Best songs of 1953: Wrap Up 1

August 8, 2013

Songs of Yore award for the Best Male Playback Singer goes to?

In the first Wrap Up I take a look at the best male solos of 1953. I am greatly helped by the readers’ comments on the survey article – Best songs of 1953 which are not only very exhaustive, but much more involved and analytical compared to the last year when I did a similar string of posts on the songs of 1955. So, here is my attempt to summarise the sense of the House about the best male playback singer of 1953.

Rafi_Mukesh_Talat Mahmood_Hemant Kumar_Manna Dey_Kishore KumarA very general observation that comes out from the readers’ comments is that “it was not the year for male solos” (Subodh). Jignesh went further to say that the music of 1953 was the weakest in the entire 50s. However, it is interesting to note that it was the male solos which attracted the most intense and involved discussion, and I can point two reasons for that. One was Lata Mangeshkar – she alone accounted for as much as all the male songs taken together – we are grateful to Mr N Venkataraman for this observation based on a detailed statistical analysis. Such asymmetry always draws attention. The other reason to my mind is Mohammad Rafi – he is conspicuous by the absence of any great song which you would definitely like to include. This sent people on a feverish hunt for Rafi songs which, some felt, I might have missed to include in the shortlist. These explorers included Jignesh, Venkaramanji as well as Mr Ashok Vaishnav, who is a management professional, but who in his previous birth must have been a gold prospector. The result was that a lot many very good songs were added by these dedicated searchers, which were either unknown to me or which I had inadvertently missed. Most others such as Subodh, Anuradha Warrier, Gaddeswarupji, Kuldep Chauhan, Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh, Canasya and Mahesh Mamadapur confined themselves to my shortlist which had about two dozen male solos.

So how do I make a list of the best ten from about 35 songs placed on the table, and finally come down to one or two? One approach is what may be called the saree-shopping approach which we generally follow for such exercises. If the lady has to buy one saree, she would make the shop attendant show her one after another, nodding approval or disapproval as they keep coming, and keeping the approved ones to a side untill she has a stack of about twenty. Then she proceeds to do a number of iterations to bring down to ten, to five, to three, when she would solicit the endorsement of husband, or daughter, or whoever is accompanying her – saree-shopping is never done alone. Very often, if she is undecided she would come out with two sarees instead of one, which is akin to declaring two persons joint winners. Venkaramanji took the saree-shopping approach to an impossible height – he churned the whole shop, trawling through almost the entire lot of 100-odd solos to come up with his best ten.

It would appear that my task has been greatly simplified, but as I mentioned, it has become very challenging, albeit extremely interesting. I would approach it from the opposite direction, which we may call grocery-shopping approach. (Ashokji, please help me with a more impressive management jargon, such as ‘Waterfall’ approach or ‘Dutch Auction’ approach.) The lady goes to the neighbourhood kirana store – those going to supermarkets are surely missing a great human drama – with her essential list of grocery. After she is done, the shopkeeper would chat her up, why don’t you see this new brand of juice or biscuit which has just been launched, or this has 20% off, or Madam aapne is baar cornflakes nahi liya and so on. She would buy some more stuff, less important, pushed by the shopkeeper till her purse or bags are breached.

So I would go by the must-include songs, taking care that I do not miss out any major singer. Let me start with Rafi whom I mentioned in the beginning. I had included his two solos from the film Paapi in the shortlist. But the readers added some more, one of which immediately caught my attention – Humne to dard-e-dil ko fasana bana diya. This is better that the two in my shortlist. So if a Rafi song has to be included, because how can you keep Sachin Tandulkar out of the team? – it should be Humne to dard-e-dil ko.

I come next to Kishore Kumar. He had a great duet in Fareb, but I had not included any solo of his in the short-list. His solo Husn bhi hai udhas udhas from the same movie was mentioned by some readers. This is a very good song. If we had room this could have been included. But in this song Talat-effect is too pronounced, making it sound almost like his song. Including this for equity may be unfair to some more deserving songs.

Manna Dey is a very interesting case. I had included his two solos – Lapak jhapak tu aa re badarwa from Boot Polish and Chali Radhe Rani from Parineeta – without realising he had such a passionate following. I started seeing Lapak jhapak with a special respect after I read an article on the song, sent by Gaddeswarupji, written by a PhD scholar whose main area of interest is humour in classical. Among the additions made by the readers two are noteworthy – Torey naina raseeley kateeley haye Ram and Tera haath haath mein aa gaya – both from Hamdard. I would include Torey naina raseley katteley haye Rama. If I have to include another one, it is a toss-up between the remaining two, but I would go for Lapak jhapak for the sake of that PhD scholar and the readers who have endorsed this song.

As for Hemant Kumar, he seldom sings a bad song. Almost everyone would want to include Zindagi pyar ki do char ghadi hoti hai.

On the same logic, either solo from Aah can be included – Raat andheri door savera or Chhoti si ye zindagani – both are outstanding. The first is in slow tempo, the second fast tempo, but both poignant. I might have preferred the second song, but I find that there is greater support for the first, so it would be Raat andheri door savera.

That leaves the dominant singer of 1953, Talat Mahmood, who had many must-include songs. Sham-e-gham ki qasam, Zindagi denewale sun, Ae gham-e-dil kya karun are in everyone’s must-include. I have two more songs which cannot be left out. Mere naghmaon mein un mastana ankho ki niashani hai – he had some fast and peppy songs in which he was as good as his songs in the blue mood. The street singer-entertainer, with rabab  in his hand, singing this song to the crowd in an Arab market place, is amazing. Reminds me of Bechain nazar betaan jigar. And Sapnon ki suhani duniya ko from Shikast – a quintessential Talat song – whose sthayi is somewhat flat, but if you wait till the antara it is incredibly sweet.

We have already reached 10. But I have to mention some more Talat Mahmood songs which would be on many people’s how-can-that-be-left-out list. At least one from PatitaAndhe jahan ke andhe raaste, Tujhe apne paas bulati hai teri duniya and Hain sabse madhur wo geet mere; Teer chala from Naghma; Chal diya karwan from Laila Majnu; Hai ye wohi asmaan from Char Chaand; Mujhe dekho hasrat ki tasweer hun main from Baaz. It seems, to be fair we should include one from this list. Going by the recall value we can give this slot to Hain sabse madhur wo geet.

Thus we have Talat Mahmood’s six songs, Manna Dey’s two, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar and Rafi one each – eleven in all. I am inclined to exclude Rafi’s song – if something has to take a hit, let us take out the one which is less known.  There has been some comments from readers such as Hans and Rajinder Sharma about the trend of putting down Rafi consciously or inadvertently.  In 1953, frankly, he is not there (he had some great duets though).

I should mention in passing that Venkataramanji also mentioned eight more non-mainstream singers, two of whom I had included in ‘special’ songs – Krishnarao Chonkar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar. While Chonkar’s rendering in Raga Chandrakauns was outstanding, fitting them in mainstream list would be too elitist.

Thus the ten best male solos of 1953 are as follows.

1. Sham-e-gham ki kasam by Talat Mahmood from Footpath, music Khayyam


2. Zindagi denewale sun by Talat Mahmood from Dil-e-Nadan, music Ghulam Mohammad


3. Ae gham-e-dil kya karun by Talat Mahmood from Thokar, music Sardar Malik


4. Mere naghmon mein un mastana ankhon ki kahani hai by Talat Mahmood from Alif Laila, music Shyam Sundar


5. Sapnon ki suhani duniya ko by Talat Mahommod from Shikast, music Shankar Jaikishan


6. Hain sabse madhur wo geet mere by Talat Mahmood from Patita, music Shankar Jaikishan


7. Torey naina raseeley kateeley haye Rama by Manna Dey from Hamdard, music Anil Biswas


8. Lapak jhapak tu aa re badarwa by Manna Dey from Boot Polish, music Shankar Jaikishan


9. Raat andheri door savera by Mukesh from Aah, music Shankar Jaikishan


10. Zindagi pyar ki do char ghadi hoti hai by Hemant Kumar from Anarkali, music C Ramchandra


The above list is very tightly fitted with hardly any room for play. If we wish to include Rafi’s Humne to dard-e-dil ko or Kishore Kumar’s Husn bhi hai udhas udhas, we would have to knock off a song or two of Talat Mahmood. But that does not change the overall picture – Talat remains the dominant singer, and I should say by far the “best”.  What he means in 1953 is best summed up in the words of Anu, “Talat made great strides during this period, but my favourite of all male singers is Rafi… Heck, this is not about my favourites, so yeah, Talat Mehmood it is.”   Jignesh goes further, “….in male section, from ’50 to ’55, for this 6 yrs span i will go for only TALAT MEHMOOD.”  Venkataramanji’s heart is for him (though his mind went for Manna Dey).

Which is his best song? Sham-e-gham ki kasam is the overwhelming favourite. Canasya has compared and contrasted it with Rafi’s Suhani raat dhal chuki (Dulari, 1949). I had some view on this comparison.  Hans, who joined late, also made some valuable contribution with regard to this compariosn.  My own favourite in this genre, on precisely the same grounds that Cansya has mentioned, is Ae gham-e-dil kya karun. It starts with a recital Sahar ki raat aur main nashad-o-nakara phirun/ Jagmagaati jaagti sadkon pe awara phirun, then the familiar mukhda of the song, and coming to antaraa, Talat Mahmood glides smoothly from high to low pitch. It immediately evokes a picture of a forlorn, dejected man, walking aimlessly on the lonely, but illuminated, streets of the city in the night. Quintessential Talat. Had I included a category for the best lyrics, probably this would have won hands down, as Subodh and Jignesh have strongly endorsed

To conclude:

Songs of Yore Award for the Best Male Playback Singer of 1953 goes to Talat Mahmood.

And the best song is: Take your pick from Shame-gham ki kasam and Ae gham-e-dil kya karun.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok M Vaishnav August 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

AKji has deftly used DRS (technical analysis), experience and intuition to present a wonderfully personal judgment, that his readers would hardly be able to find fault with.

Is this what is known as Midas touch?

2 N Venkataraman August 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm

It will be difficult to disagree with your choice best 10 songs and Best male play back singer for 1953. Talat Mahmood has the overwhelming support of the majority of the readers, especially for his song ‘Sham-e-gham ki qasam’.
Nobody, except Jignesh shared my passion for the songs ‘Humne to dard-e-dil ko fasana bana diya’ by Md.Rafi and ‘Tera haath haath mein aa gaya’ by Manna Dey. Nobody even mentioned ‘Torey naina raseeley kateeley haye Ram’. Without Md.Rafi the list of final ten looks incomplete. Being an ardent admirer of Md Rafi you could have utilized your veto!

Finally the heart prevails over the mind!

My heartiest congratulations for an excellent sum-up.

3 Arunkumar Deshmukh August 8, 2013 at 9:36 pm

AK Ji,
Excellent summing up indeed. It is difficult to please all tastes,though all are right in their own way.When it comes to drawing a conclusion one has to be pointed. I would say you have done it very skillfully too.
Simply great.
I am more happy that the conclusion concurs with my choice.

4 AK August 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

Ashokji, Arunji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

Thanks a lot. I have discussed a great deal about Rafi and Humne to dard-e-dil ko. Even on the argument that ‘Sachin Tendulkar should not be left out of the team’, I found it difficult to include it at the cost of a Talat song. Manna Dey’s Torey naina raseeley has become one of my top favourites, and I have to thank you for that.

5 gaddeswarup August 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for a wonderful list. Off topic. This is probaly well known but it is only recently that I noticed Trilok Kapur version of ‘Zindagi dene wale sun’

6 mumbaikar8 August 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I like the way you argue “how can you not play Sachin” after having decided that you are not playing him 🙂

Jokes apart , very good sum up! 1953 was indeed Talat Mahmood’s year, me not being an ardent fan of Hemant Kumar would go for Talat’s Andhe Jahan Ke or would have probably played Sachin

It was not known to me at all. what a great find. I could not believe the uploader. I thought it was mistake on his part to name Trilok Kapoor ,
I thought Talat Mahmood was singing in a concert. But when I googled Trilog Kapoor and listened to few songs sung by him was convinced that indeed this is Trilk Kapoor and not Talat Mahmood.

7 AK August 9, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Thanks a lot. I ditto Mumbaikar8. Trilok Kapur version is very good. His voice is indistinguishable from Talat Mahmood . However, one obvious difference is that Trilok Kapur’s version is in somewhat faster tempo. One does not know if it is because of technical problems.

Thanks a lot. Considering that Sachin Tendulkar is such an icon, and himself not in a mood to budge, if ever the selectors gather the courage to drop him, there has to be something terribly wrong with his performance.

8 jignesh kotadia August 10, 2013 at 12:19 am

Akji,, thanx 4 choosing Talat. NOC for the right choice of best singer and song. Top 3 song r really top 3. I think ‘sham e gham ki kasam’ is the winner by a millisecond to ‘aye gham e dil’.
‘aye gham e dil’ is poetic summit and ‘sham e gham’ is a complete feel.

9 Subodh Agrawal August 11, 2013 at 8:02 am

Well, the choice of the best male singer was a foregone conclusion. Still, the journey there was made very interesting by the insightful analysis of AK, ably complemented by the knowledgeable comments. The bonus was the discovery of songs not heard before, or long forgotten. Vintage SoY.

10 Saurabh August 11, 2013 at 10:45 am

Can someone please give me a link to song humne toh dard-e-dil ko fasana, I can’t seem to find it on youtube. Thanks

11 jignesh kotadia August 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Give me ur email id
I will send u that masterpiece

12 Saurabh August 12, 2013 at 7:19 am

My email id is
Thanks in advance

13 AK August 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Thanks a lot. It is erudite readers lie you who have made SoY such an interesting forum.

Here is the link to the song for everyone’s enjoyment:

Hamne to dard-e-dil ko tamanna bana liya by Mohammad Rafi from Dard-e-Dil, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music RC Boral

14 jignesh kotadia August 15, 2013 at 11:28 pm

itna sannata kyun hai bhai ?

Someone ought to break this khamoshi..

Ok i m trying to say something….first,, i got an idea from what Subodhji said in # 9 that the selection of singer is a foregone conclusion but our real gain is those unheard gems which we dug up and enjoyed in this journey. So, i want to present a list of some magnificent songs that I HEARD FIRST TIME thru the revisit of 1953. This is my gain….

15 jignesh kotadia August 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Before Akji release a new post i want to make a list of MY FIRST TIME LISTENED MAGICAL SONGS IN LAST MONTH. I m very thankful to my encyclopedic elder friends, YT and the Uploaders.

Tera hath hath men aa gaya,
Ke charaag raah men jal gaye
Mujhe sahal ho gayi manzilen,
Wo hawa ke rukh bhi badal gaye


One cannot ignore a tune made by Anilda or Vinod likes…esp this one of manna dey. I m thankful to Venkataramanji to indicate it. It has same metre as ‘Tera dard hai meri zindagi, jo dil o jigar ki talaash hai’ of Vinod in ‘ramman’ intoxicating song sung by ashaji..must listen.

16 jignesh kotadia August 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Kagwa re ja, balma ke deswa


Accidental discovery, Outstanding melody !

Humne to dard e dil ko tamanna bana liya

Dard e dil_rafi_r.c.boral

Highly attended song on this post and first brought by Venkataramanji.

17 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 12:08 am

Kehta tha zamana, magar humne na mana
Mushkil hai bahot pyar ki rasmo ko nibhana
Ek aag ka dariya hai aur doob ke jana
Humne bhi buzurgo se suna tha ye fasaana
Zulfo ke haseen jaal men dil ko na fansaana
Ek aag ka dariya hai, aur doob ke jana

Asha-Rafi_aag ka dariya_Vinod

One of the best made tunes …if one can sing this song note to note then he wud know the beauty spots of this perfectly made tune by the tune king Vinod.

18 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 12:16 am

Na woh hamaare, na dil hamaara
Kahin bhi apna nahi thikana

Dil e nadaan_sudha malhotra_g.mohd

Got from Akji’s shortlist..wonderful song !

Mere khayalo men aake gale laga ja mujhe
Ke aaj phir mera jee chahta hai rone ko


I sung this quintessential talat song several time in last month..too good

19 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 12:30 am

now 3 Anilda-lata supermelodious songs from ‘Fareb’.

Jaaoge thes laga ke
Bahot pachhtaoge baalam

Mere man me samaa gaye aise piya
Jahaan nain jhuke wahin dekh liya

Raat gungunati hai
Loriya sunati hai
Neend kyun nahi aati

All three r typical anilda honey dipped pieces. ‘raat gungunati’ is an insidious invader like ‘sapno ki suhani duniya’ of talat, it starts flat but peaks up tempo in beautifully made antaras.

20 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 12:42 am

another beauties of Gunah now from snehal bhatkar

Na main dil ki baat bataungi__rajkumari

From Akji’s special selection

Hum par jadoo daar gaye ho julmi
Teer karejawa pe maar gaye ho julmi
Nain raseele

Tu ishq se dar, bemaut na mar, ye wo dard wo dard hai jiski ki koi dawa hi nahin
Ye woh jadoo hai jiska maara hua, maara hua koi aaj talak to jiya hi nahi

Kitnaaa lambaa mukhdaa !! Phir bhi ki badhiya dhoon snehalji ne di..

21 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 12:51 am

no. 11 and 12 both songs sung by Lataji.

Is dil ki bhala taskeen ho kya
Jis dil ka sahara haye toot gaya
Pichhle pahar jo baaki raha tha
Wo bhi sitara haye toot gaya

Anand bhavan_lata_vasant desai

Na chamko na chamko
Chanda aaj ki raat

Dhuaan_lata_v.desai and dhaniram

Both songs r too good

22 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 1:05 am

Chaand ko dekh ke
Kehte hai muhabbat wale
Chaand ne dekhe nahi
Chaand si surat wale

Jungle ka jawahar_sulochana kadam_madhavlal master

I cudnt understand what lyricist wanted to say in mukhda but the song has really something different feel.

Aawaz de raha hai koi aasman se
Aaja mere jahaan men apne jahaan se

Gauhar_sudha m._g.mohd

Flat opening…at first not interest but after some hearings it grew against my opinion ! This is the beauty of that era’s songs…one can never neglect any song by 1 or 2 listenings.

23 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 1:13 am

Hariyala saavan dhol bajata aaya

O dil na lagaana of mukesh

Both from Akji’s shortlist. ‘o dil na lagana’ is a good song but i feel it hasnt the height of other mukesh-roshan scores like ‘sataayega kise tu’, ‘ek jhuthi si tasalli’, ‘teri duniya men’ or ‘tere pyar ko is tarha se bhulana’.

24 jignesh kotadia August 16, 2013 at 7:22 am

and 1 more, i forgot it in night, it is not a big one but enough to enjoy and may be a good find for g.m.durrani fans.
Is toote hue dil ka, ab kaun sahara hai
Apne na bane apne, ab kaun hamara hai

Chhoti duniya_gm durrani_rajhans kataria

Who is rajhans kataria ?? Heard this name first time Akji, Arunji ?

25 AK August 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm

How do you discover these songs? Rajhans Kataria is an unknown name to me. It turns out he gave music for another movie Ek Tha Raja (1951) along with Murari, another unknown person. They are so unknown that they would not figure even in my series on Forgotten Composers.

To appreciate your effort in discovering him, here is Is toote hue dilo ka by GM Durrani from Chhoti Duniya.

Is toote hue dil ka by GM Durrani from Chhoti Duniya, music Rajhans Kataria

Another song which deserves special mention is Tera hath hath mein aa gaya by Manna Dey fom Hamdard, composed by Anil Biswas:

Mukesh’s O dil na lagana may not be among his top songs, but the ones you have mentioned are from other years. Incidentally several of these songs have figured earlier in Mukesh and his romance with ‘Dil’.

Other female songs or duets you have mentioned belong to other categories (this was the wrap up for male songs). Some of these which you are really fond of, you may bring up in case I miss to mention them.

Thanks a lot.

26 N Venkataraman August 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm

The storm after the calm!

Out of the 19 songs, 5 were songs sung by Male singers. Song #1 and #3 were discussed and the clippings for both the songs were provided by AKji. I thank you for sharing my liking for these songs.

Other songs (#6, #18 and #19) were also good. I listened to them in course of my ‘dredging’.
Thanks for bringing into focus the other 14 songs, 2 duets and 12 female solos. We may discuss them when the wrap-up for those categories get posted.
I was not sure about the year of release of the film ‘Jungle ka Jawahar’. (1952 or 1953)

Tera dard hai meri zindagi, jo dil o jigar ki talaash hai’ of Vinod too made a good listening.

27 N Venkataraman August 17, 2013 at 12:21 am

Let me share these two songs

‘Raaj guru ne jhansi chodi’ by Md.Rafi from Jhansi ki Raani’ (1953), lyrics Pandi Radheshyam, music Vasant Desai

‘Chal Aye Dil-e-Majboor’ by Manna Dey from Surang (1953), lyrics Shevan Rizvi, music Shivramkrishna

28 jignesh kotadia August 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Akji,, i want to name a worthful website based on HFGK which contains complete songs lists and all released films till date. So i m also very very thankful to

29 jignesh kotadia August 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Amöngst the two songs ‘chal ae dil majboor’ of manna dey sounds good. I feel this tune is completely suited and made for Talat mehmood but sung by mannada !!! Talat was first choice of every MD for such tunes except Naushad in those days….perhaps talat was too busy that time ¿!?

30 N Venkataraman August 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I am glad that you enjoyed ‘chal ae dil majboor’ of Manna Dey.
It was interesting to note your observation. Manna Dey had left an indelible mark in rendering this song composed by Shivramkrishna.
Thanks for the link myswar .com

31 N Venkataraman August 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Here is a interesting song without percussion support.
‘teri mehfil mein’ by Shankar Dasgupta from Aakash (1953), lyrics Satyendra Athaiya , music Anil Biswas

32 jignesh kotadia August 19, 2013 at 12:29 am


‘teri mehfil men’ is a nice song without instruments. ‘chal ae dil e majboor’ is growing….there is no any problem with manna dey’s’s superb…potent singers like manna, rafi and kishore can sing anything with suberb result. Kishore can sing Talat style ‘husn bhi hai udas’ but talat cant do vice versa.

?¿ Jungle ka jawahar ?¿
Myswar shows this film in 1952. So it might be in 1952 according to HFGK. Some websites show 1953. Maybe another certi date and release date mix up. In all such disputing cases I feel better to stand with release dates.

33 jignesh kotadia August 19, 2013 at 12:45 am

‘Murari’ has only 2 films done under his baton…’ek tha ladka’ (with R.kataria as u said) and ‘Nayi zindagi’ (solely) both in 1951. (courtesy:Myswar@Hfgk)

34 AK August 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Jignesh, Venkataramanji,
HFGK also shows Jungle Ka Sawar in 1952. My Swar is a very good site, but probably its source is HFGK. But it has a lot of interesting trivia, not easily found elsewhere. Thanks for rekindling my interest in this site.

Shankar Dasgupta’s nazm sans instruments reminds me of the style in Pyasa which came later. Would it be correct to say that this was the inspiration for SD Burman?

35 Canasya October 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm

AKji, I saw this post earlier but was occupied. Let me try to make amends. There has been no serious difference on the choice of Talat as the best playback singer of 1953, and rightly so. The choice of songs seems to have been a tie, but even that is perhaps acceptable to most. To my ears, however, Talat sounds very comfortable singing “Shame-gham ki kasam” – the entire composition falls in the middle of his range which makes for effortless singing. On the other hand, in “Ae gham-e-dil kya karun” his voice is stretched somewhat in the antaras.

AKji’s excellent write-up reminded me of two masterly Hindi articles I had read long ago. I plead amnesia. I can neither recall the titles, nor vouch for the names of the authors. To the best of my recollection both were by Sharad Joshi whose 22nd death anniversary fell last month. I have limited Hindi literary resources at hand, and the presence of Hindi literature on the web is poor. Even provides a list of collected works, not essays. May be SoY’s resourceful commentators will have better access to Sharad Joshi’s books.

AKji mentions auctions and grocery lists. Had Sharad Joshi been alive 2G and coalgate would have been right up his alley, and he would have brought hidden nuances of grocery lists to light. He did write about sari shopping though. A housewife (with husband in tow) enters a sari shop. The salesman, of course, tries his best in a variety of ways to find out from her as quickly as possible which type of sari she would like to buy, what price range, which occasion, colour, weave, material, … . He even tries to make helpful suggestions as to what would possibly suit her best in his opinion. But once an Indian woman steps into a sari shop buying sari is quickly relegated to the status of a secondary enterprise. She has entered a domain in which no one else dare claim superior knowledge, or greater exclusivity of taste. This she proceeds to establish systematically by demoralizing the salesman through her criticism of the shop’s collection, by repeatedly pointing out his lack of understanding of the finer aspects of saris of all hues from different regions, and by forcing him to unfold and display one by one each and every sari in the shop — before walking out without purchasing one!

I am not suggesting that AKji with his top ten list can be compared to the salesman, nor that commentators like us — whose suggestions quickly proliferate the list to resemble the proverbial pile of saris — to the woman. I certainly look forward to reading the highly informative and analytical comments of Arunkumar Deshmukhji, N Venkatramanji, Subodh Agrawalji, Ashok M Vaishnavji, Gaddeswarupji, Jignesh Kotadiaji, Hansji, Anuji, Madhuji and others even though it induces inferiority complex in me. I do not know what the avowed objectives of these posts are (apart from being “a tribute to old Hindi film music” – SoY’s welcome page). But maximizing the number of comments would appear to be a worthy objective, although that would make the job of summarizing and selecting the winner more difficult for AKji. Perhaps Gaddeswarupji could suggest a simple screen or a scoring scheme that would help generate quicker summaries and short lists and point out the winners.

(I will talk about the other article by Sharad Joshi in another comment shortly.)

36 AK October 11, 2013 at 12:29 am

You have more than made up for your late arrival. In any case your detailed comments in the survey article were very helpful.

Talat Mahmmod is very obvious. Between his two songs, it is purely a matter of choice. I have written a good deal why I prefer one over the other. That is why I concluded, take your pick.

I won’t like to make the process too mathematical. I used the expression ‘sense of the house’ once. In a subject like this I think it is best I harmonise various views in a qualitative manner as I have been doing.

I can very well imagine Sharad Joshi writing on saree-shopping. Among his contemporary humourists he was the most unpretentious, without malice, simple and straightforward – a kind of RK Laxman or RK Narayan. I would eagerly wait for your next instalment.

I do not know whether you have noticed a unique thing about the salesman. He is a dynamic psychologist. As he discerns the lady switching her preference from Pochampalli to Chanderi to Kota to Maheshwari, he adjusts his praise and criticism in real time, always being in sync with the lady.

It may appear that ‘saree’ is the domain of the lady. I had an interaction with Pushpesh Pant, the well-known expert on international affairs from JNU – you see him interviewing foreign dignitaries on DD, or anchoring a programme on historical sites and forts of India. It may come as a surprise to many – he is a genuine saree expert, and can teach a thing or two to the ladies.

37 Canasya October 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm

AKji, this continues my earlier comment. If “Lapak jhapak” was an audio-visual spoof of our classical music, the second article by Sharad Joshi I had mentioned earlier was its literary counterpart: a dig on Hindustani Khayal singing where singers and the (snob) patrons often, in the name of preserving culture, dish out unmitigated boredom and try their best to alienate the (uninitiated) masses. The endless alaaps, the various permutations and combinations of often meaningless words or sounds, the exaggerated facial gestures by the singer and the accompanists, the pronounced movements of hands, and the ebb and flow of their entire body even that appear to throw the words now to the ceiling, intercept them in mid air, pass them sideways to the walls, dodge the reflections at times, swallow and make them disappear at others, … .

I had not attended a Hindustani music concert when I had first read the article and could appreciate the imagery better only after having been to a Pt. Bhimsen Joshi performance. (AKji’s earlier post on Raga Durga implies that Bhimsen Joshi had performed in Patna. But I have never heard of him ever being there.) In the beginning I had dismissed his facial gestures and hand movements as idiosyncrasies. Later I attended concerts by Pt. Jasraj and others. They were more restrained in their gestures and movements. That reinforced my belief that Bhimsen Joshi was probably an exhibitionist showing off for the benefit of the public, that the presence of audience was catalyst for those gestures. I never thought it could have been “swantah sukhay”, to borrow a term from AKji. I doubted if he used those gestures during practice (riyaz) sessions too (I still have no idea; perhaps some knowledgeable commentators of SoY could provide enlightenment here).

I was reminded of the article again when, after marriage, our bundle of joy arrived. I noticed my infant daughter — content after her fill of milk, lying on her back, and looking towards the ceiling – beginning an alaap with all permutations and combinations of vowels, while furiously pedaling an imaginary bike, kicking a virtual football and throwing hands to catch it in the air before throwing it again at some ghost rival. At first she was alone in the room, she stopped for a moment when I entered the room, but quickly resumed her physical and vocal gymnastics completely oblivious of the presence of others.

I now realize that the facial gestures and hand movements by the singer and the accompanists in a Hindustani vocal performance enhance enjoyment (part of ‘rasabhas’ – a term from the article referred to by Gaddeswarupji). Over years I attended couple of more concerts of Bhimsen Joshi. His voice had mellowed, movement of hands had slowed down, but more pronounced facial gestures probably compensated for it. YouTube has a few videos from his younger days. The agility of his gestures and movements and the strength of his voice make me envy today those who had been lucky enough to be present at a Bhimsen Joshi performance in the late 1940s and early 1950s – and that is what I think “Lapak jhapak” was a caricature of. (This is my guess and would like to be corrected if I am wrong).

In 1953 Bhimsen Joshi was 31 and a celebrity big enough to deserve a spoof by RK’s team of SJ, Hasrat, Manna Dey and others. And they do an excellent job of it. But its very success as a caricature probably dooms it from being considered in the list of “best songs of 1953”. A caricature involves deliberately exaggerating certain distinctive features and peculiarities of the original, underplaying others and ignoring the rest. You can hear Manna Dey exaggerating certain notes, while at other times he is abrupt. That this was purposeful becomes clear when you listen to his award winning “Jhanak jhanak tori baaje payalia” (Mere Huzoor; SJ; 1968).

Although “Lapak jhapak” was an excellent spoof, if its objective was to ridicule the snob element in Hindustani classical music establishment, or to highlight the lack of concern for (the cultivation of) popular taste, it only succeeded in making classical music more interesting. In this regard Sharad Joshi’s piece scores over “Lapak jhapak”. (Here I am reminded of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Guddi’ made with the avowed objective of “deglamourizing” bollywood. It only succeeded in glorifying the characters of Dharmendra and Pran by highlighting their “humane” sides.)

In the movie, the song is immediately followed by rains and flooding of slums, an unintended and disastrous outcome. That is probably a more telling satire on our attributing mythical powers to ragas (that Deepak raga could light up lamps and Megh Malhar could bring down the heavens). This was also something that Sharad Joshi did not attempt in his article.

I end with two links. The first is an early 1970s performance by Bhimsen Joshi. His facial gestures are the weirdest and hand movements the wildest between 11:00-17:00 (Payalia jhankar mori):

The second link is to the first LP record of Bhimsen Joshi:

38 AK October 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

Canasya, You have given a lot to chew and think. Our in-house music experts are more competent to comment on it. Here is my view as a lay listener. Lapak jahlak on the surface is a fun song per se to relieve the tedium of their marginal existence. They are making fun of their baldness, using their head as the tabla, and beseeching rain to water their bald pate so that something grows on it. I doubt if SJ consciously intended it as a spoof on classical music performance. Incidentally, a very large number of Manna Dey’s classical songs have been picturised on comedians like Johnny Walker, Mahmood and Aga. Until I saw those videos, I had no idea Manna Dey had been reduced to this. The songs themselves – Hato kaahe ko jhhothi banao batiya, Phool gendawa na maro/em> and so many others I can count – are outstanding and they are among my great favorites of Manna Dey. Even a profound song such as Laaga chunari mein daag has been pictured in an irreverent manner. That is one of the vagaries of film music. I do not think these songs either were meant as a spoof of classical. My take is that the composers realized the classical merit of Manna Dey, and since they could not use him on mainstream actors, they wanted to have him any way. Now about excessive facial gestures, and Sharad Joshi’s article. A humorist himself resorts to exaggeration for his craft. I hope a lot of what you are saying is also in lighter vein. Bhimsen Joshi’s facial contortions are indeed excessive and border on mudra dosh (without meaning any disrespect to him). But where I disagree with you is the suggestion that any artiste does it for effect. In the piece you have linked, the next one is his iconic Mishra Kafi thumri, Ab piya to maanat naahi. Here his facial gestures entirely reflect the emotions of a nayika who feels frustration at all her efforts failing to please the lover (Ab kaun gun an se manaaun re/ Ab piya to maanat naahi). I have seen on DD his Sur Malhar, Bundaniya barsan laagi. Coming to drut, he would seem to jump out of the stage to catch the clouds, and I found it entirely credible. I can imagine that at that stage the artiste is completely oblivious of his surroundings and is in communion with his sur which is his God. The parallel with riyaaz is not valid. In riyaaz, the artiste is generally honing his ability to hit the purity of his notes in the privacy of his home. In a full scale performance, the synergy with the accompanists, the composition and empathy with the audience makes a surcharged atmosphere, carrying the artiste away to a different plane.

39 Samir Ahmed October 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

Anu’s comment paraphrased in the main article succinctly mirrors my own sentiment, to wit, I too am a Rafi aashiq but 1953 emphatically belonged to Talatsaab. Conversely, I feel you’ve missed a trick by not including what many connoisseurs would consider to be one of Rafisaab’s all-time great songs, namely Chanda Ka Dil Toot Gaya from Khoj (1953). According to an oft-repeated anecdote, Rafisaab reputedly charged a token fee of one rupee for the song, which then went on to become an enduring hit with Radio Ceylon listeners. Raju Bharatan has written an article regarding Rafi’s songs with obscure composers and opens his essay with a description of this song…

40 Mayur vachharajani June 27, 2014 at 1:14 pm

This song of shikast by talt and the alap of the song made me intoxicated.
The more i listen , the more i repeat listening the song.

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