I am very pleased to see that Khazanchi and its song and dance clips are now complete over at those Tommydan sites, thanks to the addition of English subtitles by Reeba. Now that the film and its songs have full English subtitles, I can appreciate them in a new way – though I have enjoyed this excellent soundtrack for, probably, about five years now, with its beautiful music by Ghulam Haider and irresistible singing by Shamshad Begum in what was her breakthrough film. I will watch the film in its entirety – though possibly in stages – and there is a chance I’ll review it (though no promises here – I’ve made that sort of mistake enough times before!). But right now, I am mainly focusing on those musical scenes.
There are a few such scenes that I am thinking about at the moment, partly because I really enjoyed them, but also because I have been wondering a lot about the identity of some of the participants. There are two dances that feature performers whom I cannot identify (but definitely would like to know more about) and there is one song for which the identity of some of the singers seems to be a subject of hot debate. So, for the first post devoted to Khazanchi (there will probably be more here), let’s delve into these…
The dance above is very charming. Although the dancing is not very frenetic or spectacular, it has grown on me. I particularly like the rhythm of the ghungroos, and at the times when the female dancer does get moving a little, she is quite good. The male performer is also good – very expressive, I think. But who are these performers? We don’t seem to have any information about that, and I’d love to find out.
By the way, the singers are great too here, but we know who they are – Ghulam Haider (who is also the composer) and Shamshad Begum. Shamshad Begum is a lot of fun in this song, and I love the part beginning at 1:06, where she gets into her rap. And that is rapping, by any of today’s standards; there’s no better word to describe it! (There have been a few old Indian film songs discussed on the blogging circuit that included parts that were called “rap” – but this is the most rap-like rap that I have encountered so far – from 1941!)
Speaking of mystery dancers, wow! And wah! This is quite a dance for 1941, and look, what a nice navel she has! (Something we don’t normally get to see in vintage or Golden Age Indian films, as some have already pointed out…) She does not look like a youngster to me (compared, say, to the young women starring in this film), and she is a westerner, so I was wondering if she was perhaps one of the western women who appeared in the very early talkies or even the silent films. I would love to find out.
And here we have the great, classic, bicycle song, which presents a mystery regarding the singers involved. The main singers are well known – once again, Shamshad Begum and Ghulam Haider. But who are the backup/chorus singers, especially in the female group? That is a particularly interesting question because…
About four years ago, I encountered a debate at the blog Indian Baja, which I revisited this week. It starts when the Indian Baja blogger says:
It is even said that the film introduced the then very young Baby Noor Jehan, as a playback singer in the song ‘Sawan Ke Nazare Hain’ as a chorus participant. It was the first film which was without actress Baby Noor Jehan on screen and with her song picturized on [an]other actress.
It was great to find out that in addition to being one of the best songs in Shamshad Begum’s breakthrough movie, this also was the first film song that included Noor Jehan as a playback singer. But then one commenter, Surjit Kholi, said:
As for the participation of Noorjehan in chorus singing is concerned, it is a myth like many other myths created in the past from the mythical times. The song “Sawan Ke Nazare Hain” opens up with Umraosia (or Umrao Zia, if you prefer to call) Begum leading the first stanza of the song. She (Umraosia) is there in all chorus singing, and it is not difficult to detect her voice without any difficulty [sic]…
Now this commenter is apparently a pretty contentious character, who also denies that Baby Noor Jehan sang in “Shala Jawaniyan Mane” – which I have seen attributed to her in numerous places and even in a few compilations. So I wonder if this guy is just an over-questioning kook. I am more inclined to believe his statement that Umrao Zia Begum sang in part of this song, since she sings elsewhere in the film and was Ghulam Haider’s wife. But couldn’t Baby Noor Jehan also have been in this?
I would just love to completely solve these mysteries regarding the identity of certain artists in three fine song clips from Khazanchi. But, of course, I will continue to thoroughly enjoy the songs regardless.