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Those songless Salims

If the way Madhubala histrionically stood up to Dilip Kumar came as a revelation in Mughal-e-Azam, the film was no less remarkable for the fact that it had Prince Salim going songless, writes Raju Bharatan.

music Updated: Mar 03, 2008 20:38 IST
Raju Bharatan

If A R Rahman wondered how his music would be accepted in Jodhaa Akbar, Naushad spent similar anxious moments after Mughal-e-Azam mounted the screen in April 1960.

Naushad's concern, as the K Asif classic became the talk of the nation, arose from the fact that Ameen Sayani, on Binaca Geetmala , remained the monument of inaction through twoWednesday-weeks following Mughal-e-Azam's release.

No numbers
This was when, reacting from the gut, K Asif sent for Ameen and let him have an earful about the quality of music in his epic. The outcome—Naushad and Mughal-e-Azam instantly unfolded in the Geetmala if with Anarkali Madhubala still in chains. <b1>

Mohabbat kee jhootee kahanee in raag Darbari Kaanada was the Shakeel Badyuni-written beauty with which Naushad finally made his Mughal-e-Azam bow in Ameen' s Geetmala.

If the way Madhubala histrionically stood up to Dilip Kumar came as a revelation in Mughal-e-Azam, the film was no less remarkable for the fact that it had Prince Salim going songless.

Bade Ghulam Khan vibrantly vocalising Prem jogan ban ke ( Raag Sohani in the Maarwha thhaat ) during that memorable Anarakali-Salim, Madhubala-Dilip love sequence still left the tragedy king songless in the film.

Dilip Kumar had gone through a similar bewildering experience with Naushad in Mehboob Khan's Amar six years earlier. That time Naushad had made up for it by so voice-casting Mohammed Rafi in his pet raag Bhairavi mantle of Insaaf kaamandir hai yeh as for Dilip Kumar to become musically Amar in theMehboob film.

But now in Mughal-e-Azam, DilipKumar had reason to articulate afresh his oft-noted plaint that Naushad reserved his best songs for his heroine. It is a measure of Dilip's acting virtuosity that he left such a lasting impress, in Mughal-e-Azam as in Amar ,with no direct musical support from Naushad.

I naturally asked Naushad if a Rafi number going on Dilip wasn't considered in Mughal-e-Azam . "It was," revealed Naushad, adding, "and composing something for Rafi to match my eight Madhubala-oriented creations in that landmark film would've been a challenge.. a challenge I would have welcomed. But K Asif felt he just couldn't directorially fit in a Rafi nugget on Salim."

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To compare Dilip Kumar as Salim with Pradeep Kumar (in Anarkali)would be to indulge in sheer grotesquerie. Yet the odd fact remains that there was no C Ramchandra composition going on Pradeep Kumar in Anarkali either. Hemant Kumar's Zindagee pyaar kee is purely atmospheric in that 1953 film, while his Ae baad-e-sabaa sonorously accompanies the Anarkali credit-titles.

True, cinematically, Nandlal Jashwantlal's Anarkali isn't a patch on K Asif's Mughal-eAzam .But, musically, did Majrooh Sultanpuri have a tart point when, referring toMujh se mat poochch on Bina Rai playing Anarkali, he startlingly told me that "a Maratha called C Ramchandra, in Anarkali, demonstrated to Naushad how to compose a ghazal "?