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Serenading forever - Shammi Kapoor

By: Screen Weekly, IndiaFM
Thursday, November 02, 2006
He changed the very concept of the Hindi film hero from the over-chaste under-romantic to the ardour-filled lover who serenaded with passionate aggression without - and that was some tightrope act in those days - outraging the sensibilities of the audience of the late '50s, '60s and early '70s.

Quite naturally in the Hindi film context, where emotions are predominantly expressed through music, Shamsher Raj Kapoor, known to the world as Shammi Kapoor, could not have become the modern Icon of Romance without the support of brilliant music. Through the predominant vocals of his peerless vocal soul that was Mohammed Rafi (with Manna Dey at rare second fiddle, and rarer other voices), Shammi inspired simple melodies and rhythms with strong lyrics as the backbone of peppy compositions and crackling orchestration. As Shammi Kapoor celebrated his 75th birthday on October 21, 2006,

Screen looks at an imaginary 75-song album of the Rebel Star's most 'note'-worthy songs. In this collection, Rafi's presence is understood unless another specific singer is mentioned.

Intoxication was a Shammi Kapoor leitmotif, and the album must aptly begin with 'Jawaniyan yeh mast mast bin piye...' (O.P.Nayyar-Majrooh/ Tumsa Nahin Dekha) from the film that made Shammi Kapoor not just a star but a brand. Three more Nayyar hits must also come in, the title-track (Sahir's only contribution here), the Punjabi 'Sar par topi laal...'(with Asha) and 'Chhupnewale saamne aa...'. Though Rafi had sung Shammi right from his debut Jeevan Jyoti half a decade earlier, it was O.P. who set Rafi as the voice on the Rebel Star.

We move to Dil Deke Dekho, where Shammi suggested the 'Sugar in the morning sugar in the evening...' tune to debutante Usha Khanna for the title-track, which will be our 5th song. "In those days" says Shammi, "Music directors would add their bit to such songs." In the fifth place stands 'Bolo bolo kuch to bolo...' (with Asha) in this second consecutive hit with S.Mukerji-Nasir Husain-Majrooh. 'Yaar chulbula hai...' and 'Bade hain dil ke kale...' (both with Asha) were other winners here.

A quick rewind to Jeewan Jyoti (1953) finds Shammi Kapoor himself singing two lines in the film, 'So jaa re so jaa...'(S.D.Burman, who had also made Raj Kapoor sing earlier). The Rafi-Shammi association, which is to grow to phenomenal heights, begins with the Geeta-Rafi duet 'Lag gayi ankhiyaan o more baalam...'. Another popular song was Laila Majnu's 'Aankhon mein hain tu...' (Ghulam Mohammed-Shakeel Badayuni/with Asha).

Shammi Kapoor's association with Shankar Jaikishan began unspectacularly with Ujala (1959). Shammi's newfound flamboyance as a successful star matched Jaikishan's, and this probably explained their instant rapport and enduring association, to mark the beginning of which we bring in their first two popular songs, 'Jhoomta mausam mast mahina...' (Manna-Lata/Hasrat) and 'Ab kahaan jaye hum...'. (Manna/Shailendra).

It took S-J and Shammi some more films, however, to find their footing, even if Rafi came in with Boyfriend, College Girl and Singapore. And thus we jump straight to Junglee in which the future president of the Internet Users' Club of India and later office-bearer of 'Net-based organizations was ordained by Destiny to use the word 'Yahoo' 30 years before it achieved worldwide fame - in the anthem 'Chaahe koi mujhe jungle kahe...' (Shailendra).

But it's not just this song that makes Shammi the Yahoo Male, so to speak. Endemic is the only word to describe the popularity of songs as diverse as Shailendra's atypical outing, 'Aiyiyaa karoon main kya...' and Hasrat's 'Ehsaan tera hoga...'

In this season when the remake of Don is being released, it is perhaps interesting to know that the earlier version itself was a reprise of China Town, the film that boasts of 'Baar baar dekho...' (Ravi-Majrooh), a song that has the distinction of being the first Hindi film song whose rights were brought a West Indies music band!

S-J-Shammi hit the charts and hearts again with the Chennai concoction Dil Tera Deewana, with its package of lovelies from which we must include at least three songs, 'Dhadakne lagta hai...' and 'Nazar bachakar chale gaye ho...' (Hasrat) and 'Dil tera deewana...' (with Lata/Shailendra).

By this time, S-J and Shammi were firmly bonded and made for each other. So it was not they got the entire nation listen enthralled to the music of the Professor who made students of film music learn by heart songs like 'Ae gulbadan...' (Hasrat), 'Khuli palak mein jhoota gussa...' (Shailendra) and 'Awaaz dekar...' (with Lata/Shailendra). One song that stood out as different was 'Yeh umar hai kya rangili...' in which an 'old' Shammi serenaded his girls in Manna Dey's voice, with Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar singing for the ladies.

Probably there are very few heroes whose film titles have been repeated as often as those of Shammi's film. One such, though obviously taken from a hit song, was Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, and here is where Ravi went to the opposite spectrum of his China Town hit and delivered the high-pitched lament, 'Zindagi kya hai gham ka dariya hai...' (Shakeel Badayuni).

Kalyanji-Anandji were rising slowly then, and they used a record three singers (Rafi, Mukesh and the vocally-incongruous Hemant Kumar) for the man in Bluffmaster, and the Maharashtrian folk-based 'Govinda aala re...' has transcended the barriers of film music to become synonymous with the state's Gokulasthami celebrations. Mukesh's 'Socha tha pyar hum na karenge...', with all its S-J flavour that K-A emulated then, remains the closest Shammi song to the Raj Kapoor ethos.

And what was O.P. Nayyar, who gave Rafi and Shammi a 'fix' on each other, doing as S-J continued to have an edge in general as well on Kapoor territory? After a few also-ran scores like Mujrim, Nayyar slalomed to the forefront with an all-hit grandslam in Kashmir Ki Kali.

"I remember Shakti Samanta, lyricist S.H.Bihari, Nayyar-saab and I opened a bottle of whisky and sat down to make the music of this film," says Shammi."Nayyar had 52 tunes and we selected the 9 best!" And from this brilliant score, we simply must have 'Deewana hua badal...', 'Ishaaron ishaaron...' and the bhangra 'Yeh mere haath mein tera haath...' (all with Asha Bhosle) and the solos 'Taarif karoon kya usski...' and 'Hai duniya ussiki...'.

Kapoor also played an active role in the selection, creation, recording and concept of his music and the final filming of his songs. In consultation with Rafi, the two titans of their respective fields decided that every 'Taarif' in the song would be rendered differently and each time the sentence 'Taarif karoon...' was repeated it would be enacted with a different and standout step by Shammi!


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