Happy birthday, Naushad!
While I have gotten to like other music directors from the ’40s more and more, I would still say that Naushad was the greatest from the ’40s as well as the ’50s. A large part of the reason that I love his music so much is that he brought out the best vocal performances from several of my favorite singers, including Noor Jehan, Suraiya, Surendra, Mohammed Rafi, and Shanshad Begum. But Naushad also composed music for some instrumental dance numbers, and they are positively delightful, even though they might not be as well known as his vocal songs. So, this time around, for Naushad’s birthday, I thought I’d do something a little different and bring a bunch of these together. (By the way, the post that you are seeing now is a slightly revised version of the one that originally appeared here. Some clips were replaced and I changed a couple of introductions too. I’ve made a note in the places where I made those changes. I was told that this post was pretty good before; I like to think that now – after I have revised it several years later – it is even better. :) )
1. Cuckoo in Anokhi Ada — Actually, I am very glad to start with Cuckoo, because I could not take my mind off her after the last post. And this dance here is quite a treat. In fact, I am pretty sure that someone mentioned this as being one of her better-known, breakthrough dances, but if I am wrong about that, let’s say that it definitely deserves to be.
2. The snake dance from Dastan — I actually posted this to my own YouTube channel about five years ago, although it, like every other video that I posted there, was originally prepared by Tom Daniel and posted to one of his sites at some time or other. But back when Tom sent me this video, neither of us could identify the dancers. I figured out at some point that the male dancer was probably Krishna Kumar, who also choreographed the dance. This was confirmed in a comment to my post very recently. But neither Tom nor I nor anyone else seemed to think at first that the other dancer might be Cuckoo, which is what the recent comment poster also said. And that makes sense… I still find it difficult to recognize her face here in this lighting, etc., but if that’s not Cuckoo, then who else could it be? And if it is, then why wasn’t she billed for this film in any of the listings that I saw? Anyway, it is a terrific dance.
3. The festival dance in Mela — Naushad composed music for a few group festival dances, and this is one of the very best. It also makes for one of the few cheery moments in a relentlessly depressing film.
4. Cuckoo in Aan – There she is again! Since it is Aan, though, everything seems a bit sillier here than in the other films that I have mentioned. But it is good, of course. (By the way, I have had to edit this description because of more things received from Mel. In the comments, you’ll see Mel pointing out that, contrary to what I had said before, this was not Cuckoo’s only dance in color. Also, as with some other clips, I had complained about the quality of the one I had up – but now I can’t do that, because he posted a better version!)
5. The “Blind Man’s Bluff” dance in Dillagi – They are playing Blind Man’s Bluff, but most of them are also dancing. The village girl gang did some other, very nice dancing elsewhere in this movie, but I think that this was the only instrumental dance number. Of course, this film was also full of wonderful songs sung by the star of this scene, Suraiya.
6. Sitara Devi’s dance in Mother India – This is a very short dance and it leads into the first song, but I definitely would consider it a separate dance, and I also might consider it the most important part of the movie, given the great performance by Sitara Devi. Unfortunately, I think the video is also cut off a moment early, and it is not of the best quality, either. But it is still soo great to watch!
7. Geeta Bali’s gypsy dance in Dulari – In my original version of this post, I combined this with a “festival dance” from this film as well – because I had found them together. But now (as I revise this post several years later – because the clip that was here before disappeared), I see that the solo dance by Geeta Bali is available separately (while the festival dance is nowhere to be found!). So here it is! It is quite lively, especially with the snippets of action interspersed within it.
8. And for the final number here, I am able to include a dance that I could not find to embed in the original version of this post. Originally, I had merely included a screen cap as a bonus. But now I can supply the whole dance – that is, Suraiya’s lovely little semi-classical dance at the miserable wedding in Anmol Ghadi. You might say that this is last but far from least. I am very happy to be able to end the post in this way!
The last dance at 1:29:40 for two minutes in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vKucUuZJgc
I can’t get rid of Cuckoo either :)
I think Cuckoo actually danced twice in color. The first time was in Aan (1952). The second time was in Mayurpankh (1954) where young Helen sang a song. The video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOQOoNc0Jvo
Fortunatly, a decent quality DVD version (i.e. 4/3, progressive, no logo, no burned subtitles, Hindi audion good subtitles (in French though)) of Aan exists. It is called “Mangala Fille des Indes” (the French name of the movie) and was published by Carlotta Films in 2005. It is still available, here for instance: http://www.amazon.fr/Mangala-fille-Indes-Andaz-%C3%89dition/dp/B0007T3BNM
Swarup, Thanks… Yes, that is the Suraiya dance in Anmol Ghadi.
Mel, I know that Cucko dance from Mayur Pankh, but I forgot to consider it as another one of her color dances… It could be because the color in that scene is so pale. :)
By the way, Mayur Pankh features a few exceptional dances… There’s that great Kathak dance with the Vajifdar Sisters; there’s also a very nice folk dance starring Sheila Vaz (possibly her first, before CID and Shree 420). I would love to find a complete, subtitled version of that film!
I do have an English-subtitled DVD of Aan, which I bought maybe five or so years ago,… It’s an Eros DVD, and the quality isn’t that bad… A few of the songs from this film are up on YouTube in very watchable versions; I don’t know why it was impossible to find a decent posted copy of the Cuckoo dance.
But it was interesting to read about the French DVD version, too, with a title that appears to be different (that is, in content/meaning) from both the American and Hindi versions. (The American version was The Savage Princess.)
I read this post through yesterday but didn’t comment, thinking I’d do that once I’d had the time to watch the clips (the only one I’m already familiar with is the one from Aan). But I haven’t found the time to do that today, either, and it doesn’t look as if I’m going to be able to do it in the near future, either. But yes, I do like Cuckoo. :-) And Naushad.
But may I ask a completely tangential question? I read this sentence in your post: “…because I could not take my mind off her after the last post.” – and was struck by the grammar of it, because that, I thought, was the sort of sentence structure the Brits or us Indians (or basically, I guess people from the Commonwealth) would use. I’d have thought the typical American structure would include an ‘of‘ after the ‘off‘. Are you different and more like us, or do I have it wrong, or is it a regional thing?
Sorry for going offtrack like that, but this intrigued me.
Madhu, after reading your first paragraph above, I feel more confident that you will understand and forgive me for not being able to find the time recently to write comments over at Dustedoff. :)
Meanwhile, your tangential comment is interesting… There are a lot of phrases that people use that I reject because they don’t make grammatical sense to me. If your eyes or hands or feet are already on something and you want to remove them from that object, you take them off it. Where does the “of” fit in? You didn’t have anything “on of” anything; those eyes, hands, feet, etc., were just “on” it. That’s the best way I can explain it…
I never even thought about which phrase might be more common in the U.S. or England, India, etc. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Maybe I should think more about such things. :)
“There are a lot of phrases that people use that I reject because they don’t make grammatical sense to me.”
That, combined with the example you’ve given, are exactly what I’ve always wondered about when it comes to American English. Some of it just doesn’t make sense to me. I remember having had a mild argument about an editor, for instance, who wanted me to change “I looked out of the window” to “I looked out the window‘”. :-)
Here is my first youtube video: http://youtu.be/IbsyVzNaYVo It’s far from perfect but maybe better than the one you found :)
Regarding the French version of Aan: the movie was released dubbed in French in 1954 with the title “Mangala fille des Indes” (the poster is here: http://www.fantastikindia.fr/site/IMG/jpg/poster_4978_mangala_fille_des_indes.jpg) which means something like “Mangala daughter/girl of/from Indies”. For this release, the distributors choose to promote Nimmi’s character. I don’t know if the movie was noted in France, but it was for sure in Northern Africa which was a French colony (or so) at that time.
Mel, thank you for the new Cuckoo clip! Unfortunately, you posted that comment right before I had to do a couple of grueling midnight shifts at a printer in order to try to earn my rent (emphasis on “try”)… And I just typed up a number of other excuses for taking so long to get back to this, but I decided to delete them. :) Anyway, yes, it does look much better than the clip that was up there, and now, as you may have seen, it is the clip that’s up there.
I’ll have more answers to your last comment later.
And, Madhu, your last comment left me confused… Why would you want to talk about looking “out of” a window when “looking out the window” says the same thing with one less word? :) OK, I give up on that subject…
Back to Mel… That’s interesting, Were you in northern Africa in the past? It’s strange to promote this film with Nimmi’s character… She was definitely secondary, and Nimm’s acting was very OTT here; I don’t know if this is the best film with which to promote Nimmi, either. But, oh, well…
Dear Richard, I hope you are well. Thank you for this great post. About the dance in Dastaan (1950), I was wondering if the dancer is an actress named Swartha. The name appears in the credits of the film — have not been able to confirm this though. Another interesting thing — while putting together a book for the National Film Archive of India on film dance (completed in 2018 but most likely to be published early next year), I came across a lobby card for this very snake dance but the title on the card was of an earlier Kardar film, Dulari (1949). We can make the safe assumption that the sequence was filmed for Dulari by the studio but inserted into Dastaan as Krishna Kumar had worked on several films for Kardar’s studio.
Iyesha, thank you for the good wishes and your thoughts in response to this post that I did more than eight years ago. (Thank you also for drawing my attention to this post so that I saw how many clips had disappeared! Now I have replaced them, also revising the introductions to them a little in the process.)
Regarding the female dancer’s name, Swartha is also the name that Tom Daniel put for her for under his post of the dance a couple of years after I did this post, in 2018. (By the way, the copy that I posted, which is on my own now neglected YouTube channel, also had come from Tom Daniel, as did all my other videos on that channel. His current songs channel is also the source of four videos in this post.) If Tom listed her name in as the dancer, I imagine that he got pretty good confirmation about that. (And I know that he had not known the dancer’s name previously.)
The book on film dance that you said you’re putting together for the National Film Archive of India looks very interesting. I hope that I will have a chance to see it when it comes out!