I got to know VAK Ranga Rao, the eminent collector of 78 rpm gramophone records and film historian sometime in the late 1990s, when the internet was still in its infancy and YouTube was practically unheard of (maybe it was not there). VAK, who remains a very dear friend, was my personal Google on movies and I had to just call him on the phone or ask him a question when we met to have him come out with some great nuggets of information. One such occasion had to do with a series of AM Raja-Jikki songs, all of which were faithful copies of Mukesh-Lata Mangeshkar numbers from the Raj Kapoor-Nargis starrer, Aah (1953). Pat came the answer, faster than the click of a mouse – these were all from the Tamil Avan, which was nothing but the dubbed version of Aah. Now that practically the entire set of songs is up on YouTube, I have had several moments of happiness listening to both versions. I know now that Aah was also simultaneously dubbed in Telugu as Prema Lekhalu. Wikipedia also informs me that the screenplay for Avan was by SD Sundaram.
It is a pretty ghastly film by the way, one of the many horrors that Raj Kapoor acted in, produced and directed. In fact looking back I cannot think of a single black and white good film from RK Films except for Shri 420 where you really have something. What a movie! And Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh – what a song. But let us keep that for a future post.
Coming back to Aah/Avan, the movie came into my thoughts last week when I began reading Bioscope, a book compiling various Tamil articles written on cinema by Asokamitran. There he states that in the early 1950s it was quite the rage among Hindi film producers to have their offerings dubbed in South Indian languages. The task of the lyricist is of course quite tricky for he has to use the existing tunes and write meaningful lines for them (these days they would get by writing absolute drivel). According to Asokamitran, the lyricist Kambadasan was the absolute pro at this task and he ‘practically shifted to Bombay’ for sometime to handle contracts from there. In Aah for instance, he has penned the equivalents for what Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra wrote. The music is by Shankar-Jaikishen. Alas, for Kambadasan, none of these dubbed films did well and the experiment ended quite soon.
But the songs are really enjoyable. And here is a partial list
Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat. Kalyana Urvalam Varum
Jaane Na Nazar. Kann Kaanaadadum
Aja Re Ab Mera Dil Pukara Anbe Vaa – can’t find this.
Yeh Shaam Ki Tanhayiyaan Ekaanthamaam Immaalayil
Choti Si Yeh Zindagani. Minnal Pol Aanade
Sunte The Naam Hum. Un Perai Kettaal
Raja and Jikki have sung the songs very well. This was to result in Raj Kapoor and Nargis coming to attend their wedding, which took place in 1954 at Satyagraha, now Hema Malini Kalyana Mandapam, on Lloyd Road.
This article is part of a series where I look at old film songs, chiefly in Hindi and Tamil. The other parts can be read here
anbE vA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON3URJu2a2o. Not sure that it sounds like AjA mere dil..
Oops, let me take that back. You obviously mean a dubbing, which is not on FB.
Aah was a complete and outright dud! My father was very fond of aaja re ab mera dil pukaaraa so much so that he bought the 78 rpm record of it. The other side had the sprightly jaane na nazar. I remember sitting down to watch Aah on DD which in the early 90s was showing a retrospective of RK’s films – Awara and Shree 420 had already been shown in the previous nights. Awara was slick and racy, and it was understandable why it was considered very highly. I remember Shabana Azmi went on record saying that Awara was one her personal favourites in an issue of The Illustrated Weekly of India. For me Shashi Kapoor playing the young RK was a highlight. However my favourite was and still remains undoubtedly Shree 420 as well. Nargis’ entry and her views when Raj Kapoor nonchalantly talks about ”imaan bechna” remains well-etched in memory as does the entire film.
It was with this mindset and high expectations that I sat down to watch Aah and all these high expectations quickly turned into despair a quarter of an hour into the film. After about an hour of valiant effort at watching, my threshold finally reached its limit and I had no choice but to switch off the TV. That one hour was to be sure, a painful Aaaah!
Raj Kapoor is credited with other fine b/w films like Boot Polish and Jagte Raho. Even the flop Aag was interesting.
It is best and homely movies. But it is not available. I don’t know hindi
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