My friend Ashish considers the song “Chaudhvin ka chand ho” (The full moon) the most complete Hindi romantic song. It certainly has all the ingredients – superb lyrics, subtle music, fantastic vocals by Mohammed Rafi and filmed on the classic beauty – Waheeda Rehman. As an added bonus, in the movie, the song is sung by Guru Dutt, Ashish’s favorite director.
The story behind the creation of the song is interesting. Ambarish Mishra, the compere of a show on music from Guru Dutt’s movies says that when Guru Dutt decided to produce Chaudhavin Ka Chand (The full moon), he wanted a director who could bring an authentic Muslim touch to the movie. In spite of being an accomplished director himself, he approached Mohammed Sadiq to direct the movie. Guru Dutt had planned to go with O.P Nayyar for the music but Sadiq recommended Khayyam. Guru Dutt couldn’t accommodate Khayyam’s fees in his budget and he went with the composer Ravi Shankar Sharma (known just by his first name – Ravi) instead. It turned out to be an inspired choice.
Ravi, in an interview, says it took him just about five to seven minutes to compose the music for the song. He says he was returning home one evening when he thought that it would be a good idea to emulate the then prevailing trend of including the title of the movie in one of its songs. He decided to compose a song starting with the words “Chaudhvin ka Chand”. He says he got home and composed the tune for the first line. He then called Shakeel Badayuni, the lyricist and told him that he had an idea for a song and requested him to come over.
When Shakeel Badayuni came over, Ravi played the harmonium and sang the first line “Chaudhvin ka Chand ho” (Are you the full moon) in tune. He then stopped. He says within a matter of seconds, Shakeel Badayuni added the line “ya aafataab ho” (Or are you the glowing sun?). Ravi immediately composed the tune for the line and sang it. Shakeel Badayuni thought for a few moments and added “Jo bhi ho tum khudaa ki kasam, lajawaab ho” (Whatever you are, I swear to god, you are without parallel). Ravi then composed the music for that line and the first verse was born!
Ravi says Guru Dutt loved the song and it’s not surprising considering that Ravi had kept the scene in mind when he composed the song. In the movie, Guru Dutt returns from a poetry recital to find Waheeda Rehman who had been waiting up for him has fallen asleep. He is moved by her ethereal beauty to sing the song.
To me, it speaks to the craftsmanship of Ravi and Shakeel Badayuni that they were able to compose this song and melody spontaneously. My brother makes a pertinent point though. Composers and lyricists live and breathe music and poetry and what seems spontaneous to us is really an outcome of their immersion and dedication to this medium where they endlessly play with tunes and words.
The music itself is subtle placing emphasis on the poetry and the vocals. This song earned Mohammed Rafi the Filmfare award for best playback singer in the male category (1961) and Shakeel Badayuni that of best lyricist. Incidentally, Shakeel Badayuni was also nominated for “Pyar kiya to darna kya” from Mughal-e-Azam. Ravi and Naushad (who was nominated for the magnum-opus Mughal-e-Azam) both lost out to Shankar-Jaikishan who won the best director award for “Dil Apna Preet Parai”. It speaks to the quality of the movie industry then that the music of these movies were competing against each other in the same year!
Some twenty-odd years ago, my brother presented me with a lovely book called “So Many Cinemas: The Motion Picture in Inda” authored by B.D. Garga. It traces the history and evolution of the motion picture industry in India. I’ve pored through its pages on and off over the years and now it is proving to be a rich source of pictures for me as I publish these blogs.