and wonder what if these stars were brought back to their glorious days and asked to act in movies today.

c) Fantastic set design. The screen comes to life.

Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam – Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959); Singer: Geeta Dutt; Music: SD Burman; Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi; Director: Guru Dutt; Actors: Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman

If there was one director that significantly changed the way we looked at Indian Cinema, it was Guru Dutt. Any list would be incomplete without having a song featuring one of his movies/himself. Guru Dutt’s sheer genius comes to the fore in this song. Note once again, that this song does not have any lip syncing, but the actors’ emotions speak louder than words. The lighting and effect of the scene have a lingering effect that tells the story of the entire movie in a matter of a few minutes.

The final shot of the song is one that associates itself with the sad demise of the director and is the one last lingering memory that Hindi film lovers hang onto till today and will forever continue to do so. That was the magic of Guru Dutt.

Bade Achche Lagte Hain – Balika Badhu (1976); Singers: Amit Kumar, Rajni Sharma; Music: RD Burman; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi; Director: Tarun Majumder; Actors: Sachin, Rajni Sharma

Innocence personified. A young, engaged couple sitting near the banks of the river let their emotions flow without being explicit about it. One of RD Burman’s best compositions and Amit Kumar’s first hit song.

Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan – Mera Naam Joker (1970); Singer: Mukesh; Music: Shankar Jaikishan; Lyrics: Shailendra; Director: Raj Kapoor; Actor: Raj Kapoor

The perfect song to end this chapter. A song that will make you teary-eyed even if you have no context to the song. The autobiography of a man who was an entertainer till his last dying breath. Incidentally, this movie bombed at the box office and left the Greatest Showman on Earth penniless and heartbroken on seeing that a subject which was so close to him was shunned by the public to which he had dedicated his entire life to.

If you were to watch this song again, this is perhaps the song that sums up Raj Kapoor’s life in totality and leaves you in awe. It is safe to assume that Hindi Cinema will never see another Raj Kapoor ever.