The Sublime Turned Ridiculous (Parody)

The Oxford English Dictionary defines parody as imitation turned so as to produce a ridiculous effect. Also called spoof or lampoon, parody is an imitative work created to poke fun, mock, or trivialize an original work, its subject, author, or style.

It was Hegemon of Thasos, the comic writer of ancient Greece, who is credited with inventing the parody. Here’s what Aristotle said of him: By slightly altering the wording in well-known poems he transformed the sublime into the ridiculous.

So for example when comedians go up to the stage to take a jab at Prithviraj Kapoor’s style in Mughal-e-Azam, or Amjad Khan’s lines in Sholay, they are parodying. Asrani was parodying Hitler in Sholay, with his moustache, hairstyle and general demeanour fashioned after the German dictator.

Films are parodied too

While Hitler was parodied in Sholay to offset an essentially-serious film (a sprinkle of comedy was also scripted for Hema and Jagdeep in the film), there have been entire Hollywood films parodying the German leader. Do recall Charlie Chaplin’s masterly work in The Great Dictator. That in fact followed the first parody of the Nazis, You Nazty Spy, featuring The Three Stooges. Parodies existed in the silent era too, before Hitler and his Nazis arrived on the scene. Stan Laurel scripted and acted in several, including Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde, an obvious take-off on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the book and two films that preceded Laurel’s 1925 effort.

We Indians have many good qualities, but having a good laugh is perhaps not one of them. Laughing at ourselves is rarer still. Many outsiders have parodied abundantly, and sometimes laughed at themselves too. That’s called self-parody, a subset of parody in which artists laugh at their own work.

But we haven’t fared too badly when it comes to parodying our film songs. Many of these musical parodies take a multiple jab at a few popular old songs. But some are less scattered, one or two-song spoofs. Coming up is an example of the latter, Manna Dey singing Qamar Jalalabadi’s spoof for Kalyanji-Anandji in the film Raaz (1967), the song featuring comedian IS Johar. No prizes for guessing the original songs, both from films released in 1960.

Pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Are pyaar kiya koi jung naheen ki, pyaar kiya, aa aa

Pyaar kiya koi jung naheen ki

Chhuriyon se phir ladna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to…

 

Aaj kahenge apna fasaana

Fillam bana de chaahe zamaana

Are aaj kahenge apna fasaana

Fillam bana de chaahe zamaana

Maut meri kyoon duniya dekhe, kyoon

Maut meri kyoon duniya dekhe

Maut se pehle marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Pyaar kiya to marna kyoon…

He then switches to English for one line, with Manna Dey’s faultless diction. And back to Hindustani, using Hinglish as a step, all part of the fun.

I am a lover, not a criminal; I am a lover, o-o o-o

I am a lover, not a criminal

Yaaro I should marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to…

 

Dekho yaaro ishq hamaara

(Segues into a Barsaat Ki Raat song now)

Are ishq ishq ishq ishq

Ishq ishq hai ishq ishq hai

Ishq ishq hai ishq, haan

(Returns to Mughal-e-Azam next)

Dekho yaaro ishq hamaara

Chaaron taraf qaatil ka nazaara

Allah ne naheen marna likha

Bandon se phir marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Jab pyaar kiya to marna kyoon

Interesting that when Manna Dey sang the Ishq ishq part, he was in fact engaged in self-parody, because he too had sung in the original song in Barsaat Ki Raat. This self-parody would also in a way be executed by SD Burman elsewhere. Twice.

Many moons ago, Burmanda had recorded a non-film song with compelling results, the song being Dheere se jaana bagiyan mein re bhanwra. Taking off on himself, he had Kishore Kumar parody that same line in Main sitaaron ka taraana (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, 1958). Never mind if it would mock himself again, Burman had Neeraj write for him in Chhupa Rustom (1973), once again to have Kishore Kumar sing, this time Dheere se jaana khatiyan mein khatmal. Understandably, Kishore Kumar was initially hesitant to parody someone he not just venerated, but who was alive and well. But horror of horrors, Dada Burman was in fact himself commissioning the young man with the assignment!

Here are a few more parodies that ridiculed earlier songs, with just one of the ridiculed songs mentioned in brackets, though there often were more. We begin with 1948, which set the ball rolling:

  • Ik dil tera, ik dil mera, a parody in three parts (Hip Hip Hurray, 1948, featuring Afsaana likh rahi hoon)
  • Duniya paglon ka bazaar (Chacha Choudhury, 1953; Duniya, duniya, toofaan mail)
  • Dekh tere Bhagwaan ki haalat kya ho gayi insaan (Railway Platform, 1955; Dekh tere insaan ki haalat)
  • Diya bujhao jhatpat jhatpat (Taxi 55, 1955; Diya jalao jagmag jagmag)
  • Tu prem nagar ka sadhu (Masoom, 1960, Tere dil ka makaan saiyaan bada aalishaan)
  • Tod diya chashma mera (Modern Girl, 1961; Tod diya dil mera)
  • Pa pa pa…Aaye na baalam, in two parts (Main Chup Rahungi, 1962; Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badha)
  • Kha gaye phal ho gayi barbaadiyaan (Gul-e-Bakawali, 1963; Kya hua, ye mujhe kya hua)
  • Ja raha hoon zindagi se (Akaash deep, 1965; Tum mujhe bhool bhi jao)
  • Muskura laadle muskura (Purnima, 1965; Muskura laadle muskura)
  • Humen to maara hai (Hum Kahaan Ja Rahe The, 1966/Humen to loot liya)
  • Suno suno kanyaon ka varnan (Haseena Maan Jayegi, 1968; Mere desh ki dharti)
  • Chal-chal re naujawaan (Ek Phool Do Maali, 1969; Jo waada kiya wo)
  • Chaahe mujhe koi bhoot kaho (Waris, 1969; Chaahe koi mujhe Junglee kahe)
  • Meri bhains ko danda kyoon maara (Pagla Kaheen Ka, 1970; Panchhi banoon udti phiroon)
  • Jab pyaar kiya to darna kya (Raaton Ka Raja, 1970; Pyaar kiya to darna kya)
  • Mere saamne waale kamre mein (Laakhon Mein Ek, 1971; Mere saamne waali khidki mein)
  • Ye kaun hai ye kaun hai (Main Sundar Hoon, 1971; Teri pyaari-pyaari surat ko)
  • Ghar apna Bangaal (Khoon Ka Badla Khoon, 1978; Sar par topi laal)
  • Na maangen sona-chaandi (Mr. India, 1987; Saawan ka maheena pawan kare sor)

Things haven’t been so cheerful for this genre recently. In Mohabbat (1997), Akshay Khanna approached Madhuri Dixit’s home with a harmonium slung around his neck. Poor fellow, he didn’t have the foggiest idea what he was supposed to play, as he sang a parody mix which included Tere dwaar khada ik jogi and Baba man ki aankhen khol, etc. Featuring some very forgettable singing, composers Nadeem-Shravan managed to elevate this parody to pathetic heights.

Anyway, a thought occurs: is it possible our musicians know how to have a good laugh, even if our filmmakers are all at sea?

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(Photo: Chal-chal re naujawaan [parody] )

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