The subject in “Baiju Bawra” is music and love and how they complement each other as Bharat Bhushan and Meena Kumari form the leading pair of this classic movie that signifies the essence of melody! There could not have been a better composer than Naushad Ali to make this film an unforgettable feature of Indian cinema. The music in “Baiju Bawra” is divine! It is, in fact, the soul of the film, not to forget Meena Kumari's stunning portrayal of Gauri, who falls in love with Baiju and his music.
Legend has it that Baiju Bawra beat Tansen in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar…The jugalbandi is brought alive by Amir Khan and D.V. Paluskar in one of the most memorable moments of Hindi cinema — “Aaj gaavat man mero jhoom ke.” You don't have to be a connoisseur of classical music to relish this composition by Naushad. It is simple yet so captivating.
There are many moments in “Baiju Bawra” when the contribution of Naushad emerges the strongest point of the movie. Mohammad Rafi, lyricist Shakeel Badayuni and Naushad leave you in a trance with the all-time great number “Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj”. Rafi had reportedly confessed to this being one of the toughest songs of his career as a demanding Naushad sought perfection from the legendary singer.
The movie revolves around Baiju (Bharat Bhushan), who is the son of a musician. Like father, the young lad also nurses ambitions of becoming a musician. But circumstances lead to his father's death and the young Baiju grows up with the belief that Tansen was responsible for the tragedy. He pledges to avenge his father's death. As Baiju pursues his vow, the story progresses on the strength of Naushad's mastery with help from Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum. When Lata and Shamshad combine to produce the magical “Door koi gaaye dhun ye sunaye”, you realise the impact of music in the success of “Baiju Bawra”.
Created almost six decades ago, the movie brings out the best out of a 20-year-old Meena Kumari. She is an epitome of joy when she breaks out in a lovable duet “Jhoole mein pawan ke aai bahar” and then leaves you despondent with Lata's heart-moving rendering “Mohe bhool gaye saanwariya”. Two faces of an amazing actress who lives the role with such finesse.
Vijay Bhatt, who never loses grip on the subject with his impeccable direction, would have known the value of music to the movie and does justice by staying on track, despite the camera remaining static in most tight situations. Bharat Bhushan has some impressive moments but it is Meena Kumari who wins your heart with her endearing performance.
Close-ups of Meena Kumari show her awesome talent in acquiring the right expressions. No wonder she won the inaugural Filmfare Award for this role. As did Naushad for his music!
Naushad is the star of “Baiju Bawra”. The range that he attains, with Amir Khan as the consultant, is unmatched. “Tu Ganga ki mauj main Jamuna ka dhara” is an immortal rendering by Rafi, easily one of his greatest. And then Lata's moving “Bachpan ki mohabbat ko” takes the quality of music a notch higher. It reaches dizzy heights when Rafi breaks into “Bhagwan, bhagwan..bhagwan…O duniya ke rakhwale…” It is a bhajan that showcases the deep roots of India's secular society.
Watch “Baiju Bawra” for the melodious combination of Rafi, Shakeel and Naushad, and of course, Meena Kumari.