AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY (1977)

Though certain sections of the media and some self proclaimed elite viewers look down on the so called ” masala-entertainers”  it is a fact that the biggest hits produced in India till date are the ” masala-movies”.

For the uninitiated (or the newer generation) a “masala-entertainer”  is a movie which is fully intended for the masses, does not pretend to be anything more then entertainment, where one should not look for logic or pathbreaking films but where the audience goes into a cinemahall to forget about their day to day worries and is transported to a make believe world where poetic justice is served in three hours and where one can enjoy pure entertainment. These films contain drama, comedy, the song and dance routine, beautiful locations, an engaging story, good songs all in the right dose (if done well).

In the hindi film industry (I do not like the term  “Bollywood”) there have been many producers and directors who have (had) specialized in ” masala -movies”  like Prakash Mehra, Ramesh Sippy, Shakti Samantha, Bappi Sohnie, Brij Sadanah, Rakesh Roshan and of course David Dhawan. Some more successful then the other, some with more hits to their credit then the other. But the ultimate master of the “masala-movies”, the emperor of the entire “masala-genre”  was none other then the one and only undisputed king on the genre MANMOHAN DESAI.

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Manmohan Desai (who’s father Kikubhai Desai was a smalltime producer / director in the 30’s and ’40s)  started his career as a writer with the film “Tulsidas” (1954) and “Janam Janam Ke Phere”  (1957). He made his debut as a director with the latter but the film bombed. His second feature as a director was the 1960 Raj Kapoor – Nutan movie “Chhalia” which was a hit. Manmohan Desai had arrived.

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Like I mentioned earlier Manmohan Desai was the emperor of the “masala-genre” .  To be quite honest he even created a sub-genre : the lost and found formula. This were stories were parents and children or just brothers and sisters would get separated in the beginning of the movie and would reunite at the end to take revenge on the villains who had wronged them. Though this concept was not found by Manmohan Desai (Yash Chopra’s film” WAQT” is credited as the first multi starrer with this storyline) ge his perfect this concept and totally made it his own.

In the 70’s and 80’s 7 out of every 10 films made in India had this storyline as the main story of the movie. But not all movies succeeded. And even the ones that did succeed did not have the success as a Manmohan Desai film.

Manmohan Desai had his fingers on the pulse of the audience. He knew what the audience wanted and catered to them. He could also make the audience lap up the most ridiculous scenes (more on that later on in the MANMOHAN DESAI NOTES).

The career and films of Manmohan Desai can be separated into two phases or categories if you want.

First, the Non Amitabh Bachchan films.

 

 

 

Most of the films from this period were hits but not as big a hit as the second category. “Dharam-Veer”  and “Chacha Bhatiya”  (co-incidently both having Dharmendra in one of the leading roles) were blockbusters. But my personal favourite Manmohan Desai movie from this first category is the 1973 Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Shatrughan Sinha movie “Aa Gale Lag Jaa”  which had a killer soundtrack by R.D. Burman and songs sung by Kishore Kumar (a very rare thing in Manmohan Desai movie).

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The second phase or category is the one for which Manmohan Desai is best remembered thill today. The phase that gave the hindi film industry some of it’s biggest blockbusters:

THE AMITABH BACHCHAN movies:

 

 

 

There has hardly been in actor-director duo or combination who worked so well with each other as Amitabh Bachchan and Manmohan Desai. The succesratio this duo had with their blockbusters can’t be challenged by anyone -worldwide. Though Amitabh Bachchan made successful movies with the likes of Prakash Mehra and Ramesh Sippy as well his best was reserved for Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Manmohan Desai. And the Manmohan Desai universe was always much happier and jolly then the Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies (which were classics themselves).

Another important aspect of Manmohan Desai movies was “national integration” . All religions co-existed happily together and religion was important. Be it John Jhonny Janardhan (Amitabh Bachchan) and the rings with the cross, the Ohm sign and Allah on it that save the heroes (Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha and Pran)  lives in “NASEEB” or the 4 “gundas” from 4 different religions (Shammi Kapoor, Uttam Kumar, Parikshat Sahni and Prem Nath) who change for the better thanks to master DinaNath (Amitabh Bachchan) in ” DESH PREMEE”.

The best of Manmohan Desai -also in this regard (which would do more for national integration then a 100 documentaries produced by the government or Doordarshan) – would release in 1977… a film that would change the path for Manmohan Desai and Amitabh Bachchan…

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Amar Akbar Anthony has many sub plots (another strong point of Manmohan Desai movies – the movies had many subplots running simultaneously and by the end of the movie all would be tied up and presented to the audience with a nice ribbon around it) but the main plot is :

A father (Pran) and mother (the world’s worst mom ever- Nirupa Roy- who lost all her children in almost every movie in the 70’s and 80’s) have 3 sons. Due to circumstances they all get seprated. The dad becomes an underworld don, the mom becomes blind as a bonus in this movie, the eldest son Amar (Vinod Khanna) is brought up by a hindi police inspector, the youngest is brought up by a muslim elderly and becomes a famous qawwali singer -Akbar Ilhabadi (Rishi Kapoor) and the middle son is brought up by a catholic priest (Nazir Hussain) and is known as Anthony Gonzalvez (Amitabh Bachchan in topform) a local goon with a heart of gold.

 

Vinod Khanna is seen in a very unthankful role. His character inspector Amar is very serious and has no humor at all. I am glad that his sreentime is limited as his character is the least fun to watch on screen. I think he might have taken up the role only because he could beat up his biggest rival of that era (Amitabh Bachchan) which was rare in a movie of that era.

Rishi Kapoor as Akbar Ilhabadi has all songs (except for one) fully or partially picturized in him. But don’t be fooled. We are talking about Rishi Kapoor here so he is not there just for the songs. Rishi is terrific as Akbar Ilhabadi and his chemistry with Amitabh Bachchan is superb. They had only done a “Kabhi Kabhie”  together before this movie in which there was no room for the Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor magic. But Manmohan Desai gave us three films with that magic and this one -together with Naseeb-  is the best there is.

Rishi Kapoor is great in his role and the qawali’s and other songs picturized on him (sung by Mohd. Rafi) are fantastic. But as we all know Rishi Kapoor knows how to act and to act during songs. Besides his track with Amitabh Bachchan his track with Neetu Singh and Mukhri (who plays her dad) will bring the house down even today.

Now to the middle brother, the actual star of the movie -Anthony Gonzalvez (Amitabh Bachchan). Amitabh has the biggest role in the movie and it seems like the movie is centered around him. But it’s not that Amitabh had other’s role cut or anything. Vinod Khanna’s track is mostly with Bachchan. Rishi Kapoor’s track is with Amitabh Bachchan and with the mom Nirupa Roy so it’s simple that Rishi’s role is bigger then Vinod Khanna’s. But Amitabh has a track with Vinod Khanna, a track with Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and Mukhri, a track with Pran (the dad), a track with Nirupa Roy (the mom) AND his romantic track (with Parveen Babi) so it is only but logical that his role is the biggest in the movie. It might not have been scripted that way initially but something happened during the making of Amar Akbar Anthony that would change destinies…

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In those days making a film took years to finish. To make a movie on the Manmohan Desai scale took at least 3 years to complete. Manmohan Desai was already a well known producer / director. In the mid 70’s he was busy with shooting 4 films simultaneously : Dharam-Veer, Chacha Bhatiya, Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony (the last two with Bachchan in one of the leading roles). Now because Manmohan was directing 4 films simultaneously it was difficult being on every set to do all the shootings himself.

A scene had to be canned for Amar Akbar Anthony which would feature just one actor in it – Amitabh Bachchan. Because all Manmohan Desai movies were multi starrers it was difficult to get combined dates of actors because in those days actors would give out “shifts”  to filmmakers. So Manmohan Desai opted to direct another scene for one of the other movies which had a combination of stars in it. For the scene to be shot for Amar Akbar Anthony it was just Amitabh Bachchan and the cameramen in the studio.

The situation was : Amitabh Bachchan had tried to woo Parveen Babi during an Easter festival with a song and had been beaten up (again!) by her bodyguard because he was drunk. Now in this scene he was in front of a mirror trying to talk to himself.  Amitabh improvised and the scene was shot. Legend has it that when Manmohan Desai saw the rushes of that scene he cried and vowed to never again make a movie without Amitabh Bachchan and that was the birth of a deadly combination that nobody has ever been able to replicate!

This deadly duo would go on to rise to the challenge and give one blockbuster after the other and experiencing one of the worst accidents ever to have happened on the sets of any hindi movie ever… but I won’t get into that in this post. Just a screenshot of that fateful blow…

You might think that in a movie called Amar Akbar Anthony with 3 heroes and many subplots the heroines of the movie might have nothing to do… Leave it to Manmohan Desai to prove you wrong.

Shabana Azmi as the love interest of Vinod Khanna gets the smallest role of the heroines. Which is perfectly understandable as she has only one track -that with Vinod Khanna. And since he has the smallest role of the 3 heroes it is only but logical that she has the smallest role as well. It is fun though to see Shabana in an out and out commercial role (she was also in Manmohan Desai’s “Parvarish”  with Bachchan again opposite Vinod Khanna) when you keep in mind her tirade against “masala-movies”  later in her career. But she tried to be in those movies herself.

Neetu Singh (Kapoor) has a far bigger role in the movie as the love interest of Rishi Kapoor who is a doctor by profession. She is good in her role and fun to watch as she does justice to her character.

Parveen Babi as the love interest of Amitabh Bachchan has the biggest role of the heroines. First of all she has a track as Anthony’s love interest. But she also has her own track as the daughter of the villain (Jeevan) who is brought up by her ” uncle” (Pran) who has a bodyguard (Yusuf Khan -NOT DILIP KUMAR).  She does justice to her role as well and this was Parveen at her best. Though Parveen was a superb team with Amitabh she would star in 2 more Manmohan Desai-Amitabh Bachchan movies in which she would not be paired opposite Amitabh. In “SUHAAG”  she would be paired opposite Shashi Kapoor (and Amitabh with Rekha) and in “DESH PREMEE” Amitabh would have a double role no less where he would be paired with Sharmila Tagore (making a comeback) and Hema Malini. Parveen Babi would be the daughter of the elder Bachchan and the sister of the younger Bachchan. Her hero would be the one time semi-successful actor Navin Nischal (who by the way was the hero in the film “PARWAANA”  in which Amitabh Bachchan would be the cold blooded villain much before Shah Rukh Khan’s Baazigar and Anjaam act).

 

 

 

The main villain in the movie was Robert Seth portrayed by character actor Jeevan (father of Kiran Kumar – “Khuda Gawah”, ” Khudgarz”, ” Baaghi”). Jeevan who had been famous for playing Naratmuni in many films was an actor who could be seen in many Manmohan Desai films and with Amar Akbar Anthony he made a great comeback as a villain.

Manmohan Desai loved to work with his set of actors. You could ususally see the same actors in most of his movies with an addition here and there. And since his movies were multi starrers and had many storylines there was a need for multiple villains. Therefor it is strange that Amar Akbar Anthony is the only Manmohan Desai movie in which the famous 70’s and 80’s villain Ranjeet makes an appearance. His role is not that big. He is the stepbrother of Shabana Azmi, henchmen of Jeevan and the son of Nadira.

Which brings me to Nadira who makes a guest appearance in this movie as the eveil stepmother from hell of Shabana Azmi and mom to Ranjeet’s character. Though her screen time is limited she makes an impression. But for an actress of the caliber of Nadira nothing less can be expected.

 

 

 

There are many more characters in the movie. If I would go into all the character this post would become a novella. But 3 characters have to be mentioned : Yusuf Khan as Parveen Babi’s bodyguard Zubesco. This is the movie which made people recognize and remember him. As it happened with MacMohan in ” SHOLAY” and with Manek Irani in Manmohan Desai’s other Amitabh Bachchan-Rishi Kapoor classic ” NASEEB”  there is no escaping them in this movie and he would always be remembered for this movie. Though it might be worth knowing that his association with Amitabh Bachchan goes as far back as Amitabh’s first solo lead hitfilm ” BOMBAY TO GOA” in which he had an even bigger role then in Amar Akbar Anthony.

Nazir Hussain is no stranger to the movie buff. The man has played father to everyone… He even played father to Dev Anand (Jewel Thief and many more) and Sunil Dutt -father of Sanjay Dutt – (Heera). Here he plays foster father to Amitabh Bachchan. Only called “father”  in the film his role is an important one as hei character is a catalyst to move the story further at a certain point…

 

 

 

The last character I just have to mention is Tayab Ali seth played adorably by character actor Mukhri. As the father of Salma (Neetu Singh) who is against her relationship with Akbar (Rishi Kapoor) Mukhri almost steals the thunder from Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in their scenes with them. A veteran of almost 250 films spanning more then 6 decades he shows his comic timing brilliantly in this film that would go on to him seeing more roles in films with Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor most notably “COOLIE” and ” SHARAABI”  (the latter one featuring him as Nathulal-ji with the famous “moochhe”. Who can forget this classic Mohd. Rafi song picturized on Rishi Kapoor and Mukri in this movie…!? It was recreated for a movie and picturized on Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha but that only is proof that nothing beats the original and nobody can beat Rishi Kapoor at his own game when the man is in his element…

Now for the music of Amar Akbar Anthony. Except for a very rare “Aa Gale Lag Jaa”  which had music by R.D. Burman (and which I think is the best Manmohan Desai film soundtrack ever) his movies had music by the music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

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Mohd. Rafi had been Manmohan Desai’s favourite playback singer from day 1. Though Mukesh did sing in Chhalia that was no wonder since the hero was Raj Kapoor. And Raj Kapoor = Mukesh. But from Budtameez and Bluffmaster onwards it was Mohd. Rafi’s show all the way. Except for the R.D. Burman soundtrack for which Kishore Kumar sang some of the best songs ever in a Manmohan Desai movie. Even in the late 70’s and 80’s when Kishore Kumar was the number 1 singer (as far as hits and output was concerned) Manmohan Desai chose to have Mohd. Rafi sing for the heroes in his movies. Mohd. Rafi even was the voice of Amitabh Bachchan in Manmohan Desai movies. Probably the only Manmohan Desai movie with Amitabh in the lead which had Kishore Kumar as the voive of Amitabh Bachchan was Amar Akbar Anthony and it was this movie that gave the Amitabh Bachchan – Manmohan Desai their biggest hitsong (sung by Kishore Kumar).

Even though Kishore Kumar was the voice for Amitabh Bachchan in the movie the most number of songs in this movie were sung by Mohd. Rafi as the voice of Rishi Kapoor (barring one song in which Shailendra Singh sang the mandatory Rishi Kapoor song after ” BOBBY”) and Mukesh as the voice of Vinod Khanna.

As far as the female singer… there was no question about that. There is only one song picturized on the heroines and Lata Mangeshkar sang for all 3 heroines!

 

 

 

 

Though Kishore Kumar and Mohd. Rafi have sung duets, Mohd. Rafi and Mukesh have sung duets and Mukesh and Kishore Kumar have sung duets this film will go down history as the only film which had a song sung by the three most well known and successful hindi film playback singers Kishore Kumar, Mohd. Rafi and Mukesh. To make it even more special the nightingale of India, Lata Mangeshkar joined in for fun…

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article when you watch a “masala-entertainer” you don’t look for logic… because you won’t find it. And in the Manmohan Desai universe the most unprobable, unlikely and impossible things happen. But they are presented with such conviction that you don’t realize that it is not possible. You lap it up. It is only after the film when you discuss the movie that you think…”Hey what happened here?”

Here are AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY’S MANMOHAN DESAI NOTES:

  • The blind mom has an accident and is brought to the hospital where Salma (Neetu Singh) is the doctor (AND WHAT A DOCTOR -see note 2 for that). As luck would have it all her 3 songs are there. She is in need for a blood transfusion and all three sons donate blood to her. Here it comes: The blood of all 3 sons goes into a bottle simultaneously which at the same time is administered to Nirupa Roy (the mom)
  • Neetu Singh is a doctor like mentioned before. Just before the climax Parveen Babi faints. Neetu Singh listens to her pulse and congratulates Parveen’s dad with the fact that she is pregnant.
  • On the day of his wedding to Parveen Babi   *****SPOILER ALERT***** finds the murdered body of “father”. Just before he realizes that “father” is no more he brags about his new costume which is specially made for his wedding. It is a white suit. He realizes “father” is dad, finds a locket in the victim’s hand which he recognizes, rushes to the owner of the locket and accuses him… wearing a black costume  *****END SPOILER ALERT*****
  • The villains are aware of the characters of Amar Akbar and Anthony. Still the 3 brothers disguise themselves and enter the villain’s den trying to rescue the girls and avenge whatever happened. While in disguise (because they do not want to get recognized) they sing this for the villains:

Watch this movie for nostalgia purposes and for the newer generation see what we grew up on… For the newer generation see why Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor are considered the best of the best ever. Watch this movie just to see HOW a ” masala-movie” should be made and how it CAN work!

AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY (1977)

produced and directed by Manmohan Desai

cast : Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Pran, Neetu Singh Kapoor, Parveen Babi, Vinod Khanna, Nirupa Roy, Shabana Azmi, Jeevan, Jeevan, Ranjeet, Mukri, Nadira, Yusuf Khan, Kamal Kapoor and Nasir Hussain

music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal

playback by Kishore Kumar, Mohd. Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh and Amitabh Bachchan

If you like classics and golden oldies (films and songs) right up to those classics from the 90’s don’t forget to tune in to SunriseFM (The Netherlands) every Sunday evening for my radioshow “YAADEIN- A Walk Through Memory Lane”. The show is broadcast at 10PM (Netherlands), 5PM (Surinam), 9PM (U.K) and Monday 1.30AM (IST). The show can be heard through the cable (only in The Netherlands), 100.1FM (only in Surinam) and worldwide with the SunriseFM app, tunein or online : http://www.sunrisefm.nl

Don’t forget to visit our Facebook group GEET SANGEET :  https://www.facebook.com/groups/365183506962164/

Feel free to leave all feedback (or questions) in the comments section.

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Mr. India (1987)

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Some artists are such masters at their craft and leave such a lasting impression that they become part of our lives. Through their work  (songs/films) they comfort us when we feel down and out. Sometimes when you feel all alone and nobody is there anymore to be with you in difficult times, these artists, through their work, comfort you and give you hope. They see you through difficult times and you come to see them as  “your own”. They become like friends. And one of such artists passes away it seems like we have lost one of our best friends, one of our own.

Sridevi was such an actress for me. February 24th 2018 was the day “The Devi” passed away just aged 54 years old leaving avoid in our lives but leaving behind a great legacy -her films. Today I will write about one of my 2 most favourite Sridevi films (the other being “Lamhe”) – Mr. India.

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Boney Kapoor (left) was a producer (son of producer Surinder Kapoor) who had produced the film  “Hum Paanch” (1980 – Mithun Chakrevotry, Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval, Raj Babbar, Nasseerudin Shah, Gulshan Grover and Amrish Puri) which was a moderate hit. He followed that up with “Woh 7 Din” (1983- Anil Kapoor, Nasseerudin Shah and Padmini Kolhapure)  which was a surprise hit and gave little brother Anil Kapoor his first hit as a lead. So when the “Mr. India” project came to him after Amitabh Bachchan could not do the movie, he signed little brother Anil Kapoor for the title role and the nr. 1 actress of that time – Sridevi-  for the role of Seema. The film would be directed by Shekhar Kapur.

 

Shekar Kapur (right) was a unsuccessful actor who became a director who made the succesful film “Masoom” (1983 – Nasseerudin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Jugal Hansraj, Urmila Matondkar). Today Shekhar Kapur is a director from India who has also won an Oscar. But in India he just made 2 films. There were a lot of movies Shekhar Kapur was making but he left all of them incomplete when he left for Hollywood. Films like “Joshilaay” (1989- Sridevi, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Shehshadri), “Barsaat” (1995- Bobby Deol, Twinkle Khanna), the unreleased and incomplete  “Time Machine” (based on “Back To The Future” with Aamir Khan, Raveena Tandon, Nasseerudin Shah, Rekha and Vijay Anand) and “Dushmani” (1995- Sunny Deol, Jackie Schroff, Manisha Koirala). But today he is remembered for one of the most modern day classics from The Hindi Film Industry- “Mr. India”.

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The idea for  “Mr. India” was actually for an Amitabh Bachchan film. But for some reasons Amitabh was not able to do the role. I must confess, though I am an Amitabh Bachchan bhakt, Anil Kapoor did a damn good job in the movie and I can not see any other actor  (from that generation or this one)  doing the role except for Anil Kapoor. Though I do wonder if Aby would have done the role how it would have been.

 

 

One of the many, many highlights of “Mr. India” are the many kids in the movie. Some of them would go on to (try to) make a career in the Hindi Film Industry (I hate the word “Bollywood”) such as Karan Nath (son of Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shirodkar and Ranjeeta Kaur’s manager Rakesh Nath), Ahmed Khan (the kid that dances well in the movie would go on to become a choreographer and director himself), Aftab Shivdesani (who would go on to try to make it as a leading man) and the girl who stole our hearts as Tina- Huzaan Khodaji. I really feel bad that she did not make any more movies!

 

 

The film has a bunch of actors in supporting roles who we already knew or who would go on to make a name for themselves later on in their careers. The villains in the movie were straight out of a comic and each and every member from the supporting cast did well in their roles. My favourite from the supporting cast are Ashok Kumar (for obvious reasons) and Sharat Saxena and Bob Christo for their portrayal.

 

 

“Mr. India” is the last movie which’s script is credited as “written by Salim-Javed” – the best screenplaywriters ever in Hindi Cinema. When they separated the script had not been written yet. The idea of the movie was just what they had. The actual script of the movie was written by Javed Akhtar. Satish Kaushik (who also plays “Calender” in the movie)  was an assistant director on the movie as well. An assistant to Shekhar Kapur. Satish would go on to direct several other movies and would do many comedy roles in movies  (most notably those comedy roles with Govinda).

 

 

Anil Kapoor did a great job as  “Arun bhaiya” and “Mr. India”. Though when the movie was released and declared a super blockbuster he was ridiculed as he was invisible for half of the film and the success was credited to Sridevi. Some people even said the film should have been titles “Miss India” as Sridevi made the film the succes it became. Here i must say that what Anil Kapoor did here takes guts. You know you will be invisible for half the movie and you know Sridevi her role will be talked about and still he gave a sincere performance. Hats off Mr. Kapoor.

“Mogambo Khush Huwa”- who can forget Amrish Puri in the role of Mogambo!  After Gabbar Singh in Sholay I think the best villain ever in Hindi Cinema (and once again credited to Salim-Javed!).

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Legend has it that the role of Mogambo was originally to be done by Anupam Kher (who I think is a bit overrated as an actor). Thank God the role went to Amrish Puri because let’s be honest: Is there anyone who can imagine any other actor then Amrish Puri in this role? Hell NO!!

 

 

The music of “Mr. India” was by Laxmikant-Pyarelal who gave an outstanding soundtrack for this movie. Kishore Kumar sang the songs for Anil Kapoor and Alisha Chinoi and Kavita Krishnamurthy were the voice of Sridevi. Kavit Krishnamurthy would go on to become the screenvoice for Sridevi in many films after this movie including “Chaalbaaz” (1989- Sridevi, Rajnikanth and Sunny Deol). Funny story about how this actually happened. The song  “Hawa Hawaii” was supposed to be sung by Asha Bhonsle. But when the song was to be recorded she was out of town. So the song was recorded in the voice of Kavita Krishnamurthy with the intention of dubbing her lines by Asha Bhonsle when she would return. But Kavita Krishnamurthy sang the song sooo good that the producer and music directors released this version because even Asha Bhonsle would not be able to better her version. And so her song was retained on the soundtrack and it was this song that became the breakthrough for Kavita Krishnamurty!  ps. This song would be recreated and picturised on all of  Vidya Balan  and once again I was livid – another classic f@#^$% up! Nobody can better Sridevi and Kavita Krishnamurthy so why even try? I just don;t get it!

A thing that left me baffled was that the sad version of the Kishore Kumar song  “Zindagi Ki Yehi Reet Hai” was sung By Mohd. Aziz. I just could not understand why when the master himself was still alive…

Better judgment prevailed when I saw the movie because the sad version was also sung by Kishore Kumar  (which was not on the first released cassette but was on the released lp of the movie)  and that version sung by Kishore Kumar was used in the final print of the movie.

After her song in Jaanbaaz  (1986- Sridevi in a special appearance, Feroz Khan, Anil Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Rekha and Mukesh Khanna) “Har Kisiko Nahin Milta” “Mr. India” had another song that would become a benchmark in “classy seduction songs” this one sung by Kishore Kumar and Alisha Chinoi.

The are movies you like when you see them but when you see them after a couple of years it’s a different movie because the film doesn’t age well. It does not hold up. “Mr. India” is not one of those. This film still holds up and can be watched by every generation over and over again!

To pay my humble tribute to Sridevi I dedicated my radioshow “YAADEIN- A walk Through Memory Lane” (which is broadcast on SunriseFM every Sunday 10PM Netherlands, 6PM Surinam, and every Mondaymorning 2.30AM IST) of Sunday 4th March to my all time favourite actress.

For those who are interested in the show (which was in Hindi) here is the link to the show. If you listen feel free to leave all your feedback and remarks in the comments section:

 

I aslo made a list of my Top 10 SRIDEVI films on IMDB. Here is the link to that list.

http://www.imdb.com/list/ls023787233/

Don’t forget to join our facebook group “GEET SANGEET”.

 

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You will be missed Sridevi. Thank you for all the movies and the great memories associated with these movies.

When Jhanvi’s movie “Dhadak” will be released I will watch it first day, first show pure out of love and respect for Sridevi!

 

Sholay (1975)

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So when I started writing this blog it took me all of my willpower NOT to start with “Sholay”. But recently I spoke to 2 persons who confessed not to have seen the movie ever. This prompted me to write about the “greatest film ever made”

There are all kind of films where ever films are made. You have cringe-worthy movies, super bad movies, bad movies, average movies, good movies and evergreen movies. And then you have  “Sholay”.  Sholay is -according to me and many others-  the best movie ever made (in India). “Sholay” is the most remade, the most admired and the most referenced movie ever to have been made in the Hindi Film Industry. Books have been written about  “Sholay”, thesis have been written and studies have been done to try to find out what made “Sholay” the movie it is. Whatever the outcome one fact remains: “Sholay” was, is and will remain the best of the best and think about the following: Whenever a top 10 list is made “Sholay” is on the list. Be it a list about action films, love stories, comedy films, the best on-screen pairing, songs that became an anthem… whatever the case “Sholay” will feature on the list.

There are too many facts and stories about “Sholay” to include in a simple blog like this. But I will give you my opinion about “the greatest movie ever made” with some facts and stories thrown in for fun. For all the people who have lived under a rock for the last 43 years and have not heard of or may not have seen  “Sholay” beware that this blog has been written assuming that everyone – from the elderly to unborn babies- have seen “Sholay” at least once in their lifetime.

 

G.P. Sippy was a producer who produced 22 films in a time span of 46 years. He started out with producing films like “Sazaa” (1951- Dev Anand with the evergreen song  “Tum Na Jane Kis Jahaan Mein”), 12 O’Clock (1958- Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt) ,Raaz (1967- which introduced Rajesh Khanna and Babita- the morher of Karishma and Kareena Kapoor) and “Brahmachari” ( Shammi Kapoor, Rajshree, Mumtaz, Pran, Jr. Mahmood and Sachin). Though everything would change with the movie that would release after “Brahmachari”.

Sholay- Ramesh Sippy02

Ramesh Sippy – who was the son of G.P. Sippy- was learning the ropes on the films produced by his father. He had been the assistant director on some movies and was the executive producer on “Brahmachari”.  He would finally go on to make his directing debut with a film that would release in 1971 and that would make him a hit director with his first film. It was also with this film that he would work with the writers duo that would become not only an integral part of his success but who would also become an integral part of Hindi Cinema…

Ramesh Sippy would go on to direct some movies which would be all different in genre but would all become a benchmark for those genres: Andaz (1971- Shammi Kapoor, Hema Malini, Simmi Garewal, Ajit and Rajesh Khanna in the first special appearance for a superstar) would be the first collaboration of Ramesh Sippy and the leading lady who would feature in some of his best work -Hema Malini. “Seeta aur Geeta” (1971- Hema Malini, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar) , Shaan (1980- Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Parveen Babi, Raakhee Gulzar, Shatrughan Sinha, Kulbhushan Karbanda, Bindiya Goswami and Mazhar Khan), “Shakti” (1982 – an underrated masterpiece with Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Smita Patil, Raakhee Gulzar, Amrish Puri and an unknown Anil Kapoor), “Saagar” (1985- Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Hassan and Dimple Kapadia- who would go topless for this movie) followed. After these movies the magic disappeared and movies like “Bhrashtachar” (1989 – Rajnikant, Rekha, Mithun Chakrevotry and Shilpa Shirodkar in her debut movie), “Akayla” (1991 – Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Scroff, Meenakshi Shehshadri, Aditya Pancholi and Amrita Singh) and finally “Zamaana Deewana” (1995 – Shatrughan Sinha, Jeetendra, Raveena Tandon and Shah Rukh Khan) would follow and would all flop.

Ramesh Sippy would also be the only director to have another casting coup after bringing Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar together for the first and only time in “Shakti”. He started a movie with Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit as the two leading ladies. This movie  “Zameen” also featured Rajnikant, Vinod Khanna and Sanjay Dutt. The movie started and shooting progressed. But due to lack of funds the movie was shelved and never completed. But Sridevi- my all time favourite actress along with Madhubala-  and Madhuri Dixit did shoot for the movie together and even shot for a song together.

One movie made by Ramesh Sippy though has not been mentioned yet…

The casting of  “Sholay” could be subject to an entire book. When the film was to be started Sanjeev Kumar -who eventually played the Thakur- wanted to play the role of Veeru (since he was in love with Hema Malini and after “Seeta aur Geeta” wanted another opportunity to be her leading man). Dharemendra -who eventually BECAME Veeru wanted to play the role of  the Thakur. Amitabh Bachchan initially wanted to play the role of Gabbar Singh. Ramesh Sippy went to Dharmendra who was “silently” in love with Hema Malini (and it was common knowledge that Sanjeev Kumar was in love with Hema Malini as well) and told him that if he plays the Thakur Ramesh will give the role of Veeru to Sanjeev Kumar and Sanjeev would be able to romance Hema on-screen. Better judgement prevailed and Dharmendra accepted the role of Veeru. Sanjeev had no choice but to accept the role of the Thakur. Hema Malini was always there as Basanti. No second option was even considered. Jaya Bhaduri-Bachchan was cast as the widowed daughter in law of Thakur- Radha. Two more roles were to be cast: Jai and Gabbar Singh.

For the role of Jai Shatrughan Sinha was considered. And Danny Denzongpa was considered for the role of Gabbar Singh. Amitabh Bachchan however who really wanted the role of Jai approached Dharmendra and requested him to recommend him to the director. Dharmendra -who is all heart and emotion- could not say no to Bachchan and not knowing that his friend Shatrughan Sinha was considered for the role recommended him to Ramesh Sippy. But that was not enough to persuade Ramesh Sippy. Two others would have a big hand in the decision.

Danny Denzonpa was considered for the role of Gabbar Singh and was even offered the role. But Danny had just signed to play a role in Feroz Khan’s take on  “The Godfather” which had a big cast as well (though not so big as “Sholay”) and his dates for shooting which were required for ‘Sholay” had already been alloted to Feroz Khan for his  “Dharmatma”. The principled gentleman that Danny is he turned down the role of Gabbar Singh. And once again those 2 gentleman came to the rescue…

Salim-Javed were at the top of their game at that time. It seemed that every script they wrote turned into gold. They started as writers for G.P. Sippy films but didn’t get credit for films like “Haathi Mere Saathi” (1971- Rajesh Khanna and Tanuja). But they went on to turn out hit after hit including Ramesh Sippy’s own  “Seeta aur Geeta”. And when they intervened with suggestions those suggestions were taken seriously as the past proved that they were right, not most of the time, but all the time in those days. Salim-Javed had in the meantime created the role of the angry young man and had made Prakash Mehra cast Amitabh Bachchan in “Zanjeer” 1973. Salim – Javed insisted (though “zanjeer” had not been released yet when “Sholay” started and Amitabh Bachchan had not yet become the God of Hindi Cinema) that Amitabh Bachchan be taken for the role of Jai and so happened. Salim ( who by the way is the father of current superstar Salman Khan) had seen Amjad Khan in a play many years ago and was impressed and had not forgotten him. Amjad Khan’s name was suggested and eventually he ended up doing the role. There are some other stories regarding Amjad Khan and Sholay like how he was disillusioned with Salim Khan later on and never worked in another Salim-Javed script which we will not get into in this blog.

As far as I know “Sholay” might be the only movie of which each and every character is remembered (and quoted in our daily lives) and loved. Who can forget Asrani as the “angrezon ke zamane ke jailor -HA HA” who would reprise this role in two other films (in one of these films he would see Amitabh en Dharmendra -a clip would be used from the song  “Ek Rasta Do Rahi” from the movie “Ram Balram”- and it would be mentioned that those two were the sons of Jai and Veeru).  Jagdeep as  “Soorma Bhopali” who would eventually make an entire movie with this character in the lead, A.K. Hangal as the “chacha” , Sachin, Viju Khote as  “Kaalia” and who will ever be able to forget McMohan as Sambha!?

The dialogues of this film are one of the many highlights. And the writers have seen to it that each and every character have dialogues that stand out. I am not going to quote any dialogues here but the dialogues are used even today in our daily lives. Though I must confess -and this is not because I am the biggest Amitabh fan on the planet-  Amitabh has the best lines because I can identify with his sarcasm filled humor.

Now for the main star cast:

Each and every member of the main cast gave an outstanding performance and it is impossible to visualize any other actor in any of the roles. Sanjeev Kumar as the ex police officer intent on revenge is bang on. Hema Malini as Basanti  “jinko fuzool baat karni ke aadat nahin” is so great it is still etched in our memory and even today when a girl talks too much we call the girl Basanti. Amjad Khan, what can be said about him as Gabbar that has not been said or written before. Amjad Khan is remembered till this date for his superb portrayal and he would go on to reprise this role in the spoof  “Ramgarh ke Sholay” which had imitators of heroes in the lead. The actress who is not usually credited with the sublime work she has done in this movie is Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan. The way she emotes without actually saying anything is a masterclass in acting. You feel her pain and feel for her.

In the following clip which is the death scene of Jai you get to see a masterclass in Hindi Cinema by director Ramesh Sippy, music composer R.D. Burman and actors Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan. The scene itself is emotional but the song composed by R.D. Burman takes it to another level. The direction by Ramesh Sippy is nothing less then genius. But the performances by Jaya and Sanjeev are superb. Jaya emotes without saying a word (like for most of the movie)  and Sanjeev wants to comfort his widowed daughter in love who was going to be married to the deceased Amitabh Bachchan but he can’t even comfort her as his arms have been chopped off. Masterful!

I have mentioned all the supporting actors in the movie as well as the main leads except for one:

What can one say about the greatest actor to have ever graced the Indian Screen? For the younger generation who only knows The Great Bachchan from his father roles in those Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan movies… watch this and anyone will understand why we love, admire and respect Amitabh Bachchan the way we do. And some people like me just worship him. There has never been anyone like him before him and, hell, there will never be anyone remotely like him again. No matter how hard people try. Some actors may try to remake his films like “Don”, “Zanjeer” or “Agneepath” and these movies maybe technically more advanced then the Bachchan versions but these remakes lack in one thing when compared to the original: AMITABH BACHCHAN.

Everyone I spoke to and all articles I have read question one aspect of the movie: did Jai have to die? I wish Jai did not die in the movie. Since I know he will die, whenever I watch the movie and the train comes in at the beginning and the title music starts to play, I start getting emotional knowing Jai will sacrifice himself at the end. I realise that the death of Jai gives the film an extra emotional graph that is needed near the ending of the movie, but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have minded it that much if Veeru would have sacrificed himself. There is no other actor who could have pulled of this role with that sarcastic humor except for Amitabh Bachchan.

The tracks of  “Sholay” and the sublime theme music have been composed by R.D. Burman who was the house composer for Ramesh Sippy. Noteworthy is that for Ramesh Sippy films “Seeta aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Shakti” and “Saagar” a great theme music was composed by R.D. Burman. The songs sung by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar and R.D. Burman himself were all hits but not that big a hit as the dialogues. The Anand Bakshi written songs are remembered even today. Even today when we think of a song on friendship the songs that comes to mind at once is  “Yeh Dosti Hum Nahin Todenge”. There is one song which was not used in the film which was sung by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Bhupindra Singh and lyricist Anand Bakshi.

“Sholay” was the first film for which records were released  (and sold out!) containing the dialogues of the movie.

There are 3 versions of “Sholay doing the rounds :

01. The theatrical version as the film was first released in cinema’s.

02. The version with the alternate ending. This was initially supposed to be the ending and was filmed first by Ramesh Sippy.  The censor board (even in those days!) rejected the ending and wanted it re-shot.

03. The extended edition with some extra scenes including scenes of Sachin’s character and Gabbar Singh, a few seconds extra of Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan and a shot of Amitabh Bachchan before he is cremated and an extended scene (just a few seconds) of Amitabh and Jaya.

This is not the only Amitabh Bachchan film which has two different endings. There is another ’70s film which has two different endings doing the rounds. In one ending Amitabh dies in that movie and in the other ending he survives. And that movie stars Sanjeev Kumar as well. But that is for another post!

Do you like behind the scene stories about movies, movies till those from the 90’s or those film songs when hindi film songs were actually any good? Then tune in to SunriseFM every Sunday 10PM (Netherlands), 5PM (Suriname), 4PM (New York), 9PM (London) and Monday 2.30AM (IST) for my radioshow  “YAADEIN- A Walk Through Memory Lane. You can tune in to the show on SunriseFM through the cable (if you live in The Netherlands). Otherwise you can listen to the show through Tunein, The Sunrisefm app or online : http://www.sunrisefm.nl

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Sholay (1975)

produced by G.P. Sippy

directed by Ramesh Sippy

music by Rahul Dev Burman

lyrics by Anand Bakshi

singers Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, R.D. Burman, Bhupinder and Anand Bakshi

cast Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri Bachchan, Amjad Khan, Asrani, Jagdeep, Keshto Mukherjee, Viju Khote, Sachin, A.K. Hangal, McMohan, Om ShivPuri and others

Sholay -Jai & Veeru

Saajan (1991)

Saajan was a love story released in 1991 that went on to become the biggest hit of that year. The music sales of the soundtrack of this movie broke all records and after “Aashiqui” Nadeem-Shravan established themselves as THE music directors if the new era with this movie.

In anticipation of the 90s special “YAADEIN -90S EDITION” that will be broadcast on SunriseFM on February 4th 2018 let’s go down memory lane to 1991…

 

Sudhakar Bokade was a producer who made his debut as a producer in 1990 with the movies  “Nyay Anyay” ( Jeetendra, Jaya Pradha, Shilpa Shirodkar and Sumeet Saigal) and “Izzatdaar” (Govinda, Madhuri Dixit, Dilip Kumar and Swapna). Though “Nyay Anyay” had a nice soundtrack the film did not do too well. Izzatdaar which was nothing special did fairly okay business. In 1991 Sudhakar Bokade hit the jackpot with the movie  “Saajan” which went on to become the biggest hit of the year and went on to inspire quite a few love triangles again and also about a dozen movies which had the word  “Saajan” in the title. The subsequent movies Sudhakar Bokade produced almost all flopped at the box office. Some where good movies like  “Prahaar” (1991 – nana Patekar, Madhuri Dixit and Dimple Kapadia)  which was directed by Nana Patekar himself. Other movies were crap like  “Sapne Saajan Ke” (1992 – Jackie Scroff, Dimple Kapadia, Karishma Kapoor and Rahul Roy). The final nail in his professional coffin was the film “Kalinga” ( Dilip Kumar, Sunny Deol, Meenakshi Shehshadri, Raj Kiran, Shilpa Shirodkar and others) which got shelved after being in the making for over 7 years and got stuck at 70%. This film was to be directed and scripted by Dilip Kumar who did start the film but never finished it. A story that happened before with the film “Master” which was to be produced and directed by Chandra Barot  (the director of the Bachchan classic  “Don”).

Lawrence D’Souza was a cinematographer and had shot movies like Tajurba (1981 – Smita Patil, Nasseerudin Shah, Raj Babbar), Hatya (1988 – Govinda, Neelam) and Gair Kanooni (1989 – Govinda, Sridevi, Rajnikant, Kimmi Katkar and Shashi Kapoor). He made his directing debut in 1990 with the film  “Nyay Anyay” and would go on to make 16 films in a span of 13 years. Most of his films would eventually flop though some of his movies weren’t that bad. My personal movie directed by Lawrence is the 1993 love story Sangram which had Ajay Devgan, Karishma Kapoor, Danny Denzonpa and Amrish Puri in the leading roles. This would also be the film that would finally bring director D’Souza and 90s actress Ayesha Jhulka together. But more on that later…

Lawrence claim to fame and his biggest hit in his entire career would be this 1991 love story from whom nobody expected anything. This film titled  “Saajan”.

Due to some circumstances which we will talk about later “Saajan” would star Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt in their first movie as co-stars. Madhuri Dixit would become the heroine of the movie. The supporting cast would compromise of Ektaa (who would go on to marry Nutan’s son Mohnish Behl), Kadar Khan and Reema Lagoo.

Sanjay Dutt at that time was known for his action roles and it would be with this film that Sanju would be stepping in the “love story” territory. For Salman Khan “Saajan” would continue his initial golden run at the box office after “Maine Pyaar Kiya” (1989 – Bhagyashree, Mohnish Behl, Alok Nath), Baaghi (1990 – Naghma, Mohnish Behl) and  “Sanam Bewaffa” (1991 – Chandni, Danny Denzonpa and Pran). This movie would consolidate Bhai as the next superstar of the Indian Cinema. Madhuri Dixit was at a high already at the time of the release of the movie.

The Reema Rakeshnath written movie (daughter of yesteryear character actor Sapru and wife of Rikku Rakeshnath -the secretary of Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Shilpa Shirodkar and Ranjeeta Kaur) was loosely based on the yesteryear classic “Aarzoo” (1965- Sadhana, Rajendra Kumar, Feroz Khan, Mahmood and Naaz).

The ’90s were still the times when it took 2 years at the least to complete a film and get it released. In such an environment  “Saajan” was shot in a mere 36 Days!

The star cast of the movie which we eventually saw was not the original intended cast of the movie.

The role eventually played by Sanju in the movie was first offered to Aamir Khan. In true Aamir fashion he turned the role down. And to be quite honest I agree with Aamir’s reasoning. It is said that Aamir turned the role down because he did not understand the reasoning of Madhuri Dixit’s character. So okay, she is in love with the poet she has never seen. then she meets Salman Khan en thinking that he is that poet she falls in love with him. But when she finds out that Salman in an imposter and Sanju -whom she met on several occasions and whom she considers to be her friend is the real poet, she without batting an eyelid dumps our Bhai and is in love with Sanju for whom she had no romantic feelings before that whatsoever. So I do get Aamir’s point of view.

The role done in the film by Ektaa (Behl) was initially offered to Neeta Puri ( Khuli Khidki, Awwal Number, Lashkar and Satyamev jayete)  who was one of the so called  “hottest” actresses of those times. For reasons unknown she turned down the role and the role went to Ektaa.

Okay that was a small role which only had a limited screen time. But the role that was done by Madhuri Dixit was bot offered to her at the beginning. The producer and the director of the movie wanted to cast one of the most beautiful and talented leading ladies of the ’90s _ Ayesha Jhulka- in the leading role opposite Bhai and Sanju. Ayesha was even signed and had started shooting.But on the first day of shooting she had a very high fever and the producer decided he could not wait for Ayesha, signed Madhuri and continued shooting. Now everyone knows what Madhuri Dixit ended up doing with the role and she did do a fantastc job. But I -being a die hard Ayesha Jhulka fan- keep wondering how the movie would have been if Ayesha had done the role of the leading lady in this movie.

Saajan- mera dil bhi

Another aspect that helped make the movie the blockbuster it became were the rumours about the Sanju – Madhuri Dixit affair at that time. It was said that the two fell in love during the making of this movie and that eventually Madhuri Dixit dumped Sanju when his court troubles started. In an interview published in 2017, Madhuri Dixit her former secretary Rikku Rakeshnath said that the entire affair was just a publicity stunt to make the people want to watch them together on-screen as they had signed a couple of films together.

When we think about “Saajan” today more than the movie, more then Bhai, sanju or even Madhuri Dixit what comes to mind is the soundtrack of the movie. initially the producer and director wanted to sign Laxmikant-Pyarelal for the movie. According to an interview with director Lawrence D’Souza since neither the producer nor he, the director,  were known or succesful at the time Laxmikamt-Pyarelal even refused to meet them. In a fix since shooting of the movie had to commence they approached Nadeem-Shravan and the rest is -as they say- history.  History was created by Nadeem-Shravan with a great contribution of the lyricist Sameer (son of the legendary lyricist Anjaan).

This was still the time when after  “Maine Pyaar Kiya” and most of the subsequent movies featuring Bhai, S.P. Balasubrahmanium was his screenvoice. Kumar Sanu was the voice of Sanju inthis movie and would go on to win his second Filmfare Award for Best Playback Singer male for his part in the song “Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Paagal Hai” which would become a solution for many youngsters in those days to try to express their feelings. And since the music of  “Saajan” was released by Venus and not by Gulshan Kumar’s T-Series there was no pressure to let all female songs be sung by only Anuradha Paudwal. Thank God for small blessings because this enabled Nadeem-Shravan to rope in Alka Yagnik as well as the voice of Madhuri Dixit besides having two songs sung bt Anuraha Paudwal.

And what can be considered as a masterstroke Nadeem Shravan roped in famous ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas -who by that time had started singing for a select few films as well- to render the second edition of the song that would be remembered for ages…

If you grew up in the ’90s you must have some memories attached to at least one of the songs of this film. Or maybe to the movie itself.

If you love those ’90s movies and/or songs from those ’90s movies do not forget to tune in on SunriseFM Sunday February 4th 2018 for a “YAADEIN-’90s EDITION”

The show will be broadcast at 10PM (Netherlands), 5PM  (Surinam), 4PM (New York), 9PM (London) and Monday 2.30AM (IST).  The show can be followed through Tunein, The SunriseFM app and also online : http://www.sunrisefm.nl

And ofcourse you can participate in the show LIVE by becoming a member of the facebookgroup GEET SANGEET

Saajan  (1991)

produced by Sudhakar Bokade

directed by Lawrence D’Souza

lyrics by Sameer

singers Alka yagnik, Kumar Sanu, S.P. Balasubrahmanium, Pankaj Udhas and Anuradha Paudwal

cast Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Kadar Khan, Reema Lagoo and Ektaa