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Pangs of love

The latest, by visual proxy, to put the stamp on Madhubala as the ultimate Anarkali is the Sherawat it-girl. But Sherawat is no Mallika on IndiaN screen writes Raju Bharatan.

music Updated: Mar 26, 2008 12:28 IST
Raju Bharatan

The latest, by visual proxy, to put the stamp on Madhubala as the ultimate Anarkali is the Sherawat it-girl (viewed opposite Rahul Bose TV-spoofing Salim).

Sherawat is no Mallika of the Indian screen, of course. Like Madhubala still is. That's to say, to telly-bring off Pyaar kiyaa toh darnaa kyaa in raag Megh, you need to come through as the true-blue Anarkali of Mughal-e-Azam.

Those alternates
This Madhubala does even when set against Bina Rai. A Bina so viewably picking up the raag Bageshri dance-notes going on gypsy Anarkali as Kis ko sunaaon daastaan.

Why then did our macho hero of the time, Premnath - at a point when he was Madhubala's Badal and she was his Saaqi - baulk at marrying our Venus? After being all set to do so?

Indeed Premnath's hook-up with Madhubala was the talk of the tinseltown. But, literally overnight following Bina Rai's January 1953 Anarkali breakthrough, Premnath inexplicably turned to her, as the alternative Anarkali, leaving Madhu shooting in the dark for Mughal-e-Azam.

Talking point
The Prem-Bina wedding became the most photographed social event of its time, as the two, by way of a honeymoon, joined the prestigious Indian Film Delegation to the USA. The couple, side by side, thoughtlessly announced that they would, from thereon, only act opposite each other.

That did it. The marriage soon had Bina Rai lamenting her plight in a vein of Duaa kar gham-e-dil Khudaa se duaa kar. Very likely Madhubala, too, if she'd wed her Prem, would have ended up with some thing like the Bekas pe karam keejiye Sarkar-e-Madeena entreaty on her legendary lips.

This Lata torch-song, in Naushadian Kedara, was a Madhubala nugget in Mughal-e-Azam. A film Kishore Kumar resented wife Madhubala's viewing, time and again, inside their home, to the virtual exclusion of their Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi! Does this suggest that the image of Dilip Kumar abided, in Madhubala's heart, as her pet love? As Tarana, Madhubala certainly looked made for Dilip Kumar as she dueted with him in tones of Seene mein sulagte hain.

This Lata-Talat duet was tuned by Anil Biswas, the man set to score K Asif's Mughal-e-Azam originally.

On the same Tarana, Lata's Beimaan tore nainva was compositional proof that Anil Biswas would have left his own Madhubala stamp on Mughal-e-Azam.

Forever yours
Yet there were those - among them Majrooh Sultanpuri - who believed no composer excelled Anil Biswas' one-time assistant, C Ramchandra, in Mughliamusically articulating the Anarkali theme.

Naushad himself humbly conceded in print: "I knew that, unless my songs went on a rapturous beauty like Madhubala, they had no chance in the face of the fine tunes created by C Ramchandra to go on the beauteous visage of Bina Rai."

For all that, Naushad's music carries a Madhubala flavour to savour forever.