“Choli Ke Peeche” was originally conceived as a folk song and the brouhaha over its lyrics was shocking, says filmmaker Subhash Ghai as he remembered his 1993 film Khalnayak, which turned 30 on Sunday.
It was a trademark Ghai movie — full of entertainment, elaborate musical pieces, and a star-studded cast in Sanjay Dutt as the anti-hero Ballu, Jackie Shroff as police officer Ram and Madhuri Dixit as undercover police officer Ganga.
The film, remembered as one of the biggest hits of the 1990s, has attained cult status over the years.
“My closest memory of Khalnayak is when people labelled “Choli Ke Peeche” as vulgar. It was a tragedy for me… a major shock. We treated it as a folk song and presented it in an artistic way. But when the film was released, there were protests,” Ghai told PTI in an interview here.
“Choli Ke Peeche”, penned by celebrated lyricist Anand Bakshi, was composed by veteran music director duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Singer Alka Yagnik did the playback for Dixit, while Ila Arun sang the folk version filmed on Neena Gupta.
“I remember, a leading newspaper wrote… ‘The song is a classical piece of Indian cinema’ and that was a relief. It was a folk song and now people understand that,” the 78-year-old director added.
The protests over “Choli Ke Peeche” lyrics was not the only controversy that Khalnayak faced as Dutt, who played a terrorist in the movie, was arrested under the TADA and the Arms Act months before the film’s theatrical premiere leaving many to draw parallels between the real and the reel.
“When Sanju (Dutt) got arrested none of us ever thought that something like this would happen. There was a lot of noise. Our film was supposed to arrive two months later… And it was in the making for a year before that… But people just joined the dots as he was playing a terrorist in the film. Media and people do a lot of things in excitement… but over a period of time they realised that it was wrong,” he said.