The eternal combination of music with films and stars, many a times their fate intertwined, with each giving a boost to the other, is considered a hallmark of Indian movies.
This has been the tradition of almost all films produced in India — since the humble beginning made with “Raja Harishchandra” (1913) by the venerable Father of Indian Cinema, Dhundiraj Govind ‘Dadasaheb’ Phalke.
Among the sackful of musical blockbusters churned out by Bollywood, one of the front-rankers is K. Asif’s National Award winner “Mughal-e-Azam” (1960) with a dozen unforgettable scores by the Master of the Baton, Naushad Ali.
Surprisingly, this all-time megabuster did not see Dilip Kumar, the winsome Prince Salim, singing a single song on the silver screen.
All the 12 songs in “Mughal-e-Azam” were left to other characters such as the besotted Madhubala (Anarkali) and the jealous Bahar Begum (Nigar Sultana), a wandering soothsayer (“Zindabad, Ae Mohabbat Zindabad”), or royal court musician Tansen (“Prem Jogan Ban Ke”, “Shubh Din Ayo Re”), in the immortal voices of stalwarts like Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Shamshad Begum.
This was quite unlike royalty featured in other films, like, Pradeep Kumar as Emperor Shahjahan in the superhit musical, M. Sadiq’s “Tajmahal” (1963), who goes around cavorting round the palace singing for his beloved Mumtaz Mahal (Bina Rai) and even her spirit, to music director Roshan’s timeless tunes.
Or, even Hema Malini in Kamal Amrohi’s “Razia Sultan” (1983), crooning a dreamy erotic song composed by Khayyam, and many other instances of kings, queens, princes or princesses crooning away in films in the past 110 years.
In fact, over his long film career, there were many songs that became synonymous with Dilip Kumar and listeners even today enjoy those numbers repeatedly without tiring.
Some of them are: “Maang Ke Saath Tumhara” (“Naya Daur”, 1957) Rafi with Asha Bhosle, with the unique cloppety-clop of a horse-carriage, a signature contribution of O.P. Nayyar to Bollywood music, and the rustic folk dance “Ude Jab Jab Zulfe Teri”, among 14 songs in the film, or the rollicking Naushad number “Mere Pairon Me Ghunghroo” (Sungharsh, 1968) by Rafi.
Naushad created superhit numbers like “Mohabbat Ki Raahon Me”, “Na Toofan Se Khelo” and “Chale Aaj Tum” (“Uran Khatola”, 1954) all sung by Rafi; and the soft-yearning Khayyam song “Shaam-e-gham Ki Kasam” (“Footpath”, 1953) in the voice of Talat Mahmood.
There are the soulful Salil Chowdhury compositions “Suhana Safar Aur Ye Mausam” and “Dil Tadap Tadap Ke” (“Madhumati”, 1958) sung by Mukesh solo and duet with Lata; and Naushad’s classical “Madhuban Me Radhika Nache Re” (“Kohinoor”, 1960) rendered by Rafi, which is remembered for Dilip Kumar’s realistic acting.
Naushad’s lilting tunes like “Mujhe Duniya Walon, Sharaabi Na Samjho” by Rafi, “Ek Shahenshah Ne Banva Ke Hasin Tajmahal”, “Tere Husn Ki Kya Tarif Karu” (“Leader”, 1964) both by Rafi and Lata, remain popular even today.
Dilip Kumar was seen in his first handicapped role singing Naushad’s “Aaj Purani Raahon Se” (“Aadmi”, 1968) in a wheelchair, sung by Rafi.
Years later he enacted a triple role, including as a blind father and twin sons, one blind and the other bohemian, singing Kalyanji-Anandji’s compositions like “O Shankar Mere” (“Bairaag”, 1976) sung by Mahendra Kapoor and “Saare Shehar Me, Aapsa Koi Nai” & “Peete Peete Kabhi Kabhi Yun Jaam Badal Jaate Hai”, both rendered by Rafi and Asha.
Dilip Kumar enacted the naughty disguised horse-carriage driver, irritating Nadira and singing Naushad’s “Dil Me Chhupa Ke Pyar Ka Toofan Le Chale” (Aan, 1952) by Rafi, in India’s first mega-hit adventure and full technicolour film which was released globally.
He was seen wooing his childhood sweetheart in Naushad’s “Tu Kahe Agar” and the sad party song “Jhoom Jhoom Ke Nachon Aaj” (“Andaaz”, 1949) sung by Mukesh, and the powerful Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed “Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye, Na To Aasman Ke Liye” (“Dastan”, 1972) by Rafi, and “Maria My Sweetheart” by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha.
The intense actor sang the melancholic Naushad numbers “Koi Sagar Dil Ko Behlata Nahin” and “Guzre Hai Aaj Ishq Mein” (“Dil Diya Dard Liya”, 1966), both by Rafi; and again for Naushad’s “Hue Hum Jinke Liye Barbaad”, “Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Na Dena”, and “Meri Kahani Bhulne Wale” (“Deedar”, 1951) all by Rafi.
S. D. Burman composed “Saala Main to Sahab Ban Gaya” (“Sagina”, 1974) sung by Kishore Kumar, filmed on Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu (his wife), and “Tumre Sung to Rain Bitayi” by Kishore and Lata.
There are several other songs picturised on Dilip Kumar in solo or double roles, composed by some of the top music directors, rendered by the leading singers of the era, though not all were part of super-hit or mega-hit films, but the masses hum those numbers even now
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)