Kaise koi jeeye (both versions), by Antara Nanda Mondal

Destroyed by nitrate fires, stripped bare of silver, decaying in locked cans in hot and humid, unfavourable weather conditions or sold by the kilo in flea markets, the films of India, including the classics are meeting a tragic fate.

1000 kg of film is stripped in one go, which means 50 films stripped bare to extract three kilograms of silver, in a ramshackle workshop in Pathanwadi, in the slums of suburban Mumbai. The silver scavenger who goes by the name Bipin “Silver” has been doing this for the last 40 years.

India has lost 90 percent of our silent films. 1700 silent films were made in India, of which the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has only 5-6 complete films and 10-12 films in fragments.

How is this related to tandem songs? Well, my most favourite tandem has no scene to go with it. Baadbaan, directed by Phani Majumdar – which boasted of a classic cast and enviable Who’s Who crew is not available to my knowledge.

How I would have wished to see the picturisation of Kaise koi jeeye… the most evocative song that turns my heart and gives me a lump in the throat every time I hear it.

Geeta Dutt’s delicate bhaav gayaki and ‘Bengali lilt’ is exemplified in this song – you can’t help getting carried away by the outpouring of feeling and expression.

Hemant Kumar does a great job with his version too. Both being my top favourite singers its hard for me to compare which version I love more. But at the end, its Geeta’s uthhaaaa toooooofaaan…. lilt just wins it!

Timir Baran’s music that sets Indeevar’s words to archetypal Bengal style of music has a typical element in it – the Sanchari. Notice it in the lines where the voices drop:

taare na jane unchayi gagan ki,
aankhein na samajhein,
gehrayi man ki, gehrayi man ki

Only to lift again to scale the peaks – pyaase papihe ne, aas thhi baandhi…

And before I end, two quotes about Nabendu Ghosh’s screenplay in Baadbaan that make me truly, truly wish if only I could have watched this film once:

“I have the deepest regards for Nabendu Da since his powerful and imaginative screenplay for Baadbaan brought out the best of me in a role I never attempted later.” – Dev Anand, Mumbai, May 2006

“Though I never worked with any script of his, I watched Baadbaan 10 times. A piece of literature it appeared on screen. It was more of a scriptwriter’s triumph than a director’s.” ~ Vijay Anand, SRFTI, Calcutta, 2003

Wonder what it was all about 

Both songs are here together:

Originally written on 6th November 2017

Gifted writer Antara Nanda Mondal lives in Delhi, and is a Consulting Editor at Silhouette magazine, and also Creative Director at Wisitech InfoSolutions Pvt, Ltd.

One thought on “Kaise koi jeeye (both versions), by Antara Nanda Mondal

  1. “Destroyed by nitrate fires, stripped bare of silver, decaying in locked cans in hot and humid, unfavourable weather conditions or sold by the kilo in flea markets, the films of India, including the classics are meeting a tragic fate.” What a comment, even if sad _()_

    And this: “1000 kg of film is stripped in one go, which means 50 films stripped bare to extract three kilograms of silver, in a ramshackle workshop in Pathanwadi, in the slums of suburban Mumbai. The silver scavenger who goes by the name Bipin “Silver” has been doing this for the last 40 years.” sadder 🙂

    But what a post!

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