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Why was Rajesh Khanna initially hesitant about super-hit ‘Souten’ ? veteran film-maker Saawan Kumar Tak reveals to Chaitanya Padukone

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Did you know that super-star Rajesh Khanna was initially hesitant and skeptical about the 1983 movie-title ‘Souten’ ( which later emerged a silver jubilee super-hit) – Chaitanya Padukone

Discloses the ‘Souten’ producer-director Saawan Kumar Tak, “That’s because Kaka-ji ( Rajesh Khanna) surmised that the title ‘Souten’ sounded quite negative and may possibly drive away ladies and family audiences.

But I was confident and adamant—even Dimple Kapadia insisted that it was a great title.

When the maverick-subject musical movie ‘Souten’, with an emotional undercurrent which also highlighted socio-cultural-ethnic values, released it got an overwhelming positive response from both female and family audiences, super-actor Kaka-ji highly appreciated my box-office vision and the calculated risk which I had taken,” recalls Bollywood veteran ‘showman’ film-maker-lyricist-star-mentor Saawan Kumar Tak who celebrated his 85th birthday (Aug 9th) at home with close relatives and well-wishers, just a few days ago.

Known for his blunt yet witty repartees Tak quips, “ Actually I feel, I am only ‘58 years young’ and still have my creative-active josh. Senior age can also be a reversible number,” he smiles.

It was literally a ‘chaai-pey-bulaaya-hai’ situation when my good friend Ashvin Thakkar ( former manager-secretary to Rajesh Khanna) and I had an early evening ‘Tea with Saawan-ji’ exclusive chat-session at his spacious Juhu residence.

Asked why, he had this fixation for ‘Souten’ or even ‘Bewafaa’ in many of his movie titles like ‘Souten Ki Beti’ and ‘Sanam Bewafaa’ , the outspoken Saawan justifies.

“The bold tag ‘Souten’ and ‘Bewafaa’ has ‘anti-heroine’ negative shades to it which is impactful and impressive.

It always proves to be an intrigue-attraction for the audience. In fact I also made a daring movie ‘Khal-Naaikaa’ (1993) which had Anu Aggarwal giving a mind-blowing screen-performance as the vindictive, nasty woman defying her ‘Aashiqui’ lover-girl image,” asserts amazing lyricist Saawan who confesses that ‘ishq’ has mostly been his off-screen inspiration. “By nature I am impulsive and spontaneous and I get mental flashes of creative lightning.

Which is how I was able to conceive scenes and write simple-yet-inspiring lyrics of so many evergreen songs like ‘Zindagi pyar ka geet hai, Isse har dil ko gaana padega—Zindagi gham ka saagar bhi hai, Hans kay uss paar jaana padega’. Or the unique situational song “Issi liye, mummy ne meri, tumhe chaai pey bulaaya hai’ .

Of course, abundant credit also goes to Usha Khanna-jee for composing the catchy, hummable tunes, ” informs Saawan who made his directorial debut with ‘Gomti Ke Kinare’(1972), in which he directed the legendary icon Meena Kumari.“

There was so much I learnt working with the great-yet-so-modest actress-poetess Meena Kumari-jee.

It was because of her, that I laid the solid foundation of my career,” enthuses Saawan-ji who was the first Bollywood director to showcase the breath-taking blue-green waters and exotic foreign locales of Mauritius in his movie ‘Souten’.