Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav

(The founder of the mega series Multiple Version Songs, Ashokji brings up another one from his inexhaustible storehouse of multiple versions on different criteria. The multiple versions so far have generally been from the same film. Continuing his series he brings up an interesting variety of songs which have multiple versions across different films. In some cases these may be a traditional bandish, where you may find some versions outside films. Some traditional bandishes have been sung by a large number of classical and semi-classical singers. He has left out such songs for practical reasons. This post too shows his capacity for detailed research. The present post includes less than half of what he has compiled. We may put up the remaining songs subsequently, depending on the readers interest.– AK)

Multiple version songsTill now all the multiple version songs that we talked belonged to the same film, except of course, version songs across different languages. We now chart a different trajectory of Multiple Versions of Songs.



Guest article by DP Rangan

(We started the New Year with our tiny friends – birds – introduced to us by a scholarly guest article by Shalan Lal. At the other end of the spectrum, the large species Horse has been even more integral to us through the history. And introducing these beautiful animals is this erudite article by DP Rangan through Bollywood’s love affair with the Horse.

Mr Rangan is a latecomer to the SoY, but he has made his presence felt by his active engagement and informative comments. He is diligently devouring the previous posts of SoY, and like Shalan writes to me long mails on various topics. From his mails I have gathered that after retirement from government service long ago he has become a globe trotter, spending time with his sons who are settled abroad and touching home in Delhi periodically. Well over seventy, he joins the senior brigade of SoY, but has the enthusiasm of a teenager. We are fortunate to have grand opening by two guest authors at the beginning of the year, and I am sure we are going to see many more from them. Welcome Mr Rangan formally at the top line and thanks a lot for this excellent piece. – AK)

Bachpan ke dinHorse is no stranger to us bipeds and its life is closely interwoven with that of humans. As an utilitarian they have no equals. They served mankind, albeit unwillingly as mounts, beasts of burden, plough draggers, stagecoach haulers, Victoria pullers, transporting royals and dignitaries to name a few.



A tribute on Mahendra Kapoor’s 82nd birth anniversary (9 January 1934 – 27 December 2008)

Mahendra KapoorI have made a number of discoveries during my association with SoY. I mentioned some in my last anniversary post. But the most startling discovery I have not yet mentioned – we are now aware of at least two persons on this planet who are deeply fond of Mahendra Kapoor. So this post is also dedicated to the readers KS Bhatiaji and Arvinder Sharmaji who have declared their great liking for MK, so much so that they would have preferred some well-known songs of Rafi in MK’s voice. Bhatiaji takes the cake for remembering Mahendra Kapoor on the recent birth anniversary of Rafi.  Now we find that Hans, too, has very courageously declared his fondness for him, though he wound not go as far as to put him at par with Rafi.



Bird-watch in the Songs of Yore

Wishing Happy New Year to all the readers with guest article by Shalan Lal

(Once upon a time there were birds around us and they were a part of our lives, songs, mtyths and legends. When the crow cawed we knew it was advance intimation of a guest coming; when the koel cooed in the monsoon rains it pierced the heart of the lonely lady pining for her lover who was away; when the papiha sang far away the lovers knew the night was only half left; when Shakaracharya heard a parrot uttering deeply metaphysical aphorisms like स्वतः प्रमाणं परतः प्रमाणम्‌ he knew he had reached the house of Pandit Mandan Mishra; and when Valmiki heard the heart-rending cry of a crane whose partner was killed by a hunter’s arrow during mating, from his grief-stricken heart came out the first verse of the mankind that made him the आदि कवि.

If you think about it, the once familiar birds are becoming rarer. Songs of Yore heralds the New Year remembering these birds with this guest article by Shalan Lal. Shalan has discovered SoY late, but has since become its avid follower. Besides the very learned comments she posts on the blog, she often sends me long comments as she catches up with the old posts when she feels these may appear outdated on the blog. Our interaction has led to several interesting ideas that can develop into articles. While we were discussing some other topics, I was pleasantly surprised to get this beautifully written piece in mail.

Shalan is based in London where she works with women’s issues. She is widely travelled, she has had academic association with the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and some other universities. Her interests range from politics to literature to religion. This article bears out her wide-ranging inetersts and international outlook.

Thank you Shalan for this article and welcome to SoY as a guest author. – AK)

BirdThis is a bird’s eye view of the Songs of Yore over the Hindi films. In the English culture often the word Bird was used for a young girl by the male youths in the sixties and seventies. I was young then. There were other words for the young girls used in those days as well for example “a doll”, a babe and the vulgar term “a crumpet” as well. There could be more.



Wishing Merry Christmas to all with a tribute to Naushad, Rafi and Noorjehan

Anmol GhadiI heralded 2015 with Naushad’s Crown Jewel, Rattan (1944), and decided to celebrate the year as The Year of Naushad. I cannot think of a better way to conclude the year than to remember his next Priceless Moment in his career, Anmol Ghadi, which came two years later. A blockbuster of its times, it is the only movie which links Naushad with two other greats together – his would-be most favourite male singer, Rafi, and the reigning actor-singer of the era, Noorjehan. Naushad, Rafi and Noorjehan are also linked in an incredibly eerie way – Rafi was born on 24 December (1924), Noorjehan’s death anniversary falls on December 23 (2000) and Naushad’s birth anniversary falls on December 25 (1919). If you believe Raju Bharatan, Naushad was actually born on December 26, but he chose December 25 as his ‘official’ birthday for better optics (Naushdanama). He, later, firmly settled for Rafi even after tasting great success with Mukesh and Talat Mahmood. Anmol Ghadi remained Naushad’s first and the last work with Noorjehan. Though the film links the three greats, ironically Rafi did not have a duet with Noorjehan – with Surendra being the singing star of the film, there was no occasion for such a duet (though they would have a duet a year later in Jugnu – Yahan badla wafa ka bewafaai ke siwa kya hai – but that was composed by Firoz Nizami, who was also among those who migrated to Pakistan along with Noorjehan).



C Ramchandra as Chitalkar

December 14, 2015

C RamchandraIn the Naushad-C Ramchandra duel I have presented through the year, both seem to be evenly matched so far in spite of my known partiality towards Naushad. But as Chitalkar, the singer, CR has no competition from Naushad. As the year draws to a close, continuing the series on the Year of Naushad (with C Ramchandra in tandem), I present the songs of CR as a singer. He sang most of his songs as Chitalkar, mostly composed by himself, but he has also sung for other music directors, such as Mir Saheb (Lal Haveli, 1944), Anil Biswas (Jwar Bhata, 1944; Veena, 1948), Husnlal-Bhagatram (Apni Chhaya, 1950), Hemant Kumar (Samrat, 1954; Lagan, 1955), Roshan (Baraati, 1954), Usha Khanna (Faisla, 1965), Laxmikant-Pyarelal (Chhaila, 1967) etc.



NaushadIt is well known that Naushad zoomed off in an orbit of his own with Rattan (1944). He had debuted four years earlier as independent music director with Prem Nagar (1940). To be exact, his first recorded song was Bata do koi kaun gali more Shyam in the voice of Leela Chitnis for Kanchan (1941), but because of some rift with that film’s team he had to leave it after recording this song and the remaining songs were composed by Gyan Dutt. Kanchan’s release got delayed and, thus, Prem Nagar became his first film. Before Rattan, Naushad did over a dozen films, having over 120 songs. You may ask, is it worthwhile to discuss his pre-Rattan songs?



The SoY Award for the Best Music Director goes to?

Babul_Bawre Nain_Jogan_Arzoo_Sargam_NiralaThis year’s detailed review had more songs (152) than in any preceding year, and I had hoped that this would cover most of the noteworthy songs. Nevertheless, the readers added a large number of songs in the comments. This shows that there are a number of persons spread all over the world, who are deeply passionate about old Hindi film music and who consider it worthwhile to spend hours and hours reminiscing about songs, looking for them on the YT, and sharing their favourite songs and their thoughts on the SoY. This vindicates that my laborious exercise is, after all, not futile. We discover some forgotten or unknown gems, get new insights and become more aware of difference in tastes. I have to thank all the readers deeply for their valuable comments, which enrich the exercise and help me in my Wrap Ups. The Final Wrap Up is a distillation of the Overview post and the four Wrap Ups: Wrap Up 1 on the best male solos, Wrap Up 2 on the best ‘other’ female solos, Wrap Up 3 on the best Lata Mangeshkar songs and Wrap Up 4 on the best duets.



Best songs of 1950: Wrap Up 4

November 11, 2015

Songs of Yore Award for the Best Duet goes to? (Wishing Happy Diwali to everyone)

1950 filmsHans recently commented in some other context that duets generally create less impact than solos. This is certainly true of tennis where the doubles players are not counted in the same league as Federers and Djokovics. In the olden days before the open era, it was quite common for the top ranking players (think of John Newcombe and Tony Roche) to be at the top both in singles and doubles. I have mentioned earlier that often the contrasting voices make duets extremely charming. Duets also provide more opportunity to the music director for innovation.



A tribute to SD Burman on his 40th death anniversary (1 October 1906-31 October 1975)

SD BurmanMusic evokes strong emotions. Therefore, it is natural that SoY has seen serious difference of views on songs, singers, music directors and a whole host of related issues. But none has been as sharp as mine with Dinesh’s. It is beyond my comprehension that anyone could be as dismissive of Naushad as he has been. Further, very often he ‘does not care much for’ the songs I have posted. He very graciously ascribes this to the difference in personal tastes. But there has been something more basic on which our views are diametrically opposite.