22 October 2012 Arts & Entertainment Web-Extra: Interview

'The Music Had To Be Pathos-Laden'

'And yet despite the air of despondency, it needed to celebrate the contribution of those that laid down their lives'
'The Music Had To Be Pathos-Laden'

Sanjeev Kohli, son of Madan Mohan, speaks on the celebrated music of Haqeeqat 

Who approached Madan Mohan saab for the music. Chetan ji himself? When was this?

Chetan Anand had directed various films earlier, among them Afsar , Anjali, Aandhiyaan, F funtoosh, Kinare Kinare... but these were for either Navketan or other banners. He had worked with composers S.D. Burman and Jaidev, both being part of the regular Navketan team and even Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

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In 1963 , just after the Indo-China war , he chose to launch his own production company. He was directing Kinare Kinare at the time with Jaidevji’s music. He launched Himalaya Films and approached Madan Mohanji to team up with him. Madan Mohanji was being acclaimed for his scores in Sanjog , Manmauji and Anpadh , and had many films in the pipeline, due to the appreciation of his recent work.

Haqeeqat was a 1964 release. That year was the landmark year in Madanji’s career with Woh Kaun Thi , Jahanara, Ghazal, Suhagan , Pooja ke Phool , Sharabi, Aap ki Parchhaiyaan. Madanji was much in demand all through the making of Haqeeqat

Was Madan Mohanji given any specific brief on how music was supposed to be for the film?

Haqeeqat was a war based film , but had many emotional situations, Madanji’s forte. Apart from the patriotic song , kar chale hum fidaa, it had the very emotional Hoke majboor mujhe, Main yeh sochkar uske dar se, Aayi ab ke saal diwali, Khelo na mere dil se; the romantic , zara si aaahat hoti hai; the frothy , masti mein chhedke tarana... Chetan Anand was making a war- based film , but with a human angle, a tender love story of the lead pair , and various cameos of relationships and lives ravaged by the war. These were thus told through the songs, and the situations were very well woven into the film.

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How did he go about composing music for it given that it was India's first War film? Based on a war with China that India had in fact lost. How did the music reflect the mood of the nation?

Indeed at the back of the mind was the lost war , but the anguish and suffering of the armed forces and the nation was all pervading. Thus the music had to be pathos- laden and have an air of despondency , but at the end , needed to celebrate the contribution of those that laid down their lives. A frothy song by one of the characters , Masti mein chhedke reflected the positive mood of the soldiers initially , soon to become one of despair as the war engulfed their lives, with songs like Main yeh sochkar...

How was the music received?

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One of Madanji’s favourite songs was deleted from the film— Khelo na mere dil se. As the film had become long , and the pace was being slowed down. This was disappointing for him. 

The Rafi saab solo Main yeh sochkar was a slow ballad with no rhythm. An experimental song written as a nazm, but was widely appreciated. 

The poignant hoke majboor mujhe was composed in qawwali style, with three of our top singers lending their voices—Mohd Rafi, Talat Mahmood and Manna Dey, and Bhupinder Singh making his debut.

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The romantic song by Lataji, zara si aahat hoti hai is loved even today…

When Lataji performed in mid-1970s at the Royal Albert Hall, with the Wren orchestra , the foreign ensemble marvelled at the composition of khelo na mere dilse, a song ahead of its time as with an Indian melody it had a very western presentation with its chords and music interludes. 

But of course the crowning glory was Ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyo. This song came at the end of the film and had everyone in tears— the audiences did not move till it was over. This song is even now one of the most played songs on 26 January and 15 August. Kaifi Azmi’s lyrics for this song are unforgettable. 

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Many marvelled at the fact that a war based film could have such melodious music!

Chetan Anand was so thrilled with Madan Mohanji’s work that he decided to team again for a full- fledged musical based on the Punjabi legend of Heer Ranjha… while the film may have been released in 1970, work began on it a few years earlier. In the interim, Chetan Anand wanted to make a small film, a quickie , with the debutant  Rajesh Khanna. Madanji was busy at the time , and it was decided that Khayyam would do Aakhri Khat. That apart , all other subsequent films produced and directed by Chetan Anand had music by Madanji till he was alive.

Any anecdotes that you remember about the film?

Madanji teamed up with poet Kaifi Azmi for the first time with this film, as he was a close associate of Chetan Anand. Later the Madan Mohan-Kaifi Azmi team did Heer Ranjha , Hanste Zakhm and Hindustan ki Kasam for Chetan Anand , and also various films for other makers. Madanji was to be playing a character in the film. He was most excited about it. And had travelled to Amritsar where his in-laws lived, to spend a few days enroute to ladakh , the shooting location. The song , Masti mein chhedke taraana , was to be filmed on him. But the weather and thus cancelled flights , grounded him for many days , and he returned to Bombay as he had various recordings to complete. Vijay Anand then played the role.

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