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Suspense, Romance, Crime Thrillers, Offbeat, Social Drama: The Trend-setting Films of Raj Khosla

May 31, 2016 | By

From crime thrillers (CID, Kala Pani) to suspense dramas (Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saya); from romantic films (Solva Saal, Do Chor) to the unconventional and off-beat (Bombai Ka Babu, Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki), Raj Khosla’s rich repertoire encompassed an expansive range of films from different genres. And he excelled in each of them. A tribute to this maverick filmmaker who started as a Guru Dutt prodigy and created films that are remembered, appreciated and studied till today.

We are grateful to Pakanati Lakshmi Priya, M N Sardana and madanmohan.in for providing rare, exclusive and informative pictures for this article. 

raj khosla films

Raj Khosla (May 31, 1925 – June 9, 1991)

A rare picture of 21 years old Raj Khosla who made his debut as an actor in Raen Basera (1946). However, this film is not documented in his biography or elsewhere.

A rare picture of 21 years old Raj Khosla who made his debut as an actor in Raen Basera (1946). However, this film is not documented in his biography or elsewhere. (Pic: Pakanati Lakshmi Priya of Old Is Gold FB Group)

A man who was actively making films, some even landmark films, for 35 years and is associated with 28 as a director, deserves much more than a write up in the magazine pages, probably a dedicated book on his life and craft.  Just the name conjures memories of some favourite films and many lovely songs associated with Raj Khosla films.

In his autobiography, Romancing with Life, Dev Anand writes that during the days he worked at the military censor office he met Raj Khosla at the Flora Fountain coffee joints (this was probably in 1945). Raj had come to Bombay to become a singer. As Dev Anand had by then succeeded as an actor and established a production company as well, he put Khosla as an assistant under Guru Dutt in Baazi (1951), Dev’s second production. Guru Dutt was being introduced as a director in this film.

Thus started Raj Khosla’s journey into the world of Hindi cinema under a director who would soon be recognized the world over for his exceptional craftsmanship and with a production house that was to introduce many more talented persons to the industry and become a force to reckon. Solid grooming is what Khosla got, that made his career in Hindi films.

The Early Years – Milap, CID, Solva Saal

Khosla made his first five films with Dev as his hero (and sometimes producer), which reflects the support and confidence he received from his friend.

Raj Khosla in a cameo as a film director in Solva Saal, directed by him.

Raj Khosla in a cameo as a film director in Solva Saal, directed by him. (Pic: MN Sardana)

Raj Khosla got his break as a director in Film Arts’ Milap (shot in 1954 and released on 28th January, 1955), starring Geeta Bali with Dev Anand. The directorial debut for Raj Khosla was also the debut Hindi film for music director N. Dutta. The music gained popularity but the film could not do much at the box office. However, the film did succeed in placing a lot of self confidence in Khosla and his handling of his actors, the camera placements and song picturizations. It was evident that he had taken his training well and was ready to give more to the cinema viewers. In the reviews, acting of Dev, Geeta Bali and K N Singh was commended.

Among popular songs from this film were the Hemant/ Lata tandem, Yeh baharon ka samaa, chand taaron ka samaa and the other Lata number – Dard ka saaz bhi hai, dil ki awaaz bhi hai. And the volley of Geeta beauties – Humse bhi kar lo kabhi kabhi do meethi meethi do baatein and Jaate ho to jaao par jaaoge kahan, babuji tum aisa dil paaoge kahan. Let’s enjoy another delicate Geeta gem from Milaap:

Chahe bhi jo dil jana na wahan, hum tumse mile the jahan (Milap, 1955) – N. Dutta / Sahir Ludhianvi / Geeta Dutt

Guru Dutt, now showing his support, produced CID (1956) and invited Khosla to direct. With CID Raj Khosla hit gold. The film was a massive hit and remains a popular one even today. Deft handling of his actors, creative camera shots, screenplay and the dialogues was the high point in Khosla’s favour. He derived convincing portrayals from his hero Dev Anand, heroine Shakeela and supporting actor Johny Walker. One even remembers Mehmood in one of his early roles and the villain Bir Sakhuja.

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in CID

Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman in CID (Pic courtesy: Rediff.com)

But the ace was in the form of the first-timer Waheeda Rehman playing the villain’s moll. The slick handling of the film leaves an impression on the viewer each time one revisits this classic. The music by O P Nayyar became a craze and all the songs were hits:

* Leke pehla pehla pyar bhar ke ankhon mein khumar (Shamshad, Rafi and Asha),

* Aankhon hi ankhon mein ishara ho gaya (Rafi & Geeta)

* Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan (also Rafi & Geeta)

* Boojh mera kya naam re (Shamshad)

I am inclined not to use a video clip of any CID song, as I have personal confirmations from cameraman V K Murthy and actor Waheeda Reman that all songs in the film were guest directed by Guru Dutt. On a closer look, most certainly, it appears so as well.

Solva Saal

Hai apna dil to aawara was a chartbuster song by Hemant Kumar picturised on a train on an amused Dev Anand watching a scowling Waheeda Rehman and her beau eloping.

Solva Saal was unconventional (as most of Raj Khosla films were) and had a breezy story to tell. The music became a chart buster and Khosla became a name well placed among top directors in Hindi Cinema. Inspired loosely from Frank Capra’s classic It Happened One Night, Solva Saal placed the story in an Indian context about a journalist hero chasing the runaway heroine in the hope of catching a scoop story for his newspaper. The girl who has eloped with her boyfriend finds herself in a tight spot when her beau deserts her and runs off with her jewellery. Forced to help out the distressed heroine, the bemused hero wonders if he is running after the scoop or running with the scoop. Deftly handled situations, witty dialogues and creative song picturization made Solva Saal a memorable film.

Produced by Chandrakant C Desai in 1958, it had camerawork by reputed Dwarka Divecha, lyrics by Majrooh and music by S D Burman.

Hai apna dil to awara (Solva Saal, 1958) – S D Burman / Majrooh Sultanpuri / Hemant Kumar

A Class Apart – Kala Pani, Bombai Ka Babu

Dev Anand’s next production under his Navketan banner, Kala Pani was initially supposed to have been directed by Vijay ‘Goldie’ Anand, right after Nau Do Gyarah. However, as Vijay Anand was busy scripting and planning Kala Bazar, Dev handed the mantle to Khosla.

Kala Pani

Kala Pani, loosely based on the A J Cronin novel, Beyond This Place, had cast Madhubala in a new avatar as a journalist. (Pic: Google Image Search)

Releasing four months after Solva Saal, Kala Pani turned out another landmark achievement for Khosla. The film, loosely based on the A J Cronin novel, Beyond This Place, had many exceptional touches that confirmed Khosla as a top-notch director. The story already had seen a superhit Bengali adaptation in an Uttam Kumar-Suchitra Sen starrer Sabar Uparey (1955).

Just as his mentor, Guru Dutt had planned a complete change over in the wardrobe for his hero in Baazi, Khosla too taking the clue from the dark story of a son fighting for justice for his wrongly convicted father, made his hero wear only dark or black colored clothes all through the film.

kala pani

Hum bekhudi mein tumko pukare chale gaye was a superhit song from Kala Pani.

Stunning performances by the ensemble cast was noticed and appreciated. The suavé and politically correct villains, played by Kishore Sahu and Sapru with their controlled acting added to the impact of the film. The new avatar of Madhubala as the modern news reporter, independent and firmly standing on her feet stole hearts and set off a new trend of the empowered, independent women characters in films. The single sitar jhala used as background piece to create the climax mood was another landmark.

Madhubala and cameraman Jal Mistry

Madhubala and cameraman Jal Mistry who was the cinematographer & co-producer of Bombai Ka Babu (Pic: Google Image Search)

* Hum bekhudi mein tum ko pukare chale gaye (Rafi)

* Nazar laagi raja tore bungle par (Asha)

* Achha ji main haari chalo maan jaao na

* Dil wale, ab teri gali tak aa pahunche (both, Rafi-Asha) were popular songs.

The film brought in a Best Film Category award, another one as Best Actor for Dev and yet another for Nalini Jaywant as the Best Supporting Actress.

If I am asked to pick one, and only one, song of Raj Khosla as my most favourite it would be this Rafi-Asha duet from Kala Pani. What an exceptional interactive play the director derived out of his stars here. Certainly, the singing by Rafi and Asha, the lyrics by Majrooh and the tune composed by S D Burman have contributed largely, but in incompetent hands the effect would never have been as we see here.

Achha ji main haari chalo maan jaao na ( Kala Pani , 1958) – S D Burman / Majrooh Sultanpuri / Mohd. Rafi-Asha Bhosle. This conversational duet is easily among the best roothna-manana songs ever.

The original poster of Bombai Ka Babu when the film was announced with Madhubala in the lead with Dev Anand

The original poster of Bombai Ka Babu when the film was announced with Madhubala in the lead with Dev Anand (Pic: Google Image Search)

Raj Khosla’s fifth film with Dev was co-produced by cinematographer, Jal Mistry and Raj Khosla himself, Bambai Ka Babu (1960). Madhubala was initially signed to play the lead, but she became unavailable for personal reasons. Waheeda Rehman had, in an informal chat informed me that she was approached for the role, but declined it as she had resolved not to work with Khosla. She did get to work with him again many years later in Sunny (1984). It was then that Dev Anand approached Suchitra Sen, his co-star of Sarhad (Debendra Shankar Mukherjee’s film) to be part of this project too.

With a totally unexpected, unconventional story line, which was too early and bold in its time for public to really appreciate, Bombai Ka Babu remains a classic. From this film onwards, Raj Khosla came to be recognised as a women’s director owing to his sensitive handling of the heroine’s character. Earlier, after CID he was acknowledged as a slick director of a crime thriller.

Dev Anand’s able portrayal was easily overshadowed by the absolute masterpiece of an acting by Suchitra Sen.  She set an example very tough to match up to in Hindi cinema standards. I have heard it from three reputed lead female actors of later years that they see her act repeated times to learn the finer nuances of acting and expression. It is like an institution. And credit must be shared with her director too. It was just simply put, a class act.

bambai ka babu

Chal ri sajani ab kya soche – easily, the most evocative bidaai song ever picturised as an unconventional denouement to the film as Dev Anand bids goodbye to Suchitra Sen.

The soft and pleasing cinematography by Jal Mistry and the outstanding music provided by S D Burman, that has remained popular to date, worked in favour of Raj Khosla and Bambai Ka Babu. If you have not seen this film lately, I would strongly recommend to watch it again, specially for Suchitra Sen and the music.

The songs, each one of them, are pure diamonds:

* Chal ri sajani ab kya soche, kajra na beh jaye rote rote – (Mukesh). Easily, the most evocative bidaai song ever.

* Saathi na koi manzil, diyaa hai na koi mehfil (Mohd Rafi)

* Dekhane men bholaa hai dil kaa salonaa – (Asha Bhosle). Inspired from a Telugu song ‘Eruvaka sagaro ranno chinnannaa‘ from Waheeda Rehman’s debut film Rojulu Marayi.

* Tak dhum tak dhum baje – (Manna De). The Hindi adaptation of a popular Bengali folk song sung by Burman Dada himself with unmistakable dhol beats.

* Aise me kachhu kaha nahi jaye – (Asha Bhosle) – a beautiful introspective number.

Deewana mastana hua dil ( Bambai Ka Babu , 1960) – S D Burman / Majrooh Sultanpuri / Mohd. Rafi-Asha Bhosle.

Moving Ahead – Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, Woh Kaun Thhi, Do Badan

Legendary Sashdhar Mukherji, now signed Khosla to direct a film for his son, Joy Mukherji and signed O P Nayyar to do the music. This was exactly all there was to the plan. Khosla liked the compositions of Nayyar so much that he kept signing on them one after the other, till he reached ten.

he evergreen music and songs, Sadhana and her beauty and Fali Mistry and his masterful craftsmanship made Ek Musafir Ek Haseena memorable.

The evergreen music and songs, Sadhana and her beauty and Fali Mistry and his masterful craftsmanship made Ek Musafir Ek Haseena memorable.

Now the question was how and where to fit them in the film. Thus some story line was developed and the shoot started for Ek Musafir Ek Haseena. Sketchy all through, the film has Khosla in most relaxed mood, revelling in the songs and music and somehow bringing about a film for the purpose of a film.

Sadhana was his heroine here, extended straight from her pairing with Joy in Love In Simla, also a Sashdhar Mukherji production couple of years earlier. But, Raj Khosla ended up making four films with Sadhana, contributing to her career in a huge manner. Sadhana got established as the new beauty queen in Hindi films with this film with significant help from ace cinematographer Fali Mistry. The evergreen music and songs, Sadhana and her beauty and Fali Mistry and his masterful craftsmanship made this film memorable.

Bahut shukriya badi meherbani (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena , 1962) – O P Nayyar / Shevan Rizvi / Asha Bhosle and Mohd. Rafi with Chorus

Taking Sadhana a few more notches up, Khosla dug out an aborted Guru Dutt venture (Raaz) and made it into Woh Kaun Thi (1964). (Incidentally, the Tamil Nadu chief minister, Jayalalitha acted the part in both Tamil and Telugu remakes).

Woh Kaun Thi Premier (Raj Khosla, Madan Mohan and NN Sippy)

Raj Khosla and Madan Mohan (sitting) at the Woh Kaun Thi Premiere. On their left is NN Sippy with a packet of popcorn in his hand.

Re-scripted by Dhruv Chatterji, with contributions from Manoj Kumar, the hero, Woh Kaun Thi won an award for KH Kapadia for cinematography and was a major hit. It also launched Prem Chopra as a villain.

Madan Mohan, Khosla’s music director this time, created some of his career best tunes and those songs have remained ever popular. Being a true follower in Guru Dutt and Dev Anand tradition, Raj Khosla had developed his skill in deriving the best out of the music directors he worked with. This skill stayed with him almost all his career. Of course, we cannot forget that he had set out initially to become a singer and had received training in classical singing from ustads as well. Thus he had a trained ear so to say, which only got sharpened by his association with the two stalwarts mentioned above.

Woh Kaun Thhi was another feather in the cap of Khosla as he held the audience attention by deftly maintaining palpable suspense all through the film and balancing Sadhna’s different roles. He was now an all-rounder film maker. Somehow, the eerie ghost films in India run well only when they have good music for the ghost (the fleeting Lady in White) to sing. Raj mastered this skill well enough which was evident in the engaging song picturization of Woh Kaun Thhi.

It’s a tough choice to pick from the outstanding Lata Mangeshkar numbers Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim and Jo humne dastan apni sunayi aap kyon roye, and I would like to pick one of the most romantic songs of Hindi cinema:

Lag jaa gale ke phir ye ( Woh Kaun Thhi , 1964) – Madan Mohan / Raja Mehdi Ali Khan / Lata Mangeshkar

His third Sadhana venture Mera Saya (1966) was a grand success again. From Woh Kaun Thhi’s Lag jaa gale to Mera Saaya’s Mohe garwa laga le, the mesmerising Sadhna’s romantic and suspense-filled double roles set the box-office cash registers ringing.

mera saya

Tu jahan, jahan chalega – the title song became a proverbial hit.

Mera Saya had a mix of all elements of drama – romance, suspense, mystery, a bit of action, nasty villains and court room battles along with excellent music and songs. The story had its weak links, especially in the hero’s stubborn refusal to believe his wife when she had all the evidence to prove her identity. All of a sudden he made a u-turn to believe in her only when the dacoit and the villain vouched for her identity! A sorry message indeed for wives.

Premji of Suchitra Films produced Mera Saya, V. Babasaheb was the cameraman, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan wrote the lyrics, Madan Mohan gave an excellent musical score and Akhtur-Ul-Iman wrote the impactful dialogues. Padmanabh who had all through been Khosla’s assistant director, assisted him in this film too. Earlier even Bhappie Soni had assisted Khosla, but had branched out on his own successfully.

A tough job to pick one song from this gem-studded film:

* Aapke pehlu mein aakar ro diye (Mohd Rafi)

* Jhumka gira re, Bareiley ke bazaar mein (Asha Bhosle)

* Nainon mein badra chhaye, bijli si chamke hai (Lata Mangeshkar)

* Tu jahan jahan chalega Mera Saya, saath hoga (Lata Mangeshkar)

* Naino wali ne haye mera dil loota (Lata Mangeshkar)

Naino mein badra chhaye ( Mera Saya , 1966) – Madan Mohan / Raja Mehdi Ali Khan / Lata Mangeshkar

In 1966 itself, Khosla had another hit release, Do Badan. It was rumoured that he wanted Sadhna for the film but as she was busy with her dates for Chopra’s Waqt, she had to say no to this one. Produced by Huda Bihari (brother of Shamshul Huda Bihari, the lyricist), Do Badan was a tear-jerker with Asha Parekh, Manoj Kumar, Pran and Simi. It was photographed by V N Reddy and had lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni with music composed by Ravi.

All the songs of Do Badan were hit.

All the songs of Do Badan were hit.

And, again all the songs of Do Badan were hit. Khosla, always the one to take a somewhat off-beat track had scored a rare feat in having the villain marry the heroine (conventionally in Hindi films the villain trying to marry the heroine loses out to the hero at the last moment). Well, to add more misery, the hero goes blind and like all blind heroes becomes a good singer.

Another rumour that did the rounds was that enamoured by the blind act of Dilip Kumar in Deedar (1951), Manoj Kumar had given the story idea of Do Badan to Khosla and had G R Kamath script it. The film was a hit and brought home a Best Supporting Actress award for Simi. It did establish Khosla as a director who could do justice to all varieties of subjects, and his music was always laudable with a variety of composers.

Jab chali thandi hawa, jab uthi kali ghata ( Do Badan , 1966) – Ravi / Shakeel Badayuni / Asha Bhosle

Khosla’s fourth outing with Sadhna, flopped miserably at the box office. In fact, it was the first time Khosla tasted dust. Produced, written and directed by Raj Khosla, Anita (1967) had Sadhna in a triple role, supported by Manoj Kumar.

Laxmikant Pyarelal Lata Mangeshkar Sadhna and Raj Khosla (Anita)

Music director Laxmikant Pyarelal, Lata Mangeshkar, Sadhna and Raj Khosla (Anita, 1967)
(Pic: Pakanati Lakshmi Priya of Old Is Gold FB Group)

For Anita, Khosla signed the young duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal to score the music, his fifth music director in his career. Again, even though the film flopped, the music was appreciated. I remember that during the days when Khosla was still thinking of becoming a singer in films, he had received brief training at the hands of Pundit Ram Prasad Sharma, Pyarelal’s illustrious father.

1969 – Two hits in a year again (Chirag and Do Raaste)

Teri ankhon ke siwa duniya mein rakha kya hai ( Chirag , 1969) – Madan Mohan / Majrooh Sultanpuri / Mohd Rafi. This song was a beautiful Rafi-Lata tandem

Raj Khosla and Madan Mohan

Raj Khosla and music composer Madan Mohan – a partnership that created classic such as Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saya and Chirag.

Premji, of Suchitra films, came back to Khosla to direct Chirag (1969) with Asha Parekh and Sunil Dutt (his hero from Mera Saya). It was Madan Mohan again composing music to the lyrics of Majrooh. The film was well received at the box office.

Repeating his feat of 1958, Khosla scored two consecutive hits in 1969. Chirag came first followed by his home production, Do Raaste.

The new rising star craze of the nation, Rajesh Khanna helped the film achieve the success, but this was a very well scripted and directed film. One can say, it helped Rajesh reach his peak instead. Based on a story Neelambari by Chandrakant Kakodkar, Khosla’s trusted G R Kamath wrote the screenplay for Do Raaste and Akhtar Romani penned the sharpest ever dialogues of his life. Lyrics were by Anand Bakshi and the hit music was given by Laxmikant Pyarelal.

Performances by all the actors were appreciated. Balraj Sahani, Rajesh Khanna, Prem Chopra, Veena, Bindu, Mumtaz, Kamini Kaushal and Jayant won laurels for their acting. A well-made family drama was yet another genre that had to come from this amazing director to place him right at the top. The old days Saigal classic, Ek bangla bane nyara was well used in the narrative and raised the film’s emotional quotient.

Bindiya chamkegi ( Do Raaste , 1969) – Laxmikant Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi / Lata Mangeshkar

As Dev Anand mentions in his autobiography, Raj Khosla was always fond of his ‘drink’ and carried the bottle with him for all times. Enjoying his peak at the top of the world of commercial cinema, Khosla started rejoicing that ‘drink’ with greater fervor.

Now, a Trend Setter – Mera Gaon Mera Desh

Jayant got to repeat his man-with-a-golden-heart act in Mera Gaon Mera Desh that he had donned in earlier Do Raaste. (Pic: Google Image Search)

Jayant got to repeat his man-with-a-golden-heart act in Mera Gaon Mera Desh that he had donned in earlier Do Raaste.

There was hardly a genre in commercial Hindi cinema where Raj Khosla had not tried his hand. Now, in 1971 he produced and directed an action film on dacoit menace, which went on to create history in multiple ways. The film Mera Gaon Mera Desh, a thorough entertainer, had screenplay by who else but G R Kamath, dialogues again by Akhtar Romani and cinematography by Pratap Sinha. Anand Bakshi wrote the lyrics and music was by Laxmikant Pyarelal.

It was the film that set Dharmendra on the action track – an image that got cemented in Sholay and several other films to follow. For Vinod Khanna it was probably his last role as villain and riding high on public demand, he started appearing as a hero. This role gave him that macho man image and popularity with a solid author backed performance.

Mera Gaon Mera Desh itself has become known as a precursor to Sholay. Lakshmi Chhaya did one of her life’s meatiest roles and enacted one the most successful songs from the film. Jayant got to repeat his man-with-a-golden-heart act that he had donned in earlier Do Raaste. Like all his earlier films, Khosla scored a hit with the music and songs for this film as well.

Launching his long-time assistant, Padmanabh as an independent director, Raj Khosla produced Do Chor, with Dharmendra and Tanuja, and her mother Shobhana Samarth.  A slick city crime thriller, it ran well, but not like his earlier few films. For the first time, R D Burman was roped in to provide music and as was Khosla’s forte, he got good hit music for this film as well.

Launching his long-time assistant, Padmanabh as an independent director, Raj Khosla produced Do Chor, with Dharmendra and Tanuja, and her mother Shobhana Samarth.

Launching his long-time assistant, Padmanabh as an independent director, Raj Khosla produced Do Chor, with Dharmendra and Tanuja, and her mother Shobhana Samarth.

Do Chor as was typical with a Khosla film had a great crew with G R Kamath’s story and screenplay, Krishna Chander’s dialogues and V N Reddy’s cinematography. Recall the scene where Dharmendra and Tanuja are on a heist, both dressed in dark blue pants and jacket with yellow shirts and matching scarves with Tanuja posing as a man. Just as Guru Dutt had planned the outfit in due partnership with Dev Anand for his first film, Baazi in 1951, and an entire new style and wardrobe was developed, Raj Khosla followed suit, to a certain extent by using all black clothes on Dev in Kala Pani. It was Padmanabh’s turn to show his costume preferences in Do Chor. Unmistakable traits carried forward as a legacy from Guru Dutt’s grooming.

Some popular numbers from this film include:

* Kaali palak teri gori, khulne lagi hai thodi thodi (Kishore and Lata)

* Chahe raho door, chahe raho paas (Kishore and Lata)

* Meri jaan, meri jaan, kehna maano (Kishore Kumar)

Khosla got another chance to work with R D Burman via a Navketan Production, Shareef Badmash (1973). Dev Anand approached him to direct a film, renewing old association. Hema was his heroine who looked stunning all through the film. Other than exceptional cinematography by Fali Mistry, and a few good songs, the film sank in all other departments.

The screenplay and dialogue were not up to expected standard, neither was the direction. As Dev points in his autobiography, alcohol had started to take its toll. Inconsistency became a regular feature with Khosla and the film suffered. Too many characters were introduced and it became difficult to do justice to that large an ensemble. Also, when the climax has too many players and twists it needs a very able handling, a la Vijay Anand as in Johny Mera Naam. Khosla lacked in this.

Neend chura kar raton mein ( Shareef Badmash , 1973) – R D Burman / Anand Bakshi / Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar

Kachhe Dhaage, another romance story based on dacoits, Prem Kahani, with big star cast of Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz and Shashi Kapoor, with LP handling music, and Sunil Dutt’s home production, Nehle Pe Dehla, an action crime thriller with RD’s music, all sank with uninspired direction and poor handling.

A Major Comeback (Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki)

Raj Khosla and Krishna Dhawan in Baazi

Raj Khosla and Krishna Dhawan in Baazi. Khosla had started his career as an assistant to Guru Dutt in this film. (Pic: MN Sardana)

When almost on the verge of being written off, a women’s subject came to Khosla’s rescue. His own production of Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (1978) based on the novel by, Chandrakant Kakodkar Ashi Tujhi Preet became a landmark hit film.

Vijay Anand with his outstanding dialogue delivery added sparks to a well-made film along with Asha Parekh, Nutan, Vinod Khanna and Deb Mukherji who put in commendable acting efforts. Nutan certainly takes control of her part and excels, but the surprise was in the form of Asha Parekh, who leaves a lasting impression. Slickly directed with care and affection, the film placed Khosla on top of the charts again giving him a new lease of life. The film picked up the Filmfare award for Best Film along with several other awards.

Pratap Sinha handled the camera and GR Kamath contributed in the screenplay along with Suraj Sanim and Raj Bharati.  Dialogues were by Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza. One thing comes to mind, peculiarly, in the credits the singers mentioned are Lata, Rafi and Shobha Gurtu. Strangely, there was no mention of Asha, Anuradha Paudwal and Hemlata, although they all had songs in the film track and had record discs issued as well. There is an interesting interpretation of the legendry Amir Khusro song, Chhap tilak sab cheeni re mose naina milaye ke. Sung by Lata and Asha, it was shot with style and care on newcomer Geeta Behl and Deb Mukherji and others. Tuned nicely it remains worth listening even after these 38 years.

Chhap tilak sab ( Main tulsi tere angan ki , 1978) – Laxmikant Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi / Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle

Yash Johar (Dharma Productions) now approached Khosla to direct his first production, a film scripted by Salim Javed, Dostana (1980). With music by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lyrics by Anand Bakshi and cinematography credited to, by then dead, Nariman Irani, the film had powerhouse performances by Amitabh and Shatrughan and became a major hit that year.

The romantic scenes between Amitabh and Zeenat had some very ethereal touch and they were really well photographed. It was a well directed film and left a positive Khosla memory, specially as then in next few active years he could not live up to his reputation anymore.  In the same year, released a month later was his other directorial venture, Do Premee, with Rishi Kapoor and Moushumi, a miserable flop. It was a badly made film with only excellence in the camera department by Fali Mistry.

Bane chaahe dushman zamana hamara ( Dostana , 1980) – Laxmikant Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi / Mohd. Rafi and Kishore Kumar

The Final Phase

In 1981 Amarjeet had started his production of the Sunjay Dutt-Tina Munim starrer Rocky with Raj Khosla as his director. But, for unavoidable reasons Sunil Dutt had to step in and take control. Sunil Dutt was already busy with Nargis battling cancer but there must have been dire circumstances that made him step in and take it over from Khosla,

Raj Khosla directing Geeta Bali in Milaap (1954)

Raj Khosla directing Geeta Bali in Milaap (1954), his first directorial venture (Pic: Pakanati Lakshmi Priya of Old Is Gold FB Group)

But Khosla’s friend from old Navketan days, Amarjeet did come back to him with production of Sunny in 1984. Before that in 1982 Khosla produced and directed another women oriented film, Teri Maang Sitaron Se Bhar Doon. His faithful team consisting G R Kamath, Pratap Sinha, Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza, Anand Bakshi and Laxmikant Pyarelal were all with him, Nutan gave one of her life’s last good performance and Padmini Kohlapuri was also praised for her acting, but the film sank without creating any ripples.

The days and times had changed. The music was not the same anymore. His favourites, Laxmikant Pyarelal were past their prime creativity. The style of filming had undergone a sea change as well. Most old timers had receded into oblivion.

A standard revenge drama, produced by Shatrughan’s wife Poonam, brother Lakhan and secretary, Pawan Kumar in 1984 also sank the same way. Titled Maati Mange Khoon, it did carry good performance by Shatrughan, but had very little to offer and was a boring drag. Clearly, Khosla was losing it all.

His last film, produced and directed by Raj Khosla was a rehash of his earlier Woh Kaun Thi. Titled Naqab with Farha in an eerie double role, it’s story was scripted by cartoonist Abid Surti although G R Kamath and Pratap Sinha continued to be part of the creative team. Nothing worked for the film which turned out to be a drab. The lyrics by Farookh Qaiser and music by Kamaal Maqdoom was a non-starter and the performances were particularly poor.

To leave this write-up on a positive note, one must go back to the 1984 film Sunny. It was not a hit. But it did get a mediocre run with a couple of songs gaining popularity.  This was also a re-done script of Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki with Sharmila doing Asha Parekh role and Waheeda (back with Khosla) doing the Nutan part. Dharmendra filled in for the Vijay Anand role and Sunny Deol took care of the Vinod Khanna part. But the grip over the film was lacking and all one recollects today is this tandem by Asha and Suresh Wadkar  that still goes around and is popular;

Aur kya ahd-e-wafa hote hain ( Sunny , 1984) – RD Burman / Anand Bakshi / Suresh Wadkar

Stunned by these box-office debacles, Raj Khosla sought refuge in alcohol. Alcohol had killed the creativity in this very able film maker, as Dev Anand had said earlier. Alcohol took his life as well.

But movie lovers would always remember Khosla in the frames and songs of all the masterpieces he gave us. The films that set trends, created ever-lasting music, broke norms and gave actors, music composers, singers, lyricists and technicians some of their most notable works in their career. And the music those films created touch the soul till today:

Saathi na koi manzil
Diya hai na koi mehfil
Chala mujhe leke aye dil
Akela kahaan

Saathi na koi manzil ( Bombai Ka Babu , 1960) – SD Burman / Majrooh Sultanpuri / Mohd Rafi

We are grateful to Pakanati Lakshmi Priya, M N Sardana and madanmohan.in for providing rare, exclusive and informative pictures for this article. 

More to read 

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya – Evergreen Dev Anand 

Adieu Sadhana

Waheeda Rehman: Quintessential Beauty with Intense Acting Prowess

Rahe Na Rahe Hum: ‘Mahanayika’ Suchitra Sen’s Aura Lingers On…

Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hain – Eternal Melodies of SD Burman-Rafi

Madan Mohan: The Composer of the Classes

The opinions shared by the writer is his personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of Silhouette Magazine. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.

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Consulting Editor Learning and Creativity and Silhouette Magazine. To talk of a few passions of Peeyush, one must start with music. He is known to be a collector of music and information pertaining to Indian cinema (majorly Hindi) spanning a period from early 1930s to 1980s. He has a large collection of Bengali and Punjabi music and material as well. He also boasts of a huge library of related material. Peeyush has delivered talks and lectures on music appreciation, contributed write ups in numerous news papers and magazines. He has co-authored a tribute publication on Anil Biswas. He has co-hosted radio talk shows on music and met and interviewed a number of personalities. Occasionally, he delivers talks even now. Peeyush has been the founder secretary of the prestigious, Vintage Hindi Music Lovers Association in Bangalore that honored Anil Biswas in 1985. He is known as a storehouse of old Hindi music and information regarding music and movies. Peeyush is well read in Vedic culture and literature and is invited in various centers to deliver enlightening lectures on Vedic values. His range spans from four Vedas to Upanishads and Darshans as well as Bhagvad Gita. He has delivered talks on Yog Darshan in Yoga schools and large gatherings. He currently lives in Oshawa, Ontario in Canada.
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2 thoughts on “Suspense, Romance, Crime Thrillers, Offbeat, Social Drama: The Trend-setting Films of Raj Khosla

  • Silhouette Magazine

    Some comments received on this article on Facebook:

    Veena Solomon: He was a very great director made lot of women oriented movies I loved his Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki handled the subject so well.
    Peeyushji very nice tribute to Raj Khosla ji. Good work!

    Sunita Bhalla: It was really heart warming! Thanks Antara, Peeyushji for this wonderful tribute…I am really touched……
    Thanks Veena.
    There are lot of his fans all over. Lot of fans from Canada. All of u have made my day.
    Please stay in touch for some more memories to share…

    1. Peeyush Sharma

      Thank you so very much Veena ji and Sunita ji for liking the tribute and posting your comments. Coming from both of you it means a lot to us at Silhouette.

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