Best songs of 1949: Wrap Up 2

July 13, 2016

And the SoY Award for the Best ‘Other’ Female Playback Singer goes to?

Amirbai Karnataki-Rajkumari-Zeenat Begum-Shamshad Begum-Suraiya-Surinder KaurAs the readers would recall from the overview post on the best songs of 1949, this was a great year for the ‘other’ singers, and female singers in general. There were about 80 female solos in my select list of 160 (the list mentioned up to #157, but some songs had more than one version), i.e. about 50%. The number of male solos, i.e. 22, was only a quarter of female solos. Further, the female solos presented amazing variety. Lata Mangeshkar’s 35 songs contain the largest number of all-time great songs she sang in any single year. And to think that she was just 20 then, having made a very inconspicuous debut only a couple of years earlier. The remaining 46 songs are shared by the doyennes of yesteryear. The two singers who had maximum number of songs are Shamshad Begum and Suraiya having 16 and 14 respectively. The remaining 16 was accounted for by others (i.e. others within the ‘others’), such as Rajkumari, Amirbai Karnataki, Zohrabai Ambalewali, Geeta Roy, Zeenat Begum, Surinder Kaur etc. Here is a convenient pie chart showing the relative share of different singers in female solos.

Best female solos of 1949

Thus the ‘other’ singers as a group account for 57% of the memorable songs compared to 43% of Lata Mangehskar.  I have no idea how does this compare with their share in the total population of songs.  In the earlier years, Venkataramanji provided statistical analysis in great detail, but this year he was preoccupied with some personal matters.  But if I can draw inference from earlier years, Lata Mangeshkar accounts for proportionately larger share in memorable songs compared to her total share of songs in a year – which is a measure of her class.

Reflecting the above general ratio, the choice of the best ‘other’ female playback singer was Shamshad Begum, followed by Suraiya. Shamshad Begum had two great solos in Dulari: Na bol more angana pi pi panchhi ja re ja and Chandni ayi ban ke pyar. She also had memorable songs in Chandni Raat, Nishan, Patanga and Shabnam.

This was probably the best year for Suraiya with both her great composers Naushad and Husnlal Bhagatram creating unforgettable songs in Dillagi and Badi Bahan respectively. She also had some well known songs in Jeet (Anil Biswas) and Duniya (C Ramchandra). That makes the greatest composers of the time.

But real spice is added by the ‘others’ within the others. Rajkumari has been deservedly mentioned by several readers very highly. Her Ghabra ke jo hum sar ko from Mahal came to her rescue in her later years when her career was over long ago and she was living in difficult circumstances. But the timbre of her voice was quite intact, and she was lucky to get a chance on music reality shows as a judge when this song became her identity. She also had another excellent song Ek teer chala in the same film, which was mentioned by some readers. Jignesh added her Ae dil tere ghamon ka kahun main kisse fasana from Parda which I had missed in my list.

Amirbai Karnataki had an all time great song Pahne pili saari..main to gawan chali hun in Saawan Aya Re, composed by Khemchnad Prakash. Ths song has been mentioned by Shalan Lal. Ghat kaari matwari by Zeenat Begum from Ek Thi Ladki (Vinod) has been mentioned by a number of readers.

I had included some all-time great songs of Surinder Kaur, a famous name in Punjabi film and folk music, such as Din aane ke dhang niraale hain (Singaar, Khurshed Anwar) and Tum sang ankhiya mila ke (Sunahere Din, Gyan Dutt). Yet Venkataramanji was able to discover her another gem Ae chaand tere sath to rahate hain sitaare (Dada, Nashad), not in my list, though I had included her duet with Mukesh, Tera kisi se pyar tha tu wo zamana bhool ja from this film.

A fantastic year on the whole for the variety of great ‘other’ female solos. Now let me start the exercise of choosing the best ten, which is usually a two-step process. In the first stage, I go down the list and note down the songs which are absolutely unmissable, not in order of preference. The First Cut still leaves me with a far larger number of songs after which I do the difficult task of pruning down to ten.

First Cut

Shamshad Begum
1. Chandni ayi ban ke pyar (Dulari, Naushad)
2. Na bol more angana pi pi panchhi ja re ja (Dulari, Naushad)
3. Na tum aye na neend ayi (Rimjhim, Khemchand Prakash)

4. Wo paas rahein ya door rahein (Badi Bahan, Husnlal-Bhagatram)
5. Ho likhanewale ne likh di meri taqdeer mein barbaadi (Badi Bahan, HB)
6. Bigadi bananewale (Badi Bahan, HB)
7. Murliwale murli baja (Dillagi, Naushad)

Others (within ‘Others’)
8. Ghat kaari matwari ghir ayi (Zeenat Begum, Ek Thi Ladki, Vinod)
9.  Nigaahein milaane ko ji chahta hai (Paro Devi, Karwat, Hans Raj Bahal)
10. Ghabra ke jo hum sar ko (Rajkumari, Mahal, Khemchand Prakash)
11. Ek teer chala (Rajkumari, Mahal, Khemchand Prakash)
12. Hey chandravadan chanda ki kiran (Rajkumari, Ram Vivah, Shankarrao Vyas)
13. Pahne pili saari..Main to gawan chali hun (Amirbai Karnataki, Saawan Aya Re, Khemchand Prakash)
14. Din aane ke dhang niraale hain (Surinder Kaur, Singaar, Khursheed Anwar)
15. Thandi thandi hawa jo aye (Surinder Kaur, Sunahere Din, Gyan Dutt)

Reducing to ten should be a manageable task. Nigahein milaane ko ji chahta hai (#9) has been mentioned by Venkataramanji for the main list. I was highly impressed by the song which has a twin male version by Satish. I had posted both the versions under ‘Special Songs’ in the Overview post – a category meant for some ‘niche’ songs not likely to figure in the main list. There were three other female solos in the ‘Special’ songs, including Surinder Kaur’s Din aane ke dhang niraale hain (#14 from the above list).

There is no bar in bringing any song from the ‘Special’ to the main list. But looking at the above list of all immortal songs, even at the cost of my great favourites, I am resisting the temptation to include any song from ‘Special List’. But I have served the main purpose of bringing before the readers some exceptionally nice songs, which were generally unfamiliar to most of us.

Now the exercise of choosing the best ten. The first two songs of Shamshad Begum have been mentioned by most readers. The third song by Naushad’s mentor presents the soulful and poignant side of Shamshad Begum. It is difficult to leave it out. Out of the four Suraiya songs, the first three are by Husnlal-Bhagatram, who were notorious for their repeating a stock instrumentation. But surprisingly, each of these songs has a refreshingly different tune. I don’t mind leaving out Murliwale murli baja – Naushad has given much better songs for Suraiya.

That leaves room for four songs for others within the ‘Other’ category. Between Ghabra ke jo sar se and Ek teer chala (both mentioned by the readers), the former has become a signature song of Rajkumari. Had Ayega aanewala not caused a storm, Mahal would have been known for this song. Zeenat Begum’s Ghat kaari matwari has been mentioned by several readers. Among the ‘Forgotten Composers’ Vinod occupies a very special place. Among several sensations of the year, one was La re lappa from the same film Ek Thi Ladki. It would be befitting to include Ghat kaari as a tribute to this geniusof course the song is superb on its own merit.

We have room for two more. Amirbai Karnataki’s Pahne pili saari.. Main to gawan chali hun is among my most favourite song of hers. I had mentioned it at the first position in my post on Khemchand Prakash. The last slot can be taken by the great singer from Punjab, Surider Kaur, for her Thandi thandi hawa jo aye (I may mention that HFGK mentions Shamshad Begum as the singer of this song .  That is obviously an error). A fantastic song.

How can you rank ten great songs by six different singers, each having her distinct voice, tonal quality and singing style? Any ranking would be as good as the other. The ranking I am giving is my sense of the readers’ views combined with with my own personal preferences.  But before that, let us enjoy a ‘Special song’ which had to be left out because the exercise becomes one of elimination.

Special Song:

Hey chandravadan chanda ki kiran tum kiska chitra banati ho by Rajkumari from Ram Vivah, music Shankarrao Vyas

It is the pleasure of discovering songs like these which makes the laborious exercise of these reviews worthwhile. A disciple of Pt. Vishnu Digamnbar Paluskar, Shankarrao Vyas was an eminent music director of the 40s for creating classical based songs for mythological films, such as Bharat Milap (1942) and Ram Rajya (1943).  Who can forget Bhimpalasi-based Veena madhur madhur kuchh bol by Saraswati Rane from the latter film? Bharat ki ik sannari ki hum katha sunaate hain by Yashwant Bua Joshi and Yashwant Nikam from Ram Rajya is another great song.  Hey candravadan from Ram Vivah is a song that instantly charms you. Between two lyricists Moti B.A. and Ramesh Shastri in this film, this song does not identify who wrote the beautiful song, but my guess is it should be Ramesh Shastri who also wrote the songs of Ram Rajya.

Best ten songs:

1. Ghabra ke jo hum sar ko takrayein to achcha ho by Rajkumari from Mahal, lyrics Nakshab Jarachavi, music Khemchand Prakash

No one would mind giving this song a pride of place, even if their own choice for no. 1 might have been different. Among the greatest songs of Rajkumari.

2. Pahne pili rang saari…Main to gawan chali hun by Amirbai Karnataki from Saawan Aya Re, lyrics Rammoorti Chaturvedi, music Khemchnad Prakash

This might cause some surprise to the readers, because no one has given this song this high position. My only defence is that it is one of my greatest favourites. It starts with slow recital, then there is a surprise change of tune in fast pace, accompanied by beautiful dance. I seek the readers’ indulgence. I am sure the whole impact is quite electrifying.

3. Chandni ayi ban ke pyar by Shamshad Begum from Dulari, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

No surprises in this song. Most readers would have preferred to see it at #1 or 2 position. Among a large number of Lata Mangehskar solos in this film, Shamshad Begum’s two songs – the other being Na bol more angana pi pi matched hers in popularity.

4. Wo paas rahein ya door rahein by Suraiya from Badi Bahan, lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Husnlal-Bhagatram

H-B with about 50 songs for Suraiya are at par with Naushad not only in numbers but also memorable songs for her. Her three songs from Badi Bahan are among the most recognizable songs of hers. A supremely melodious voice in the era of full-throated courtesan style singers, this song is a treat.

5. Bigadi bananewale bigadi bana de by Suraiya from Badi Bahan

HB were at peak of their talent about this time, and Suraiya being their favourite singer they create another gem for her in the same film.

6. Ho likhanewale ne likh di meri taqdeer mein by Suraiya from Badi Bahan

The third song is very different from HB’s characteristic instrumentation. It starts with a slow recital Dil tere aane se pahle bhi yunhi barbaad tha, aur yun hi barbaad hai tere chale jaane ke baad and then proceeds to the refrain Likhanewale ne again without much instrumental support. Thereafter, each antara follows the same style – slow recital followed by the refrain (mukhada). Any song of this type, which highlights purely the voice of the singer, if done competently, becomes a memorable song. Rafi’s numerous songs of this type which are primarily recitals are all superb class.

7. Na bol more angana pi pi panchhi ja re ja by Shamshad Begum from Dulari, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

8. Na tum aye na neend ayi by Shamshad Begum from Rimjhim, lyrics Bharat Vyas, music Khemchand Prakash

9. Ghat kaari matwari by Zeenat Begum from Ek Thi Ladki, lyrics Aziz Kashmiri, music Vinod

10. Thandi thandi hawa jo aye by Surinder Kaur from Sunehere Din, lyrics DN Madhok, music Gyan Dutt

I close the list with Surinder Kaur’s outstanding song, composed by one of the greatest composers of the Vintage Era. He was the music director of Ranjit Movietone’s Bhakt Surdas (1942), which had immortal songs in the voice of KL Saigal and Khursheed. Surinder Kaur was more well-known in Punjab. Her career in Hindi films was very brief. This should be one of her best songs, picturised on the effervescent Rehana who also had a brief spot at the top, before she was relegated to secondary roles.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 13, 2016 at 12:13 pm

AK ji,

It is really immaterial who wins the race of No 1, because I think your readers have become No ONE in listening to the काढा ( concentrate) of all that was simply superb and everlasting in 1949 or in any of your posts.
I really feel like I am in Heaven listening to the Amar Sangeet, be it Lata or Others. To me ( and to many like me) music alone matters . In this pursuit of ours you are really doing a marvellous job. Thanks a million. May God give you long life to please Music Lovers in future too.
Thanks again.

2 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 13, 2016 at 12:14 pm

* your readers have become No. One…..

3 Dinesh K Jain July 13, 2016 at 12:19 pm

AK, I take this as a learning process, for, for the larger part, I am out of depth here. And thanks, anyway, for a very interesting presentation.

4 AK July 13, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Thanks a lot for your very kind words and appreciation even though in this case I was more partial to my own preferences.

5 AK July 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Thanks a lot. ‘Learning’ is not the issue here. I am more keen to know whether you have started enjoying the vintage songs. Some listeners have a mental barrier about pre-50 songs.

6 N Venkataraman July 13, 2016 at 3:50 pm

AK Ji,
As I have always maintained vintage songs forever offers a great listening pleasure. In 1949 we had very many such songs by the ‘Other’ female singers. I find you have put enough time and thought in selecting the best ten and expressed yourselves quite clearly. A great job indeed.

I would have been doubly pleased if you had selected the song Hey chandravadan chanda ki kiran tum kiska chitra banati ho for the No. 1 slot. Instead I am pleasantly surprised to see that you have elevated the song to the special category. Deservingly you have given the most coveted place to another Rajkumari song, Ghabra ke jo hum sar ko takrayein to achcha ho. Both the songs were excellently rendered. It was a mistake not to have included Pahne pili sari….Main to gawan chali hun by Amirbai Karnataki in my final ten. It could have replaced Geeta Dutts song in my list. Thanks to you and Shalan ji for including the thrilling vintage song in your final ten.

The only and the real surprise was the inclusion of three songs of Suraiya from the film Badi Behen, but I would go with your reasoning.

Thanks once again for another great wrapping up.

7 AK July 13, 2016 at 4:58 pm

You know where do I stand on Hey chandravadan chanda ki kiran. There would not be much dispute about my best ten, people may differ on inter se ranking. I should add here, at times there are more than one outstanding song of the same singer from the same film. It does not seem prudent to do rationing on this ground.

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

8 ashok kumar tyagi July 14, 2016 at 3:56 pm

AK ji.
My compliments on lovely write-up and excellent selection of top songs in the category in question.
In the comments above, a passing reference has come regarding a sort of ‘mental block’ towards ‘vintage era’ songs. A quality song will remain so whatever may be period of its creation. Designation as per period of history is only for the sake of convenience. Songs of the golden period (1949 onwards) generally used more instruments than before. The tempo also became quicker, generally speaking.
I was born in 1951. In the early-fifties, very few households in rural North India(including small towns) had access to radio sets or record players. People saw the movies and sang popular songs at home. One could purchase booklets containing the lyrics of film songs, hence singing full songs was not difficult if the tune remained in memory. In my childhood years I only watched films currently released. However, in ninteen-sixties, theatres in Delhi often had a re-run of old popular films. Then I saw films like Awara, Shabaab, Baiju Bawra and Aar Paar etc. and enjoyed the beauty of songs of such films. I did not get the opportunity of watching pre-independence movies. However. internet has given us chance to see videos of vintage era songs. Yet people of my age relate more to ‘golden era’ songs because of familiarity with the concerned heroes and heroines. The only vintage era movie I have seen is Devdas (in which Saigal sang immortal songs). Lack of knowledge of vintage era songs may therefore may kindly be excused.

9 AK July 14, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Thanks for your compliments. In general our introduction to film songs was aural, if not our own radio then neighbour’s or paan shop, or loudspeakers which were quite ubiquitous. Mental block is our inability to relate to sounds of certain period or certain singers; this is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the music. For example, there could be a mental block in reverse too. Some of us at SoY have this problem with regard to post-70s music.

10 mumbaikar8 July 17, 2016 at 3:04 pm

AK,e no
No dispute for number one song, personally I would pick “Ghabhra ke jo hum” as number one even in combined best female category.
I felt you are very honest in your reply “I was more partial to my own preferences.”
Due to your preferences and bias some singers are sidelined and I think that this year again Geeta Roy was side lined.
She has no space in the pie, she is amongst “others” isn’t that surprising?
Here are just a few Geeta songs that I feel deserved some consideration.
Perhaps they were not as popular as others but at SOY we look beyond popularity.
Suno suno banwari more Jeet
Chanda badal me much le chhipa Karwat
Tera ana tera jaana nay eh achchha Hamari Manzil
Nainon se nain milake Hamari Manzil
Are janewale idhar dekhta ja Rakhi
Koi pukare pia pia Paras
Pake nazron ka ishara Kaneez
Chitthiya dard bhari chithiya Chakori
Mil gaye tum Amar kahani
Yeh kaisi dillagi hai Amar kahani
Ek gagan panth ka pantheroon Nanand bhojai
Bana dulhan ka ves nanad bjojai

11 AK July 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I did go through some songs of Geeta Dutt. But do you think she makes an entry in the best 15/10 I have listed? From your list Chithiya dard bhati chithiya is a very good song, but in the final cut, even a Geeta Dutt-partisan would probably find it difficult to push her in.

12 Praveen July 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

There seems to be confusion regarding the last song mentioned in the write-up “Thandi thandi hawa jo aaye” from sunehre din. The singing voice is definitely Shamshad Begum’s. Most sites also credit her with the song. I think the confusion was created by youtube where both surinder kaur and shamshad begum are mentioned in different uploads. Audio link by sa re ga ma mentions shamshad begum as the singer :

13 Praveen July 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm

On second listening the voice in the video you have posted is definitely that of surinder kaur!! Sorry for the mistake.
But i think this song was recorded in both their voices but surinder kaur’s version was used in the film…kindly confirm and let me know…

14 AK July 17, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Welcome to SoY. I knew it as a Surinder Kaur song. I don’t think the reason for confusion is film/record versions being in different voices. The reason is probably because HFGK mentions Shamshad Begum as the singer, which seems to be an error.

15 Shalan Lal July 18, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Warap Up 2

I totally agree with the hard efforts taken by AK to collate the information sent by the readers and milling it through the smoothie maker and presented it to readers in the form of a wonderful brim-full jug l of mango, papaya, guava, seedless grapes, Tunisian dates and other sweet fruits with a dash of sugarcane juice along with the Pie Chart. It is a sweet drink and must not be hurried so the taste will be long lasting on the tongue.

All the female singers Zindabaad!

The songs of 1949 are matured wine and good to have a round table to sit around under the mango tree in the early evening to enjoy it.

Well done AK!

I think all the songs from the film Badi Bahan are very sweet and though Lata’s “Chale Janaa Nahin” could not be included as she would likely to have a separate Wrap Up.

I think after the Pyaar Ki Jeet” Husnalal and Bhagatram achieved their pinnacle in this film. Suraiya too was very sugar sweet.

I have nothing but to slowly enjoy the wrap up 2 and do all the self-indulgences during this hard time politically and economically in our part of the world. A little escapism will not make me alcoholic.
Shalan Lal

16 AK July 18, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Shalan Lal,
Thanks a lot for your very generous words. I trust you would have something to say after you have heard the songs.

17 Ashok M Vaishnav August 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

here is My Choice of the TOP Solo Songs of the Other Female Singers for 1949:
 Suraiya – Woh Pas Rahe Ya Door Rahein, Nazron Mein Samaye Rahate Hain – Badi Behan – Husnlal Bhagatram – Qmar Jalalabadi

 Suraiya -Tera Khayal Dil Se Bhulaya Na Jayega. – Dillagi – Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni

 Geeta Roy – Ek Yaad Teri Jeene Ka Sahara – Tara – Vinod – Aziz Kashmiri

 Shamshad Begum – Na Bol More Angana Pi Pi Panchhi Ja Re Ja – Dulari – Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni

 Shamshad Begum – Nahin Fariyad Karate Hum, Tumhein Bas Yaad Karate Hai – Sawan Aaya Re – Khemchand Prakash – Bharat Vyas

 Raajkumari – Ghabra Ke Jo Ham Sar Ko Takaraye To Achcha Ho – Mahal – Khem Chand Prakash – Nakhshab Jarachavi

 Raajkumari – He Chandravadan, Chanda Ki Kiran, Tum Kiska Chitra Banati Ho – Ram Vivah – Shankar Rao Vyas – Moti

 Asha Bhosle – Hai Mauj Mein Apne Begane, Do Chaar Idhar Do Char Udhar – Raat Ki Raani – Hans Raj Behl – Arzoo Lakhanavi

 Suirnder Kaur – Kya Tum Na Aaoge, Umeedon Pe Udasi Chhayi Hui Hai – Kaneez – Ghulam Haider – Harishchandra Akhtar

 Uma Devi – Dil Deke Pachhata Gaye Hum – Ek Teri Nishani – Sardul Kwatra – Sarshaar Shailani

 Meena Kapoor – Meri Yaad Tu Apne Dil Se Bhoola – Roomal – Aziz Khan – Nazim Panipati

 Lalita Deulkar – Mere Dil Ko Khilona Na Samaj Na Sajan – Sanwariya – C Ramchandra – P L Santoshi

 Ameerbai Karnataki – Pahne Peela Rang Ki Saari – Sawan Aya Re – Khemchand Prakash – Bharat Vyas

 Hamida Bano – Ghadi Ghadi Teri Yaad Sataye – – Janampatri – Gulshan Sufi – Aziz Kashmiri

 Zeenat Begum – Ghat Kari Matwari Ghir Ayee – Ek Thi Ladki – Vinod – Aziz Kashmiri

 Pushpa Hans – Dil-e-Naadan Hua Kya Hai – Apna Desh – Purushottam – Mirza Ghalib

I have three singers – three songs for the final bet on the BEST Other Singer – Song category:

 Suraiya – Woh Pas Rahe Ya Door Rahein, Nazron Mein Samaye Rahate Hain (Badi Behan – Husnlal Bhagatram – Qmar Jalalabadi)

 Shamshad Begum – Na Bol More Angana Pi Pi Panchhi Ja Re Ja ( Dulari – Shakeel Badayuni – Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni)

 Raajkumari – Ghabra Ke Jo Ham Sar Ko Takaraye To Achcha Ho (Mahal – Khem Chand Prakash – Nakhshab Jarachavi)

The choice of the BEST among these will rest on where the wheel of roulette will stop.

For me any one will be a jackpot……

18 AK August 11, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for your selection. Even your long list five of my best ten songs are not there. That is an indication of the depth of the talent among ‘other’ singers. Though I have not given my ranking, the first song in my list happens to be among your best three.

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