I posted a version of this song with lyrics translated into English (along with the actual film clip) over two and a half years ago, and it started a nice discussion. But, of course, the clips disappeared. Fortunately, now I have found this clever video of the Hindi words and English translation both appearing on the screen. It’s done in a funny way, and since I have recently been learning some Devanagari, at first glance, I actually thought that the Hindi words were written in Devanagari. But, of course, that is not the case. That’s cute, and I also like the way the pics are floating around. I’m not crazy about the hipster company URL, or whatever that is. But overall, it’s still worthwhile… And there is a note at the end, showing exactly when Meena lived, reminding us that this is her 40th death anniversary… Which is why I’ve been indulging in Meena mania the past couple of days.
I’ve said elsewhere that Meena Kumari is my favorite actress just for being an actress. I know she danced a little and wasn’t so bad at it back in the day (and she also sang too, a long time ago), but I do have one favorite actress who is a favorite mostly for her dancing as well as one who is a favorite for her singing voice (or maybe two who are favorites mostly for their singing voices)… While Meena Kumari is just a favorite for the things that most people look for in an actress – she was such a good actress! And such a beauty, too (which is why she goes above Nargis on my list, though Nargis was also very good – sorry…). I’m not sure I understand the Meena Kumari of real life, but that’s another matter, and whether or not I try to ponder her tragic decline, it will make no difference in my admiration of her for her presence on the screen. (Plus, I would like to see more of her poetry, which is something else very interesting that she did.)
A couple of posts ago, when I put up some songs of Suraiya singing for Mehtab, some people thanked me for the chance to glimpse this actress who would become the wife of the legendary Sohrab Modi. And I also thought it was nice to find clips of Mehtab, who was quite a charming screen presence in her own right, as a few people also pointed out. But I knew I’d seen her in some other songs somewhere… And this is where: She was in Vishwas (1943), paired up with Surendra. This time, at least from the information I got in one place, her singing voice was Parul Ghosh. In some places, it says that Mehtab was singing for herself, but I am inclined to disbelieve that and go with the idea that it was always Parul Ghosh. On the other hand, I am absolutely certain that Surendra sang for himself – I would recognize that voice anywhere! By the way, Vishwas was the first film for music director Feroze Nizami, who would move on to be be MD for Jugnu, Chann Vay, and Dupatta, all major films for Madam Noor Jehan (though not with Surendra – that combination would happen elsewhere, of course).
I know I’ve posted the first of these songs before – possibly here, and definitely in comments on other people’s blogs. The others are kind of new to me (though I might have seen/heard one of them before).
I’d love to get this film Sanjog (1943). I don’t know how it is as a film, but the soundtrack certainly is a good one, by Naushad… And it’s got a 14-year-old Suraiya singing for Mehtab, the woman who would become Sohrab Modi’s wife (just a couple of years later). Mehtab is just adorable in these songs, too.
Suraiya had actually done her singing debut for Mehtab (and music director Naushad) just one year earlier. Unfortunately, there are no clips available, but there is audio, and it is a great song!
I actually put these songs up yesterday for about an hour, then decided to take them down. Partly, it was because there were some errors in the text that I had written here, and partly because, well, considering the other things I’d posted here of late (all that good stuff from the 1940s), I thought the transition might be a bit jarring. But then I got a note from Harvey, who managed to catch the post during the hour it was up, saying that it was a shame I had taken it down. So, I have decided to revise this post and put it back up – but don’t blame me, blame Harvey!
Anyway, yes, this is another Lal Salam, from Nepal, the place where there was a very serious communist uprising not too long ago.. But the songs are so sweet! And by the way, I found this just the other day, completely by accident (though I think I might have found and posted a song from here before, a long time ago)…
Though he played a hero in other films, I was very impressed by Ashraf Khan when I saw him sing and act in Roti– so impressed, in fact, that I would have to call him one of my favorite villains of all time.
In Roti, the overtly anti-capitalist movie made by that communist director of blockbusters named Mehboob Khan, Ashraf Khan was the ultimate proponent of social Darwinism, the dog-eat-dog ethos, the philosophy of capitalist individualism often attributed to Ayn Rand. (We all know people he might resemble in “real world” politics… He could certainly be a kind of fascist, and an Indian friend of mine would instantly compare him to people in the BJP. In the U.S., he would surely find his niche as a Republican.) Therefore, I could not help but find it particularly ironic that in real life, the actor Ashraf Khan was so revered for his spiritual devotion and generosity, that he became a Sufi saint.
And as I discovered from a fascinating post in the blog Music & Arts in erstwhile Hyderabad – Deccan, Ashraf Khan essentially began that road to sainthood when he met a Peer O Murshid (spiritual guide) named Ghulam Sarvar during the filming of Roti…
It was during the filming of Roti he came in contact with Peer-0-Murshid (Spiritual Guide) Ghulam Sarvar. Ghulam Sarvar belonged to Lahore and was employed in railways as a guard. He had many followers in Bombay. Ashraf Khan’s devotion towards his spiritual guide was so great that when ever he visited Bombay he used to carry his luggage on his head and escort him home.
Large crowds used to gather to meet Peer-o-Murshid Ghulam Sarvar in the 1940’s and among the film personalities the notable were AR Karda, Mehboob Khan, Yaqub, Prithviraj Kapoor, Trilok Kapoor, Sardar Akhtar, Akhtari Faizabadi, Jaddan Bai, etc etc to name a few. Akhtari Faizabadi and Jaddan Bai used to sing devotional songs during the assembly.
And then Ashraf performed very humble services to show his devotion to this Peer – such as tending to visitors’ footwear – which eventually allowed him to follow in the Peer’s footsteps, a duty that he fulfilled right up to his death and, apparently, somewhat afterwards as well:
Taking care of the visitors foot ware was the first duty assigned to him by his Peer and Ashraf Khan never thought it was a menial job. He knew that the peer is shedding his ego by assigning such tasks. Peer-o-Murshid Ghulam Sarvar was so pleased with his devotion that he handed over his Gaddi ( seat ) to Ashraf Khan. Ashraf Khan became a Peer.
His association with the Gujrati stage lasted till his end. In 1962 after his last stage show at Dharoji in Gujrat he returned to the Durgah where he was stationed with his family. It was the ninth day of the Gyarhvi Sharief ( the eleventh month of Islamic calender ). He lied down on his bed and spoke few words to his wife and fell unconscious , but his lips started moving as if he is narrating verses from [?]. This situation continued the whole of that night and the next day. His wife, family members and devotees remained at his bed side reading verses from Ayat Sherief. He opened his eyes in the evening. His devotees asked him how he was and he replied that where ever he is, he is doing well.
He was brought to the hospital at Rajkot in this condition. Ashraf Khan passed away at eleven PM on the eleventh day of the Gyarhvi Sherief, the eleventh month of Islamic calender. His mortal remains were brought to the residence of Dr Malik who was a friend and a devotee for funeral. His devotees were chanting holy verses from Ayat Sherief and Darood Sherief. Around 4 O’clock in the morning he opened his eyes once again, looked all around him with a smile and closed his eyes. This was a surprising moment for all those who were present around him. A dead man opening his eyes and smiling was some thing strange. The crowd shouted Hazrat is alive, Hazrat is alive, call the doctor. There are several people alive today who witnessed this strange incidence. Dr Malik examined him and pronouned him dead. He was buried at Gunj Shahda which is located on the Ahmedabad – Delhi highway. The Urs is celeberated every year and lakhs of devotees all across the globe visit his Mazaar (Tomb).
Here’s a nice tribute by IMIRZA 777. The song is from Baghban (1938):
And this is interesting – though there are no words of description or further notes; the video just refers to “Master Asharaf Khan A Great Sufi Saint”
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