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23 September 2018

The Masters: Rajinder Krishan

06.06.1919 23.09.1987
Rajendra Krishan Duggal or Rajinder Krishan was born on 6 June 1919 in Jalalpur Jattan (in present-day Pakistan). A precocious child, he was always interested in writing stories and poetry, much to the consternation of his parents. When he moved to Simla (now Shimla) in his teens to live with his eldest brother, Madholal, he was a frequent visitor to the poetry gatherings that were held in that hill town. In fact, Simla was famous for hosting all-India mushairas every year. Attending one such gathering when he was barely 15, the young Rajendra plucked up enough courage to recite one of his poems the response was staggering. In an interview given much later, Rajinder Krishan would affirm that the poem garnered him much praise from the celebrated poet Jigar Moradabadi; praise that gave him the confidence that he could write well. 

Family responsibility had pushed him into the stability of a government job in Simla, but the lure of films and the desire for fame was too strong to be dismissed. In the early 40s, he, like many others, came to Bombay to try his luck in the film industry. His inital years were fraught with troubles – fame and success were far from his for the taking. Back home, his brother was supporting Rajinder's family as well. Here in Bombay, Rajinder was trying to eke out a living while waiting for his big break.

Finally, in 1947, he had the opportunity to write the script for for a film titled Janta. That same year, he also wrote the lyrics for Zanjeer the music was composed by Krishan Dayal. However, the country, already rocked by the flames of Partition following its independence would soon reel under the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The young man was so disturbed that he penned a panegyric to the slain leader. Set to music by Husnlal-Bhagatram, and souldfully rendered by Mohammed Rafi, Suno suno ae duniyawalon touched people’s hearts; Fame had finally arrived. Success would follow. 

In Aaj ki Raat, a Motilal-Suraiya starrer, Rajinder Krishan would underline his socialist sympathies. 
Kya jaane ameeri jo gareebi ka mazaa hai, 
Daulat unhe dii hai to humein sabr diya hai 
... reflected social reality and enshrined 'Rajinder Krishan' as the voice of the people. This was soon followed by Pyar ki Jeet where Suraiya’s Tere nainon ne chori kiya, tuned by Husnlal-Bhagatram became highly popular. The success of Badi Bahen’s Chup chup khade ho zaroor koyi baat hai (Lata Mangeshkar, Premalata) and Chale jaana nahi catapulted him to the top rung of lyricists in the Hindi film industry. The success of this film’s score so pleased the makers that they presented Rajinder Krishan with an Austin car and hired him on a monthly salary of Rs1000.
Photo courtesy: Rajiv Duggal (from Cinestaan.com)
Rajinder Krishan’s close association with C Ramchandra began with Samadhi, where the delightful Gore gore o banke chore (Lata Mangeshkar, Amirbai Karnataki) was the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership. 1951 saw them collaborate on Bhagwan’s Albela (1951); the songs helped the film become the third highest grosser at the box-office. That same year, he was writing for SD Burman for Bahar, AVM Studios’ Hindi version of their Tamil hit, Vazhkai. The film, which starred Vyjayanthimala in both Tamil and Telugu versions, became her launching pad in Hindi as well.
Photo courtesy: madanmohan.in
Rajinder Krishan is also associated with Madan Mohan – they had met in Pune when Madan Mohan was still in the army and had formed a close friendship. It was when Rajinder Krishan was working on Samadhi that he realised that Madan Mohan was determined to make it as a music director. 

In the interview I mentioned earlier, he spoke about how he tried to include either social consciousness or patriotism or even religious songs into the films he scripted or worked in as a lyricist. One such song, Tumhi ho mata tumhi pita ho from Main Chup Rahoongi came to be used as school prayer in many schools in the country. Few people know that he also wrote dialogues for films as well as a couple of scripts – in fact, Padosan credited him for script, dialogues and lyrics.

Rajinder Krishan wrote the lyrics for songs from more than 350 films. His versatile pen moved from the soulful Unko ye shikaayat hai  (Adalat) to the doormat-ish (but beautiful) Tumhi meri mandir tumhi meri pooja (Khandan) to the frothy O meri maina tu maan le mera kehna (Pyar Kiye Jaa) to the fun-filled Ek chatur naar karke shingaar (Padosan) and Dekha na haay re (Bombay to Goa) with ease. From the many hundreds of songs that I love, I've chosen a mere selection. And because I do associate him more with Madan Mohan than with C Ramchandra, I've divided this list into two: a selection of his songs composed by Madan Mohan, and then a select compilation of his work with other directors. 

Adalat (1958) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Madan Mohan
The story of a young girl (Nargis) forced into a kotha because of circumstances (and the machinations of a lecherous villain), Adalat's score is often mentioned as an example of Madan Mohan's facility of tuning ghazals to music. Lata's voice holds centrestage here as her Madan 'bhaiyya' sets Rajinder Krishan's poignant lyrics to music. The latter's couplets bring out the pathos of her loneliness and grief. Look at:

Ghar se chale the hum khushi ki talaash mein
Gham raah mein khade the wohi saath ho liye... for instance. So much is expressed here with such economy of words. 

Bhai Bhai (1956) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Madan Mohan
Madan Mohan's first bonafide hit, the film unfortunately didn't make it to a Silver Jubilee because the distributor fell out with the producer and yanked the film out of the theatres in the 24th week. Again, a stellar score, and while Geeta Dutt's  Ae dil mujhe bata de is one of my all-time favourites, Kadar jaane na is beautifully – and poignantly rendered by Lata Mangeshkar.
Dekh Kabira Roya (1957) Singer: Manna Dey / Music: Madan Mohan
Three women have fallen in love with the men of their dreams. Little do they know that the men are all 'wrong' for them – and, having fallen in love with the women are now forced to keep up the pretence of being someone they are not. Another stellar Madan Mohan score that was burnished by Rajinder Krishan's evocative lyrics. 
Aankh na jaane dil pehchaane
Sooratiya kuch aisi 
Yaad karoon toh yaad na aaye
Mooratiya ye kaisi
Paagal manwa soch mein dooba 
Sapno ka sansaar liye 
Manna Dey's rendition married that feeling of anticipation and expectations that Rajendra Krishan so effectively described. 

Jahanara (1964) Singer: Talat Mahmood /Music: Madan Mohan
The story of a Mughal princess (Mala Sinha) and her common-born lover, Mirza Changezi (Bharat Bhushan) boasted of a stellar score by Madan Mohan. It was a sort of a comeback for Talat Mahmood as well. Unfortunately, as was the case with a lot of the films that Madan Mohan scored for, box office success remained a mirage. The composer was also unlucky when it came to awards 1964 saw him compose two of his career-best scores: Woh Kaun Thi and Jahanara. Nominated for Woh Kaun Thi, he lost to Roshan who won it for Taj Mahal. Long-time collaborator Rajendra Krishan stepped in to write the ghazals which have ensured that the songs stay evergreen.  The plaint of a lover separated from his beloved, Rajender Krishan's lyrics express the lover's faith in his beloved – he will remain forever enshrined in her heart, whether she remembers him or not.
Teri zulf hai mera haath hai
Ke tu aaj bhi mera saath hai
Tere dil mein main bhi zaroor hoon
Tujhe yaad ho ke na yaad ho
Another beautiful song from the same film is Phir wohi shaam wohi gham, also rendered by Talat.
Gateway of India (1957) Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Madan Mohan
A different song from the others above. A light, slightly-romantic number 'slightly' because it is clear that while the lyrics are romantic enough, he is not in love with her (yet!) while she's definitely attracted. And Rajinder Krishan's lyrics express that tremulousness of an initial attraction very well with
Ek dil hi tha gham-guzaar apna
Meherbaan khaas raazdaar apna
Ghair ka kyun use bana baithe...

He's the one singing those words, but she's the one affected – it was only her heart that knew her secrets, and shared her sorrows; why did she bestow it upon a stranger? But she does have an answer, one that makes him suddenly realise, if only for a moment, that she's a very attractive young lady. 
Ghair bhi koi haseen hoga
Dil yun hi de diya nahin hoga
Dekh kar kuch toh chhot khaa baithe... 

6. Ye zindagi usi ki hai
Anarkali (1953) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: C Ramchandra
C Ramchandra and Rajinder Krishan's collaboration gave us as many great songs as did his collaboration with Madan Mohan. This film, which had only four of its 11 songs written by Rajinder Krishan is definitely among their best. It is said that if the lyricist had written only this one song, his place in the annals of great Hindi film lyricists would be a sinecure. That may be open to debate, but if proof was needed of Rajinder Krishan's felicity with words, just take a look at the two versions of this song. In the 'happy' version, at the beginning of the film, Anarkali or 'Nadira', as she is then, has fallen in love with a man she doesn't yet recognise as the crown prince. Her words are prophetic, however, as she sings of an uncertain life and pleads that they enjoy life for what it is at present.
Ye bahaar ye sama 
Keh rahi hai pyar kar
Kisi ki aarzoo mein apna
Dil ko beqaraar kar
Zindagi hai bewafaa
Loot pyar ka mazaa...

In the second version, at the tail end of the film, the song is reprised. This time, the mood is not as carefree. Having committed the crime of falling in love with Prince Salim, the lowly court dancer is condemned to death on the emperor's orders. She's resigned to her fate, and as the workers wall her in, brick by brick, her voice soars to the heavens. Perhaps she will meet her beloved in the after life, and their desires will come to fruition there. But until then, her life always belonged to her beloved, and if she were to lose it in the name of that love, so what?
Jo dil yahaan na mil sakein
Milenge us jahaan mein
Khilenge hasraton ke phool
Jaake aasmaan mein
Ye zindagi chali gayi 
Jo pyar mein toh kya hua...

Aaram (1951) Singer: Talat Mahmood /Music: Anil Biswas
A beautiful song, composed by Anil Biswas, even if it falls squarely into the my whiny-doormat category. 
Aankh ko aansoo diye jo motiyon se kam nahin
Dil ko itne gham diye ki ab koi bhi gham nahin
Meherbaan, jo kuch kiya achha kiya shukriya 
Shukriya ae pyar tera, shukriya, shukriya...

One must admit, however, that Talat's voice heightens the pathos of the words. Picturised on Talat himself, the words reflect the emotions of Kumar (Premnath) who's silently in love with Leela (Madhubala) who, in turn, loves a struggling artist called Shyam (Dev Anand).

8. Dil mein sama gaye sajan
Sangdil (1952) Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mahmood Music: Sajjad Hussain
Charlotte Brontë's Gothic romance, Jane Eyre, sees an onscreen adaptation, duly Indianised. With Dilip Kumar and Madhubala playing the protagonists, the romance lit up the screen. This song, the only male-female duet in the film, is set in happier times, when Kumar (Dilip) and Kamala (Madhubala) have fallen in love. Rajinder Krishan's lyrics describe the effect of that falling in love for the first time.
Pehle koi khushi na thi
Dil ki kali khili na thi
Teer-e-nazar chala na tha
Zindagi zindagi na thi
Tere kadam ki aahatein
Ban gai muskurahatein
Mera jahaan basa diya 
I love the imagery in 'Teri kadam ki aahatein ban gayi muskurahatein'. This was the first film for which Sajjad Hussain used Talat Mahmood's voice, and perfectionist that he was, he used it to good effect. Talat's solo, 'Ye hawa ye raat ye chandni' will always be counted among his best.  

9. Ae gupchup gupchup pyaar karein
Sazaa (1951) Singers: Hemant Kumar, Sandhya Mukopadhyay/ Music: SD Burman
For Burmanda, Sazaa was an experiment. Would Hemant Kumar's voice suit Dev Anand? Along with Sandhya Mukherjee's stunning vocals, Ae gupchup gupchup would prove that Hemant Kumar could playback for Dev Anand. (Strangely enough, he would use Talat for the only other male duet in the film.) One of my favourite numbers, as much for the use of the chorus as it is for the melody. Rajinder Krishan would pen all the songs that were set to tune by SD Burman.

The success of this song would prompt Burmanda to use Hemant Kumar as Dev Anand's voice in Jaal.  That song, which has previously appeared on many of my lists is both sensuous and romantic, and helped establish Dev Anand as a romantic hero.

Bhabhi (1957) Singers: Lata Mageshkar Mohammed Rafi/ Music: Chitragupt
A South Indian weepfest, Bhabhi's score by Chitragupt was more famous for Chal ud jaa re panchhi (in its multiple versions). In this song, he demands to see her heart as proof of her love, and she demurs:
Kahaan se dil ko hum laayein
Ke ise rakha hai woh tumko
Dikha sakte hain hum.. To which he responds:Diya tha kis liye bolo?  

And her answer is:
Amaanat hi tumhari thi
Ye jab tak paas tha apne
Ajab si bekaraari thi

To which he counters: Chalo chhodo gile shikwe
Hua hai chand bhi madham

This song, sung by two lovers who are now happily married, is all about their love for each other, and their faith in that love. Which, come the morrow, will be sorely tested, and run its course before all ends well. Sort of.  

11. Itna na mujhse tu pyar badha 
Chhaya (1961) Singers: Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar/Music: Salil Choudhury
This is a beautiful song, and one of my perennial favourites, as much for the music and the singing, as it is for the lyrics. A young man, Arun (Sunil Dutt), who's well aware of his station in life, meets a young woman, Sarita (Asha Parekh), who's besotted by the poetry of a man she's never met. When she grabs the chance to make her poet's acquaintance, Arun (who's the self-same poet), who doesn't want to lose his job, stipulates that he will only talk to her from behind a closed door. He also tries his very best to dissuade her from what he considers her infatuation.
Mujhe ek jagah aaram nahin
Ruk jaana mera kaam nahin
Mere saath kahan tak dogi tum
Main desh videsh ka banjara

Fat lot of good that does, when she decides she's the 'jal ki dhaara' to his ' awara baadal'. For good measure, she adds that she's going to continue to stalk him until he agrees.
Ae neel gagan ke deewane
Tu pyar na mera pehchaane
Main tab tak saath chaloon tere
Jab tak na kahe tu main haara  

12. Sitamgar dekh le nazar bhar dekh le 
Aangan (1959) Singers: Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle /Music: Roshan
I came across this song a couple of years ago when I researching songs for another theme. A light 'dance' song (by the sound of it), Sitamgar dekh le marries the vocal capabilities of both Asha and Geeta with Roshan's melody and Rajinder Krishan's lyrics. If I had to wager a guess, I think it is two women on stage, one of them pretending to be a man.  

13.  Ye khamoshiyaan ye tanhaaiyaan
Ye Raste Hai Pyar Ke (1963) Singers: Mohammed Rafi Asha Bhosle/ Music: Ravi
The story of a love gone wrong. The wife is seduced by the husband's friend, whose motto seems to be to 'love 'em and leave 'em'. Coming back from duty to find an adulterous wife, a blackguard for a friend, and himself a cuckold, Anil Kumar Sahni (Sunil Dutt) rushes off to hold Ashok (Rehman) to account. In the ensuing scuffle, Ashok is killed and Anil surrenders, setting in motion one of the most famous murder trials in Indian history. However, these are happier times. Anil and Neena (Leela Naidu) are very much in love and enjoying a holiday. Rajinder Krishan spins a wonderful word picture with:
Ye oonche pahadon ke maghroor saaye 
Ye kehte hai unko nazar toh milaaye
Farishtey bhi hai is jahan bezubaan
Even the angels are stunned into silence. 
I love the song; I love the melody, I love how Rafi slides over 'khamoshiyaan', I love the imagery that make the lyrics come alive. 

14. Aa jaane jaa 
Inteqaam (1969) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Reportedly, this song was Lata Mangeshkar's bid to prove she could sing cabaret as well as her sister. Be that as it may, this is one song that should be heard, not seen. But. What a song. The melody, the orchestration, the singing... perfect. And the lyrics complemented the sensuousness.

Blackmail (1973) Singer: Kishore Kumar/Music: Kalyanji Anandji
They are not among my favourite composers, but there are odd songs of theirs that I really like. This is one of them. Kailash (Dharmendra) has been in love with Asha for years, but has been too shy to tell her so. So he's written to her; hundreds of letters which, one day, he hands over to her. And so, she begins to read them, at first amused that someone should love her so, then flattered by the attention. As she continues to pore over letter after letter, she begins to see him, here, there, everywhere. Is she falling in love with him?

Padosan (1968) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar Music: RD Burman
While I don't like the film much, the songs are fabulous. Who can forget the 'duel' between Mehmood (lip-syncing Manna Dey) and Kishore Kumar, singing for himself, but 'playback' for Sunil Dutt? Or Main chali main chali,  a girl's paen to freedom, or Bhai battur or even Mere saamnewaali khidki mein? Bindu (Saira Banu) has rejected Bhola (Sunil Dutt) because he's a country bumpkin. But she ends up falling for his 'voice'. Unfortunately, when she realises she was deceived, she leaves him again. Master Pillai (Mehmood), who's in love with Bindu, decides that his rival needs a lesson, and hires thugs to beat him up. Bindu feels responsible and takes it upon herself to nurse him to health. In doing so, she begins to like him for himself. I'm not a great fan of 'Aapke kadmon mein hi rehna hoga' but...

Nagin (1954) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Hemant Kumar
There were reports that people would go in to watch Vyjayanthimala in Man dole mera tan dole and walk out. I can believe that. Nagin had a preposterous plot held together by a wonderful score. Each one of its 13 songs in Hemant Kumar's second outing as music director in the Hindi film industry, is a gem, and each one of them was penned by Rajinder Krishan. This song, a situational one, is where Mala (Vyjayanthimala) hears Sanatan's (Pradeep Kumar) been, while she's in the forest collecting snake venom with her friends. Oblivious to their teasing, she begs them to leave her alone because her lover is calling for her. 
Maang bharo, 
Mat der karo
Kahin rooth na jaaye saanwariya 
Mohe jaana hai pee ki nagariya...
...she pleads, as she begs them to quickly dress her up as a bride. What if he's upset she's late? 
The lyrics are simple, yet beautiful. 

Rajinder Krishan passed away 31 years ago, today. Had he lived, he would have been 99 years old today. He has left us a legacy of great poetry, in songs that we will forever remember.

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