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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Soulful sonatas (Maya)

This is one film that will stay on with you because of the wonderful music. The story has been heard before, the characters seen and the denouement expected. But these songs are so powerful even today that whenever they play they bring bliss to my senses. I'm talking of Salil Chowdhury's fantastic score in  Maya, the 1961 romance directed by D.D. Kashyap. The film has a likable plot and famous faces. But more than anything, the songs just stand out from the crowd of events and situations, pulling you into a soulful reverie that lingers on for eternity...

Just like in Asli Naqli, Dev Anand plays a rich man disillusioned by his prosperity. One day, a petty thief, played by Sudesh Kumar, breaks into his mansion and on being accosted, threatens to kill him. Anand acts wisely and pacifies the frayed nerves of the young thief and promises to not let the law punish him if he allows him to come and stay at his house in the nearby slum. Anand is so fed up with his riches that he wishes to taste poverty. So, Sudesh takes him to his house, where he and his elder sister, Mala, live. Mala is not informed of Anand's real identity. Thus starts the fun. Mala is ravishing and Anand is understandably quite struck by her beauty. He feels good to be with such a company and does not mind the hardships that he has to go through at this humble abode.
Mala (played by a beautiful Mala Sinha), is worried sick that her brother is fallen into bad company, namely the local rogue (a robust and hollering Jayant) and hence is doing wrong things. She wants him to find a decent job and be back on good tracks. Extracting a promise from Sudesh that he will abide by his sister's wishes, Anand sees to it that he gets a decent job in an office. Everything is running well but the local rogue will have none of this peace in the locality.
He is irked that Sudesh is a good man now, that Anand is romancing Mala, the beauty he wants for himself and that slowly the residents of the locality are becoming brave enough to ward off his goons with tough words. Here comes the struggle between will and weakness to easily fall prey to wickedness. Jayant sows the seed of misunderstandings in Sudesh's mind and he, a gullible man, accepts the bait. This results in a gargantuan miscommunication between Anand and Sudesh and Mala has to suffer in the process. A murderous attack on Anand also takes place. But every crease is ironed out in the end with the good souls going home happy.
In a nutshell, Maya is a twisted second coming of Asli Naqli. There are bits that are hugely enjoyable but there are also those moments where you feel how the Hrishikesh Mukherjee enterprise is so much better. I'd have loved to see Kashyap make better use of Helen, Lalita Pawar and Agha except for in one tiny song.
Dev Anand looks good and is spontaneous. Jayant has a powerful voice. There is one tiny scene near the end where you get to see the 12-year-old Amjad Khan sharing screen space with his real father! Sudesh Kumar is quite convincing as the impressionable young man. Mala Sinha is beautiful and does what is required of her. She is pleasing to the eye, has a soft and sensitive temperament but sometimes is a bit too weepy. Though I liked Mala Sinha quite a lot, I always thought she turned into a glamorous actor once technicolour came into being. Here she is a simple dame, with a ravishing smile and a charming personality.
Now for the best part. The songs. My favourite is Tasveer teri dil mein, a stupendously mind blowing romantic number sung superbly by Mohd Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. History has it that while recording this track the singing sensations had a severe altercation over something, resulting in Lata not willing to sing with the master singer ever again. However, this track does not reveal any bitterness. It is beautifully rendered by the singers, every crest and trough of the notes are enunciated and every emotion is felt throughout the rendition. The lyrics are exemplary and the music is oh-so-sweet. I believe the simplicity of the picturisation makes the song even more spectacular. Imagine Anand singing, "Tujhsey nazar jab gayi hain mil, jahaan pe kadam tera wahin mera dil..." to a pretty Mala. What a pristine declaration of love. What an ethereal classic from Chowdhury. Even as I pen this post, I'm hearing the song on Youtube. And yes, I'm loving it all over again!!
The other wonderful track is Jaa rey udh jaarey panchi, a sensational sad number from Mangeshkar. The words breathe life into the dejection of Mala and the soulful music defines the pain in her heart. 
The other songs are quite melodious too. There's the bouncy Koi sone ke dilwala, the awesome Phir ekbaar kaho and other nice tracks picturised on the scintillating Helen.
But, when it comes to the scenestealer it has to be Tasveer teri dil mein. Call it breathtaking melody or the piece de resistance, my vote and heart will always go to this mesmerising classic...


  1. Hi Sharmi! Nice post as ever. Love "tasveer teri dil mein.." and "Ja udd ja re panchhi...". Haven't heard others though.
    BTW, did you watch it on DVD? Have been searching this one online for quite some time. Its not there on youtube. tried to download from another movie site but badluck! :(

  2. @Punya: Hello there. Long time!!
    Yes, I have this DVD and keep listening to the songs from time to time :)

  3. I love the songs of Maya, though the film itself I saw so long back that I don't remember very much of it! I'd forgotten, for instance, that Amjad Khan was to be seen in it!

    BTW: In the poster image that you've put that the top of the post, Mala Sinha's face looks less like hers and more like Anita Guha's. ;-)

  4. @Dustedoff: Haha great observation. Me thinks also that Mala Sinha looked a bit like Suchitra Sen in the Tasveer teri dil mein song!

  5. What a coincidence. I saw it some weeks ago and loved it. The chemistry between Dev and Mala was deeper than between him and Sadhana in Asli Naqli.
    Yes these two films have a similarity though I didn't care for the Jayant angle which makes Asli Naqli better and more normal.

    Apart from that the film was nice. I didn't get bored at all...and the songs!!!! Fabulous!!!
    Ja rey ja rey udja re panchchi arouses the same feeling in me as when I hear Anuradha's jaane kaise sapnon mein, even though they are different in sentiment. Their tunes are so ethereal.

    Thanks for reviewing it Sharmi. :)


  6. @Pacifist: Me too didn't mind the film as the romance was cute. And of course there was Tasveer teri dil mein... awesome :)

  7. This film does have some lovely songs. Salil Chowdhury seems to have the effect on films! :D You do not mention Ae dil kahan teri manzil. I love the song and till quite recently was convinced that the singer was Hemant Kumar!

    I think I found this on but never got round to watching it, inspite of having every reason to watch it. And now I need 36-hour days to do any significant movie-watching!

  8. @Bollyviewer: Yes we all do. Me thinks we should now have 48 hours in a day to watch films amidst all the chaos of everyday life that goes on :)

  9. Yes coincidence here too. I just got this movie this week down under and have started to re-watch it after a long time. Youtube helps with the songs and they are so beautiful. Just came across your blog even though I follow other old film bloggers.Do keep it up, thank you. Agree totally with your views above-mentioned about old movies.

  10. @Sumitra: Hi and welcome. So, do do i have a regular new visitor in you from now on?? :)

  11. As usual I am late but do I have anything new to add to what others have been saying, no I think that we all agree the songs are just wonderful. Kahan gaye woh surilay din? Amjad Khan acted in Maya? obviously he was a child actor but I have seen the film so long ago that I do not remember most of it.

  12. @Shilpi: He was in a blink-and-you-miss cameo :)

  13. @Sharmi: This is one of the very few Dev Anand oldies I haven't watched. Will watch it for sure. Thanks for the review :)

  14. @Sreenath: Its a watchable film for sure. Do not miss the songs though, they are exemplary :)

  15. ahh i liked this a bit and had my scren caps ready to do a post on it but i shall pass, the best things were indeed the songs plus i quite liked the dev/mala pairing. Mlaa who is one of my favourite bollywood diva's was way too docile in this for my liking but being the fan that i am i loved her still and ja re is such a classic

  16. @Bollywooddeewana: Yes they both make a great pair. But I'd give full marks to Tasveer teri dil mein. It is an ethereal song :)