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]

Multiple version songsWe 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.



A tribute on C Ramchandra’s birth anniversary January 12 (12 Jan 1918-5 Jan 1982)
[Songs of Yore is now on Facebook]

PatangaIn my simplified history of Hindi film music, when I move from RC Boral-Pankaj Mullick to Anil Biswas to Naushad, it would be quite unfair if I miss C Ramchandra. The Great Maratha (in the sense of one belonging to Maharashtra) was the most worthy rival of the Great Mughal, almost all the way, until Lata Mangeshkar deserted him, and his music floundered. He had no Plan B. But what a spectacle it was when it lasted! If Naushad had Mughal-e-Azam, CR had Anarkali. When Naushad swore by classical music, CR would create lilting classical-based songs like Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag, Ye zindagi usi ki hai, Radha na bole na bole na bole re, Jab dil ko sataawe gham, without making a song or dance about it. When Naushad prided on his folk roots, CR would create Shehnai (Hamare angana aaj baaje baaje shehnai) and Nadiya Ke Paar (More raja ho le chal nadiya ke paar).



SoY celebrates 2015 as the Year of Naushad in the 75th Anniversary Year of his debut

RattanIf I were to write the history of Hindi film music, it would go as follows. Once upon a time there were RC Boral and Pankaj Mullick. Then came Anil Biswas. He was followed by Naushad, who in a few years reached a pinnacle which his peers could only envy and aspire to attain. He became the Greatest Mughal of Movie Music, who withstood palace intrigues and all overt and covert attempts to dethrone him, and straddled like a colossus for about 25 years.



Wishing Merry Christmas to all with guest article by Sharad Dutt concluding Anil Biswas Centenary Celebrations

(SoY celebrated 2014 as the Centenary Year of Anil Biswas with a guest article by his daughter, Shikha Biswas Vohra on the New Year Day, remembering him as a father and a maestro. This was followed by singer-specific posts on his songs for Lata Mangehskar, Suraiya and Parul Ghosh, and Talat Mahmood, Mukesh, Surendra and Anil Biswas himself as a singer. One might think that Anil Biswas has been discussed enough. And some readers speculated last month whether there would be some more in the series during the rest of the year. Anil Biswas Centenary Series deserves a befitting finale, and I conclude the year, wishing Merry Christmas to all with this guest article by Sharad Dutt, an eminent radio/TV personality for nearly 50 years, who was among the closest persons to Anil Biswas during his Delhi years, which resulted in a 4-part short film on him and his biography ‘ऋतु आये ऋतु जाये’ – the only so far.

Anyone who followed old film music during the Golden Era of AIR and Doordarshan cannot but be familiar with the large body of work by Sharadji. He is the one who made all those short films on music personalities you would have seen on DD: KL Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Khemchand Prakash, Surendranath, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Naushad, Noorjehan, Roshan, Mukesh, Salil Chaudhary, and many more, besides Anil Biswas I mentioned earlier. He has produced about 100 documentaries on literary, political and film personalities. He has written a biography of KL Saigal too, besides Anil Biswas – both earning prestigious awards.

After retirement as Deputy Director General of Doordarshan, Sharadji is busier than ever in his second innings as Director of P-7 News. He is presently working on video documentation of Hindi film music since its beginning, and biography of poet-lyricist Shailendra. I am grateful that in spite of being neck-deep in work, he accepted my request to write this piece, with special emphasis on Anil Biswas’s association with the artistes of 30s and 40s. – AK)

Anil Biswas with Sharad DuttI was barely ten, when I first heard the song Seene mein sulagte hain armaan, ankhon mein udaasi chhayi hai. At that age I could not comprehend the meaning of the song, nor had I the courage to ask somebody. In those days, it was not becoming for a middle class kid to have undue interest in movie songs. I did not know then how the songs were composed, who were the music directors and what their role was in the making of the song, but I found the music so enchanting that I would croon it every day. There was one more song which I found really captivating. It was Jeevan hai madhuban, tu isme phool khila.



And the SoY Award for the Best Music Director goes to?

Anil Biswas_Shankar-Jaikishan_SD Burman_C RamchandraThis is the third series of detailed year-wise review of songs. Mid-way I had a feeling that this exercise might appear monotonous and uninteresting. I am very happy to note that my fears were unfounded. Rather, the readers’ participation has been more intense and passionate, and their comments very knowledgeable. Therefore, as I conclude this year’s exercise with the Final Wrap-Up about the best music director(s), I have to sincerely thank the readers for their participation and making the exercise worthwhile.



And the award for the best duet goes to?

1951 FilmsWe are now nearing the end of the Review of the songs of 1951, with the penultimate wrap-up – of the best duets – before the final wrap-up of the best music director. The wrap-up of the best solos, especially of the male solos, caused some serious differences of views and sharp reactions. I had thought duets would not pose such problems. But looking at the comments in the overview post, I could not have been more wrong. Several readers added a number of duets from outside my long list, which I had thought was fairly exhaustive. One such addition I find so breathtaking that I have to give it a place in the final shortlist. There is an all female duet, which is my great favourite, but seems to be on no one’s radar screen, though another all female duet from the same film has been mentioned. There are some other all female duets, or songs with more than two singers, mentioned by the readers. And among the well-known songs, the choices vary widely, some being quite unexpected.



A tribute to Salil Chaudhry on his birth anniversary (November 19) by guest author Sadanand Warrier

(SoY regulars are familiar with a more famous Warrier – Anuradha or Anu. Her husband, Sadanand, prefers to keep his immense knowledge hidden under the Nom de plume “SSW”. Now that the cover is blown, readers are familiar with his ability to traverse seamlessly from music to literature to science to history to economics, from English to Hindi to Malayalam to Tamil to Telugu, from komal gaandhar to F Major to teevra madhyam, and from Western Classical to pop to Hindustani to Carnatic to ghazal to opera to film songs.

Acknowledged as a revolutionary genius from his very first score in “Do Bigha Zameen” (1953), Salil Chaudhary was a multifaceted talent, earning renown as a short story writer, lyricist, music scholar and left-wing activist, besides music director. He was also probably the most multi-lingual composer. I envisage a series of articles to do full justice to him by more than one guest author. There can’t be a more befitting person than SSW to set off the series on Salil Chaudhary – I am grateful that he accepted my request to write this guest article as a tribute on his birth anniversary (b. 19 November 1925, d. 5 September 1995). He informs me that Anu has helped him a lot in doing this article, I thank her too. Enjoy this learned article, laced with SSW’s characteristic humour – AK)

Salil ChaudharyI am a relatively new visitor to the Songs of Yore website. I started reading articles on it more frequently during the last year, but I do not get to spend as much time as I would like to on it. I have commented on some topics where I could contribute something, but I have relatively little of value to say on most of the articles. On the other hand, I have learnt a lot from reading those articles that I have visited, and time permitting, I shall be reading more. But my few comments seemed to have piqued AK enough to ask me to contribute an article on the use of instruments in Hindi film music of the era that the website is dedicated to. I have not yet done so, primarily because while I know of some of the instrumentalists, I am not in any position to be accurate about them. So when AK asked us (my wife and me, possibly because he had no idea whether I could write more than one paragraph coherently) to contribute an article on Salil Chowdhury, I did think seriously about it. My wife has already written an article on Salilda on her blog, so she offered to look over my shoulder while watching me work. So, thanks to AK, this is my article on Salilda, a composer who I admire the most in the realm of Indian popular song. In some ways, I feel that his influence is felt more in my native state of Kerala because, even today, I see his influence amongst the younger composers. That is perhaps because I am not as familiar with modern Bengali composers; I am quite sure he has influenced them too.



A tribute to Surendra on his 104th birth anniversary as a part of Anil Biswas’s Centenary Year series

Surendra and Anil BiswasI have mentioned a few times that because of contractual difficulties inherent in the Studio Era, Anil Biswas could not compose for KL Saigal, even though their careers overlapped for over a decade, half of which was in Bombay itself where Saigal shifted from Calcutta in the early 40s. But, when Saigal was becoming a national sensation with the New Theatres in Calcutta, especially after Devdas (1935), Bombay was looking for its own Saigal, and its prayers were soon answered in Surendra – a tall, handsome young man, with a melodious voice, from Lahore.



A tribute in her Centenary year

KhursheedI realised somewhat late that Khursheed’s Birth Centenary (b. 14 April 1914, d. 18 April 2001) fell this year. But she is such a prominent singer of the Vintage Era that I had to pay my tribute with her selected songs. Vintage Era refers to not only a period of time, i.e. the 1930s through 40s, but also, and more importantly, a different style of singing, which became extinct with the arrival of Lata Mangeshkar. No singer represented this contrast better than Khursheed. Endowed with a full-throated, open and powerful voice, she was one of the leading singers of the Vintage Era. Blessed with a beautiful face and charming personality, she was also the leading lady in many films. Her roles as actor-singer against the legend, KL Saigal, in Bhakt Surdas (1942) and Tansen (1943) has given her an important place in the history of Hindi cinema. The songs of these films are remembered today as much for Khursheed as for Saigal. Besides these two films, she sang for most of the great composers of the era.



Songs of Yore Award for the Best Female Playback Singer goes to Lata, Lata, Lata…Lata Mangeshkar, with Happy Diwali greetings to all

Lata MangeshkarAll superlatives fall short of describing Lata Mangehkar’s dominance in 1951, just as we saw in 1955 and 1953. Mahesh even said that the best female playback singer other than Lata Mangeshkar is Lata Mangeshkar herself. Many of us would give 1 to 10 slots to her, and still feel that many more everlasting songs are still left out. Since the year also had career landmarks of several ‘other’ singers, we decided to split the female singers in two parts. ‘Other’ singers have been covered in the Wrap Up 2. In this Wrap Up (3), devoted exclusively to Lata Mangeshkar, we can discuss her best without being constrained to look over our shoulders to include ‘others’ for equity.