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

Aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa

Posted on: May 7, 2014


This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

THE VIBRANT 40S (Episode No. 12)
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Initially, when the Talkie films started, most of the actors and actresses of the silent era, who could speak Hindi/Urdu and sing a little got entry into these films. Soon many Anglo-Indian girls and actors like master Vithal, who could not speak Hindi properly, leave aside singing, had to be excluded from Talkie films.(Master Vithal who was selected as the Hero for India’s First Talkie film,”Aalam Ara”-1931, based on his looks,Physique and his silent film credentials-over the capable Mehboob Khan- gave such pathetic performance in his Hindi/Urdu dialogues that he had to be shown as Unconcious almost throughout the film to hide his poor diction of Hindi/Urdu dialogues.)

After the playback system stabilised in movies, need for the actors to sing themselves became unnecessary. Instead, producers looked for handsome, chikane faces-even if they did not know A B C of acting- or at least extraordinary Physique. Thus people like Karan Dewan, Bharat Bhushan, Dev Anand, Shaikh Mukhtar, Ajit etc became Heroes. This happened till songs and music ruled the films. Even during this period, there were cases when some owners of studios became heros/actors, mostly in their own productions. Examples are Sohrab Modi of Minerva movietone and V.Shantaram (he even had a squint eye) of Prabhat and Rajkamal etc. These owners usually selected film stories of meaningful contents giving less weightage to romance in their films.

Later on, when stories became dominant, faces did not matter. What was required was actors who could deliver dialogues effectively with voice modulation. Examples are Raaj Kumar and Shatrughna Sinha, Amitabh bachhan etc. The top amongst much kind of actors was SOHRAB MODI, who became famous and popular for his solid and lengthy dialogue delivery in an equally sound voice. Being a Parsee, he was fair and tall too. He used to produce movies that had scope for his dialogues-which was his strength. Such films naturally were Historical. His Trilogy in Historical films was Pukar-39,Sikandar-41 and Prithvi Vallabh-43.

Born in Bombay in 1897, Sohrab Modi was a stage actor of the Parsee stage, who had done some work in silent films but returned with the advent of sound as actor, director and producer. In the interim period he had earned quite a reputation as a Shakespearean actor. He travelled throughout India with his brother’s theatrical company enjoying tremendous sense of fulfillment every time the curtain came down and the audience clapped. However theatre was declining since 1931 with the advent of the sound film. To rescue this dying art, Modi set up the Stage Film Company in 1935. His first two films were ‘filmed versions’ of plays. Khoon ka Khoon (1935) was an adaptation of Hamlet and marked Naseem Banu’s acting debut. The second, Saeed-e-Havas (1936) was based on Shakespeare’s King John. Both Films failed.

He then launched Minerva Movietone in 1936. His early films at Minerva dealt with contemporary social issues such as alcoholism in Meetha Zaher (1938) and the right of Hindu women to divorce in Divorce (1938). Though the films did well, what attracted Modi was the historic genre. Minerva Movietone is now famous for it’s trilogy of historical spectaculars that were to follow – Pukar (1939), Sikandar (1941) and Prithvi Vallabh (1943), wherein Modi made the most of his gift for grandiloquence to encapsule all that is grand about Indian History.

Pukar was set in the court of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir and is based on an incident, which is perhaps historically untrue, to highlight Jehangir’s fair sense of justice. Many of the key scenes were staged in the magnificient courts and palaces of the Mughals that gave the film an authenticity that studio built sets could never achieve. The charisma of its stars Chandramohan and Naseem Banu and the oratory dialogue by Kamal Amrohi with its literary flourish and innate grace ensured the film’s popularity.

Perhaps Modi’s greatest film was Sikandar which immortalized Prithviraj Kapoor playing the title role. This epic film was set in 326 BC when Alexander the Great, having conquered Persia and the Kabul Valley, descends to the Indian border at Jhelum and encounters Porus (Modi) who stops the advance with his troops. Sikander’s lavish mounting, huge sets and production values equalled the Best of Hollywood then particularly for its rousing and spectacular battle scenes.

Its dramatic, declamatory dialogues gave both Prithviraj Kapoor and Sohrab Modi free reign to their histrionic proclivities. Its appeal to nationalism was so great and direct that it remained popular for years. It was revived in Delhi in 1961 during the Indian March into Goa.

Prithvi Vallabh was based on KM Munshi’s novel of the same name published in 1920. The film’s major highlights were the confrontations between Modi and Durga Khote, the haughty queen Mrinalvati who tries to humiliate him publicly but then falls in love with him.

In 1946 after his relationship with Naseem had run its course (though she still worked with him in Sheesh Mahal (1950) and Nausherwan-e-Adil (1957)), he married actress Mehtab who was 20 years younger than him and whom he directed in Parakh (1944) and India’s first film in technicolour, Jhansi ki Rani (1953). Sadly, the film failed to connect with the audience and was a costly misfire for Modi as it crashed at the box-office.

Modi however bounced back with Mirza Ghalib (1954). The film, based on the life of the great Indian poet who lived during the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last of the Mughal Emperors, won the President’s Gold Medal for Best Feature Film of 1954. The film beautifully captured the mood of the period, its hedonistic pursuits and the fading magnificence of the court of the last Mughal where poets like Zauq, Momin, Tishna, Shefta and Ghalib assembled to recite their verse. Mirza Ghalib also saw Suraiya’s finest dramatic performance as she made alive and vivid the role of the married Ghalib’s lover, a courtesan. Ghalib also saw some of her finest singing – Aah ko Chaihiye Ek Umar, Nuktacheen Hai Gham-e-Dil, Dil-e-Nadaan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai, Yeh Na Thi Humari Kismet etc. Her singing is till date regarded as the definitive Ghalibin Hindi cinema. In fact India’s then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru paid her the ultimate compliment by telling her she had brought Mirza Ghalib to life. (Tumne Mirza Ghalib ki Rooh ko Zinda Kar Diya).

Though Kundan (1955), Nausherwan-e-Adil and Jailor (1958) had their moments, particularly the latter where Modi gave a chilling portrayal of a rational man turned into a tyrant, Modi’s decline had begun. The slide proved irreversible.

Sohrab Modi died of cancer in 1984 at the age of 86, his signature boom muffled, but his spirit remaining indomitable till the end.

Today’s song is from His film Prithvi Vallabh-43. This is a dance and song Video, sung by Meena, Sheela and Menaka.

Meena is the same Meena Shorey of “Ek thi Ladki’-49, but she had not yet become Shorey. It was the beginning of her career.

From being the heart throb of India (being known as the ‘Lara Lappa girl’ at her peak) to begging at a film function in the 1980s in Pakistan for money to marry off her sister’s daughters, Meena Shorey’s is the classic and tragic riches-to-rags story one often finds in the filmline.

She was born Khursheed Jehan, the second of four children, in Raiwind in a small rural household. Her father was based in Multan but due to his wayward ways, he lost whatever land the family owned. He tried his hand in the dyeing business in Lahore but that too failed and to make things worse for the family, he used to brutally beat his wife. Meena’s elder sister, Wazir Begum, married and shifted to Bombay and she got Meena and their mother to move there as well.

In Bombay, she accompanied her brother-in-law to the mahurat of Sohrab Modi’s Sikandar (1941). Modi, taken in by her beauty, offered her a supporting role in the film and bound her to a contract to work exclusively for him. He also gave her the name Meena. Sikandar did extremely well and Meena was on her way. Modi then cast her as the second lead in Phir Milenge (1942)and Prithvi Vallabh (1943). In the last named, she was paired opposite Al Nasir, whom she later married. The marriage did not last very long due to Nasir’s womanising ways.

Meena first met the Lahore based filmmaker Roop K Shorey, when he came to Bombay to look for a heroine for his forthcoming film, Shalimar (1946). Though he wanted Meena as the heroine of the film, Sohrab Modi’s rigid contract came in the way. According to Meena, the contract again prevented her from doing Mehboob Khan’s Humayun (1945) as well. Further, on a visit to Lahore, she met producer Dalsukh Pancholi, who signed her on for two films Shahar se Door (1946) and Arsi (1947). Immediately, Sohrab Modi took her to court asking for damages of Rs 3 lakhs. According to Meena, taking advantage of her illiteracy, Modi bound her for three years whereas the contract was supposed to be for a year only. She added that Modi then demanded Rs 60,000 to release her and seeking help from Modi’s wife, Mehtab, the matter was finally settled for Rs 30,000. ( Modi had cheated C.Ramchandra also when he joined him.) Meena was now free. She returned to Lahore and fulfilled her contractual obligations by starring in Shahar Se Door and Arsi.

Meena’s last film in Lahore was Pathjad (1948). Following the partition of India, she came to Bombay where she did films like Actress (1948) and Dukhiyari (1948). In this period she heard that Roop K Shorey had also moved to India following partition. His studio having been burnt down in Lahore, he was financially hard up in Bombay. Meena and Karan Dewan got together and helped him make his first film in India, Chaman (1948) in Punjabi. The film, with music by Vinod, was the first ever Punjabi film in which Lata Mangeshkar lent her voice. Her songs in the film like Galiyan Che Firdey Dhola Nikke Nikke Baal Wey and Chan Kithe Guzare-e-Raat Wey were highly appreciated.

Meena hit the apex of her screen career with Roop K Shorey’s Ek Thi Ladki (1949) co-starring Motilal. The film, a comedy thriller, looks at a girl (Meena) on the run after she witnesses a murder and shows a new facet of Meena exploring her comic talents, which were considerable. But above all it was the popularity of the song Lara Lappa Lara Lappa that was chiefly responsible for the film’s success. The song was hummed in every nook and corner of the country and as mentioned, Meena became known as the ‘Lara Lappa girl!’ She also got married to Roop K Shorey becoming Meena Shorey.

After Ek Thi Ladki, Meena did a steady lot of movies, mostly with Roop K Shorey, but none measured up to Ek Thi Ladki. Perhaps, the best of the lot was Ek Do Teen (1953) re-uniting the Shoreys with Motilal. By the mid 1950s though she was still doing the odd film or two every year, it was obvious her career was in decline.

At this point, the Shoreys were invited to come to Pakistan and make a film. The result wasMiss 1956 (1956), a copy of Guru Dutt’s Mr and Mrs 55 (1955) starring Meena Shorey, Santosh Kumar, Aslam Pervez, Shamim Ara, Zarif and Charlie with music by the great GA Chisti. Though the film did just average business, the adulation that Meena got on returning to Lahore was tremendous. She decided to relocate to Pakistan, even at the cost of her marriage.

Meena’s most successful film in Pakistan was Sarfarosh (1956) co-starring Sabiha Khanum and Santosh Kumar. According to Meena, she was signed on to play the lead role of a princess in the film, but later on Sabiha was given the role and Meena was asked to play the ‘lesser’ role of a bandit queen. She says she walked out of the film but on the pleading of the director, Anwar Kamal Pasha and his father, she relented. Nevertheless, she still made a strong enough impact in the film and perhaps the best song in the film, Teri Ulfat Mein Sanam, sung by Zubaida Khanum was picturised on her. She also became the first Pakistani actress to model for Lux soap, thus becoming the ‘Lux Lady of Pakistan.’
Meena lived the last few years of her life in abject poverty in Pakistan. She had no savings and was reduced to living in a couple of rooms in Lahore’s Mohni Road. There was no one to look after her and she subsisted on a small stipend paid to her by the Pakistan Arts Council and sometimes the Rotary Club. It is said she compared herself to a dried up tree in a grove full of green young saplings that everyone was out to destroy and burn.

Meena Shorey died lonely and forgotten in 1989. Her burial was arranged with charity money and few came to attend her funeral.

The other singer was Sheela. SHEELA (real name-Roshan Ara) was born on 13-3-1925 at Sholapur-Maharashtra.Her father was Station Master at Sholapur Rly.Stn.

Once Sohrab Modi had come to Sholapur with his Drama company. He went to the station to do reservations and saw Sheela. They got to know each others and he proposed to give her roles in his films. Thus Sheela came to Bombay in 1936 and Joined Minerva Movietone as a singer/actress.
Her first film was Khan Bahadur-37,in which she sang and acted. Then came jailor-38 in which she sang 4 solo siongs under MD Mir Sahib. Then Divorce and Meetha jahar came.

Her voice had a peculiar mixture of muslim style of Amirbai karnataki and Marathi slant of Shanta Apte.
She became famous only after her songs in Pukar-39. Bharosa,Wasiyat and Sikander also gave her name and fame.In Sikander she had 6 songs out of total 7 songs. Ulti ganga, Bhakta Raidas, Prithvi vallabh, and Patharon ka Saudagar were all Minerva films.

She had also done films elsewhere, viz. Alladin and wonderful lamp, College Girl, Gaibi Gola, Jahan ara, Keemti qurbani, Sansar naiya, Shaitan ka pash etc. After 1943,she almost stopped working.Only in Patharon ka saudagar-44, Beete Din-47 and lastly in Billi-49 she sang songs. She had married the actor Rama Shukla, and settled as a Housewife.

The third singer was Menaka. Menaka or Menakabai was born in 1915 at Lahore in a professional singer family. Those days, such girls could easily enter films. Her debut was with ‘Bhedi Raajkumar’-34, a film by Saraswati Cinetone, Poona and the MD was Annasaheb Mainkar. After singing in Pyara Dushman, Krishna Shishtai, Sunehra Sansar etc,she joined Minerva movietone and sang in films like Pukar, Bharosa Main Haari, Sikander,Phir Milenge, Prithvi Vallabh, Bhakta Raidas,Dr, Kumar, Sapera, Paak Daaman, Ulti Ganga etc. her last film was Gul bakavali-47. In the wave of new female playback singers she was pushed out and forgotten.

Film Prithvi Vallabh had the cast including Sohrab Modi,Durga Khote, Sankatha Prasad (He was a loyal member of Sagar movietone.After Sagar’s closure,he joined Minerva.He was the brother of character actor,kanhaiyalal),K N Singh,Kajjan,Meena,Sadiq,Al Nasir etc. MDs were Rafiq Gaznavi and Saraswati Devi.Pt. Sudarshan was Lyricist and Sohrab Modi was the Director.

Prithvi Vallabh 1943 directed by Sohrab Modi, renowned for his historical films, is based on K.M. Munshi’s novel by the same title. It is considered as the third among the historical trilogy of Modi — the other films are Pukar (1939), Sikander (1941).

This is a story of a true king Munja, called Prithvi Vallabh (Sohrab Modi), king of Avantipur, who always keeps his people happy in his kingdom. After winning a battle with a neighbouring kingdom, the king of that region, king of Tailangan, Sailab Raj (Sankantha Prasad) is captured and brought in front of Prithvi. Sailaab is made to wash Prithvi’s feet with holy water in front of the whole kingdom. After that, Prithvi makes Sailab his friend and releases him. Sailab goes back to his kingdom but he finds that he is not welcome there since he had lost the battle. He confides in his sister Mrinalvati (Durga Khote) and she tells him that if he wants to make her happy then he must go and capture Prithvi and make him the prisoner.

Sailab goes and gets hold of Prithvi and puts him in prison. Mrinalvati meets Prithvi and they have huge heated arguments, but during the arguments they both fall in love. She comes and meets Prithvi everyday in the prison and they spend a lot of time together. They decide to escape. When Munja has a chance to escape, he holds back so that Mrinalvati would join him. She however, ditches him, and betrays. When Sailab comes to know about it,he orders that Prithvi be killed on being trampled upon by elephants. In the kingdom people are upset as Prithvi is an honest and courageous leader. The day arrives when Prithvi is to be killed by the elephants. Prithvi informs the entire kingdom that he is ready to die, but Mrinalvati does not want him to get killed. In the end, she also goes with him and both get killed by the elephants.

Let us now enjoy the dance and song video from this film. This song is written by Pt Sudarshan. Music is composed by Rafiq Ghaznavi.
(Thanks to Upperstall,swaron ki yatra and rahen na rahen hum for some information used herein.)


Song-Aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa (Prithvi Vallabh)(1943) Singers-Meena, Sheela, Menaka, Lyrics-Pt Sudarshan, Md-Rafiq Ghaznavi

Lyrics

Aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa
aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa
asha ko gudgudaaye jaa
asha ko gudgudaaye jaa
aankhon mein
haan haan
aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa

shabaab ki kahaaniyaan
shabaab ki kahaaniyaan
sunaaye ja
sunaaye ja
sunaaye ja
sunaaye ja
aankhon mein
haan haan
aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa
aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa

aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa
saaqi zara sharaab laa aa aa
saaqi zara sharaab laa aa aa
bikhra hua shabaab la
bikhra hua shabaab la
bikhre huye shabaab ko
bikhre huye shabaab ko
man ki jalan pilaaye ja
man ki jalan pilaaye ja
aankhon mein
haan haan
aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa
aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa

9 Responses to "Aankhon mein muskuraaye jaa"

Wah! Wah! What a load of information! Fantabulous!! Extremely thankful Arun. Jiyo!

Cheers

Satyajit

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Thanks
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Liked by 1 person

Arunji,
Living upto your reputation. Yet another interesting post and song. Thanks for lots of unknown (to me) information on Shorab Modi,, Meena Shorey, Sheela and Menaka.

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Thanks.
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Arun-ji. you are a walking and writing encyclopedia!! There is no need to look elsewhere to know about the careers of Sohrab Modi and Meena Shorey. Thank you very much

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Seshadri ji,
Thanks for your kind words and appreciation.
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Thanks Arun Sir for this bundled informative article. No words to say thanks about your qualitative and quantitative writing. Just…. just awesome….

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Anekant ji,
Thanks for your encouraging words.
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Got to read this post today and feel like going through all the black & white nostalgia and historicals of Sohrab Modi. i have watched Mirza Ghalib and its songs are in my collection since 1986. Rest all information and info about the life and acting of other stars is new (though i may watched their movies, without knowing about them) for me. Great Post Sir, as usual !
thanks a lot …

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