It has been a tradition for decades now: when a new lead pair starts out together, they usually begin with a romantic film—and a musical one at that. Oftener than not, the album driver is a romantic duet—at least one—that propels their popularity and—if the film is a hit—their stardom.
The trend of sorts with Bobby in 1973 and went all the way to Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai in 2000. After this came a lull as we simply missed such love anthems for the many newer actors who came in since in pairs. However, this now age-old custom may get a fillip if the song from Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas—its title-track by Arijit Singh and Parampara—does the requisite numbers in an era when success is measured differently and digitally.
Here are 10 love duets that became anthems for major stars in their films. Most of them also remain “Signature Tunes” (the first song thought of when an artiste comes to mind).
1. ‘Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Band Ho’ (Bobby): To say that this peppy love duet created a national sensation would be an understatement. Anand Bakshi’s naughty lines in the innocent early seventies was just that much bold to be on the right side of propriety,with a ‘Choli Ke Peeche’ kind of twist in the words of the question-answer mukhda, 20 years before it! Shailendra Singh was instantly identified as the voice of Rishi Kapoor, and Lata Mangeshkar, reuniting with Raj Kapoor after almost a decade, sounded as young as the teenage Dimple Kapadia.
The film had an all-hit Laxmikant-Pyarelal score that contributed hugely to its mammoth success, with three duets filmed on the lead pair, and later ‘Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate’ became an equal rage. These songs consolidated the Teenage Icon label on Rishi Kapoor.
2. ‘Dekho Maine Dekha Hai’ (Love Story): Amit Kumar, who had been shortlisted for Bobby, got a major break when Rajendra Kumar cast him as son Kumar Gaurav’s first voice. Here again, it was Lata Mangeshkar for the young heroine, Vijayta Pandit, and Bakshi was again there, writing the catchy lines. Later, ‘Yaad Aa Rahi Hai’ became more celebrated, but unlike with Bobby, Kumar Gaurav, until he faded out, did support Amit Kumar and they went on to do more films, especially under R.D. Burman. And Amit’s voice perfectly fitted the sober youth of the hero.
3. ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein’ (Ek Duuje Ke Liye): This was a humdinger that made Raag Shivranjani famous for over a decade in Hindi films, thanks to its distinct pitching. S.P. Balasubramaniam and Lata Mangeshkar (again) sang three duets, including the title-song. The all-hit score was brilliant, and this song towered above them all. In the 1980s, whatever Laxmikant-Pyarelal did, other composers followed, and SPB was thus associated with Kamal Haasan in later films as well. But he remained essentially the voice of Kamal and Rajinikanth till Maine Pyar Kiya at the end of the decade.
4. ‘Jab Hum Jawan Honge’ (Betaab): Dharmendra, in his own words, would have loved Mohammed Rafi to be the first voice of his son Sunny Deol. But Rafi was no longer around, and Shabbir Kumar was making waves, having recorded for Amitabh Bachchan in Coolie and Anil Kapoor in Woh 7 Din. And so, R.D. Burman, for once, went the Rafi way and with Anand Bakshi’s fab words, fashioned an all-hit Rafi-ian score. Lata Mangeshkar, too, was omnipresent, but Shabbir became, for a long while, the preferred voice of this tough hero with the soft face and heart.
5. ‘Tu Mera Jaanu Hai’ (Hero): The Laxmikant-Pyarelal-Anand Bakshi score not only created the hype for the new hero Jackie Shroff and the one-flop-old nonentity Meenakshi Seshadri, but also made the film sail through the initial two weeks when it opened and remained dull. Later, Hero was to emerge as 1983’s biggest blockbuster, with the music giving a new lease of life to singer Manhar and consolidating big-time for Anuradha Paudwal. Manhar and Jackie became an enduring team for a decade and more, and the music, with its other chartbusters including ‘Lambi Judaai’ an all-time perennial. Manhar’s deeply sonorous and intense voice was the perfect match for the tough Greek God hero.
6. ‘Ae Mere Humsafar’ (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak): The instant chartbuster may have been ‘Papa Kehte Hain’ but there were three Udit Narayan-Alka Yagnik duets in the film and from these, the placid ‘Ae Mere Humsafar’ was the popular winner. Udit Narayan was established as the prime voice of Aamir Khan, and Alka Yagnik, inexorably almost, rose to the top among the female voices of the post-Lata generation. This time, an even more senior lyricist called the young shots—Majrooh Sultanpuri—working with young composers Anand-Milind. Somewhere, Aamir’s fiercely individualistic and ambitious streak was both inspired by and connected to his music here, and Uduit and Alka became the preferred singers for the two young stars.
7. ‘Dil Deewana’ (Maine Pyar Kiya): S.P. Balasubramaniam finally made a mark as the voice of a Mumbai star in this Salman Khan-Bhagyashree launch. Lata Mangeshkar was the “vocal and very young” heroine, and another veteran lyricist, Asad Bhopali, wrote the peppy songs, with Dev Kohli coming in for a couple of them. Raamlaxman composed the epic score. Salman Khan’s initially languorous lover-boy image probably had a lot to do with SPB’s mellifluous and placid voice that endured for at least six more films for him, including Love, Saajan, Patthar Ke Phool and Hum Aapke Hain Koun!… .
8. ‘Jaan-E-Jigar Jaaneman’ (Aashiqui): This Nadeem-Shravan-Sameer creation led the other songs on the popularity charts initially in this all-hit-and-many-duets score, while ‘Nazar Ke Saamne’ won the longevity race. It was no fault of the composers or lyricists that lead pair Rahul Roy and Anu Agarwal did not make it, but this music created history and established Kumar Sanu as the new super-voice. Anuradha Paudwal improved upon her ‘80s success as the first young viable substitute for the Mangeshkars. And for the record, Sanu remained the voice of Rahul Roy in some more films and the musical telefilm Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Ayee.
9. ‘Dheere Dheere Pyar Ko Badhaana Hai’ (Phool Aur Kaante): Nadeem-Shravan and Sameer with their favourite pair of Sanu-Alka created a fluid duet for Ajay Devgn and Madhoo in their debut super-hit. The other songs did well too. Madhoo did not have a great career, and it was left to Sanu to remain Ajay Devgn’s prime voice for a long time.
10. ‘Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’ (Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai): Udit Narayan’s effervescence and Alka Yagnik’s ebullience seemed tailor-made for the vibrant and uninhibited newbie pair of Hrithik Roshan and Amisha Patel. A mood composition with perfect orchestration and lyrics by Ibrahim Ashq set to rollicking music from Hrithik’s uncle Rajesh Roshan helped the dream debut in this super-hit album. Though four voices were tried out for Hrithik in this film, it was Udit’s young tenor that helped established Hrithik’s persona as a bright, youthful hero.
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