K. Asiftook a decade to create his grand epic, "Mughal-e-Azam". He made sure that each and every part of his baby depicted emotions on an epic scale. They say that the music is the soul of the film and it is no surprise then that K. Asif and Naushad made sure that the songs were unforgettable and luxuriously romantic.
"Insaan kisise duniya main ek baar mohabbat karta hai, Is dard ko lekar jeeta hai, is dard ko lekar marta hai."
Those are the opening lines of "Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya". It sets a strong and emotional tone to the rest of the song. Everyone has outdone themselves here; be it Lata Mangeshkar for her spirited rendition, Shakeel Badayuni for his fiery lyrics and Naushad for his delightful score. It is one of those songs that will instantly rekindle memories of the picturisation (even for those who have not viewed the film!). The scene of
Madhubala dancing in the Hall of Mirrors and evoking the kingÂ´s wrath with her defiant message of eternal love. "Unki tamanna dil main rahegi, Shama ise mehfil main rahegi!"
"Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal Ched Gayo Re" is the first song that appears in the film. The complex classical score showcases NaushadÂ´s outstanding musical talent. Lata and the chorus weave themselves delicately into the song and sound as if they themselves are instruments. The use of strong Hindi adds a piquant flavor to the number and compliments the exquisite score.
Naushad always works hard with the chorus and for this album he employed a hundred-strong chorus! They certainly leave a lingering impact in some of the songs but what strikes the listener is the absence of the chorus in "Mohabbat Ki Jhoothi Kahani Pe Roye". The clever use of music makes Lata MangeshkarÂ´s voice sound lonesome and truly depicts the plight of AnarkaliÂ´s character in the story. Once again, Shakeel BadayuniÂ´s poetry is unforgettable. I particularly love the last stanza:
"Khabar kya thi hothon ko seena padega,
Mohabbat chupa ke bhi jeena padega,
Jiye to magar zindagani pe roye..."
Onto the underrated "Aye Ishq Yeh Sab Duniyawale, Bekaar Ki Baaten Karte Hai", another Lata jewel. LataÂ´s humming between each verse is heavenly to listen to. The song suggests that romance is useless but the note quickly changes in "Hamein Kaash Tumse Mohabbat Na Hoti", where Lata expresses the characterÂ´s desire to change her circumstances. Anarkali has fallen in love with the prince and she recognizes that the world will not accept this. An interesting use of the dholaks gives a sense of trouble or doom that might be approaching.
Shamshad Begum was one of NaushadÂ´s favourite singers and she worked for him regularly. Unfortunately, he stopped giving her work as LataÂ´s popularity reached its peak. In the 1950Â´s, Shamshad would have more than one song in NaushadÂ´s musical albums. "Mughal-e-Azam" was an early indicator of how the trends were changing as it has Shamshad only in one song and that too with Lata Mangeshkar. "Teri Mehfil Main Kismat Azmaakar Hum Bhi Dekhenge" has Shamshad on fabulous form! Again, Naushad excels in his handling of the tune. The score is excellent because of the way it blends silence (or little music) into it juxtaposed with boisterous parts.
"Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye" is a classical track that must have been very difficult for Lata to perform but she rises to the occasion excellently. The sole song by Mohammad Rafi, "Aye Mohabbat Zindabad", is an utter delight. His rendition, the lyrics and the music is so passionate and so revved up. It is full of feeling. In the film, Prince Salim sings no songs (presumably the director thought it might look ridiculous) and so this Rafi track is for a character who decides to convey a message to the king. I wonder what would have happened if the director changed his mind and let Salim hum a number. Maybe there would have been another Mohd. Rafi classic to adore.
If Rafi has "Aye Mohabbat Zindabad", then Lata has the equally fervous "Yeh Dil Ki Lagi". While Lata is just wonderful, the chorus too is a real pleasure. Overall, it is a very vivid song heightened by the intriguing poetry: "Jab raat hai itni matwaali, Phir subah ka aalam kya hoga?". The final solo piece by Lata Mangeshkar is "Khuda Nigahbaan Ho". The song does not just play, it echoes and evokes a haunting feel. It comes at the climax of the film and is used effectively as background music.
Finally, there are two qawallis by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. â€śPrem Jogan Ban Keâ€ť and â€śShubh Din Aayo Reâ€ť demonstrate Khanâ€™s amazing singing abilities. The songs are rigorously traditional and hearken to the era that the film is set in. That is why the numbers are compelling to listen to as they are the type that we so rarely hear in films. It shows the length that Naushad and K. Asif went to and the research they did to provide a feel of music that is relevant to the period that the story is set in. Such commitment is rare today. Take, for example, the music of â€śAsokaâ€ť. While the music there is very good, it does not really reflect the time that the period film is set in.
â€śMughal-e-Azamâ€ť reminds us why we still have the song-and-dance formula in Hindi films. The music and poetry can add so many depths to a legendary romance and make many people want to revisit that film again and again. No wonder then that this film is now accepted as the definitive version of the Salim-Anarkali story.