Saturday, October 13, 2012

One Tune, Many Songs–Raja Jaani/ Radha Rani

One hears a song for the first time, but it sounds extremely familiar. Happens, doesn’t it? You start your exploration till you get your aha! moment. There was after all a reason for that strong feeling of familiarity!

The entire history of Hindi film music is replete with instances where specific tunes or lyrics are repeated in multiple songs. As I explore Hindi film music across decades, many a time I end up making serendipitous discoveries. For me, such discoveries provide a sense of thrill, especially when one finds that such borrowing spans across generations. Let me cite one example, where over a period of time, I discovered 4 songs with pretty much the same tune, spread over more than half a century. The sequence of discovery was quite random for me, but I am presenting it here in chronological order.

1. The year 1934 – early days of Indian talkie.  Dina Nath Madhok directed a movie called Watan Parast, featuring Moti Lal and Rajkumari. Little is known about the music of the film except that it was composed by H. C Bali. One of the songs in that film went:

Raja Jaani Na Maaro Nayanva Ke Teer Re

2. Hindi Film Geet Kosh, the seminal work of Hindi film music by Harminder Singh ‘Hamraaz’, lists another song with the same lyrics in an 1935 film called Dil Ki Pyaas. I haven’t heard that song, so I cannot be sure if Master Nagardas, the composer for that film, used the same tune, but that seems very likely.

3. After almost two decades, this tune and almost the same lyrics made another appearance in Lal Kunwar (1952). The composer this time was Sachin Dev Burman, and the lyrics were credited to Sahir Ludhiyanvi. The lyrics of this Shamshad Begum song were slightly different.

Raja Jaani Laaga Mohe Nainwa Ka Baan Re

4. Another jump of almost two decades and Sahir comes up with another version in Sansar (1971), this time the opening lines being exactly the same as the 1934 version. And it was Chitragupta who borrowed the tune and Krishna Kalle who sang it.

Raja Jaani Na Maaro Nayanva Ke Teer Re

5. It was in the 80s, where we finally heard a version of this tune with completely different lyrics. The film was Sansar (1987). And this version also had a second line in the mukhda that took this song in very different trajectory. The mood of this song was decidedly different from the mujra-like mood of the previous versions. This makes this a curious case of two different films with the same title using the same tune. The credits here belonged to Anand Bakshi for lyrics, Laxmikant Pyarelal for music and Anuradha Paudwal for singing.

Radha Rani Na Jaiyo Ri Jamuna Ke Teer
Gagri ke Badle Tu Nainon Mein Bhar Laayegi Neer

So there you go…. Four (possibly five) film songs, spanning 55 years, but based on the same basic tune. It is highly likely that it is an even older traditional/folk tune that people have been constantly drawing from in films. I will continue to be on the look out for any such information.