Chori Chori was Raj Kapoor and Nargiss last romantic film
Much before Roja sang Dil hai chota sa,choti si aasha,there was Nargis who epitomized the exuberance,yearning and joie de vivre of a young girl,in the song Panchi banu udti phiroo mast gagan mein/ Aaj main azaad hoon duniya ke chaman mein. The sight of a carefree Nargis running in the village fields,singing about her hearts desire brings alive her character. Kammo is a fiery,headstrong yet sympathetic heiress who chori-chori jumps off her fathers big boat to swim her way to the man she loves,Suman (Pran). But when is the road to love ever easy? En route,Kammo encounters the tough-talking, fedora-wearing reporter Sagar (Raj Kapoor) and her life is changed forever.
Inspired by Frank Capras 1934 iconic screwball romcom,It Happened One Night,the film is about the journey into a womans heart. Incidentally,Mahesh Bhatts 1991 Aamir Khan-Pooja Bhatt starrer Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin was a mashup of both these films.
Chori Chori was the last romantic movie of RK- Nargis (save for a scene and a song appearance in Jaagte Raho,the legendary pair were never seen in the same screen space). Raj Kapoor had once famously stated: Nargis was my inspiration,meri sphoorti (my energy). Yes,my wife has been my shakti and all my heroines have been my sphoorti. My wife is not to be my actress and my actress is not to be my wife. Women have always meant a lot in my life but Nargis meant more than anybody else. I used to always tell her,Krishna is my wife,she is the mother of my children. I want you to be the mother of my films.
Chori Chori is yet another example of the special brand of magic that only Raj Kapoor and Nargis could create. In this film,their chemistry is at once playful,romantic and soulful. The dialogue by Agha Jani Kashmiri deserve special mention. When Kammo meets Sagar for the first time,she taps him with a Hurry up Mister. His reaction is Shut up. Throughout the film,he refers to her as a khoobsurat bala with a special affection for her khoobsoorat si naak. She calls him Mr Insaaniyat. In a really cute exchange,she growls at him because he dares to take the liberty of addressing her with a tum. He replies,Iss liye kyunki tum chotti ho. She says,Phir main bhi tumhe tum kahungi,yaad rakhna. He retorts,Ji nahin tum aap kahogi yaad rakhna. Kammo stomps her feet and says,Tum.. tum.. tum. An exasperated Sagar retorts with,Kutte ki dum! Cue then to barking dogs and Kammo cant help but have the last word: Mr Insaaniyat.. aapke bhai behan bula rahe hain.
Chori Chori borrows many themes from It Happened One Night,including the iconic wall scene where Sagar makes a makeshift screen out of the bedsheet,but the films music and the pre-climax ameeri-gareebi exchange between Kammo and Sagar pushes the right buttons for the desi audience. In a sterling moment in the film,the heroine dares it all,puts her head on the heros shoulder,articulates her feelings and questions his reticence. She tells him,Ameer bhi insaan hote hain.. unke seene main bhi dhadakta hua dil hota hai. He shoots back,Sirf apni dhadkan gin sakte hain. Kissi ka dard mehsoos nahin kar sakte.
Chori Chori has to its credit a beautiful musical score by RKs team of famous four: Shankar- Jaikishen- Shailendra- Hasrat Jaipuri. As is true for almost all RK- Nargis films,there is always that one song that produces that one iconic moment there is the famous Barsaat pose which became the RK Films emblem,the Awaara dream sequence,the Shree 420- Pyaar hua ikraar hua umbrella moment,the Jaagte Raho image of Nargis offering water to Raj Kapoor in the song Jaago mohan pyaare. In Chori Chori,its the innovatively picturised kathputhli dance in Jahan main jaati hoon. My personal favourite song is Rasik balma ,one of the finest Lata Mangeshkar renditions. Filmmaker Mehboob Khan loved the song so much that when he was hospitalised in Los Angeles,he used to call up Lata in Mumbai and ask her to sing the song over the telephone.
Shankar-Jaikishen got Manna Dey instead of Mukesh to be RKs voice for this film as the latter was unavailable. In an interview,Manna Dey had recounted that he nearly lost the chance to sing Yeh raat bheegi bheegi,a duet with Lata. The film’s producer,AV Meyappan Chettiar,who had flown to Bombay from Madras for the recording flipped out when he saw Dey in the recording room with Lata. Dey recounted: Chettiar turned to Shankar and yelled I dont see Mukesh. Where is Mukesh? Shankar told him,You dont see Mukesh because Manna Dey is singing this number. Chettiar wanted to cancel the recording and told me,You,go home. Raj Kapoor intervened and told Chettiar,Manna and Manna alone will sing this number whether you like it or not. When I finished the song,the same Chettiar grabbed me and would not release me from his hug. A warm hug,thats what the film feels like.