Lambi Judai to Dard-e-dil dard-e-jigar: Every '90s kid will remember these songs by Subhash Ghai
As Subhash Ghai turns 77 today, let's look at some of his best songs.
Many, including yours truly, always thought Subhash Ghai to be a mediocre director. There is no denying his music sense, though, which ranks right up there with Raj Kapoor and Manoj Kumar.
Nindiya se jaagi bahaar (Hero):
It is one of A R Rahman’s favourite songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Subhash Ghai who recorded this beautiful Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition in the film Hero in Lataji voice rang her up and gently suggested that she sing the song, this time at a lower pitch again because, according to Ghai, the heroine is singing in the early morning, and if she sings loudly she will wake up everyone. Errr, why is she singing early-morning in the first place? She could wait till everyone is awake and then sing, no? Anyway, Lataji’s response to the absurd request: “Aap gaana kissi aur se gawa lijiye.” And the phone went dead in Ghai’s clammy hand. Of course, Nindiya se jaagi, a spectacularly rendered Laxmikant-Pyarelal composition, remained as it was.
Lambi Judai (Hero):
Subhash Ghai had this to say about Reshma’s classic. "I first heard Reshma singing at Raj Kapoor Saab's party in 1982. I immediately fell in love with that voice. What power, what passion! I met her at Hotel Searock and offered her a song in a film I was writing called Hero. She said she was a gypsy at heart and couldn't sing in a studio. I assured her she had nothing to worry about and that her singing style would not be cramped in any way by the studio atmosphere.
She said, 'Arrey bhai main khule aasmaan ke neeche gaati hoon. Mujhe toh radio par gaane mein ghabraahat hoti hai.' She reluctantly agreed. And that's how the song 'Lambi Judaai' in Hero was born. How were we to know at that time that it would acquire such an immortal life? Anand Bakshi Saab was given the job of writing the lyrics and Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed the song. The recording was at Mehboob Studios. Instead of the 100-150 member orchestra that Laxmikant generally favoured, he had just 12 musicians in the studio. When I asked the reason for this Laxmikant said the less the embellishment, the more her powerful voice quality would show up in the song. When we recorded the song we just made the musicians follow Reshmaji's voice, rather than the other way around. We instructed the musicians to let her sing the way she wanted and to just play along with her voice. We didn't know the result would be so staggering, so ever-lasting. 'Lambi Judaai' became the soul of Hero. Reshmaji didn't sing for money or fame. She sang because there were songs to sing. The spontaneity and innocence were part of her nature. She never discussed money. True artistes never do. She sang with a child's enthusiasm and innocence. Her voice was driven by the three 'Ps': Power, Passion, and Purity. She never cared to save up for illness and old age. That's why she had no money when she fell ill. We artistes don't care about anything except doing what our heart tells. Today the rights of 'Lambi Judaai' are not with me. It is with Saregama. When such classic songs were composed, we just signed pieces of paper with the music company. How were we to know that we were signing away pieces of our heart never to get them back again?"
Ek Ritu aaye ek ritu jaye mausam badle na badle naseeb (Gautam Govinda):
This 1979 Ghai-directed film contained one of Kishore Kumar’s most meditative melancholic melodies. Anand Bakshi who wrote this timeless song regarded it as one of his favourite lyrics among the hundreds of classics that he wrote. As for Subhash Ghai, he once told me he always thought of this song as his favourite from his cinema. “There is a dard, a thehrao, a sense of longing …very rare in a film song. Full credit to Bakshi Saab, (composers) Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kishore Kumar. Film nahin chali. Lekin yeh gaana aaj bhi log yaad karte hain”
Dard-e-dil dard-e-jigar (Karz):
Many regard Karz as Subhash Ghai’s most fulsome soundtrack. Kishore Kumar's range of stage-performance songs Bachna ae haseenon, Om shanti Om, and Ek haseena thi was staggering. But suddenly the film’s hero Monty (Rishi Kapoor) broke into a Ghazal in Mohammed Rafi's voice! And the song Dard-e-dil dard-e-jigar dil mein jagaya aapne became one of Rafi Saab’s most beloved songs of the 1980s. Folkore has it that Kishore Kumar was meant to be the voice of Rishi Kapoor all through. But everyone associated with Karz felt only Rafi Saab could do justice to this one. Rishi Kapoor counted Dard-e-dil among his favourite songs.
Zindagi har qadam ek nayi jung hai (Meri Jung):
One of the most inspiring exhilarating film songs of all time. Javed Akhtar excelled in the inspirational mode: Jeet jaayenge hum tu agar sangg hai/Zindagi har qadam ek nayi jung hai. Lataji’s voice soared far above her male co-singers, Nitin Mukesh and Shabbir Kumar. And to think that the rest of the songs in Meri Jung were so much junk.
Kahin aag lage lag jawe (Taal):
A R Rahman and Ghai got together for a full-blown musical. My favourite among the teekhi songs was this one by Asha Bhosle, Richa Sharma(one of our film industry’s most underused voices), and Aditya Chopra who was all of 8 when he sang for the first time with Ashaji in Rangeela, again under the stewardship of A R Rahman. Says Aditya, “Only now when I look back do I realize how fortunate I was to have sung twice with the legendary Asha Bhosle while I was still a child. Subhash Ghai’s musical sense is epic. I was lucky to be part of the Taal soundtrack.” Rahman and Ghai collaborated again for Yaadein, with limited success. The best tune in Yaadein remained unused. It later became Jai ho in Slumdog Millionaire which won an Oscar.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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