I RECENTLY watched a DVD of Nasreen Munni Kabir’s documentary ‘In Search of Guru Dutt’, made in 1989 for Channel 4 TV, UK. It’s an elaborate and well-made 85-minute feature, focusing on the oeuvre of the legendary filmmaker and containing interviews of various people associated with him. One of the highlights, obviously, is the music used in the backdrop.
The films directed or even produced by Guru Dutt have been characterised by exceptional music. Ranging from the serious to the funny, the romantic to the pathos-filled, many of the songs are hummed even today, 50 or 60 years after they were released. How can true-blue followers of Hindi film music ever forget the gems that graced Aar Paar, Mr & Mrs 55, Baazi, CID, Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam?
In the documentary, ace lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri has said that the beauty of Guru Dutt movies were that they were artistic and commercial at the same time, which was a rare combination.
The same can well be said about the songs. They were artistic in that they definitely had depth, and in fact some of the most intense lyrics ever written. And they were commercial, not in the general sense of the term, but definitely because they were successful and their appeal lasted over time.
The list of hit songs from Guru Dutt films is long, and those who’ve followed music from that era would obviously know them. But let’s take a few songs from each film mentioned, just to travel down melody lane.
- Baazi: Tadbeer se bigdi hui, Aaj ki raat piya
- Aar Paar: Babuji dheere chalna, Yeh lo main haari piya, Sun sun sun zaalima, Kabhi aar kabhi paar
- Mr & Mrs 55: Thandi hawa kaali ghata, Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji
- CID: Leke pehla pehla pyar, Boojh mera kya naam re, Aankhon hi ankhon mein, Yeh hai Bambai meri jaan, Kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishana
- Pyaasa: Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye, Jaane wo kaise log the jinke, Hum aapke aankhon mein, Sar jo tera chakraye, Jaane kya tune kahee
- Kaagaz Ke Phool: Waqt ne kiya, Dekhi zamaane ki yaari, San san wo chali hawa
- Chaudhvin Ka Chand: Chaudhvin ka chand ho, Babul se milan hoga, Mile khaak mein mohabbat
- Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam: Na jaao saiyyan, Bhanwra bada nadaan, Meri jaan o meri jaan.
Besides these, Jaal had the eternal favourite ‘Yeh raat yeh chandni’, and Sailaab had ‘Hai yeh duniya kaunsi’ and ‘Yeh rut yet raat jawaan’. And we have listed only some of the songs from each film.
These songs clearly stood out because of their melody and, in many cases, their words. Obviously, the people behind these songs made a huge contribution. Let’s look at them, from the music directors to the lyricists to the singers.
A majority of Guru Dutt’s films were divided between two music directors. OP Nayyar did Baaz, Aar Paar, Mr & Mrs 55 and the Raj Khosla-directed CID, and SD Burman did Baazi, Jaal, Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool. So there were two distinct styles that characterised most of the Guru Dutt films
Besides these two, there were one-off films by music directors Mukul Roy (Sailaab), Ravi (Chaudhvin Ka Chand) and Hemant Kumar (Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam). Again, they had outstanding music, and though Sailaab’s score wasn’t as popular as the others, it had some gems too.
From the lyrical perspective, Guru Dutt’s films had major contributions from Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Kaifi Azmi. Majrooh wrote for Aar Paar, Mr & Mrs 55 and CID (which also had one Jan Nissar Akhtar song ‘Aankhon hi aankhon mein’). The brilliant Shakeel wrote for Chaudhvin Ka Chand (the title number being one of the best-written songs in the history of Hindi cinema) and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.
For their part, Sahir and Kaifi came up with truly path-breaking work in Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool, respectively. The former, which is said to be loosely inspired by Sahir’s own life, had the lyrical masterpieces ‘Jaane wo kaise log the jinke’, ‘Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya ho’ and ‘Tang aa chuke hain kashmakash-e-zindagi se’. As for Kaagaz ke Phool, Kaifi was in brilliant form on ‘Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam’ and ‘Dekhi zamaane ki yaai’. Needless to say, each of these songs inspired scores of songwriters.
That brings us to the singers. Rafi and Geeta Dutt were the two obvious favourites. The wife of Guru Dutt, Geeta had major hits in practically each film, with ‘Waqt ne kiya’, ‘Babuji dheere chalna’, ‘Aankhon hi ankhon mein’ and ‘Hum aapki aankhon mein’ being among her biggest hits.
Rafi sang a lot of songs picturised on Guru Dutt, and his voice suited the actor perfectly, though an odd exception was Hemant Kumar singing ‘Jaane wo kaise log the jinke’ in Pyaasa. Interestingly, Rafi also sang songs picturised on Johnny Walker ‘Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji’ in Mr & Mrs 55, ‘Yeh hai Bambai meri jaan’ in CID and ‘Sar jo tera chakraye’ in Pyaasa. All these songs had a certain frothiness that made them memorable.
The other two singers who made a mark in Guru Dutt were Shamshad Begum, who passed away yesterday, and Asha Bhosle, more in the later films. Shamshad sang ‘Kahin aar kahin paar’ in Aar Paar, besides the three CID classics ‘Boojh mera kya naam hai’, ‘Kahin pe nigaahen’ and ‘Leke pehla pehla pyar’.
Asha, who was also part of ‘Leke pehla pehla pyaar’, had three songs in Chaudhvin Ka Chand and four in Sahib Bibi Ka Ghulam, including ‘Bhanwara bada nadaan’ and ‘Meri jaan o meri jaan’.
The combination of all these legends made the music of Guru Dutt films so charming. When one looks at Hindi film music from that era, one normally thinks of Raj Kapoor films, the Dev Anand/ Navketan banner, Mehboob Khan movies and some of music director Naushad’s musico-historicals, if such a term exists.
But obviously, Guru Dutt paid close attention to the music. Just like his films had VK Murthy’s distinct stamp of photography and Abrar Alvi’s marvellous style of dialogue-writing, their music had their own magic. That’s why those songs are so timeless.