After the success of Guide, Dev Anand had a monumental task ahead of him. Not only did he had to follow up with a good film he also had to deliver a decent album, as well.
With songs like Raat Akeli Hai, Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara and Dil Pukare Aa Re, Dev Anand’s Jewel Thief managed to capture the audience’s imagination.
To follow up an R.K. Narayan adaptation with a James Bond-inspired movie was a gamble. Fortunately, it worked in favour of Dev Anand.
Raat Akeli Hai and Tanuja
Dev Anand and his brother, Vijay Anand, saw the Bond films and immediately decided to make an Indianised version of it. As all Bollywood filmmakers do.
However, to distinguish themselves from the Bond franchise, the Anands picked four Bond girls for Jewel Thief, instead of one. They were Helen, Faryal, Tanuja and Anju Mahendru.
The song features Tanuja and our very own desi Bond, Dev Anand. Tanuja, like a good Bond girl, is trying to seduce Dev Anand.
Through the brilliant lens of V Ratra, we see Tanuja prancing around Mr Anand. For a song that is known as one of the best Bollywood sex songs of the 60s, the song is shot quite conservatively.
The reason for this and legend surrounding Raat Akeli Hai is that the song is shot the way it is because of Tanuja. She was one of the “good” girls, with a “good” image.
However, if it were filmed on Helen, the music video for Raat Akeli Hai would’ve been a cabaret. As you know, Helen did all the “dirty” work, you see.
To put into context for the younger readers, Helen was 60s Nora Fatehi. Or vice versa.
R.D. Burman-Asha Bhosale combo
Mujhe Tumse Muhabbat Hain, Mohabbat Ki Ijajat Hain
Toh Chup Kyun Rahiye, Jo Bhi Chahe Kahiye
Bhosale’s voice and Burman’s music would’ve been wasted if it weren’t for Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics.
Remember, this was the time where lyrics were given priority over music. Hence, great Urdu poets like Majrooh Sultanpuri got their dues.
When Jewel Thief was released in 1965, Raat Akeli Hai became an immediate smash hit. Five decades later, it still manages to set the mood.
That’s the thing about music, even though the movie might age poorly, the song remains immortal.