Kya Ishq Ne Samjha Hai… Kya Husne Ne Jaana Hai…
Hum Khaak Nasheenon Ki… Thokar Mein Zamaana Hai…
Nasir Hussain Films present
Who doesn’t remember this introduction that started some of the best “musical” Hindi films ever to come out of Bollywood?
In the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s (and to a certain extent in the ’90s as well) there were some production houses who stood for good films and an equally good soundtrack. In that era it was not just the actors or actresses who could convince the audience to flock to the theatres. A certain banner, producer or director could be a equal (or sometimes even bigger) reason for the audience to go see a movie. If a Manmohan Desai, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Raj Kapoor or to a certain extent Prakash Mehra or Shakti Samantha film released it was reason enough for the public to visit the cinemas regardless who the stars in the movie were. This was of the goodwill and the trackrecord of these filmmakers. Shakti Samantha in the 60’s focused on thrillers (“Howrah Bridge” and “Detective” in 1958, “Singapore” in 1960) and later on melodrama’s (from the 1969 “Aradhana” onwards), Manmohan Desai was the undisputed king of the “masala genre” with some of the best Amitabh Bachchan full on entertianers like “Naseeb” (1981) or “Amar Akbar Anthony” (1977). Hrishikesh Mukherjee was known and adored for his slice of life films like “Anand” (1971), Raj Kapoor for his social films with full on entertainment and Prakash Mehra for his brand of “masala-films”. Today when people think of Yash Chopra they call him the king of romance which is not entirely correct. Film like “Trishul” (1978), “Deewaar” (1975), “Kaala Patthar” (1975) and “Mashaal” (1984) are anything but romantic movies.
If there ever was a king of romance it was the producer/director whose movies, which he produced or directed, were romantic musicals from his first directorial “Tumsa Nahin Dekha” (1957 -Shammi Kapoor – Ameeta) and his first production “Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai” (1961 – Dev Anand – Asha Parekh) to his last produced film – Nasir Hussain.
The 80’s had not been that a good decade for Nasir Hussain or his banner Nasir Hussain Films. But all that had changed with the release of his last produced film which had been directed by his son Mansoor Khan which had introduced his nephew Aamir Khan – “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”(1988) as a hero.
As is the case with most superb succes movies the trade and the audience was very curious what Nasir Hussain Films would make after the stupendous succes of that previous movie. It was also felt that the succes of “QSQT” could not be replicated. Also by the time their next offering would release (1992) their golden boy -Aamir Khan- would have had a succession of flops: “Love Love Love” (1989), “Tum Mere Ho” -produced by his father – (1990) both with his leading lady Juhi Chawla, “Deewana Mujhse Nahin” (1990 – Madhuri Dixit), Jawani Zindabad (1990- Farha Naaz), Awaal Number (1990 – Ektaa Behl, Neeta Puri and Dev Anand) and “Afsana Pyaar Ka” (Neelam and Neeta Puri). Only two films would have been hits … but what hits! The 1990 released “Dil” (Madhuri Dixit) and the 1991 all time classic “Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin“.
But boy did these two cousins prove everybody wrong!
Who would have thought that in the day and age of all those run of the mill love stories which were turned out a college film (and mind you this is the only real genuine college film to come out of Bollywood -about a bicycle race no less) would become this iconic film. But that is actually what happened!
Just like their previous outing “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” this movie would once again launch some careers…
(from left to right: Aditya Pancholi, Milind Soman, Naghma, Juhi Chawla, Pratibha Sinha and Sheeba)
After the stupendous succes of “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” when Nasir Hussain Films launched “Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” it was assumed that Juhi Chawla would be in the lead opposite Aamir Khan. Mansoor Khan and Aamir Khan did offer Juhi the leading the role but legend has it that by that time Juhi was too busy to accommodate the 2 nephews who gave her “QSQT”. So Juhi could not do the film and was out! The hunt was on for a leading lady…
In the meantime Naghma (who had debuted with the 1990 Salman Khan film “Baaghi”) refused the role of Devika with the excuse that she did not want to do a two heroine project. Sheeba -another aspiring actress from the 90’s- was thought of for a lead role but that was also not happening. Sheeba who was introduced by Sunil Dutt (Sanjay Dutt’s dad) in his 1991 film “Yeh Aag Kab Buhjegi” (Rekha) and also went on to star in movies like the “Ghost” remake “Pyaar Ka Saaya” (1991- Amrita Singh and Rahul Roy), “Baarish” (1991 – Rahul Roy) and “Suryavanshi” (1992 – Salman Khan and Amrita Singh) but would not be able to make a name for herself. Milind Soman was signed for the role of Shekhar Malhotra but after shooting for a while he opted out as well. Aditya Pancholi was signed to play the role of Aamir’s elder brother Ratanlal Sharma but he too opted out. Some model called Jennifer was signed for the role of Devika but it soon became quite clear that she was miscast. Some minor actors started misbehaving during shooting and because of all this Mansoor Khan almost wanted to cancel the entire movie. Aamir Khan and Mansoor had a talk and made a bold decision: they let everyone go and started the movie fresh… The hunt for a good cast started again…
After Juhi Chawla refused to do the role in the movie Pratibha Sinha (the daughter of yesteryear actress Mala Sinha) was approached but she declined. After quite a long process a leading lady was found and shooting started – Girija Shettar.
Once again during the shooting it became quite apparent that Girija was not the right choice since everyone felt she did not suit the role and could not emote as was needed for this role. She was out and the hunt for a leading lady on once again.
Today when we see this iconic film we just can’t phantom anyone else in whatever role in this movie. Each and every actor/actress in this movie did such an extraordinary job that they are identified with their role and, once again, it is not possible to even think about any other actor in any of these roles! Just try to imagine…
And that goes double for the actress who was selected as the leading lady of the movie. An actress who has alsways been one of my most favorite 90’s actresses. An actress who should have reached bigger heights and who deserved much much more then what she got because -besides the fact that she was really beautiful, she could actually act very well – Ayesha Jhulka
Ayesha Jhulka has made her Bollywood debut as a leading lady in 1991 with the films “Mai Meri Jaan”, “Meet Mere Man Ke” and “Qurbaan” (the last one opposite Salman Khan). But not all the three movies were that successful. Finally she was signed as Anjali for “Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” and the rest as they say is history. It is this film (and especially a song in this movie) that would bring Ayesha into our hearts forever. It is sad that Aamir Khan and Ayesha Jhulka never were cast opposite one another again because according to me this Jodi wasn’t anything less then the Aamir Khan – Juhi Chawla one.
With the leading lady in place now the rest of the cast fell in place as well. And once again… when you watch the film today you can’t think of anybody else in any other role then the actors who eventually ended up doing their respective roles.
(from left to right: Kiran Zaveri, Asrani, Anjan Srivastav, Deepak Tijori, Imran Khan, Mamik, Pooja Bedi and Kulbhushan Karbanda)
Deepak Tijori had started his career as an extra in movies like “Tere Naam Mere Naam” and “Parbat Ke Us Paar” but it was the Mahesh Bhatt film “Aashiqui” (1990 – Rahul Roy and Anu Agarwal) that did the trick for him. Some of his next films worked and some flopped. He was however appreciated in his special appearance in the song “Galiyat Sankali Sonyanchi” in the film “Dila Hai Ke Manta Nahin” (again with Aamir Khan in the lead.) But it would be the year 1992 that would prove to be the turning point for Deepak as the 2 films released that year featuring him worked “Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” and the “Khel Khel Mein” (Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Rakesh Roshan) inspired “Khilaadi” (once again with Ayesha Jhulka in the lead role with Akshay Kumar as the main hero).
Aamir Khan and Mansoor Khan’s nephew Imran Khan was once again (just like in QSQT) cast in a cameo as the younger version of Aamir Khan’s character.
Mamik did not star in many movies after “JJWS” but he is still remembered for his very first role in a Hindi film. You might not believe it when you see the film but “JJWS” was indeed Mamik’s first film and what a splendid job he did in this movie!
And Finally the second leading lady of this film… Pooja Bedi
Pooja had made her debut in the 1991 skin flick “Vishkanya” (featuring her dad Kabir Bedi, Moon Moon Sen and Kunal Goswami -son of Manoj Kumar) which had bombed miserably. Her 1993 Mahesh Bhatt directed film “Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayee” (Rahul Roy as the hero) had some inspired casting. Since the film was based on the life of Parveen Babi and her director boyfriend (based on Mahesh Bhatt himself) the film had Pooja Bhatt and Pooha Bedi in the lead (the daughters of the two men Parveen Babi had a relationship with in real life).
But it would be Pooja Bedi’s second Hindi film that would forever place her in the cinema lovers’ hearts with her turn as Devika. What might be considered a slight negative role was played perfectly by Pooja! And once again even if the character might be considered as slightly negative the way Pooja played the character you just can’t hate her. You rather feel sorry for her and wonder -now more then 25 years later – what happened to Devika in real life.
Also in the film was the flop 70’s hero Deb Mukherjee (brother of actor/producer/director Joy Mukherjee) in a what could be considered slightly negative role. Deb tried to achieve the succes his brother Joy had enjoyed in the 60’s and 70’s but was not so successful. He does shine in his role in this movie. Today Deb is remembered most for this movie. But he might be better known as the father of today’s director Ayaan Mukherjee (“Wake Up Sid” (2009) and “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” (2013) both with Ranbir Kapoor).
Come to think of it a film like JJWS might not be even made today. Can you imagine a film that would revolve around a bicycle race being made in Bollywood now? But JJWS was more then that… It was a film about a family (dad Kulbhushan and his two sons Mamik and Aamir Khan), a love story between Mamik and Kiran, a story about the rivalry of two college and it’s students, the story about Pooja Bedi and Deepak Tijori as students from the rival college and the most beautiful part the story about Aamir Khan and Ayesha Jhulka. JJWS is -according to me- also the best coming of age film produced in Bollywood.
Everybody was surprised when Anand-Milind were not signed for this movie as the music directors since they gave their best soundtrack for Mansoor and Aamir’s previous film “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”. Instead two other brothers were signed as music directors -Jatin Lalit. Jatin-Lalit had made their debut as music directors in the Mirza Brothers’ 1991 film “Yaara Dildaara” which did not make a lasting impression for a first film. Just like with Deepak Tijori 1992 would be the turning point in their careers. In 1992 3 soundtracks were released which had music by the brothers and all 3 soundtracks would go on to become big hits: “Raju Bangaya Gentleman” (Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla), “Khilaadi” (Ayesha Jhulka, Akshay Kumar and Deepak Tijori) and of course “Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikandar”. Though Jatin – Lalit since then have given music in 75 films before breaking up as a duo and having multiple blockbuster soundtracks to their credit (amongst others “Dilwale Dulhania Lejeyenge” and “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”) it would be a song in JJWS that would make their music immortal. But more on that later.
Jatin-Lalit are the younger brothers of 70’s and 80’s actress/singer Sulakshana Pandit (Hera Pheri -1976- Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Saira Banu being her biggest hit as an actress) and Vijayeta Pandit (who made her debut as a leading lady opposite Kumar Gaurav in the 1981 hit “Love Story”) who would go on to marry late music director Aadesh Shrivastav.
(From left to right: Alka Yagnik, Amit Kumar, lalit Pandit, Vijayeta Pandit, Sdhana Sargam and Udit Narayan).
The songs on this album were hits and the Majrooh Sultanpuri written songs were sung by Alka Yagnik, Amit Kumar, Lalit Pandit himself, Vijayeta Pandit, Sadhana Sargam and Udit Narayan.
A fun fact is that for this film a sequence which was done with great succes in the 1977 Nasir Hussain film “Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin” (Rishi Kapoor, Kaajal Kiran and Zeenat Aaman) was redone in JJWS. That sequence being a couple of songs performed one after another as part of a competition. Though the songs of JJWS were good they can never match up to the R.D. Burman score of the previous film (except for one song.
Like mentioned earlier in this article the film was already partially shot with the actress Girija Shettar in the female lead. After she opted out the film had to be reshot. One song featuring Girija however was retained in the movie. Because it is not clear during this song that she and Aamir are in love. That song is a part of this competition and students from the colleges participate so it seems that Girija is just another student. Close ups of Ayesha Jhulka were shot and added in the song. If you look closely you can see that her close ups have been added and that in this song she and Aamir are not seen together on stage.
Saroj Khan was one of the most famous choreographers of those times. Not because she was the best but mainly because the top heroines like Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit used to work with her. Not bad at her job but Saroj -according to the grapevine- had an attitude problem. Suffering from the Anu Mallik complex – “I Am The Best” – I read many an interview were she blasted her contemporaries like Chinni Prakash, Rekha Prakash and later on the choreographer who would not have gotten her chance if Saroj would have been humble and professional.
Farah Khan has never hidden the fact that she is a fan of Nasir Hussain films. Just take a look at her first (and best) directorial “Main Hoon Na” (2204 – Amrita Rao, Shah Rukh Khan, Sushmita Sen) the best Manmohan Desai film not to be directed by Manmohan Desai, in which she does not hide her love for those Nasir Hussain films and songs.
Farah actually was an assistent director to Mansoor Khan on this film. When Saroj Khan did not turn up like she had promised on the due date for the shooting for a song Mansoor Khan would have to wait for an entire week before the self proclaimed diva would return and do the shooting. With everybody and location and considering the fact that a big part of the movie had been reshot already due to the earlier mentioned changes in the cast the film already went overbudget. Since everyone was aware of the fact that Farah Khan was very fond of dancing Mansoor called her to his office. There he told her that the next day she would be off to prepare and the day afterwards she would have to choreograph the said song. That is how Farah Khan got her big break as a choreographer.
Now, one can get a break but one should be still able to prove one’s mettle. And boy o boy did Farah Khan deliver! This is one of those songs that can never been replicated -not in a movie and not in a remix version. And we all know how many so called remix versions of this song have been released. But nothing beats the original! A combination of a great melody and orchestration by Jatin-Lalit (still their best song ever), the lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri, the choreography of Farah Khan, the beautiful voices of Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam, the great picturization on Aamir Khan, the innocence of Ayesha Jhulka, the fun between Mamik and Kiran and of course the flying red dress of Pooja Bedi … all of this made this song the immortal song it became!
- Almost the entire cast, except for Aamir Khan, was changed after a big portion of the film was already shot. This meant a big portion of the film had to be reshot.
- Milind Soman, Rajesh, Altamesh, Zaheer, Karishma and Girija Shettar were among the first cast who left the film. One song featuring Girija Shettar was retained in the movie.
- Akshay Kumar had auditioned for the role eventually played by Deepak Tijori but was refused. Sheeba who would later star in some big (but flop films) was also not chosen.
- Naghma, Aditya Pancholi and Partibha Sinha walked out (just before) shooting started.
- Just like in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak Aamir and Mansoor’s nephew (son of their sis Nusrat) had a cameo in the movie as young Aamir. Just like Aamir Khan had played the role of his chacha Tariq in Nasir Hussain’s “Yaadon Ki Baraat”.
- Legend has it that the idea of Pooja on the car and her dress flying up (a take on the famous Marilyn Monroe scene in “The Seven Year Itch) was a last minute addition because Farah could not get Pooja to get her steps right.
- Just like in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak Aamir’s younger brother Faisal makes a cameo in the movie as student.
- Amole Gupte who co-wrote “Tare Zameen Par” with Aamir Khan and who was the main villain in “Singham Returns” can be seen in a small cameo in the film
- The last film produced by Nasir Hussain Films
- Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote the lyrics for this movie as well. He had written the lyrics for all Nasir Hussain Films’ films.
- Legend has it that Nasir Hussain made R.D. Burman hear the soundtrack of this movie since they were good friends and RD had given music for all Nasir Hussain films from “Teesri Manzil” onwards. When RD heard “Pehla Nasha” he was floored and said that this song will be an evergreen blockbuster.
- It is said that the film was inspired by “Breaking Away” (1979). Mansoor Khan later stated that he had not seen or heard of that movie till much after the release of JJWS.
- Though people say there are a few similarities between this movie and “Breaking Away” I also think that the 1985 Kevin Costner film “American Flyers” has some similarities. Having said that I must confess that I find “Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikandar” the best movie out of the three.
- Last film of Ravindra Kapoor who featured in all Nasir Hussain films from “Caravan” (1970) onwards. Ravindra Kapoor was the brother of Kamal Kapoor. These two brothers were first cousins of Prithviraj Kapoor. Which made them chacha of Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.
- Deb Mukherjee who has a supporting role in this movie was the hero of the 1973 Nasir Hussain film “Aangan”.
JOH JEETA WOHI SIKANDAR (1992)
produced by Nasir Hussain
directed by Mansoor Khan
cast Aamir Khan, Ayesha Jhulka, Deepak Tijori, Pooja Bedi, Mamik, Kulbhushan Karbanda, Kiran Zaberi, Ravindra Kapoor, Asrani and others
music by Jatin Lalit
singers Sadhana Sargam, Udit Narayan, Amit Kumar, Alka Yagnik, Vijayeta Pandit and Lalit Pandit
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I never do this but I can’t help myself so here it is once again…