Guest article by N Venkataraman
(Venkataramanji had planned his articles on Multiple Version Songs in Hindi and Tamil films in three parts. After his first first two articles on ‘Inspired and adopted songs’ and ‘Songs from dubbed versions’, his final part was going to be on Remade films form one language to the other. However, on the way he stumbled upon a large treasure trove of South Indian dances and songs, remade from Tamil into Hindi, and decided to offer us this unexpected bonus. He would be now completing his series with two more articles on similar songs from remade films (Tamil to Hindi, and Hindi to Tamil). Thank you Venkataramanji for your very generous bounties. – AK)
After completion of the first two parts, namely the article on ‘Inspired and adopted Songs’ and the second part on ‘Songs from dubbed versions’, I am venturing into my next episode. Compared to the other two areas this is a vast sea and I thought that one should sail with the tide and try to find the moorings at the suitable time and situation. In course of my search for materials for this article I came across a fairly large number of traditional dance (and song) numbers from the films remade from Tamil to Hindi. This was a fascinating theme by itself. Therefore, though not originally planned as a separate post, I decided to anchor and take refuge at this haven for now. I would be completing my series with similar songs from remade films (probably in two parts).
As far as I know, neither the classical music of the south nor the folk or any other indigenous music of this region had any influence on the Hindi film music. But the rich traditional dances found their way into Hindi films and had a significant sway on the Hindi film viewers. This is one area where one can come across the influence of South Indian culture in Hindi Films. The classical dances like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohiniattam etc. had made an early entry into the Tamil and South Indian films. By the end of the 1940s the classical dances of South started percolating into the Hindi films. Classical dancers like Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini, widely known as Travancore Sisters, Kamala Lakshman, Vyjayanthimala, Sai and Subbulakshmi Sisters, Waheeda Rehman, Hema Malini and many more dancers entered the film world with their art forms and their presence and art added sheen to those films. This article is not a study relating to the influence of the traditional dances in Hindi films. It is a vast subject and should be dealt by experts and I do not claim to be one. I will approach the subject with a recreational interest and I will be dwelling mainly upon the dance and song numbers by and large from remakes (Tamil to Hindi), with frequent forays into solo versions.
It will be relevant to begin with a discussion on two landmark films, which were believed to be the forerunners to the dance compositions in future Hindi films. The two important movies that acted as the catalyst in bringing forth these art forms in Hindi films were Pt. Uday Shankar’s Kalpana (1948) and S S Vasan’s Chandralekha (1948). Let us start with Kalpana (1948).
Kalpana (1948) is not a remake movie. It was produced in Hindi by Uday Shankar. But any discussion about dances in Hindi films will be incomplete without the mention of Uday Shankar. Uday Shankar was not just a great dancer or choreographer, but a genius of incredible brilliance. He studied and amalgamated all the existing dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Kathakali, Mohiattam, Manipuri, various folk and tribal forms and even western ballet and brought about a revolution in the dancing scenario. In his academy at Almora he invited all the leading Gurus and exponents of the prevailing dance forms and formed a formidable troupe. The film Kalpana brings forth this story on celluloid. Kalpana no longer remains only in our imagination. Most of us are aware that the film was found and restored recently and it is now available on the net. http://pad.ma/CFN/player. Although the film was not a roaring success, it was a masterpiece which influenced the Hindi film dances in the years to come. Zohra Sehgal, who turned 101 recently, Guru Dutt, Anil Chopra were some of the products of Uday Shankar’s Academy. Let us watch a clipping where the influence of Kerala’s traditional dance form, Kathakali, is demonstrated in one of the dances of Uday Shankar. (The video may be set to full screen)
1. A visual comparison of Kerala’s dance form, Kathakali, with Uday Shankar‘s choreography for Kalpana (1948)
The other landmark movie was Chandralekha (1948).
An excerpt from the book ‘Hindi Film Songs: Music beyond boundaries’ by Ashok Da Ranade.
“The year 1948 bought out both ‘Chandralekha’ and ‘Kalpana’ from the same set (Gemini Studios). The two films reflect two ways of composing dance-music, which was to become an integral part of Hindi Film Music in the years to come. The ‘buxom-beauties’ dancing on drums in ‘Chandralekha’ attracted tremendous attention.”
It took 5 years to complete the film. Chandralekha was produced in Tamil and Hindi and few of the songs in both versions are available. Since all them were not dance sequences I will present the other songs in a later episode. Jaya Shankar and Anil Chopra, disciple of Pt. Uday Shankar choreographed the dance sequences. Here I am presenting a beautifully choreographed drum dance with hundreds of drums lined up and dancers on the drums dancing to rhythmic patterns set to instrumental music. It may not be a true exhibition of technically sound classical dance. To feel the magnitude and grandeur, the video may be set to full screen. (This may be followed for all dance numbers)
2. Drum dance from Chandralekha, choreography Jaya Shankar and Anil Chopra
The next number is a dance-song sequence in Raag Kalyani from the Tamil version of the film. I am not sure about the singer. Since T R Rajakumari, actor cum singer came from a family of Carnatic singers and was herself a trained classical singer, I assumed that she must have rendered the song herself. Some knowledgeable reader may provide correct information on this. Sorry, the video goes blank from 1:03 to 1:21.
3T. Balan karunai from Chandralekha (1948) by T R Rajakumari, lyrics Kothamangalam Subbu, music S Rajeswar Rao, choreography Jaya Shankar and Anil Chopra, dancer T R Rajakumari
The melody and the choreography were changed to go with the Hindi version.
3H. Mayi ri mai to madhuban mein by Uma Devi from Chandralekha (1948), lyrics Pt.Indira Devi, music S Rajeshwar Rao, Bal Krishna Kalla, choreography Jaya Shankar and Anil Chopra, dancer T R Rajakumari
From the late 40’s let us move on to the early 50s. Travancore Sisters were awesome trio in those days. Lalitha the eldest of the three sisters, as far as I know, did not act in any Hindi film. But Padmini and Ragini, individually as well as a pair acted and performed in many Hindi films. Since it was difficult to obtain a classical number featuring all the three sisters together, I opted to present this beautiful lilting number from a Tamil film.
4. Rajavun rani indha ezhaiyeliya by Jikki, Leela and Komalam from Manthiri Kumari (Minister’s Daughter) (1950), lyrics Maruthakasi, music G Ramanthan, choreography Krishnamoorthy, Hiralal and Madhavan, dance by Lalitha, Pamini and Ragini (Travancore sisters)
Malaikkallan (1954), another milestone movie in the history of Indian cinema was produced and directed by S M Sreeramulu Naidu. This movie was made in 6 (six) languages and the all the six versions were super hit. Music for all the South Indian versions was composed by C Subbaih Naidu and for the Hindi version, as we all know, was by C Ramchandra. Here are the six versions. Tamil – Malaikkallan, Hindi – Azaad, Telugu – Aggi Ramudu, Malayalam -Thaskaraveeran, Kannada – Bettada Kalla and Sinhalese – Surasena
This dance sequence in the Tamil version is pure Bharatanatyam performed by Sai and Subbulakshmi sisters to the accompaniment of pure Carnatic Classical music (most likely based on Raag Karaharpriya) by the legendary singer Periyanayaki and this number can be considered as one of the best classical dance cum song sequence from Tamil Films.
5T. Neeli magan nee allavo by Periyanayaki from Malaikkallan (The Hill Bandit) (1954), lyrics Namkkal Balasubramaniam, music Subbaiah Naidu, choreography Muthuswamy Pillai and Thangaraj, dance Sai and Subbulakshmi sisters
In the Hindi version both the song and dance compositions were changed. Sai and Subbulakshmi sisters have given another creditable performance. Let us watch this popular dance and song variation from Azaad.
5H. Apalam chapalam by Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar from Azaad (1955), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra, choreography Badriprasad, dance Sai and Subbulakshmi sisters
Chori Chori (1956) is a movie from the house of AVM. The film had some beautiful songs composed by Shankar Jaikishan and two dance numbers, a light version by Sai and Subbulakshmi sisters and the other, a pure classical Thillana version by Kamala Lakshman in Raag Hindolam. Kamala Lakshman performed in several South Indian and Hindi films as a dancer. Let us watch this Thillana.
6. Thillana by M L Vasanthkumari from Chori Chori (1956), music Shankar Jaikishan, choreography Dandayudhapani Pillai, dance Kamala Lakshman
My next two dance numbers are from the film Payal (1957) which was a remake of the Tamil film Malliga (1957), produced by Madras Talkies. Unfortunately the Tamil version of the film was lost and only the Hindi version, Payal , was available. Gemini Ganeshan desired to see the Tamil version during his lifetime. But that did not happen. There are two dance sequences available in YT. The Tamil audio and Hindi Video mix of this song which is available on YT has speed problems. The costume and the picturisation of this song in Tamil must have been different. Since I could not locate any other video or audio version of this dance and song sequence, I had to go by what was available. Let us watch Padmini who dons both the male and female role in this dance sequence.
7T. Mangammal Valarum Shingara Nadanam by P Susheela from Malliga (1957), lyrics Maruthakasi, music T R Pappa, choreography Hiralal, dance Padmini
The Hindi version has no such hiccups. This energetic and expressive dance choreographed by Hiralal and assisted by Chinnilal and Sampath to the beautiful lyrics by Rajendra Krishna is highly enjoyable.
7H. Piya milan ko chali Radhika by Lata Mangeshkar from Payal (1957), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Hemant Kumar, chreography Hiralal, dance Padmini
The second dance sequence from this film. A beautiful composition by T R Pappa.
8T. Neela vanna kannane unn ennamellam from Malliga by P Susheela, lyrics Marutha Kasi, music T R Pappa, choreography Hiralal, dance Padmini
Let us listen to the Hindi version. Padmini dances to the tune of Lata Mangeshkar.
8H. Ja re sanwle salone natkhat Banwari from Payal (1957) by Lata Mangeshkar, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Hemant Kumar, choreography Hiralal, dance Padmini
Vanjikkottai Valiban (1958) (The Youth from Vanji Fort) was another Tamil film from the House of Gemini. The music for both the versions was composed by C Ramchandra and all the songs were popular. The next number, a dance duet/duel enacted by Vyjayanthimala and Padmini is simply brilliant and this was the main attraction of the film. This dance was choreographed by Hiralal, the great dance master and brother of Sohanlal. This dazzling dance duet is considered, perhaps, the best dance sequence in Indian cinema. Let us watch the dance duet and listen to the spirited rendition of the song by Jikki and P Leela.
9T. Kannum kannum kalanthu by P Leela and Jikki from the film Vanjikottai Valiban (1958), lyrics Kothamangalam Subbu, music C Ramachandra, choreography Hiralal, dance Padmini and Vyjayanthimala
Now the Hindi version
9H. Aaja to aaja by Asha Bhosle and Sudha Malhotra from the film Raj Tilak (1958), lyrics Pyarelal Santoshi, music C Ramchandra, choreography Hiralal, dance Padmini and Vyjyathimala
The next number is also from the House of Gemini. Irumbu Thirai (Iron Curtain) was produced in 1959. Here I am presenting a fast paced solo dance sequence by Vyjaynthimala.
10T. Aasai konda nenjirandu pesikindra pothu by P Leela from Irumbu Thirai (1960) (Iron Curtain), lyrics Pattukotai Kalyanasundaram, music S V Venkataraman, choreography V S Mutthuswamy Pillai, dance Vyjyanthimala
Now the sparkling dance number from the Hindi version Paigham (1959)
10H. Main kyun na nachoon aaj by Asha Bhosle from Paigham (1959), lyrics Pradeep, music C Ramchandra, choreography Gopi Krishna, dance Vyjayanthimala
Till now, I have covered all the dancers mentioned in my introduction, except Waheeda Rehman and Hema Malini. Waheeda Rehman started her career as a dancer in South Indian films. She and her sister learnt Bharatanatyam under Guru Trichendur Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai and Guru Jayalaxmi Alva, and performed on stage together. But to the best of my best knowledge, she did not act in any Tamil movies. She was spotted by Guru Dutt and she made her debut in the Hindi film C I D (1956).
Here is an excerpt from the article, Dancing to an Indian beat, written by Sangeeta Shreshthova in the book Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance, edited by Sangita Gopal and Sujata Moorti.
‘……in the film Guide (Vijay Anand 1965), the performances that establish the success of Rosie, the heroine (played by Waheeda Rehman), as a professional dancer reference several “classical” dance forms including Kathak, Bharat Natyam and Manipuri. The director’s choice to cut between several styles rather than focus on Rosie’s mastery in a particular regionally specific dance form attempts to infuse the heroine with a pan-Indian identity, a feature that scholars have identified as a recurring feature in the immediate post independence cinema.’
Here I am presenting one of my favourite dance numbers performed by Waheeda Rehman from the film, Guide (1965), set to instrumental music.
11. Snake dance set to instrumental music from Guide (1965), music S D Burman, choreography Sohanlal and Hiralal, dance Waheeda Rehman and (?)
Hema Malini another trained classical dancer turned film actress, made her debut as dancer. She performed in the Tamil movie Idhu Sathyam and then in the Telugu movie Pandava Vanavasamu. She was selected for the lead role for the Tamil film Vennira Aadai, later to be rejected by the director. She made her Hindi film debut in the film Sapnon ka Saudagar in the year 1968.
I am presenting a dance number, whose choreography I believe was by Shambu Sen. I am not sure. Once again I look up to some of my knowledgeable friends to bail me out.
12. Nava kalpana nava roop se by Md. Rafi from Mrig Trishna (1975), lyrics, music and Choreography (?) Shambu Sen, dance Hema Malini
I conclude this episode with this humble tribute to the graceful Dancing Dames from Deccan and all those choreographers who have assiduously worked behind the screen to preserve this art form on celluloid.
Acknowledgements and references:
1. Kasuvandi2, uploader of Kathakali demonstration and dance by Uday Shankar.
2. Pad.ma who has uploaded the entire film Kalpana, viewable for free as part of its "Copyright-Free Indian Cinema" project.
3. The Kathakali clips are courtesy the Mudrapedia, a free, online, multimedia-enabled encyclopedia of Kathakali hand gestures (Mudras)
6. Traditions in World Cinema by Linda Badley
7. Hindi films and the cinema by Anna Morcom
8. Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance, edited by Sangita Gopal and Sujata Moorti and the article, ‘Dancing to an Indian beat’, written by Sangeeta Shreshthova.
9. Minai’s Cinema Nritya Gharana
10. Dances on the footpath, Richard S blog
Thanks to AKji (SoY) for providing me the platform and Ashok Vaishnavj for starting this marvelous series,
Thanks to You Tube and all the up loaders of the songs, all other sources which I may have inadvertently missed out.