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Hum Kisise Kum Nahin: A Spectacular Musical Bonanza

The 1970s in Hindi cinema are remembered mostly for Amitabh Bachchan’s emergence. From embodying Salim-Javed’s ‘Angry Young Man’ to perfection in films like Zanjeer (1971), Deewaar (1975), Trishul (1978) to delighting audiences with his roles in films like Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Bachchan was a juggernaut. Every film he starred in turned to gold simply because the audiences could not get enough of him. Several eminent filmmakers – Yash Chopra, Vijay Anand, Raj Khosla, Shakti Samanta, Manmohan Desai – who made their debut in Hindi cinema in the late 1950s and 1960s, rode the Bachchan wave, with a few hoping that his presence in their films would extend their fading careers. One filmmaker, however, dominated the 1970s without having to piggyback on Bachchan’s success.

 With Caravan (1971), Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973) and then finally Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977), Nasir Husain, the talismanic writer-director-producer of the 1950s and 1960s, celebrated his finest hour. If Caravan was a silver jubilee hit, then Yaadon Ki Baaraat was an even bigger showstopper that ran for 100 weeks at Star Talkies in Chennai. Hum Kisise Kum Nahin was perhaps this biggest of Husain’s three hits in the decade, something that he managed to achieve while staying true to the cause of song-and-dance, romance and the feel-good, holiday films that he was very well known for.

 Hum Kisise Kum Nahin saw Rishi Kapoor act in a Husain film for the very first time. Husain had a very good relationship with the Kapoor family, given that it was in his directorial debut, Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957), that Shammi Kapoor had his first big hit. Shammi would also act in Husain’s Dil Deke Dekho (1959) and Teesri Manzil (1966). Besides Shammi, Rishi Kapoor’s other uncle, Shashi Kapoor also worked with Husain in Pyar Ka Mausam (1969). And while both Shammi and Shashi were Rishi’s uncles from his father’s (Raj Kapoor) side, his brothers Randhir Kapoor and Rajiv Kapoor also acted in Husain’s Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981) and Zabardast (1985). Then there were Rishi Kapoor’s maternal uncles, Prem Nath and Rajendra Nath, who also acted in several Husain films, thereby making the Husain-Rishi partnership a ‘ghar ki baat’ affair.   

 Hum Kisise Kum Nahin was a celebration of Husain’s filmmaking sensibility. It had style, action, comedy, with music and dance carrying the narrative along. Both the central male characters, enacted by Rishi Kapoor and Tariq Khan, are shown to be adept at playing musical instruments right from the beginning of the film. Even Kaajal Kiran, who played the female lead, is introduced in the film dancing to the Tina Charles song, ‘Dance, little lady dance’. The reunion between the childhood sweethearts – the characters played by Tariq and Kaajal – also happens by way of song through ‘Kya hua tera waada’. This was a continuation of a theme wherein Husain had previously used song to reunite a lost son with his parents in Pyar Ka Mausam and reunite the separated brothers in Yaadon Ki Baaraat.

 But Husain’s song-and-dance extravaganza hit its apogee with the medley sequence in the film. While the medley song had featured before in Hindi cinema in films like Awara (1951) and Guide (1965), the Hum Kisise Kum Nahin sequence was spectacular in comparison. It had six distinct sections, with one segment segueing into another seamlessly and went on for nearly ten minutes. Each composition within the medley – whether it was ‘Chand mera dil’ or ‘Aa dil kya mehfil hai tere’ – was a gem. Husain had hit upon the idea of doing such a long medley sequence after visiting Tiffany’s discotheque in London. He liked the idea of the people at the club continuing to dance even as one track changed to another without a break in between. And with an ace composer like R.D. Burman by his side, he was able to pull off the entire sequence with complete panache. Award-winning authors Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal include this medley as one of the 50 classic Hindi film songs in their book Gaata Rahe Mera Dil.

 If the medley was inspired from disco, then the Hum Kisise Kum Nahin title track was an ode to the qawwali. Interestingly, Rishi Kapoor had done another memorable qawwali song in the same year when he had ‘Purdah hai purdah’ from Amar Akbar Anthony picturized on him. However, while he is dressed as a traditional qawwal in the Amar Akbar Anthony song, he is seen as a modern, flamboyant character, wearing a red waistcoat over a ruffle-front tuxedo shirt in Husain’s Hum Kisise Kum Nahin. This was the essence of Husain’s filmmaking style. He could take a traditional musical form like the qawwali, which is supposedly devotional in its roots, and turn it into something modern and contemporary by how he presented the characters and picturized the song.

 You can watch Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, a musical drama on Sunday, 14th January at 12 Noon only on Zee Classic.