Some of the finest film songs of yore have errors that went unnoticed.
by Ajay Mankotia
Sometimes mistakes stare us in the face, but we don’t notice — even obvious ones.
Recently, during a weekly zoom music get-together, I was singing the popular Mohammed Rafi paean to beauty, pehle mile the sapnon mein (Zindagi, 1964), sung on screen by Rajendra Kumar to Vyjayanthimala. It has lilting music by Shankar-Jaikishan and romance-drenched lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri in which he uses his signature style of ending song lines — in this case hai qurbaan jaaoon.
The first antara begins with ae Saanwali haseena, dil mera tune chheena… However, after the third antara, he writes gore badan par kala aanchal, aur rang le aaya, hai qurbaan jaaoon.
‘Saanwali haseena, gora badan’?
A member of the music group pointed it out to me. I have been listening to this song for decades. So have other music lovers. However, this glaring discrepancy has gone unnoticed.
How Hasrat did it is not known. How did it escape the attention of the producer (perhaps, they could be excused – the film was produced by SS Vasan/Gemini Pictures from the South) or the music directors and even director Ramanand Sagar? We will never know. Anyway, it’s too late to make amends, so let’s keep enjoying and listening to the song.
Consider main pyaar ka rahi hoon’ (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, 1962) composed by OP Nayyar and written by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan.
Joy Mukherji (in the voice of Rafi) serenades Sadhna, tere bin jee lage na akele. She (in the voice of Asha Bhosle) responds, ho sake to mujhe saath le le.
Joy continues: nazneen tu nahi ja sakegi, chhodkar zindagi ke jhamele… and awaits her response.
She sings back, jab bhi chhaye ghata, yaad karna zara, saat rangon ki hoon main kahani...
Joy would certainly have been perplexed by her response which has nothing whatsoever to do with what he has sung to her.
However, if Sadhna had responded with na main hoon naazneen na main hoon mahjabeen, aap hi ki nazar hai deewani, that would have been appropriate. After all, he calls her naazneen, she denies it and attributes his addressing her as such to his nazar being deewani.
But, bizarrely, she responds as above, not in the same stanza, but in the next one, which again does not have the remotest connection to what poor Joy has sung to her.
Consider Joy’s love-struck rhapsody in the next stanza, pyaar ki bijliyan muskurayen…
Sadhna responds, dekhiye aap par gir na jayen…
Joy continues, dil kahe dekhta hi rahoon main, saamne baithhkar ye adaayen…
Sadhna then sings, na mai hoon naazneen na mai hoon mahjabeen, aap hi ki nazar hai deewani…
He is singing about bijliyan and her response, given in the first stanza, referring to ghata, would have been apposite here.
Asha’s stanzas clearly got mixed up and were used wrongly after Rafi’s stanzas.
How on earth could this error have taken place?
There was no way the lyricist would have got it wrong! He was a much-respected writer who had made a very good name for himself in the Bombay film world, especially while working with Madan Mohan. Even if the stanzas had got mixed up while writing them down for the singers, in those days the music director, the lyricist, the filmmaker, and, of course, the recordist, sound engineer and other technicians, besides the entire ensemble of musicians, would be present in the studio.
This glaring error still slipped through the cracks.
Forget the music world. The listening public did not, and still do not, save a few aficionados, know about this slippage. The country has been singing this beautiful song without realizing the mix-up. Incidentally, the song was removed from the film later, not because of the mistake, but to reduce the length of the film.
I knew OP Nayyar personally and raised this issue with him. He denied there was a mix-up.
When I persisted and reasoned with him, he relented somewhat but laid the blame on the lyricist. Didn’t you have over-riding power over the lyricist, I asked. After all, you had asked Qamar Jalalabadi to amend the lyrics of ‘mohabbat ka haath, jawani ka palla’ (Howrah Bridge, 1958). That was because a part of the lyrics was not fitting into the meter of the song. It was a minor change for musical reasons, he countered. OP Nayyar is involved in other such errors too!
The Rafi-Asha duet chand zard zard hai (Jaali Note, 1960) was composed by him and written (again) by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Strangely, it had two versions (reasons not known even to OP Nayyar) – one for the record, one for the film. The record version, recorded first, begins as, raat sard sard hai, chand zard zard hai…
The film version, however, begins chand zard zard hai, chand zard hai… (raat sard sard hai has been removed). Asha, while recording the film version, apparently still had raat sard sard hai implanted in her mind, having recorded the audio version earlier. So, she began singing the film version with raat but realized as soon as she uttered ra that she had to begin with chand, so changed track and sang rhand.
Why did you not do a re-take?
OP Nayyar just shrugged his shoulders.
Anyway, he did not believe in re-takes as a rule. The singers would rehearse thoroughly and would give the desired result in the first take itself. Asha managed to buck the trend here.
She did that in another OP Nayyar composition, ‘piya piya piya mora jiya pukare’ (Baap Re Baap, 1955) in the duet with Kishore Kumar. In the second antara which Kishore was singing, she came in before her turn to end the antara, immediately realized her mistake, and stopped. One can hear the short alaap. As stated by Asha, Kishore signaled her to carry on and complete the song as it was.
After the recording was over, he told everybody that he, being the hero of the movie, would place a hand on his heroine’s mouth during that portion. He did that during the shooting. So, no re-take was taken.
OP Nayyar was apoplectic with rage when I mentioned Asha’s explanation to him: “I was the master of the studio, how could Kishore dictate the recording?”
It’s not that he was a big star who could have his way. In fact, at that time, Kishore Kumar was a minor star. This movie gave a boost to his career, and he went on to act in 68 movies from 1953 to 68. “But, even if he were a superstar, nothing could happen in the studio without my approval,” said OP Nayyar.
So, there you have it – two versions of the incident.
Indeed, we haven’t finished with OP Nayyar just yet.
In the film Heera Moti (1979), he composed the music and Ahmed Wasi wrote the lyrics. The song sau saal jiyo tum jaan meri sung by Dilraj Kaur, had a shorter version of only one antara in the film, though, in the record, there are two antaras. In the record version, the first antara is, tum meri maang ki lali ho, mere ainon ka kaajal ho, chudi ki khanak, bindiya ki chamak, tum meri laaj ka aanchal ho…
But, see how it ends, meri jaan tumhari baahon mein, meri saari umar guzar jaaye…
The second antara is, tum saath raho toh aankhon mein armanon ki baraat saje, phoolon ki tarah har raat saje, khwabon ki tarah har raat saje…
See how it ends, meri maang suhagan kehlaye, jo rang tumhara pad jaaye…
Clearly, the end lines have got interchanged. The first stanza talks of ‘maang’ as does the ending of the second antara. The second antara refers to ‘saath raho’ and the ending of the first antara alludes to ‘tumhari baahon mein, meri saari umar guzar jaaye’.
I never sought any clarification from OP Nayyar – I didn’t want to lose his friendship!
The evergreen super hit song, hawa hawai from Mr India (1987), also had a mistake, which would have continued to be unnoticed had Kavita Krishnamurthy not let the cat out of the bag. In one place in the track, she sang ‘jeenu’ instead of ‘jaanu’. Composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal were aware of it but retained the take. The freshness and oomph might have got diluted in the next take, so they played it safe.
Laxmikant- Pyarelal played it safe once more in the famous duet of Lata and Nitin Mukesh, zindagi ki na toote ladi (Kranti,1981) when Lata missed singing ‘ki’ after ‘zindagi’ and instead sang zZindagi Na’. But, so adroitly was it done, with the beat intact, and with the remaining words following seamlessly, that to date it remains unnoticed!
When the overall product is a masterpiece, why tinker with it – so it remained. Who would notice anyway?
Laxmikant-Pyarelal were again involved in a minor error in the song, mere bachpan tu ja (Kuchhe Dhaage, 1973). In the first antara, Lata sings, beriyan nu ber lag gaye ve tauba, phulon se jhuk gayi daliyan… However, when she repeats the line, she sings ‘bairiyan’ instead of ‘beriyan’. A subtle pronunciation slip-up, but the meaning changed. How Anand Bakshi, the lyricist, who introduced many such Punjabi lines in songs, did not notice this remains a mystery.
In the song, ye jab se hui jiya ki chori sung by Lata in the film Us Paar (1974), under the baton of SD Burman, she accidently sings ‘chhori’ ‘rather than ‘chori’ at the end of the song. The mistake went unnoticed.
Bappi Lahiri recorded a song, ‘phool ka shabaab kya by Rafi for the film ‘Hari Bhari’ (1980). The words of the mukhra were, phool ka shabaab kya, husn–e–mahtaab kya, aap to bas aap hain, aapka jawaab kya. However, during the recording, Rafi mistakenly sang, aapka jawaab ka… instead of aap ka jawaab kya…
The mistake was noticed by Bappi Lahiri after Rafi had left the studio. Rafi promised to record the song again, but, alas, he died soon thereafter. The film was shelved but Bappi Lahiri eventually used the song – with the mistake — in ‘Farz Ki Jung’ released in 1989.
The mistakes, especially the ones that take place in the recording studios, humanize that perfect studio sound that one expects in the recording. Hearing this human dimension on the other side of the recording is just as golden as hearing a great song performed with absolute perfection. If the end product is great, these minor hiccups do not matter. Surely, with the advent of technology, such errors are unlikely to occur now. These mistakes thus are a precious memory of the past and constitute a delicious slice of film music of that era.
Reproduced with permission from Hardnews magazine.