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“Raj Khosla Had Rejected Lag Ja Gale Se”

“Raj Khosla Had Rejected Lag Ja Gale Se”
Written by Subhash K . Jha

Veteran actor and filmmaker par excellence Manoj Kumar   in a prolific career  of over 50 years  has directed  iconic films like Upkar , Shor and  Roti Kapada Aur Makaan and acted  in superhits  like Pathhar Ke Sanam, Sanyasi and  WohKaun Thi.

Recalling the experience of shooting for WohKaun Thi  Manoj Kumar says, “Do you know, one of the  film’s  most iconic songs Lag ja gale se was initially rejected  by the director Raj Khosla. I remember the music composer Madan Mohan Saab, a very sensitive artiste, was  shattered. He came to complain, ‘Manoj Bhai,  look at the composition that your director has rejected.’ I heard the song and I immediately  knew its potential. I took it back to Raj Khosla made him hear it with me. At the end of  the song, he got up quietly went out of the room to get his chappals came back   inside and began  hitting himself with  it. Madan Mohan and I were aghast. ‘Yeh aap kya kar rahen hain?’   Raj said he was hitting himself  for being such a  fool to reject a composition  like Lag Ja gale se…I am glad  the  producer  Prernaa Arora has taken the rights of  two  of the songs Lag jaa gale se and  Naina barse rimjhim. I feel the other songs in WohKaun Thi like Chhod kar tere pyar ka daaman, Jo humnein dastaan apni sunayi and Shokh nazar ki bijliyan are  equally iconic.”

Manoj Kumar is in an aggressively confessional mood. He  lets  it out that the dialogues and scenes in WohKaun Thi were written by  him. “Yes,I  admit I wrote many of the scenes and  dialogues. I will tell you  how  it happened.  I reached Simla  for  the shooting .The song Shokh nazar ki bijliyan  was  filmed  on  Helenji and me. I felt something was missing. After the shooting I went to the director Raj Khosla’s room. My leading lady Sadhanaji,the producer N N Sippy were also present. I told Raj, ‘Kuch jamm nahin raha(something is amiss). The lines  need to be changed.’ And I handed over papers with the changed dialogues written by me. Raj Khosla read them. He quietly tore up the  original  dialogues and threw  it into the fireplace saying, ‘From tomorrow we will be using Manoj’s lines.’ That’s how I ghost-wrote the  scenes and dialogues in this ghost story.”

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Why didn’t Manoj Kumar take credit for  his efforts? “Arrey yaar. It didn’t matter. I  didn’t do it for the name. I did it to improve the film. During those days we worked on every film like a family. Sadhana, Raj Khosla, Madan Mohan and  I were one family during WohKaun Thi.We didn’t think about who should get credit or not. We worked like  a team  of cooks in a kitchen putting together  the  best meal possible.”

 Manoj says he would be happy to write the new version of  Woh Kaun Thi. “All they have to do is 

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