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.

9 comments:

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Its a brilliant film with lovely songs, and Nargis was amazing, but (I am about to belaspheme): I have never been able to warm up to Raj Kapoor- he just cant stand him in movies- yet. As a result I havent seen this yet, but I will try to bring myself to do it :D

Sanket Vyas said...

Your comment inspires me to blaspheme myself ;) I never really quite warmed up to RK either and see him as the Shah Rukh Khan of that generation. An actor whose popularity was unmatched, whose movies were hits & high quality but as an actor kept doing similar roles over & over.

I understand that RK was a filmmaker instead of just an actor and therefore cannot be compared to Shah Rukh Khan. But many people feel that Khan is a great actor with a wide range in regards to his acting skills.

Nevertheless both of them have some can't miss movies that must be seen if you are a Bollywood fan and 'Chori Chori' in my opinion is definitely on that list. Would love to see what you think about it as wel...

Bollyviewer said...

Can I join the I-dont-like-RK club too? :-)

I have always loved the songs from Chori Chori (every song is a 50's gem) and love the story of It Happened One Night, but couldnt bring myself to watch it because of RK. Its the only It Happened One Night remake that I have never seen! Considering that RK could look pretty similar to Clark Gable (moustache and prominent ears), it should be an interesting watch.

Richard S. said...

I haven't seen this movie yet, nor have I reached any definite decision about Raj Kapoor, but I was so taken with Shree 420 when I saw it a couple of weeks ago, that I almost couldn't stop blogging about it:

http://roughinhere.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/the-social-relevance-of-shree-420-to-the-present-day-usa/

http://roughinhere.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/a-great-movie-for-unemployed-people-with-bachelors-degrees/

http://roughinhere.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/another-word-about-shankar-jaikishan-and-the-place-to-find-their-soundtracks/

Though that last one above actually was just my own recommendation for Parties, Sarees and Melodies.

Hopefully, our combined efforts will help to bring Stella_1 a good amount of traffic, because she deserves it for that great resource.

I also appreciate this blog and will probably be visiting it quite a bit in the future...

Sanket Vyas said...

Bollyviewer - you can definitely join in, there's always room for more at the table ;) I love all the songs from his movies but I feel he was at his best when he wasn't trying to be so darn earnest. I also was rethinking my comparison to SRK and although their acting styles were similiar - RK was just on another level. He revolutionized cinema in India at the time and was a producer as well as a director. SRK may be the most powerful person in Bollywood right now but just follows in a long line of superstars (Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh, etc.).

Richard - thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Your posts are very thought provoking and RK's early movies were made to entertain as well as for social commentary. I have added you onto my blogroll and will be visiting often. Stella has done an amazing service for lovers of classic Bollywood music and deserves much praise for her efforts. Cheers!

Richard S. said...

Sanket, thank *you* for the kind words, and I am very glad you'll be frequenting my blog.

the PPCC is a big fat idiot said...

Hmm. I go hot and cold on Raj Kapoor, and right now I seem to be in a hot "YES RAJ!" phase. The problem seems to be that, when unrestrained, Raj could be terribly annoying but, if he held his powers in check, he could be very, very good - I'd argue better even than Naseer (who I consider the Best Indian Actor) because he was a very humanistic, evocative performer. At least, that's how I felt for him in Awaara and Teesri Kasam - two examples of him in "good" moments. (Whereas he was intolerable in Aag and Sangam, aaarghhh.)

Anyway, even in his "bad" moments, watching him and Nargis is fascinating - the chemistry is amazing! Will therefore definitely check this movie out - thanks for the tip, Sanket!

Sanket Vyas said...

Check him out in 'Shree 420' - it's one of my favorite soundtracks and from what I remember I enjoyed his performance in the movie as well.

As far as his & Nargis' on-screen chemistry goes I completely agree that it is always fascinating. Like Mae West said about sex, Seinfeld said about pizza, I can say the same thing about RK/Nargis movie scenes - even when it's bad it's still pretty damn good ;)

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