On Shabana Azmi’s 71st birthday on September 18, Narendra Kusnur selects a mix of hits and rarer tunes from the lesser-successful films.
After Shyam Benegal’s Ankur in 1974, Shabana Azmi became a major name in parallel cinema. Though she also had her share of commercial films, she was known to choose movies with good and relevant subjects.
On her 71st birthday on September 18, we select 10 of her songs. The list is a mix of hits and rarer tunes from the lesser-successful films. Some readers may wonder why we haven’t included the Amar Akbar Anthony hit “Humko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyaar’, but that’s because the song had so many other stars, and wasn’t specifically focused on her. The order is chronological.
1 Piya Baaj Pyaala – Nishant (1975)
A rare and moving song sung by Preeti Sagar, it was composed by Vanraj Bhatia, using no instrumental back-up, but a few crowd noises in some portions. Shabana appeared in the early part, and the song also featured Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad. Traditional lyrics by Quli Qutb Shah were in the Dakhni language spoken around Hyderabad. The song was also rendered by others including Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano.
2 Tota Maina Ki Kahani – Fakira (1976)
A typical 1970s duet set in green outdoor locales, this was picturised on Shashi Kapoor and Shabana. Sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, it was composed and written by Ravindra Jain, who began, “Tota maina ki kahani toh purani purani ho gayee, ab hai sabke labon par yeh taaza khabar, ek ladki deewani ho gayee”.
3 Pal Bhar Mein Yeh Kya Ho Gaya – Swami (1977)
Though Swami was best known for the Yesudas song ‘Ka Karoon Sajni’, this Lata tune had a huge following. A mix of rain and indoor shots, it was filmed on Shabana and Vikram. Music was by Rajesh Roshan and lyrics were by Amit Khanna, who expressed longing through the line, “Dinbhar mujhe yun sataaye, un bin ab toh raha nahin jaaye”.
4 Chand Churake Laaya Hoon – Devata (1978)
Gulzar wrote the lines, “Chand churake laaya hoon, chal baithe church ke peeche”. The fun song was composed by R.D. Burman and sung by Kishore and Lata. Sanjeev Kumar was paired opposite Shabana. The film also had Lata’s rain number ‘Main Toh Kaari Badarwa Se Haari’, co-starring Benjamin Gilani.
5 Gaao Mere Mann – Apne Paraye (1980)
Shabana was paired opposite Amol Palekar. In the family song, a couple sang in front of their children, with Amol playing mridang. Yogesh’s inspirational lines were, “Gaao mere mann, chaahe suraj chamke re, chaahe laga ho grahan”. Bappi Lahiri composed the tune sung by Yesudas and Asha Bhosle.
6 Hazaar Raahein – Thodisi Bewafaii (1980)
An outdoor duet filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Shabana, it was composed by Khayyam and sung by Kishore and Lata. Gulzar wrote the lines, “Hazaar raahein, mud ke dekheen, kahin se koi sada na aayee; badi wafa se nibhaayi tumne, hamaari thodi si bewafaii”. The film also had the Kishore hit ‘Aankhon Mein Humne Aapke’.
7 Koi Kaise Yeh Bataaye – Arth (1982)
Though Shabana didn’t lip-sync to this song, sung by Jagjit Singh for Raj Kiran, her expressions and emotional turmoil were wonderfully depicted as she saw Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Smita Patil enter the restaurant. Music was by Jagjit and Chitra Singh, with Kaifi Azmi writing the words in nazm format.
8 Din Mahine Saal – Avtaar (1983)
Rajesh Khanna and Shabana got together again on this outdoor Kishore-Lata duet. Laxmikant-Pyarelal composed the music, and Anand Bakshi wrote, “Din mahine saal guzarte jaayenge, hum pyaar mein jeete pyaar mein marte jaayenge, dekhenge, dekh lena, dekhenge, dekh lena”. The film also had the devotional hit ‘Chalo Bulava Aaya Hai, Mata Ne Bulaya Hai’.
9 Ajnabee Kaun Ho Tum – Sweekar Kiya Maine (1983)
This was an under-rated but beautiful song penned by the great Nida Fazli, who wrote, “Ajnabee kaun ho tum, jabse tumhe dekha hai, saari duniya meri ankhon mein simat aayee hai”. Usha Khanna composed the tune sung by Lata. Shabana appeared in a simple yellow sari with Vinod Mehra as her co-star.
10 Do Naina Aur Ek Kahani – Masoom (1983)
This gem by composer R.D. Burman was sung marvellously by Arati Mukherjee. In the film, child artiste Jugal Hansraj was shown feeling neglected because Shabana’s entire attention was towards her daughters. Naseeruddin also made an appearance. Gulzar wrote, “Do naina, ek kahani, thoda sa baadal, thoda sa paani, aur ek kahani”.
Compared to other heroines, Shabana probably got lesser songs. But some of the rare ones are appreciated by connoisseurs even today.