An Evening in Paris was an ode to romance
Shammi Kapoor is singin and swingin in an overcoat and fedora,with a bevy of women on both sides,when he looks straight into the camera and sings in Mohammad Rafis voice,Aao tumko dikhlata hoon Paris ki ek rangeen shaam,dekho dekho dekho,dekho,dekho .
Shakti Samanta directed the stylish romantic entertainer An Evening in Paris,which is about two good-looking people romancing in the city of lights. As a character in the film says,Yeh Paris hai…yahan har jagah,har waqt romance hota hai. Paris ke baare mein mashoor hai,jisne Paris mein mohabbat nahin ki,woh duniya mein kahin nahin kar sakta. Five minutes into the film and you know whats coming next. Our heroine Deepa (Sharmila Tagore) goes to Paris to mend her thrice-broken heart with a worldview that Hindustan mein ab koi sachcha chaahne waala nahin raha. Deepa thinks every Indian man is a cheat and a liar. When Sam a.k.a Shyam Kumar (Kapoor) learns this,he declares,Kaun hai yeh badtameez ladki? Main theek karunga usay. So our Sam decides to serenade Deepa through picturesque locations in Paris,Switzerland,Beirut,and even the Niagara Falls just so that she can change her opinion about Indian men. He doesnt give up even when she gives him the deep freeze and does a close dance with flame-haired Shekhar (Pran),the villain.
Samanta regrouped with his Kashmir Ki Kali pair and rests the film on their individual styles and romantic chemistry. Tagore hits the high note on the glamour meter. She gets three big fashion moments in the film. Theres Tagore in a saree in the heart-melting Raat ke humsafar. She also gets to channel her inner Audrey Hepburn in a complete Breakfast at Tiffanys inspired moment in a little black dress and a diamond necklace. And then theres the famous one-piece swimsuit that she wears in Aasman se aaya farishta,which heralded the new bold in Hindi films. I wore a one-piece bathing costume but I wanted to wear a bikini. Shaktida put his foot down. He forced me to wear a one-piece. He was my mothers friend,so he was very protective about me. I remember at a party once I got up and started dancing with a man. Shaktida got really upset and told me that such behaviour is not allowed in our film industry, says Tagore.
If Tagore is the films glam factor,then the energy is all Kapoors. He does it all spots howlarious disguises,changes his walk in almost every scene and even dangles from a helicopter in a towelling robe,giving us some major thigh action,in Aasmaan se aaya farishta. Tagore recounts,He wore a towelling robe and hung with one hand from a moving helicopter. Who else could have done that? Never to let an experience pass him by,he decided to jump into a moving boat from the helicopter. Shakti wanted a stuntman to do the shot but Shammi refused. He was always game to try something new,to add that little touch to a song that would make it memorable.
There are many stories about Aasman se aaya farishta. In an earlier interview,Kapoor said that he was stunned when he heard the song because Rafi had recorded it in his absence. But Rafi saab had sung it just as I would have liked him to. I asked him how he did so,and he said,Oh Shammi Bhappa,maine socha ki Shammi Kapoor ek haath aise phailayega,ek haath waise phailaayega,jiss tarah Yahoo karda hai na uss tarah karega aur yeh soch ke main gaa dita.
Kapoor jested with Samanta to get a helicopter for the shoot,assuming it wouldnt be possible. But Samanta did the unthinkable. He informed me the night before the shoot that tomorrow we would shoot the helicopter song. I got goosebumps because I have vertigo. Ive always been scared of heights. So at 7 am,I sneaked into St Georges Hotel in Beirut and woke up the barman and had two large pegs of Cognac. That did it and then I hollered,where is the helicopter? Get me the helicopter,baby, Kapoor said in an interview. The story doesnt end here. Because when he was up in the air,hanging precariously from the helicopter,Kapoor realised that he could not hear the song that he was supposed to lip-sync to. So Shakti had to sing out the lines and I followed his lip movements.
Shankar Jaikishans music score is still popular and the Kapoor-Rafi connect is at its best. Akele akele is sexy,Deewane ka naam is naughty and Raat ke humsafar is magical. The film is always a great watch just for this one song and its visuals a man,a woman,sleepy Paris streets,twinkling city lights,and conversations about love. What else do we need?