Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Mehfil soyee aisaa koyee

Posted on: February 22, 2012


This article is written by Sudhir, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

Greetings to all on the 5501st post for this blog. You may wonder, what is special that I am highlighting the 5501st post. Yes something special in this one. Readers may have noticed that over the past few days, Atul ji and I have been posting songs by N Dutta at a very fast pace. The reason of course was we planned to coincide the century post for N Dutta with the 5500th song on this blog. All was in order till Tuesday morning when browsing through the tags and stats, something occurred to me.

I checked and realized that on this blog, we were just 3 songs short of a century of songs and appearances by Helen. I immediately emailed this fact to Atul ji, and quickly over the email communication we agreed that waiting for 5600th song to celebrate the century of Helen, would be far off (and that her birthday is still a good eight months hence). So we decided we would celebrate two centuries back to back, and put the century song for Helen at the 5501st post. And it is befitting too. As many folks familiar with the Indian traditions will know, any number that is something hundred + 1 is considered very auspicious.

And another interesting item, as some readers may have noticed. The write up for the song “Jaane Anjaane Yahaan Sabhi Hain Deewaane” at serial no. 5497, starts with the statement – “I needed to post two Helen songs today and I needed to do that right now ! What do I do ?”. Ah ha! Don’t know if any of the readers caught this clue. That song is the 99th post for Helen on this blog, preparing the way for her century post to follow at 5501st spot.

So, at this 5500+1 post, let it be a celebration for this wonderful, husky, dainty, lithe, delicate, svelte, nimble, comely, alluring, lively, lovely, graceful, elegant, cute, charming, fascinating and an extremely desirable, extremely pretty butterfly – very aptly christened the Queen of the Cabaret. And the queen of many a hearts too (mine included). A performer who is completely in her elements on the dance floor, her mettle showing through her graceful movements. Nay, she does not move on the dance floor, she floats – elegantly, effortlessly from one movement to another, no gaps, no pauses, no jerks – just a fluid flow that is pleasing and exciting at the same time. However fast the action, her total command on the ambience and the total control on each nerve each muscle in the body, makes it seem like a butterfly in slow motion.

Helen – ah, Helen. In the Greek history, we read about a Helen (of Troy). It is said that her beauty launched a thousand ships and led to the Trojan war. A different era and a difference culture we live in, so maybe our Helen has not been a reason to wage a war as such; but yes, our Helen, and her beauty has ruled over a million hearts across many, many generations of fans.

Born in Burma on 21st Oct, her family migrated to Bombay during the second world war, after her Anglo Indian father passed away. Early years were an economic struggle. Her mother’s income as a nurse was inadequate and Helen had to give up her education to start supporting the family at a very young age. A family friend, Cuckoo, introduced her to film world in Bombay, and she is noted to have appeared as a chorus line dancer in films starting in 1951 with Awaara and Shabistan. Her natural talent was evident, and it was not long before she started getting assignments as a solo dancer, starting with ‘Hoor-e-Arab’ (1953) and ‘Alif Laila’ (1954). Her performances gained attention with the industry bigwigs and with the viewing public, and her career took on a rising path.

It was not long before major hits came her way. 1957 saw the popularity of “Mr. John O Baba Khan” from the film ‘Baarish’, and in 1958 the public was raving about “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo” from the film ‘Howrah Bridge’. Helen, the Cabaret Queen had arrived to rule the dancing stage and the hearts of millions – forever. And her arrival changed the very formula on which films were made. Producers raced each other to include a dance by Helen in their films. The very life of the script of Hindi films saw a change, just by her appearance on the scene.

She was typecast in vamp and oomph-girl roles for quite some time, but that is not all about her career. She has done a fair number of meaty roles, roles that demanded histrionics. And she also has had her share of films as a leading lady. Whatever the roles maybe, music and dance has always been a constant for her performance.

In her own words – “. . . I don’t know what happens when the music is turned on – I just love to dance. It is effortless”. Gopikrishan, the famous dancer and choreographer, once said to her, “Kaalimaa, once the music starts, Helen disappears and a new person takes over”. This appears to be a most fitting portrayal of how effortless, natural and unforced her movements appear to be. Only another artist of a similar art form can appreciate the amount of strength and energy it takes to control and coordinate the movements – the more effortless it seems, the more energy is being spent by the dancer.

Watching her move on the dance floor is a sublime experience. Different parts of her body seem to have a coordinated plan of their own. In one of her dances, I clearly remember seeing – Helen is on a stage, and starting from one end of the stage, in a slow motion twist movement, she is moving, nay, gliding across the stage. The movement is so fluid that one does not realize that she is moving, and it is only after a gap of a few seconds one realizes that she is now at the other end of the stage. So smooth, so fluid, an epitome of elegance – simply sublime.

She was nominated five times for Filmfare awards for best supporting actress, an award she won once for the film ‘Lahu Ke Do Rang’ (1979). Accorded the Padam Shri honor on 2009, she also was honored with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement award in 1998.

In an interview once, when asked to list her career defining films, she highlighted the film ‘Inteqaam’ (1969) amongst a few others. She plays a cabaret dancer in this film, however, the role has more than just the two dances that reemphasized her being the most talented dancer on the Indian screen.

I was a small child when I remember a rare outing, being taken to see this film on the big screen. There is very little I remember from that first viewing, except for the wonderful songs, the magic act by the famous magician Gogia Pasha, the memorable dances by this fairy whose name I was not familiar with at that time, and yet too young to feel or understand the emotions such dances would evoke in the hearts of young men.

I remember, my maternal uncle was with me, and we saw it at the Shiela theatre in central Delhi. He was maybe in the third year of his matrimonial life, and I clearly remember him keeping his eyes lowered all the time that Helen was dancing on the screen. And I wondered why is he not seeing this wonderful dance. Little did I know. . . :). Later, I would end up seeing this movie many times again, at reruns, on VHS rental tapes, and then grabbing the disc as soon as it became available. The music of this film is enchanting, and of course, its success worked out to be the vehicle of return to stardom for Sadhna, after a period of illness for her.

‘Inteqaam’ is a tale of retribution, a tale of how the sins of the parents come to visit their children. Two men, good friends, but living on the wrong side of the law, get separated in a turn of events in which one of them goes behind bars for a long duration. The other friend reneges on his promise to take care of the family of his friend. Years pass, the first friend is released from prison, his family is now lost. Unbeknownst to him, his wife has passed away on account of ill health and paucity of resources to get medical treatment. His daughter used to be an employee of the other friend (once again ignorant of her father’s friendship), when her mother passes away. Circumstances were such that her anger is directed towards her employer. A chance meeting of father and daughter happens once again. This time they meet as strangers, but also find out that they have a common enemy and a common grouse. They team up to take a revenge, and the plan is to trap the young son of the other gentleman in a love affair, and then publicly and economically destroy their lives. The plan works to an extent, but of course the love that happens between the two young people turns out to be true love. The string of events get complicated, and a murder takes place. Investigations throw up many suspects and two claimants owning up to having committed the murder. In the end the young man is on the verge of being indicted, when destiny (aka the script writer) intervenes again, and the truth of the relationships is revealed. A lot of confusion, including the identity of the murderer, is cleared.

This song is sequenced into an environment of intrigue and intense intentions. A plan has been hatched to explode an acid balloon in the restaurant where the scene is set. The target of course is the young leading lady (played by Sadhna). The perpetrator of this plan is Jeevan. He is an employee of the defaulting partner (Rehman), but his personal interest is to get his own daughter married to the son (played by Sanjay) of the rich man. Just before the dance is to start, Helen and Rajendranath, the two love birds in a different sub plot, stumble upon this plan. Rajendranath is caught and held gagged and bound captive, and Helen is threatened that Rajendranath will be executed if she reveals anything. To ensure normality, Helen is forced to keep her schedule for the dance program. Without saying anything specific, she is actually saying it all in the lyrics of the song being sung. One can see all the other key players in this video clip – Ashok Kumar, the friend who went to jail; Sadhna, his daughter, but not yet revealed in the film; Sanjay, who is playing the jilted lover for his lady love and brought shame to him and his family already, but he cannot bear being away from her, so he still regularly visits the restaurant; Jeevan, who is the planner of evil deed; another actor is also focused on a few times, he is an accomplice of Jeevan in the film, and I think he is the character actor Siddhu; Rajendranath who plays the bumbling captive, trying to feel himself from the ropes with the help of tiny white mice.

The lyrics are written by Rajendra Krishan, and the music is by Laxmikant Pyaarelal. The singing voice is that of Lata Mangeshkar. As Atul ji has commented in an earlier post today, it is Asha Bhosle who has sung most of the time for Helen. This is one of the handful few cases where Lata ji has lent her voice for a Helen dance. I will not write more about the wonderful performance that Helen delivers in this song. A prickly intense situation, a package of emotions on display, people in the know, and a few people not aware of the impending accident. The movements, the emotions, the perfect timing and elocution of the words, the rhythm and the control – she is the complete master of the stage, and of course a complete master of the art. And of the heart. Enjoy this captivating performance, by the one and only Helen.

A thousand salutations to this fairy, this butterfly, this nymph queen of the dance floor. May the Gods smile upon her, forever.

mehfil soyee, aisaa koi
hogaa kahaan, jo samjhe zubaan
meri aankhon ki

People in this gathering
All engrossed and oblivious
Is there anyone, anywhere
To realize the message
I carry in my eyes

raat gaati hui, gungunaati hui
beet jaayegi yun, muskuraati hui
subah ka samaa, pochhegaa kahaan
gaye mehmaan, jo kal thhe yahaan

Humming and singing
This night will pass by, smiling
The breaking dawn will ask
Wherefore are the visitors from yesterday

aaj tham keg gajar, de rahaa hai khabar
kaun jaane idhar, aaye na sehar
kis ko pataa, zindagi hai kyaa
toot hi gayaa, saans hi to thhaa

The clock, is haltingly moving
As if portending
Maybe no dawn
Will visit here again
Who knows, what are the limits of life
Its just a thread of breath
When it breaks, it is gone
Just a thread of breath

(NOTE: gajar = literal meaning is hourly strokes or playing of gongs on a clock; used here to represent time

sehar = dawn, early morning)


Song-Mehfil soyee aisa koyee (Inteqaam)(1969) Singer-Lata, Lyrics-Rajinder Krishan, MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal
Lyrics

mehfil soyee
aisaa koi
mehfil soyee
aisaa koi
hogaa kahaan
jo samjhe zubaan
meri aankhon ki
mehfil soyee
aisaa koi
hogaa kahaan
jo samjhe zubaan
meri aankhon ki
mehfil soyee

raat gaati hui
gungunaati hui
ha
beet jaayegi yun
muskuraati hui
raat gaati hui
gungunaati hui
ha
beet jaayegi yun
muskuraati hui

subah ka samaa
pochhegaa kahaan
gaye mehmaan
jo kal thhe yahaan

mehfil soyee
aisaa koi
hogaa kahaan
jo samjhe zubaan
meri aankhon ki
mehfil soyee

aaj thham ke gajar
de rahaa hai khabar
ha
kaun jaane idhar
aaye na sehar
aaj thham ke gajar
de rahaa hai khabar
ha
kaun jaane idhar
aaye na sehar
kis ko pataa
zindagi hai kyaa
toot hi gayaa
saans hi to thhaa

mehfil soyee
aisaa koi
hogaa kahaan
jo samjhe zubaan
meri aankhon ki
mehfil soyee

9 Responses to "Mehfil soyee aisaa koyee"

The Helen number that shot through the roof is…”Aaaaaaa jaane jaaaa..” It’s a highly erotic, even a bit kinky scenario. There’s this huge muscled savage in a cage. Helen dances and sings and this savage is crazy with lust! By the way, not many people know that the actor who played the savage was Azad. Azad was a muscle man who was launched in ‘Zimbo’ costarring Chitra. He acted in a few action movies as a hero before fading away. Before Dara Singh, we had Azad. Not many know that….

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Mani ji,

Thanks for the reminder and the identification. 🙂

This song is already posted at
https://atulsongaday.me/2008/10/28/aa-jaane-jaan-mera-ye-husn-jawaan/

Rgds
Sudhir

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Ah, what a lovely write-up again, Sudhirji.

And for a lovely song, I may add. I know this song only too well because I did the subtitling for this when Tom (our American friend who makes those fabulous DVDs) was making one on Helen.

“As many folks familiar with the Indian traditions will know, any number that is something hundred + 1 is considered very auspicious.” Indeed, very true! 🙂

“I needed to post two Helen songs today and I needed to do that right now ! What do I do ?” I did notice Atul saying this for that song – and I was wondering what he was talking about. 🙂 I guessed that some Helen-related landmark was on the way. 😉

As we reach these landmarks, as we have more and more people contributing, it is just so much fun to visit this blog everyday. My own participation may seem to have reduced of late but any conclusion from this of any declining interest would be completely inaccurate. I am just as interested in this blog today as I was on that first day when it was started over 3 years ago. 🙂

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Sudhir ji,
A very good and nice write up.You have given Helen the honour she deserved,in her life.Helen was a dancer who charmed others,while her own life was miserable due to deception and ‘bewafai’ by a person who only fleeced and used her.She would have been destroyed,but for the magnanimity of Salim saab.
Helen was unique and no one can replace her.
-AD

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Arun ji, Raja ji

Thanks for your messages of appreciation.

On this blog, I am sure if we searched through the tags, possibilities that there are other actors who may have made or are close to making their own centuries of appearances. But yes, Helen is somewhat special, and I am glad we tracked the target in good time, and be able to honor her with a special post.

Atul ji, please correct me if I am wrong, but this should be the first celebtration of an artist century on this blog, who is not a singer, lyricist or composer.

Rgds
Sudhir

PS Raja ji, we know, your apparent absence is for making the heart fonder. 🙂

Like

Yes, it is the first time an actor’s 100 songs was celebrated. If we start counting, they we may have notched up centuries of other actors too, I am sure.

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Surraiyya already has 141 songs in this blog as a singer/actor.

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I think Helen also holds the record for acting in maximum no. of films, 300 or something. Take ‘Intequam” for instance it has two cabarets on Helen. In her last(?) appearance in “Khaamoshi” also she had two songs to sing. She is bound to be way ahead of any other actor or actress in total no. of songs , not just cabarets, all sort of songs. Only actor who can come close should be Johny walker.

Like

nahm ji,
you probably wanted to say”record of acting in max. no. of songs”,because there are many actors/actresses who have worked in more than that number of films easily.Some have crossed 400 mark also.
But song-acting in 300 songs may be a record for Helen.
-AD

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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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