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October 24, 2003

Sukanya Verma

High-voltage drama. Menacing villains with striking getups. Avenging mothers. Righteous heroes. Holier-than-thou heroines. And a larger-than-life music score. Tina Munim and Rishi Kapoor in Karz

These are the words that define a hardcore commercial entertainer in filmmaker Subhash Ghai's dictionary.

The music in Ghai's films is known for its richness and drama. The songs, which are hugely entertaining, seem to blend seamlessly with the narrative.

Composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal scored the music for six of the nine films that Ghai directed for his banner, Mukta Arts. These included -- Karz, Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar and Khalnayak.

A loose remake of The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud, Ghai's Karz boasted of some fabulous music. Kishore Kumar's question, Tumne kabhi kisi se pyaar kiya hai?, at the beginning of the foot-tapping number, Om Shanti Om, gets a resounding yes even today. The song went on to become a nationwide hit.

The mellifluous Dard-e-dil wooed both Tina Munim and the audience. And who can forget the angry guitar riffs in Ek haseena thi?

Karz was a romantic musical thriller. Take the music out of the film and it loses some of its appeal. A still from Hero

If the guitar was symbolic of Karz, Hero belonged to the flute. Like Karz, Hero's songs become hugely popular. L-P's catchy Ding dong, Tu mera janoo, Pyaar karne waale, Nindiya se jaagi bahaar with its classical influences and the rustic Reshma number, Lambi judaai, fit smoothly into Ghai's plot.

Karma, on the other hand, was not a musical subject. Barring the patriotic fervour of Mera karma tu, this National Award winner is not really known for melody. The only sound one associates with Karma is Dr Dang's thapad ki goonj and the ceaseless gunshots.

That wasn't the case with Ghai's next multi-starrer. Ram Lakhan's music had attitude. L-P's mastery was hard to miss in the ethnic O Ramji and Bekhabar bekadar.

Anil Kapoor got one of his most memorable introductory scenes with the roguish chartbuster, My name is Lakhan. The bhajan-like Mere do anmol ratan and the Hero vs Zero jugalbandi were appreciated as well. The underestimated Tera naam liya, picturised on Jackie Shroff and Dimple Kapadia, turned out to have great repeat value. Vivek Mushran and Manisha Koirala in Saudagar

As Ghai's films began to become more grandiose, so did their music. L-P' Imli ka boota number in Saudagar lent deft touch of fun to the war between the two heavyweights, Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar. The youthful Ilu ilu was a new addition to the language of love.

Ghai's terrorist drama Khalnayak created a storm because of Choli ke peeche -- the moral police objected to its suggestive lyrics. The ensuing hue and cry notwithstanding, the song was a super success. The title track, Nayak nahin khalnayak hoon main, didn't fare badly either. Palki mein hoke sawaar and Der se aana were some of the other popular tracks in this film. Shah Rukh Khan in Pardes

Pardes saw Ghai part ways with Laxmikant-Pyarelal and bond with composers Nadeem-Shravan. They didn't disappoint him. Their music for this film had an assorted feel that that included pace, romance, patriotism, folk and pop.

The gentle melody of Do dil mil rahe hain worked because of three elements -- Kumar Sanu's voice, the strains of the guitar and the use of the thunderbolt. In Dil yeh dil Sonu Nigam's voice matched the excitement of Las Vegas (where the song was picturised). Meri mehbooba was a synthesis of melody and modern beats. Ghai's fetish for patriotic songs was showcased in I love my India.

When it came to Taal, the music overshadowed the film, which was rather ordinary. A R Rahman's score, on the other hand, was imaginative, daring, magnificent and totally unforgettable. Aishwarya Rai in Taal

The freshness of Taal se taal, the romance in Ishq bina, the rhythm in Ramta jogi, the poetry of Nahin samne and the opulence in Kahin aag lage, to name a few, struck an instant chord with music lovers.

Ghai's last directorial venture, Yaadein, was a box office failure. Even its music, except for couple of songs, was nothing to write home about. Anu Malik's peppy tune for Jab dil mile and nostalgia charged title song are the only numbers that stand out.

In the end, Ghai's films and their music will be remembered for their sheer reflection of the man's showmanship.

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