A tribute to Talat Mahmood on his 91st birth anniversary (24 February 1924 – 9 May 1998)

Talat Mahmood-Naushad-C RamchandraThere was every reason for Talat Mahmood to have a long innings with Naushad. Both coming from Lucknow, they represented a similar Urdu sensibility and cultural milieu. Talat’s entry into Bombay Hindi film music was spectacular with Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahan koi na ho (Arzoo, 1950), composed by Anil Biswas, picturied on Dilip Kumar. Sure enough, Talat Mahmood became Dilip Kumar’s voice under Naushad’s baton in Baabul (1950) with great success. This was a perfect launch for a long career at the top, because Naushad had emerged as the undisputed No.1 and the preferred composer of Dilip Kumar – Naushad-Dilip Kumar notching at least a dozen films together hence. But in a twist which must be unparalleled in the annals of film history, Baabul became effectively the first and the last film in which Talat Mahmood could sing for Naushad. The reason given in popular writings is that Talat managed to give some offence to Naushad by his behaviour during the recording of a song for this film.



Guest article by Subodh Agrawal

(Pilu is one of the most popular Ragas in Hindi film music.  Naturally, many songs based on Pilu have appeared on SoY, and some interesting discussion has taken place about KL Saigal being mesmerised by SD Burman’s ‘Ami chhinu eka’, and speculating which of his song it was similar to.  Now, our expert Subodh writes a formal article on the Raga, in which he discusses the best film songs based on this Raga and some fine classical pieces.  It comes after a long wait, which I can ascribe to Writer’s Block.  Let us hope that 2015 would see more from him.  – AK)

Raga_PiluI have been rather lazy about writing this article. The list of songs was ready months back, but I just couldn’t get down to writing. What spurred me into action is the realization that it is nearly a year since the last article of this series. My apologies to AK and to the amiable readers of SoY whose comments are something I always treasure.



A tribute on the centenary of Kavi Pradeep (6 February 1915 – 11 December 1998)

Kavi PradeepMumbaikar 8 has often complained, with some justification, that I do not give due credit to the lyricists. I believe a vast majority associates a song with the singer and the music director, and, generally, also remembers the name of the film, but finds it difficult to associate the lyricist with the same importance. Kavi Pradeep was among few exceptions. He created a distinct niche with his patriotic, devotional and inspirational songs. Many of his songs not only became stupendously popular, but also created a mystic aura about them, with stories and legends associated with them which have now become a part of the popular folklore. And above all, he was endowed with a powerful and magnetic voice, which made the songs he sung immortal. He was among the few lyricists who acquired a larger than life image.



A tribute to OP Nayyar on his 8th death anniversary January 28 (January 16, 1926 – January 28, 2007)

[Songs of Yore is now on Facebook.]

OP Nayyar with RafiI read a comment somewhere that OP Nayyar rescued Rafi from the staid classicism of Naushad. I ignore the sarcasm targeted at my favourite Naushad, but it underscores the fact that no one was more antithetical to him than OP Nayyar. Every other great rival of Naushad had one thing common with him: Lata Mangeshkar – she gave voice to their greatest creations. OP Nayyar is the only one who could reach the top in spite of shunning her completely. And for this reason, I was not very fond of his music, until I started noticing his Rafi songs. They are the polar opposite of Naushad, but they are awesome, and we are lucky that OP Nayyar happened, bringing out an entirely different facet of Rafi. Naushad had a solid training in classical music, OP Nayyar had none, his music was instinctive. While Naushad oozed Lakhnavi nafasat, OP Nayyar personified Punjabi brashness – this also reflected in their music.



Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav

(Ashokji is the originator of the mega series ‘Multiple Version Songs’, when he expanded the straight ‘Twin’ (male solo and its twin female solo) songs to other varieties of multiple versions. This caught on and, with the help of other guest contributors, expanded into similar version songs in Hindi and other languages, covering all the South Indian languages and Marathi and Bengali. You can view the entire series here. Now the Master resumes the series with a set of articles exploring a variety of multiple versions not covered so far. – AK)

[Songs of Yore is now on Facebook]

Multiple version songsWe have travelled a long distance in our tour of multiple versions of Hindi films songs across several other Indian languages and moods. We revert back to some hard core listing of the songs in this series. We now take a look at one more variant of multiple versions of a song – one version of the song is either a male or a female solo or a duet and the other version is either a duet or a chorus.



A tribute on C Ramchandra’s birth anniversary January 12 (12 Jan 1918-5 Jan 1982)

PatangaIn my simplified history of Hindi film music, when I move from RC Boral-Pankaj Mullick to Anil Biswas to Naushad, it would be quite unfair if I miss C Ramchandra. The Great Maratha (in the sense of one belonging to Maharashtra) was the most worthy rival of the Great Mughal, almost all the way, until Lata Mangeshkar deserted him, and his music floundered. He had no Plan B. But what a spectacle it was when it lasted! If Naushad had Mughal-e-Azam, CR had Anarkali. When Naushad swore by classical music, CR would create lilting classical based songs like Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag, Ye zindagi usi ki hai, Radha na bole na bole na bole re, Jab dil ko sataawe gham, without making a song or dance about it. When Naushad prided on his folk roots, CR would create Shehnai (Hamare angana aaj baaje baaje shehnai) and Nadiya Ke Paar (More raja ho le chal nadiya ke paar).



SoY celebrates 2015 as the Year of Naushad in the 75th Anniversary Year of his debut

RattanIf I were to write the history of Hindi film music, it would go as follows. Once upon a time there were RC Boral and Pankaj Mullick. Then came Anil Biswas. He was followed by Naushad, who in a few years reached a pinnacle which his peers could only envy and aspire to attain. He became the Greatest Mughal of Movie Music, who withstood palace intrigues and all overt and covert attempts to dethrone him, and straddled like a colossus for about 25 years.



Wishing Merry Christmas to all with guest article by Sharad Dutt concluding Anil Biswas Centenary Celebrations

(SoY celebrated 2014 as the Centenary Year of Anil Biswas with a guest article by his daughter, Shikha Biswas Vohra on the New Year Day, remembering him as a father and a maestro. This was followed by singer-specific posts on his songs for Lata Mangehskar, Suraiya and Parul Ghosh, and Talat Mahmood, Mukesh, Surendra and Anil Biswas himself as a singer. One might think that Anil Biswas has been discussed enough. And some readers speculated last month whether there would be some more in the series during the rest of the year. Anil Biswas Centenary Series deserves a befitting finale, and I conclude the year, wishing Merry Christmas to all with this guest article by Sharad Dutt, an eminent radio/TV personality for nearly 50 years, who was among the closest persons to Anil Biswas during his Delhi years, which resulted in a 4-part short film on him and his biography ‘ऋतु आये ऋतु जाये’ – the only so far.

Anyone who followed old film music during the Golden Era of AIR and Doordarshan cannot but be familiar with the large body of work by Sharadji. He is the one who made all those short films on music personalities you would have seen on DD: KL Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Khemchand Prakash, Surendranath, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Naushad, Noorjehan, Roshan, Mukesh, Salil Chaudhary, and many more, besides Anil Biswas I mentioned earlier. He has produced about 100 documentaries on literary, political and film personalities. He has written a biography of KL Saigal too, besides Anil Biswas – both earning prestigious awards.

After retirement as Deputy Director General of Doordarshan, Sharadji is busier than ever in his second innings as Director of P-7 News. He is presently working on video documentation of Hindi film music since its beginning, and biography of poet-lyricist Shailendra. I am grateful that in spite of being neck-deep in work, he accepted my request to write this piece, with special emphasis on Anil Biswas’s association with the artistes of 30s and 40s. – AK)

Anil Biswas with Sharad DuttI was barely ten, when I first heard the song Seene mein sulagte hain armaan, ankhon mein udaasi chhayi hai. At that age I could not comprehend the meaning of the song, nor had I the courage to ask somebody. In those days, it was not becoming for a middle class kid to have undue interest in movie songs. I did not know then how the songs were composed, who were the music directors and what their role was in the making of the song, but I found the music so enchanting that I would croon it every day. There was one more song which I found really captivating. It was Jeevan hai madhuban, tu isme phool khila.



And the SoY Award for the Best Music Director goes to?

Anil Biswas_Shankar-Jaikishan_SD Burman_C RamchandraThis is the third series of detailed year-wise review of songs. Mid-way I had a feeling that this exercise might appear monotonous and uninteresting. I am very happy to note that my fears were unfounded. Rather, the readers’ participation has been more intense and passionate, and their comments very knowledgeable. Therefore, as I conclude this year’s exercise with the Final Wrap-Up about the best music director(s), I have to sincerely thank the readers for their participation and making the exercise worthwhile.



And the award for the best duet goes to?

1951 FilmsWe are now nearing the end of the Review of the songs of 1951, with the penultimate wrap-up – of the best duets – before the final wrap-up of the best music director. The wrap-up of the best solos, especially of the male solos, caused some serious differences of views and sharp reactions. I had thought duets would not pose such problems. But looking at the comments in the overview post, I could not have been more wrong. Several readers added a number of duets from outside my long list, which I had thought was fairly exhaustive. One such addition I find so breathtaking that I have to give it a place in the final shortlist. There is an all female duet, which is my great favourite, but seems to be on no one’s radar screen, though another all female duet from the same film has been mentioned. There are some other all female duets, or songs with more than two singers, mentioned by the readers. And among the well-known songs, the choices vary widely, some being quite unexpected.