Shooting film songs

How Dilip Kumar trained and trained to perfect ‘Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re’

The always meticulous actor practised for months to perfect his performance in the song from the movie ‘Kohinoor’.

At the end of 1986, I filmed Dilip Kumar in his Pali Hill home talking about the movies for Channel 4 TV, UK. We sat in his lovely garden with its tall trees and overgrown bushes – a cacophony of bird sounds all around –while he mesmerised us with his views on filmmaking and the challenges he experienced performing songs on the screen. His quiet and soft voice demanded complete attention – I think he was one of the early actors who understood how to deliver a line and how to use the microphone to project his speaking voice instead of raising its volume. His commitment to getting things right was apparent in everything he said, and it is unsurprising that few Indian actors surpassed his reputation in the 1950s.

The interview was conducted mainly in Urdu.

Dilip Kumar: Playback waise to kuchh mushkil nahin hota, koi dikkat nahin hoti isme, jaise Madhumati mein jo gaane the vo aasaan the, Devdas mein bhi “Mitwa, laagire ye kaisi anbuj aag,” ye bhi aasaan tha —lekin kuchh gaane bade dikkat talab hote hain. Vo riyaaz mangte hain. [Miming to playback is not difficult, take the songs in Madhumati or the Devdas song, Mitwa, Laagi Re Ye Kaise Anbuj Aag, they weren’t difficult to perform on the screen. But there are some songs that are difficult and require practice and preparation].

There was a song in Kohinoor by Naushad Ali, written by Shakeel Badayuni, Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re, and in this song there was a sitar passage which was very difficult. There was a tarana too – “O de na dir dir dha ni ta, dha re dim dim ta na na, na dir dir dha ni ta dha…” this song required a lot of practice and study.

The director, SU Sunny, wanted to film this song early on in the shooting schedule. I requested them to wait till the end of the schedule so that I would have some months to practise.

I studied the sitar for many months. But the sitar is a difficult instrument. It requires tremendous practice, focus and discipline. So songs like Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re are difficult but these are the ones that I have liked in my career. In fact, out of all my songs, this is a song I have particularly liked.

Madhuban Mein Radhika Naacha Re, Kohinoor (1960).

Zakir Hussain remembered that Dilip Kumar received six months of training from the celebrated sitarist Ustad Halim Jaffar Khan sahib prior to the filming of this Kohinoor song. When we see the clip of Madhuban Mein Radhika Naacha Re and come to the passage where Dilip Kumar plays his sitar solo, we can sense the total delight and subtle triumph on his face. His months of practice to play and to get the hand movements right had paid off magnificently.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.