Thursday, February 21, 2019

Pradeep Kumar Songs from 1963 to 1967

This is the last installment of my posts on Pradeep Kumar songs. Here and Here are the first and second posts. Pradeep Kumar was an average actor. He bordered on overweight pretty early in his career. Maybe for a few years after his debut he looked slim and handsome. He looked very very handsome in Adl-e-Jahangir (1955), which was one of his earliest pairing with Meena Kumari. They look gorgeous in this movie. But he soon ran to fat and became a little jowly as well. Yet he had amassed a reputation as an actor who played Royalty with a flair. To be fair, he spoke well. There was hardly any trace of Bengali accent in his declamations. What I find particularly engaging is the way he fitted right in with excellent actors in movies. Here I am looking at some of his famous movies with Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari. Now Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari were formidable actors. I am glad that Pradeep Kumar never let that rattle him and soldiered on, doing what he could.

He worked in movies for a long long time, up until 1998 he was appearing in movies in short roles. He died three years later in 2001. I believe firmly that his longevity was due to adapting seamlessly to changing times. In 1967 he appeared in Bahu Begam with Meena Kumari and Ashok Kumar as the lead actor. In 1969 we saw him in Sambandh as a down-on-his-luck landlord, father of the lead actor Deb Mukherjee.  This started the second innings of his career, playing various character roles. He did not rest on his laurels or fade away.

I covered songs sung onscreen by Pradeep Kumar up to the year 1963 but missed listing a song from the movie Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai. This was the last movie Geeta Bali ever acted in and it would be criminal not to list a song from this film.

1. Chand tale jhoom jhoom (Jab se tumhe dekha hai - 1963)

 I have noticed that Pradeep Kumar acted alongside many different leading actresses. Here he was paired with Geeta Bali. It has some melodious songs like Ham aapki mehfil me sanam bhule se chale aaye and Yeh din din hain khushi ke. They were often played on the radio during the 1960s and 1970s.

This song, less heard, is no less catchy. It seems to be a stage performance with a couple of watchers acting creepy. Pradeep Kumar jumps on the stage in disguise and sings with Geeta Bali. He takes care not to be seen by the girl he is dancing with.

 I picked this song as it was sung by Subir Sen.

2. Chha gaye badal neel gagan par (Chitralekha - 1964)

This was one of the weakest films in the few that the trio - Meena, Ashok and Pradeep acted in. The story was good but it wasn't properly translated into cinema. The face off between the lead actors was weak.

The music was sublime, thanks to the deadly combination of Roshan and Sahir. The lyrics are in pure Hindi as opposed to Urdu that Sahir usually wrote in. Yet he comes up trumps. I could have chosen any of the wonderful songs but this one is a particular favorite of mine, it is so romantic.

You can see that Pradeep and Meena were beginning to show their age, yet Meena Kumari is able to emote with grace while our Pradeep Kumar carries on bravely.

3. Kya jawan raat hai baharon ki (Sindbad, Sindbad and Aladin - 1965)

You can see how un-choosy Pradeep Kumar was. Chitralekha was a period film made by Kidar Sharma, here he happily stars in a fantasy action with Meenu Mumtaz as his heroine.

He dons harem pants with ease and sings and dances with Meenu Mumtaz. Luckily for us, he leaves the twirling to Meenu Mumtaz and contents himself with looking deeply into the girl's eyes and looking romantic.

The music of this movie was a far cry from the classy music of the 50s Pradeep Kumar's early period. Yet it was catchy and hummable.

4. Dil laga kar ham ye samjhe  (Zindagi aur Maut - 1965)

Fans of B-grade cinema know the name of N.A. Ansari well enough.  Pradeep Kumar worked in two films of his. This one and Wahan Ke Log.

In this movie he co-starred with a newcomer, Faryal. Beautiful, statuesque Faryal would soon be relegated to being a dancer in film. But here she got to sing and dance with our own Pradeep Kumar in this lovely number.

5. Itna to keh do hamse (Saheli - 1965)

Right in the middle of the 1960s, under the baton of newbies Kalyanji Anandji comes this gorgeous romantic number in the dulcet voices of Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.

This beautiful song took me back to the lovely songs Pradeep Kumar lip synched to early on in his career. He is paired here with the beautiful Kalpana.

6. Jaane wo kaun hai (Bheegi Raat - 1965)

1965 was a good year for Pradeep Kumar, going by the number of films that released that year. Bheegi Raat raat was another triangular contest between Ashok Kumar, Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari. Music by Roshan lifts the movie several notches above average. The story was not too bad and well executed. Too bad that the actors were rather long in the tooth and did not look at their best.

I was hard pressed to choose a song among the beauties on offer. There are some lovely duets, the memorable Dil jo na keh saka. I chose this for the beautiful lyrics, with a bow to the maestro Majrooh.

7. Milti hai agar nazron se nazar (Do dilon ki dastaan - 1966)

Back to Vyjayantimala. The movie seems pretty obscure as there is no information about it anywhere, there are no videos of the songs or the movie on YouTube.

The music is by O.P. Nayyar and refreshingly lovely. Too bad I cannot see Pradeep Kumar in a sweater (paunch hiding tactics?) walking behind Vyjayantimala with love lorn eyes.

8. Chand kitni door tha  (Afsana - 1966)

An Ashok Kumar pairing with Pradeep Kumar, sans Meena Kumari. But here Ashok Kumar has bowed out of the courting game and is content to support Pradeep Kumar.

In this nice number, Pradeep Kumar serenades his new bride Padmini. He is in his romantic element, sherwani and wig in place while Padmini poses around decked to the gills.

The song suffers a bit in comparison to the other greats in the list, yet it is not too bad on the ears.

9. Phool sa chehra (Raat aur Din - 1967)

This was the last movie Nargis ever made. Again Pradeep Kumar is pitted against an awesome talent. He plays the husband of Nargis who is surprised to find that his wife has a life he is completely unaware of.

How good this song is, no less than the lovely Awara e mere dil and raat aur din diya jale.

10. Aap jab se qareeb aaye hain (Noorjehan - 1967)

This movie has Pradeep Kumar with Meena Kumari sans Ashok Kumar. Sheikh Mukhtar played Sher Khan. It did have Roshan bringing in his trademark lovely music with lyrics by Shakeel. There are gorgeous solos by Suman Kalyanpur and Lata, Sharabi Sharabi ye sawan ka mausam and Raat ki mehfil sooni sooni (which I think was not used in the movie, such a waste!)

This duet filmed on Pradeep Kumar and Meena is lovely, a soulful ghazal.

11. Arz e shauq ankhon me hai (Bahu Begum - 1967)

The grand finale of the Ashok - Pradeep - Meena films was the last one where (as far as I know) Ashok Kumar also played a lead role, that is, a contender to the affections of the female lead. I could write reams about this movie and probably will do soon. Here we are primarily discussing songs that featured Pradeep Kumar. This was his last male lead role too. After this he took on only character roles.

The scintillating music was composed by Roshan, with lyrics by Sahir. Together they turned out a gem of twin qawwalis. This was the first installment and more romantic than the second one. It was addressed to Allah and sung in a dargah. The lyrics also apply to the feelings of a young couple deeply in love. Meena and Pradeep Kumar look soulfully at each other, promising undying love through the eyes.

This brings my post on Pradeep Kumar to an end. Many of the movies he worked in were indifferent and would have passed into anonymity if not for the gorgeous songs. Quite a few of his films were flops. I feel he was a genial person which is why so many different heroines agreed to work for him and so many filmmakers took him into their projects.  And of course, these gorgeous songs of that era keep bringing him back to us.