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.
The lyricists of their songs are mostly Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. Thus it was a partnership of five geniuses, which is fascinating for the social and geographical spread they represent. Born in Indore (now Madhya Pradesh), to Maharashtrian parents who traced their family origin to Mangeshi town in Goa, Lata Mangeshkar learnt classical music from her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, and started acting in Marathi musical plays from childhoo (Ashwin Bhandarkar has informed me that Lata Mangeshkar’s mother, Shevanti, was Gujarati. Thanks Ashwin). Her father’s death, when she was 13, put the burden of her large family’s upkeep on her slender shoulders. From Pune/Kolhapur, she shifted to Bombay to a life of struggle for several years until she started making waves in 1948, growing into a Tsunami in 1949, when she first joined with Shankar-Jaikishan as well as Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra in Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat. For the last four, it was their debut in films. She was 20 then.
Shankar (15 October 1922 – 26 April 1987), born to Ramsingh Raghuvanshi of MP origin who had settled in Hyderabad, was fond of wrestling. Shankar wasn’t much educated and was seen as unsophisticated in the industry in his social manners. Attracted by the tabla, played during the pooja at Shiv Mandir near his home, he developed into an expert percussionist trained by Ustad Nasir Khan. In order to polish his tabla playing, he joined a dance group managed by Satyanarayan and Hemavati, who later moved to Bombay to join Prithvi Theatres. Thus, Shankar, too, became a part of the Prithvi Theatres. Along the way, he also learnt tabla from Husnlal-Bhagatram.
Jaikishan (4 November 1929 – 12 Sept 1971), on the other hand, was handsome and suave. He came from a poor family engaged in wood business in Bansda village in Balsad district in Gujarat. He started as a harmonium player in a Bhajan mandali in which his elder brother Balwant used to earn some money by singing. Jaikishan had his early training under Wadilal and Prem Shankar Nayak. After his elder brother’s death, Jaikishan moved to some relative’s place in Bombay, where besides working in a textile mill, he continued playing the harmonium at Vinayakrao Tambe’s music school near Opera House. (Note: The above information is based on Pankaj Rag’s Dhunon Ki Yatra. Ashwin Bhandarkar had doubts whther it was Vinayakrao Tambe or Govindrao Tembe. Arunji has since informed me that Jaikishan learnt the intricacies of the harmonium from Govindrao Tembe, a legendary harmonium player, and an important name in Marathi Natya Sangeet and our early film music. It is possible Rag had mixed up names. AK)
Shankar and Jaikishan met at the place of the Gujarati film producer, Chandravadan Bhatt, where both had gone for seeking work in films. That chance meeting developed into instant friendship and, with Shankar’s recommendation, Jaikishan too joined the Prithvi Theatres to play the harmonium. There, Raj Kapoor took a liking for them. When he had some differences with Ram Ganguly, who was the music director of the first RK film Aag, in his next venture, Barsaat, he took the new team of Shankar-Jaikishan as its music director. The rest as they say is history.
Hasrat Jaipuri (15 April 1922 – 17 September 1999), born as Iqbal Husain in Jaipur, was tutored in Urdu and Persian by his grandfather, Fida Husain. He came to Bombay in 1940 and started working as a bus conductor. He also used to take part in mushairas, where he was noticed by Prithviraj Kapoor who recommended him to his son Raj Kapoor. Thus, he got his first break in Barsaat, his first song being Jiya beqaraar hai.
Born Shankardas Kesrilal in Rawalpindi, brought up in Mathura, Shailendra (30 August 1923 – 14 December 1966) had family roots in Ara district of Bihar. He moved to Bombay where he started working in the Matunga workshop in the Railways. He was also a left-oriented poet and a member of IPTA. Impressed by his poetry at a mushaira, Raj Kapoor offered to buy his poem Jalta hai Punjab. But being skeptical of popular cinema, Shailendra declined. However, when he was in the need of money, Shailendra approached Raj Kapoor. Thus, he got a break in Barsaat with the songs Barsaat mein humse mile tum and Tirchhi nazar hai patli qamar hai.
There could not be a more disparate group. They were all in their twenties. Add the ring master Raj Kapoor to this ensemble, who was himself 25 – he was born in a Punjabi Hindu family in Peshawar, now in Pakistan. But SJ composed great music outside RK banner, too, with Lata Mangeshkar being one of the main pillars of their success.
About mid-60s, fissures started in Shankar-Jaikishan relationship, the former’s obsession with a new singer, Sharda, said to be the main reason. Even earlier, they were known to be composing songs separately, but that was in the nature of a cordial division of work based on their strengths. The S-J team was regarded as one seamless entity. But now it was serious. Lata Mangeshkar was also caught in this vortex, and she started shifting her favours to the new kids on the block, Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Jaikishan’s early death left only Shankar of the SJ team, though he gallantly carried on giving music under the SJ name. Thus, the end of the Golden Era also signalled the decline of SJ, but they had done enough to etch their names on the sands of history, with Lata Mangeshkar being a prominent part of their glory.
Continuing my series on Shankar-Jaikishan, I pay my tribute to them with some of their great songs for Lata Mangeshkar, excluding the years and the categories already covered, as I have explained earlier.
1. Haaye mera dil le gaya koi aake isharon mein from Parbat (1952), lyrics Shailendra
From an unheralded film early in their career, we have this absolute gem. This song has long been my great favourite since I heard it first from our Pathakji. The song was a regular in his repertoire before he closed the evening with Tere sadke balam.
2. Kaahe ko der lagayi re aye na ab tak balma from Daag (1952), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
Nimmi, waiting for her lover, is her typical sad persona.
3. Rasik balma dil kyun lagaya tose from Chori Chori (1956), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
Here SJ show their mastery over classical ragas in in this melancholic song which has been an eternal favourite. SJ match the legendary Naushad’s capability to compose a score containing ten songs, all of which are musically excellent and enormously popular. This film fetched SJ their first Filmfare Award.
4. Tera jana dil ke armanon ka lut jana from Anaadi (1959), lyrics Shailendra
Another sad song which has become immortal. All the seven songs of this film were also superhits, fetching SJ their second Filmfare Award.
5. Bhaiya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana from Chhoti Behan (1959), lyrics Shailendra
This song has two parts – happy and sad. The more popular happy version has become a quintessential Rakhi song.
6. Ajeeb dastaan hai ye, kahan shuru kahan khatam from Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960), lyrics Shailendra
SJ’s Filmfare Award for this film had created some controversy, as this was the year of Naushad’s Mughal-e-Azam. Leaving aside the comparison, Ajeeb dastaan hai ye is layered with meanings. I have not come across any party in which this song is not sung, either as a solo or in group.
7. Banwari re jeene ka sahara tera naam re from Ek Phool Aur Kaante (1960), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
SJ are equally good at bhajans.
8. O basanti pawan pagal from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai (1960), lyrics Shailendra
SJ were tasked with filling the ravines and rocks with music in this dacoit movie, and what a great job they did! The sardar’s daughter has fallen in love with the simple-hearted Raju. Here is one of the best plaintive pukar for a lover.
9. Tera mera pyar amar, phir kyon mujhko lagta hai dar from Asli Naqli (1962), lyrics Shailendra
SJ earned notoriety for loudness in the later part of their career. So far we have seen them at their best in soulful, poignant and slow-paced songs. That is why I have observed that even if we remove all that is considered loud, what is left would put them in the league of the greatest music directors.
10. Ye hariyali aur ye rasta, in raahon par tera mera jeevan bhar ka raasta from Hariyali Aur Rasta (1962), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
For a large part of their career, there was no dichotomy between popular and good.
11. Hum tere pyar mein sara aalam kho baithe from Dil Ek Mandir (1963), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
I am faced with a difficult choice between this song and Ruk ja raat thathar ja wo chanda, written by Shailendra. But the latter song has already featured in DP Rangan’s post on Moon. Meena Kumari on the sitar, professing her love to a despairing husband, is heart-touching.
12. Manmohan Krishna Murari, tere charnon ki balihaari from Saanjh Aur Savera (1964), lyrics Shailendra
We get another excellent bhajan from SJ for Lata Mangeshkar.
13. Tumhein yaad karte karte jayegi rain saari from Amrapali (1966), lyrics Shailendra
This period film around the Nagarvadhu Amrapali required mastery over classical music and dance. Though the film was not a great commercial success, SJ created a superb score. Tumhein yaad karte karte again bridges classical with the popular.