Hindi films have a very neat structure. They can be divided into three parts – romance, conflict and resolution. The lovers meet, or childhood friends grow up into lovers and dance around trees and sing romantic songs. Then the villain strikes, who lusts for the girl or her wealth, and kidnaps her; or the girl’s Daddy cannot stand the boy and locks her up; therefore, the lovers sing sad songs. In the end all the misunderstandings are removed, or the villain is beaten to pulp, and the lovers unite singing happy songs again. If eight or nine songs are divided evenly, about two or three should fall under the sad part. Some movies have weepy endings, especially if they happen to star a ‘Tragedy King’ or ‘Tragedy Queen’, which means that there could be proportionately more sad songs.
A tribute on his 65th death anniversary (12 December 1907 – 10 August 1950)
In my cryptic history of Hindi film music, as I moved from RC Boral/Pankaj Mullick to Anil Biswas to Naushad, Richard mentioned the omission of Khemchand Prakash. He was so right. Even in the most facile history he has to be mentioned as a major pillar, not only because the Great Mughal Naushad was once his assistant (Bulo C Rani of Jogan fame also had been his assistant), but also because he created many immortal songs, he introduced or gave career-defining songs for many singers, and his name is associated with some of the most important turning points in the history of film music.
A tribute to Rafi on his 35th death anniversary
It is certain that readers would have been expecting something on Rafi with Naushad today, but they would find the inclusion of C Ramchandra surprising and somewhat contrived. While Naushad is the most important composer to have laid the foundation of the Rafi legend, C Ramchandra does not figure among the composers who gave great songs for Rafi. Naushad, SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Shankar Jaikishan, Roshan, Chitragupta, Madan Mohan, Ravi – these are the names that come to mind instantly when you think of Rafi. As a matter of fact, I have read a comment somewhere (not by Raju Bharatan) that CR shared his mentor Anil Biswas’s antipathy for Rafi.
A tribute on Mukesh’s 92nd birth anniversary (22 July 1923 – 27 August 1976)
If someone had asked me a few years ago who the second most prolific male singer of Naushad was, I would have never guessed Mukesh. His songs number only 26 compared to 149 of Rafi. If you compare Mukesh songs by different composers, Shankar-Jaikishan and Kalyanji Anandji did about four times more. Naushad-Mukesh association is essentially limited to three films in 1948-49: Mela, Anokhi Ada and Andaaz. Thereafter, he seems to have forgotten Mukesh for about two decades, until he reappears with some songs in Saathi (1968). By that time, it was clear, Naushad was not too enamoured of him. In Jo chala gaya use bhool ja, a song which is right up Mukesh’s alley, the prelude at high notes has been sung by Mahendra Kapoor, because it was felt that he could not handle it. Not a very flattering revival of their association.
Songs of Yore Award for the Best Male Playback Singer goes to?
The year 1950 too shows, like 1951, that male solos were far outnumbered by female solos (by about a factor of 4), both in the total songs and in my Select List which comprised about 15% of the total songs of the year. There have been many additions by the readers to the Select List. These are overwhelmingly female solos, and within that Lata Mangeshkar songs. If we include those songs the Select list would be about 200, and the female solo dominance over male solos would be even more pronounced. Such overwhelming asymmetry was a feature of film songs in general across all the years. We leave the reasons for such difference for another time; we limit ourselves in this post to intra-male solos’ analysis.
Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav
(Ashokji is coming to the end of his current enquiry into the songs that have a specific type of multiple version songs. He has covered songs that have a male solo and a duet or chorus in two parts – MVS (20) and MVS (21), and the ones having a female solo and such versions in MVS (22). Here he is presenting songs that have at least three versions. As the SoY regulars are aware, the Mega Series on Multiple Version Songs, has gone into many dimensions, including songs that have versions across different languages. You can be sure that with his indefatigable spirit and great capacity to look for details, ably supported by the knowledgeable readers, Ashokji would find many more variations in this umbrella category of songs. You can review the entire series here. – AK)
The journey to Male Solo and a Duet Or a Female Solo and a Duet or Chorus has one more fascinating side – the songs that have three versions.
The illustrations that I have been able to collect show that such a route has been used to vividly depict different moods or situations where the same song (or at least mukhda) serves to provide the common linkage.
Guest article by Ashok M Vaishnav
(Ashokji has been currently exploring a specific type of multiple version songs that have a solo and a duet or chorus versions. In his last two articles, Multiple Version Songs (20) and (21), he explored those songs that have a male solo and its duet/chorus versions. He continues the enquiry for female solos that have such versions. As the readers are aware, Ashokji has laid the foundation of the Mega Series on Multiple Version Songs, which has seen contributions from some other guest writers as well. I thank him for his unflagging interest in going to the depths of the subject. – AK)
We are onto the multiple versions of a solo song which has a pairing duet or a chorus. In the first sub-variation of this theme, we had a male solo and its duet or chorus version. Presently, we will take up multiple version songs where one song is a solo by a female playback singer and the other version is either a duet or a chorus.
A tribute on her 86th birth anniversary (15 June 1929 – 31 January 2004)
Our last singing star, Suraiya, attained incredible heights of popularity bordering on mass hysteria. She started her singing career, as a child artiste, with Naushad; subsequently, she sang playback for Mehtab in a few films; she graduated as an actor-singer and reached superstardom on the strength of the songs he composed for her. Out of her 300 odd songs, Naushad accounts for about 50. Husnlal Bhagatram might have done a few songs more; he, too, occupies a very important place in her career. But considering Naushad’s association from her debut to her grooming to her maturity, he is the single most important factor in creating the Suraiya legend. For all the superb Suraiya melodies we love, she was an untrained singer, with a limited range. The skilful master, Naushad, kept her in her basic range, and created a feeling in the minds of the viewer that The Girl Next Door was singing.
Celebrating with some discovered gems, Jaunpuri, Darbari and Mukhtar Begum
The fifth year of Songs of Yore has been more eventful than any preceding year. The year saw centenaries of four great music personalities – Anil Biswas, Begum Akhtar, Khursheed and Kavi Pradeep (the last one in the current calendar year). We remembered all of them – Anil Biswas in a grand manner, befitting his status as the Bhishm Pitamah of film music, with inaugural post by his daughter, and eight other posts on his combinations with different singers. Coincidentally, he also emerged as the Best Music Director, for 1951, which was reviewed in detail last year. The mega-series on SD Burman also concluded last year, notching up 15 posts in all. Arunji’s guest article on Hindi-Telugu in the meta-series on Multiple Version Songs completed the quartet of South Indian languages. Hindi-Bengali similar songs have many dimensions, some of which had been covered earlier. In the year gone by, SSW made a debut as a guest author with his article on Salil Chaudhary, which is likely to be the beginning of a series on him, as he is one of the most versatile talents in films and music. The Master of Multiple Version Songs, Ashok Vaishnav, resumed his super-fine explorations with songs that have hybrid multiple versions. Subodh kept up his date with his series on classical music, with his article on Pilu.
After the year-wise review of the best songs of 1955 and 1953, I entered the era of pre-Filmfare Awards with 1951 last year. Continuing the year-wise review I come to 1950, i.e. the beginning of the glorious 50s. End of the 40s marked the end of an era of the vintage singers, and consolidation of the hold of Lata Mangeshkar. Now there was no doubt who the reigning queen of female playback singing was. The male playback domain did not show a similar one-star dominance. The two reigning monarchs of music, Naushad and C Ramchandra, who are incidentally being felicitated in tandem on SoY, dominated the year. The lesser stars too shone bright, with some landmark scores, matching the titans in brilliance. Enough to give music lovers hours of delight in contemplation and nostalgia. For the analytically-minded, the year gives enough material for intra-year and inter-year comparison.