Songs of Yore award for the Best Female Playback Singer goes to Lata, Lata,.…..Lata Mangeshkar
Continuing the string of posts on the best songs of 1953, and Wrap Up 1 on the best male playback singer, I present here the second wrap up on the best female playback singer, based on the readers’ comments and my own preferences.
Who is the best female playback singer of 1953, is really a no-brainer. You can give slot 1 to 10 to Lata Mangeshkar, and there would be another ten outstanding songs, anyone of which could have made it to the list. So, writing the second wrap up on female playback songs boils down to looking carefully at the songs by ‘other’ singers to see how many can be included in the final list of ten, leaving the rest for ‘The Female Playback Singer’ of the Golden Era.
Besides Lata Mangeshkar, I had included solo songs of Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle, Rajkumari, Jagjit Kaur, Mubarak Begum and Sudha Malhotra in my long-list in the survey article on the best songs of 1953. The erudite and passionate readers of Songs of Yore, as usual, came up with many more gems, their own top choice, some backed with detailed reasoning and analysis. Based on all this, let me try to present what I consider the best female solos of 1953.
The best way to ensure that we do not miss out the ‘other’ singers altogether is to start with them. The ‘other’ singer who has a great following, Subodh being even more passionate about her than Lata Mangehskar, is Geeta Dutt. He is not alone; there could be more like him among SoY family. I had posted her ‘Baat chalat nayi chunari rang daari’ in ‘special’ songs, which is a category for unique songs which may not fit in the main list. I had another Geeta Dutt song in mind – Ayi biraha ki raat mora tadape jiya (Nav Durga) – which is my top favourite and which I intended to put in the list of ten. But it turned out, Baat chalat evoked a great deal of support. So if one song of Geeta Dutt is to be included, it should be Baat chalat.
Next in reckoning has to be Shamshad Begum, and she did have some outstanding songs. My own favourite is Angan more aaoji sajan dheere dhhere, which I included in ‘special’ songs, leaving the choice for the mainstream between the two more popular and known songs – Badi mushqil se dil ki beqaraari ko qaraar aya and Kahe jadu kiya mujhko itana bata jadugar balmaa. My sense is, people would be OK with either. I go for Kahe jadu kiya, which has more of the verve and joyousness of Shamshad Begum. It also has an Amirbai Karnataki version, and some readers – even I hold the same view – find that better. But since the original song in the film is by Shamshad Begum, and Amirbai’s is a cover version, I have no hesitation in including the former in the list of ten.
I have great fascination for Asha Bhosle’s Gore gore hathon mein mehdi lagaa ke. This song was the reason for my doing a post on my favorite ‘special’ songs of Asha Bhosle long back.
Now the exercise is getting difficult. If I glance down the long list of 93 songs in the survey article, my instinct is to include Jagjit Kaur’s Kahmosh zindagi ko afsana mil gaya, which has also been mentioned by Mr Ashok M Vaishnav. Then, the more I listen to Mubarak Begum’s Suno more naina (mentioned by Jignesh) or Deep ke sang jalun main, I am entranced, and would feel guilty if I do not include one of them. There is also Rajkumari, who sang about a dozen songs, whose Na main dil ki baat bataungi I had included in ‘special’ songs to give a flavor of the vintage era. But this has touched a chord in the readers – Venkataramnji and Jignesh added some more, including a very beautiful Kagwa re ja balma ke deswa, and fervently wished that she figured in the final ten.
We have still not come to Lata Mangeshkar, who sang some legendary songs like Ye zindagi usi ki hai, Raja ki ayegi baraat and Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa, and many more outstanding songs as had become her second nature in the early 50s. I think Subodh is unfair when he says ‘Female solos too don’t do much better’ in the context of his remark that this was not a great year for male solos.
Coming to Lata Mangeshkar, Ye zindagi usi ki hai was the Ayega anewala of 1953, probably better. Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa as one of the greatest loris makes a straight entry. Aah had several outstanding songs, but Raja ki ayegi baraat also became a legend. In many old movies, its tune is often played in the background or by bands as a quintessential wedding song. SJ’s musical piece in the interludes is one of their best orchestration, which established their signature style.
This was the era when C Ramchandra-Lata combination became the most recognizable style of Lata songs. Apna pata bata de ya mere paas aa ja (Shagufa) and Ae pyar teri duniya se hum bas itani nishani le ke chale (Jhanjhar) are among eternal favourites of any CR-Lata lover. I think we should take at least one – I go for Ae pyar teri duniya se hum for its sweetness and the quintessential CR-Lata trademark.
Shankar Jaikishan also had a great year, as mentioned by several readers, and showed their talent with a different style of Lata songs outside RK banner in Aurat, Mayurpankh, Patita and Shikast, with several songs of eternal popularity. It is a difficult choice between so many, as good as any. Let us take Kare badra tu na ja na ja in the shortlist.
On SJ, I must draw the reader’s attention again to Laga kar dil parishan hain from Naya Ghar, which I had included at the top of my ‘special’ songs. Venkataramanji is so much charmed by this song, as I was, that he would like to see it in the top ten. (I mentioned CR-Lata school of music; do you see that influence?)
There is another great Lata Mangeshkar song, which I intended to include in the top ten, and which has also been mentioned by Ashokji – Hamare baad ab mehfil mein afsaane bayan honge (Baghi), composed by Madan Mohan. It is not a terribly original song, as it seems quite clearly inspired by Baharein phir bhi ayengi magar hum tum juda honge from Lahore (1949), composed by Shyam Sundar. Madan Mohan’s another famous inspiration Tujhe kya sunaun main dilruba (Rafi), based on Sajjad Hussain’s Ye hawa ye raat ye chandni (Talat Mahmood) has become a part of music folklore. I do not hold these against MM, because these songs are absolutely awesome.
Thus we have ‘shortlisted’ at least a song each of Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle, Jagjit Kaur, Mubarak Begum, Rajkumari, and seven of Lata Mangeshkar, making a total of 13 songs. So, three songs have to give way. Whichever I knock off would leave a void and sense of yearning. But the exercise has been worthwhile; at least we had discussion to our heart’s content. May be, I could have segregated it into a Lata and non-Lata list, as Ashokiji and Venkaramanji did in a structured manner, and several others did instinctively.
Here is the final list of ten, which has some of my bias, and with some sadness that I had to leave out three of my great favourites.
1. Ye zindagi usi ki hai by Lata Mangeshkar from Anarkali, music C Ramchandra
2. Ae pyar teri duniya mein hum by Lata Mangeshkar from Jhanjhar, music C Ramchandra
3. Raja ki ayegi baraat by Lata Mageshkar from Aah, music Shankar Jaikishan
4. Kare badra tu na ja na ja by Lata Mangeshkar from Shikast, music Shankar Jaikishan
5. Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa by Lata Mangeshkar from Do Bigha Zameen, music Salil Chaudhary
6. Hamaare baad ab mahfil mein afsane bayan honge by Lata Mangeshkar from Baghi, music Madan Mohan
7. Baat chalat nayi chunari rang daari by Geeta Dutt from Ladki, music R Sudarshanm-Dhaniram
8. Kahe jadu kiya mujhko itana bata by Shamshad Begum from Naghma, music Nashad
9. Gore gore hathon mein menhdi racha ke by Asha Bhosle from Parineeta, music Arun Kumar Mukherjee
10. Khamosh zindagi ko afsana mil gaya by Jagjit Kaur from Deil-e-Nadan, music Ghulam Mohammad
To sum up the obvious:
Songs of Yore Award for the Best Female Playback singer of 1953 goes to Lata Mangeshkar
And the best song is: When an iconic song – Ye zindagi usi ki hai jo kisi ka ho gaya – is there, why strain your brain?