Says Viswanathji’s leading lady of several classics Jaya Prada, “I had the privilege of working with him in four Hindi films. Each was a milestone in my career with outstanding music.”
The first of the four Jaya Prada-Viswanath collaborations was Sargam with imperishable music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Parbat Ke Uss Paar, Dafli Wale, Koyal Boli, Ramji Ki Nikli Sawaari and Hum Toh Chale Pardes featuring the vocals of Lataji and Mohammed Rafi are to this day a melodious treat. Sargam was one of the last movie soundtracks to feature Rafi so extensively.
Saya Jaya Prada, “In Sargam I had to dance to these wonderful songs. But I played a deaf and mute girl. So my character had to feel rather than hear the rhythm and melody.Vishwanath sir guided me step by step. I just had to do what he showed me.”
In K Viswanath’s Sur Sangam, the maestros of Hindustani classical music Rajan-Sajan Mishra were brought in to sing for Girish Karnad whereas Lataji sang for Jaya Prada.
Recalls Jaya Prada, “Sur Sangam gave me a chance to explore my dancing skills to the fullest. For the song Jaaoon Torey Charan Kamal, I learnt Kathak in addition to Bharat Natyam and Kuchipudi which I already knew.”
In Viswanath’s Sanjog, Jaya Prada lip-synced her way to immortality with Lataji’s Yashoda Ka Nandlala.
She recalls, “It was very emotional song, and Lataji sang it with so much feeling. I just had to follow her voice.”
In Rakesh Roshan-produced Viswanath’s Kaamchor and Jaag Utha Insaan it was Rajesh Roshan who provided the music. Kaamchor featuring Jaya Prada had two hit songs Tumse Badhkar Duniya Mein and Tujh Sang Preet Lagayi while Jaag Utha Insaan starring Sridevi failed in spite of a splendid Kishore-Asha duet Main Nachun Tu Bansi Bajaa and an exquisite classical number Tadpat Beete Tum Bin Yeh Raina.
Viswanath’s Eeshwar featuring Anil Kapoor and Vijay Shanthi, Sangeet featuring Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff and Sanjay Dutt, Dhawan featuring Manisha Koirala, Karisma Kapoor and Ajay Devgn and Shubh Kamna starring Rakesh Roshan and Rati Agnihotri didn’t contain any memorable songs barring Lataji’s Hawa Yeh Prabhati in Shubh Kamna composed by RD Burman (the only film in which RD got a chance to work with K Viswanath).
Jaya Prada inspired Viswanath and his music composers to the summit of creativity. Hence Sargam and Sur Sangam achieved the crest. We can’t say the same for the rest. Except for the duet Chotasa Ghar Banaye by Lataji and Talat Aziz in K Viswanath’s Aurat Aurat Aurat (featuring Rekha in the lead) which was an exquisite send off for Viswanath from Hindi cinema. He never directed another Hindi film thereafter.