Best songs of 1951: Final Wrap-Up 5

December 13, 2014

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.

A qualitative improvement in this year’s exercise was triggered by Venkataramanji’s detailed statistical analysis of songs and their distribution. This helped me coin two new phrases – Inversion of the pyramid in respect of male playback singers to describe the phenomena of Rafi having the largest number of total songs, but the least number of memorable songs compared to Mukesh and Talat Mahmood; and Flattening of the pyramid in respect of female playback singers, where Lata Mangeshkar’s dominance in the total number of songs gets further accentuated in the number of memorable songs. This gave a concrete shape to what was known anecdotally or by common sense. This also indicates that there are enormous possibilities of very interesting time-series analyses of Hindi film songs.

Another new thing was splitting the female solos in two parts – Lata Mangeshkar and ‘Others’. This came out of the readers’ suggestions and became necessary because we had many ‘other’ singers, who gave their all-time great songs in the year. Without meaning to pre-empt, I can foresee this in greater degree as we go back in time for the next two years, i.e. 1950 and 1949. Going further back, Lata Mangeshkar would recede in visibility, and we would be entering what I describe as the Era of Vintage Female Singers, when there would be no single-singer domination of the kind we witnessed in the 50s and 60s.

But the most interesting part of this year’s exercise was the fireworks caused by my exclusion of Awara hun, with some cheeky comment. One reader found it difficult to ‘digest the exclusion’; another thought the exercise without this song had become ‘meaningless’. An interesting angle was given by Gaddeswarupji, who ‘wondered whether slowly these classifications and lists move elites away from the common people, the exact opposite of what was achieved by the film music’. This raises complex academic questions and also implies a certain disapproval of ‘elitism’. I carried on the discussion with him through mail. But very simply, what we are doing on SoY is indeed elitist within the domain of the film music (i.e. if you don’t consider film music and elitism an oxymoron), and I don’t see myself and the readers of the SoY being defensive about it, or doing it in the “common people’s” way.

The Final Wrap-Up exercise raises two perennial questions. One is the popularity versus quality debate. I think we have a sense of what constitutes the ‘best’ as distinct from what is, say, at the top of ‘Binaca Geetmala’, and I would not like to labour this point more. SoY readers have a fair consensus on the best songs in a year. Earlier, I had proposed a 2×2 PQ matrix as follows:

Hindi Songs Popularity-Quality Matrix

Even in the Golden Era, at least 75% of the songs would fall in the first quadrant, which would probably never be discussed on SoY. Our great strength lies in discovering a large number of songs in the third quadrant – the hidden gems – by collective effort. I propose to the mathematicians and the music experts in SoY family if it is possible to devise a more precise PQI (Popularity-Quality-Index) of a song. Till such time, we have to carry on our discussion in general terms, which has served our purpose well.

The second question needs more consideration. This relates to whether we look at one film with the best score or the total work of a composer in the year. I am somewhat flexible on this. If once in a while you get a score like Rattan or Mughal-e-Azam, which is decidedly path-breaking and towering way above others in the year, it settles the question. But this does not happen often. In most years, 3-4 leading composers would have a number of films with very good music, and somewhere in our mind we carry a composite picture of all the memorable songs across different films, done by a music director. The top literary awards, such as Nobel Prize, have also faced such dilemma. Even though an outstanding ‘work’ may be cited, the award is meant to recognize the total work of a writer. My discussion would generally follow this approach.

With this preamble, I need only to refer to my Overview Post which initiated the series, and rest my case. To recapitulate, the leading composers of the year were Anil Biswas (Aaraam, Tarana, Badi Bahu), SD Burman (Baazi, Bahaar, Buzdil, Ek Nazar, Naujawaan, Sazaa), Shankar-Jaikishan (Aawara, Baadal, Kali Ghata, Nageena), C Ramchandra (Albela, Sagaai) and Roshan (Hum Log, Malhaar). Jamal Sen had a spectacular debut music-wise, with Shokhiyan. He is a prime example of Quadrant III – almost a forgotten composer, with relatively unknown songs, but of stunning beauty, which we would not have discovered but for the Internet and a forum like SoY. The maverick genius, Sajjad Husain, too, has been spoken of very highly, and there are some more who gave everlasting songs.

Since this year’s discussion has gone very analytical, let me add a new approach by giving the distribution of the 40 best songs in the four Wrap-Ups composer-wise.

Male solos

 ‘Other’ female solos

Lata solos



  Anil Biswas    3       1   1   2    7
  SD Burman    –      4   1   1    6
  Shankar- Jaikishan    2       –   2   2    6
  C Ramchandra    –       –   2   2    4
  Roshan   1       –   1   1    3
  Husnlal Bhagatram   1       –   1   –    2
  Jamal Sen   –      1   1   –    2
  Naushad   1      –   –   1    2
  Shyam Sundar   –      2   –   –    2
  Madan Mohan   1      1   –   –    2
  Gyan Dutt   1      –   –   –    1
  Sajjad Husain   –      –   1   –    1
  Ghulam Mohamad   –     –   –   1    1
  Vinod   –     1   –   –    1
                TOTAL    10     10   10   10    40


You can refresh your memory of the above 40 Best Songs by visiting Wrap-Up 1 (Male solos), Wrap-Up 2 (‘Other’ female solos), Wrap-Up 3 (Lata Mangeshkar solos) and Wrap-Up 4 (Duets).

Some caveats are in order regarding the above table. Nothing can be perfect in this kind of analysis. For example, a perceptive reader can remark, how come with Tum na jaane kis jahan mein kho gaye, Jhan jhan jhan jhan paayal baaje and Thandi hawaayein, SD Burman accounts for only one Lata solo. That is a problem of Lata-plenty, you need to include her 30 songs to cover all her immortal songs of the year. There could be some differences due to harmonization of individual choices. Subject to such inherent difficulties, the above table throws up interesting features.

The Bhishm Pitamah of film music, Anil Biswas, not only accounts for the most songs, he is the only one present across all the four categories. The next two in total number are SD Burman and Shankar Jaikishan, accounting for six songs each, covering three categories. An interesting feature is SDB’s four songs for ‘other’ female singers – the largest for any composer, confirming his known reputation for diversity. No wonder, he is the only one among the top composers, who gave great songs for all the female and male playback singers of the Golden Era. C Ramchandra, with four songs, is next in numbers, but spanning only two categories, which is consistent with his Lata-centric music in the 50s. The next to follow in the table, Roshan, is an interesting study. His three songs span three different categories, again consistent with his deftness with all the singers, and different styles and genres of music. After SD Burman, if there is anyone who showed similar diversity, it is Roshan. I have written on his songs for Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, and indirectly for Mukesh, but there is a lot more to Roshan still left to be covered.

Now the readers can see where all this is leading to. I summarise my argument by mentioning the seven songs by Anil Biswas, which figured in different Bests:

1.  Ae jaane jigar dil mein samaane aa ja (Mukesh, Aaraam)
2.  Shukriya ae pyaar tera shukriya (Talat Mahmood, Aaraam)
3.  Ek main hun ek meri (Talat Mahmood, Tarana)
4.  Ramaiya bin neend na aawe (Rajkumari, Badi Bahu)
5.  Beimaan tore nainwa nindiya na aawe (Lata Mangeshkar, Tarana)
6.  Seene mein sulagate hain armaan (Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar, Tarana)
7.  Kaahe nainon mein kajraa bharo (Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar, Badi Bahu)

The above list makes it clear it is not only about numbers. Anil Biswas gave exceptional music in 1951. Therefore, I believe everyone would endorse if he is given the Best Music Director Award for the year. Celebrating his centenary series and the Review of 1951 songs proceeded independently, and I had not thought that they would converge in such an amazing coincidence.


The Songs of Yore Award for the Best Music Director of 1951 goes to Anil Biswas.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 N Venkataraman December 13, 2014 at 4:30 pm

AK Ji,
Contrary to your ‘midway’ fears and in keeping with your ultimate conclusion the series on the year-wise review of songs happens to be the most participated and popular series of SoY. Yes the participation of the readers is one the reasons for its popularity. But it would we unfair if we fail to acknowledge your contribution in paving the way for such a passionate and involved discussion. Churning the entire gamut of songs for the year and filtering and pruning them to a manageable number, makes our job much easier. I feel 80% of the job is accomplished here. First, let me thank you AK ji for the painstaking effort in presenting the curtain raiser and the subsequent wrap-ups.

The taut and in depth summarization and conclusion leaves (in my opinion) little room for any argument. It is appropriate that in his centenary year, Anil Biswas has been deservingly selected as the best music director of the year 1951 by SoY. Although my first choice was S D Burman, I have no reasons to complain.

While going through your analysis I found that you have combined the skills of an astute mathematician and calculative lawyer! Thank you AK ji for a wonderful summarization.
Let me present this song as my tribute to Anil Biswas.
Anil Biswas’s way of paying tributes to R C Boral, whom he called the father of Indian film music.

2 AK December 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. You have been one of the stalwarts to bring SoY and the year wise analysis to this level. I thought your support for Anil Biswas would be without any demur!

Probably you have given the wrong link. But don’t worry I should be able to locate it.

3 N Venkataraman December 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Sorry Akji,
The link was right. but the comment was misplaced. I got mixed up with MDs of the Bengali version and the Hindi version. Yet another goof up and memory failure. Well listen to the song and you will find Anil Biswas using the tune of Balam aaye bas more man mein, set to a faster meter.

4 AK December 13, 2014 at 9:52 pm

It is indeed an excellent parody. The underlying tune is so good, anything based on it has to be very good.

The MD of Bengali version was RC Boral? I thought you meant the interview in which Anil Biswas pays tribute to RC Boral, YT has its link too.

Khatmal khatiyan mein reminded me of SD Burman (your choice for this year) paying a tribute to himself when he had Kishore Kumar spoof his Dheere se jana bagiyan mein as Dheere se jana khatiyan mein re khatmal. He had done it earlier too in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi when KK sang the mukhadaa in a comic style in one of the interludes of Paanch rupaiya baarah aana.

5 ksbhatia December 13, 2014 at 11:32 pm

AKji; Thanks for the nice wrap up. The Quadratic analysis of the various inputs really confirms the final results . As stated by Venkataramanji there is allways a hidden likeness of an individual’s choice of a particular MD ; may be because of a particular style or liking of fast and happy songs vs serious or sad songs. I think here SJ lost to AB by 4:3 margin. But I must say that the year 1951 was really a treat for music lovers to cherish . Out of the 7 songs of Anil biswas I propose to consider Talat’s ” Ek main hun ek meri” as the topper.

6 mumbaikar8 December 13, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Venkataramanji has beaten me in saying all that I would have said and he has done it better than me so I ditto his feelings and congratulate you on accomplishing this feat.

I am not Venkataramanji so I will do it with complain:)

7 AK December 14, 2014 at 12:55 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

Thanks a lot, but what is your complaint?

8 mumbaikar8 December 14, 2014 at 7:56 pm

My complaint:
This category is MD of the year not for a genre.
The variety of music SDB has delivered in 1951 is amazing, his music in Baazi and Shabnam is distinguishable in Sazaa at least three songs have different flavor.
Being centenary year Ani Biswas, I (we)? believe, had advantage. SBD should, in the least, share the honour.

9 Ashok M Vaishnav December 15, 2014 at 9:42 am

1951 was indeed a year where making a choice – for playback singer or duet or music director – was a pleasantly difficult choice, be it in terms of quantity or quality or variety or range.
Therefore, application of different analytical tools to supplement the subjective judgement was inevitable.
Interestingly, almost all readers have used the analytical tools, in some or other form, but their choices do show a marked difference- both in the result and the reasons.
That is why this series keeps on getting more and more intriguing and interest.
The final outcome – crowning of Anil Biswas –and reasoning of AKji’s analysis would not be begrudged even when the discussion thereon shall remain quite lively.

10 AK December 15, 2014 at 11:14 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

Analytical tools are very good for seeing patterns. Hindi film songs have so much of data that it is crying out for a more intensive statistical analysis. I don’t think much has been done beyond song compilations different artistes-wise.

On SoY I have been helped a great deal by readers. But I can’t deny there is a lot of subjectivity in anything to do with music.

11 Subodh Agrawal December 17, 2014 at 8:23 am

Thanks AK. I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion – despite my fondness for SDB.

12 Siddharth December 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm

AK ji,
Thanks for another wonderful series. I liked the way you backed your decision with analytics. I wonder if there could be a category for “Album of the Year” considering Awara was such a complete package.

13 AK December 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Some other readers too are great SD Burman fans. He was indeed very prolific and outstanding in the year.

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. ‘Album of the Year’ is a nice idea. Albela and Malhaar give tough competition to Aawara. In general the MD of the best album should also be the best music director in the year.

14 raunak December 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with your choice of crowning Anilda as the composer for the year 1951. I too would have done the same, even if 2014 didn’t happen to be the birth centenary of the legend.

For me the 3 Best albums of the year were Albela ( My favorite), Awara & Malhar. Yet as far as quality of music is concerned, it was Anilda & Sachinda who gave the best music in 1951. Though both these Dadas didn’t deliver a whopper of an album in comparison to the 3 mentioned above, they made up for these by giving superb songs across soundtracks, something which none of the other composers achieved in 1951, apart from SJ to a lesser extent.

Now, in this battle of Dadagiri :p , i think Anil Biswas was the better one for the simple reason that SDB’s music in 1951,though brilliant, was very very woman-centric, unlike AB’s music. I understand that you too went for AB over SDB because ‘Bhishm Pitamah was the only one who was present across all the different genres’ in your view. And i stand by your side. And thus you get the youth vote too for your choice, Sir. 🙂

I must also mention that compared to the year-wise analysis for the years 1955 & 1953, 1951’s analysis has been far more in-depth. This shows that you are only getting better with time just like a good old wine 🙂 .

And before i end my longgggg comment, I must also add that SJ too were absolutely brilliant in the year 1951. Btw, is it just me who is of the view that the best Of SJ in the early period outside RK,was with Amiya Chakraborty?? I mean, Badal, Daag, Patita, Badshah, Seema & Kathputli ….. Thats a helluva lot of brilliant music !!

15 AK December 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Thanks a lot for your very generous praise. I don’t think the final choice was influenced by Anil Biswas’s Centenary. 1951 was surely his best year in the 50s and 60s. I hope you are not imputing that most of us at SoY are oldies. 🙂

If the analysis of 1951 is better than that of 1955 and 1953, a large part of the credit goes to the readers.

I would say SJ were brilliant in the early 50s, outside RK fold too, though they are supposed to have been recognised as No. 1 in the pecking order in the mid-60s.

16 raunak December 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Readers, Of course.. With the likes of Venkatda, Deshmukhji,Jignesh bhai, Bhatiasaab etc around , one can seldom go wrong.

And lolzz…. 🙂 🙂 But to be frank i didn’t, even for once, tried to imply that most of SoY folks are oldies.. But then i guess, not many here are in their 20’s either 🙂 🙂 Anyways, old is always gold.. 🙂 🙂 . SoY with its vintage and golden era songs will vouch for this too.

And truth be told, I am mesmerized by the SoY folks. The grandeur of their knowledge, passion and excellence is dazzling and awe-inspiring.

17 AK December 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm

If you are really in the 20’s, then it is really exciting. I can’t pretend that I am as young as you. All of us at SoY would be very happy to have a real youth among us. We often rue the new generation’s taste in music (sure sign that we are not in the 20’s!)

18 Jignesh Kotadia December 27, 2014 at 1:12 am

Annnnnnnd finally Anilda gets the due honour !!! extremely happy i am !! The Maestro secures the renowned SoY National Award for the first time and i hope he will grab more in further past.
I had some confusion in my mind who is some millimetre ahead between Anilda, SJ and SDB in 1951? but finally i am very happy to go along with your decision. yesssss it’s Anil Biswas , “seene me sulagte hai armaan”, “beimaan tore nainwa”, “aye jaane jigar”, “shukriya ai pyar tera”, “badli teri nazar to”, “mil mil ke bichhad gaye nain”,”ramaiya bin neend na aave” are na bhooto na bhavishyati melodies. A stronger competition is there with SJ but i vote for Anilda.
Extremely sorry SJ, for losing a definite trophy,, but never mind,, you will get a bonus trophy in 1973 in lieu of this heavier loss 🙂

19 Jignesh Kotadia December 27, 2014 at 1:51 am

I want to mention some brilliant composers of that era producing Quadrant-3 songs in this thread which are totally unpopular but supreme in quality.

Snehal Bhatkar

film: bhola shankar ,, fantastic classical tunes

1. lata
Mai albeli naar saj sola singaar
aai hun tere dwar jogi bol re jogi bol re
jara ras ke bhare naina khol re jogi bol re

2. lata
chanda tujhko laaj na aaye
mere chhod piya ka saath akela
man hi man muskaye

3. Rajkumari’s masterpiece
Chaloge kya sang mere
thirak rahe ang mere
nachungi tumko rijhaungi
apne adhar ka amrat pilaungi..wah wah

Datta Korgaonkar (k.datta)’s wonderful album “daaman”

1. lata-asha
Yeh ruki ruki hawayen
yeh bujhe bujhe sitaare
meri raat kat rahi hai
teri yaad ke sahaare

2. lata
Ashko se likhi takdeer meri
takdeer banane wale ne

3. chakori ka chanda se pyar

4. tirulilla tirulilla gaye lata gaye lata

and master Vinod’s three lata classics in “sabz baagh”

1. mere dil ke tadapne ka tamasha dekhte jaao
2. meri barbaadiyo par muskurane aa gaya koi
3. nee mai kendi rah gai naa naa dhola naa

20 AK December 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Thanks a lot for adding so many songs, some have figured in my long list. That just shows there are so many songs to be discovered.

It is a very pleasant coincidence that Anil Biswas was given SoY Award for the best MD in his Centenary year. I do feel SJ have done amazing work in 1951. But they have lost to a Titan.

21 Anant Desai February 26, 2015 at 9:39 am

Is it not amazing that the first year of the GoldenEra has presented so Many difficult choices. I see some other angles also.

Best duet: Seene mein sulagate..
Best Lata: Zan Zan Zan Zan Payal – Shailendra
Best Mukesh: Awara Hun.. Even in Langou China, they knew this song in 2004 as Abala ka?? Not to mention Russia. – Shailendra
Thandi Hawaen – not sure if it is Sahir’s first to be followed by Jaal soon after.

Now let me add that while best composers and singers emerged, so do the best lyricists: Shailendra, Sahir, Rajendra Krishna. Others were inspired to strive for better in their presence.

SJ and SDB had many more great years in second half of the decade. The 50’s were also blessed with lots of diversity in singers, styles and many composers gave their best in this creative eruption. The 60’s brought commercial production and over use of Lata- Rafi-Mukesh at the expense of others. SJ, SDB were also dominant. It is a credit to their creativity and talent that they could keep it up for another decade. OP, CR, Naushad, Hemant Kumar faded by the second half of the Sixties. Seventies had flashes of brilliance by these maestros with new ones like LP and RD who rose in the late sixties. Sadly few lyricysts could match the quality and quantity of Sahir, Shailendra and Shakeel and Majrooh except Javed Akhtar much later.

This has becom long. I hope you enjoy it.

22 AK February 26, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Anant Desai,
I enjoyed it very much. SDB continued great guns with LP, RDB and KA too, far longer than SJ. Interesting, because he was far older, and debuted three years before SJ.

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