Ek Chatur Naar
Film/Year: Padosan (1968)
Singers: Kishore Kumar-Manna Dey
When it comes to comedies, 1968 film Padosan ranks as an all time classic. For this romantic comedy about a rustic simpleton wooing a modern city girl, composer Rahul Dev Burman composed such versatile gems as Main Chali Main Chali, Bhai Battur, Sharm Aati Hai Magar, Mere Saamnewali Khidki Mein, Kahena Hai, O Meri Pyari Bindu and Aao Aao Saawariya. But still if just one song is to be chosen as the essence of this comedy classic, Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey’s Jugalbandi-song Ek Chatur Naar would beat all others hollow. A listen to this song is a sure-shot remedy to break the straight line of any stiff upper lip into a smile, if not laughter!
Look at the situation. To outwit the hero (Sunil Dutt) who had earlier belted a nice romantic number but then had started acting smart, the heroine (Saira Banu)- still smarting from the insult, brings in her music teacher- Mehmood in a typical filmi South Indian get-up!
As this Panditji is an expert classical singer, she challenges the hero to do a musical duel, a Jugalbandi with him! The only hitch is the hero is as off-key as it gets and the earlier impressive song he had ‘sung’ was actually ‘playbacked’ by his uncle- a paan-chewing Kishore Kumar from behind! So now the hero has to keep the bearing of their playback singing trickery and still overcome the musical challenge to score points in the heroine’s book.
So in this hilarious setting the song takes off with singer Manna Dey’s purposely overdone Carnatic style classical flourish. In the Sixties, Manna Dey was a regular playback singer for Mehmood’s comic screen antics and he just knew how and when those comic ‘punches’ were to be hammered musically. Here too, he does an excellent job- outwardly all serious and classical but just done in that little over-the-top manner!
The reply from singer Kishore Kumar is as outrageously zany and funny. His lines like Ik Chatur Naar Badi Hoshiyaar /Apne Hi Jaal Mein Phansat Jaat/ Hum Hansat Jaat/ Arre Hey Hey Ho Ho Ho or the way he picks up the tempo by saying O Tedhe O Tedhe Seedhe Ho Ja Re show a brilliant flair for comedy. Rajinder Krishan shows how to write a wacky comic song without ever becoming crude or crass and that confusing musical word- melee at the end just adds to the fun!
Manna Dey reminisced how Kishore’s mother had fed Gulab Jamuns to all the team-members before that recording. He said, "Since it was a semi-classical duel, I was all geared up to show my classical singing prowess to Kishore, who was essentially an untrained singer. But as the song progressed I realized how well Kishore had absorbed the situation of the song and how brilliantly he was adding his own nuances to it. I simply saluted his genius!"
Such keen competitiveness and such big-hearted camaraderie between two master singers! No wonder their song turned out to be a masterpiece!