Shooting film songs

Picture the song: Rishi Kapoor’s heavenly footwork in ‘Om Shanti Om’

The dance number from Subhash Ghai’s ‘Karz’ features the Bollywood star at his foot-tapping best.

Rishi Kapoor didn’t make much of the song Om Shanti Om from Karz (1980) when he first heard what was to become one of Hindi cinema’s enduring hits.

Kapoor writes in his memoir Khullam Khulla, “However, I must admit that I was often hopelessly wrong in my initial reactions to some of these chartbusters. I remember Boney Kapoor coming to meet me, brimming with excitement, with a recording of ‘Om shanti om’ in Karz. The composers Laxmikant–Pyarelal and director Subhash Ghai, obviously ecstatic with the results, had sent him to Panchgani where I was shooting. I gave Boney an earful, saying what a lousy number it was and wondering how Laxmikant–Pyarelal could come up with such a number for me.”

This “lousy number” was plagiarised from Om Shanty Om by Trinidadian soca singer Ras Shorty I. The Hindi filmmakers didn’t even bother changing the title, probably in deference to the way the words “Om Shanti Om” fit so well in the chant-like chorus.

Subhash Ghai’s Karz also borrows from the Hindi classic Madhumati (1958) and the American movie The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975). Monty (Raj Kiran) marries the rapacious Kamini (Simi Garewal) and is killed by her soon after. Kamini moves into Monty’s mansion and boots out his widowed mother and sister. Monty is reborn as a singer, played by Rishi Kapoor. Monty 2.0 is introduced in the song Paisa Yeh Paisa on a technicoloured set with a one-rupee coin as the main background prop.

Songs are dexterously woven into Karz’s screenplay. Monty spies the gamine Tina (Tina Munim) at a party and is smitten by her. Tina is the inspiration for the romantic song Dard-E-Dil that follows.

The 10-minute long Om Shanti Om is performed at a function to mark the music company HMV fictitious golden jubilee celebration. Have you ever loved anybody, lost your heart to anybody, Monty asks the delirious crowd in Kishore Kumar’s voice. The youth anthem to the pain and pleasure of being in love is performed on a revolving dance floor in the shape of a record, above which hot pink-hued disco lights threaten to damage the optic nerve. As examples of 1980s Bollywood bling go, Om Shanti Om has few peers.

Kapoor’s dance moves match the ebullience of Kishore Kumar’s voice and Anand Bakshi’s lyrics. As electric guitars and trumpets play in the background, Kapoor whirls and twirls around the stage, keeping in step with the beats and the revolving camera. The simplicity of the movements allows the focus to remain on the lyrics and Kapoor’s joy-filled visage. Like his uncle Shammi, his niece Kareena and his son Ranbir, Rishi Kapoor is blessed with an inherent sense of rhythm, which has resulted in numerous crackling song and dance numbers throughout his career.

Monty’s performance proves to be so popular that the crowd demands an encore. He obliges with the instrumental version of Ek Hasina Thi, which suddenly brings on flashbacks to his previous incarnation. Monty passes out on the stage and ends up in a doctor’s chair with electric probes attached to his head. His journey into his past life begins, and it is time to pay off his karmic debts.

Om Shanti Om, Karz (1980).
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.