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.
In my overview post on the best songs of 1949, there were 55 duets which is 2.5 times of the male solos, but about 70% female solos. I have come across a study by Greg Booth of statistical distribution of film songs over the years in various categories. As a rough approximation we can say that female solos account for about 50% of the total songs composed, male solos about 15%, and duets and other songs about 35%. What conclusions can be drawn from this data is a matter for a separate study. For the present, we can say that duets occupy a very important place in film music.
The 55 duets include 8 female-female duets, as well as male-male and songs by three or more singers. Considering from male singers’ perspective, Rafi accounts for the largest – 17 duets – followed by Mukesh with 10 duets. If you look at it from female singers’ perspective, Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum are frontrunners in the pack by a big margin, their voice appearing in at least two-thirds of the songs, with Lata Mangeshkar having a slight edge. As I go down the list of Memorable Songs in my overview post, it is almost an impossible task to select the best ten. Let me start by my standard exercise of choosing the unmissable songs in the first cut, in the order they appear in the list.
Badi Bahan: Husnlal-Bhagatram
1. Chup chup khade ho zaroor koi baat hai – Premlata and Lata Mangeshkar
2. Chhod gaye baalam mujhe haye akela chhod gaye – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
Bazaar: Shyam Sundar
3. Chhalla de ja nishani – Shamshad Begum, Rafi and SD Batish
4. Ae mohabbat unse milne ka bahana ban gaya – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
Chandni Raat: Naushad
5. Chheen ke dil kyun pher li aankhen – Rafi and Shamshad Begum
6. Sainya se bichhad gayi haye more Ram – Amirbai Karnataki and Sadat Khan
7. Tera kisi se pyar tha tu wo zamana bhool ja – Mukesh and Surinder Kaur
8. Meri pyari patang chali – Uma Devi and Shamshad Begum
9. Tu mera chaand main teri chandni – Shyam and Suraiya
10. Zalim zamana mujhko tumse chhuda raha hai – Shyam and Suraiya
11. Raat rangili mast nazaare – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
Ek Thi Ladki: Vinod
12. Lara lappa lara lappa – Lata Mangehskar, Rafi and Durrani
13. Ab haal-e-dil ya haal-e-jigar kuchh na poochhiye – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
Jal Tarang: Husnlal-Bhagatram
14. Zara tumne dekha to pyar aa gaya – Rafi and Lata mangeshkar
Kaneez: Ghulam Haider
15.Tum kya jaano mere maathe ki bindiya ka mol – GM Durrani and Shamshad Begum
Lahore: Shyam Sundar
16. Duniya hamare pyar ki yun hi jawan rahe – Karan Dewan and Lata Mangeshkar
Lekh: Krishna Dayal
17. Badra ki chhaon tale – Mukesh and Suraiya
Mahal: Khemchand Prakash
18. Chun chun ghungharwa baje..Ye raat phir na ayegi – Zohrabai Ambalewali and Rajkumari
Neki Aur Badi: Roshan
19. Kyonji scent lagaya hai – Firoz Dastur and Amirbai Karnataki
Paras: Ghulam Mohammad
20. Dil le ke chhupnewale – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
Patanga: C Ramchandra
21. Mere piya gaye Rangoon – Chitalkar and Shamshad Begum
22. O dilwalo dil ka lagana achchha hai par kabhi kabhi – Chitalkar and Shamshad Begum
Shair: Ghulam Mohammad
23. Ye duniya hai – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
Sunehere Din: Gyan Dutt
24. Maine dekhi jag ki reet – Mukesh and Shamshad Begum
Before I come to further elimination, let me discuss the songs mentioned by the readers beyond my list. SSW has added a very interesting conversational duet between Rafi and Surinder Kaur, Tum ho jaao hamare hum ho jayein tumhare from Rooplekha (1949), composed by ‘Sajjad Husain’. There is a small matter of detail, however, which needs confirmation. I find that Khan Mastana and Nisar Bazmi have been credited as the music directors for this film. Sajjad Husain was probably not at all associated with this film. SSW also added another very nice duet, Ye bhi hai koi reet, by KS Ragi and Uma Devi from Hamari Kismet, composed by Nisar Bazmi. SSW’s additions are off-beat, but they grow on you with repeated listening.
Among the mainstream songs added by the readers was Ae aankh ab na rona by Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar from Sipahiya (added by DP Rangan). An interesting addition was by Venkataramanji – Ye shokh sitaare ik shokh nazar ki tarah by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Ek Thi Ladki. He would like to put it in the top ten, though it did not figure in my main list. Another Rafi-Lata duet from the film – Ab haal-e-dil ya haal-e-jigar – is my great favourite, which I had included in the list.
I have to make a special mention of Mahesh and Ashokji for bringing to my notice an absolutely gorgeous song which deserves a special place among the duets of 1949 – Ae ishq humein barbaad na kar – by Rafi and Suraiya from Naach. I had included the more familiar duet by the same pair from Naach – Chhaya sama suhana. But if I have to choose one, I would any day choose Ae ishq humein barbaad na kar. Ashokji deserves special mention for another reason. As I had mentioned in my earlier reviews, based on my overview post he has undertaken massive micro-analysis under various categories, including many more songs than my shortlist. He has compiled all that in four separate pdf articles category-wise, with YouTube URL link of those songs. This is a valuable reference material. If you are interested, please send me a mail to email@example.com. He has also been doing a final meta-compilation, and I am sure he would do this year too, after the Final Wrap Up, in one pdf article of all the five categories.
Several readers have given their choice for the best, or a list of their best – sometimes without order. Arunji is always sure of his choice. His best is Lara lappa. He also gives an alternative in case it is not treated as a duet – Chup chup khade ho. For a long time I regarded Lara lappa as a Lata Mangeshkar solo until I became aware that it also had the voices of Rafi and GM Durrani. Gaddeswarupji has chosen Kyonji scent lagaya hai by Firoz Dastur and Amirbai Karnataki as the best MF and Pyar ke jahan ki nirali sarkar hai by Lata Mngeshkar and Shamshad Begum as FF duet. KS Bhatiaji has given a list of seven songs headed by Chup chup khade ho. Shalan Lal has listed five songs. However, the first song in her list Nigahein milaane ko ji chahta hai is a Twin song by Paro Devi/Satish singing separate solo versions. Thus, the top song in her list is Ae mohbbat unse milne ka bahana ban gaya. Siddharth observes that ‘Best Duets’ is the most competitive category and he has given a list of 12 MF duets, topped by Maine dekhi jag ki reet, followed by Ae mohabbat unse milne ka bahan ban gaya. He has given a list of six ‘Other Duets’ too (MM, FF, Multiple), headed by Chup chup khade ho zaroor koi baat hai.
Given the riches in the year, I realise I should have split it in two parts – MF duets and others. But let me do the difficult part of making a combined list of best ten. Chup chup khade ho makes a sure shot entry, so is Lara lappa – for their iconic place in the history of film music. If I choose two duets of Rafi, they should be Ae mohabbat unse milne ka bahana ban gaya and Chheen ke dil kyun pher li aankhen. Choosing Mukesh’s two is even a more difficult task. One can’t do without Chhod gaye baalam and Ye duniya hai yahan dil ka lagana kisko ata hai. That makes six, after severe rationing of Rafi and Mukesh duets. But 1949 is special because of its myriad flavours by other singers. Can one afford to exclude Tu mera chhand main teri chaandini and Duniya hamare pyar ki yun hi jawan rahe? That leaves room for only two. Sainya se bichhad gayi ho more Ram is my great favourite, and Venkaramanji has made a special request for it. For the last slot, I can toss from at least ten songs, each surpassing the other. Let me choose another iconic song which also adds to the variety – Mere piya gaye Rangoon.
Earlier I had ‘Special songs’ only in the main post. In 1949, I find I have to have special songs in each category. And the reasons would be obvious once you see the songs. Mahesh rightly said the year 1949 itself is the biggest winner of all.
1. Kyonji scent lagaya hai by Firoz Dastur and Amirbai Karnataki from Neki Aur Badi, lyrics Kidar Sharma, music Roshan
I had posted five duets, including this one, as ‘Special Songs’ in the overview post. Gaddeswarupji declares this as the best duet of the year. Had it been only a question of my taste, I would have agreed with him. Firoz Dastur is mentioned with great respect as one of the three most eminent disciples of Sawai Gandharva, along with Bhimsen Joshi and Gangubai Hangal, who were the leading exponents of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan’s branch of Kirana gharana. Kyonji scent lagaya hai is my great favourite. I am very pleased to repeat it as a special song.
2. Seene mein aag bhadakati hai…Ae ishq humein barbaad na kar by Rafi and Suraiya from Naach, lyrics Sarshr Sailani, music Husnlal-Bhagatram
This is a song you can hear hundreds of times without tiring. The song starts with a beautiful recital of a couplet in Suraiya’s voice:
सीने में आग भड़कती है आंखों से पानी बहता है
कुछ ऐसी चोट लगी दिल पर दिल रो रो के ये कहता है
HB have composed some more famous songs in Suraiya’s voice in slow recital style. A prime example is Likhanewale ne, where the antaras are made of couplet recitals, leading to the fast-paced mukhada. Rafi is the unchallenged master of recital-style songs with minimal instrumentation.
Putting this song in resulted in an unexpected bonus as YT showed up the same ghazal sung by a Pakistani singer Nayyara Noor. The lyricist shown is Akhtar Shirani, which is very different from Sarshar Sailani. Except the mukhada and the basic tune, the Pakistani ghazal is very different. A worthy addition to Ashokji’s list of multiple version songs, and a beautiful song in its own right.
3. Ye shokh sitaare ik shokh nazar ki tarah by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Ek Thi Ladki, lyrics Aziz Kashmiri, music Vinod
This soft, slow-paced romantic song requires a patient listening. The other duet Ab haal-e-dil ya haal-e-jigar, which was in my main list, appeals instantly. But since Venkataramanji would put it in the best ten, let me put it in the category of ‘Special Songs’.
4. Sun lo dil ka afsana ho by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Andaaz (unreleased song), lyrics Majroh Sultanpuri, music Naushad
We saw in Wrap Up1 on the best male solos that Andaz also had an unreleased outstanding Mukesh solo, Sunaaun kya main gham apna. Here is a great Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duet – according to me, much better than Yun to aapas mein bichhadate hain which was included in the film.
1. Chup chup khade ho zaroor koi baat hai by Lata Mangeshkar and Premlata, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Husnlal-Bhagatram
This song is unique in many respects. In a group of travelling singers, the harmonium is generally carried by a male. This is an all-woman song. The harmonium prelude and interludes were never used more charmingly. It is one of the best songs in the category of songs picturised on minor actors, witnessed by the lead actors.
2. Ye duniya hai yahan dil ka lagana kisko ata hai by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Shair, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Ghulam Mohammad
Ghulam Mohammad is an amazing talent. Here he gives of of the greatest long distance duets of separation to match the best of Naushad. Mukesh sings for all the big three in the year.
3. Ae mohabbat unse milne ka bahana ban gaya by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Bazaar, lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Shyam Sunder
Long back when I did a list of the best Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar duets, I had put Ae mohabbat unse milne ka bahana ban gaya at the top of the list. This film had Lata Mangeshkar’s iconic solo Sajan ki galiyan chhod chale, and a contrasting fast-paced, Punjabi folk-style triad song Chhalla de ja nishani teri meharbani by Shamshad Begum, Rafi and Satish Batra.
4. Chhod gaye baalam mujhe haye akela chhod gaye by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Barsaat, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar-Jaikishan
In their debut film, SJ create one of the best long distance duets of separation.
5. Tu mera chaand main teri chaandni by Shyam Kumar and Suraiya from Dillagi, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad
In one of the eternal confusions, here the villain in the film, Shyam Kumar, gives playback for the hero Shyam, with Suraiya dancing and singing for herself. From long distance duets of separation, we come to a joyous duet of union, though the film would have its share of separation and sad songs later in the film.
6. Chheen ke dil kyun pher li ankhen by Rafi and Shamshad Begum from Chandni Rat, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad
This film had another superb Rafi-Shamshad Begum duet, Kaise baje dil ka sitar. This shows how tough the competition was for duets in the year.
7. Sainya se bichhad gayi haye more Ram by Saadat Khan and Amirbai Karnataki from Chandni Raat, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad
Saadat Khan is a virtually unknown name in film music. He gave music in films like Bhatakati Maina (1947), Behram Daku (1959) and Arab Ka Sitara (1961) in which he composed some very good qawwalis and also sang in them. This duet in Chandni Raat is delightful, with Shamshad Begum’s full-throated voice a nice counterpoise to Saadat Khan’s melodious rendering. My absolute favourite, and especially requested by Venkataramanji.
8. Lara lappa lara lappa by Lata Mangeshkar, Rafi and GM Durrani from Ek Thi Ladki, lyrics Aziz Kashmiri, music Vinod
In spite of words like Lara lappa and addi tappa, which must have been meaningless for non-Punjabis, this song had a timeless appeal. The high-spirited Meena Sheroy explains to his bewildered boss the meaning of these words before breaking into the song. The infectious tune draws in her other colleagues who join in the chorus. An interesting insight into an office dynamic where the subordinates feel unity among themselves behind the back of the boss.
9. Duniya hamaare pyar ki yun hi jawan rahe by Karan Dewan and Lata Mangeshkar from Lahore, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Shyam Sundar
Karan Dewan, though not a great singer, has sung some songs for himself. It was to the credit of the composers that they created many memorable songs in his voice. One of the most beautiful romantic duets.
10. Mere piya gaye Rangoon by Chitalkar and Shamshad Begum from Patanga, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
C Ramchandra was the master composer for romantic comedies. In this laugh-riot, he lends his voice for Gope, Shashad Begum singing for Nigar Sultana for a stage dance song, which has acquired an iconic status.