Best songs of 1953: Wrap Up 2

September 18, 2013

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.

Lata Mangeshkar_Geeta Dutt_Shamshad Begum_Asha BhosleWho 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?

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 18, 2013 at 9:57 am

AK Ji,
The decade 1950 to 1960,IMO, belonged to Lata and only Lata. Her some of the -rather majority- top songs came during this period. hence the winner’s name was a foregone conclusion in my mind.
Which one is the BEST depends upon one’s liking of the type of songs one likes-sad,happy,Bhajan,Lori,comedy etc etc.
Though my choice (Mohe laga sara jag feeka-Jhanjhar-53) was not even in the race has not shaken my faith in this song being the best. I am sure others also must be feeling the same about their best songs.
What was important is who was the Best Singer and in this I too have won.
Your coming to the conclusion was very systematic,methodical and also Logical.
Thanks for an interesting post.

2 Mahesh September 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm

AK ji,
I liked the first three rankings. Nice conclusion.
I dont remember if it has been discussed earlier, but Anarkali as all know has two versions of the iconic song. The one featured here is the sadder version and again my favourite. Treating the happy version as a separate song, where does it stand.
If I am not wrong, the happy version was a craze in those days.
A minor typo error in Lata’s name in Song No 1. Kindly correct. Finally, all the thanks for a wonderful journey of 1953.

3 Ashok M Vaishnav September 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm

AKji has tried his level best to play fair in the chair of the judge, but seems to have happily succumbed to the ‘pressures’ in casting the vote in favor of Lata Mangeshkar, in for as 1953 songs are concerned.
Well, the considerations of popularity, merit, peer views are , and perhaps shall, never be more unanimous than this time for the female playback singer.
But all ‘pundits’, and die-hard ‘fans’, have a very bad habit of splitting hairs even when the choice is made.
So do not be surprised if we her some murmur of difference when it comes to selecting the song.a

4 AK September 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I am with you on Lata Mangeshkar being ‘The Female Playback Singer’ of the 1950s and 60s. I remembered you had mentioned Mohe lage sara jag feeka feeka in the overview post. I listened to it again, and I have to admit I am not able to share your fascination for this song. In Jhamela, after Ae pyar teri duniya se hum my favourite is Chhed gayo mohe sapne mein Shyam. I am curious to know what got you hooked to this obscure song in the face of so many other Lata Mangeshkar gems, including CR’s, in 1953. For the benefit of the readers here is your song, which I was not aware of until you mentioned.

But, of course, Lata Mangeshkar by miles. Even Subodh and Anu should accept it without demur.

5 AK September 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

If the first three match with your choice in the same order, I have reason to be happy at my conclusion. I do not think Ye zindagi usi ki hai having two versions was specifically mentioned. Its tune and the musical accompaniment on the sitar has an underlying pathos even in the happy version. Is it a characteristic of Raga Bhimpalasi? Let us see what our experts Subodh and Venkataramanji say to this. The plaintive cry Alvida, Alvida at the end is the defining feature of the song. I think some records had the two versions in continuity, and Lata Mangeshkar in her public concerts emphasised the Alvida part. Therefore, ultimately what stuck in our mind was the sad version. (Thanks for pointing out the typo.)

I am reminded of KL Saigal-Khursheed’s iconic duet More balapan ke sathi chhaila bhool jaiyo na from Tansen (1943). This also had two versions – one supposedly happy and the other sad version. What makes the song great for me is again its underlying pathos in both the versions.

6 AK September 18, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Thanks a lot, but I don’t have to ‘succumb to pressure’ for Lata Mangeshkar, if she was the best singer in the year. If I read between the lines, your favourite is someone else? If so, it is time you came out of the closet as Subodh and Anu have so courageously done.

7 mumbaikar8 September 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Ashokji has aptly stated, ” seems to have happily succumbed to the ‘pressures’ in casting the vote in favor of Lata Mangeshkar, ”
Here comes the first murmur of difference as rightly predicted by Asohkji.
How can 1953, 10 song list can be complete without “Aa jane wafa aa”?
( not for me at least)
As Arunji has mentioned 1950s was indeed Lata’s decade. Your list of 1953 stamps that.

8 Ashok M Vaishnav September 18, 2013 at 10:11 pm

I have already my preference for Asha Bhosle , during the discussions relating to Asha Bhosle’s Best S D Burman songs , more because of the range she could present, for the subtle difference in style she could create when Geeta Dutt dominated the scene or when Lata Mangeshkar dominated the scene or at the last phase, when her vocal chords were not as youthful, but RDB-Gulzar combination threw up great challenges. even when i

9 jignesh kotadia September 19, 2013 at 2:05 am

personal preferences may differ scalp to scalp but the winner is inevitably only ‘yeh zindagi usi ki hai’. Trademark song of 1953, more popular until now. Obviously perfect choice by Akji.

10 jignesh kotadia September 19, 2013 at 2:21 am

this is interesting page,, bbc asia’s 100 popular hindi film songs to date list. ‘yeh zindagi usi ki hai’ is at no.26… Heartening thing is that there r more than 40 pre70 songs r still popular amongst today’s population ! songs

11 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 19, 2013 at 6:42 am

I believe Popularity and being the best are two different parameters.
Take the case of winners of president’s Gold medal films or Academy award books. They are not necessarily the most popular ones.
Simply put, it may be,popularity indicates “liking by the most” and Being the best may be “qualitatively superior most amongst the peers”.

12 Anu Warrier September 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

Of course, Lata Mangeshkar! No one else came close to toppling her either in range or versatility during these years. My own preferences notwithstanding, I can surely bow my head in sheer respect to the purity of her voice, her mastery over sur, and the range she could scale. No, everyone else pales in comparison. There are many songs by many singers that I like – from this period, from before and after – but one cannot escape the magic that was Lata at the peak of her prowess.

And Arunkumarji, chhota munh badi baat but in my opinion, she was the popular choice and quite simply the best at that point in time.

AK, my personal favourite (even though I rank Ye zindagi usi ki hai very high in my list) is Aa jaa re aa, nindiya tu aa… her voice is so sweet, so pure…

Meena Kumari was shooting for Bimal Roy’s Parineeta at the same time that he was shooting Do Bigha Zameen (Ashok Kumar had a story to narrate about how it led to him falling out with Bimal Roy), and so desperately wanted to be a part of the film, anyway, anyhow, that Bimal Roy finally gave in – and created that song situation just for her.

13 AK September 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

No quarrels on Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa. I have put it at no.5, it could be easily among the top two or three. Lata Mangeshkar, of course. Subodh should also concur without demur – perhaps he is a greater Geeta Dutt fan than you.

You again meant Ashokji, rather than Arunji?

Thanks for the interesting trivia on Meena Kumari’s appearance in Do Bigha Zameen.

14 Anu Warrier September 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

No, AK, this time, I meant ‘Arunji. 🙂 (I even checked.) I was responding to his comment immediately above mine.

15 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Anu ji,
But I dont disagree,at all.
Lata was Popular and The Best,no doubt.
Both parameters can be met in one place-no dispute in that.
My comment about Popularity and Being the best was NOT about Lata (in any case She is my choice too),it was in reference to a comment by Jignesh ji.
My point was ,per se,the Best need not be the popular one and vice versa. Now,can anyone dispute this ?(Again,this is NOT pertaining to Lata)

16 jignesh kotadia September 20, 2013 at 1:22 am

I can understand what u want to say…..I readily agree with u that the best always do not get popularity AND the popular isnt always best. But, Akji is trying to fill those gaps created by filmfare awards and we r assisting him. So, at least for the 1st place we had to choose a song which is both best and popular, leaving behind our specials preferences and Akji has done it neatly on behalf of FF.(BBC ASIA ke 100 chuninda hindi gaano ko maine yahaan is liye bataaya hai kyunki mujhe yeh dekhkar behad khooshi hui hai ki aaj ki janta ne bhi 40 percent gaane 1970 pehle ke pasand kiye hai)

Now look at my special favorites besides the popular ones. These r completely unpopular songs yet BEST ones.
1. Kagwa re jaa (rajkumari, bahadur)
2. Na to din hi din wo rahe mere
Na to raat raat meri rahi (lata, dard e dil)
3. Na wo hamare na dil hamara
Kahin bhi apna nahin thikana (sudha, dil e nadan)
4. Main saagar ki mast lahar
Tu aasman ka chaand
Milan ho kaise (lata, dhuaan, wonnnderful)
5. Na chamko na chamko chanda aaj ki raat (lata, dhuaan)
6. Aawaz de raha hai koi aasman se
Aaja mere jahaan mein apne jahaan se (sudha, gauhar)
7. Lo phir chaand nikal aaya
Tum paas nahin mere
Haye dil is liye ghabraya (asha, ek do teen)
8. Is dil ki bhala taskeen ho kya
Jis dil ka sahara haye tut gaya (lata, anand bhavan)
9. Suno more naina (m.begum, daaera)

17 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Jignesh ji,
Thanks for echoing my opinions.

18 Subodh Agrawal September 20, 2013 at 8:25 pm

As expected both the solos have been ‘no-contest’. Waiting for the summing up on duets and composers where we should have something to write and fight about.

The Bhimpalasi in ‘Yeh zindagi usi ki hai’ is not readily apparent. One has to make an effort to identify it. Doesn’t take away from the merit of the song though.

19 Anu Warrier September 21, 2013 at 1:10 am

Arunkumarji, that makes sense (that your comment was in response to another comment). Thank you for clarifying. I agree with you that ‘popular’ and ‘best’ are not synonymous. I think I made that same statement in one of AK’s earlier posts on SJ.
All’s good. 🙂

20 Canasya September 21, 2013 at 9:02 am

I have no quarrel with either the selection of numero uno or the list of top ten. My favourite — “Yeh sham ki tanhaaiyan” from Aah — does not figure here. But then I am probably partial to songs that evoke a “blue mood”. Unlike sartorial preferences whose aim often is to please others, taste in music is intensely personal. It is not random though and is strongly mediated by experience, exposure and training. The rapid convergence of opinion of SoY readers on this topic perhaps indicates our relatively homogeneous experiences as much as the skillful, transparent and impartial handling by AKji of the process through the stages of nomination, elimination, and selection. His lyrical write-ups have been ably supported by irrefutable numbers provided by Arunkumar Deshmukhji, compelling statistics by N Venkatramanji, and impregnable facts by Subodh Agrawalji, Ashok M Vaishnavji, and Gaddeswarupji, to which Jignesh Kotadiaji, Anuji, Madhuji and others have added impassioned analysis, passionate memories, and critical comments. These together have helped rein in potentially impossibly diverse opinions and maneuver us to an agreement. From what I recall (from some article by Raju Bhartan that I am unable to trace now) of the 1954 Filmfare music award nominations (which do not seem to have been publicly announced), “Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag” was about as popular as “Yeh zindagi usi ki hai”. Thus, Anarkali is likely to win the SoY 1953 award for “The best duet”, and that would make CR the odds-on favourite for the SoY 1953 best MD award.

21 AK September 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I have been following with some interest the discussion between Arunji, Jignesh and Anu on quality versus popularity. Last year also we had a similar discussion which was initiated by Ashokji. I hope no one is suggesting that Ye zindagi usi ki hai, Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa or other songs in the list of ten are merely popular songs. At Songs of Yore the discussions have been always converging towards the music quality. That is why we have been discovering unknown, unheard or forgotten gems and spending a lot of time on them.

Where does BBC’s list of ‘Top 100’, mentioned by Jignesh, fit in? If a list of Top 100 of all time can be headed by Bahaaron phool barsaao, I am confused. I would not put it in even merely popular category. I am emboldened by my expert friend Subodh, who also shares my aversion for this song. This is a problem with any poll based selection.

Taking Arunji’s academic point further, can we or should we eliminate the ‘popular’ altogether? I have come across an article on a blog intended to identify three top music directors of the 1950s and 60s. It purportedly limited itself to ‘musical’ criteria. The exercise seemed quite laboured to me. I would be very happy if Subodh or Vankataramnji could throw some light on the methodology for musical DNA analysis of a song. Then we can have two lists – one of the best songs music-wise, and another based on a more composite index. (Since we also have a professional mathematician among SoY followers – Gaddeswarupji – we can request him to devise an index.)

Thanks for your kind words. Ye shaam ki tanhaiyan could have been very well there in place of Raja ki ayegi baraat. Incidentally, I recall Raja ki ayegi baraat is also picturised against a poignant background, when Nargis has created a mess by corresponding with Raj Kapoor under the assumed identity of her sister.

I would not like to speculate about the two remaining Wrap Ups – one on the duets and the last one on music director. But I am sure the discussion is going to be interesting. Subodh has already declared 1953 as the year for duets.

22 N Venkataraman September 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm

The final selection of best songs and the summing up after careful delineation and deliberation were excellent.
The selection of the best female singer and the best song was as expected. We may have a soft corner for some of or one of the “other” singers, but ultimately I tend to agree with you that Lata Mangeshkar was the ‘THE female playback singer of the golden era’. So this exercise, in your words, ‘boils down to looking carefully at the songs by ‘other’ singers to see how many can be included in the final list of ten.’

I am happy to find two songs Hamaare baad ab mehafil mein afsane bayan honge and Raja ki aayegi baraat rangili hogi raat among the best ten.

I am also happy to find Baat chalat and Kahe jadu kiyain the final ten.

I can understand the omission of the song Lagaa Kar Dil Parishaan Hain, which was in the special list. But non inclusion of Kagwa re ja belma ke sedswa was disappointing.

Raag Bhimpalasi gives a picture of both Shringaar ras as well as Viraha ras. Shringar Ras portrays love, romance and beauty. But this mood also depicts two aspects, love in union and love in separation, both arising out of attachment. But it also portrays a ‘Binati’ bhav. That is why this Raag is also good for expounding Bhakti ras. As per the situation in the film and obviously the lyrics the composer may give prominence to the one of the ras. This is my humble view. Subodhji is the expert and his views are final.

Wow!!! “Methodology for musical DNA analysis of a song’! Looks like a heading for a research paper. Akji have mercy. As of now, I am not biting your bait to throw some light on this matter.

Here is a link to one of my favourite Lata Mangeshkar’s song which may not be a popular one!
Kajrare Naina Chhup Chhup Ghaat Kare by Lata Mangeshkar from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1953), lyric Bharat Vyas, music Rai Chand Boral

23 mumbaikar8 September 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Discussing best and popular further, each one of us agree that the popular is not the best and vice versa having said that let me add that the best is for individuals and popular for collective or mass.
When it is best for the mass it becomes popular, but at times, it happen that the even mass believes something mediocre, it becomes a rage (example Baharon phool barsaon) and in spite of majority liking something it busts I find no logical explanation to this, here I think that the “foreign hand” comes in
and that foreign hand is? DESTINY!
Here is another unnoticed beautiful song from Dhun

24 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm

It is amazing to see how music lovers from different regions,languages and cultures discuss music matters with so much intensity.
Their views may vary but the love for good music is common to all.
It is indeed a matter of satisfaction and joy to read the comments and views aired with heartfelt emotions by all of us.
Thanks to all and specially to AK Ji for providing us a platform for this.

25 Anu Warrier September 22, 2013 at 1:33 am

AK, not at all. The songs on your list are deservedly classic, and it speaks to their staying power that some of them were also (deservedly) popular. I think, in my mind, at least, the distinction is this: While the ‘best’ songs may also be ‘popular’, the reverse need not be true; i.e., ‘popular’ songs need not be the best of the era of indeed, of that year.

26 jignesh kotadia September 22, 2013 at 2:23 am

i think This discussion gave an interesting topic, may be made as individual posts by Akji,, ‘the Popular and the Best’, ‘the Popular but the Poor’, ‘the Best but Obscure’ ..etc
We have thousands of examples of ‘pop+best’ and ‘best+obscure’ but the real interesting theme is ”popular and poor” .. Anilji should gather such songs (of course, pre 70) and make a post.

27 jignesh kotadia September 22, 2013 at 2:43 am

”the Best but the Obscure”

Neendiya na aaye
Tum bin piya
Tum bin mohe birha sataaye

First time heard.
Absolute gem of madanji (dhun) brought by grows with repeated listenings. How sweetly tuned ‘tum bin piya’ ! Kya baat kya baat

28 AK September 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Venkataramanji, You are not biting the bait ‘as of now’. This means that there is something in what I am saying. So it is an open offer to you and Subodh to work on this research paper at your convenience. While I have been giving self-proclaimed SoY Awards in different categories, I can’t be as presumptuous to award M Phil or PhD degrees, but SoY readers would surely love it. Kajrare naina chhup chhup ghat karen is a prime example of a top quality song that has become obscure. Thanks for sharing it. Mumbaikar8 Similarly, Nindiya na aye tum bin haye from Dhun is a gem. Thanks a lot for mentioning this. Arunji, Anu Thanks for your endorsement. Some comments created an impression that the music quality of some of the songs in the list was questionable. Jignesh, I had earlier mentioned categorising songs in a 2×2 matrix – one axis being quality (Mediocre, Good), the other popularity (Uknown, Popular). The first box of M-U is irrelevant for our discussions. The fourth box of G-P is top of recall. SoY forum is discovering and discussing the third box of G-U in great numbers – at least in year-wise series in a structured manner, others as and when the occasion arises. That leaves the most interesting second box M-P, in which you have given me an idea to work on. We can surely discuss some songs which are absolutely mediocre, but insanely popular – I think a lot of people agree that Baharon phool barsaao is a prime example. But we have to be aware that music being such a personal thing there can not be unanimity on any categorisation. If we browse through different blogs, we find many songs which are completely obscure and hardly worth listening being mentioned with a great deal of respect.

29 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

AK Ji,

Your last sentence, “if we browse through……..great deal of respect” has triggered a thought in my mind.
As one goes back in the HFM era, one will realise that if weighed in today’s parameters,those songs of 1931,32,33,34 etc are simply unbearable,leave alone listenable.
But they now carry an antique value.
The films,songs,singers,composers etc come under a ‘Rare’ category and they deserve respect. The respect is for the total package and not the song-per se-alone.
When I say these things my presumption is that you probably had these very old ‘antique’ songs in mind.
If this is not the case,still there is another set of songs,which are totally unknown in the recent past.I wonder on what grounds they get the respect.
If there is a third category of ‘obsure but respected’ songs,which are ‘hardly worth listening’,I am curious to know.
All this is only in good faith,without malafide intentions please.

30 AK September 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Arunji, I didn’t mean the 1930s or 40s which in any case are not expected to be very well known except the popular ones which were commonly aired on the radio. I have already complimented your series on the songs of the 30s on Atul’s site. I meant 50s and 60s which are generally very well known. In this period you find songs of mainstream singers which are obscure, and unremarkable to one but a great favourite of another person. The context is personal subjectivity which makes any categorisation subject to dispute.

31 Arunkumar Deshmukh September 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Ak ji,
I understood your point. Thanks.
I agree with your comments.

32 Hans September 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Those of us who are not exclusive fans of Lata should be thankful to AK for gratiously including four songs of other singers. Jagjit Kaur’s song is special. I have not come across any debut song of the great female singers which is even near its quality. Mostly the singers are tentative in their first song, but Jagjit Kaur is just flowing through the song, which is also an achievement for the composer. I wonder why such talented singer did not get another song for 8 years. People talk of injustice to Mubarak Begum, Suman Kalyanpur or Vani Jayaram, but I have not heard any such thing about Jagjit Kaur.

This song is special otherwise also. Its mukhda follows the tune of the famous C. Ramchandra creation ‘mehfil men meri kaun ye’ (Albela – 1951), and the tune of its antra was again used by Ghulam Mohammad for another hit song by Rafi ‘wo sadgi kahen ise’ (Shama – 1961).

It is a pity that of about 90 solos of Asha there were only 3 in the song list for 1953 and of those 3 also ‘ae ghame dil kya karun’ was not given its due importance. The lyrics of the Asha song were by Tandon and not by Majaj who wrote lyrics for the Talat song. Even then Asha expressed depth of emotions appropriate to the song and her version is superb and can compete with any of the good songs of Lata. Asha was delivering for the composers and that was the reason they were using her. She sang more than 140 songs in 1953 and from 1954 onwards she was the most prolific singer surpassing Lata, except 1959 and 1961 when Lata sang just a few more songs. In fact, as per stats given in HFGK Asha led Lata in all the three decades of 1951-60, 1961-70 and 1971-80 in number of songs. Why was she being given so many songs if she was not delivering according to the wish of the composers. Lata had been celebrated more because she grabbed all the big guns before Asha’s career had even started and she had too much politics in her to relinquish her hold once she had got it and she always imposed ‘elder sister tax’ even after mds like OPN and Ravi gave a fillip to Asha’s career to grab quality songs and leave dirt for Asha.

The most unfortunate part is that what Lata did to Asha during her career is being now done by her fans i.e. keeping her obscure.

33 AK September 23, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Jagjit Kaur’s voice was very niche, so I am not sure she could have become mainstream. But among the niche singers she is my top favourite, and I have already written a post on her. Almost all the songs she sang are landmarks. Tum apna ranj-o-gham apni pareshani mujhe de do is out of this world. One reason for her absence for so many years could be domesticity. She got married to Khayyam in 1954, and her re-appearance also became identified with him.

I must mention that what we mean by niche and mainstream is very context-specific. In the 1930s and 40s Shamshad Begum, Khursheed, Ameerbai Karnataki were mainstream who became very niche in the 1950s and 60s – mainstream became so much identified with Lata Mangeshkar.

Your observation about Khamosh zindagi ko being similar to two other songs – Mehfil mein meri kaun and Wo sadagi kahen – is interesting. While the first one is difficult to notice, the similarity with the antara of the second song is quite close. Good observation. Ghulam Mohammd is the common link.

I like the phrase ‘elder sister tax’ – heard it for the first time. But should we give currency to all the vituperative things that are said about any artiste?

..what Lata did to now being done by her fans…keeping her obscure”. It is hardly possible for Lata fans to do anything to Asha Bhosle – she has overtaken her elder sister in total number of songs recorded, and in fact all other singers, by a big margin. She has now no less passionate following that Lata – I find that in my family and also in SoY family.

34 Subodh Agrawal September 24, 2013 at 11:18 am

AK, Mr Venkataraman has rightly refused to bite the bait. It is an impossible task to identify what distinguishes a good work of art – be it a song, film, painting, sculpture – from merely popular. Popularity is easy to measure – in today’s world one can easily gather data on sales, downloads etc. Quality is much harder. One can perhaps say that the measure of quality is the opinion of experts. But experts don’t always agree. Secondly sometimes experts greet a work of art when it first appears with derision, but grudgingly admit their error years later. There is also a third phenomenon at work – in some fields at least, art would be a prime example, there seems to be an unholy alliance between experts and dealers to push certain works to relieve the rich of their surplus cash.

We don’t succeed any better if we use durability of popularity as a criterion. Youtube has unearthed so many hidden gems that had all but disappeared from public memory. Each SoY post usually comes up with a few such gems.

To sum up, the question is a classic philosophical one. A good philosophical question is one that generates a lot of discussion but does not admit of one clear and final answer. Let us also not assume that such discussions have no downside. SoY has been a very civilized forum but elsewhere in the world philosophy has led to serious consequences – the other day I saw the news of a shoot-out between two people who were discussing Immanuel Kant!

35 baburao shid September 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm

HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT, 1953 AAH song SUNTE THE NAM HUM having START of beutiful harmonium fast peace by great V BALSARAJI,has been COPIED in famous COME SEPTEMBER 1962 THEME MUSIC.which became craze till today,apne GENIOUS SHANKER JAIKISHAN KO MANANA PADEGA. both songs has been posted on my facebook acount pls listen both songs and u wiil come to know the copy made by HOLLYWOOD of AAH SONG.THANX.

36 AK September 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

This is very interesting. There is indeed a great deal of similarity.

37 k s bhatia September 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm

This can also be heard as background music in RK’s Barsaat.

38 Hans October 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

I could not perfectly get the meaning of word ‘niche’ in your post. To me its meaning appears contradictory in both paras. Does it mean some class of voice or anything else. Perhaps I dont understand music jargon. It appears strange to me how a voice can be said to be unfit for mainstream on the basis of the first song and how can it change to niche from mainstream.

I need another bit of information. When you said Jagjit Kaur sang only for Khayyam because she had married in 1954, I thought it might be so. Therefore I searched but could not find any relevant info about how and when they met or wed. During this search I came across a video of a joint session of Jagjit Kaur and Khayyam with Mrinal Pandey in a DD program called ‘Baton baton men’. In this Jagjit Kaur says that she came to Bombay with a group of artists for some program and after listening her sing at Rang Bhawan Khayyam and Ramesh Sehgal offered her to sing for ‘shola aur shabnam’. This means that she did not sing for Dil-e-Nadan nor she wed Khayyam in 1954. If she did not sing in Dil-e-Nadan then who was the singer, was it Surinder Kaur or somebody else. Can you or any other experts Deshmukhji, Vaishnavji, Venkatramanji or Subodhji provide some facts. I give the DD link below:

About Lata and Asha spat, you have used the word vituperative which seems to be too much loaded. I dont think I have added any such thing to deserve such a word. Whatever I have said is well known and has been discussed from time to time in SOY by you and others. Even her personal matters have been discussed here. Asha had said in a number of interviews that Lata took away her quality songs from even little known Mds, after Asha had told her of her song rehearsels. Her snatching ‘ae mere watan ke logo’ from Asha is a well known story. I dont view Asha as above board herself, because she was a cooperative tool for Lata in obstructing the path of other singers. When she did not hesitate a bit in even ditching her own sister, then why should we not mention those things. They are connected with their profession, where they earned money. It is not that they were doing anything for charity. Lata does not spare her fellow artists who died long ago.

39 AK October 20, 2013 at 1:13 am

Let me take up your third point first. “But should we give currency to all the vituperative things that are said about any artiste?”. This is a very straightforward general statement, not directed towards any individual. If I have any issues about any comment, I discuss it by mail with the person, as I have done with you also. SoY regulars are all mature and intelligent people. We might have our different preferences, idiosyncrasies, and at times write with some harmless humour and even leg-pulling. But we respect each other. So you can rest assured there was nothing targeted towards you, far less ‘loaded’.

Now about ‘niche’/’mainstream’. I doubt if these terms have any special meaning in music other than their common meaning in English. I have used it in the same sense and I am sure you have perfectly understood it. Now the contradiction you are mentioning – I am not sure which part you mean. That ‘niche’ can be ‘mainstream’ in some contexts? I thought this is very obvious. I gave the example of Amirbai Karnataki in the 1940s and 50s (pre-Lata/post-Lata). A clearer example could be of Naushad-Shamshad Begum. There was a period when she was his main singer. This was followed by a period when he juggled between her and Lata Mangeshkar, before he finally settled for the latter in a definitive manner. He did the same thing with Rafi after he worked with Mukesh and Talat Mahmood.

In male singers we often say Mukesh, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar had their special niches (vis-à-vis Rafi, who was regarded as the mainstream). Yet Rafi did not fit the music of Anil Biswas.

Now Jagjit Kaur. I am sure you are not questioning the fact of her marriage with Khayyam? Anil Bhargav’s ‘Swaron Ki Yatra’ mentions that they were married in 1954. I have not seen any doubts being raised about her songs in Dil-e-Nadan (1953). This book as well as HFGK mentions that she also sang a duet with GM Durrani in Gumashta (1951), Dil nache aur gaye jawani, composed by K Data.

I had mentioned domesticity may be one of the factors for her infrequent songs. I find another interesting interpretation of her marriage being a factor. There is an interview of Kahyyam in Listeners Bulletin No 80, in which it has been said “आजकल वे खय्याम साहेब को संगीतकार के रूप में मदद करती हैं. खय्याम साहेब के साथ रहने के कारण उन्हें फिल्मों में गाने का ज़्यादा अवसर नहीं मिल पाता क्योंकि खय्याम साहेब नहीं चाहते कि कोई निर्माता उनसे ये कहे कि आपने अपनी पत्नी से ही गीत क्यों गवा लिया, किसी अन्य गायिका को क्यों नहीं लिया.”

40 Dinesh K Jain February 11, 2015 at 2:18 pm

1953 and no place, not even mention, of one of Gita Dutt’s all-time greats, Parineeta’s Chand hai wohi! I am coming in too late – couldn’t help it, and I know it is too late, but I feel – it is all subjective – that no 1953 list could ever be complete without a very high inclusion of Chand hai wohi.

41 AK February 12, 2015 at 10:41 am

If I put myself in the shoes of a Geeta Dutt fan, Chaand hai wohi is indeed a very melodious song. I am surprised why no one mentioned it, SoY has some known Geeta Dutt fans. But I doubt if anyone would like to replace any of the songs I have mentioned. But, thanks a lot for introducing it.

42 PRAVEEN February 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm

This is a post from 2013, but I found time to read through only now – and what do I find!! ‘Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa’ in the fifth place!! And I was thinking that AK sir’s taste in music has lots of similarities to mine
(Just a light hearted banter sirji, not serious). I have a folder in my hard disc which has three songs. This one, then ‘Haye re woh din’ from Anuradha and ‘Haye re woh din kyun na’. I listen to this folder occasionally in order not to dilute the exclusivity of the music and if I play this folder, I wont play anything else that day!!

On a serious note, this a wonderful final list. If I had to change, I would replace ‘Raja ki ayegi’ with ‘Yeh shyaam ki tanhaiyan’ as Canasya had posted. May be I prefer sweeping melodies to simple rhythmic structures

Since there was a discussion on Baharon phool barsao – my friend once said, ‘what stupid picturisation man – Rajendra Kumar sings ‘zara tum dil ko behlao’ and throws a peacock at Vaijayantimala’, LOL!!

43 AK February 12, 2015 at 10:28 pm

If you have to replace only one song with another one, which is my favourite too, I should pat myself that my taste measures up to your standard :). Aa ja ri aa nindiya tu aa can go very high up, you can put it just after Ye zindagi usi ki hai. It is very difficult to rank equally great songs.

44 PRAVEEN February 13, 2015 at 10:53 am

“I should pat myself that my taste measures up to your standard”???

Sir, you are embarrassing me!! In fact I feel privileged to part of the discussion in such company

PS : My request is that going forward, we should also come up with our own top ten list for filmfare years also (Is filmfare such a high ranking award? – At least the current state do not reflect that)

45 AK February 13, 2015 at 3:26 pm

There is no harm in covering Filmfare years too. Our list would be very different, and probably more reflective of the quality. The only problem is it is difficult to do more than one year in a year in such a rigorous way. It would have to be a mucg simpler format – say, no category-wise wrap ups.

Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: