Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mohammed Rafi: Jaan Pehechan-Ho

Well, it’s not every day that I feature a song sung in Hindi, but today “Jaan Pehechan-Ho” by Mohammed Rafi is our TV Thursday song. The tune and its accompanying video were recorded in 1965 for the Bollywood release of the Indian thriller “Gumnaam.” The movie was a loose adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” The song and its original video also made it to American movie screens in 2001 as part of the movie "Ghost World."

A loose translation of the song’s title to English is “We need to get to know each other.” Written by Shankar Jaikishan and Anand Bakshi, the song was recorded by Mohammed Rafi. It was once theorized that Rafi, who supplied the singing voice for numerous Bollywood movies, had recorded more songs than any other individual.

Fluent in a number of languages, Rafi recorded songs in Hindi, Urdu, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Maghi, Maithili, Assamese, English, Persian, Spanish and Dutch. Like with “Jann Pehechan-Ho,” his primary language canvas was Hindi. He recorded over 7,500 songs in Hindi for motion pictures alone.

Rafi did not appear in the film “Gumnaam”; however, the music was synched by Ted Lyons and His Cubs – a real band from the period. Lyons is the drummer, while the front man for the movie was Herman Benjamin also known as “Mr. Charisma.” In addition, Benjamin was responsible for the choreography at the Silver Jubilee disco. At one point, Benjamin takes a handheld stereo mike onto the dance floor. Watch what he does with the mike stand as well – he was way ahead of his time.

The central character of the video is the exotic Laxmi Chhaya who is wearing the gold lamé outfit and who discards her mask during her dance. She was 18 at the time this film was shot. While an example of kitsch, it is not unlike the dance scenes from the beach baby bimbo films coming from Hollywood at the time. The music, although not the style heard on American radio, was also consistent with the bands featured in American films of the same era.

TV Commercial

“Jaan Pehechan-Ho” was chosen as the TV Thursday selection because it is featured in Heineken’s latest commercial titled “The Date.” The first time I saw the commercial I loved this song and had to find it. Even though it’s not in English, it’s shows that music is universal despite the language.

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