I am falling in love with a Stranger

DEEWAR

Film: Deewar (1975)

Lyricist: R. D. Burman

Producer: Gulshan Rai

Director: Yash Chopra

Singer: Urusula Vaz

Kisko marnaa hai jo is waqt mere saath hoga!

 

Quite a few times I fail to understand what it is exactly that makes a good-looking bad guy, polished but rough, concerned yet indifferent, so irresistible! Is it his always-on-the-edge living? Or his lavish ways? Or his surety and confidence that he could pull off anything…just about anything?

 

Cut the scene to a night club − it’s a few minutes past ten. The man has promised someone he would come out of the club exactly when the clock struck half past the hour, which in all probability, could be his call for death!

 

A beautiful seductress, dressed in shiny red, blazing hot yet soft in her demeanor, waiting for a catch, sees this tall, lanky, cigar-smoking man, sitting alone and lonely, looking for some “fire”. Unaware of the reasons and under what circumstances the man is in the club, she goes near him, as if drawn to him unconsciously!

 

And there, right there, you see Pancham coming into play! That exact moment, you hear Ursula Vaz start singing in her smooth, husky voice in the background, one of the two songs she sang for Pancham and the only song Pancham ever wrote himself − “I’m falling in love with a stranger” − the words perfectly speaking of the on-screen lady’s mind.

 

Back to the man, even if you’re so damn confident of yourself, what can really match the tension on your mind when you are playing the game of your life, waiting for your assassin (!!), consciously facing death, yet trying to defy it?? While the lady is in a romantic mood and oblivious to the man’s thoughts and intentions, the audience is not. Hence what starts as a Bossa Nova-ish romance, denoted by the guitar, bits of piano and the laid-back rhythm, is also induced with elements of tension in the form of some odd notes on the saxophone and guitar interspersed in between, right at the starting. Pancham very smartly not only simulates the man’s alertness this way (even when trying to be casual), he also gives a pointer to building up of the tense atmosphere that will make up for a major part of this song-scene later.

 

While the single-verse song cruises through the tete-a-tete, with the lady openly expressing her liking for the man, the offishly played piano missing a couple of beats give a feeling of both missing a heart-beat or two…the lady for being besotted by the man, the man for realizing he might have got late as he is suddenly reminded of the time when asked if he’s waiting for someone. Mark the way Pancham stresses that sudden recall with a loud playing of trumpets just for a couple of seconds and the man checking time in his wrist watch synchronously. There…you have the tense build-up ready to take on to the more exciting part of the scene.

 

The man, realizing it’s time to honor the commitment, throws the money to the bartender, gets up and heads to the exit. You see the urgency he is in. And here comes Pancham with his brilliance! Twists the romantic and lazy orchestration to an erratic display of instruments; throws in multiple sets of saxophones and trumpets, strange flutes, discordant synths, some in awkward tandem with each other, some played singly and separately so that the irregularity stands out; adds a few asynchronous piano notes played together; suddenly doubles the pace of the rhythm − all raising the tension quotient − with the typical bongo sound matching the signature long strides of the man. Everything is now loud, the man is alert, looking around to make sure he’s seen by his preyer  your heart is thumping, adrenaline is rushing, and so is the man! With the music reaching its crescendo, you know if there’s anything that can now happen is the climax with the man being shot. But just before that, his savior comes in. The lady calls him from the back to hand over his lucky badge he has forgotten. The shooter aims from a distance but misses him as the man bends to pick up the badge that has fallen from the lady’s hand. The car window glass crashes with a thud, and in a jiffy, the man pushes the lady inside the car to save both of them from being attacked any further and hurriedly rushes past the exit with a few more shots aimed at him. Here’s one perfectly chiseled scene, which however tense, you wouldn’t want to get over, thanks to the superlative music at work where the lone flute, differently curious, is surfing on that frantic rhythm and pace, and keeps you gripped, thrilled and engaged till the end! No one would think of giving that fine finish while emoting and justifying the present-perfect “tense” with just that single line and making the scene come alive!

 

A movie where there wasn’t much scope in terms of music, the script being that of a rebel living his life on his own terms and conditions, I never really expected to have any “musical” memories of Deewaar. But trust Pancham to come up with something so befitting, so remarkable, so-just-him, that for me, this is one of the most striking scenes I love seeing again and again! Pancham makes himself inseparable from the scene, which could have been easily overpowered by Amitabh’s towering presence, his tense and intense acting, or by Salim−Javed’s brilliant scripting and dialogues. Yet, can you think of this scene without his music? No!

 

Here was a man, who could churn out a classical beauty like “Raina beeti jaaye” portraying the submissive and servile feelings of a docile woman and in the same breath, could make not only the lady but also the man and the situation sound so seductive with his ultramodern treatment that you can’t but help go “Ahaa!”

 

And you realize − just like Vijay – he was lavish not only in his life but also in his music, was rough in his conversations but polished in his music, was emotional but lived by his own terms when it came to music, and yet was so hell sure of himself, he could pull off any situation/scene/song….just about anything, with his sheer magic of music! Here’s Pancham at his sexiest best…so much that even if he is a stranger to you, his music will irresistibly draw you to him!

Shivani Zaveri

panchammagic.org