Carmen Miranda’s influence on Indian Film Songs
Carmen Miranda was a Portuguese-born nightclub singer from Brazil. She appeared in many Hollywood’s musicals of the 1940s including That Night in Rio (1941), Week-end in Havana (1941), Something for the Boys (1944) etc, and is mimicked all over the world for her singing and tutti-frutti hats . But very few people know about her influence on Indian film songs.
In 1950, South Indian production unit Gemini Pictures produced a successful trilingual Mangala, starring P. Bhanumathi and Ranjan, influenced by Carmen Miranda’s dancing and singing. The film told the story of the daughter of a rich farmer Mangala (P. Bhanumathi), who chases her pet pigeon into a strange land whose prince (Ranjan) instantly falls in love with her. When she resists his advances, he threatens to marry and imprison her for the rest of her life. She responds by threatening that, should they marry, their son would grow up to whip his father. Dressed as Carmen Miranda gypsy dancer she seduces him, gets pregnant and beards a son who eventually fulfils her prophecy…
At least two songs from this film were based on Carmen Miranda’s classics. Ma ma ma ma ma mummy! was based on Carmen Miranda Mama yo quiero and Aaiya mein tou mari laaj sai (where P. Bhanumathi also dresses like Carmen) was based on “I Yi Yi Yi Yi — I Like You Very Much” from That Night in Rio (1941).
Ma ma ma ma ma mummy! sung by P. Bhanumathi
and the original Mama yo quiero
Aaiya mein tou mari laaj sai sung by P. Bhanumathi
and the original I Yi Yi Yi Yi — I Like You Very Much
Another Indian song which was slightly influenced by Carmen Miranda’s style [besides being influenced by flamenco music of Spain] was Dil nachey aur gayey jawani from Gumastha (1951). Scored by K. Dutta it was sung by Jagjit Kaur and G.M. Durrani. This unusual song was partially based on Carmen Miranda/Andrew Sisters’ Cuanto La Gusta (1948), especially the Cuanto La Gusta part sung by Jagjit Kaur after each line. I haven’t seen the film, therefore I can’t comment on whom it was picturized or if the picturization was also inspired by Carmen’s performances – Ummer Siddique
Dil naache aur gayey jawani sung by Jagjit Kaur and G.M. Durrani
and Cuanto La Gusta