Hindi films usually need any excuse to cut to a song. This tendency is sometimes put to smart use by filmmakers who dare not sacrifice a potential chartbuster but do not want to disrupt the narrative flow.
In Daud (1997), a crook (Sanjay Dutt) and a dancer (Urmila Matondkar) on the run shake off the police at considerable personal risk. You are crazy, the dancer tells the crook, what’s on your mind? A song, he replies. Cut to, apropos of nothing more than the need to provide a distraction, the brilliant O Bhavre.
In Rang De Basanti, a DJ whose radio station has been occupied by neo-anarchists realises that the climax is minutes away and he still hasn’t played the movie’s best track. Cue Roobaroo.
There is no such clumsiness in Vijay Anand’s films. The popular director’s movies are still cherished for their strong visual sense, flamboyant colour schemes, and innovative use of songs. There are numerous tracks from Anand’s films that qualify for this series, so why then has Mile Mile Do Badan from Black Mail (1973) been chosen over Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai from Guide (1965) and Hothon Mein Aisi Baat from Jewel Thief (1967)?
Well, which other director would dream of slipping an erotic song in the middle of a chase sequence?
Years before a bank robber and a police marshal forged a connection while locked in the boot of a car in Out of Sight, Anand contrived to make his gorgeous leads hide from gun-waving gangsters inside a pile of logs in a forest. In the confines of the space, which is imaginatively shot by NV Srinivas, Kailash (Dharmendra) and Asha (Raakhee) give expression to their long-simmering ardour.
Black Mail is part of the “pharmula” trend in the 1970s – movies featuring inventions by white-coated Indian scientists that have the potential to alter the course of humanity. Within a B-movie premise – inventor channels solar energy that can solve the world’s electricity deficit – Anand explores a love triangle between Kailash, Asha, and Jeevan (a superbly slimy Shatrughan Sinha). Jeevan’s schemes ensure that Kailash and Asha are unable to consummate their marriage. When an opportunity presents itself later, for which Asha dresses to the nines, driving Kailash to bursting point, Jeevan even fakes a suicide.
After a series of misunderstandings, Kailash and Asha find themselves hidden beneath the logs, finally alone together and raring to go. Kailash’s travelling hands match Asha’s blissful facial expressions, and they manage to move around to be able to face each other. Rajinder Krishan’s lyrics speak of a late-blowing wind and a strange union. The erotic nature of the encounter is tastefully handled. When the couple finally emerges into the open, the entire forest catches fire.