Sunday 23 January 2022
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Dushmun: 50 years ago, Kishore Kumar refused to sing this song

Laxmikant-Pyarelal failed to convince Kishore Kumar a Haathi Mere Saathi number would suit him, but they persuaded him for the songs of Mr X in Bombay and Dushmun

Fifty years ago this day, Rajesh Khanna-featuring Dushmun, which starred Meena Kumari and Mumtaz too, was released in Mumbai. On this special occasion, film journalist and author Chaitanya Padukone has reminded the people of a quirky story about the film. Legendary singer, the multitalented Kishore Kumar, had initially refused to record the chartbuster ‘Waada Tera Waada’, a solo track for Dushmun.

Padukone had attended the star-studded premiere at the (now closed) Ganga-Jamuna twin-talkies at Tardeo in Mumbai.

The film has a scintillating qawwali by Laxmikant Pyarelal. Padukone said, “Composer Pyarelal had once revealed to me that had initially declined to record the foot-tapping mujra-qawaali ‘Waada Tera Waada’ because he felt that this song was ideally suited for Mohd Rafi saab’s voice.”

“Even superstar Rajesh Khanna was unable to convince Kishore da to sing that track. Ultimately, Laxmi ji got a brainwave and politely told Kishore that they may have to drop the amazing song entirely and coaxed him to at least try to sing it once,” Padukone recalled.

“Ultimately, Kishore relented and when the released, that lyrical song written by Anand Bakshi saab became a huge repeat-value hit with the masses,” the veteran journalist said.

Padukone said that Khanna won lots of acclaim for his daring attempt to defy his romantic image in Dushman, playing an ‘anti-hero’ truck driver, who is accused of drunken driving and murder.

Khanna had to match up to the performance of ‘tragedy queen’ Meena Kumari. Writer Padukone recalls, “Kakaji, (Khanna) had expressed his delight that Dushmun, which was also remade in Tamil as Neethi, had thespian Sivaji Ganesan playing his role opposite Jayalalithaa.”

While the story above is not new to users of YouTube who follow videos about Kishore Kumar, the versatile genius had had several instances in his career as a singer where he had initially refused to sing a given song and then made a classic out of his rendition when he finally agreed. He had refused to sing ‘Mere naina saawan bhado’ for Mehbooba (music: RD Burman) before Lata Mangeshkar’s version was recorded and the tape thereof was sent to him. had refused to sing ‘Ki ashay bandhi khelaghar’, the Bangla predecessor of ‘Dil aisa kisi ne mera toda’ for Amanush (music: Shyamal Mitra). He gave away ‘Nafrat ki duniya ko chhod kar’ (Haathi Mere Saathi) to Rafi.

But this story will be incomplete without the following note by Sirf News‘s Editor-in-Chief Surajit Dasgupta:

Composer duo Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma made a roaring entry as musicians after assisting Kalyanji Virji Shah-Anandji Virji Shah for years with Rafi-Lata’s duet ‘Woh jab yaad aaye’ for the film Parasmani. Since then, they had been accustomed to creating tunes that would suit Rafi’s high-pitched deliveries more. Listen to some audio or video clips showing Laxmikant sing and you will know his own style tended to have more of higher notes of the octave. Few know that had, much before Dushmun, refused to sing the now-famous ‘Mere mehboob qayaamat hogi’ composed by Laxmi-Pyare for the film Mr X in Bombay. Close scrutiny of ‘Nafrat ki duniya ko chhod kar’ would reveal a similar nature of the song. It was made for Rafi from the word go. How could L-P have thought of Kishore, known for a deep baritone, for this number? But they did. And they could not convince him it would be the right number suited to his voice, which they could eventually for the songs of Mr X in Bombay and Dushmun. went on to gain confidence to sing qawwalis subsequently. Two of his hit qawwalis in Bollywood productions of the 1970s are ‘Haal kya hai dilon ka’ for Anokhi Ada (1973), where he had to deliberately mispronounce words of Arabic and Persian origin, and ‘Hum to jhuk kar salaam karte hain’ with Mahendra Kapoor for Fakira (1976).

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