A tribute to Shamshad Begum on her 96th birth anniversary (14 April 1919 – 23 April 2013)
In my mind the best of Shamshad Begum always meant Naushad. I would be surprised if any of her famous songs, which I would automatically attribute to him, turned out to be composed by a different music director. Much later, when I was better informed and I had an overview of her career, I knew she was discovered by Ghulam Haider, she sang for most of the famous composers of the vintage era, and she was already at the top when Naushad first used her in 1946 (Shahjehan). She continued her great run concurrently with C Ramchandra, SD Burman, Ghulam Mohammad and later with OP Nayyar, but the 60 odd songs she sang for Naushad still remain at the highest pedestal for me. Naushad publicly acknowledged that she played an important role in giving a boost to his career at a critical stage when he was looking for a voice which did not have the ‘nautch-girl’ tinge. She, too, acknowledged Naushad’s role in her career, even though he did not hesitate to jettison her when he firmly settled for Lata Mangeshkar (giving her about 160 songs).
(SoY regulars would recall that discussions have often given rise to questions for which I have suggested a multi-disciplinary team of film/music experts and mathematicians for more precise analysis. It seems the experts have not come forward out of modesty. They must be looking for someone to take the initiative. In this post, I am summarising three main areas for study and also suggesting the composition of the teams. I am sure the experts would appreciate the seriousness of my intent, and spare their valuable time and energy for the larger good of the society. – AK)
That I am an inveterate fan of Lata Mangeshkar is nothing exceptional. She was ‘the’ female playback voice of the Golden Era. Now the readers are aware I am fascinated even more by Naushad. Therefore, I took it for granted that I have already written on Lata Mangeshkar’s best songs by Naushad, as I have done on her songs with other composers. When I tried to recall the songs I had included in that post, I realised, to my surprise, that I have not written it at all. Had I done that, ‘Tere sadke balam’ would have come in for some special mention. A fellow blogger has written he could listen to this song a hundred times continuously without getting tired of it. I have done that, and more, because it was more than a song for me; it was a binding element, an anthem with which are associated my memories of some most fascinating people at the Patna Secretariat tennis courts, where I was a regular for about eight years, until I shifted to Delhi.
A tribute on the 50th death anniversary of Amirbai Karnataki (c.1906 – 3 March 1965)
(As her death anniversary was too close to my scheduled post on Holi songs, I am posting my tribute to Amirbai Karnataki, with her songs by Naushad and C Ramchandra, with some lag.)
Which is the most popular Amirbai Karnataki song which even the new generation is aware of? Gore gore baanke chore kabhi meri gali aya karo (her duet with Lata Mangehskar) is a perennial favourite. If one is asked to name another song, the most likely answer would be O janewale baalamawa laut ke aa laut ke aa (her duet with Shyam Kumar). One by C Ramchandra, and the other by Naushad. In the vintage era, ‘A’ stood for Amirbai Karnataki. And the Great Mughal Naushad and the Mighty Maratha C Ramchandra were the two Ace music directors whose battle royal continued over Amirbai Karnataki too.
Wishing Happy Holi to all
This is the fifth year of Songs of Yore, and I have not yet done a post on Holi songs. Every time Holi came, I thought everyone would be doing a list of Holi songs, and my doing one would be trivial, and may contain overlapping songs. Along the way, I strayed into writing ‘serious’ articles on Holi, culminating in a review of ‘Sangam’ last year.
A tribute to Talat Mahmood on his 91st birth anniversary (24 February 1924 – 9 May 1998)
There 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)
I 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)
Mumbaikar 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.]
I 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]
We 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.