I have wanted to do this for a while… I may have compared a couple of these songs in different posts before, but here is a whole set of them, showing parallel songs between Mughal-E-Azam and the Pakistani Anarkali. (I also very much like some of the songs I’ve seen/heard from the 1953 Hindi Anarkali, but I haven’t seen that whole film, and I’ve found it difficult to find parallel songs in that case.)
Now, to be clear regarding what I mean by “parallel songs”… I am not sure how similar the songs might or might not be (for one thing, I haven’t gotten subtitles for all of these), but they are parallel in terms of what is happening in the plot. Of course, there are some big differences in the nature of the films, and Mughal-E-Azam obviously benefited from a much bigger production budget. But when I compare these, the first thing that I think about is the singing. In one movie, Anarkali’s singing is done by Lata Mangeshkar; in the other, on screen and off, the singer is Noor Jehan. The music director in one is Naushad, the other is a combination of Inayat Hussein and Rashid Attre. Naushad’s brilliance sometimes gives the music in Mughal-E-Azam the edge, but not always – possibly because there is also brilliance in the Pakistani composers (I especially know about and appreciate Rashid Attre). So, to sum it all up, both films are quite a treat for the ears (as well as the eyes, obviously)…
In this first pair, the songs are probably the least similar to each other, but you can see that basically the same thing is happening in the plot. Let’s call this the “breakthrough dance.” I like both film versions about the same. I like Noor’s vocals more, but the Mughal-E-Azam version definitely does better with the visuals, and Lata’s voice is quite nice too – so, it all balances out. And by the way, for all of these, I have tracked down the original scenes from Anarkali (as opposed to the post-modern colorization) for a closer and more fair comparison. (Unfotunately, the originals from Mughal-E-Azam almost always had embedding disabled, but you know what to do.)
Mughal-E-Azam has the edge in this next one… Let’s call this the “defiant dance.” Of course, in Mughal-E-Azam, this song is the GREAT CLASSIC. But Noor’s song is pretty great, too. (And by the way, note one big difference in the plot, which is that in the Pakistani version, Anarkali needs to get drunk first – which kind of is more realistic, I think. So, you also get to see Noor’s drunk routine, which is always a lot of fun.)
In this third set, the “jail songs,” Noor Jehan definitely made a greater impression on me. (Actually, there are a couple of Noor jail songs in Anarkali, but I think this one makes for a closer comparison.) Listen to the drama in Noor’s voice – she is wonderful! I also like this scene more. The Indian version actually is more OTT in terms of melodrama, with Madhubala staggering around in chains, etc. I think the Noor Jehan jail scenes are just right by contrast.
And with that, I shall close my Noor Jehan brithday week – which turned out to be more limited than I first had planned, but I hope it was enjoyable. You might also consider this the post for Lata’s birthday. Happy birthday, Lata!