Indian cinema has no shortage of movies glorifying friendship, specifically male friendship. The concept of male bonding, or bromance (to use the modern term) has always been vigorously promoted by Bollywood. The hero giving up his life, his worldly wealth, even his lady-love for the sake of his friend, and similar tear-jerking stories are the bread-and-butter of Bollywood.
Of the hundreds of bro-movies (if I may coin a term) that Bollywood has given us, one movie stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Dosti, released in 1964, is for my money the best friendship movie made in Bollywood. This was only the second movie to come out of Rajshri Productions, the movie house that specialises in family movies like Chitchor and Hum Apke Hain Kaun. (Well, they did make Agent Vinod too).
The lead pair, Sudhir Kumar and Sushil Kumar, was seen on the screen for the first time. So was Sanjay Khan, who played a secondary role in the film. Dosti was perhaps the first movie that did not have a female lead. There was no heroine as such, and even the two young men who made the lead pair were not conventional hero material either. One was blind, the other was a cripple, and they were both in dire poverty.
Dosti is a simple, heart-warming story about the honest friendship between these two challenged young men, as they struggle to make their way in a tough city.
In addition to Dosti’s story and the acting performance of its lead pair, what makes Dosti an Indian classic is its truly exceptional music – and the voice of Mohammad Rafi.
Penned by Majhrooh Sultanpuri, and composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal, each song is a precious gem. And no one else could do justice to those songs, but Mohammad Rafi.
Dosti was Rafi, all the way. Just one song was rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, and hardly made an impact.
Did you know – Dosti’s signature harmonica tune that Sushil Kumar plays in the movie was actually performed by RD Burman? Although he was a rival music director, RD gladly helped out L-P by playing the harmonica for them. It was a movie about friendship after all, and RD was a good friend.
Mohammad Rafi once said that Dosti was one of his toughest assignments. Rafi had the unique ability to modulate his voice and could subtly change his singing style to suit any actor he sang for. But he found it hard to modulate his voice for the teenage Sudhir Kumar. That is perhaps why he sang at a slightly higher pitch than he normally did.
Rafi did a remarkable job and won his fourth Filmfare award for Dosti. The movie swept every major Filmfare award for 1965 and became a huge commercial hit.
When Dosti was first released, I was hardly two years old. I saw the movie for the first time when it was re-run in 1980, during my under-graduate days. Since I never had good friends in those days, I saw the movie all alone in Rupam Talkies at Sion. And I found myself yearning for such a friend as Sudhir Kumar in Dosti.
Fifty years after Dosti, I still find myself yearning for such a friend.
Ah well, here is Mohammad Rafi’s award winning song from Dosti. If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then there’s something wrong with you.
Cheers … Srini.