The 2001 Hollywood film Ghost World made this song and dance number from Gumnaam famous in the non-Hindi film fan world. Laxmi Chhaya’s verve and enthusiasm coupled with the lively tune and Boy-Wonder-masked backup dancers make for compelling watching. And of course, the singer’s ultra-cool style is the juicy cherry on top of this confection. Much speculation has issued forth as to his identity (is he the eponymous Ted Lyons?).
So today’s trivia question is: who is the manic front man in this wonderful song (the voice of course is Rafi’s)?
You can watch “Jaan Pehchaan Ho” here.
Since I saw this film 4 or 5 years ago (early in my Helen obsession) I have been dying to know his identity. I’ve trawled the web, I even posted the question in my review of Gumnaam here in the hopes that one of my extremely knowledgeable readers could help me out. Well, the day finally dawned where my quest for his name was answered. As I was watching the song on an episode of “Movie Mahal” the words “Rafi sings for Herman” crawled across the screen above his gyrations. You cannot even imagine my excitement. I nearly fainted, seriously!
My pal Asli Jat (who supplies me with these arcane treasures from Hindi film history) informed me that he was in fact the choreographer Herman Benjamin (also known as Harman). He worked on a huge number of films (including Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi)—imdb doesn’t even come close to listing them all. He choreographed a lot of Shammi films in the 60s, including Teesri Manzil (see, I knew I loved him!). AJ’s father met Herman (along with Shashi) during the filming of Jab Jab Phool Khile in Kashmir, too (and incidentally AJ went to school with one of Rafi’s sons).
I haven’t been able to find out much more about him; he died in 1969 apparently (*sad* :( he can’t have been that old, surely?). If any of you out there know more about him, please please do tell! He was married to Sheba and had a son, but that’s the extent of my knowledge. I am sure he never dreamed that he would become a world-wide cult phenomenon, but hopefully he knows it now.
And yay Bollyviewer! She once again was the only person to get it right. She’s the official Memsaab Trivia Queen!
Update: If you are at all interested in the equally fabulous Ted Lyons & His Cubs, see this post for more information.