If I ever get famous, and receive a Q&A from Smash Hits, Just 17 or the like- this would be the answer to one of their questions.
A few years ago, I watched the film Ghostworld, based on a comic of the same name. The film tells the story of a young girl and her friend (played by Thora Hird and Scarlett Johanssen respectively [or is that Thora Birch? I tend to get my teenage angst films and Stannah Stairlift adverts mixed up…]) who are outside the ‘normal’ teen groups in their school in an average mid-west US town. They befriend an older guy (played by the excellent Steve Buscemi) who is a record obsessive, with a love for the early blues pioneers, who is himself, a loner. A great, quirky, film and I love it. But, that’s not what this post is about…
The film opens with Thora dancing around her bedroom to a Bollywood film’s opening song and dance number- from the off, I had to know what this song was- it was so captivating. A mixture of pounding tribal rhythms, Dick Dale style guitar and mariachi horns followed by this fantastic voice and lyrics- in Hindi, just made me feel so good.
After some hunting down, I came to discover that the song in question is ‘Jaan Pehechan Ho’ by Mohammed Rafi from the 1965 film ‘Gumnaam’. I also read that Rafi was termed a ‘Playback singer’ which meant he did the songs in the film, to which the actor would lip-sync over the top. I also found out that he sung over 26,000 songs over 40 years!
In the film ‘Gumnaam’, the song is performed right at the beginning. There is a term for this that escapes me, but usually this opening song is a big song and dance number, which has nothing to do with the film itself- other than maybe introducing you to the main characters, but depending on who sings it, and the strength of the choreography, would have the chief aim of getting ‘bums on seats’ in the theatre.
The parallel this makes with ‘Ghostworld’ is something that pleases me, and I like to think that it is intentional. In ‘Ghostworld’, the track starts the film, it has nothing to do with the rest of the film, but you get the first glimpse of Thora ‘wigging out’ in her bedroom to the track whilst getting ready. You also get to see the person her family doesn’t see- they think she’s a difficult, miserable loner- you get to see a fun girl who likes to get down and dance. The character has been introduced. And it would be a ‘bums on seats’ moment, IF western culture knew the power of Mohammed Rafi (maybe this is a link too far, ho hum…)
So, teen mags of the future, if you were to ask me:
What song do you listen to to get yourself in the mood for a Friday/ Saturday night out?
I’d reply- ‘Jaan Pehechan Ho’ by Mohammed Rafi.