My Mom happens to be the childhood friend of a yesteryear female actor. We were very close to her even during her peak days. Around that time, Mumtaz had retired from the movies. My Mom’s friend would say that Mumtaz has left an heir in me, with her typical nose and a ready smile!
Movie: This song appears in the move Roti (Indian bread), a 1974 movie produced by Rajni Desai and directed by Manmohan Desai. This is not a typical Manmohan Desai movie, i.e. its theme does not have his usual lost-and-found formula. And the movie is the copy of the 1959 English film Face of the Fugitive. Roti starred Rajesh Khanna, Mumtaz, late Nirupa Roy, Jagdeep, late Pinchoo Kapoor, late Sujit Kumar, late Jagdish Raj, Viju Khote, late Om Prakash, Vijay Arora, Paintal, Asrani, Jeetendra, late Jeevan, etc.
The story is somewhat similar to Dushman (1972) movie with the same lead pair. Mangal Singh (Rajesh Khanna) has been a criminal all his life. He began by stealing Indian bread, when he was a child. After several criminal charges against him, he is sentenced to be hanged. He meets underworld Don Suraj (Pinchoo Kapoor) within the prison and plans a jailbreak.
After escaping from jail, Mangal Singh lands in a small village in North India and joins the local school as a teacher with the help of Bijli. Bijli runs a local restaurant. Mangal Singh pretends to be Ramu, a friend of Shravan (Vijay Arora) and lives with Shravan’s parents, Lalaji (Om Prakash) and Malti (Nirupa Roy). He does not know that he had killed Shravan, while escaping from the police.
Mangal Singh and Bijli fall in love and this is the song that is placed around this time in the movie.
Song: The music has been composed by Lakshmikant-Pyarelal and the lyrics have been written by Anand Bakshi.
The boy says, “Don’t be proud of your fair skin. Your fair complexion will leave you in very few days.”
This line means the boy tells the girl not to be proud of her physical beauty. Physical beauty is temporary and perishable.
The girl replies, “I am the flame and you are the moth. You will die before me.”
The flame and the moth are considered to be lovers in Hindi poetic literature. Moths are attracted to the flame and they perish by entering the flame.
The boy continues, “Physical beauty perishes. But this love, O Possessor of my heart, will not perish.”
To this the girl replies, “Flowers may fade. But the garden will not perish.”
The boy repeats, “Physical beauty perishes. But this love, O Possessor of my heart, will not perish. What a saying, I have said! This heart, which is without honesty, will get ideas. Don’t be proud of your fair skin. Your fair complexion will leave you in very few days.”
The girl takes up singing now and says, “O, if you deny our love, then let’s leave this love alone.”
Then the boy replies, “The season is of love. Leave this useless dispute alone.’
The girl says, “Give your hands in mine. The time will fly while we talk. I am the flame and you are the moth. You will die before me. If I make you intoxicated, then will you listen?”
The boy asks a counter question, “If I go away from you, O Proud one, then will you listen?”
The girl again asks, “If I make you intoxicated, then will you listen? You may save yourself as much as you can. But the magic of my beauty will capture you.”
In Hindi poetic literature, a woman’s eyes are the centers of her beauty so much so that they may have the capacity to intoxicate a man. A woman’s eyes have been compared to even a beer bar for this reason!
Video: Cinematography is by K. Vaikunth
They have picturized this song in a garden. The sky peeking from in between gaps in the trees looks good. Rajesh Khanna is wearing the local dress from Himachal Pradesh.
The song begins with Mumtaz throwing a white mendicant wing at Rajesh Khanna and he uses that to say the beginning lines of the song. She has worn a navy blue salwar kameez inside the mendicant’s dress and strips out of the outer orange dress. This method of wearing a dress inside another one is being used during live shows now-a-days, because that way they can save the time, which could have gone in changing the dress. First she removes the dhoti and spreads it on his shoulder and it falls off. Then she removes the orange kurta.
Suddenly, the rain starts falling and they dance drenching in it. Rajesh Khanna fills the rainwater in his cap and pours the same on his head! It is funny and crazy because they are already drenching in the rainwater. There is no need to specially pour that water on his head. This is not a real rainfall. There are people behind the camera spraying water from large pipes artificially on the actors. Eventually they also show a fog, which is a characteristic of the places high upon the mountains.
Artists: Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar have sung the playback, while late Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz have lip-synched to the song.
Cultural influence: This dance looks a little like the folk dance of Himachal Pradesh, but cinematic liberty has been taken and patent steps of those days (when the movie was made) have been used.