The first things that strike you about this song are the scenic backdrop, a melody based on hill tunes that almost emerges from the surrounding idyll, and the good-looking couple, Dev Anand and Vyjayanthimala. Very good-looking but not chocolaty. Exceedingly elegant. Also, perfectly dressed—Dev sahib in a combination suit, with a colorful muffler providing an excellent contrast to his light-hued jacket, and Vyjayanthimala in a red saree with cotton-embossed big white spots.
While Dev Anand is at his wooing best, Vyjayanthimala has given a virtuoso performance to depict the woman torn between conflicting impulses (one has to watch the suspense thriller, Jewel Thief, to know the reason). In the first stanza, Samjhati main tumko lakhon armaan, she tells her suitor about her love but also the restraints that she finds stifling. In the second one,Paake tumko kaisi hain matwali, she opens up and how! As Dev Anand buries his head in her bosom, her half face is covered by his head and yet we see sparkle in her eyes and a hint of smile in the half-concealed visage. This and the following shots of fully revealed face are sublimely erotic: it is the countenance of the woman who has found fulfillment—physical satisfaction, agreeable companionship, and spiritual communion—in the arms of a man.
Yet, in the third stanza, jaise sooraj banke aaye ho tum, her doubts and apprehensions resurface, which are duly settled by Dev sabib’s hyperbole—aaj kaho to mor ke rakh doon wakt ke dhaare.
I don’t know how many times I have watched this song, and how many times I will. It is said to be the first song that Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi sang together after a rift which lasted for many years. Written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, it was set to tune by Sachin Dev Burman; the latter was instrumental in bringing Lata and Rafi together again.
There is something magical about the song. Could such magic be repeated? I wish it were, but I have my doubts.