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Pankaj Udhas was reluctant to sing ‘Chitthi Aayi Hai’ in ‘Naam’: Mahesh Bhatt

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Mumbai, Feb 27: It took some convincing to persuade ghazal maestro Pankaj Udhas to appear on screen in ”Naam” to perform ”Chitthi Aayi Hai”, a song that became synonymous with the 1986 film and skyrocketed the singer to fame, recalls filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.

Udhas, 72, died at a Mumbai hospital on Monday after prolonged illness. His name was suggested by screenwriter Salim Khan, Bhatt said, glad he heeded that advice and brought the ghazal singer on board for the song, which he described as the ”heartbeat” of the film. In the film, Udhas appears as himself singing ”Chitthi Aayi Hai” during a concert. The lyrics of the song, popular to this day, were written by Anand Bakshi and the music was scored by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. ‘Udhas was a singer and he sang to a live audience so he was a little reluctant, unsure whether he would be able to pull it off. We assured him that we wanted him to play himself. We didn’t want him to become somebody else. I just told him (think that) you are in one of your shows in Singapore or London and you are singing a song on the stage. The only thing is we will shoot and film it,” Bhatt told PTI in an interview.

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”I remember I and Saroj Khan ji — she was the choreographer — we would shoot long takes because unlike film actors who are used to shooting in fragments, he (Udhas) was a person who would come into his own only when he would get large chunks to perform,” he added. Think of ”Naam” and you think of ”Chitthi Aayi Hai”, the ”Naam” director said, adding that the heart could not be separated from the heartbeat. ”I was just talking with Sanjay Dutt and we both fondly remembered those days of shooting that song, his presence. He (Udhas) would come from the airport straight onto the set and he would shoot non-stop and then rush back to do his shows. I’m very privileged to have been touched by a man like him, his simplicity was so disarming, and his voice had the same largeness of a simple heart,” Bhatt said.

Bhatt said the song comes at a pivotal point in the narrative in the second half, which was crafted carefully by Salim Khan. ”We needed a song, which comes as a catalyst for the character (of Sanjay Dutt), who has fallen into the wrong hands of the underworld, and how he sets himself right and is longing to go back home,” Bhatt said.

“In those days, ghazal singers of India had made a name for themselves and they would go overseas and perform. So this (song) worked like magic with people. The song has a timeless quality,” he added.

The 75-year-old filmmaker praised Udhas for his dedication and commitment. According to Bhatt, ”Chitthi Aayi Hai” was hugely popular because it resonated with people who have been away from home.

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”This song triggers that yearning… because there were people going away from homes overseas, to Dubai, or Bangkok, to make a living. Even people who left their villages and came to the city, they all felt they were uprooted from their near and dear ones, so the song touched that pulse. ”It gave voice to that palpable feeling that was crossing the hearts of millions of Indians, who long to come back to their homes,” he said. (PTI)

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