You my dear reader, as Charlotte Bronte would have said, must be heartily sick of my continuing to harp on this subject. But just as I thought I was done with it, along comes yet another nugget that I had to share –
But since there has been so much chaos in my way of writing on this story, I am summarising the facts in brief (those who have already read all of this may please entertain themselves in the meanwhile by looking at news on Rajasthan crisis).
Uran Khatola (1955), starring Dilip Kumar, Nimmi and T Suryakumari was produced and had its music set by Naushad. The film opens with the song Mera Salaam Le Jaa (Ennai Konde Povaai in the Tamil dubbed version Vanaratham). Both Tamil and Hindi versions were sung by Lata Mangeshkar and chorus. You can see the two songs here
Do listen to the Hindi and Tamil versions. You will notice that unlike the Hindi song, Lata simply mumbles the Tamil words and allows the chorus to dominate. I am also amazed that the Tamil print has far better audio than the Hindi one.
Last week VAK Ranga Rao who knows all that there is to know about films and songs, messaged me that while Uran K was in production, the tune of this song was leaked to Husnlal Bhagatram who promptly used it in Shama Parwana, starring Suraiya and Shammi Kapoor, which released a few months earlier, in 1954. You can see that song here
Shaam e Bahaar Aayi ((I can still not get over Shammi Kapoor being so thin. Suraiya later in a radio programme reminisced that he was so thin that had he danced then as he did in later movies she would asked him to slow down fearing that his hip would be dislocated!)
Ashwin Bhandarkar, my go to man for all matters concerning films of black and white era, having listened to both songs confirmed that yes, there is a significant case against Husnlal (and Bhagatram) in this charge of stealing the tune.
Mrs Snehalata Datar another friend, argues that in the arts of all this is permissible, ’twas mine, ’tis his and has been slave to thousands is the motto she says. It is a question of who is ‘inspired’ by what. And there the matter rested. Until my dear friend Ramineni Bhaskarendra sent from Madanapalle a bombshell – well at least it felt that way. Having first shared with me a whole lot of advertisements on Uran Khatola, he said that the tune was actually ‘inspired’ (to quote Mrs Datar) from an Egyptian film song and most kindly shared the link.
You can watch it here – by the way, wait and watch it fully. Don’t be misled by the prelude that Naushad and H/B cut out of their songs. The actual ‘inspiration’ comes from 1.40 onwards.
Now having seen it, I wonder as to what Naushad was fussing about. Neither he nor H&B were original at least as far as this song was concerned. Then came a nasty thought which I buried immediately because I worship Naushad. Could he have kicked up a hue and cry so that in all the din the fact that he had taken it from elsewhere would be forgotten? May be that was so. But to give him credit, he was merely inspired by the song. On the other hand, old Husnlal and partner simply lifted the whole thing for Shaam e bahaar aayi.
I simply love that Egyptian song. There is something hugely decadent about that scene and I am sure all kinds of orgies were afoot after it.
Bhaskarendra adds all kinds of delicious nuggets of info and I quote him –
“Uran Khatola was inspired by Frank Capra’s ‘Lost Horizon’ starring Ronald Colman, a 1937 film. This American film was again made in the year 1973 and was one of the top failures in Hollywood History. Original Lost Horizon was released in Minerva Talkies on 8th October, 1938 and had a run of two weeks. Subsequent Lost Horizon was released in Safire Theater in and around 1977.
I am not able to find the date of the first release of Uran Khatola in Madras. It was one of the top grossers in Hindi field and one of the four hits of Dilip Kumar in 1955. The other notable films running during this period in Madras were Rangoon Radha, Marumalarchi, Kula Daivam, Pasavalai, New Delhi, Miss Coco Cola and Vadinagari Gajulu (Telugu version of Bhabhi ki Choodiya). These Hindi movies were released simultaneously in Andhra and Nizam territories along with Madras.
Vaanaratham was released on 1st November, 1956 in Midland, Rajakumari and Maharani. But on the same day AVM’s Chori Chori was released in Select, Sayani and Casino. Chori Chori had more of a Southern atmosphere than Northern. Filmstan’s Durgesh Nandini (Bankim Chandra’s Novel) was released on 2nd November, 1956 in Ashok. Vaanaratham ran upto 22nd November and Midland re-released Hindi original Uran Khatola the next day and it also ran for two weeks.”
Having written all this, I sincerely hope that some earlier tune does not surface. I am done with Mera Salaam Le Jaa. It has my salaams.
This article is part of a series I write on old film songs, chiefly Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. You can read the earlier parts here.
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