The viral nature of the title track of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo has proved that a melodious song, even when composed by an enfant terrible composer like Himesh Reshammiya, can go a long way towards introducing a new legion of fans to the world of Rajshri Productions music. Everyone from Helen and Waheeda Rehman to Shah Rukh Khan has dubsmashed their movable parts to the rhythms of the catchy number, while a less agile Sonam Kapoor struggles to match hip for hip.
One reviewer has described the music of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo as “plain ordinary and sometimes extremely monotonous”. Nothing could be truer at first, but after a few repeats, the soundtrack’s simple arrangements and bordering-on-plebeian tunes and words begin to tell us stories about ourselves. The songs are a throwback to the 1990s, celebrating the ordinariness of music itself and a time when melody had returned and compositions weren’t synthetically enhanced with techno beats, relying instead on dhols and tablas.
Rajshri Films has built a musical legacy around these plain-sounding songs, which have endured many seasons of loud and cacophonous tunes to emerge as classics. Reshammiya’s score for PRDP could enter that hallowed space if the film is as good as the music is sounding right now.
Here are some songs from the Rajshri stable that stand out for their simplicity.
Mera toh jo bhi kadam hai
Music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal bagged the score for Dosti (1964) over Madan Mohan, who had composed the music for the production’s first film, Aarti (1962). The small-budget film, starring unknown faces revolved around the friendship of two poor friends, one of whom is blind and the other crippled. Dosti had only its music to give it a shot in the arm. Mohammad Rafi sang five great and immensely popular solos for L-P – Chahoonga main tujhe saanjh savere, Jaanewalo zara, Meri dosti mera pyar, Mera toh jo bhi kadam hai and Rahi manwa dukh ki chinta. Mera toh jo bhi kadam hai is noted for its simple but evocative lyrics, especially when the blind character sings, ‘Ke tu kahin bhi rahe, tu meri nigaah mein hai.’ Ironic but everlasting of true bonds, something that Rajshri tried to build from its early days with its audiences through simple, melodic music.
Tera mera saath rahe
Ravindra Jain composed the music for Saudagar (1973) starring Amitabh Bachchan and Nutan. Lata Mangeshkar sings the melody with a halting cadence, creating an elegiac love song seeped in the purity of prayer. With elements of classical, folk and Baul music interspersed with her voice, the song retains a plangent rhythm, both happy and sad at the same time.
Gori tera gaon bada pyara
This unmistakably alluring song from Chitchor (1976) talks about something as nondescript as a village, praising it as a rural Eden teeming with waterfalls and blossoming trees. Who wouldn’t relate to a song about the birds in the bushes? Yesudas sings this Ravindra Jain composition as lightly as a brain-fever bird calling nature lovers to return to yore.
Kaun disaa mein leke chala re batuiya
It cannot go any more interior than this song shot in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Nadiya Ke Paar (1982) was later remade as Hum Aapke Hai Koun (1994). Sung by Hemlata and Jaspal Singh, the Ravindra Jain song is a conversation between the two characters (Sachin as Chandan and Sadhana as Gunja) on their way to the hero’s house on a bullock cart, leisurely crossing green fields and a river, chatting about their future together. Their silly banter is music to ears.
The 1990s upgrade was set on a jeep that is ferrying the lovers.
The music of Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hai Koun...! (1994) and Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999) ruled the era. It’s when the production moved into the noughties that they had to do something radical.
Mujhe haq hai
The blaring new sounds of Anu Malik’s score for the Rajshri production Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003) did not sit well with the banner’s musical oeuvre, and they decided to return to their favourite melody maker, Ravindra Jain, for Vivaah (2006). Though the soundtrack wasn’t a rage, when tied to the film’s unexpected success, it had a mellow resonance that boded well for the production house. This was the music they were comfortable with.
The soundtrack of PRDP has a song in which the singer wonders if gunjiya or barfi will please his lover. Talk about timing! The film releases during Diwali, and the song’s appeal is directly aimed to the masses through this ‘chakli and chiwda’ number. It is all about hand-outs to the lowest common denominator, who will vote for the song’s popularity and durability over time.