In my series on Shankar-Jaikishan, I have covered so far their best songs for his leading singers, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Rafi and Manna Dey. SJ would be easily reckoned among the top five music directors for these major singers. Besides, I have also presented his best dance songs for Lata Mangeshkar and female dance duets. One measure of a music director’s versatility is the number of diverse singers for whom he gives their career-best songs. Take the case of SD Burman – there is no prominent singer for whom he has not composed some songs which would count among his or her best. As I come towards the close of the series, it is useful to take a look how Shankar-Jaikishan fare with other singers. SJ’s oeuvre is so huge that some more posts would be needed to give a fair coverage to their music. But I have been generally closing a series on a music director in the calendar year, and I have some other mandatory posts scheduled in the remaining part of the year. Therefore, I am presenting my final tribute to SJ with their songs for ‘other’ singers which give a glimpse of their multi-faceted talent.
And the SoY Award for the Best Duet goes to?
It is always a pleasure to write the Wrap Up 4, which is for the best duets of the year. The best solos always generate some controversy. In male solos this year, there was a close tie between Rafi and Mukesh. My conclusion that Mukesh was the No.1 singer of the year left many readers dissatisfied. Lata Mangeshkar versus ‘other’ singers can never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Even in a year in which it was acknowledged that Lata Mangeshkar came as a tsunami, there was a dissenting voice. The duets, however, present a less contentious scenario. Here the ‘others’ come in full force; their combination with the leading male singers, such as Rafi and Mukesh, creates a kaleidoscope of colours. Shamshad Begum sheds off the challenge of Lata Mangeshkar when it comes to duets. Suraiya is always supremely melodious. Surinder Kaur, who is a legend in Punjab, gives some wonderful duets, besides solos which we have seen in Wrap Up 2. In female-female duets, we get some niche vintage voices. But the main charm is that we also get duets in which none of the familiar voices are there, and they are as delightful as any by the leading singers.
Lata Mangeshkar is a ubiquitous presence on SoY. Shankar-Jaikishan, being one of the most dominant and successful music directors, have also figured very prominently on this blog. Therefore, it is difficult to believe, but it is true, that I have not done a post on the best songs of this combination as I have done for my other favourite music directors Chitragupta, C Ramchandra, Roshan, SD Burman, Anil Biswas and Naushad. To be sure, her songs by SJ, too, have figured very prominently in different contexts, such as in the reviews of the best songs of 1949 (currently underway), 1951, 1953 and 1955. In the SJ series, too, this year I have done a post on a special class of their songs – Lata Mangeshkar’s dance songs by SJ. Also, she figures in all but one song in the post on S-J’s female dance duets. But with this combination’s over 450 songs of which over 300 are solos, even if we exclude all that has been covered earlier, we would be still left with dozens of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs which would figure among her greatest.
Wishing Happy Diwali with guest article by DP Rangan
(Readers are now used to seeing DP Rangan’s name as a guest author regularly. He can write faster than I can schedule him on SoY. At any point of time I have a couple of his articles in my mail. I admire his amazing enthusiasm. I am happy to present another well-written article by him containing some rare vintage Diwali songs – impressive for someone whose first language is not Hindi. Thank you Mr Rangan for this offering of Diwali songs. – AK)
India, that is Bharat as it was known in ancient days, is populated by heterogeneous group of people following their own religion. Many religions like Buddhism, Jainism flourished at one time or the other, but disappeared over time with very few or none practicing it today. Hinduism is the predominant religion followed by the populace right from the Punjab in the North to Kanyakumari in the South. Despite difference in language and custom in the country, the basic tenets of Hinduism have remained the same and one could perceive a tenuous link among Hindus across the country. Again Hinduism is not a religion in the strict sense of the term, but a way of life amidst its followers. The basic tenets of life, i.e. creation, maintenance and destruction, are represented by the triumvirate of Gods and their consorts in the Hindu religion and there are numerous festivals in honour of them. That way all religions of the world have their own festivals. Hindus celebrate more festivals in a year compared to other religions. The major festival among them are Deepavali and Dussera. The present blog will confine itself to discussion of Deepavali, and the manner of its celebration in the country.
We have seen in the songs of atariya how its vantage location at the back of a house makes it an ideal secret meeting point for the lovers. Aangan or angana, i.e. courtyard, on the other hand, is a central feature of the house. Open to the sky, and surrounded on the four sides by verandah and living rooms, this quadrangle is the place where the family lives out its life, does all its mundane chores of daily existence, and also holds all its ceremonies and special occasions.
Guest article by DP Rangan
(The intoxicating drink as elixir of life is a part of mythology in almost all cultures. Harivansh Rai ‘Bachchan’ said that while the world celebrates Holi and Diwali only once a year, दिन को होली रात दीवाली रोज़ मनाती मधुशाला. After galloping on the High Horse, riding the tonga, and romancing with moon and stars in the night, DP Rangan ventures into the delights and sorrows of drinking. I have described him as a seventy plus-going on-seventeen, which makes him short of the minimum legal age for drinking. But this is an age when a youthful heart is filled with forbidden thoughts. In this well-researched article, typical of him, he takes us through the mythology and history of liquor and some drunken songs of Bollywood. Thank you Mr Rangan for another nice article from your inexhaustible repertoire. – AK)
Homo sapiens have been indulging in drinks from time immemorial. There are enough records in writing or stone carving to demonstrate this fact. Our religious literature talks of Aryans drinking somras after performing yagnas. Adverse effect on health of habitual drunkards did not deter them from indulgence. It came to be accepted as a consequential hazard. History is replete with instances of kings ruining themselves by excessive drinking and also destabilising their kingdoms due to negligence of proper administration leaving it in the hands of their incompetent or even villainous henchmen. The final sufferers were the common populace.
Wishing Lata Mangeshkar a very Happy Birthday on her 87th birth anniversary (b. 28 September 1929) with her best songs of 1949
It is a no-brainer that Lata Mangeshkar was the best female playback singer of 1949. In later years, that would become routine – she defined the lead female voice. But in 1949, it must have been an amazing phenomenon. Here was a twenty year-old girl who had an inconspicuous debut as a playback singer a couple of years earlier in Aap Ki Sewa Mein (1947). The next year some stories started growing around her – how Ghulam Haider ‘discovered’ her, took her to S Mukherji of Filmistan for Shaheed, but he rejected her as her voice was too thin, whereupon Ghulam Haider famously told him that a day would come when the producers and music directors would line up before her, begging her to sing for them. She did have a couple of memorable songs in the year, but who could have thought that in 1949 a dam would burst with torrent of Lata Mangeshkar songs, leaving the yesteryear stalwarts dazed?
Guest article by Shalan Lal [The title is adapted from Hasrat Jaipuri’s lyrics in the film ‘Shararat’ (1959)]
(From Krishna teasing the gopis to Kishore Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and other heroes teasing heroines in the films, chhed chhad has been an integral part of our culture. You would expect from the title that the post would contain a brief write up and some chhed chhad songs. But as the readers have seen Shalan Lal in her Aviary of Songs, she infuses even the most commonplace subject with deep knowledge of literature, arts and music. In her second guest article for SoY, she similarly explores the origin of teasing and myths related to the pastime of harmless leg-pulling across cultures, and also presents some of the best Hindi film songs in the genre. Thank you, Shalan. – AK)
The SoY posts bring attentions to certain aspects of music, songs, themes and music makers etc. So I laboured to see if there was any mileage in the genre called Chhed chhad songs in the SoY. I found that it was yet an uncovered territory and I could add some interesting material about it.
Wishing Asha Bhosle a very Happy Birthday on her 83rd birth anniversary (b. 8 September 1933)
When I wrote on my favourite ‘special’ songs of Asha Bhosle about five years ago, I was somewhat dismissive of her songs by OP Nayyar. At that time I viewed SoY as a स्वान्तः सुखाय self-indulgence. Five years down the line, I cannot claim that SoY is my blog. The readers have become important stake-holders in the way the blog has developed. Now I have become more aware of different tastes. While I may not have been purged of my biases, I can accept that there could be a large number of persons who are as moved by an Asha Bhosle song as by a Lata Mangeshkar’s. My favourite Asha Bhosle’s songs are predominantly composed by SD Burman, but it is commonly accepted that the most important influence in her career has been OP Nayyar. I have written on OP Nayyar’s songs for Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor and Shamshad Begum. This list cannot be complete unless I write on his songs for Asha Bhosle as my tribute to her on her 83rd birth anniversary. I hope her great fans like Arvinder Sharmaji, Hans, and my friend Arvind who appears to have been off-SoY for a while, would take it as some reparation on my part. I have to also thank our OPN-expert Ravindra Kelkar whose comments have added a great deal of information. I must add here that in that post on Asha Bhosle I did include an OPN composition – Bekasi had se jab guzar jaye from Kalpana (1960).
A tribute to Mukesh on his 40th death anniversary (22 July 1923 to 27 August 1976)
Mukesh debuted well into the vintage era with Dil hi bujha hua hai to in Nirdosh (1941). His first few years as actor-singer did not do him much good. He discovered his calling as a playback singer when his relation Motilal, then a leading actor in the industry, introduced him to Anil Biswas for singing in Pahli Nazar (1945). Dil jalta hai to jalne de created a sensation and made Mukesh, Mukesh. Thereafter, he was a very visible singer until another boost came when he became part of the legendary team of Raj Kapoor with Shankar-Jaikishan, Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra with Barsaat (1949). Thus, a long stint pre-1949 gave him an opportunity to sing with most of the famous vintage era female playback singers.