Raj Khosla was one of the top directors, producers and screenwriters in Hindi films. He was popularly known for bringing 'neo-noir' and style in Indian cinema since black and white times, and also as a 'women's director' because he showcases actresses at their best. For the uninitiated, he started his career as an assistant director and later went on to make his directorial debut with the film C.I.D. He is one of the underrated filmmakers of Hindi cinema. On the occasion of his birth anniversary, here's a look at his 5 greatest musicals.
1. WohKaun Thi(1964): One of the most iconic Lata Mangeshkar numbers Lag ja gale se was featured in this super-hit suspense drama. Khosla wove a magical yarn around the songs. He was known to do so from the beginning of his career when he directed Ek Musafir Ek Haseena where the entire romantic musical was woven around the songs composed by O P Nayyar. I wouldn’t say this Sadhana-helmed ghost story was woven around its songs. But the magic of Madan Mohan pervaded every artery of Raj Khosla mellow-drama. Lata Mangeshkar who sang most of the songs in WohKaun Thi recalls, “Madan Bhiayya—he was my rakhi brother—poured his heart and soul into every song Lag jaa gale se, Naina barse rimjhim, Jo humne dastaan apni sunayee. Each of these was equally beautiful. Why did Lag ja gale se prove more popular over the years? We were all shocked when Madan Bhaiyya did not get the Filmfare award for Woh Kaun Thi. I regard it as one of the most complete soundtracks of Hindi cinema.”
2. Do Raaste(1969): Raj Khosla extracted the best out of composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Their association lasted from Anita in 1967 to Teri Maang Sitaron Se Bhar Doon in 1982 and yielded blockbuster chartbusters like Tum bin jeevan kaise beeta(Anita), Prem Kahani Mein Ek Ladka Hota Hai, (Prem Kahani) and Main tulsi tere aangan ki(title song). Do Raaste was a musical hit in the truest songs. Every song ,from Chup gaye saare nazare (Lata-Rafi) to Mere naseeb mein ae dost(Kishore) to Yeh reshmi zulfein yeh sharbati aankhen(Rafi) was a superhit. The centerpiece of the soundtrack was Lataji’s Bindiya chamkegi. One of the biggest hits of Lataji’s career filmed on the effervescent Mumtaz. Apparently the situation for Bindiya chamkegi was not in the plot to begin with. Recalls Lataji, “It was one of those accidents of destiny that no one saw coming. Bindiya Chamkegi itni chamki itni chamki ke bas chamakti hi rah gayi.No live concert of mine was complete without Bindiya chamkegi.”
3. Mera Gaon Mera Desh(1971):Raj Khosla the master of many genres, was as adept at the suspense thriller(WohKaun Thi, Mera Saaya, Anita) as the dacoit dramas. Mera Gaon Mera Desh was a full on dacoit drama with the confrontation sequences between Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna forming the crux of plot. Action films are known to sideline songs and music. Not this one. The songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal ripped open the charts: Hai sharmaaon, Aa charts: Hai sharmaaoon, Aaya aaya atariya pe koi chor, Sona lai jaa re, Kuch kehta hai yeh saawan, Maar diya jaye …each a bigger hit than the other.Interestingly most of these superhit Lata Mangeshkar songs were filmed on the film’s vamp Laxmi Chaya. Raj Khosla was fascinated by the Other Woman. Many of his later works including Main Tulsi Tere Aagan Ke glorified the mistress vis-à-vis the wife.
4. Mera Saaya(1966):Tu jahan jahan chalega mera saaya saath hoga… Raj Khosla and Madan Mohan created an unmatched magic with yet another soundtrack, this is rightly celebrated for its eternally evocative title song sung with an unmatched incandescence by Lataji. And then there was Nainon mein badra chhaye, a Ghazal of such exquisite beauty that Madan Mohan Saab considered it among his finest achievements. But the biggest hit of the film was Asha Bhosle’s Jhumka gira re which made the bazaars of Bareilly so famous that they became tourist spots.
5. Maati Maange Khoon (1984): By the time Raj Khosla directed this dacoit drama he was an alcoholic wreck. And yet look at the songs he got out of R D Burman in this long-forgotten film! The Mujras, all picturized on Rekha, all but one sung by Lata Mangeshkar are works of art: Main ghunghat na kholungi toh ghunghat mein jal jaaongi, Chup ja chand sitaron ki neeyat theek nahin, sahib phir bhool gayi main yaad mujhe kuch aaya ttha , Sangg sang yeh sari duniya, all showcasing Lataji’s talent to sublimate the poetry(Anand Bakshi at his best) into jewels of the croon. Lataji’s sister and RD’s wife Asha Bhosle sang only one Mujra Mere ghungroo mujhe de do, she ripped a hole in your soul. And on top these exquisitely carved works of art, there was Ghulam Ali singing Yeh dil yeh pagal dil mera. Could it get any better? Raj Khosla’s monumental musical repertoire was largely created by Madan Mohan and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. But what R D Burman created for Khosla in Maati Maange Khoon and Sunny(Lataji’s Jaane kya baat hai, Asha-Suresh Wadkar’s Aur kya ahad-e-wafa hote hain) was no less. Sadly, Maati Maange Khoon flopped. The songs remained flowers born to blush unseen.
Image source: MUBI
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