Wishing Lata Mangeshkar a very Happy Birthday on her 87th birth anniversary (b. 28 September 1929) with her best songs of 1949
It is a no-brainer that Lata Mangeshkar was the best female playback singer of 1949. In later years, that would become routine – she defined the lead female voice. But in 1949, it must have been an amazing phenomenon. Here was a twenty year-old girl who had an inconspicuous debut as a playback singer a couple of years earlier in Aap Ki Sewa Mein (1947). The next year some stories started growing around her – how Ghulam Haider ‘discovered’ her, took her to S Mukherji of Filmistan for Shaheed, but he rejected her as her voice was too thin, whereupon Ghulam Haider famously told him that a day would come when the producers and music directors would line up before her, begging her to sing for them. She did have a couple of memorable songs in the year, but who could have thought that in 1949 a dam would burst with torrent of Lata Mangeshkar songs, leaving the yesteryear stalwarts dazed?
Thus, it came as a shock to Shamshad Begum that Darna mohabbat kar le she was singing in Andaaz was actually a duet with Lata Mangeshkar singing for Nargis, her voice going for Cuckoo. She could do nothing but reconcile to the fact that Lata Mangeshkar got to sing the solos Uthaye ja unke sitam and Koi mere dil mein khushi ba ke aya for Nargis. She had the consolation of being the lead singer in Chandni Raat, but in Dulari she had two songs for Lata Mangeshkar’s nine, including duets. The writing on the wall where Naushad was heading was clear.
His worthy rival C Ramchandra had not yet fallen wholesale for Lata Mangeshkar, but Patanga too had a transition from Shamshad Begum to Lata Mangeshkar. Dil se bhula do tum humein, Kabhi khamosh ho jana/ kabhi frayad na karna/ magar ek bewafa se chupke chupke pyar kar lena and O janewale tune armanon ki duniya loot li were portent of things to come. There were more films in which C Ramchnadra juxtaposed Lata Mangeshkar with advantage over Shamshad Begum – Dard jaga ke thes laga ke chale gaye haye chale gaye (Sipahiya), Ek thes lagi dil toot gaya (Namoona) etc.
Their senior, Anil Biswas, came up with the immortal Tumhare bulane ko ji chahta hai. The other vintage era Master, Khemchand Prakash, rewrote history with Ayega anewala, which became a template for haunting songs in spooky films. Till then the 78 rpm records mentioned the screen name of the actor on whom the song was picturised – in this case Kamini (played by Madhubala, Mahal). But clamour by the listeners to know the voice behind this song forced the radio stations to start announcing Lata Mangeshkar’s name as the singer. This also led to the playback singers’ names being mentioned in credit titles of the films, starting from Barsaat.
Talking of Barsaat, its music directors Shankar-Jaikishan brought in another tectonic shift in the year, with Lata Mangeshkar at the heart of their magic with Hawa mein udata jaye, Jiya beqaraar hai, Bichhade huye pardesi ek baar to ana tu and Meri ankhon mein bas gaya koi re.
SJ’s mentors and the first duo of Hindi films, Husnlal-Bhagatram gave some of their best songs for Lata Mangeshkar – Chale jana nahi nai mila ke and Jo dil mein khushi ban kar aye. And which are Shyam Sundar’s two greatest songs for Lata Mangeshkar? – Baharein phir bhi ayengi and Sajan ki galiyan chhod chale came in 1949. Another doyen of the Punjab school of music, Hansraj Bahal, created an all-time great song Haye chanda gaye pardes.
I was doing a series on SJ during this year. Therefore, the obvious option was to do a post on their best songs for Lata Mangeshkar as a tribute on her birthday. I may mention that on her several previous birthdays I have paid tribute to her by posting her best songs by a prominent music director – C Ramchandra (2011), SD Burman (2013), Anil Biswas (2014) and Naushad (2015). But, coincidentally, this was also the year for review of the best songs of 1949, in which the Wrap Up 3 was to be devoted to her best songs. I settled for the latter, because it presents a fascinating picture at a very early stage of Lata Mangeshkar’s career. One can only imagine how the listeners of the time would have felt being witness to history being created.
Readers might recall from the Wrap Up 2 of the best songs of the ‘other’ female playback singers, this is how their relative share in my Select List looks. A picture is worth a thousand words – 1949 is the beginning of the era of Lata Mangehskar and the ‘others’.
In all my Wrap Ups, I make a first cut of songs after which I prune it down to 10. Some readers added several Lata Mangeshkar songs. Since the exercise is one of elimination, I would confine myself to the Select List of memorable songs in my overview post. In the first cut, I scan the list keeping those songs one can’t do without, but I am still left with about two dozen songs. I bring it down to 20 songs which I am putting not in order, but music director-wise.
1. Tumhare bulane ko ji chahta hai (Laadli)
2. Dil se bhula do tum humein (Patanga)
3. Thukra ke janewale..O janewlae tune armanon ki duniya (Patanga)
4. Kabhi khamosh ho jana (Patanga)
5. Dard jaga ke thes laga ke chale gaye haye chale gaye (Sipahiya)
6. Haye chanda gaye pardes (Chakori)
7. Chale jana nahi (Badi Bahan)
8. Jo dil mein khsushi ban kar aye (Badi Bahan)
9. Ayega anewala (Mahal)
10. Mushqil hai bahut mushqil chahat ka bhula dena (Mahal)
11. Uthaye ja unke sitam (Andaaz)
12. Koi mere dil mein khushi ban ke aya (Andaaz)
13. Ae dil tujhe qasam hai (Dulari)
14. Na wo humse juda honge (Dulari)
15. Hawa mein udta jaye (Barsaat)
16. Jiya beqaraar hai (Barsaat)
17. Meri ankhon mein bas gaya ko re (Barsaat)
18. Bichhade huye pardesi ek baar to ana tu (Barsaat)
19. Saajan ki galiyan chhod chale (Bazaar)
20. Baharein phir bi ayengi (Lahore)
Now comes the difficult task of bringing it down to ten. Several readers have given their choice for the best song as well as a list of the best Lata Mangeshkar songs. Anil Biswas was one of her major mentors, grooming her on breath control, and the technical aspects of singing before the mike. He was famous for composing some of her sweetest songs. He was also one of the few who gave her everlasting songs at the beginning of her career, such as Yaad rakhana chaand taro is suhani raat ko (Anokha Pyar, 1948). Tumhare bulane ko ji chahta hai is not only among his best for her, it is among her greatest songs ever by any MD.
C Ramchandra would become synonymous with Lata Mangeshkar in later years. From the abovementioned four, at least two are worth including – Dil se bhula do tum humein and Dard jaga ke thes laga ke. But given the extremely tight situation, I leave out the second song. Hansraj Bahal’s Haye chanda gaye pardes makes an entry without any question. This is a song which is said to have brought tears to the eyes of the percussionist during recording. Husnlal-Bhagatram’s Chale jana nahi is joyous whereas Jo dil mein khuhi ban ke aye is poignant, both having some fantastic harmonium music. Again with a heavy heart I let go of the second song, retaining the immortal Chale jana nahi.
Reams have been written on Ayega anewala. That makes five songs. For the remaining five slots, I reserve two for Shyam Sundar’s Sajan ki galiyan and Baharein phir bhi ayengi. Naushad and Shankar-Jaikishan have now to share the remaining three slots. Raga Pahadi-based Meri ankhon mein bas gaya koi re is an incredibly melodious song. Uthaye ja unke sitam is a complex ghazal which only Lata Mangeshkar could have sung. The one remaining slot can go to either SJ or Naushad, they have composed one superlative song after another. No one would object if I include Ae dil tujhe qasam hai to complete the ten.
As for ranking of the above ten, Arunji is always very unambiguous about his choice – it is Sajan ki galiyan chhod chale. Some readers have chosen Uthaye ja unke sitam (Siddharth, KS Bhatiaji), Chale jana nahi (Shalan Lal, Gaddeswarupji) or Ayega anewala (Venkataramnanji). Several readers have given a list of their favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs. I find a high degree of overlap from my selection.
The best song of 1949
Frankly, choosing the best Lata Mangeshkar song from the above list is an impossible task. Let me, however, give one perspective. Shyam Sundar’s both songs based on the Raga Pahadi, the most common Raga used in film songs, are immortal. Barsaat was a quintessential movie of the mountains where the city-slick hero and his friend go for their annual vacation – the friend for having fun with the innocent belle who pines for him in love, but the hero of the sincere temperament finds real love in Nargis, who sings a beautiful song of romance and hope, but with an underlying pathos – Meri ankhon mein bas gaya koi re. SJ compose one of the sweetest songs in Pahadi. The song captures everything said by a site soundofindia.com so beautifully about Raga Pahadi: This raga is like a lover, unruffled in union, serene in separation, powerful enough to achieve eternal union, but resigned to the painful parting ordained by destiny. Therefore, let us declare all the three songs – Sajan ki galiyan chhod chale, Baharein phir bhi ayengi and Meri ankhon mein bas gaya koi re as the joint winner of the SoY Award for the Best Lata Mangeshkar song of 1949.
Lata Mangeshkar’s 20 at 20
Even with the twenty songs I started with as the First Cut, I can foresee Jignesh, Mahesh and Arvinder Sharmaji, who mentioned a number of songs, complaining that some great songs are still left out. Therefore, I am making an exception this year in the context of the exceptional phenomenon of Lata Mangeshkar when she was only 20. I propose to post all the 20 songs as our tribute to her on her birth anniversary. However, I would try to keep the first ten in order as far as possible taking into account the readers’ choices. Before I part, let me also mention that it is often said that she imitated her idol Noorjehan’s style in the beginning of her career. You can see from several of the 20 songs that she clearly showed that she was a unique singer in her own right.
1-3. Saajan ki galiyan chhod chale from Bazaar, lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Shyam Sundar
1-3. Meri ankhon mein bas gaya koi re from Barsaat, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar-Jaikishan
1-3. Baharein phir bhi ayengi from Lahore, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Shyam Sundar
4. Ayega anewala from Mahal, lyrics Nakhshab Jarachavi, music Khemchand Prakash
5. Uthaye ja unke sitam from Andaaz, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Naushad
6. Chale jana nahi nain mila ke from Badi Bahan, lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Husnlal-Bhagatram
7. Tumhare bulane ko ji chahta hai from Laadli, lyrics Bahzad Lakhanavi, music Anil Biswas
8. Dil se bhula do tum humein from Patanga, lyrics Rajnendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
9. Haye chanda gaye pardes from Chakori, lyrics Mulk Raj Bhakhri, music Hansraj Bahal
10. Ae dil tujhe qasam hai himmat na harna from Dulari, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad
11. Kabhi khamosh ho jana from Patanga, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
12. Dard jaga ke thes laga ke from Sipahiya, lyrics Rammoorti Chaturvedi, music C Ramchandra
13. Koi mere dil mein khushi ban ke aya from Andaaz, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Naushad
14. Jiya beqaraar hai chayi bahar hai from Barsaat, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar-Jaikishan
15. Bichhade huye pardesi from Barsaat, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Sankar-Jaikishan
16. Mushqil hai bahut mushqil from Mahal, lyrics Nakshab Jarachavi, music Khemchand Prakash
17. Hawa mein udata jaye from Barsaat, lyrics Ramesh Bakhshi, music Shankar-Jaikishan
18. Jo dil mein khushi ban kar aye from Badi Bahan, lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Husnlal-Bhagatram
19. O janewale tune armano ki duniya loot li from Patanga, lyrics Rajnedra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
20. Na wo humse juda honge from Dulari, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad