Raj Khosla Birthday Special: 5 Greatest Musicals Of The Evergreen Filmmaker Of Hindi Cinema

One of the most underrated filmmakers of Indian cinema, Raj Khosla had the most amazing music sense. On his birth anniversary, here's a look at his 5 best musicals.

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Raj Khosla Birthday Special: 5 Greatest Musicals Of The Evergreen Filmmaker Of Hindi Cinema
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