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Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan: Peers All Through!

We see Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan playing fine character actors in Hindi cinema of today. Kapoor has notched up impressive performances in films like Luck By Chance (2009), Do Dooni Chaar (2010),  Agneepath (2012) and Kapoor & Sons (2016). Bachchan, on the other hand, has won many accolades for his roles in Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Paa (2009), Piku (2015) and Te3n (2016).  Both actors are well past their heyday, but continue to delight their many millions of fans around the world because of their versatility and their ability to get into the skin of the character in their many different roles.

Kapoor’s and Bachchan’s acting careers, in fact, have always run parallel to each other. While Bachchan broke through with Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer (1973), Rishi Kapoor debuted as the male lead in the same year in his father Raj Kapoor’s production, Bobby. The film which also saw Dimple Kapadia make her screen debut as the lead heroine had a memorable soundtrack. Songs such as ‘Hum tum ek kamrey mein band ho’, ‘Main shaayar toh nahin’, ‘Na maangoo sona chaandi’ and ‘Jhooth boley kauwa kaatey’ from the film remain popular to this day. Javed Akhtar, however, paid rich compliments to another song from the film, ‘Beshak Mandir Masjid’. In the recent episode of The Golden Years: 1950-1975, A Musical Journey, Akhtar praised the song, saying, “The song was written by Inderjeet Tulsi where he quoted the famous Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah. This song is for every Hindustani, for every era, for you, for me and for each one of us.”

Bachchan, meanwhile, had also starred in another couple of successful films beside Zanjeer in the year that Bobby released. He co-starred with Jaya Bhaduri in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s classic film, Abhimaan. The film’s music was given by S.D. Burman who passed away a few years later. But with a soundtrack that boasted of songs like ‘Meet na mila re mann ka’, ‘Piya bina piya bina’, ‘Lootey koi mann ka nagar’, ‘Ab toh hai tumse’ and ‘Teri bindiya re’, SD proved that he conjure magic even in the autumn of his career. Burman’s work in Abhimaan means that he has produced at least one truly outstanding all-round film score across three decades – be it for Devdas (1955) or Pyaasa (1957) in the 1950s,  Guide (1965) or Jewel Thief (1967) in the 1960s and then Abhimaan in the 1970s.

Another Hirishikesh Mukerjee film that released in 1973 that once again saw Bachchan pair up with Rajesh Khanna, like they did in Mukherjee’s Anand (1971), was Namak Haraam. Here too, like in Anand, it was Khanna who played the lead role, but Bachchan’s character had a villanious shade to it compared to his character in Anand. With songs like ‘Main shaayar badnaam’, ‘Diye jaltey hain’ and ‘Nadiya se dariya’, it was SD’s son, R.D. Burman who won many plaudits for his compositions in this Mukherjee film. Namak Haraam is the last film, however, where Khanna and Bachchan acted together.

RD was actually right at the beginning of his golden phase at this time, a period which lasted until the early-to-mid 1980s. His music for films like Joshila (‘Kiska rasta dekhe’), Aa Gale Lag Ja (‘Tera mujhse hai pehley ka waada koi’ and ‘Waada karo nahin chhodoge tum mera saath’), Heera Panna (‘Panna ki tamanna hai’) and Anamika (‘Meri bheegi bheegi si’ and ‘Baahon mein chaley aao’), all of which released in 1973, were all chartbusters.

RD’s success didn’t mean that other music composers simply threw in the towel. Films like Manchali (‘Oh manchali kahaan chali’)  and Anhonee (‘Mainey hothon se lagaayi toh’) saw Laxmikant-Pyarelal in sparkling form in 1973. Kalyanji-Anandji, too, showcased their mettle with their songs ‘Pal pal dil ke paas’ (Black Mail - 1973) and ‘Arrey rafta rafta dekhon aankh meri ladi hai’ (Kahani Kismat Ki - 1973).  Speaking on the popularity of the latter Kalyanji-Anandji composition, Akhtar said, “When this song, which was picturised on Dharmendra and Rekha, used to come in the film, people in the cinema hall would go crazy. It would become difficult to hear the song. There used to be such commotion, so many whistles, so many claps, people would get up and dance in the aisles. There would be utter chaos.”    

You can watch The Golden Years: 1950-1975, A Musical Journey with Javed Akhtar on Zee Classic every Sunday at 8 p.m.! Presented by Dettol and co-powered by State Bank of India and Good Knight Fast Card.

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