Monday, December 17, 2007

Aashiqui (1990) - the exile ends...

I graduated from college having missed the debut movies of the 3 Khans and not really paying much attention to what was coming out of Bollywood. Sure, I still had my collection of Bollywood dating from 1944-1987 but simply had no interest in the genre in a world without Kishore Kumar. My mom walked into my room one day in the summer of 1990 and handed me a tape of 'Aashiqui' and told me the soundtrack contained some songs that Kishoreda had recorded before he passed away. Skeptical about any ruse that may have been about, I put the tape in my stereo and upon hearing the songs two things came to my mind: 1. There is no way this was Kishore Kumar's voice 2. I actually like these songs. And just like that, for better or for worse I was back under Bollywood's spell and although I know there will never be another Kishore - I do credit this movie for keeping my love for Hindi film music alive. The movie won Filmfare Awards for Best Male Singer, Best Female Singer, Best Song & Best Musical Direction so it was apparent I wasn't the only one who was instantly smitten.

It launched the career of Kumar Sanu (whose bungalow in Bombay is reportedly called 'Aashiqui') who quickly became known in the industry as the 'voice of Kishore'. Ironically, Kishore Kumar's idol was the immortal K.L. Saigal (India's first playback superstar) and when he first came to Bombay he tried to match his voice to sound just like his. S.D. Burman, who was also a family friend, told Kishore that if he truly wanted to achieve greatness he had to develop his own style and not rely on just 'aping others'. Kumar Sanu is still singing here & there in Bollywood these days but unfortunately he didn't take the advice of his Kishore's mentor and could never again achieve his earlier success.

But he will be forever remembered for this soundtrack that is still considered a classic even now. The movie is your standard boy meets girl/boy loses girl/boy gets girl back starring two former models - Rahul Roy & Anu Agarwal - who couldn't really act but were easy enough on the eyes to where you really didn't care too much. The movie wasn't half bad but I don't know if I remember it that way because the eleven, yes eleven, songs were all just so darn good. The first selection for today is Mein Duniya Bhula, a duet by Kumar Sanu & Anuradha Paudwal (who had a lovely voice all her own) that I have always thought would make a great first dance at a wedding due to the sweeping music & romance filled lyrics. The second song is my personal favorite, Tu Meri Zindagi Hai. You can almost feel Kumar Sanu channeling Kishoreda in the song that is so wonderfully sweet & heartbreakingly sad all at the same time. Anuradha has only one line in it but I still get goosebumps when she sings it. The songs were written with Kishore Kumar in mind but in this case second best wasn't really all that bad, in fact it was very good indeed.