For those of us who have seen The Man Who Knew Too Much, the song Que Sera Sera, sung by Doris Day, will always bring with it an air of suspense. Ostensibly a song sung at bedtime by a mother to her child, it has a touch of unease that only Alfred Hitchcock could have brought. The film was a huge hit and naturally the song too became an all-time favourite, to the point that it is still sung, invariably off key, at parties. The tune, which won an Oscar, was by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

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Doris Day sings Que Sera Sera in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).

The Man Who Knew Too Much was made in 1956. Naturally, when Salem’s Modern Theatres released Aravalli the next year, it had to have a song based on this tune. It is attributed to G Ramanathan in the film, but a dispassionate jury would have demurred.

Aaravalli (1957).
Aaravalli (1957).

The lyrics for the song, Chinna Pennana Pothile, were by Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram. It was a duet, sung by Jikki and AM Rajah. The film starred G Varalakshmi and SG Eshwar. Wikipedia has details of the storyline but whoever contributed the entry needs a good English tutor. I challenge you to make sense out of it.

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Chinna Pennana Pothile, Aaravalli (1957).

Nine years after The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vijayabhat Movies made Thodu Needa in Telugu, a remake of the 1963 Tamil film Karpagam. The Telugu film starred NT Rama Rao, as a human being for a change, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna and Jamuna. And, surprise! Bhanumathi sang, not a song based on Que Sera Sera but Que Sera Sera itself! The scene is more or less identical, with her singing it to a baby girl while Doris Day sings it to a boy.

Thodu Needa (1965).
Thodu Needa (1965).

The song was suitably changed in lyrics to suit our prudish censors. The second stanza has Bhanumathi asking her teacher and not her sweetheart. And there is, I think, an inside joke as well for she sings, “Will I paint pictures, will I sing songs?” The lyrics, presumably for the other songs, were by Acharya Athreya, while the music, once again for the other songs, was by KV Mahadevan. I love the way Bhanumathi sings about how when she was jaast a leettil chaild.

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Que Sera Sera in the Telugu film Thodu Needa (1965).

I doubt if Hitchcock ever saw either film.

This article first appeared on the author’s personal blog and has been reproduced here with his permission.