Article Hindi

50 years of Anand (1971): How music shaped Hrishikesh Mukherjee's tearjerker


On the film’s 50th anniversary, we take a look at the songs composed by Salil Chowdhury and written by Gulzar and Yogesh for the classic starring Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan.

Sonal Pandya

Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s tearjerker Anand (1971) is known for many things — from its award-winning turns by Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan to its emotional sequences and dialogues and that famous ending. But the film’s music and its five iconic songs, composed by Salil Chowdhury, also played a large role in Anand’s success.

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Mukherjee’s 14th feature as director was his first with Khanna and Bachchan. Khanna played the lead role of twinkled-eyed cancer patient Anand Sehgal who doesn’t take no for an answer and wants to befriend everyone he meets. Bachchan, in his second part on screen, plays Anand's doctor, Bhaskar Banerjee, a dour young man who changes his approach to life after his experience with his patient.

The film is dedicated to the city of Mumbai and Raj Kapoor, a dear friend of the filmmaker. In fact, Anand’s affectionate nickname for Dr Banerjee, Babu Moshai, was Kapoor’s nickname for Mukherjee. Like in Kapoor's films, music in Mukherjee’s films was an important part of the narrative.

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Significantly, Mukherjee used the talent of Salil Chowdhury, a frequent collaborator of his mentor Bimal Roy. Chowdhury brought on board Yogesh, who also worked frequently with him. The careers of both the music director and the songwriter got a boost after the success of the film.

The first song of the film ‘Maine Tere Liye’ is sung by Mukesh and written by Gulzar (who also co-wrote the dialogues). The song shows off Anand’s garrulous, larger-than-life personality as he meets the wife (Seema Deo) of Dr Kulkarni (Ramesh Deo), through whom he has been referred to Dr Banerjee, for the first time. The song also introduces us to another side of Anand, as a talented singer and entertainer.

Chowdhury chose Mukesh to be the voice of Anand, going against the popular choice of Kishore Kumar who memorably sang for Khanna in Aradhana (1969). While Mukesh sets a lively mood in ‘Maine Tere Liye’, he brings an underlying wistfulness with his rendition of ‘Kahin Door Jab’. Chowdhury’s choice was the correct fit for a subject such as Anand.

The second song, ‘Kahin Door Jab’, introduces us to Anand’s pensive side as he spies the setting sun. Yogesh's song has the terminally ill patient commenting on his surroundings from the sea to the beach. The song also hints at a heartbreak for the young man as he lets down his guard for once and allows his true feelings to show.

Chowdhury used the tune from his own Bengali song ‘Amoy Proshno Kore’ here. Yogesh's lyrics were originally meant for a shelved Basu Bhattacharya film project. Both halves came together beautifully for this landmark song which Mukherjee felt would fit well in Anand. In a video interview, Yogesh said he felt enormous satisfaction that his song was used in a film like Anand.

‘Zindagi Kaisi Yeh Paheli’ arrives as Anand accompanies Dr Banerjee and his lady love Renu (Sumita Sanyal) to the beach. He walks away from the couple and sings about the paheli (mystery) of life, the duality that causes us to be both happy and sad. The bittersweet song, sung by Manna Dey, was another feather in lyricist Yogesh’s cap.

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The lyrics of the songs in the film also have a certain symbolism to them, as they all reference dreams in one way or another — Anand’s dreams for those he comes across in life, and, sadly, his own dreams, never to be realized.

The only song not focused on Anand is 'Na Jiya Lage Na', sung by Lata Mangeshkar and featured on Renu as she rekindles her acquaintance with Bhaskar. The lovely female solo is a respite from the heavy matters of life, and focuses instead on romance.

Interestingly, the tune of 'Koi Hota Jisko Apna' from Gulzar's directorial debut Mere Apne (1971), also composed by Chowdhury, is incorporated into portions of the film as a background score.

Anand won the National award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and six Filmfare awards, though, sadly, none for its exquisite music, which holds deeper meaning with every passing year.