On February 24, 2013, a part of Yari Road in suburban Mumbai was named after late actor Joy Mukherjee, on what was his birthday. Thespian Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu, escorted in the company of half a dozen cars with flashing lights atop them—long a sign of India’s officialdom—could hardly believe why they were here now; after all, the film star had been fit and around so recently. After they left, the scene was repopulated by common folk whose own disbelief had to do with the naming of lanes, gardens and chowks, happening with such rapidity now. Even more, the question was how come, at least in Bombay, the karmabhoomi of many film folk, some people had places named after them, while some absolutely deserving cases had no municipal approval for such honour. Names like OP Nayyar, Madan Mohan, and Hasrat Jaipuri for instance.
We will get into the merits of that later as you read this, but this was so proper, wasn’t it? Saira Banu was absolutely the perfect person to lead the event, since Joy acted in five films with this beautiful star, more than he did with anyone else. The five films are: Aao Pyaar Karen (1964), Door Ki Awaaz (1964), Saaz Aur Awaaz (1966), Ye Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai (1966) and Shagird (1967). From these films emerged some of the nicest songs of the 1960s. Do let’s recall some tunes which had them together in the same frame, even if not all are duets:
Aao Pyaar Karen (1964):
- Tum akele to kabhi baag mein jaaya na karo
Aaj-kal phool bhi dil waale hua karte hain
Koi qadmon se lipat baittha to phir kya hoga? (Rafi, Lata)
- Dil ke aine mein tasweer teri rehti hai
Main ye samjha koi jannat ki pari rehti hai (Rafi)
- Jahaan tu hai wahaan phir chaandni ko kaun poochhega
Tera dar ho to jannat ki gali ko kaun poochhega (Rafi)
Do let’s remember that more than acting skills, Saira had recently glided into cinema on a reputation of genetic beauty received from her mother Naseem Banu. No wonder then that the lyrics of all the three songs listed above engage with her physical attributes!
In Door Ki Awaaz (1964), the serenading continued:
- Husn se chaand bhi sharmaaya hai, teri surat ne ghazab dhaaya hai! (Rafi)
And look now, he was virtually at Saira’s feet! God, beauty doth often vacate man’s sanity:
- Dil mera aaj kho gaya hai kaheen
Aap ke paon ke neeche to naheen? (Rafi)
Therefore, he pitched:
- Muqaddar aazmaana chaahta hoon, tumhen apna banana chaahta hoon
Mujhe bas pyaar ka ik jaam de do, main sab-kuchh bhool jaana chaahta hoon (Rafi)
Saaz Aur Awaaz (1966) got them together musically too:
- Saaz ho tum awaaz hoon main, tum beena ho main hoon taar (Rafi)
- Dil ki mehfil saji hai chale aiye, aap ki bas kami hai chale aiye (Rafi)
- Tum ishq ki mehfil ho, tum husn ka jalwa ho (Rafi, Asha)
And here they are in a love ensemble, their ditty propelled by a ghoda-gaadi trot:
- Pyaar ki raah bahaar ki manzil, aane waale pa hi gaye (Rafi, Asha)
The music of Saaz Aur Awaaz above was composed by Naushad, and has his melodic fragrance all over it. The ghoda-gaadi number above may seem Nayyaresque, but Naushad composed many such too, like Bachpan ke din bhula na dena (Deedar, 1951), Dil mein chhupa ke pyaar ka toofaan le chale (Aan, 1952) and Koi pyaar ki dekhe jaadugari (Kohinoor, 1960), all involving Dilip Kumar too. Interestingly in this year of Saaz Aur Awaaz, ie 1966, Saira would metaphorically become Dilip’s saaz in real life, to stay that way for good. That year Saira, all of twenty-two, tied the knot with Dilip Kumar, who at forty-four was exactly double her age!
Ye Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai (1966):
- Jawaan ho, mashallah tum jawaan ho (Rafi)
- Jeene ka agar andaaz aaye to kitni haseen hai zindagi (Asha)
And Shagird (1967), with its lovely songs:
- Ud ke pawan ke sang chaloongi (Lata)
- Dil-vil, pyaar-vyaar main kya jaanu re (Lata)
- Wo hain zara khafa-khafa (Lata, Rafi)
But let’s return for a minute to Aao Pyaar Karen (1964), which was blessed with one of the finest songs rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, a medium-paced Saira Banu proposition for her Joy:
- Tamannaon ko khilne den, iraadon ko jawaan kar len
Muhabbat ka ye mausam hai, chalo gustaakhiyaan kar len…
Kahaan tak arzoo-on ko koi dil mein daba rakkhe?
Agar honthon pe pehre hain, to aankhon ko zubaan kar len
That last was a Lata-Usha Khanna-Rajinder Krishan combined offering. A smart ghazal, with competent use of an ensemble of violins, plenty of flutes, and the sarod and sitar in unison, all tugging at our hearts. As for Chalo gustaakhiyaan kar len, what a wonderfully-mischievous way to put things, without a trace of vulgarity!
Now about the crowd assembled at the chowk after the celebrities had gone, they were not just upset with the selective-perception syndrome demonstrated by the Municipality—bowing more to populist pressure groups than going only by worthiness—but also about the clear neglect in the maintenance of roads, footpaths, etc. In fact, some potholes were so permanent, it was these that should have been named after important folk. Of course the location would be kept in mind. The one near a women’s hostel could be named after Shakti Kapoor. The one facing a hospital in a Silence Zone could be named Manmohan Singh smarak, etc. The one near The Navy’s Lion Gate could best be called Ajit The Loin crater.
What a creatively-high citizens group!
Originally published: 10th March, 2013