Mughal-e-Azam, the name itself spells magnificence, splendor and dignity. K.Asif's blockbuster extravaganza starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Madhubala was a visual treat.
And not just visual, the film had a fervent musical charm too. Musician Naushad's tunes on Shakeel Badayuni's lyrics are immortal. On the eve of the re-release of the renovated version of the film after 44 years, lets take a trip down the memory lane revisiting the music of the film.
The album opens with the evergreen Lata Mangeshkar solo track Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya. In this extended LP version, the track opens on the backdrop of violin chords and is followed by rich classical `alaap` rendition (a rarity these days) by some unaccredited singers, creating a palatial aura. After around two minutes of this classical rendition, Lata's voice seeps in as a prologue to the track.
Shakeel Badayuni's lucid and logical lyrics are still remembered and if the legend behind the song is to be believed, it goes that the song was written around 105 times before Naushad finally favored the writer Shakeel with an approval. Another interesting story behind this track is that music director Naushad asked Lata Mangeshkar to sing the song in a bathroom of the Rajkamal Studio.
That is because in those days, during sound recoding and mixing, there was no electronic effect to provide for reverberation of sound. So the bathroom walls were used for natural echo-effect. And such was the grandeur of this song that it was specially shot in color format in the otherwise black-and-white film.
`Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal` that opens with mesmerizing string notes is another musical gem and has a bhajan shade to it. Shakeel's lyrics enunciate the naughty pranks of Lord Krishna as a child. Lata is just perfect in getting the pronunciation nuances of this song correct.
One can also figure out a distinct difference in Lata's vocals as compared to her recent renditions in the sense that her yesteryear songs were considerably and pleasingly much lower on the sharp treble notes.
Three tracks with strong emotive flavor follow soon. The most popular of them all — `Mohobbat Ki Jhooti Kahani` has a touching tune while `Humey Kaash Tumse Mohobbat Na Hoti` is a slow-sad-short number that makes for a good solitude listening. `Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye` has the distinct violin overtones of the bygone era.
Next comes a lively qawalli `Teri Mehfil Main Kismat Aazmakar`, the first and only track of this album where Shamshad Begum lends her voice. Lata Mangeshkar too features in the track, which actually is a jugalbandi (one-upmanship) between the two lead singers.
A crisp contrast in terms of both the vocals and the lyrics can be savored in this qawalli. Shamshad Begum's rustic rendition acts as a perfect counterpoint to Lata Mangeshkar's honey-soaked vocals. Also Shakeel Badayuni's lyrics that alternate from being in support of love to acting against it, do full justice to both players of the qawalli. And despite Naushad's standard qawalli musical arrangements, the song has a vivacious foot-tapping feel to it. This is probably one of the best-composed female qawalli's of Hindi cinema.
The joyful mood continues with `Ye Dil Ki Lagi` by Lata, a happy-go-lucky song about the pleasant experiences of love. Naushad creates a sparkling texture with the blend of wind and string instruments. Mohammad Rafi makes an appearance in Aye Mohobbat Zindabad that is about the triumph and glory of love.
It was for the first (and possibly the last time) in the history of Indian cinema that one hundred chorus singers were used in a song. How they were arranged to sit along with musicians is in itself an interesting story.
The concluding tracks by Lata — `Ae Ishq Yeh Duniyawale` and `Khuda Nigehban Ho` are more situational numbers with good melody but to an extent are overshadowed by the intensity of the earlier numbers.
Mughal-e-Azam essentially has classical shades where you get to hear authentic original instruments. No synthesized music over here! The music may perhaps have a restricted appeal (confined till the yesteryear music lovers). Present generation music lovers, who haven't tasted such music before, may be apprehensive. But an open mind trail is strongly recommended.
The music of Mughal-e-Azam may not be contemporary, but undeniably, its appeal is eternal.