In 1982, thirty-five years after migrating to Pakistan, singing-actress Noor Jahan set her foot on India again. This was principally in connection with the golden jubilee of sound in Indian cinema, a live music celebration arranged at Mumbai’s largest auditorium, Shanmukhananda at Sion. The event, called “Mortal Men, Immortal Melodies”, was kicked off by Lata Mangeshkar rendering a shloka, and included singing by Ashok Kumar (Main ban ki chidiya ban ke ban ban doloon re and Na jaane kidhar aaj meri nao chali re), Rajkumari (Ghabra ke jo hum sar ko takraayen to achha ho), GM Durrani (Neend hamaari khwaab tumhaare), Talat Mahmood (Aye dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahaan koi na ho), Meena Kapoor (Rasiya re man basiya re, and Geeta Dutt’s Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam), Hemant Kumar (Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag—he sang it solo—and Ye raat ye chaandni phir kahaan), Usha Mangeshkar (singing Lata’s Aaja re pardesi), and Mahendra Kapoor (Chalo ik baar phir se), among many other singers.
At this event Noor Jahan rocked the audience with Mujhse pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang, and Awaaz de kahaan hai. This last song from Anmol Ghadi (1946) assumes special commemorative significance because its composer, Naushad Ali, was around and was also conducting the orchestra on the stage that day. From another point of view too, this song assumes apposite importance. The fact that this was Noor Jahan’s duet with singing-star Surendra Nath—who too was alive and in the auditorium on that day—made it wonderfully special. So, wouldn’t you have thought it in the fitness of things for both the original artistes to sing Awaaz de kahaan hai under the same maestro’s baton once more, after all those decades? As it turned out, that did not happen. The lady proceeded to convert the duet into a solo, singing it all by herself, and soaking up all the limelight. That was baffling.
In the film itself, the two singing actors were shown as close childhood friends who got separated and in adulthood became sweethearts, to be with each other through thick and thin. Real life is different from reel life of course, but I wonder if her going solo on that day was caused by her feeling of importance, consequent to her meteoric rise and fame in Pakistan, synchronous as it was with Surendra’s descent in Indian films. As such, set against the background of the lady conveniently overlooking him on that day in 1982, I chuckled to myself when Surendra came to the stage to sing Kyoon yaad aa rahe hain guzre hue zamaane (from the same Anmol Ghadi), perhaps not so much for his lost love in the film, but in fact a broad-spectrum, real-life indictment of childhood promises which turn meaningless, for one reason or another, when we become adults. Perhaps that is why a realistic thinker has remarked, “Aap dil kya milaoge, aap se to mitti mein bhi milaaya naheen jaayega”.
As observed, Noor Jahan came to India after thirty-five years. It is thirty-five years more since the time that show was held, when several seniors sprinkled stardust on that magical musical nite. Many of them have gone away, but what have not gone away are some essential questions, for now just those about childhood notions and adulthood realities. For instance it may have been okay for a Meena Kumari to sing for Bharat Bhushan Bachpan ki muhabbat ko dilse na juda karna in Baiju Bawra (1952), also a tale of childhood friendship growing into adulthood love, but does it actually pay to stay so optimistically engaged with romantic notions of our salad years later in real life? Those of us that are in their mid or late 40s now would have been 10 or 15 years old in 1982. I wonder if they had any sweethearts at that tender age, and if so, what happened to their relationships. Did they meet after a huge gap, and end up in marriage, or not so? If childhood sweethearts did go on to marry, did the love end once the marriage began?
Perhaps you have some thoughts on the subject. Meantime, here are some memorable songs from films that featured kids in varying intensities of friendship, to become adults in love. A few stories have been made into a film more than once, with different actors, and they find a place here. The adult actors are mentioned for each song, regardless of how the tale ended:
- Swaranlata and Nazir in Laila Majnu (1945): Duniya hai ab mere liye zinda tere baghair
- Surendra and Noor Jahan in Anmol Ghadi (1946): Aaja meri barbaad muhabbat ke sahaare
- Trilok Kapoor and Noor Jahan in Mirza Saheban (1947): Haath seene pe jo rakh do to qaraar aa jaaye
- Nalini Jaywant and Ashok Kumar in Sangram (1950): Ulfat ke jaadu ka dil mein asar hai
- Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Awara (1951): Dum bhar jo udhar moohn phere
- Dilip Kumar and Nargis in Deedar (1951): Bachpan ke din bhula na dena
- Geeta Bali and Arjun in Malhar (1951): Bade armaanon se rakkha hai balam teri qasam
- Suraiya and Jairaj in Resham (1952): Yehi hai duniya teri Bhagwan
- Dilip Kumar and Madhubala in Sagdil (1952): Dharti se door gore baadalon ke paar aaja
- Shammi Kapoor and Nutan in Laila Majnu (1953): Aasmaan waale teri duniya se jee ghabra gaya
- Nargis and Nasir Khan in Angaare (1954): Tere saath chal rahe hain ye zameen ye chaand-taare
- Dilip Kumar and Suchitra in Devdas (1955): Mitwa laagi re ye kaisi anbujh aag
- Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari in Parineeta (1955): Chaand hai wohi
- Shammi Kapoor and Shyama in Mirza Saheban (1957): Mohe la de dupatta malmal ka
- Kishore Kumar and Jabeen Jalil in Raagini (1958): Piya main hoon patang tu dor
- Rajendra Kumar and Ameeta in Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959): Tere sur aur mere geet
- Sunil Dutt and Nanda in Usne Kaha Tha (1960): Aaha rimjhim ke ye pyaare pyaare geet liye
- Dharmendra and Tarla Mehta in Shola Aur Shabnam (1961): Jeet hi lenge baazi hum-tum
- Manoj Kumar and Mala Sinha in Hariyali Aur Rasta (1962): Laakhon taare aasmaan mein
- Rajinder Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in Sangam (1964): Ye mera prempatra padh kar
- Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore in Devar (1966): Duniya mein aisa kahaan sab ka naseeb hai
- Waheeda Rehman and Dilip Kumar in Dil Diya Dard Liya (1966): Saawan aaye ya na aaye
- Manoj Kumar and Sharmila Tagore in Sawan Ki Ghata (1966): Aaj koi pyaar se dil ki baaten keh gaya
- Rishi Kapoor and Ranjeeta in Laila Majnu (1976): Koi patthar se na maare kisi deewaane ko
- Jeetendra and Sulakshana Pandit in Sankoch (1976): Chanchal man teri chaturai kaam na aayi
- Tariq Khan and Kajal Kiran in Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977): Kya hua tera waada
- Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman in Laawaris (1981): Kab ke bichhde hue hum aaj kahaan aa ke mile
- Saif Ali Khan and Vidya Balan in Parineeta (2005): Piyu bole, piya bole kya ye bole jaanu na
In many such films, the kids lose touch with each other, and then it becomes very hard finding the lost one. In some ways, it’s a better world now, since Facebook for one can help you find a childhood friend. But the question is, from where will Facebook find us great music?
(Picture on top: Little Shashi Kapoor and Baby Zubeida in Awara)
Originally published with substantially this content: 23 July 2017
(page 11, DNA Jaipur)