Bollywood movies, Censor Board, and the curious case of deleted songs

Heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter. But those that are unseen are a matter of regret.

 |  16-minute read |   19-10-2020
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Remember Aati Kya Khandala from Ghulam (1998), sung by Aamir Khan himself? The song, penned by Nitin Raikwar, drew the ire of lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri. At a function to honour Talat Mehmood, he flogged the lyrics as the “prostitution of the pen”. The comments kicked up a massive storm with Mukesh Bhatt, the film producer, leading the charge. He cited Majrooh’s own song: “C.A.T. Cat, Cat Mane Billi, R.A.T. Rat, Rat Mane Chooha” from Dilli Ka Thug (1958) for setting off the rot. In Guru Dutt’s Aar-Paar (1954), he had introduced Bambaiya into the song – “Sun, Sun, Sun, Sun Zaalima, Humko Tum Se Pyaar Ho Gaya” — “humko” not being a word.

Though nobody pointed it out, Majrooh had introduced another non-word, a four-letter F word in another Guru Dutt film CID (1956), that lead to penal consequences. The song was banned and removed from the film. No film footage exists of the song. The offending non-word was “Fifi”. As OP Nayyar, who I knew personally, told me, it was just a random word that Majrooh had thrown in because they could not find anything to fit the meter. The Censor Board, for reasons unfathomable, took objection to the word and guillotined the song, otherwise a fantastic Geeta Dutt ditty, still very popular today. In fact, it was re-created, and renamed as “Fifi” in Bombay Velvet (2015).

Apparently, the song was deleted from the film within a week of its release. Why would they not excise the song at the time of certifying the film? In the process, we not only lost out on a great song but one that helped the flow of the narrative. When you see the film, the cut is obvious.

Waheeda Rehman, however, had a different take. She said the censors had a problem not with “fifi” but with the suggestiveness of “Jaata kahaan hai deewane, sab kuch yahan hai sanam". “The Censor Board had dirty minds,” were her words that I quote.

Another twist was added by Nasreen Munni Kabir’s book Guru Dutt: A Life in Cinema, which suggests the song was edited out because it showed the CID officer “in a bad light".

The Censor Board was doing something which was subsequently done in the US. In 1963, a band called The Kingsmen covered a Richard Berry number called Louie Louie who had recorded it in 1955. The Kingsmen's recording was the subject of an FBI investigation about the supposed, but nonexistent, the obscenity of the lyrics, an investigation that ended without prosecution. The nearly unintelligible (and innocuous) lyrics were widely misinterpreted, and the song was banned by radio stations.

The case of Balma Khuli Hawa from Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) was even weirder. The audience of the first week saw the song. However, the Censor Board belatedly discovered that in the song that Sharmila Tagore’s dupatta flew off in the breeze exposing her breasts (covered by her kameez) which were heaving a bit too much for the Censor Board’s liking. The dupatta eventually descended and settled on her head without fluttering down to cover her modesty. This ‘immoral’ behaviour of the dupatta lead to the whole song being axed.

Some other songs too faced the Censor Board’s ire, like Mose Chanchal Jawani Sambhali Nahin Jaaye from Bahu Beti (1952), composed by SD Batish and written by Kaifi Azmi, and Jab Jab Tujhko Chhua from Jaal Saaz (1959), composed by N Dutta and written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, and on the same tune Hip Hip Hurray was recorded.

To cut the long story short, these songs belong to the category of ‘Deleted Songs’ of Hindi films. The above-mentioned songs were deleted on the orders of the Censor Board. There is no footage, only the audio.

But there is a long list of other songs which were deleted for other reasons.

The government body is not always the cause; sometimes public opinion is. Guru Dutt’s film Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) had a song Sahil Ki Taraf Kashti Le Chal sung by Hemant Kumar (who was also the music director) and written by Shakeel Badayuni. The song had a shot which showed Meena Kumari (playing Chhoti Bahu) resting her head on Guru Dutt’s (playing Bhoothnath) lap in the carriage. Audiences resented the filmmaker showing a married woman behaving intimately with a man, who was not her husband. Guru Dutt removed the song and the offending shot. Hemant Kumar reused the tune for the song Ya Dil Ki Suno from Anupama four years later, this time penned by Kaifi Azmi. That is the advantage of being the music director, the tune never goes waste. But we will never know what the original song sounded like. Incidentally, in Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam, the haunting Geeta Dutt solo Koi Door Se Awaaz De Chale Aao is used in a shortened form with the entire second stanza edited out. Thankfully, the audio of the entire song exists.

Sometimes the public’s behaviour also plays a role.

The popular Aaj Dil Pe Koi Jor Chalta Nahin, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, figured initially in Milan (1967), placed just after the interval. Producer LV Prasad learnt that many of those taking a break outside did not return to their seats in time to catch the song. So, it was axed. Ten years earlier, something similar had happened. Guru Dutt learnt that many in the audience extended their break during Geeta Dutt’s boat song Rut Phire Par Din Hamare from Pyaasa (1957). The song was removed from the prints almost immediately.

Then there are cases where the entire film gets banned and prints destroyed. Kishore Kumar's film Begunah (1957) was accused by Paramount Pictures of being a copy of their 1954-movie Knock on Wood. It won the matter, and the Mumbai High Court ordered all prints of the film to be destroyed. All the prints were thought to have been destroyed but miraculously some segments have survived. These have been retrieved including the one containing the song Ae Pyase Dil Bezubaan, featuring Jaikishan (of the Shankar-Jaikishan fame) on the piano and actor Shakila dancing. The song is sung by Mukesh. Hopefully, the song footage would be available soon. Till then, we will have to make do with the audio.

Let us see if the footage of the other songs from the film such as Kishore Kumar’s comic number Aaj Na Jane Pagal Manwa Kahe Ghabraye, and Manna Dey-Lata Mangeshkar duet Dil Albela Pyar Ka Mausam is also retrieved.

Most of the songs do not get to see the light of day because the films either do not get released or are shelved or remain incomplete.

Madan Mohan had songs composed and recorded for his films, which were shelved or remained incomplete. The total number is staggering. Some of these were released in the form of the album Tere Bagair (2009) which was a huge hit.

Anand-Milind, sons of composer Chitragupt, brought out an album titled The Last Songs recorded by Mohammed Rafi in December 1979, under the baton of their father for Dilip Bose’s film Sorry Madam. The film was never released.

Guru Dutt had some aborted projects. One was the Bengali film Gouri, launched in 1957, starring his wife Geeta Dutt. Two scenes were filmed, and music director SD Burman had recorded two songs when Guru Dutt stopped production on account of his personal life being in turmoil. The two songs were recorded by Geeta Dutt. One was Jani Bhromora Keno, a song that SD Burman also sang and whose tune he would later use in Dr Vidya (1962) as Jaani Tum Toh Dole, this time rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. The other song was Banshi Shune Aar Kaaj Naai, also sung by SD Burman and again used by him later in a Hindi film Anuraag (1972) as a Lata Mangeshkar solo — Neend Churaye Chain Churaye Daka Dale Teri Bansi.

Guru Dutt started another project — Raaz around 1959 which was adapted from the Wilkie Collins classic tale The Woman in White. Some scenes were shot, and two songs were recorded by RD Burman, who was making his debut. But after shooting and editing five or six reels, Guru Dutt shelved the film since he was unhappy with the way it was shaping up. The tunes lay in the cans for three years before one of them Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye was used for Mehmood’s Chhote Nawab (1961), which is officially RD Burman’s first film as music director. Another tune based on the theme of Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight (1952) was used in the Lata-Kishore duet Tum Meri Zindagi Mein for Bombay to Goa (1971). But that song did not see the light of day either.

Another aborted film was Picnic (1964) starring Guru Dutt and Sadhna with music by N Dutta. Fortunately, snippets of two songs have survived. One is a lovely duet sung by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle — Kitni Rangeen Hai Yeh.

Mughal-e-Azam (1960) took a heavy physical toll on Madhubala’s health. Sometime around 1964, once she felt a little better, Madhubala decided to make a comeback and finish her work on yet another film that was stalled for quite some time called Chalaak, where she was cast opposite Raj Kapoor with the music by Shankar-Jaikishan. Some ten reels were in the can by then. Some more filming took place before Madhubala’s ailment again brought the film to a halt. She collapsed on the sets and was advised strict bed rest thereafter. Still determined to finish it, sometime around 1966 Madhubala again made a valiant attempt to complete the film. However, the physical effort to complete the film proved too much for the actress. The film was shelved. It was even more tragic as the film had just a few more days of filming left. While no records of the film’s music came out, Mukesh did sing a song Bata De Meri Jaan from the film at some of his concerts. At one such function in the 1960s, he declared the film had not released but would soon be seen in the theatres. But that never happened.

Then there are unreleased films, whose songs remained unseen. One was Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai sung by Sudha Malhotra and Geeta Dutt from Kafir with music by Khayyam. This song was later used in the film Kabhie Kabhie (1976) and became a superhit reviving Khayyam’s career.

Some other songs from unreleased films, many of them being low budget, starting from the late 1940s, include Tum Tana Tum Tana and Ek Jahan Aur Bhi Hai from JwalamukhiTore Bina Raja Mohe Chain Kahan from Poojya Gandhiji, In Kaali Kaali Ankhon Mein from Black Prince, Gul Khile Ya Na Khile from Raat Ki Uljhan (In this song, there is a debate on whether it was sung by Geeta Dutt or Sabita Chaudhuri — the wife of composer Salil Chaudhari), Tujhe Doon Mein Kya, Hey Baabu Hey Bandhu and Ja Chhup Nazron Se Kya from Insaaf Kahan Hai, Chunnilal Tera Bura Haal from Shahzadi, Angaare Hain Mat Chhoo and Aa Dil Ki Baazi Laga from Jasoos, Tumhari Mohabbat from Bahadur Shah Zafar, Mere Humnasheen Mere Humnawaa from Bhool Na Jana, Chale Aa Rahe Hain from Ladaki, Tere Bin Sajna Dil Mera and Zindagi Naam Hai Thokar Ka from Naagan, Matrubhumi Ka Aaya Bulawaa and Sona Sona Kya Karte Ho from Veer Balak, and Hum Khoob Janate Hain from Saajan ki Galiyan.

It is not only the unreleased films. Even completed films have had songs deleted for various reasons.

One reason is the length of the film. Sholay (1975) had a qawwali — Ke Chand Sa Koi Chehra — but it was dropped owing to the length of the movie. One of the singers of the song was the lyricist Anand Bakshi while the others were Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar and Bhupendra.

Similarly, Mera Naam Joker (1970) was shot as a six-hour movie, but later it was realised that such a long movie would never work, so it was cut to four hours. In the process, some songs were also cut including the song Gaao Gaao Gaao, Jhoom Ke Gaao sung by Mukesh and Sharada.

For Pakeezah (1972) Ghulam Mohammed had recorded nine songs that had remained unused. These songs, including a faster-paced version of Chalo Dildar Chalo, were released separately in 1977 in an album titled Pakeezah Rang Barang.

One reason is personal. OP Nayyar’s muse, Asha Bhosle, had Chain Se Humko Kabhi from the movie Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1973) deleted because she had parted from her mentor on bitter terms. It was a song for which, ironically, she would receive the Filmfare Award for Best Playback Female Singer. She did not attend the Filmfare Awards that year. OP Nayyar received it on her behalf and on the way back from the function, he flung the award out of the moving car and heard it break. OP Nayyar told me he was initially very bitter about Asha’s behaviour and her refusal to acknowledge his significant contribution to her career, but later he turned philosophical about it.

In fact, OP Nayyar would scratch his head and would have no definite answer as to why so many of his other songs were deleted like Hothhon Pe Hansi Aankhon Mein Nasha from Saawan Ki Ghataa (1966), Tumhaare Ye Nakhre from Kahin Din Kahin Raat (1968), Main Pyar Ka Raahi Hoon from Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962), Darshan Kab Doge Bolo Na from Bhagam Bhaag (1956), Humne Toh Dil Ko Aapke from Mere Sanam (1965).

Composer Madan Mohan was one of those who had the unfortunate experience of seeing some of his best tunes being left out, too many to enumerate here. The Rafi solo Chirag Dil Ka Jalao from Chiraag (1968) was deleted, as was the Rafi-Asha duet Jis Din Se Tumko Dekha Hai from Parwana (1971). The poignant Lata solo Khelo Na Mere Dil Se from Haqeeqat (1964) had to be dropped because the film was too long, and the pace was getting bogged down. In fact, the song was one of Lata’s favourite and she sang it in concert with the Wren Orchestra in Royal Albert Hall in 1979.

Music director Naushad had composed 20 songs for Mughal-e-Azam (1960), but only a dozen were finally used. The rest were discarded. One never knows whether Naushad recycled them for use later. Or whether, since they were composed exclusively for this film, they became the property of K Asif, to be used at his discretion. Husn Ki Baraat Chali, however, was shot but deleted owing to the length of the movie. It is a rare triad — Lata, Mubarak Begum and Shamshad Begum.

Some other songs that were deleted from released films were Chaand Hain Wohi from Parineeta (1953),  Gaaye Ghabra Ke from Paying Guest (1957), Theharo Zara Si Der Toh from Savera (1958), Nazron Mein Hain Sau Afsaane from Kya Yeh Bambai Hai (1959), Yunhi Dil Ne Chaha Tha from Dil Hi To Hai (1963) sung by Suman Kalyanpur, Le Chal Wahan Piya and Dard Bhari Kisi Ki Yaad from Sangdil (1952), Jamuna Kinare Aaja from Mehbooba (1976), Sun Lo Dil Ka Afsana and Kyun Pheri Nazar from Andaz (1949). In the case of Andaz, the film already had 10 songs! It is no wonder that these two songs were excluded from the film. Anari Anari Re from Munimji (1955) – the tune was already composed by SD Burman earlier for the Bombay Talkies Bengali film Samar (1950). However, he did not use the tune. 

An opposite phenomenon was also occurring — songs in films but not on the record.

Guru Dutt’s film Pyasa (1957) had songs in the film which were not released on record. One was Ho Lakh Museebat Raste Mein – a short song sung by Rafi. The other was the verse Phir Na Kije Meri Gustakh Nigahi Ka Gila which is the prelude to Jaane Kya Tune Kahi. Later this verse became part of the Mukesh-Asha Bhosle duet in the film Phir Subah Hogi (1958) composed by Khayyam.

In the case of Aye Hai Dilruba from Dr Vidya (1962), the song was sung by Geeta Dutt for Helen with Asha Bhosle singing for Vyjayanthimala. Since it was more than eight minutes long (being a competition between the two dancing sensations), its length could have played a role in it not getting released on the record.

Some other songs that were in the films, but not on the record were Teena Tan Taa Teena from Tangewali (1955), Jiya Hai Udaas from Ek Do Teen (1953), Jee Bhar Ke Pyar Kar Lo (Sad version) from Farar (1955), Tu Mera Chaand Main Teri Chandni from Dillagi (1949) — Geeta Dutt sang this duet with Shyam. This song is the tandem version of the famous song Tu Mera Chand Main Teri Chandni sung by Suraiya and Shyam for the same film. Aa Jane Wafa Aa from Anarkali (1953) — This song was composed by Basant Prakash before C Ramchandra took over the baton.

There existed another category: the songs that were recorded in the voice of one singer but released in the voice of another.

For instance, Tum Jiyo Hazaaron Saal from Sujata (1959). The birthday song was supposedly first recorded in Geeta Dutt’s voice. It was said to be released on the record as well. Later, the same song was recorded in Asha Bhosle’s voice. This was the version which was used in the movie. All these years, the song sung by Asha Bhosle was credited to Geeta Dutt. It continued to be wrongly credited to Geeta Dutt till Asha Bhosle and R D Burman had to convince HMV and get the credits corrected.

The song Us Chand Se Pyare Chand Ho Tum from Raat Ki Rani (1949) was originally recorded in the voice of Geeta Dutt and Mukesh. However, this was deleted from the film and the same then was re-recorded as a Lata-Rafi duet.

Na Kajre Ki Dhaar was a song that was originally sung by Mukesh and was composed by Kalyanji-Anandji with Indeevar as the lyricist. But the song went unreleased and was later used in movie Mohra (1994) with singer Pankaj Udhas and music by Viju Shah.

Kaisi Haseen Aaj from Aadmi (1968) was recorded first with Talat Mahmood. However, Manoj Kumar requested a change, so it was recorded again with Mahendra Kapoor. The film features this latter recording, but the album features the Talat version. Mahendra Kapoor also sang Na Aadmi Ka Koi Bharosa but the song sung by Rafi (with a different tune) was eventually used and Mahendra Kapoor’s version axed.

This phenomenon of deleted songs still exists. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) originally had An Evening in Paris — Rafi's hit number which was recreated by Ranbir and Anushka. The duo is seen listening to it on their headphones while exploring the streets of Paris. The song was deleted given the film’s length.

Heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter. But those that are unseen are a matter of regret. Ask any music lover!

Also read: What makes the Bollywood title song eternal


Ajay Mankotia Ajay Mankotia @ajaymankotia

The writer is an author, former revenue official and a music aficionado.

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