Main Bambai ka babu – Mohammad Rafi – O P Nayyar – Johnny Walker | Naya Daur (1957)

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Movie: This song appeared in 1957 B R Films’ hit social drama Naya Daur (New Era) produced and directed by B R Chopra. Initially, it was made in black and white and in 2007 the movie was a colored and re-released. The movie starred Dilip Kumar, Vaijayantimala, Johnny Walker, Chand Usmani, late Ajit, late Jeevan, Manmohan Krishna, etc.
It is the Post-Independence era in India, with industrialization slowly creeping in. The story focused on tongawallahs, earning their living by transporting people to their destinations on tongas or horse carts. The evil son of a rich landlord Kundan (Jeevan) threatens their livelihood by starting a bus service in the town. He initially heavily subsidizes the tickets, so that the tongawallahs lose their livelihood and then he intends to increase the ticket prices to make profits.
One of the tongawallahs Shankar (Dilip Kumar) protests against the injustice. Kundan proposes a competition between the tongas and the bus to decide the best service. A race between the vehicles is decided upon. If the bus wins, the tongawallahs would not complain further. If the tonga wins, the bus service would stop. The competition was a joke at the expense of the tongawallahs from the beginning. Shankar, however, accepts the challenge. Everybody is shocked. According to him, he had to attempt this race. Otherwise, they would all be driven to starvation.
The rest of the tongawallahs do not believe him. They call him foolish. He is left alone. Only, his sweetheart Rajni (Vaijayantimala) supports him. He has to make a new path for the tonga to run during the race. Soon, the others begin to support him one by one. They are progressing well. Krishna (Ajit) is Shankar’s former wood-cutter friend, who is upset with his friend due to a small issue. He does not like Shankar’s progress. Krishna is now in cahoots with Kundan. Kundan and Krishna bring the Nautanki (traveling folk theater) to the town and immediately the workers are tempted to watch the performances.
During the performance, Kundan gives Krishna a bomb to explode the bridge that was recently constructed by Shankar and the others. Rajni sees the exchange. Shankar is still at the bridge working. Rajni takes the bomb with the burning fuse wire and runs away from Shankar and the bridge. It explodes as she stumbles and falls on the way. However, despite the explosion, nothing happens to her!
Within a few days, a journalist (Johnny Walker) comes to cover the pooja in the nearby pilgrimage place. When he sees all shops closed, he asks Krishna about it. Krishna sneers that road is being constructed. The journalist walks ahead to find the townspeople working on the road. When he understands what is happening, he also chips in. But, in the evening he becomes too tired. After one of the townspeople gives him some treatment, the people ask him about himself. It is at this time that he begins to sing this song.
Song: The music of this song was scored by O P Nayyar and the lyrics were penned by Sahir Ludhyanvi.
The man sings, “I am a man from Bombay (Mumbai now). My name is Anjana (Unknown). I sing Indian song on Western music.”
Video: Cinematography is by M Malhotra. Dance choreography is by Manohar Deepak-Prem Dhawan.
The video begins with the townspeople asking Johnny Walker, who he is. Johnny Walker begins the song. He throws his hat in the air and catches it squarely on his head. The night scene changes to the next day and Vaijayantimala is seen performing Indian dance in tune with this Western song. This particularly struck me as fascinating. The choreographers have particularly made sure that Johnny Walker may perform Western dance but the townspeople perform Indian dance. The music is the same – Western.
Dilip Kumar begins to whistle. Daisy Irani is sitting on an elderly actor’s shoulders and moves with his dance movements. Johnny Walker comes to Dilip Kumar and sings with his patent gestures. He catches hold of Vaijayantimala’s hand in fun. She gets worried and looks around for people to get her out of his clutches. Townspeople are a little conservative about their women.
Johnny Walker takes her to Dilip Kumar and continues the song. Vaijayantimala blushes. Johnny Walker teaches some Western waist movements to Vaijayantimala. But, she does it in a typical Indian way. Vaijayantimala does it so gracefully! The song peters off and the video ends there.
Artists: The playback of this song was sung by Mohammad Rafi and the onscreen performances are by Johnny Walker, Dilip Kumar, Vaijayantimala, Daisy Irani and others.
Cultural Influence: This is a typical O P Nayyarian Westernized song is intended as a relaxation after the day’s good work done by the hero and his group of workers and the next day’s work done with the song goes like a breeze. The typically filmi song and the artists are good. The video is watchable for the same.

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