Ali Peter John
The venue was the Rajkamal studios in Parel in Central Bombay, owned by Dr V Shantaram and who had given Yash Chopra a very small part of his studio to have his office as Yash Raj film when he had broken away from his elder brother, BR Chopra and had no place to operate his office from (Yash was one of the two filmmakers who Dr Shantharam had seen great promise in, The other being Govind Nilhani). Yash had shot some sequences of his earlier films at Rajkamal, but for his film “Mashaal", he built an entire slum like the one in Dharavi across the length and breadth of Rajkamal. The entire film was supposed to be short on this one set, of course for some song sequences with Anil Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri, he had to move outdoors, no, not in his favourite Switzerland or Kashmir, but in an around Bombay which was still to be known as Mumbai.
Yash had to shoot the Holi song entirely on that one set. The song which was written by Javed Akhtar, who had started his new struggle as a writer and lyricist after the grand and controversial split with his partner, Salim Khan and in what looked like a first, Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar, the brother of the Mangeshkar sisters had composed all the songs for the film and was ready. Yash had decided to have extensive rehearsals with the cast headed by the man he worshipped Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Saeed Jaffrey, Anil Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri....
The day for the shooting of the song dawned and the studio looked as if it was the real Holi day to be celebrated. There was a huge crowd all prepared to participate in the celebration. Yash Chopra was always the first to arrive with some of his seniors and best assistants and without wasting any time got set to take charge of the situation. The other cast, Anil Kapoor, Rati and Saeed Jaffrey arrived before Yash Chopra could lose his temper and spoil the mood which first so very essential for a song like this to be picturised...f
There were constant movement of people who were to be a part of the dances in the song sequence and others who were supposed to be the residents of the area...
At 10:30 a.m., a Mercedes (288) drove into the huge gates of Rajkamal and from it emerged the Shahenshah among Shahenshah, Dilip Kumar, dressed in all-white trousers and a long-sleeved shirt and with spotless white chappals with his trousers stepping way ahead of his ankles (style which was later to be followed by Sanjeev Kumar whenever he came to the sets of a film) and the Shahenshah always carried the piles of files, which were all scripts sent to him for his perusal and 3 or 4 books which he was in different stages of reading. And the one person who was with him in his Mercedes at any time was Narmadabai, his favourite cook, who he took with him wherever he went in the world and kept her in the suite next to his, to make sure that he got all his food, snacks and tea which were only prepared by her. There is an interesting snippet about Narmadabai, she worshipped Dilip Kumar as her master, but she was an unabashed fan of Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar knew about it and in his own inevitable style used to irritate her by calling Dev Anand a ‘langoor' and she used to stop talking to him for insulting her Dev Sahab.
The shooting of the holi song used to start only a little before lunch time and what was more interesting was the scene at Rajkamal when Dilip Kumar entered. The entire crowd, including Yash, Anil, Rati and Saeed Jaffrey were speechless and did not even try to whisper or smile till Dilip Kumar vanished in his makeup room, but not before he gave all of them a dressing down for treating him like an alien from another planet. He couldn't do anything about ritual which was going on in the industry for all the years that he was around.
One major highlight of the song was coming together of Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rehman who had made a wonder team in the sixties when they worked as a romantic lead in films like “Aadmi",“Dil Diya Dard Diya" and “Ram Aur Shyam".
The song was not like a pillar as they used to have them and certainly not like an item number in the films we have today. It was a part of the story with every line sung by the character which took the story of the film ahead. Every line defined the characters and their relationships and told their stories in the film. Anil is is a product of the slum who is brought up by his mother, a domestic help who works several hours a day till her hands show signs of withering away, Rati is the only character who is shown as belonging to a well-to-do family, but who has a soft corner for Anil. Dilip Kumar is a fiery journalist who carries out risky one man crusade against corruption, whose face is Amrish Puri. The song is a description of the struggle they are carrying on to fight against the evil designs of Amrish Puri to take over the slums.
Two of the most touching scenes during the song are when Dilip Kumar and Waheeda go into some kind of a flashback and remember the Holi festivals of their youth and when Waheeda sings, “tu hai to meri har Raat Diwali, tu hai to Mera har din Holi", if I remember right and I was a crazy fan of Javed Akhtar those days and thanked him endlessly for bringing meaning and life even into a routine Holi song. I don't think he will give me another opportunity to thank him like I thanked him for that song. Another thing, Dilip Kumar and Waheeda were both Muslims, but the way they brought feelings alive in that Holi song, I don't think any other actors have, could or can do it again. The song took 3 or 4 days to picturise, but the results are still to be seen as it is one of the most representative Holi songs of Hindi films. I have seen it five times before I have come to my working place on some channel or the other and I am sure I will see it many more times as long as this Holi festival lasts.
Yash Chopra took all the work he did very seriously and did it very sincerely and the Holi songs he picturised on Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha and Jaya Bachchan in “Silsila", the song in “Mashaal" and the one with Anupam Kher, Tanvi Azmi, Sunny Deol, Juhi Chawla and the villain, Shahrukh Khan in “Darr" will always be remembered as classics among Holi songs picturised in the past and can also inspire many filmmakers today who still have the sensibility and the sensitivity to picturise a Holi song.
Long live, Yash ji. Holi hai, Holi aayi Hai. Lekin, aap kahan hai?
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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Yash Chopra, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Javed Akhtar