Yash Chopra-Lata making musical history

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
5/31/2004 12:00:00 AM
The music of Yash Chopra's cinema has always been extra special.  

Look back at all the tunes in Chopra's "Daag", "Kabhi Kabhi", "Silsila", "Chandni" and "Dil To Pagal Hai", and what one sees is a whole ethos of musicality unfolding before our eyes.

But the quality of music that's being created for Yash Chopra's latest, yet-untitled directorial venture goes way beyond the ordinary precincts of music making. In his new film, which is the last film he'll direct, Chopra has gone for a unique experiment that's now the talk of the entire Indian showworld.

When Chopra decided to use late composing genius Madan Mohan's unused tunes for his latest film, and that too sung by Lata Mangeshkar, there were raised eyebrows and hushed whispers of disbelief.

Would it recreate the magic of melodies like "Lag ja gale se", "Mushqil hai jeena", "Baiyyan na dharo balma" and "Main to tum sang nain milake"? Specially when one of the Lata-Madan Mohan creative duo was long gone?

But the songs have turned out to be stunningly good, say those who have had a sneak preview. And Yashraj Films, which is marketing its latest movie soundtrack "Hum Tum" overseas, intends to turn into a full-fledged music label with the Madan Mohan-Lata score.

Preity Zinta who started her career with an A.R. Rahman melody, "Jiya jale" sung by Lata in "Dil Se", is bowled over by the quality of music in Chopra's film.

"I must admit I didn't know who Madan Mohan was until I was told about him. Now after hearing the songs that his son (Sanjeev Kohli) has trans-created for Yashji's film I simply had to go back to the old Madan Mohan melodies. And I was blown," says Preity.

The unused melodies, lying in Madan Mohan's cupboards, were first cleaned out and played for Yashji who chose around 12 of the tracks from the dozens of songs.

Contrary to reports in a section of the Mumbai press, these aren't songs from shelved or unreleased films. These are tunes that the composer readied but never got around to using due to his premature death.

Madan Mohan's son Sanjeev Kohli, who also happens to be the CEO of Yashraj Films and a renowned musicologist, took upon himself the task of sifting through the tunes and contemporising them without losing the tenor, flavour and mood of the original compositions.

The results, now on screen, are stunning. According to those who have heard the soundtrack, including Amitabh Bachchan, who plays a cameo in the film, at 75, Lata sounds the way she did in the vintage Madan Mohan melodies like "Maai ri", "Meri aanhkhon so koi neend" and "Sapno mein agar mere".

Smiles Lata: "When it comes to Yashji's cinema, there's no debate on who'll do the female vocalist. In fact, some of his well wishers tried to dissuade him from using my voice. But Yashji was adamant. And now I've finally recorded six songs for the film."

In Chopra's India-Pakistan love story set during the 1980s, Lata's songs have been filmed on Preity who plays a Pakistani girl.

This would be the second India-Pakistan love story where Lata gives soul to romantic passion. In Randhir Kapoor's "Henna" 14 years ago, she sang all the songs for Zeba Bakhtiar.