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Melody-master Raj Kapoor

Melody-master Raj Kapoor
By I.M. Soni

RAJ Kapoor was a melody-master par excellence. Lata Mangeshkar says, “One thing I have noticed through the years — that, no matter who be the music director of an RK film, in the end the music is given by Raj Kapoor himself.”

He was unlike others who engage a music director and the lyrics are set to tunes. He “composed” the tunes himself and stored them to be used later in his films as when the situation demanded.

O basanti pavan pagal... was shaped into a beautiful song in “Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai.” But it was first used in a snatch as background music in “Awaara” when Prithviraj Kapoor visits his son in jail and calls him “beta” for the first time.

Sun sahiba sun...was approved by Raj Kapoor for RK’s “Ajanta” as far back as 1952. The film did not go on the floor at all.

Raj had visualised the song on Nargis, but it was finally picturised on Mandakini decades later.

When Raj Kapoor launched on his career as a film-maker, he had wanted Shanker-Jaikishan for “Aag”, but Ram Ganguly was thrust on him by Prithviraj.

“Aag” launched Mukesh as Raj Kapoor’s ghost voice with Zinda hoon.... Mukesh become Raj’s “soul mate” in the latter’s own words.

Shanker-Jaikishan who evolved a fresh style of music for RK camp were guided and inspired by Raj himself. It was Raj Kapoor who fashioned Lata’s singing technique for the duo, according to Kishore Bhiwani.

The dream sequence in “Awaara” was shot for 23 hours at one stretch. The takes were repeated till Lata’s voice became limpid, a silver stream of sweet melody.

Raj Kapoor was always present at the time of song rendering. Chithiye dard firaaq waaliye... (“Heena”) had been composed and ready for Lata. Raj Kapoor came into the recording room. He changed the tune and the orchestration of Ravindra Jain. Chithiye... thus turned into a tune composed impromptu Raj Kapoor.

Laxmikant-Pyarelal who composed music for “Bobby” said they walked out as the music for the film was given by Raj himself. They had only to arrange it.

Raj Kapoor’s heart was not really in the “Mera Naam Joker” songs sans Lata for reason which may not be stated here. The songs did not come from Raj Kapoor’s heart. The voice was missing. The vision (Nargis)had already vanished.

Lata says in the book named after her: “Very few film makers in our industry have such a grounding in music. He could play the piano, the tabla and the flute... The opening lines of the songs in his films were written by him... and even some of the tunes were composed by him, not entire songs, but the opening lines.”

The music master is gone. Now his ever-haunting legacy of songs will endure like the RK emblem — the lover with a violin in his hand


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