REVEALED: “‘Laila O Laila’ was recorded for another film” – Zeenat Aman

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Long before Sunny Leone swung into the groove for Raees, the track ‘Laila O Laila’ was a trailblazing chartbuster that set the nation aflame. The year was 1980. The film was Feroz Khan’s stylish blockbuster Qurbani….

But wait, the film’s iconic song ‘Laila O Laila’ was never meant to be in Qurbani.

Reveals Zeenat with that trademark husky chortle that can still make hearts race and pulses soar, “We shot the song ‘Laila O Laila’ for another film altogether with another title. After we shot it, Feroz Khan being the mercurial movie moghul that he was, decided to scrap the original film, script and title. He instead decided to make Qurbani overnight. We were fine with the decision because we had only shot that song ‘Laila O Laila’…so Qurbani was born after we filmed the song.”

Zeenat remembers the phenomenal reach of the song (sung shakily by Kanchan Dinker Rao Mail, who at that stage of composers Kalyanji-Anandji’s career got to sing some big hits because she was married Kalyanji-Anandji’s brother Babla). “When we were shooting the song we never thought it would acquire such an iconic status. I mean, we had a lot fun shooting it. But I never thought I’d be remembered by ‘Laila O Laila’ and Aap jaisa koi in Qurbani to this day.”

Not surprisingly most of Zeenat’s signature moves in Laila oh laila were improvised.

Recalls Zeenat, “I don’t remember if we had a formal choreographer on the sets. But I do remember Feroz just told me to do my own thing. Whether it was Laila oh Laila in Qurbani or ‘Dum Maro Dum’ in Hare Rama Hare Krishna I grooved to my own beats. Today wherever I go I am asked about these two songs and of course the sublime songs of Satyam Shivum Sunderam.”

Zeenat has not heard or seen the new version of ‘Laila O Laila’ in Raees. “I have been out of the country. But I am sure they’ve done a wonderful job of it. The team is talented. I am glad my songs ‘Dum Maro Dum’ and ‘Laila O Laila’ have been re-mixed. A whole new generation gets the chance to hear it.”

– Subhash K. Jha