Former IRS soldier and retired Income Tax Commissioner turned author Ajay Mankotia has written an interesting chapter on this unique cinema trend in his book Bollywood Odyssey – The Singing Taxman’s Journey Into Film Music. Even the title of this chapter arouses immediate curiosity. It’s a bizarre play on the word PDA, at which point the acronym has expanded into ‘Public Display of Angst’.
Here is an extract from the book Bollywood Odyssey – The Singing Taxman’s Journey Into Film Music:
“What did the Indian man in his 50s and 60s do when his girlfriend rejected him? He would argue with her; maybe plead with her, or maybe even threaten her. Or he would see her point of view and accept it gracefully. would; he would probably even become his friend. Of course, he would get hurt. He would either take it on the chin, or hit the bar, dive into depression, or withdraw from society. But eventually, things will return to normal, and he will move on with life.
But in that era, the Indian film hero did one more thing – which you and I did not get. He would attend her engagement or wedding ceremony, or any social function where guests and her new lover were present, sit down at the piano, and sing of his pain, his despair, his resentment, his frustration. He will be hunchbacked; His words will smell of second-rate. He will remind them of their love. But he used to assure her that he had no ill-will and would quietly walk out of her life. He will wish her a happy future with the partner she has chosen. All very dignified, no violent outbursts. All this drama will ensure that the lady’s special day is ruined. One Last Musical Good Riddance!
One of the earliest such songs was ‘Jhoom Jhoom Ke Nacho Aaj, Gao Khushi Ke Geet’ from Andaz (1949) sung by Dilip Kumar on screen. Mukesh was doing playback duties in this Naushad-Majrooh classic and as was his wont, he laced the song with compassion (in fact, all four of Dileep’s songs, plus an unreleased song were sung by Mukesh). Dilip, who was in love with Nargis, was devastated to learn that she only treated him as a friend and got engaged to Raj Kapoor. At the piano, accompanied by a dance routine of cuckoos, before a large gathering of glitterati, she expresses her pain (“Kisi ko dil ka dard mila hai, kisi ko mann ka mil”). Nargis was squirming uncomfortably, while Raj Kapoor looked at her strangely.
In Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961), Dev Anand poignantly said, “Qaid maangi thi, rihai toh nahi maangi thi”, pointing to Asha Parekh? The song ‘Teri Zulfon Se Judai Toh Nahi Maangi Thi’ was a classic Shankar-Jaikishan/Hasrat Jaipuri composition, sung soulfully by Rafi when he was at the peak of his career in the early 60s. Pran in suit and hat was the third angle in the song, who was very happy with the turn of events.
Then there was Rang Aur Noor Ki Baaraat Kise Pesh Karoon (1964), a ghazal sung by Sunil Dutt in Rafi’s voice. Upstairs his girlfriend Meena Kumari was getting ready for the wedding ceremony along with other women, while Rahman, happy as punch, sat downstairs with the men and the cleric. Sunil begins a lament in his graceful style (“Main un apne mein hoon jo aaj se begane hain”). ‘Dil Jo Na Kehe Saka’ was the gold standard of this genre. From Bheegi Raat (1965), Rafi sang this soulful hum of a song from Go Shabd (“Chaliye Mubarak Jashn Dosti Ka, Daman To Thama Aap Ne Kisi Ka”).
Manoj Kumar sang ‘Naseeb Mein Jise Jo Likha Tha’ for Asha Parekh at a restaurant in Do Badan (1966). He told her that “somebody has thirst, somebody has jam”. Pran played the role of the third person in the equation. The song, which won Shakeel Badayuni a Filmfare nomination, was beautifully composed by Ravi (also nominated) and sung by Rafi.
Who doesn’t remember Shammi Kapoor’s ‘Dil Ke Jharoke Mein Tujh Ko Bitha Ke’ from Brahmachari (1968)? The atmosphere of pain of parting created by Shankar-Jaikishan’s Filmfare winning music (orchestration, hum, piano, saxophone), Hasrat’s lyrics and the dance ensemble was truly sensational.
The authors also point out that this subtle mean streak was not just the domain of the man. The women also enjoyed a lot. An excerpt reads:
“It was not only the Hindi hero who felt wronged. Women also went through the same feelings and chose the public platform to air them. The most memorable example was Dil Apna and Preet Parai’s ‘Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh’. Where to start, where to end” (1960) where Meena Kumari allowed Raaj Kumar to sit with Nadira – “Mubaarake tumhe ke tum kisi ke noor ho gaye, kisi ke itni paas ho ko sabse far ho gaye.” Also, ‘ Dushman Na Kare Dost has worked since Woh Aakhri Kyun (1985).”
Bollywood Odyssey – The Singing Taxman’s Journey Into Film Music is published by Readomania. These excerpts are taken from the book with the author’s permission.