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How Manmohan Desai’s Naseeb song inspired dancing with the stars


36 years ago, Amitabh Bachchan first introduced himself to the industry's biggest stars in 'John Jani Janardhan' in Naseeb (1981). The song also inspired homages to pop up nearly three decades later in Om Shanti Om (2007) and Bombay Talkies (2013).

Sonal Pandya

The brainchild of writers Kader Khan, Prayag Raj and KK Shukla, the story of Naseeb (1981) revolved around a winning lottery ticket that altered the lives of all the players in the film. Like director Manmohan Desai's earlier film, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Amitabh Bachchan's character is separated from his real father and raised by others. Here, it is by the very people who have wronged his father. Similarly, his name is a combination of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu communities.

As the charismatic and knowledgeable waiter in the city's top hotel, Bachchan is in his element, especially in the song 'John Jani Janardhan', hosting a party for the golden jubilee of the film Dharam Veer (1977), which is coincidentally also directed by Manmohan Desai. But the party is just a premise, the lyrics are clearly all about Bachchan's lead character.  'John Jani Janardhan' is also an excuse to see the biggest stars of the industry.

Everyone stops by, the massive list of stars includes Randhir Kapoor, Rajesh Roshan, Simi Garewal, Waheeda Rehman, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Mala Sinha, Raj Kapoor and even the star of Dharam Veer, Dharmendra himself. They all get mobbed for autographs and showman Raj Kapoor is even cajoled into having a go at the accordion. The song, composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, was shot in one week at RK Studios.

This star-studded tradition of songs was revived in Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om (2007) where Shah Rukh Khan played a top film actor named Om Kapoor. Around 30 stars of Hindi cinema, past and present, from Jeetendra, Kajol, Salman Khan to Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan and Rekha all gathered at a nightclub to sing along to 'Deewangi Deewangi' composed by Vishal-Shekhar, with lyrics written by Javed Akhtar. Farah Khan's film was filled with meta references to Hindi cinema and especially with the presence of Dharmendra who was also present in 'John Jani Janardhan'.

For the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema, the anthology Bombay Talkies (2013), with shorts directed by Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Karan Johar, created a special song for the occasion. Many of the stars from 'Deewangi Deewangi' were seen in the song and other stars like Aamir Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi and Akshay Kumar not present in ‘Deewangi Deewangi’ were also included in the video.