Lord Krishna is the proverbial muse of all Bollywood music directors.
And songs depicting the widely-revered God had been lapped up by the Indian audience, signaling how faith in films is a sure recipe for success.
RD Burman, better known for his peppy tunes, churned out super hit songs on the Hindu deity. Bada Natkhat hai re, Krishn Kanhaiya stood out amid evergreen songs like Kishore Kumar’s Chingari Koi Bhadke and Kuchh toh log kahenge in the Rajesh Khanna starrer Amar Prem.
The song also has an interesting back-story.
Film Historian Vishwas Nerurkar heard it from RD: “Shaktida (Samanta) narrated me the situation and Anand Bakshi wrote a perfect song for it. I composed nice tune. Everybody liked it. Shaktida said song is good but we need approval from Sachinda (SD Burman) also. He invited my father in the rehearsal. Baba came and heard the song carefully. He said song is good but its essence is missing.
SD declared, “The film’s heroine is a childless prostitute. So she is showering motherly affection on the child staying in the nearby house. She is singing a song for that child with that feeling. In your song the tune is good but it is not giving justice to the situation. You have to highlight this motherly affection effectively in the song.”
“He suggested a small addition: at the completion of sign-line, add an affectionate alaap with word Maiya re…And it created magic”, Nerurkar tells HT.
Subhash Ghai, like Raj Kapoor, is considered as a director with keen sense of music. Ghai’s epic Saudagar had Dilip Kumar humming “Natkhat Bansiwale Gukul ke raja” before the director decided to make an entire film centering on the lead character ‘Kisna’. The film bombed but the Ismail Durbar number “who kisna hai” became an instant hit.
Music directors Khayyam and O. P Nayyar may not have produced any film song on Lord Krishna, but both have produced private albums on Krishna Bhajans. Khayyam’s bhajans were rendered by none other than Md. Rafi—a singer who has sung countless devotional songs on Indian films.
“Although Kishore Kumar has rendered Krishna Bhajans like he re kanhaiya, kisko kahega tu maiya (film: Sankoch, M.D: Kalyanji Anandji), Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar had been the two favourite singers for Bollywood to sing Krishna numbers,” says Kaushik Maitra, a collector of Hindi film music.
Lata’s yashomati maiya se bole nandlala (Stayam shivam sundaram) is rated by critics as one of her best songs, was also AR Rehman’s only choice for the prayer song in Aamir Khan’s Lagaan as he fell for the “purity” in Lata’s voice.
From Laxmikant Pyarelal (film: Shagird) to Salil chowdhury’s “Kanha bole na kanha bole na” (film: Sangat) to Ravindra Jain (film: Gopal Krishna) almost all music directors have never missed an opportunity to pay musical offerings to Lord Krishna. Even an otherwise comedy film of Kishore Kumar, Miss Mary, had a soulful Krishna bhajan, composed by Hemant kumar.
Another super-hit soundtrack on Krishna came from unexpected quarters. Bappi Lahiri’s ‘disco music’ in Mithun Chakraborty’s Disco Dancer was not complete without “Krishna, dharti pe aa jaa tu” with Mithun dancing wearing a long white cape.
Krishna’s naughtiness, romance and love have always found admirers everywhere including Bollywood music.