Best songs of 1951: Wrap-Up 4

December 1, 2014

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.

This only shows that in music it is futile to try to arrive at an agreed best list. You rarely get something of exceptionally high order, which everyone rates as way above the others. While I feel daunted at the tough task, I am also grateful to the readers for their enormous interest in not only mentioning their top favourites, but also for their deep analysis, discussions and their additions from outside my list.

Such intense participation also reflects the abiding popularity of duets as a special class of songs. Duets are more inclusive, by allowing various combinations of singers, including some on the periphery, who get swamped by the dominant singers in solos. They lend themselves to other experimentation, such as the two voices singing at different pitch, or both male or both female, and more than two voices in different gender combinations. I guess this provided more choices to the film maker about situations for song picturisation, and also gave more opportunities for creative satisfaction of the music director. The duets of 1951 would easily figure among all-time great songs.

I could count 38 duets (which include songs having both male, both female, and more than two singers) in the list of 144 memorable songs of the year. As I go down the list, let me keep only those in the first cut, which are immensely popular till today, or which can be indisputably regarded as all-time great songs, regardless of their popularity. The following list is without ranking.

First Cut

1.  Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
2.  Chaahe nainon mein kajra bharo – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
3.  Kahaan ho tum zara aawaz do hum yaad karte hain – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
4.  Bade armaanon se rakha hai balam teri qasam – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar
5.  Aansoo thi meri zindagi – Rafi and Amirbai Karnataki
6.  Yaad aane lagi dil dukhane lagi – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
7.  Dekh liya maine qismat ka tamasha dekh liya – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
8.  Kaali ghata ghir aayi re – Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar
9.  Mohabbat mein aise zamane bhi aye – Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar
10.  Aa ja aa ja tera intezaar hai – Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar
11.  Nain huye nain miley baawre – Talat Mahamood and Lata Mangeshkar
12. Seene mein sulagate hain armaan – Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar
13.  Sham dhale khidki tale – Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar
14.  Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein – Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar
15.  Shola jo bhadke dil mera dhadke – Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar
16.  Nazar phero na humse – GM Durrani and Shamshad Begum
17. Gaaye chala jag aye chala ja ek din ter bhi zamana ayega – GM Durrani and Lata Mangeshkar
18. Aa gup chup gup chup gup chup pyar karein – Hemant Kumar and Sandhya Mukherjee
19. Aayi barkha bahaar pade bundan phuhaar – Lata Mangeshkar and Pramodini Desai
20. Door desh se aa ja re – Lata Mangeshkar and Suraiya

For the statistically oriented, Talat Mahmood, Mukesh and Rafi each account four four duets. Thus, Rafi compensates for his somewhat tepid presence in the solos compared to the other two, in spite of having significantly more songs than them in the year. Coming to the female counterpart, it is Lata, Lata, Lata all the way, accounting for all but three of the songs. There could be no better demonstration of flattening of the pyramid in the case of female singers (as opposed to inversion of the pyramid in the case of male singers) I mentioned in my earlier wrap-ups.

A surprise name in the above list is of Chitalkar (C Ramchandra), with three duets, all with Lata Mangeshkar. By no means counted as a regular playback singer, there was some magic in his simple catchy tunes that his own songs (mostly duets) have become immortal (you can just think of endless stream of songs – Aana meri jaan meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday, Mere piya gaye Rangoon, Kitna haseen hai mausam etc.). The above list also has a sprinkling of those on the outer periphery, who at times shone in duets brighter than the dominant players. GM Durrani, once Rafi-mentor, and later displaced by him 50s onwards, makes a decent appearance.

I have brought the list down to about half. But this is still twice of the final ten I would like to select.  And I have to add two bonus songs – one, my favourite which no one has mentioned, and another, which is outside the above list (and outside the long list in the Review Post), but which was mentioned by a reader and has mesmerized me.

Final ten plus two:

The best way to approach is to start with the songs you just can’t leave. Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere and Seene mein sulagate hain armaan are universal favourites. Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein has also been mentioned by most readers. Its solo version in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar, of course, has acquired an iconic status. Its aura passes on to the duet version too. Malhaar, with unknown star-cast, must have been a resounding flop, but it is a musical landmark of Roshan as well as of Hindi films. My own favourite is Kahaan ho tum zara aawaz, but Bade arman se rakha hai balam teri qasam do seems to be a more popular choice, probably because of its more joyous feeling. The haunting Rafi-Lata duet, Kaali ghata ghir aayi re is an all-time masterpiece by SJ. Sazaa had two very melodious duets, one by Hemant Kumar-Sandhya Mukheree and the other by Talat Mahmood-Lata Mangeshkar. It is a difficult choice, but I believe Aa gup chup gup chup pyar karein has greater appeal.

We now have four slots available. Mohabbat mein aise zamane bhi aaye is a clear favourite. From Deedaar all the three duets – Bachpan ke din bhula na dena (Lata & Shamshad Begum), Dekh liya maine and Nazar phero na humse – have been mentioned. If we have to choose one, Nazar phero na humse by GM Durrani and Shamshad Begum adds variety, and it has a more delightful picturisation on Ashok Kumar and Nargis, the other pair in this love quadrilateral with crossed-wires.

I have now room for only two more. I think no one would grudge if I include Kahe naino mein kajra bharo and Aansoo thi meri zindagi.

This list of ten would leave everyone partly unhappy that some of their favourites are missing, as surely are some of mine. But the above ten seems to be the best outcome after harmonization. Ranking these songs is another difficult task. The top choice seems to be between Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere and Seene mein sulagate hain armaan. Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein also figures very prominently. Rest of the ranking is purely a matter of personal choice, and you would not be too wide off the mark if you just draw lots. So here are the best ten in order.

1. Seene mein sulagate hain armaan by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar from Tarana, lyrics Prem Dhavan, music Anil Biswas

Tarana consolidated the image of Dilip Kumar as Tragedy King, helped by superb music of Anil Biswas and pathos-filled voice of Talat Mahmood.


2. Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Aawara, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar-Jaikishan

Mukesh’s asset also was his voice, like Talat.  While Talat Mahmood as the voice for Dilip Kumar got derailed very soon, Mukesh, backed by Raj Kapoor and the young stalwarts Shankar-Jaikishan, consolidated his position as the voice of Raj Kapoor.


3. Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein by Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar from Albelaa, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra

C Ramchandra could create out of this word soulful music in rip-roaring comedies too.  The video link below has Lata solo followed by the Chitalkar-Lata duet.


4. Kaahe naino mein kajra bharo by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Badi Bahu, lyrics Prem Dhavan, music Anil Biswas

Anil Biswas with his favourite singers – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar – and with his felicity with the folk style creates this enchanting song.


5. Mohabbat mein aise zamane bhi aaye by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar from Sagaai, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra

C Ramchnadra shared with his mentor Anil Biswas an affinity for Talat Mahmood.  In this madcap comedy, he creates some magical tunes.  We are familiar with Lata solo, Dil ki kahani kahna to chaahe.  Mohabbat mein aise zamane bhi aaye is one of the greatest Talat-Lata duets.


6. Aansoo thi meri zindagi by Rafi and Amirbai Karnataki from Bikhare Moti, lyrics Akhtar-ul-Iman, music Ghulam Mohammad

Ghulam Mohammad gave some incredibly beautiful music in films.  Yet, the fact that commercial success eluded him, and he had to remain understudy to Naushad for many years, just shows that in the film world you needed an X-factor, called Lady Luck.  This was the period when he concurrently assisted Naushad, besides giving music independently in some films, but his great compositions show his own stamp.   Amirbai Karnataki, the premier singer of the vintage era, is still in top form, combining beautifully with the versatile Rafi under the baton of the Unlucky Genius.


7. Kaali ghata ghir aayi re by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Kaali Ghata, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar Jaikishan

While its was not a great year for Rafi solos compared to his other two peers, he had some great duets.  He shows his versatility in this romantic duet with Lata Mangeshkar, picturised on Kishore Sahu (remember the villainous husband in Guide?) and Bina Rai.  SJ proved that they did not need the crutches of RK to produce outstanding music.


8. Aa gup chup gup chup pyar karein by Hemant Kumar and Sandhya Mukherjee from Sazaa, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music SD Burman

Hemant Kumar did no sing a song that was less than melodious.  SD Burman adds his flourishes in the form of long choral interludes comprising meaningless words, sung by wandering tribals.


9. Bade armaanon se rakha hai balam teri qasam do by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Malhar, lyrics Indivar, music Roshan

Roshan proved that he could create great music in a nondescript film.  Every song in this film starring an unknown Arjun and Shammi, who in later films became a comedienne because of her girth, is superb.  Just recall the roll call – two other Mukesh-Lata duets – Ik baar agar tu kah de, Kahaan ho tum zara aawaz do; three Mukesh solos – Hota raha yun hi agar anjaam wafa ka, Tara toote duniya dekhe, Dil tujhe diya tha rakhane ko; and Lata solos – Koi to sune mere gham ka fasana, Muhabbat ki qismat banane se pahle and Garjat barsat bheejat ayi lo.


10. Nazar phero na humse hum hain tum par marnewaalon mein by GM Durrani and Shamshad Begum from Deedaar, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

Ashok Kumar had started switching to character roles.  But in this love-quadrilateral, he gets to sing this delightful romantic song, in the voice of GM Durrani, with Nargis, lip-synching Shamshad Begum.  A pleasant contrast to the whining and depressing Nimmi and Dilip Kumar.


And the two bonus songs.

11. Aayi barkha bahaar pade bundan phuhaar by Lata Mangeshkar and Pramodini Desai from Shokhiyaan, lyrics Kedar Sharma, music Jamal Sen

Door desh se aa ja re (Lata-Suraiya) from this film has been mentioned by SSW. But using my discretionary power, I would urge the readers to listen to and watch this duet carefully. Coalescing of folk and classical, melodious voice, outstanding drums, string and wind instruments and beautiful picturisation of damsels engaged in water-sports, combine to create a magical effect.


12. Sudhi teri madhur madhur pyare by Sudhir Phadke and Lata Mangeshkar from Maalti Madhav, lyrics Narendra Sharma, music Sudhir Phadke

This one is thanks to Venkataramanji. A legend in Marathi music, Sudhir Phadke remained bracketed as a composer in mythological films or songs with classical base. He was also a very melodious singer. The elegant lyrics of Pt Narendra Sharma, which became extinct in film music, attracted the readers and led to some very involved discussion. I end with this last bonus song.


And the Award for the Best Duet of 1951 goes jointly to:

Seene mein sulagate hain armaan – Talat and Lata Mangeshkar
Dum bhar jo udhar munh phere – Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jignesh Kotadia December 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm

“seene men sulagte hai armaam” seems an obvious top choice with it’s classic lyrics(saahir’s pen?) and tune,no doubt. Two joyful masterpieces of SJ , “dam bhar jo idhar” and “madhur milan hai sajni” are equally potent. Welcome Akji with this penultimate episode of 1951-series. great compilation of duets. missing a wonderful duet here : ” ai dil na mujhse chhupa” from ‘ baadal’.
also i would like to mention a melodious lata-asha song from ‘daaman’:: “yeh ruki ruki hawayen, yeh bujhe bujhe sitaare..meri raat kat rahi hai, teri yaad ke sahaare”.

2 N.Venkataraman December 1, 2014 at 2:12 pm

AK ji,
Kudos for a well balanced summary and conclusion on duets of 1951. As per popular choice Bade armaanon se rakha hai balam teri qasam was also in contention for the top slot. Nain hue nain miley baawrey was another popular choice which could have found a place in the final ten. I think you decided to include only one song per film. Thank you for including Sudhi teri madhur madhur pyare. On the whole the wrap-up should be to the satisfaction of everybody.

3 AK December 1, 2014 at 4:57 pm

There would be some left in any exercise. There were so many outstanding songs, but I am happy you are with me on final choice.

I had no hard and fast rule to take only one from a film. The problem was fitting in ten, and there are some absolute favourites, I could not leave. Everyone’s final ten would vary a little, but as you said, by and large it reflects the common choice. Thanks for your appreciation.

4 mumbaikar8 December 1, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Final 10 as expected mixed basket gaining approval from all, I am no exception, but I feel that Asha has been sidelined, she has two outstanding duets in Sabz Bagh, Apni nazaron se kehdo haumen dekha na kare and Jo kuchh humen kahna hai you did not feel she deserved a place in final ten.
Bonus songs are welcome.

5 ksbhatia December 1, 2014 at 11:25 pm

AKji; My choice of top ten would be songs at s . no: 1,2,3,4,6,9,11, 12, 15 and 16 with Badal song ” Aye dil na mujh se chhuppa ” as stand by .

6 AK December 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

Both are outstanding songs. Jo kuchh humein kahna hai is new to me. Thanks for introducing me to this song. But pushing them in the Top Ten requires a big leap of faith, even for an inveterate Asha Bhosle fan. Which songs would you like to remove to make room for these?

KS Bhatiaji,
Six common choice is not bad in a crowded field. Thanks for sharing your choice.

7 ASHOK M VAISHNAV December 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm

Congratulations for having deftly handled a very difficult job.
Would have really expected that only one song would top The Pack.
Of the two, I would cast my vote in favour of (0nly) Seene Mein Sulagate Hai Armaan.

8 AK December 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Thanks for your appreciation. In the two, Seene mein sulagate hain armaan is mentioned first. So the winner matches your choice.

9 ksbhatia December 2, 2014 at 11:24 pm

AKji, ” Dum bhar ju udhar ” is an iconic romantic happy song that stands different from other songs owing to its qualitative contents . The lyrics , interlude music ,selection of the instruments and the tune itself is just excellent . I think it deserves to be at the top of the chart .

10 AK December 2, 2014 at 11:43 pm

KS Bhatiaji,
It is there as the shared top. Between the two songs people are equally divided. So I did the right thing.

11 maheshmamadapur December 3, 2014 at 1:44 pm

AK ji,
Many Thanks.
I would have switched #4 by #9 and even taken Malhar duets higher. They are my personal favorites and the other logic being Anilda was already at the top and Roshan could have been elated.

Thanks for including “Aansoo thi meri zindagi”. There is something special about this duet which cannot be explained. Could you please elaborate on the Lady Luck factor that you have written. I could not understand it with reference to the Ghulam Mohammed.

All in all a good conclusion with apt representations.

12 AK December 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Ghulam Mohamad was senior to Naushad in the industry, yet he had to work as his assistant in many films. As independent music director, he gave some outstanding music. Naushad reached great heights scoring for AR Kardar’s movies: Dard, Dulari, Dillagi etc. After their break-up, AR Kardar took Ghulam Mohammad for Dil-e-Nadaan (1953). Its music was out of this world, but the movie collapsed. Even Mirza Ghalib was a commercial flop. His great commercial success Pakeezah was released when he had passed away. I can only describe it as fate.

13 maheshmamadapur December 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

AK ji,
My mistake. I read lady and luck kilometers apart and thought you had a story to tell.

All this is known to me and I have written about Ghulam Mohammed many times on your blog. He is one of my favourite composers and most of his compositions for Lata are outstanding. I request you for a dedicated post on him some time in future.

14 arvind December 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

(comment #12)
strange are HIS ways!
doing the background score of pakeezah was naushad’s
way of acknowledging ghulam mohammed as a great composer.

15 maheshmamadapur December 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm

AK ji,

Hulchal 1951 had 3-4 glorious duets of Lata-Rafi. None of them is represented even in the review post. I am not sure if anyone has commented on it.

These duets deserve a mention.

16 AK December 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

But this itself created a great deal of controversy. Firstly,
Naushad claimed that at least three songs of Pakeezah were his composition and he was seen as grabbing a great deal of publicity, pushing Ghulam Mohammad in the background.

17 AK December 3, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Ghulam Mohammad has to come – I rate him among the greatest composers for Talat Mahmood, and he has given all-time favourites for many singers.

Hulchul‘s first duet – Hum tumse juda tum humse juda duniya mein hamara koi nahin is out of this world. I admit I had completely forgotten about it. A unique composition – first line in each antaraa is a slow recital, and the second line is sung in tune, creating a magical effect. Thanks for filling a major omission. This song deserves a very high mention.

18 arvind December 4, 2014 at 1:16 pm
is a link to the ‘Pakeezah’ songs which were not used in the movie.

19 maheshmamadapur December 10, 2014 at 10:57 am

Lata-Rafi in Daman 1951. I can’t stop myself from adding this here, even though it has been mentioned in the review post.
One of the many best duets of the combo.

20 AK December 10, 2014 at 11:09 am

This is such a sweet song, it deserves to be mentioned again and again.

21 raunak December 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

AHHH….What songs and what a post.. Between the two perennial universal favorites i.e. Seene mein Sulagte hai armaan & Dum Bhar jo idhar Muh phere , my vote goes for Seene mein, as i personally feel it’s a much tougher composition and much more difficult to render in comparison to the Awara Number..

My other two absolute favorite duets in the year 1951 are Shola jo Bhadke and Ae dil na Mujhse Chhupa.. Lively and youthful numbers both.. 🙂

22 AK December 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

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