Pankaj Udhas Was A "Little Reluctant" To Sing Chitthi Aayi Hai In Naam: Mahesh Bhatt

"This (song) worked like magic with people," said Mahesh Bhatt

Pankaj Udhas Was A 'Little Reluctant' To Sing Chitthi Aayi Hai In Naam: Mahesh Bhatt

Pankaj Udhas in a still from Chitthi Aayi Hai. (courtesy: YouTube)


Chitthi Aayi Hai from superhit Hindi film Naam is one of the most popular songs of Pankaj Udhas's career, and its director Mahesh Bhatt believes the soulful track was the "heartbeat" of the 1986 movie courtesy the ghazal singer. The renowned ghazal singer, 72, died at a Mumbai hospital on Monday morning after prolonged illness. Mahesh Bhatt said Pankaj Udhas, who was used to live audiences, was initially reluctant to sing in the film. "If you think of Naam, you think of Chitthi Aayi Hai, you cannot separate the heart from the heartbeat, you cannot separate the song from the heartwarming moving performance by everyone in it," Mahesh Bhatt told PTI in an interview.

"Udhas was a singer and he sang to the live audience so he was a little reluctant in a way about whether he would be able to pull it off, so we assured him that we wanted him to play himself, we didn't want him to become somebody else. I just told him (think that) you are in one of your shows in Singapore or London and you are singing a song on the stage, the only thing is we will shoot and film it," Mahesh Bhatt said.

The song, whose lyrics were written by Anand Bakshi, became a popular hit. "I remember I and Saroj Khan ji -- she was the choreographer -- we would shoot long takes because unlike film actors who are used to shooting in fragments, he (Udhas) was a person who would come into his own only when he would get large chunks to perform," he added.

Pankaj Udhas became famous as a playback singer with Mahesh Bhatt's 1986 romantic drama. In the movie, Udhas is seen singing the iconic song during a concert, which is attended by actors Sanjay Dutt and Amrita Singh, among others.

The director stated he had flashbacks to his time spent working with Pankaj Udhas after learning of his death. "I was just talking with Sanjay Dutt and we both fondly remembered those days of shooting that song, his presence. He (Udhas) would come from the airport straight onto the set and he would shoot non-stop and then rush back to do his shows. I'm very privileged to have been touched by a man like him, his simplicity was so disarming, and his voice had the same largeness of a simple heart," he said.

Mahesh Bhatt revealed it was writer Salim Khan's idea to rope in a ghazal icon for the song, Chitthi Aayi Hai, whose music was scored by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. "This song came at a pivotal point in the narrative in the second half (of the film); it was crafted by legendary writer Salim Khan. We needed a song, which comes as a catalyst for the character (of Sanjay Dutt), who has fallen into the wrong hands of the underworld, and how he sets himself right and is longing to go back home," Mahesh Bhatt said.

"In those days, the ghazal singers of India had made a name for themselves and they would go overseas and perform. So, this (song) worked like magic with people. The song has a timeless quality," he added.

The 75-year-old filmmaker praised Pankaj Udhas for his dedication and commitment. "Pankaj was outstanding. He would shoot in the day and in the night he would go to do his shows, which he was committed to," he said.

According to Mahesh Bhatt, the song Chitthi Aayi Hai gained immense popularity because it resonated with the emotions of people who have been away from home.

"This song triggers that yearning, it echoed the yearning of the times because there were people going away from homes overseas, to Dubai, or Bangkok, to make a living. Even people who left their villages and came to the city, they all felt they were uprooted from their near and dear ones, so the song touched that pulse.

"It gave voice to that palpable feeling that was crossing the hearts of millions of Indians, who long to come back to their homes," he said. Mahesh Bhatt believes the song played a pivotal part in the success of the movie Naam.

"The song contributed in a very large way to the phenomenal box office success of the movie, Naam, it was a golden jubilee," he added.

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