Hindi Songs

Waheeda Rehman’s Debut

It’s interesting how different snippets of information gleaned over different periods of time, finally lead to an “Aha” moment.  I had one such moment recently.  

Waheeda Rehman’s first Hindi movie was “CID” where she played the role of a villain’s moll.  Released in 1956 and directed by Guru Dutt, it starred Dev Anand and Shakila.  In the movie, Waheeda Rehman, besides the villain’s moll, is also Shakila’s friend.  Essentially good at heart, she helps Dev Anand escape when he is trapped in the villain’s house by giving him the escape route via a song.  She sings the song “Kahin pe nigahein, kahin pe nishaana” to stall the villain as he tries to follow Dev Anand through the labyrinthine maze in his house. 

A couple of years ago, while watching a show on the composer SD Burman hosted by Javed Akthar, I remember him mentioning that SD was known to add non Hindi words and sometimes nonsensical words in his songs.  An example of a nonsensical phrase is the sentence “tam tale to tam tale” from his song “Aa gup chup gup chup pyar kare” from Sazaa.  He also mentioned that SD included the Telugu word “Chinnanna” as a place filler in a song.  I recognized that the song was from the movie “Bambai ka Babu”.   That was an interesting bit of trivia but nothing more.

In “Ten Years with Guru Dutt, Abrar Alvi’s Journey” by Sathya Saran, Abrar Alvi mentions how he and Guru Dutt went down to Hyderabad to meet the producer of a movie called “Missiamma” that they planned to remake in Hindi.  While at his office, they happened to see a car pull up and a young lady stepped out and she was immediately surrounded by urchins.  On asking who she was, they were told that she was a starlet who had danced for a song in a movie.  The movie had done exceedingly well and was celebrating its hundredth day anniversary and she was in Hyderabad for the celebrations.  She was duly introduced to Guru Dutt who was impressed that she could speak Hindi and Urdu. Waheeda Rehman was then cast in CID and later went on to play major roles in other Guru Dutt productions.

Last week, I listened to an old Waheeda Rehman interview where she mentions that her first role was in a Telugu movie called “Rojalu Marayi” released in 1955.   Waheeda Rehman was an accomplished dancer and the producer convinced her mother to let her act in the movie since she would be performing a dance in front of the camera as opposed to a live audience.  Waheeda Rehman said the movie did extremely well because of the song and she was invited to Hyderabad for a ceremony related to the movie and while where she happened to meet Guru Dutt.  The rest is history.   During the interview, Waheeda Rehman sang a line from the chorus of the song “Eruvaka sagaro ranno chinnanna” and it is then I made the connection with the trivia I had heard in Javed Akthar’s show.

Besides using the word “Chinnanna” from the song that she danced to, SD also used part of the the tune for the song “Dekhne main bhola hai” from the movie “Bambai ka Babu” starring Dev Anand and Suchitra Sen.  So Waheeda Rehman dances for a song in a movie and is invited to Hyderabad to celebrate the movie’s success.  A serendipitous meeting with Guru Dutt leads her to be cast in a small role in CID and then later goes on to star in classic movies like Pyasa, Kagaz Ke Phool and Chaudhavin Ka Chand.  Their ensuing romance and Guru Dutt’s tragic death is now part of Bollywood lore.  The song that she danced to then inspires a tune for an SD Burman song.

The word “chinnanna”, I learned from my brother-in-law is the younger of two older brothers.

Waheeda Rehman’s debut role “Rojulu Marayi”
SD Burman’s composition inspired by the tune from “Rojulu Marayi”