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Remembering Sanjeev And Aandhi

, ‘Do you have any idea of sur and taal?’ How aandhi got its songs

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> Remembering Sanjeev And Aandhi, ‘Do you have any idea of sur and taal?’ How aandhi got its songs
post Nov 5 2005, 11:46 AM
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‘Do you have any idea of sur and taal?’ How aandhi got its songs - Gulzar
[Published in Latest Filmfare]

Time for a flashback once again. Since November 6 marks the 20th death anniversary of Sanjeev Kumar, I’ve chosen one of Sanjeev’s and my favourite films, Aandhi, as the topic of this month’s conversation.

In a way, Sanjeev and I grew up together. I knew him from his early National Theatre days. I was associated with IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) and we’d often meet while rehearsing at the Bhulabhai auditorium in Mumbai. Sanjeev had played the old man in All My Sons, with Leela Chitnis playing his wife, and he must have been just 22 or 23 when he played the character. The best compliment he received was from Prithviraj Kapoor who asked him after the show, “Who was that old man?” Sanjeev was thrilled that the thespian himself hadn’t recognised him.

As far as I was concerned, Sanjeev Kumar was born an old man for me and he played a role much beyond his age the very first time he worked with me, in Parichay. If you’ve observed, his age group and costumes were almost the same in both Mausam and Aandhi. And yet how differently he portrayed the two characters. This is something budding actors must learn from him —changing a costume is not enough to play a different character.

So how did Aandhi come about? The story started with J Om Prakash, who wanted to make a film with Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen. He asked me to direct it. Sachin Bhowmick, who’d written the story, narrated it to me, in the presence of Sanjeev Kumar and Omji. But I felt the heroine’s role didn’t do justice to Suchitraji’s talent. I told them, if this is the story you want to make, there’s no need to trouble Suchitraji. Any actress could do the role. To my pleasant surprise, Sachinda agreed with me.

The question then arose: What should we make? I told them I’d think about a story. And came up with a synopsis revolving around a politician who arrives at a hotel to discover the hotel manager is her estranged husband. To begin with the husband is very traditional, conservative. He doesn’t like his wife going out to work. But towards the end, he realises his mistake. So when the wife tells him she wants to give up her career, he tells her, “No, you have a duty to the nation. I don’t want to see you defeated—at home or outside it. I’m there with you.” The change in the husband drives the point home that a woman has as much right to go out as the man.

Contrary to popular opinion, my story wasn’t based on Indira Gandhi’s life. It had nothing to do with Indiraji. She was just the role model for the lady politician. Frankly, who better could there be? She was such a dynamic lady.

But one theatre publicised the movie with the line, “See the Prime Minister of India.” Filmfare published a photograph of that theatre and a controversy erupted. The Emergency was on and the movie was banned in its 23rd week. I was in Moscow with the print of the film when I got the news. We tried our best to get the ban revoked and J Omji pursued the matter relentlessly.

We were then asked to make a few changes in the movie. It was suggested that the protagonist, ie Suchitraji, should declare in the film that she’s a great fan of Indiraji’s. So the scene was added on, to make it clear that Suchitraji isn’t Indira Gandhi. And we got it passed by Indiraji’s government.

But Indira Gandhi lost the elections soon after. Some people asked me to revert to my original movie. But I said, it’s just a matter of time before she comes back. And that’s exactly what happened—she was back after two years.

One interesting aspect that was brought to my notice after the movie was ready was that there’s just one female character in the entire film! There’s a mention of her daughter but you never see her. I hadn’t realised that, Omji hadn’t, even the actors hadn’t!

But Sanjeev Kumar complained, “Yaar, every time I hear your script, you tell me it’s my film, but when I see the movie, to heroine ki hoti hai.” But I personally thought the movie belonged to both Sanjeev and Suchitra. If the story is about a husband and wife, how can it be just the wife’s story? I remember that when Meghna was making Filhaal, several heroes rejected the movie because they felt pregnancy is a woman’s problem. How can pregnancy be a woman’s problem without a man being involved? Similarly, in Aandhi, it’s just that the woman is the cause of conflict, so it seems as if the focus
is on her.

The music of Aandhi was a big high for Pancham and me. In the song Is mod se jaate hain kuch sust kadam raste, there’s a line Patthar ki haveli ko sheeshe ke gharondon mein, tinkon ke nasheman tak. After he’d composed the song, I found Pancham deep in thought. Suddenly, he asked me, “Gullu, where is this nasheman?” He thought it was the name of some place that the roads led to. I had to tell him that nasheman meant a ghosla or nest.
Cut to when we were shooting the song. This time it was Sanjeev’s turn to ask me the same question. “I’ve never had to ask the meaning of any lyrics. But what does nasheman mean?” he queried.

As for Tere bina zindagi se, it simply happened one day at Pancham’s house. I had dropped in and found him composing a tune for a Durga Pooja album with Gauri Prassano, one of Bengal’s top lyricists. The lyrics went something like Amar deri holo je. I was so struck by the tune that I just started writing Hindi lyrics for it even as they were polishing it. After Gaurida left, Pancham asked me, “Now what do you want me to compose for you?” I told him, “Yehi gaana karenge.”

So we kept the original tune for the mukhda, and he composed something else for the antara. But when I inserted some dialogue into the lyrics, Pancham scolded me, “Do you have any idea of sur and taal? You cut in with your dialogue anywhere you want. It’s not done!” But we did it!

Lyrics >>>>
of Tere bina zindagi se
Tere bina zindagi se koi
shikwa toh nahin, shikwa nahin,
shikwa nahin, shikwa nahin
Tere bina zindagi bhi lekin zindagi toh nahin, zindagi nahin,
zindagi nahin, zindagi nahin

Tere bina. zindagi se koi
shikwa toh nahin...

Kaash aisa ho tere kadamon se
Chunke manzil chalein,
aur kahin, door kahin—2
Tum agar saath ho,
manzilon ki kami to nahin
Tere bina zindagi se koi
shikwa toh nahin, shikwa nahin
shikwa nahin, shikwa nahin

Ji mein aata hai tere daman mein
Sar chupake hum
rote rahen, rote rahen—2
Teri bhi aankhon mein aansooyon ki nami toh nahin

Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa toh nahin...

Tum jo keh do to aaj ki raat
Chaand dubega nahin,
raat ko rok lo—2
Raat ki baat hai aur zindagi baki toh nahin
Tere bina zindagi se koi
shikwa toh nahin...
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