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Aradhana Celebrating 50 Years: Revisiting a milestone movie

There are films that have set box office records. And there are films that have scripted history. Aradhana, a gripping family drama spread over two generations, successfully did both. It was the launchpad for Rajesh Khanna’s twinkly-eyed superstardom and cemented Kishore Kumar’s position as the most popular playback voice, replacing Mohammed Rafi.

Released on September 27, 1969, Aradhana saw a young Rajesh Khanna play the double role of father and son — both Air Force pilots — long before Yash Chopra would cast Shashi Kapoor as a pilot in Silsila. And in both films, the accidental death of the pilots is the trigger for the plot.

Khanna was four films old (all flops) before director Shakti Samanta signed him opposite Sharmila Tagore. Samanta not only avoided repeating Shammi Kapoor (who had given him a blockbuster, An Evening in Paris, just two year earlier), but also replaced hit music composers, Shankar-Jaikishen, with the melodious Sachin Dev Burman.

Burman, Sachin karta to his friends, offered three numbers to his favourite singer Kishore Kumar and two to the reigning emperor of playback, Rafi. Kishore’s musical career had started in 1948 but he had only done playback for Dev Anand so far, and one song each for Raj Kapoor and Mehmood. Aradhana’s sensual Roop tera mastana went on to become a classic, along with Mere sapnon ki rani.

Burman initially wanted to record Roop tera... as a Bangladeshi folk song. It was Kishore who reminded the legendary music director of a peppy song the latter had created years earlier, about visiting one’s in-laws’ home. SD latched on the idea and a history was created in Mumbai that day.

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