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Rahul Rawail and Sunny Deol’s BETAAB, the making of its fabulous title music by RD Burman and the story of painted horses. - By Bobby Sing

02 Feb, 2020 | Articles on Cinema

The fact that documentation of our cinema and the film making process of our renowned creators was never done when they were active and in their supreme form was once again recalled attending the launch function of CINEMAAZI – a new initiative to respectfully remember, cherish and document our golden past as well as the present.
The event was graced by Sharmila Tagore, Rahul Rawail, Pankaj Udhas and many more eminent personalities. And among their interesting conversations we heard Rahul Rawail remembering his hit film BETAAB, when its fabulous title music was played by ‘The Team Rewind’ in their musical section of the program.

Talking about the making of the specific instrumental music to be added along the titles, the director revealed that though it was an immensely important part of the project, it was still awaited to be composed and recorded post the completion and initial edit of the film.

Important it surely was, as BETAAB was the debut film of Dharmendra’s son Sunny Deol and it was one of the first few films of the star-sons in that era, after the introduction of Kumar Gaurav (note the reverse name) and Sanjay Dutt. Interestingly it was Rahul Rawail only who had actually directed LOVE STORY - the debut film of Rajendra Kumar’s son, but his name was missing from the film’s credits due to some undisclosed reasons. In fact, the success of LOVE STORY was one of the major factors responsible for Dharmendra choosing Rahul to be the director of Sunny’s debut film.

Coming back to the story behind BETAAB’s title music, as revealed by the director at the CINEMAAZI event, the film was ready but the music to be added along the titles was still to be recorded. So, he met RD Burman aka Pancham and asked him to get it done at the earliest. Pancham had to fly to America in a day for another commitment (release of Sunil Dutt’s DARD KA RISHTA), hence he asked the director to show him the film. The duo agreed that Pancham will see the film, compose the title music and brief his talented close associates, who will get the music recorded at the earliest in his absence as required.

A special preview show was arranged for Pancham in the evening before the day he had to take his flight and he simply loved the film and the way Rahul had executed it presenting Sunny Deol both as a sweet lover as well as a tough rancher and horse trainer. Watching it he surely realised that the opening title music was perhaps one of the most important elements of the film introducing Sunny on the screen announcing his arrival in the industry. Hence, post watching the film, Pancham ensured the director that he will compose it as per the theme and the music will get recorded by his team according to the given instructions.
However, when passionate creative people feel the high, nobody can stop them as they get completely involved in their work and wish to do it at the earliest giving their best.

The same happened with Pancham after watching the final edit of the film and he straight away started the work with his exceptional team.
At around 3 am in the same night (or the morning), a knock was heard by Rahul Rawail on his door. He woke up, opened the door and saw Pancham standing there asking him to get ready and come along to his home right away. As they both reached Pancham’s den, the director saw the entire team of musicians sitting there working on the title music of the film displaying an amazing gifted passion for their work.

Witnessing a confused Rahul Rawail, Pancham informed him that as he loved the film realising the importance of this particular instrumental music, he wished to do it himself along with the team and hence had cancelled his visit to America for the same.

At that early hours of the day, he made the director listen to the composed music, got it approved and then they all recorded it in the next few hours delivering the piece ready to be used in the film by the evening. Thankfully it was also included in the soundtrack LP of the film, though in Mono whereas all the songs were in Stereo.

However as per my own interpretation, if you now listen and watch this outstanding musical piece incorporated in the film then at one end you will realise that it has Pancham written all over it with the trademark use of some rare musical instruments creating a western kind of feel in the sound and notes. But on the other, you will also feel surprised that as revealed by the director, Pancham didn’t compose it watching the visuals on screen as it is done nowadays. He actually composed it in his home with the team, memorising what he had earlier seen in the preview theatre that very evening.

The maestro superbly conceived it visualising the highs and lows of the sequence wherein Sunny comes on screen as a horse is brought in for getting trained. Beginning with the shots of tying up his shoes and picking up the saddle, the music perfectly works as the entry scene of a Hindi film hero making you feel the goose bumps. As Sunny gets his control over the horse, the music paces down and we get to hear the key notes of the film’s most famous song “Jab Hum Jawan Honge”, which later continue in the background score when the 4 minutes long title music ends, establishing the memorable signature tune.

As I strongly feel, post Pancham coming up with such energetic music, Rahul Rawail must have re-edited the opening sequence of the film matching the impactful orchestrisation resulting in a mesmerising entry of a macho hero in Hindi cinema.
Adding another lesser known information in his talks at the CINEMAAZI event, the director further revealed that while the particular sequence of a rude horse being trained by Sunny was being shot, they had to do some tricks to get the horse continuously jump and kick giving a tough time to its rider. The problem began when the brown horse they had begun the shooting with stopped bucking and they didn’t have any other brown horse at the location. So, a white horse was used after applying brown shoe polish on its body as required. However, the issue continued when even the white horse stopped bucking like the earlier one. And then a black horse was polished brown and the scene was completed as scheduled.

So now when you again watch the sequence after reading this write-up, just try to catch the different horses in the beginning and in the next few shots as informed by the director himself.
Sharing my experience of watching BETAAB in the matinee show of its first day of release in PUNJAB.

As an 11 years old Hindi films fan, luckily, I was in Patiala (Punjab) at the time BETAAB got released in the mid of 1983. And if you are aware of the enigma Dharmendra had in his prime time, you can imagine what euphoria it would have been around the release of his son’s debut film in Punjab, which already had a hit soundtrack with songs such as “Jab Hum Jawan Honge”, “Badal Kyun Garajta Hai”, “Teri Tasveer Mil Gayi”, “Tumne Di Aawaaz” and “Apne Dil Se Badi”.

That was the era when traffic jams used to happen around cinema houses on a Friday and special security arrangements had to be made by the Police on the release of all such hyped films.

So, around a thousand people or even more were standing all over on the small road in front of the theatre (I cannot recall the exact name) and most of them were there without the tickets. Unfortunately, just while moving into the theatre, I couldn’t hold on to my uncle’s hand and was left alone for a while. We later met when he found me standing beside the wall on a side watching the film instead of searching for him in the theatre. He softly scolded me and we then got seated to watch the film among an over-enthusiastic crowd.

Still remember the loud shouts, whistles and roars when Sunny came on screen fondly greeted by the viewers as their Garam Dharam and He-man’s young and dashing son.

Decades later while working in the home video industry, I came to know that it was the first solo film of Javed Akhtar after the Salim-Javed split and the credits said “Story, Screenplay and Dialogue – Javed Akhtar”.

BETAAB was probably also the first or one of the first films to be given a U/A certificate by the Censor Board (still cannot fathom the reason for that) and one of the first few films of Anu Kapoor too apart from being the debut film of both Sunny and Amrita Singh. For the friends well-aware of the known faces from the Doordarshan’s single channel era, the film also had the then famous Keemti Anand featuring in one of its initial scenes.

More importantly BETAAB officially began Rahul Rawail’s professional association with Dharmendra and Sunny Deol, with whom he later made two cult films ARJUN (1985) and DACAIT (1987), both written by Javed Akhtar, along with SAMUNDAR (1996), YODHA (1991), ARJUN PANDIT (1999) and JO BOLE SO NIHAAL (2005). Interestingly the one film he made with Dharmendra as MAST QALANDER (1991) was written by Salim Khan.

The director also continued his friendly and professional relationship with RD Burman till many years starting with his first film GUNAHGAAR released in 1980, which had Rajendra Kumar playing a key role (who later signed him to direct his son’s debut film). Rahul Rawail and Pancham together worked in 7 films including LOVE STORY, BIWI O BIWI, BETAAB, ARJUN, SAMUNDAR and DACAIT. Perhaps he couldn’t insist on having Pancham on board, post the first seven films of his career as their last two films (SAMUNDAR and DACAIT) and their soundtracks failed to work at the box office.

Having said that, as history reminds, the talented directors always get remembered for their cult films instead of the duds. Hence Rahul Rawail will always be known for an uncredited LOVE STORY, BETAAB and ARJUN along with a critically acclaimed DACAIT among the lovers of Hindi cinema. 

Bobby Sing (Harpreet)
2nd February 2020

(Copyright – Bobbytalkscinema.com 2020) 

Tags : BETAAB and story of its opening title music by RD Burman by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Rahul Rawai;s BETAAB, BETAAB and story behind its title music, BETAAB and story behind its painted horses, Sunny Deol's debut film.
02 Feb 2020 / Comments ( 4 )

Excellent information... Thank you for sharing .... you are right, we need to record such details...loved Betab... a wonderful love story. 

Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot Purnima,
Keep Visiting and Writing In,

Sumit Kudesia

I was watching ' Betaab ' right now when I searched for information on the search engine. It is such a massive film. 70mm would have lit brightly with the beautifully shot locales in ' Betaab Valley ' ( the spot shown as Tikamgarh ) was permanently named as 'Betaab Valley'. I visited this place in 2012 and the wooden hit is still there. So this is a really well shot film. I really liked one shot when Sunny Deol is playing the guitar and the camera moves at a great height showing a well lit hut and music in the background. People would have worked with a lot of passion to create something which seems just like a film today.

Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh are wondorfully natural and charismatic. Shammi Kapoor's presence is also powerful. I was in the nursery standard when ' Betaab ' released. As a child I used to listen to the audio casette on my mini tape recorder all the time. I watched the film later on the VCR in junior school. I don't remember watching Betaab in the cinema hall. I clearly remember watching Sohni Mahiwal and Manzil Manzil in the theatre the next year. I may have watched this one in the cinema hall too and I may not be remembering it.  'Betaab' is just a regular love story( like all debut movies of newcomers ) those days but its grandeur is unmissable .

Sunny Deol has a huge presence and natural acting talent which is superior to Jackie Shroff's and Kumar Gaurav's acting talent. The music of Hero and Love Story was also fantastic but Betaab's music has a mesmersising quality which is not there in the other two albums. Please do share specific scenes and audience reaction if you remember although you were also young when you watched it. I know that it showed in Plaza theatre in Connaught place as they have some framed pictures in their lobby. Bye for now

Bobby Sing

Thanks for sharing your views in details about the film Sumit.
Yes it was indeed a well made romantic drama and have fond memories about it too.
Will try to recall and share more soon in the related articles.

Keep Visitng and Writing in,

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