Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se – Gumrah (1963)

When I recently decided to revive this blog, I was not sure what I wanted to write about. Hindi movie songs – especially the ones between 1950 – 1970 are a passion. But there are so many wonderful blogs existing in the blogosphere on this topic. All these are amazing reads and have contributed a lot to my own appreciation of Hindi film music. So why repeat that someone has already said somewhere on the Internet?

But I had a lot of fun making the “homage” posts on Lata Mangeshkar and Dev Anand and Hemant Kumar (to mark their respective birth and death anniversaries.)  And then I came across a post on Dustedoff’s amazing blog about her top 10 favourite songs of Sunil Dutt and as I read her post and the comments below, I started thinking about Mahendra Kapoor. I prefer Mohd Rafi, Hemant Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey in general. So while I am not a fan as such, he did sing some very lovely songs and would like to discuss one or two of my favourite songs of MK here.

And incidentally, it happened to be his death anniversary on 27th September!

Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Ajnabi Ban Jaaye Hum Donon (Gumrah, 1963): This song from the Ashok Kumar – Mala Sinha – Sunil Dutt movie is probably one of Mahendra Kumar’s finest. The lyricist of this song is none other than my favourite lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi (I need to watch out; lest Sahir hijacks this post as well! I am aware that I have referred to Sahir and his genius in every post I have made on this blog; But then just look at the range of songs he has written in the context of Hindi film – how can one not admire his work and mention him?).

The music of Gumrah was composed by Ravi – who was a stable in the B.R. Chopra Camp from the late 1950s till the 1980s. And so was Mahendra Kapoor – a permanent member of this camp. I think almost all the numbers that Mahendra Kapoor sang for Ravi (mostly in films made under the B.R. Chopra banner) are lovely songs. They may even form the majority of the songs in this list.

This song is one of those songs I used to love  and would listen to often – back in the days when all I seemed to do was listen to Hindi music and memorise the lyrics of songs I liked! Of course those days have passed and real life has taken over.

The reason why I bring this up is that last month, I read an interesting op-ed in a leading daily about the perennial love-hate relationship between India and Pakistan.

The author had quoted these two lines:

Tarruf rog ho jaye, to usko bhulna behtar
Talluk bojh ban jaye, to usko todna achchha…

My mind immediately continued… Woh afsana jise anjam tak, lana na ho mumkin…and the memories of this song came back. I had to watch it again.

This is a classic piano song with the very charming Sunil Dutt at the piano. He is singing this for his lady love who is now unfortunately married to Ashok Kumar ( also charming and suave with his trademark cigar). Circumstances have resulted in the lovers’ separation and in this song, the hero is suggesting to his lady love that it is better to once again become strangers and move.

I had read somewhere ages back that Sahir came up with these lines after he accidentally met one of his ex- lover with her husband at a party. Not sure how true this anecdote is, but then considering his two unrequited love affairs with Amrita Pritam and Sudha Malhotra, it may not be completely untrue either. (Oh Damn, Sahir again!)

It is interesting because contrary to the title of the movie, Gumrah that means astray; at this point in the movie, the hero is not implying or suggesting an extramarital dalliance. Though definitely at a later point in the movie, they shall meet clandestinely for sure. I dont quite remember the story. But as far as this song is concerned, the message from the hero to his ladylove is clear : Our relationship has no future; there is no point in us letting the wound fester. Better not to have anything to do with each other from now on.

I found Sunil Dutt very charming – and (maybe its just me) I have liked Ajay Devgan because I think he resembles SD. In this song, the resemblance at least to me is very visible. Coming back to the song – again a typical song – the heroine’s husband is completely oblivious to the undercurrents between the handsome guy singing the song and his wife! Hasnt Ashok Kumar done this way too many times? He smiles and lights his cigar while behind him, his guilty wife is literally having kittens!

The one shot of Mala Sinha that has me in splits is when MK croons the lines:

“na tum merii taraf dekho ghalat andaaz nazaron se”

I would interpret the phrase ghalat andaaz nazron se as her gaze that reveals the love in her heart for her lover – which is ghalat because she is now married to another.

In the picturisation, this emotion is not what comes out at all. Mala Sinha crooks her neck to one side and looks at the camera in a slightly loony way.

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 21.09.48

I cant help chuckling each time this shows up on screen; barring this one look – yes I am being too critical- the song is convincing. Sunil Dutt is the resigned man who no longer has any claim on his lady love; Mala Sinha is quite convincing as the conflicted woman – she is in love with SD but is married to AK. WHen Ashok Kumar lights the cigar he has a glint in his eye – he almost looks suspicious! If I remember right, Ashok Kumar does get to know about his wife’s past and somewhere Shashikala is also involved…I do need to watch this movie again!

For now, do watch this masterpiece of a song –  brilliant music, singing and lyrics…. and I shall be back with a second song of MK soon.

4 thoughts on “Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se – Gumrah (1963)

  1. I have very faded memories of this movie, making a point to watch it soon after reading this piece. What a meaningful song, so sad we don’t have such lyrist anymore. And you are Ajay Devgan fan too 🙂

    • 🙂 Actually even I have very faded memories of the movie; and clearer memories of the horrid Akshay Kumar- Kareena Kapoor- Anil Kapoor remake of the same! Ugh! I need to watch the old Gumrah again too. Yes I like Ajay Devgan; but as I said – its more because I really liked Sunil Dutt when I was younger and AD reminds me of SD! Thanks, Vineeta for your comment.

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