Planet Bollywood
Woh Kaun Thi
Producer: Prithvi Pictures
Director: Raj Khosla
Starring: Sadhana, Manoj Kumar, Helen.
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Raja Mehndi Ali Khan
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mahendra Kapoor, Mohammad Rafi.
Audio On: HMV    Number of Songs: 6
Reviewed by: Shahid Khan  - Rating: 9.5 / 10
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Raj Khosla was a film director who knew what he wanted when it came to music. He collaborated with many music directors from O.P. Nayyar to S.D Burman to Laxmikant-Pyarelal. But his most memorable association with a composer definitely has to be Madan Mohan. Madan worked on three films for the director, “Woh Kaun Thi”, “Mera Saaya” (two films in the Sadhana/mystery trilogy) and “Chirag”. And in these films he created timeless spellbinding scores.

Lata Mangeshkar’s beautifully angelic voice enhances the jaadu of Madan’s tunes. Raja Mehndi Ali Khan created some of his best poetry whenever he teamed up with Madan. His work for this album is indeed unforgettable.

Driving up a wet road in a misty fog in the middle of an eerie night, Manoj Kumar is distracted by a young woman clad in a white sari, standing in the middle of nowhere. She is the gorgeous

Sadhana. Inevitably, Manoj cannot help but stop and offer a lift to a helpless and pretty damsel in distress. Throughout the brief journey, he realizes that there is something not quite right about this strange woman. She wants to be taken home and asks Manoj to stop outside a deserted graveyard. “Yeh to kabarstaan hai (But this is a graveyard)”, he says panicking. Run Manoj run! The mad girl walks over to her so-called home. The gate creaks open itself for her, as if by magic, and Sadhana strides through the entrance with that unique classy walk of hers. Spooky!

Naina Barse Rhim Jim, Rim Jhim”, echoes Lataji. This is a song that acts as a leitmotif throughout the film whenever the supernatural image of Sadhana returns to haunt Manoj. Not one word can do justice to this haunting number. It is out of this world. “Naina barse… barse… barse…” Each refrain of “barse” sounds like a teardrop falling gently from those bewitching eyes.

As a ghostly figure, Sadhana’s character may indulge in self-pity at times but she does not expect anyone else to feel for her. So when she spots even a trace of emotion in Manoj’s face, she is perplexed. She poses the question, “Jo Humne Dastaan Apni Sunayi, Aap Kyun Roye?” Why did you shed a tear when I told you my story? “Tabaahi to hamare dil pe aayi, Aap kyun roye?” Why shed tears when it was me who suffered? Self-pity is followed by regard and compassion for another person’s feelings. She has gone through pain but she cannot bear to see another person go through the same emotions. “Bahut roye magar ab aap ki khatir na royenge, Na apna chain khokar aapka hum chain khoyenge” Lata’s glorious voice resonates with heartache especially when she ends the song with a reverberating “Aap kyun roye-e-e”, leaving a stunned silence.

The trio of Lata’s amazing solos ends with “Lag Ja Gale Ke Phir Yeh Haseen Raat Ho Na Ho, Shaayad Phir Is Janam Mein Mulaqaat Ho Na Ho”. The song speaks of a splendid moment that will only last for a short time and the ideal thing to do is to make the most of it. What if this perfect moment never returns? The other person’s unwillingness to make most of their time together makes the girl impatient. “Paas aaiye ke hum naheen aayenge baar baar

Mahendra Kapoor joins Lataji for a duet in “Chhod Kar Tere Pyar Ka Daaman…”. Mahendra saab is impressive though it is obvious that his singing style is influenced by Mohammad Rafi. Lata grabs the best line for herself. “Hum ko darr hai ke teri baahon mein, Hum khushi se na aaj marjaayen” The theme in the last song is of wanting time to stand still. Here, the man too expresses a similar wish. “Kitni pyari hai yeh haseen ghadiyan, In se kehdo yehi thehrjaayen” A beautiful gem.

Aha ahahahaha aha ahahahaha”, hums Asha Bhosle in the scintillating prelude to “Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan”. When Ashaji approached Madan Mohan to ask him if she could sing more of his compositions for him, he retorted, “nahin, jab tak Lata hai, tab tak aur koi nahin”. Lata may have been Madan saab’s favorite singer but Asha’s contribution to his immortal collection of tunes should not go underestimated. Asha brings a sense of effervescent playfulness to a song like “Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan”. She is brilliant at changing moods within her vocal chords. One minute she sounds very sensuous in the opening line and the next she sounds innocent, “Ab to wafa ki raah main, Hum tere saath chal pade”.

Rafi saab’s only contribution to the album, “Tiki Riki Tiki Riki” (with Asha) sticks out like a sore thumb. It is not bad as the singers’ enthusiasm and the jolly tune is infectious. However, the song is unlikely to make you hit the repeat button.

Madan Mohan’s superlative work on this album was ignored completely at awards ceremonies even though it was one of his few commercial successes. Sadly, he was ignored for most of his career even when he composed such astounding classic albums like “Anpadh”, “Hanste Zakhm”, “Mera Saaya”, “Dulhan Ek Raat Ki” etc Oddly, the first ever award he was given was very late in his career in the year 1971 when he won the National Award for the music of “Dastak”. He received massive popular and critical acclaim only soon after his death when the mega-melodious album of “Laila Majnu” hit the charts (and stayed at the top for twenty weeks!). Fate sure does work in strange ways.

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