How did Laxmikant-Pyarelal end the Shankar-Jaikishan era in Bollywood? More joyful and cheaper music
THEand back to Laxmikant’s firm belief that hard work would always pay off. Laxmikant was a musician on ShankarJaikishan’s BGM Ayee Milan Ki Bela when his great producer J. Om Prakash (Hrithik Roshan’s late maternal grandfather) approached Laxmikant and promised him to work for Prakash’s next film, Aaye Din Bahaar Ke. Om-ji, as he was called, had worked with the Shankar-Jaikishan-Hasrat-Shailendra team in Aas Ka Panchhi and Ayee Milan Ki Bela and Laxmikant said: “It was a momentous occasion for us, as the great Filmyug banner was the first of SJ’s banners to reach us. We put everything in this one chance and confirmed Om-ji’s confidence in us. And when, in an enthusiastic first reaction, Laxmikant asked the filmmaker, “Can we announce that we are making your film? The filmmaker kindly told him to wait until the background music is ready. In an interview, he told me that he was annoyed by SJ’s habit of asking for higher pay every time a movie hit a hit and saw in LP the same potential for the future.
There was a problem after the announcement: LP met Hasrat Jaipuri again for this new movie before SJ knew and objected to him working on it. And so, Anand Bakshi came in. Aaye Din Bahaar Ke (1966), with its successful soundtrack, wreaked havoc on its release and marked the beginning of an association with the filmmaker which, despite some turbulence in the 1970s, lasted until 1988 Agnes. It was also the first of more than 60 LP films with emerging star Dharmendra (including four of her in-house productions and a significant recreation in a fifth) and a long association with principal lady Asha Parekh and director Raghunath Jhalani. In 1996, Asha Parekh made her directorial debut in LP’s last musical ace, Bhairavi, but withdrew due to creative differences with the producers and never directed a movie.
The hit parade of Aaye Din Bahaar Ke included all-time classics like ‘Suno Sajana’, ‘Meri Dushmun Tu Meri Dosti Ko Tarsus’,’ Yeh Kali Jab Talak Phool ‘,’ Khat Likh De Saawariya Ke Naam ‘,’ Khudaya Khair ‘and’ Ae Kaash Kisi Deewane Ko ‘, LP’s first Lata-Asha duo. ‘Suno Sajana’ remains a cult favorite with connoisseurs. As recently as 2008, when the song was performed on stage during Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia’s seventieth birthday celebrations, two girls sitting in front of me, whose eldest was not to be over 12, all sang. the lyrics in sync with the singer.
J. Om Prakash was so happy with the music and professionalism of LP that he introduced them to other members of United Producers, a consortium that jointly presented the films of all of its members. Among the united producers were Mohan Kumar, Subodh Mukerji, Mohan Segal, Shakti Samanta, GP Sippy and others. The first three signed them, and GP Sippy (who later produced their 1989 film Bhrastachar) offered them Raaz. “We had to refuse Raaz because we had too much work! Laxmikant smiles. “The film, which was Rajesh Khanna and Babita’s first release, went to Kalyanji-Anandji and the film and its music were successful.”
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One by one, not only followers of SJ Mohan Kumar and Subodh Mukerji, but even people like LV Prasad (who was influenced by Tarachand Barjatya) also switched to LP and started forming lasting associations with the duo. Laxmikant clarified that they have the highest regard for Shankar-Jaikishan. “Our industry has never seen and probably never will see composers of their range, caliber and originality,” he said. But LP had to prove they were good too! They wanted to show that they could match SJ with equally good music. Here, Laxmikant also admitted that they started the trend of undercutting. “It was simple logic: if you pay 10 rupees for something and we give you the same quality for two rupees, will you spend more? Laxmikant asked me. “We just wanted the best banners and filmmakers. And that’s where Laxmikant had pointed out that they were able to deliver equally excellent music. “We compromised on our price, not on our work, by composing original music with our distinctive cachet. Plus, in this industry you have to stay in the limelight. We had to keep releasing films, otherwise we couldn’t hope to survive in a field where two out of three films fail!
And while saving money is always welcome for a filmmaker, the bogus economy can be counterproductive, and so it is to LP’s eternal merit that all the banners that have moved away from SJ, have continued to work with. LP by forming lasting relationships and even coming back to them after making films with other composers.
By 1969, LP had given such a constant stream of hits and melodic songs that for the first time in nearly two decades there was an answer, an alternative and a strong challenge to SJ’s supremacy. LPs were declared number one by the film trade in 1969 due to their consistency of great music, hit or flop, and their signing with big banners and films with great directors. In the period 1966-1969, LP made nine more small films, but their music remained of high caliber. And while they won their second Filmfare Award for the success of LV Prasad Milan, they also got their first Sur-Singar Samsad award for Mohammed Rafi’s gem, ‘Painjaniya Chhanke Ram’ from the short film Wapas (1969), produced and directed by their Dosti director Satyen Bose. It was a prestigious honor from an organization which celebrated Indian classical music and had instituted a special annual award for the best classical film song of any year! These awards continued until the late 1980s, and LP won it again for Ram Lakhan in 1989.
But we are in the race again. Let us examine in detail the period 1966-1969.
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No room for complacency
LP’s love of experimenting with musical notes and singers was a habit they kept from day one. They experimented with Lata, their longtime muse, probably more than with anyone else. Mere Lal, the eight-song score (which included five solos by Lata) for Satyen Bose21, saw Lata reach ethereal heights with the unique “Badal Roya Naina Roye” and reach a popular high with “Payal Ki Jhankar Raste Raste”. The film was a modest production starring Dev Kumar and Indrani Mukherjee. Never composers to be bogged down by branding and the image of well-established singers in the industry for nearly 20 years, LP gave Mukesh, often associated with the sad song genre, the sparkling ‘Jab Tak Yeh Sansar Nachaye ‘in Simple Lal.
A personal observation of critical importance: gradually, and apparently mainly with Dosti, the two had also learned the art of creating the most punchy sad songs. I firmly believe that a good sad song, while touching the heart of the listener with its musical and lyrical content, should never depress its listener or viewer. Instead, such a song should, simultaneously and paradoxically, elicit admiration for her. No sad LP song can be found guilty of that aberrant quality that plagues so many litanies of all the nuances of many other composers.
The other 1966 releases were the Laugh and Riot Actors set Pyar Kiye Jaa, the melodrama Nutan Chhota Bhai and AVM Laadla (these were their first three films shot in Madras), the biggie Aasra, Mala Sinha-Sanjay Khan Dillagi, and the modest budget Daku Mangal Singh, Naag Mandir and Sau Saal Baad. Each movie performed well musically, although only Pyar Kiye Jaa, Chhota Bhai and Aasra worked well commercially. Among the evergreen trees were ‘Mere Soone Jeevan Ka Aasra Hai Tu’, ‘Daiyya Re Daiyya’ ‘Neend Kabhi Rehti Thi’, ‘Shokhiyaan Nazar Mein Hai’ (Aasra) and almost all of the score of Pyar Kiye Jaa, considered one of the best comedies in Hindi cinema. Songs like “Kisne Pukara Mujhe”, “Gore Haathon By Na Zulm Karo”, “O Meri Maina”, “Din Jawaani Ke Chaar”, “Dil Humne De Diya”, “Phool Ban Jaoonga” and “Kehne Ki Nahin Baat” were all popular. Kishore Kumar was the hero again, although Shashi Kapoor and Mehmood were also important figures.
Chhota Bhai was a classic melodrama. By the time of its release, as we have seen, LP had also gained a mastery of children’s songs, thanks to the ever-present support of Lata Mangeshkar. And so, Lata came to sing the two songs filmed about the protagonist, performed by child actor Mahesh Kothare, “Na To Hum Darte Hain” and the heartbreaking classic “Maa Mujhe Apne Aanchal Mein Chhupa Le”. However, the ace of this score was ‘Bhagwan Ne Apne Jaisa’ filmed on Nutan. This devotional song dominated his powerful amalgamation of philosophical lyrics and deep melody, wondering how, if God had made human beings to be like him, had they learned to lie and to commit sins (‘Bhagwan ne apne jaisa har ek insaan banaya / Yeh jhooth kidhar se aaye yeh paap kahan se aaya ‘). This song superlatively illustrates the individual mastery and combined synergy of Anand Bakshi’s lyrics and the powerful compositions of LaxmikantPyarelal. This is a perfect illustration of what the lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri told me in 1990 for a Midday interview: “If we [Shankar-Jaikishan and Hasrat Jaipuri] lost the RK banner with Police officer, I’m glad we lost to the only other great team of Hindi film songwriters: Laxmi-Pyare and Anand Bakshi! ‘
This excerpt from ‘Music by Laxmikant Pyarelal’ by Rajiv Vijayakar, has been published with the permission of Rupa Publications India.
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