Try looking for the song Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani on YouTube and you will be directed to videos from Ayan Mukherji’s movie. The title of the 2013 blockbuster refers to the rambunctious track from the 1972 production Jawani Diwani, which is a love triangle between Randhir Kapoor, Jaya Bhaduri and her Chucky-like doll.
Jawani Diwani is actually about the marvellous collaboration between music composer Rahul Dev Burman and singers Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. A synopsis for Jawani Diwani on the website imdb.com perfectly describes the movie: “The exuberance of youth influences two college going lovers to edify their headstrong parents. They sing the following Panchamda songs to achieve this goal: ‘Jaane Jaan doodta fir ruha’ ‘Saamne yeh koun aaya’ ‘Yeh Jawani hai Diwani’ ‘Agar saaz chedaa taraane bunenge’ ‘Oye tauba mujhe toone badnaam kur diya.’”
Where would Narender Bedi’s movie be without its music? Surely its success can be attributed not to early nepotism rocker Randhir Kapoor’s loud acting or Bhaduri’s discomfort at playing an “Ofo daddy!” spouting Barbie. Jawani Diwani was from the age when even mediocre movies became memorable because of their song interludes. The effect of Burman’s music booming out of the movie hall’s speakers must surely have been far more edifying than the stilted romance between the leads.
Burman puts his aural stamp on Jawani Diwani from the word go – his inimitable grunts accompany the opening credits. The club song Saamne Yeh Kaun Aaya became so emblematic of the innocent tackiness of the decade that it inspired a remix by Shankar Mahadevan and Ravi Khote in the ’90s, with a hilarious matching video that spoofed ’70s fashion and wide-hipped men with ill-fitting wigs showing off their dance moves.
Vijay (Kapoor) chases a she-means-yes-when-she-says-no Neeta (Bhaduri) all over the exuberant title track. But the gem is Jaane Ja, a singing lesson from Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. After love letters have been exchanged, Neeta finally succumbs to Vijay’s questionable charms, but decides to tease him by playing hide and seek in a forest. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics and Burman’s music create one of the greatest Hindi movie love songs, one that is better heard than watched. As Vijay sings about hunting high and low for his beloved, Kumar’s voice climbs several octaves while Bhosle occupies the lower depths. Bhosle has barely any lines, but this is no Kishore Kumar solo. The singers are perfectly matched, proving Burman’s unmatched ability to orchestrate magic out of differently pitched voices, complex arrangements and wide-ranging musical instruments. If there is anybody who embodies the mad youth suggested by the title, it’s the maverick composer.