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BLAST FROM THE PAST

Sangam 1964

(Raj Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala, Rajendra Kumar, Lalita Pawar, Iftikhar)



THE REVERIE? In this shot Raj Kapoor breaks into “Har dil jo pyar karega” wooing Vyjayanthimala Bali while Rajendra Kumar chips in later in this melodious song from ”’Sangam”

Raj Kapoor’s maiden directorial venture Aag despite a tight script by Inder Raj Anand turned out to be a box office disaster. But it succeeded in sowing the seeds of a relationship between the young actor, producer, director and one of the leading heroines of that time. But he took failure in his stride and started work on his next venture, Barsaat. He did not have many outside acting assignments. Meanwhile, mentor Mehboob Khan invited Nargis to star in his two hero-one heroine film, Andaz for which he had already signed for one of the roles. Nargis strongly recommended Raj Kapoor and Mehboob reluctantly agreed.

While Andaz was still being made writer Inder Raj Anand (father of actor-director Tinnu Anand, and grandfather of new age director Siddharth Raj Anand) narrated the script of Gharonda which too was the story two friends, one an introvert and the other an extrovert but in love with the same woman. Raj Kapoor bought the story on the spot. Meanwhile, Andaz went on to become a box office hit. Not willing to lose any time, Raj Kapoor got posters of Gharonda designed, while Barsaat was still being made, and put them all over R.K. Studio as a clever device to attract distributors. But his hopes dashed when Dilip Kumar politely declined the offer, and Kapoor put the project on the backburner. Barsaat, based on script by Ramanand Sagar became a hit. After that there was no stopping Raj Kapoor and the RK banner started churning one hit after another. Awara, Shri 420, Jagtey Raho, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai…et al. And by now his inspiration Nargis had walked out of his life. Raj Kapoor had been a changed man by then.

Shot abroad

He decided to revive Gharonda and once again invited his distant uncle, Inder Raj Anand to rework and modernise the script. And Sangam was launched with a lot of fanfare with Vyjayanthimala, Rajendra Kumar and himself in the lead. This was going to be RK’S first colour film to be extensively shot abroad. It was a love triangle between three childhood friends, Radha (Vyjayanthimala), Gopal (Rajendra Kumar), and Sunder (Raj Kapoor) who is comparatively from a poorer background. Sunder not only overlooks the bonding between Radha and Gopal, obsessed as he is with her, and eventually even marries her. When it is believed that he might have got killed in an air accident, the two old lovers get closer again. But Sunder returns, suspects infidelity and bursts into the immortal Hasrat Jaipuri soulful number Dost dost na raha pyar pyar na raha. Gopal eventually commits suicide to absolve Radha of the infidelity charge, and affirm his loyalty to the friend.

Dilip Kumar had again been the first choice, but when he declined Raj Kapoor then reportedly tried to lure in Dev Anand but when he also backed out he decided to cast Rajendra Kumar as a compromise. However, the moment he thought of reviving the project he had set his eyes on the voluptuous Vyjayanthimala and managed to sign her against all odds. No one could have bettered her performance, especially in the picturization of two still ear-buzzing songs: Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahin and Mein Kya karoon Ram mujhe budha mil gaya. Three other Shankar-Jaikishen compositions, penned by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri, the Rafi number Yeh mera prem patra padh kar, and Mukesh’s soulful Har dil jo pyar karega still bring back unforgettable moving images from the blockbuster.

Radhu Karmakar’s brilliant cinematography added additional flair to the exotic locales of Venice, Paris, London and Switzerland. One of the longest running films of its time at 238 minutes it won Raj Kapoor the Filmfare Best Director Award.

SURESH KOHLI

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