A tribute to Rafi on his death anniversary, July 31

SD Burman & Md RafiIf you revisit my earlier post on Rafi’s songs (solos) composed by SD Burman, along with the readers’ comments, you realise the high regard in which the music lovers hold their combination. In spite of his known fondness for Kishore Kumar, SD Burman had something special for Rafi. Canasya finds Rafi’s songs by SD Burman even more mellifluous and romantic than by Naushad. That is some high compliment!



Continuing Anil Biswas Centenary Year celebration, a tribute to his most famous protégé, Mukesh, on his birth anniversary, July 22

Anil Biswas and MukeshAnd the rest is history. A worn-out cliché, but nothing describes Anil Biswas’s role in the emergence of Mukesh better. Mukesh was a struggling singer-actor in the period 1941-1945, when his brother-in-law, Motilal, took him to his close friend, Anil Biswas, and requested him to try out the young boy. Impressed with Mukesh’s singing, Anil Biswas suggested that in Motilal’s forthcoming film, Pahli Nazar, the boy could be given a chance. The producer of the film, Mazhar Khan, was furious at the prospect of his film being ruined by this new singer. So, Motilal said, that in that case, ‘I would sing my songs’. Anil Biswas, who was familiar with Motilal’s singing for him earlier, told him in his inimical style, ‘Tu rahne de, ye gana main khud gaaunga’.



A tribute on Anil Biswas’s Birth Centenary (b. 7 July 1914; d. 31 May 2003)

Anil Biswas 2Songs of Yore heralded 2014 as the Year of Anil Biswas with Inaugural post by his daughter, Shikha Biswas Vohra – Anil Biswas: The Maestro and My Father. We have since had three more posts dedicated to him with his songs for Suraiya, Talat Mahmood, and his sister, Parul Ghosh The year is only half gone, and many more on Anil Biswas are yet to come to do full justice to him. So what is the best way to remember him today which is his Birth Centenary?



Songs of Yore Award for the Best Male Playback Singer goes to?

As the readers of SoY are by now aware, the survey article on the best songs of a year is followed by category-wise Wrap Ups. I start with the first Wrap Up on the Best Male Playback Singer of the year. The series is now attracting progressively more and more extensive and intensive comments. I am greatly benefitted by all the comments on the survey article Best songs of 1951: And the winners are? I have tried to capture the sense of the House to come up with the best ten male solos and the best singer of the year.

Rafi_Mukesh_Talat Mahmood_CH Atma_GM Durrani_Kishore KumarI have to start with a Breaking News: Awara hun does not excite the erudite readers of SoY a great deal, and no one will lament – except perhaps with the exception of one – if it is consigned to the category of SSS songs (Songs that became a Surprise Sensation). Therefore, I am announcing up-front that I am not including it in the ten best songs of the year. Who is the solitary exception? Mahesh was the first off the block with a firm endorsement of Awara hun. This song did figure in some other comments too, but somewhat tentatively in the manner of ‘how can one leave out a landmark song like this?’.



A tribute on her 85th birth anniversary, June 15


SD Burman and SuraiyaSD Burman getting into Navketan camp and Suraiya’s intense romance with Dev Anand meant that there would be a number of songs of this singer (and actor)-composer pair. Since SD Burman made his debut late, his songs for Suraiya are much less compared to, say, Naushad’s, but as was his wont, he had a talent to create something for every singer, which would easily rank among his/her landmark songs. We have seen this even with Mukesh, who was a peripheral singer in terms of quantity, but his every SD Burman song is memorable. With her love affair with Dev Anand encountering insurmountable obstacles from her family, Suraiya left the film world early (barring some sporadic appearances till the early 60s) and chose to live her life as a recluse, with her inner pain. This meant that Suraiya-SD Burman combo would be necessarily not very prolific. But even if we just count Man more hua matwala and Nain deewane, Suraiya’s songs by SD Burman have a place among her greatest songs.



With a tribute to Juthika Roy

Songs of Yore_4 yearsI have often said I started blogging स्वान्तः सुखाय. As Songs of Yore completes four years today, I find I have become a little less selfish. Now I do a lot of things that are suggested and driven by the readers. And, you don’t need a preacher to tell you that nothing pleases a person more than knowing that what he does also pleases a lot of other people. So, I have to thank all the readers for making the journey of Songs of Yore so delightful.



Continuing Anil Biswas Centenary Year celebration with his songs for Parul Ghosh as a tribute to her

Anil Biswas and Parul GhoshI can’t think of a weightier brother sister-duo in Hindi film music. Obviously, Mangeshkars’ dominance is unparalleled, but they are primarily ‘sisters’; Hridaynath’s footprint is very negligible on film music, whereas Anil Biswas is a Titan. Parul Ghosh was born in 1916 to a music-loving mother, two years after her brother Anil Biswas, who would dominate the film music as one of the all time greats in the years to come. Thus, music was in her DNA. She was married to the renowned flautist, Pannalal Ghosh. With such pedigree, it is not surprising that she got a break with the New Theatres. Her name is associated with a landmark event in film music – the first playback song, Main khush hona chaahun, in Dhoop Chhaon (1935), composed by RC Boral. She was one of the three singers to have this achievement, the other two being Suprova Srakar and Harimati Dua. In spite of an impressive start, her early career progressed in fits and starts, until her brother, Anil Biswas, took her as his major singer.



Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav

(As the SoY regulars are aware, the series on  Multiple Version Songs has grown in dimension well beyond what was originally envisaged by Ashokji, about a year and half back.   Fortunately, SoY family has some tremendously talented and knowledgeable people, and they chipped in with guest articles, on my request, to cover various aspects of this theme. 

Following close on the heels of the last post on Rabindrasangeet-Pankaj Mullick, written by Venkaramanji, which was 16th in the series on the Multiple Version Songs, this post on Haunting Melodies in Spooky Films  just shows the enormous range of MVS.  The haunting melodies are meant to be repeated a number of times in the movie to create an effect of suspense, mystery, fear and eeriness.  It takes an analytical mind with sharp observation, like Ashokji’s, to decipher the varied moods and settings of the different versions of  such songs.  I am happy to present this article by him which widens the exploration of MVS. – AK)

Haunting MelodiesThe journey exploring a definite genre of Hindi film songs – Multiple Versions of A Song – has had several streams till now.

‘Haunting Melodies’ is a genre in itself in the film songs. These types of songs are normally the cornerstone of a thriller or a suspense drama. Typically, the song either precedes ‘that’ event in the narrative which builds the suspense or helps build aura of suspense around a character or a set of events in the film. In that sense, quite a few of the haunting melodies simply repeat in relation to the flow of the story. But there are quite a few which have major, or sometimes subtle, variations in lyrics, rhythm or orchestration – to amplify the differing events / situations in the film narrative.



Hridaya Pankaje Rabi Viraje

A tribute to Gurudev Rabindranath Thakur (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) and Pankaj Mullick (10 May 1905 – 19 February 1978) by guest author N Venkataraman

(The appeal of Rabindranath Thakur’s poetry and songs of love, nature and worship transcends the boundaries of language and culture. Pankaj Mullick, one of the titans of music and films, has a historical place in bringing Rabindra Sangeet mass popularity through his singing, and using it in films for the first time. I was looking for a knowledgeable Bengali to write on Rabindra Sangeet-Pankaj Mullick-films songs, as a part of the series on Multiple Version Songs. SoY readers are familiar with Venkataramanji’s breadth and depth of knowledge, and he is as pucca a Bengali as anyone could be. I am grateful that he accepted my request to write this double tribute to the two great souls of India on the occasion of Gurudev’s 153rd and Pankaj Mullick’s 109th birth anniversaries. AK)

Rabindrnath Tagore-Pankaj MullickSometime during May last year, AKji had wished to bring out two articles, under the Multiple-Version-Songs series. The first one, on ‘SD Burman’s Bengali songs and their Hindi versions’, was done by AKji in October 2013. The post on ‘Rabindra Sangeet tunes used in Hindi films’ was generously offered to me, but with a rider – I must accommodate a tribute to Pankaj Mullick, whose birthday follows a couple of days after Gurudev’s. The topic, Rabindra Sangeet tunes used in Hindi films, has been covered earlier on some other sites, and I believe most of our knowledgeable readers and our Bengali friends must be aware of these songs and related facts. But that did not prove to be a deterrent. On the contrary, it gave me an opportunity to explore uncharted areas and approach the subject a bit differently. The experience was not futile. Although I could use only a fraction of my acquisition in this post, it helped me to enhance my knowledge and listen to many wonderful songs.



A tribute on Shamshad Begum’s first death anniversary April 23

Shamshad Begum and SD BurmanAs the ethnic stereotypes go, no two people can be further apart from each other than a Bengali and a Punjabi. SD Burman and Shamshad Begum were the leading lights of the two extremes – East Bengal and the West Punjab, yet when they combined they created a unique magic. When Shamshad Begum had a revival through remixes, the song that led the pack was Saiyna dil mein ana re, composed by SD Burman. Shamshad Begum’s leading composers were Naushad, C Ramchandra, OP Nayyar and Ghulam Mohammad, and in the earlier era, Ghulam Haider. Anyone else would not have even dared to try to enter this illustrious field, but the versatile genius that he was, SD Burman created his own niche with her, adapting his music to completely suit her style.

Generally I would not have given much thought to their combination as it appears quite counter-intuitive to me. But when I closed my series on SD Burman last year, Mr Venkataraman treated it as the last of ‘that year’, and suggested that I cover his other prominent singers, namely Shamshad Begum, Suraiya, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar this year. As I looked up more closely I came across many more of her songs than we are generally aware of. Here is an overview of their combination, continuing my tribute to SD Burman, as well as a tribute to the great singer Shamshad Begum on her first death anniversary (April 23).