Thursday, May 08, 2008
Chori Chori (1956)
It's springtime here in New Orleans with the perfect combination of perfect weather, scent of fragrant flowers in the air and a plethora of outdoor music festivals. Indeed, if you are ever going to make a visit to this battered but still beautiful city, the months of March & April are your best choice to do so. So what does all this have to do with 'Chori Chori'? Only that this gem of a movie (the final swan song of the legendary Raj Kapoor/Nargis pairing) contains a song that I have always considered to be the penultimate ode to spring, Panchhi Banoon. Just the idea of being as free (azad) as a bird (panchhi) while flying around the fields of rural India conjures up an image that one feels in the song even without seeing the video (below). Nargis, displaying both a rare comedic touch as well as her usual impeccable dramatic flair, does not disappoint in her interpretation of it.
Nargis arguably saves her best for last in her final film as Kapoor's love interest as the dizzy heiress on the lam from her father who has refused to allow her marriage to a dashing pilot. On her bus ride to reunite with her lover in Bangalore she runs into a struggling journalist (Raj Kapoor) and in return for assistance on her journey she promises him exclusive rights to her story. In this retelling of the classic Hollywood movie 'It Happened One Night' what happens next is fairly obvious. But the true joy lies in watching Raj & Nargis, who had already made several hit movies and whose off-screen relationship seemed to only add to their on-screen chemistry. Nargis did make one more appearance in an RK Film (at the end of 'Jagte Raho') but 'Chori Chori' sadly marked the end of a truly glorious era in Bollywood.
Shankar-Jaikashen were responsible for the majority of RK Films' unforgettable soundtracks. 'Chori Chori' represented the first time they were awarded the Filmfare Award for their efforts. This soundtrack also had the rare distinction of having Manna Dey provide background vocals for Raj Kapoor. Mukesh was responsible for the majority of Raj Kapoor's hit songs but had decided to try his hand at acting at the time 'Chori Chori' was being produced. The two selections for today are the aforementioned Panchhi Banoon and one of the most originally crafted duets ever filmed in Bollywood, Jahan Main Jaati Hoon (video below). The original LP photographs as well as downloadable songs can be found on the blog Parties, Sarees & Melodies.