In-depth Review of Barsaat

In-depth Review of Barsaat (Debut Movie of Shankar-Jaikishan)/ संगीतकार के रूप में शंकर-जयकिशन की पहली फिल्म, राजकपूर द्वारा निर्मित 'बरसात' का रिव्यू

Title Music

Barsaat, as all RK Films, starts with Prithviraj Kapoor performing Shiv poojan & chanting the mantras.

Before appearance of titles, there is a brief shot of rain clouds with gentle beat of drum (dhol) and violins. The titles start scrolling on screen with the immortal tune & interlude of the song ‘Barsaat mein hamse mile tum…’ based on raag Bhairavi.

Is the title music just there for the sake of being there? Well! It speaks volumes. In the same tune, one gets to listen to various shades of the raga Bhairavi. Initially it transforms the audience into a mood of celebration but as the violins suddenly take a U-turn, the audience’s mood is transformed to that of pathos.

And with this introductory MAGIC (music), among others, history is written - as two names appear on the screen for the first time as Music Directors - SHANKAR-JAIKISHAN (S-J).

The title music itself raises one’s expectations from S-J. And did S-J fulfill them!? Well! No point in elaborating it! The HFM lovers across the globe still don’t miss any opportunity to listen to the score even if they have already done so thousands of times.

Over to the movie….

Pran (Raj Kapoor) & Gopal (Premnath) drive in a car towards the mountains for vacation.

In the backdrop of mountains, trees, waterfalls, lakes and strong breeze, a ‘pahadi’ lady (actor ??) [now-a-days, the word actress is out of use] starts singing ‘Hawa mein udta jaye mora laal dupatta malmal ka’. The only song written by Ramesh Shastri for this film, was and is still super hit even after 60 years. The brilliant use of violins & flute perfectly augment the creation of energetic, charming ‘pahadi’ atmosphere, as the actor’s dupatta flutters in cool, strong breeze. Lata’s voice is as fresh as the water of the waterfalls. The orchestration has clear shades of Husnlal-Bhagatram’s (H-B) style, to whom, Shankar was the assistant. In fact, one interlude is the same as the melodious HB number and also symbolic - Tere Nainon Ne Chori Kiya! One can’t help but speculate that Shankar had reasonable contribution in composing the interlude of ‘Tere Nainon Ne Chori Kiya’.
As Pran & Gopal continue their journey, they have a brief stop over to cool the car engine and indulge in philosophical conversation on the interpretation of ‘paap & punya’. Gopal, a playboy, questions Pran, “If something is considered ‘paap’ in our country, why is it not the case in other countries?” Pran replies, “Not to hurt anybody’s heart & mind is the only ‘punya’. Only true love generates pure sentiments.” He curses Gopal that he was looking only for sex & materialistic things in life. Gopal, in the context of sex, confesses he believed in the principle of eating when & where he felt hungry. He sarcastically asks Pran whether the girls from the mountains really loved anybody or were just after money. Pran comments with all sincerity, “Who knows, there might be somebody who truly loved the visitor from town. And the one, who didn’t love, must be concerned more about bread instead of true love.” Gopal adds sarcastically, the girl he met here last year had said the same thing – she would be eternally waiting for him.

With this background, as the song ‘Jiya beqaraar hai…’ comes, marking the GRAND DEBUT of THREE STALWARTS of the Hindi film industry. Neela (debutant Nimmi) lip synchronizing the song on the first authentically known tune of Shankar (though apparently the credits of earlier film Aag mentioned songs tuned by Shankar/Jaikishan) with lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri.

The dummy words used by Shankar ‘Ambuva ka ped hai, vohi munder hai, aaja more baalma, ab kahe ko der hai’ were replaced by Hasrat with ‘Jiya beqaraar hai, chhayi bahaar hai, aaja more baalma, tera intzaar hai’. And what an outstanding job done by the debutant lyricist! He seamlessly extended Gopal’s dialogue (prose) into the song (verse). The shades of H-B’s style can be clearly noticed in this song too. And Lata has literally ACTED, not SUNG. One doesn’t need a musical ear to feel the innocence & curse in the film track version of the song (this effect is missing in the LP record version). Lata has also exhibited tremendous breath control in this fast paced song having lot of taans & murkis and very few pauses in the mukhda/antaraas.

Incidentally, later in the career, Hasrat wrote most of his songs on Jaikishan’s tunes.

As the song ends, Gopal goes to meet Neela in her hut. She is delighted. And background music erupts with fast paced sitar, very well augmenting her ecstasy and the increase in heartbeat. After enough pampering & flirting, Gopal spends the night with Neela. In the morning, Gopal informs about going to stay with Pran in a rented house. He gives false commitment of taking Neela to the city upon his return, by when, BARSAAT (rain) will also start. Neela replies, “I don’t know which Barsaat you are talking about. My eyes have perennial Barsaat staying away from you. I had pledged, if you would come to me again, I will dance in front of God’s idol with full adornment. I’m asking you to stay because how can I dance if my God (Gopal) is not there in front of me”. Gopal says, “Is it like that! Then tomorrow morning, TAK DHINA DHIN!!”

The song ‘Barsaat mein…’ brings yet another debut; that of Shailendra, one of the FINEST all time great lyricists in HFM. The song starts with dhol beats and mainly mandolin, piano, violin, flute in full harmony. Though the choreography is rather simple, the fully decked up Neela dances with a group in front of Lord Shiva’s idol as Gopal & Pran sit on a cot & watch. The second antara of the song ‘preet ne singaar kiya…’ perfectly portrays Neela’s emotions: holding Gopal in God’s esteem, ecstasy, total dedication to him & her belief that Gopal silently reciprocated the same feelings. And the tune in raga Bhairavi is perfectly in line with her feelings. By the time the first antara ends, Gopal is already bored, gets up & starts moving. A sad & helpless Neela makes unsuccessful attempt to stop him and the Bhairavi takes a DRAMATIC U-turn in the interlude; the mood suddenly changes to pathos. By the time the second antara ends, Gopal is already in the car and the pathos shade of Bhairavi continues with ‘der na karna…….’. As the song ends, the car is seen far away. ………. Gopal has now moved away from Neela…….!

Pran & Gopal meet Reshma (Nargis), the daughter of the watchman (character name - Ganju) of the lake-house, which they intend to stay in on rent. Reshma falls in the lake, is rescued and taken care of by Pran. Love starts building between them but neither of them has the courage to say anything about it to the other.
The next day Reshma comes again to meet Pran and takes him out for boating. Gopal warns Pran not to ‘fall in love’ with the ‘pahaadi’ girl. However, love starts developing between Pran & Reshma. Scenes rapidly change, showing Pran-Reshma, Gopal-others and fast violins in the background perfectly give the effect of rapid passage of time. In between, Neela’s gloomy face is shown with brilliant lighting effect……. and brief notes of ‘Waves of Danube’ are heard in the background for the first time.

Gopal goes to the club while Pran stays back. He comes to the gallery & starts playing violin. Reshma hums along while sailing towards the lake-house to meet Pran. As Reshma reaches basement of the house, she sings ‘O mujhe kisi se pyaar ho gaya’. In the prelude, the aalaap and violin come in succession, depicting the fond understanding and affection, which has now developed between Pran & Reshma. Special attention needs to be paid to the way the words ‘dhadke jiya’ have been sung by Lata and the stretched beats of dholak. Simply marvelous & amazing to note how the novices S-J have musically translated Reshma’s feeling of enjoyment of love.

Pran & Reshma go for boating. On way back, they disembark near a waterfall. Reshma, with her head in Pran’s lap, sings ‘Meri aankhon mein bas gaya koi re’. The song is in raga Pahaadi. The song location is an isolated place with just the two lovers - and only a solo flute has been brilliantly used in the interludes! At the end of the first antara, Pran’s tear drop falls on Reshma’s lip. What a scene!
After the first antara, Reshma aska ‘Why have I suddenly started weeping as I laugh?’ Pran replies, ‘Life is made up of light & shadows and THESE form the picture of love.’ This is followed by the second antara.

Prelude of the song ‘Patli kamar hai’ starts. It is the longest prelude in the film. One ought to watch the song video to believe that yes, if visuals add to an artist’s creativity, a novice (Raj Kapoor) with unbound talent CAN do wonders. The song was meant to portray the contrast between the situations of Gopal and Neela. And did the ‘Barsaat’ team succeed? As Pran dances with club dancer (Cuckoo) in the club with violins in the background, a lonely & depressed Neela’s state is well portrayed by the solo instrument (…?) played. The scenes alternate between Gopal-Dancer and Neela. And yes, the orchestra perfectly takes U-turns in synchronism.

High contrasting shades of light and dark are shown as Neela sings with the dholak beats ‘Aja mere manchaahe baalam..’, urging Gopal to come. Hats off to the lighting effects director! Hats off to the MATURED NOVICES S-J for seamlessly alternating between westernized orchestra and solo instrument played with dholak in Indian style IN THEIR FIRST MOVIE. But the biggest punch is reserved for the end of the song! As the dancer falls in the arms of Gopal in the club, the lonely Neela falls unconscious in her hut!

Pran plays ‘Waves of Danube’ on the violin in the gallery of his house and Reshma again gets lost in his thoughts. She serves raw roti to her blind mother who realizes what her daughter was going through. She tells Reshma that her father would be returning home and arrange for her marriage very soon. Reshma thinks – it would be Pran – and runs to him to tell him about the impending marriage which will be fixed soon. Both run out into the garden and as they see ‘lightning between 2 trees in the backdrop of dark clouds’ Reshma hugs Pran, fearing about some ugly shape their future was going to take! And the lonely Neela sings ‘Premnagar mein…’.

Ganju returns home. While washing utensils, Reshma listens to the conversation between her mother and Ganju. Mother asks, ‘Have you finally confirmed the marriage proposal?’ Ganju says, ‘Yes, it’s a very good proposal and I will tell in detail after a round of (chilam) smoking’ – smoking was more important to him than the future of his daughter!

In the night, as Pran plays sad shade of ‘Waves of Danube’ in the gallery of his house, Reshma is restless on her cot on the loft in her hut. She climbs down but accidentally touches Ganju’s foot. Embarrassed Reshma offers clarification that she had climbed down for some water. She climbs up again but is restless and tries to get down quietly from the loft again but makes a thud. Irritated Ganju asks her, ‘Now what is it?’ Reshma says that it was too cold and she thought about covering him properly with a blanket. In the meantime, ‘Waves of Danube’ continues in the background. Reshma finally slips out of home and Ganju, who was pretending to be asleep, follows her quietly to the bank. In the background, ‘Waves of Danube’ suddenly turns to fast pace with highly turbulent notes (representing mental turmoil).

Reshma reaches Pran’s cottage and the MONUMENTAL MOMENT in the HISTORY OF RK FILMS and Indian cinema comes. Pran holds leaning Reshma in the left arm with violin in his right hand. Romance in Hindi films had got its first icon! THIS ALSO BECAME THE LOGO OF RK FILMS.

When Reshma returns home, Ganju waiting on the bank of the river, badly scolds her, ’For poor, the only wealth is izzat.’ He reveals, he had already arranged her marriage in the village. Again ‘Waves of Danube’ is played in the background. He continues to yell, ‘In this house (where Pran was staying), many babus have stayed for few days and returned not to come back.’ Then he lets the boat go off in the stream by cutting the anchor rope (or Pran-Reshma relation?). Reshma is determined to follow the fate of Sohni (Sohni-Mahiwal). She doesn’t make attempt to come to the bank and holds on to the anchor rope. Ganju screams on her to return but she doesn’t budge. Out of anger, he cuts the rope from the anchor and Reshma gets carried away with the strong current.

Ganju returns the rent to Pran and Gopal and asks them to vacate the rented house. They shift to another accommodation.

Meanwhile Reshma gets carried away by the strong current many miles away to a bank of the river. Bholu (K.N.Singh) notices her while fishing and is delighted to find the young, beautiful lady alive. He takes good care of her and gets her fully cured physically with the help of local vaidya (physician). At the same time, Pran is naturally distressed. The song ‘Main zindagi mein hardam rota hi raha hoon’ is played in the background and there is no lip-sync by Pran. That is probably the reason why Rafi saheb’s voice was chosen for this song in place of Mukesh.

When Reshma feels better, she slips out to the road, looks at each passing car and cries for Pran, ‘Babuji! I’m here.’ But she can’t find him. An ill intended person tries to take her away, but Bholu reaches in time, takes her back, threatens and locks her in the hut.

Distressed Reshma sings ‘Ab mera kaun sahara.’

As the song ends, Pran is seen playing ‘Waves of Danube’ again but on piano on this occasion.

Bholu wants to marry Reshma and plans to take her to the city market to shop for wedding preparations.

Pran and Gopal go to the club. A violinist in the orchestra plays ‘Wave of Danube’, which severely disturbs Pran. By chance, Bholu along with Reshma comes to shop for bangles near the club at the same time. As couples start dancing in the club, Reshma listens to ‘Waves of Danube’ and thinking her babuji (Pran) was there, runs towards the club. But by the time she reaches there, Pran and Gopal were gone! Bholu follows her shortly and drags her back from the club to his village.

After reaching his place, Pran starts playing ‘Waves of Danube’ on piano. And the song ‘Chhod gaye baalam…’ starts. Now this is another outstanding duet – two solos combined in one – as Pran and Reshma are physically far away but mentally with each other! Both Pran and Reshma express their feelings independently in the song and it may be easily noted that no line in the song is sung together by Mukesh and Lata! Of course, ‘Waves of Danube’ is a prominent part of the interludes.

Gopal drags Pran outside the town for changing the mood and getting some fresh air. They stop near a place where a marriage ceremony was being held. An agonized Pran asks Gopal to take him to any place except where a marriage was being held. The song ‘Bichhade hue pardesi…’ abruptly starts, with Reshma captive in a room.

As the song ends, Pran and Gopal are seen standing at the door of a prostitute’s hut. Gopal pushes Pran inside to have some fun and forget everything. Pran curses the lady inside, ‘You trade love for money!’ She doesn’t give any reply but suddenly her child starts crying. Pran is shaken as he realizes that the poor lady was indulged in such act for the sake of her child. He keeps a bundle of notes at her feet, touches her feet and walks away. Gopal animatedly moving outside asks Pran, ‘Was the deal worth it?’ Pran painfully and sarcastically says, ‘She is a mother! How can one exchange a mother for money?’

As Pran and Gopal move away, they pass by the place where the marriage ceremony of Bholu and Reshma was being held. Ignorant of this fact, merely by chance, Gopal dashes the car against a tree. Bholu and his friends run to rescue the accident victims. Gopal was OK but Pran was unconscious. The marriage ceremony is postponed. Bholu again locks Reshma in a room and also dumps Pran there. As Reshma sees Pran, she is overjoyed and takes him in her lap. On seeing this, Bholu becomes furious and picks unconscious Pran to finish him. Reshma tries to block the door by all means but gets overpowered. By the time Bholu reaches the courtyard and picks up an axe to chop-off Pran, policemen, called by Gopal arrive and nab Bholu.

Pran is rushed to the hospital and he survives. While Pran recoups, Gopal takes Reshma to his place, gives her various cosmetics to transform her into a “Mem or Ma’am”. He teaches her how to wear saree and speak English. A repentant Gopal says to Reshma, ‘You have made me a worshipper of love. During previous year’s BARSAAT, I had made Neela many false promises’. Pran and Reshma meet in the hospital and rejoice.

As Pran and Reshma leave the hospital and reach Pran’s place, Neela, standing on the mountain observes them. She thinks it was Gopal with some lady and recalls she had said to Gopal, ‘If I ever see you with any other lady, I will eat something (consume poison).’ Gopal says to Pran & Reshma that he was going to bring Neela. He reaches Neela’s house (again beautiful lighting effects). He knocks the door of her hut, which is answered by Neela’s friend. She tells – Neela was dead. Gopal stands flabbergasted.

Pran and Reshma come out of their house as the tune of ‘Barsaat mein humse mile tum’ is played in the background. Gopal prepares the pyre. When he kisses Neela’s forehead, Lata sings ‘Barsaat mein humse mile tum…’ and as the fire is lit, Lata sings ‘Der na karna kaheen ye aas toot jaaye…’.

Black clouds cover the screen and with the end of the song, appears THE END.


The project - In-depth musical review of S-J movies

Year 2009 is the 60th year of debut of Shankar-Jaikishan as music directors. To commemorate the occasion, the moderator team of Yahoo! forum on S-J conceptualized the idea of in-depth review of at least 60 S-J movies by S-J fans. The objective keeps in mind the fact that while the older generation still loves to listen to S-J melodies which, beyond doubt, will remain eternally evergreen, such documented reviews will have wider reach through the net. Particularly the younger generation will have a glimpse of the golden era of HFM which was undoubtedly dominated by S-J.
The fans spread across the globe were assigned S-J movies on first come first served basis. The reviewer of ‘Barsaat’ had special privilege as it was S-J’s debut movie.

The immortal musical team of Barsaat

Interestingly, Ram Ganguly was initially the composer for Barsaat. But some differences developed between him and Raj Kapoor who wanted to replace him. Now the question was to find another capable person. Shankar was already tried and tested as a composer (probably for future ventures) by Raj Kapoor during the outstation tours of Prithvi theatre. He was offered the responsibility of music direction. Shankar had deep bondage with Jaikishan whom he had got inducted in Prithvi theatre. Shankar requested Raj Kapoor to give them a chance as a duo to which Raj Kapoor acceded. This formed the team Shankar-Jaikishan.

Before Barsaat, Raj Kapoor had already met the BEST bus conductor – Hasrat Jaipuri. He was sent to ‘Raju’ by Prithviraj Kapoor who was impressed with his nazm ‘Mazdoor ki laash’ in a mushaira. As the opportunity came, Raj Kapoor picked up Hasrat as one of the lyricists. After listening to the poem ‘Jal raha hai Punjab’, Raj Kapoor was highly impressed with the railway employee poet – Shailendra and had invited him to write lyrics for his films even before commencing Barsaat. However, Shailendra had turned down the offer. Owing to urgent need of money, Shailendra himself approached Raj Kapoor and offered to write the lyrics of Barsaat. He was gladly inducted by Raj Kapoor and yet another matchless team of lyricists Shailendra-Hasrat was formed.
Mukesh was the obvious playback voice for Raj Kapoor. For female voice, there were many well established contenders – Suraiya, Rajkumari, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnataki et al. However as a new comer, Shankar insisted on giving chance to the relatively fresh voice - Lata Mangeshkar who later on became the supreme female voice in HFM. The voice of already established singer Mohammad Rafi was also used in one solo song.

Barsaat – a phenomenon

A revolution was created by Shanker- Jaikishen in hindi film industry. Their fresh tunes and orchestration lead the paradigm shift from the then prevailing monotonous thekas and droning cadences. The music opened up yet another channel for making money – the ‘records’ broke the ‘records’ of earning money independent of the film. Legend has it that the composer of Andaz (released in the same year) - Naushad went to its producer- Mehboob Khan for celebrating the success of songs. It was raining then and Mehboob, looking out of the window said to Naushad, ‘Aapke gaanon ko to ‘Barsaat’ ne dho dala’!

November 3, 2009
(November-4 is the Birth Anniversary of Shri Jaikishan Dahyabhai Panchal of the S-J duo)
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