|24.02.1939 - 09.03.2012|
After my post on Holi songs, what I'd had in mind was a post on lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, whose birth anniversary was 8th March, followed by a post on music director Ravi, whose compositions I've enjoyed both in Hindi and in Malayalam. But I had scarcely wrapped my head around the news of Ravi's death on the 7th of this month when the grim reaper struck again. Joy Mukherjee passed away today morning.
These have been a bad few months. In less than a year, we have lost heroes and heroines from the golden age, singers and music directors. For many, like me, these were people we had grown up with, even if they belonged to our parents' generation. It seems like an era is slipping through our fingers, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
Out of all the Shammi wannabes, Joy Mukherjee was my favourite. What is more, he soon stepped out of the shadows and carved out his own identity as a leading man. He was, in my opinion, the only hero who could have attempted to fill Shammi Kapoor's shoes. Unlike many other heroes who became successful because of the wonderful musical score, the vales of Kashmir or the hills of Shimla, and Mohammed Rafi's superb playback, Joy Mukherjee became the nation's heartthrob with the his impish smile and a pretty enviable physique. He definitely looked like a man, albeit with a boyish charm that was his trademark.
I'd first seen him in Love in Simla (his debut film) and it was very difficult not to respond to his infectious grin on screen. Then came a slew of other movies Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, Ziddi, Shagird... His movies were entertaining, they almost always had lovely songs and pretty heroines, and he was competent enough to waltz his way through his roles, singing, romancing, fighting. If one looks at cinema as pure entertainment, he surely entertained us.
And so, a remembrance of sorts; ten of my favourite Joy Mukherjee songs in no particular order. My only criteria was that I would not list more than one song from a film. This was done for my own sake - or the entire score of Ek Musafir Ek Hasina would be listed right here!
1. Aap yunhi agar humse milte rahe (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina, 1962) Mohammed Rafi- Asha Bhosle / OP Nayyar-Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
My favourite number from a film that had so many, many wonderful songs - Aapka muskurana mujhe dekhkar, Bahut shukriya, badi meherbani, Phir tere sheher mein, this song makes me break out into goosebumps. It is possibly the most romantic non-romantic song in Hindi films. This is a soft question-and-answer session, almost wistful in its longing - beware, you may fall in love. Not that they are, at the moment. He has lost his memory; she is trying to reach her family after a terrorist attack separates her from her newly-wed husband. OP Nayyar's music is lilting, as it makes use of a plethora of instruments to meld into a quietly melodious whole.
2. Dil thaam chale hum (Love in Simla, 1960) Mohammed Rafi / Iqbal Quereshi-Rajinder Krishen
It was the quintessential debut - the handsome son of producer Shashadhar Mukherjee, and the beautiful niece of character actor Hari Shivdasani (his daughter, Babita, would soon be a reasonably successful heroine in her own right) came together in a tale of ugly-duckling-turned-beautiful-swan. It gave the young hero a chance to strum a guitar (or at least carry it around) and sing some lovely songs in the then-untouched beauty of the hill resort. Music director Iqbal Quereshi composed a very OP Nayyar-ish song for the situation, while Rafi's voice holds an innocence that is very appealing.
3. Raat nikhri hui zulf bikhri hui (Hum Hindustani, 1960) Mukesh / Usha Khanna-K Manohar
For a change, it is Mukesh singing for our hero. A very sensuous and romantic song, with Joy Mukherjee, and Helen in a completely different avatar. Though I had seen Hum Hindustani on Door Darshan, I had no recollection of this song at all. It was brought back to mind by harvey, when he listed it on his blog. This was a film where Joy Mukherjee played second fiddle; Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh were the main leads.
4. Humdum mere khel na jaano (Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, 1963) Mohammed Rafi-Asha Bhosle / OP Nayyar-Majrooh Sultanpuri
If I were pushed to make a preference, this lovely Rafi-Asha duet would top my list of Joy Mukherjee songs, alongside Aap yunhi agar humse milte rahe. I like how Nayyarsaab used the sarangi in between, and then ended the song with the mouth organ. Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon had some wonderful, wonderful songs - my second choice was Laakhon hain nigaah mein, and I must confess that I prefer that to Bandha parwar, thaam lo jigar (which is a beautiful song in itself, no doubt about that).
5. Teri soorat se nahin milti (Ziddi, 1964) Mohammed Rafi / SD Burman-Hasrat Jaipuri
Another of the taming-of-the-shrew tropes that mingles with some melodrama about an heiress, sacrifice, pretending to be drunk so that the hero will hate her forever and ever - in other words, a usual masala film. Joy Mukherjee wants to be a writer; his father wants him to stop loafing around and get a 'real job' - in his firm. In the meantime, he spots a girl in a photograph and falls in love with her. In a bid to be rid of his father so he can write in peace, and so he can woo his girl, he sets off to find employment and the girl (not necessarily in that order) - photograph in hand.
6. Aaja re aa zara (Love in Tokyo, 1966) Mohammed Rafi / Shankar-Jaikishen-Hasrat Jaipuri
I love Mohammed Rafi's voice modulation in this. He is almost whispering the notes, giving a haunting quality to the song, especially where his voice vibrates over the notes. Goosebumps. How can a woman not melt?? His voice oozes romance and sensuality. (Sigh!)Joy Mukherjee does a wonderful job onscreen too. There is another song in this film that will always be on my list of romantic numbers - O mere shah-e-khubaan.
7. Dil ki awaaz bhi sun (Humsaya, 1968) Mohammed Rafi / OP Nayyar-Shehzaan Rizvi
If the previous song was full of romance, this one, directed by Joy himself, is hesitant. He does not know what his reception will be. The vulnerability that fills Mohammed Rafi's voice is fully expressed by Joy Mukherjee as he pleads for his love - Meri nazron ki taraf dekh zamaane pe na jaa (Look into my eyes, don't believe what the world says). How many lovers have made that plea for unconditional trust?
8. Mere dil hai pyar ka aashiyaan (Umeed, 1962) Ravi /Ravi-Shakeel Badayuni
Ravi Shankar Sharma came to Bombay to try his luck as a singer, only to be disappointed again and again. After having started off as a singer in the chorus of Vande Mataram for Anand Math, thanks to Hemant Kumar, he did sing a few other songs even as he assisted Hemantda, before turning music director in his own right. This is one of the songs he sang under his own baton, a very soft, melodious number which makes me wish he had sung more songs. Lovely.
9. Yeh jhuki jhuki jhuki nigaah teri (Aao Pyar Karen, 1964) Mohammed Rafi / Usha Khanna-Rajinder Krishen
Apart from the fact that this is a beautiful peppy, foot-tapping number, watch it for its fantastic picturisation. Mac Mohan (yes, our very own samba) matching steps with Joy Mukherjee, moving into a striptease which morphs him into a beautiful girl (in the Seth's eyes), and a very young Sanjeev Kumar in the background.
There is also a nice Lata-Rafi duet Tum akele baagh mein jaaya na karo picturised on a very, very beautiful Saira Banu (oh, she's gorgeous in this) and the absolutely lovely Lata solo Ek sunehri shaam thi. The film is typical Filmalaya fare - poor boy meets rich girl, parents want him to make enough money to keep their girl in the style in which she is accustomed; poor boy tries different schemes to get rich quick. Frothy, funny, entertaining. What more do you want? (Vadas, please!)
10. Dil beqaraar sa hai (Ishaara, 1964) Mohammed Rafi / Kalyanji-Anandji-Majrooh Sultanpuri
It's an unusual combination - Joy Mukherjee and Vyjayanthimala; strangely enough, they make a very good pair. The location is Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. The song has all of Mohammed Rafi's adaas though it is one of his quieter romantic numbers. I love the way his voice rolls over the syllables, almost as if he is drunk - on love, not liquor. Sublime.
For the countless hours of joy, fascination, entertainment, for a more innocent age where you sold us dreams of love triumphing over all, serenaded us with wonderful songs, romanced pretty heroines, nonchalantly fought suitably wicked villains - for all that and more, thank you. May your soul rest in peace.