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1973: The Salim-Javed Era Begins!

In his book, Written by Salim - Javed: The Story of Hindi Cinema’s Greatest Screenwriters, the author, Diptakirti Chaudhuri, writes of the iconic screenplay-writing duo, “I believe they brought a certain swagger to the profession of writing, long – probably still – considered to be a back-room job. There were more prolific writers, writers who had given a greater number of hits. But none of them had succeeded in changing the dynamics of an industry, notorious for being set in its ways. None of them raised their collars and advertised their success the way Salim-Javed did… For them, credit was as important as – if not more than – the money.”

The year that marked Salim-Javed’s ascent into stardom was 1973. Although they had delivered a couple of hits earlier, which included Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) and Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), it was with Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer (1973) that the duo finally got the recognition they deserved. Zanjeer also saw Amitabh Bachchan step into his ‘Angry Young Man’ persona as he plays a cop out to bring to book the diabolical villain, Seth Dharam Dayal Teja, (Ajit) and avenge the murder of his parents at the hands of the same man. The film had a couple of popular songs such as ‘Chakkoo chhuriyaan tez kara lo’ and ‘Yaari hai imaan, mera yaar, meri zindagi’. In the upcoming episode of The Golden Years: 1950-1975 where he discusses the many fine Hindi film songs of 1973, Javed Akhtar (one half of Salim-Javed) says of ‘Yaari haim imaan’, “So many songs have been written on friendship. But when friendship songs are mentioned, just like we remember the Sholay [1975] song, ‘Yeh dosti’ in the same way we remember this song, ‘Yarai hai imaan’, too… The song became popular despite Zanjeer not being a musical film. Even forty year later, the song warms the cockles of the heart and reminds us of what friendship is.”

Another Salim-Javed film from the same year as Zanjeer, and which struck box-office gold was Yaadon Ki Baaraat. This film was a lost-and-found story, with three brothers separated from each other after the villain Shaakaal (Ajit again) murders their parents. The three siblings grow up to lead separate lives – with the eldest Shankar (Dharmendra) turning to a life of crime himself. Although Shankar, just like Bachchan’s character in Zanjeer, is thirsting to have his revenge against the man who killed his parents, his other two siblings Vijay (Vijay Arora) and Ratan (Tariq Khan) are more youthful characters, given their romantic and musical pursuits.

While it is the film’s title track – ‘Yaadon ki baaraat nikli hai aaj dil ke dwaarey’ – that ultimately reunites the three siblings, the film also had some other magical compositions. ‘Chura liya hai tumney jo dil ko’ made a style statement with Zeenat Aman and Vijay Arora both looking extremely chic in their Western-styled attire in the song. Neetu Singh, only 15 at the time Yaadon Ki Baaraat released, became quite the rage for her look and performance in ‘Lekar hum deewaana dil’. Then there was also the multiple song sequence – ‘Aap ke kamrey’ leading to ‘Dil mil gaye’ leading to ‘Dum Maro dum’ – which went on to become very popular. To put it succinctly,Yaadon Ki Baaraat perfectly married director-producer Nasir Husain’s musical film sensibilities to the revenge oriented plots of Salim-Javed.

Another director, who would work with Salim-Javed in the 1970s, for his films - Deewaar (1975), Trishul (1978) and Kaala Patthar - was Yash Chopra. In 1973, however, Chopra directed Daag, which starred Rajesh Khanna, Shamila Tagore and Rakhee. The film’s storyline, based on a novel, Maili Chandni, written by Gulshan Nanda, involved a love triangle between the protagonists. Daag’s songs were composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and written by Sahir Ludhianvi. While Sahir showed his versatility in penning the upbeat, flirtatious song, ‘Ab chaahey maa roothey’, the profound, philosophical nature of his lyrics shone in songs like ‘Mere dil mein aaj kya hai?’ and ‘Jab bhi jee chaahey nayee duniya basa lete hain log’. However, Javed Akhtar makes a particulalry insightful observation about Yash Chopra in connection with the filmmaker’s body of work leading upto Daag. “By the time he made Daag, Yash Chopra had become an acclaimed and famous director. But whatever films he made before Daag, he made for his elder brother B.R. Chopra’s banner, B.R. Films. This is the first time Yash Chopra moved out of his brother’s banner and directed an produced a film by himself, Daag.”

Catch the next episode of The Golden Years: 1950-1975 with Javed Akhtar this Sunday at 8 pm to know more about the many wonderful Hindi film songs from 1973. Presented by Dettol and co-powered by State Bank of India and Good Knight Fast Card.

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