Best songs of 1955: Wrap Up 1

May 9, 2012

Songs of Yore Award for the best male playback singer goes to?

My survey article on the Best songs of 1955 attracted a good deal of response. Some readers gave not only their shortlist of favourite five in different categories but also a detailed analytical, musical and emotional reasoning for their choice. As this exercise was becoming mammoth, a suggestion came that I should do category wise summary posts. Meanwhile Ashok Vaishnavji has posted two excellent summaries on his own blog (Part 1 and Part 2) based on his comments posted on this blog. It has been wonderful reading all the comments. Here is the first wrap-up on the best male playback singer of the year.

clip_image001This was the year when Mohammad Rafi sang O door ke musafir; Mukesh Mera joota hai Japani; Talat Mahmood Tasweer banata hun tasweer nahi banti; Hemant Kumar Chup hai dharti chup hai chand sitare; Manna Dey Tu pyar ka sagar hai and Kishore Kumar Jeevan ke safar me rahi. Each iconic, extremely popular, memorable till even today and musically excellent. Rarely would you have a similar year when all the six great singers of the Golden Era gave everlasting songs. How does one reduce this to one or two? It would be obviously subjective, but let me start by listing the best ten songs of the year about which there should not be much dispute. It is not intended to be in order of merit, but simply grouped by singers.

Talat Mahmood: Tasweer banata hun tasweer nahi banti, Baradari, lyrics Khumar Barabanqvi, music Nashad

It must have been a big challenge for Nashad to create a Tasweer song in Talat’s voice considering that he had achieved enormous fame some years earlier with his non-film Tasweer teri dil mera bahla na sakegi. Nashad had another Tasweer challenge composed by Naushad in Rafi’s voice Tasweer banata hun teri khoone jigar se (Deewana, 1952). He must have been peeved at the perception that he got to compose for Naghma (1953) after it was turned down by Naushad with disdain as the banner was not big enough for him. Creating another Tasweer masterpiece in the face of such great legacies is a remarkable achievement of Nashad.

Talat Mahmood: Kisko khabar thi kisko yakeen tha, Devdas, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Burman

If Nashad had a challenge, one can imagine the challenge SD Burman must have felt in the face of Timir Baran-KL Saigal’s Devdas (1935). Saigal’s Dukh ke ab din beetat nahi is at a pedestal where it cannot be compared with any other song, but can only be paid a tribute. SD Burman-Talat Mahmood’s Kisko khabar thi with Sahir’s lyrics of deep melancholy picturised so beautifully on the Tragedy King Dilip Kumar is a worthy tribute to its great predecessor.

किसको खबर थी किसको यकीं था ऐसे भी दिन आयेंगे
हाय जीना भी मुश्क़िल होगा और मरने भी ना पायेंगे
हाय किसको खबर थी…

हम जैसे बरबाद दिलों का जीना क्या और मरना क्या
आज तेरी महफिल से उठे कल दुनिया से उठ जायेंगे
हाय किसको खबर थी…

Talat Mahmood: Mitwa lagi re ye kaisi anbujh aag, Devdas, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi

Timir Baran- KL Saigal gave another immortal song Balam aye baso more man me. Mitwa lagi re ye kaisi anbujh aag – a song of melancholy, but to put it in Ashok Vaishnavji’s beautiful words, ‘pathos blended with an unbujh aag – a faint hope of meeting the beloved at least once in lifetime’, is another worthy tribute to its great predecessor. (Readers may note as I have said earlier, Sanjay Leela Bhansali–Ismail Durbar do not even try – there is no solo for Shahrukh Khan, and I should think rightly so)

Talat Mahmood: Bechain nazar betaab jigar, Yasmin, lyrics Jan Nisar Akhtar, music C Ramchandra

I have not heard Talat Mahmood live, but I have met people who swoon while describing their experience of hearing him live. When I hear this song I imagine a tall and handsome Talat on the stage with a solitary harmonium, and just a couple of musicians. He opens Bechain nazar betab jigar, then a slight pause with a shy smile, and then he continues ye dil hai kisi ka diwana, and the whole auditorium erupts with joy. And at every refrain Kab udkar pahunche parwana, Dil dil se kahe ek afsana or Hum jaan bhi de den nazrana I can see girls going delirious with delight. Everything in the picturisation – the Middle Eastern string instrument rabab, the dance, the sheer joy on the face of the actors – is absolutely beautiful. One of the rare songs of Talat Mahmood of pure delight.

बेचैन नज़र बेताब जिगर-2 (…) ये दिल है किसी का दीवाना हाय दीवाना
कब शाम हो और कब शम्मा जले (…) कब उड़कर पहुंचे परवाना हाय परवाना

है दिल का चमन खिलने के लिए आयेगा कोई मिलने के लिए-2
फूलों से कहो तारों से कहो (…) चुपके से सजा दें वीराना हाय वीराना
बेचैन नज़र बेताब जिगर ….

जब रात ज़रा शबनम से घुले लहराई हुई वो जुल्फ खुले
नज़रों से नज़र एक भेद कहे (….) दिल दिल से कहे एक अफ़साना हाय अफ़साना
बेचैन नज़र बेताब जिगर ….

रंगीन फिजाँ छाए तो ज़रा वादे पे कोई आए तो ज़रा-2
ऐ जोशे वफ़ा दिल चीज़ है क्या (…) चुपके से सजा दें वीराना हाय वीराना
बेचैन नज़र बेताब जिगर …

Now listen to and watch this delightful song and note the pauses followed by a short rabab piece (…). Beautiful!

Hemant Kumar: Chup hai dharti chup hai chand sitare, House No. 44, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, SD Burman

Sahir Ludhyanvi had come to Navketan fold a few years ago, and his combination with SD Burman gave some of the most memorable songs of Hindi cinema. One aspect of Sahir’s poetry was deeply romantic in the backdrop of nature, and if Hemant Kumar is there to give voice the effect is magical. Remember SD Burman-Sahir-Hemant Kumar-Dev Anand combination’s immortal Ye raat ye chnadni phir kahan (Jaal, 1952). You have another excellent song with this combination of deep romance with silent moon and stars.

Hemant Kumar: Teri duniya me jeene se to behtar hai, House No. 44, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Burman

Another great song from the same combination – this time a song of dejection at the betrayal, which was another favourirte of Sahir Ludhiyanvi.

Mohmmad Rafi: O door ke musafir hum ko bhi saath le le, Urankhatola, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

In this fantasy film at the climax, when Dilip Kumar is left behind, his earnest pleading O door ke musafir humko bhi sath le le, pulls at your heartstring, making you feel you have also been left forlorn by your beloved, who has moved on to her final journey.

Mukesh: Mera joota hai Japani, Shri 420, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan

One of the most iconic RK-Mukesh-SJ songs, which consolidated Raj Kapoor’s Chaplinesque tramp image.

Manna Dey: Tu pyar ka sagar hai, Seema, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan

Outside RK banner too, SJ were creating some great music, albeit with different sensibilities. One of the best Manna Dey songs, enacted with deep piety by Balraj Sahni on the screen. A serene and soothing spiritual song, as if created to be sung by Manna Dey.

Kishore Kumar: Jeevan ke safar me rahi, Munimji, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Burman

SD Burman was also trying Kishore Kumar for Dev Anand, who would gradually become his main playback singer. Just the right amount of yodeling followed by a playful complaint and teasing of Nalini Jaiwant.

Some more songs

All the above songs were mentioned by the readers. Some other songs mentioned were Hemant Kumar’s Shivji bihane chale (Munimji), Rafi’s Basti basti parbat parbat (Raliway Platform), Kahan ja raha hai tu ai janewale (Seema) and Talat Mahmood’s Teri zulfon se pyar kaun kare (Joru Ka Ghulam). What has been surprising for me and somewhat disappointing is that the readers do not seem to share my fondness for Hemant Kumar’s Main gharibon ka dil hun watan ki zuban (Aab-e-Hayat). No one has mentioned this song, which I would have included as one of the topmost songs of the year.

Second cut

How does one reduce from 10 or 15 equally great songs to 2 or 3? My own top would have been Rafi’s O door ke musafir, Talat’s Bechain nazar/Tasweer teri dil mera and Hemant Kumar’s Main gharibon ka dil hun. But the aim of this post is to summarise the sense of the house. I have to sadly show the red card to O door ke musafir. While everyone has mentioned this song, the passion, I or Richard feel for this song, is missing in the readers’ comments. Kishore Kumar’s Jeevan ke safar me rahi is an outstanding song as far as it goes. But in the 50’s his best would be behind the stalwarts of the era Rafi, Mukesh and Talat. His time would come post Aradhana (1969). Mukesh’s Mera joota hai Japani is an iconic song for other historical and cinematic reasons, but it is not one of the quintessential Mukesh songs which touched the heart of Mukesh lovers.

Thus, in the second round are left Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey and Talat Mahmood.

Final cut

The higher you go, the steeper is the climb. Now making the final cut is going to be very difficult. If I try to summarise the sense of the house, Manna Dey’s Tu pyar ka sagar hai has been mentioned with so much respect, bordering on reverence that I feel he has to be included, even though he was not a prolific singer. The top space was occupied those days by Rafi, Talat Mahmood and Mukesh. 1955 is a very special year for Talat Mahmood. In the top ten he has four songs, but he had several more bearing his same silken touch – Teri zulfon se pyar kaun kare, Ae meri zindagi tujhe dhoondhoo kahan (Adal-e-Jahangir) and a couple of great duets. If you consider the total impact of a male playback singer, it would not be an exaggeration to say that 1955 was the year of Talat Mahmood. I believe the readers would agree the fairest result would be to declare both Talat Mahmood and Manna Dey as the best male playback singers of the year.

And therefore,

The Songs of Yore Award for the best male playback singer for 1955 goes jointly to:

Talat Mahmood and Manna Dey

Incidentally May 9 is the death anniversary of Talat Mahmood. So let this be a tribute to him from all of us.

And Manna Dey celebrated his 93rd birthday about a week back, i.e May 1. Among the doyens of the Golden Era, he is the only with us today. With this award wishing him a very happy, though belated, birthday.

And finally a big Thank You to all the readers. I hope I have been able to make a fair summary of the sense of the house.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 harvey May 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

King Solomon’s judgement!
Thank you for hosting this competition.
It is always the same with such things. It doesn’t matter who wins, one is always disappointed for the others who didn’t get the award!

2 AK May 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks. The disappointment for me was more acute, becaue one of my favourite songs did not reach up to the final, another of my favourite was not even mentioned by the readers.

3 Rohit Mehta May 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I am regular visitor of this site and love all expert bloggers threads.
Though I am not that expert to review and pass on comments what others have said about old melodies of yester year.
I enjoy all blogs and rewind my memory which takes me to golden era when those greats playback singers, composers and lyrics were dominating during 1955 to 1970.

4 Arunkumar Deshmukh May 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Ak ji,
As harvey ji says it is always such a thing with this type of judgements,which have to be,will be and naturally so,subjective ones.
To each his own.
No two persons have the same taste in everything.
It was a very tough task and I appreciate that you got 100 marks in the finals. In fact even if all singers get the first prize still it will be deserving as somebody somewhere will be happy,but one can not do that.
When there is a competetion,there has to be a winner.
Well done AK ji.
Thanks for the feast.
-Arunkumar Deshmukh

5 AK May 11, 2012 at 7:09 am

Arunkumar Deshmukhji
Thanks a lot for your compliments. Some have to lose. But my effort was to be as fair as possible.

6 KB May 12, 2012 at 5:04 am


This was an awesome list of great songs by the great singers!

Main gharibon ka dil hoon by Hemantda was a terrific song! I think I would count Hemantda also as a top singer of 1955. Wasn’t Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje also released in 1955? Hemantda and Lataji elevate us to a different zone in Nain So Nain Milao.

7 AK May 12, 2012 at 8:45 am

Yes I entirely agree with you. Main gharibon ka dil hun watan ki zuban was a terrific song. I have mentioned this song in my post on Sardar Malik. You are right Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje also came in 1955. If you read the mother post on Best songs of 1955 you would find mention of all the songs of 1955 including the duet you are referring to Nain se nain nahi milao. Hemant Kumar indeed had some terrific songs in 1955. But you have tough choice between him and Talat Mahmood. One could very easily say the year belonged jointly to them.

8 ava May 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I guess I would give the prize to Talat too.

Ae meri zindagi tujhe dhoondhoo kahan (Adal-e-Jahangir)
I can get lost in this song and not come out for day.

As AK says – Nain so nain is something sublime. “tumne chori thag li kaman, kaise maroon preet ka baan, guiyaan” makes my heart miss a beat.

9 mrutyunjay sarangi July 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Incidentally one of the best songs of lata for C.Ramachandra was “Tum kya jano tumhari yaadmein hum kitna roye”
Mrutyunjay Sarangi

10 mrutyunjay sarangi July 25, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Does anyone have the video clip of the song “Roop tumhara ankhonse pee loon, kehdo agar to marke bhi jee loon” (Sapera, Manna Dey). It’s not in Youtube.
Mrutyunjay Sarangi

11 AK July 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Tum kya jano has been mentioned in my blog on Best songs of Lata Mangeshkar by C Ramchandra.

12 Subodh Agrawal July 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Mrutyunjay, the song from Sapera is available on Youtube:

Roop tumhara ankhon se pee loon by Manna Dey from Sapera (1961), music Aji Merchant

13 mrutyunjay sarangi July 28, 2012 at 12:16 am

Thanks Subodh.
This one I have seen many times. It’s a double whammy for me, both the song and Nutan are my all-time favorites.
What I am looking for is the video clip of the song as in the movie.

14 n.venkataraman October 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Ak ji
Thank you for your reply (Wrap up 3) and encouraging words.
It is my greatest privilege to be associated with your blog and all the readers/bloggers.
I have a limited knowledge of music. I am only trying to share the bits and pieces of information that I have gathered during the course of my quest for knowledge.
Thank God, our association is virtual and not real. I am garrulous person and all my acquaintances take flight at my sight. That is why I have taken refuge at your site. By now you must have got a fair idea from my comments posted earlier.
Enough of rambling for now.
I went through the thread bare discussions and comments posted by you and the readers/bloggers on the subject. (Best male singers-1955)
The result for the best male playback singer(s) for 1955 was declared five months back. There were diverse opinions. Here are certain observations based on the discussions and comments posted by the readers.
I assume that the result declared was based on all the songs sung by a particular singer during the entire year. If so, the declared result seems fair enough. But on the other hand if the award was based on a particular song, then Md. Rafi’s song ‘O door ke musafir’ would have occupied the second place. Either way Manna Dey’s song ‘Tu pyar ka sagar hai’ would have occupied the first place. From what I could gather from the discussions, Kishore kumar’s ‘Jeevan Ke safar mein’ and Hemant Kumar’s ‘Chup hai dharti” would have occupied the 3rd and 4th position. Talat Mehmood would have come a distant 5th for his song “Tasveer banata hun”. It was really difficult to come to an unanimous decision. The above mentioned order was based on the opinion expressed by the readers. My preference differs from the above deduction.
The song ‘Main Gharibon ka dil hun watan ki zuban’ (S:Hemant Kumar-MD:Sardar Mallick-F:Aab-e Hayat) was good. The beauty lies in the simplicity of rendering the song.
I was surprised not to find the song ‘Tera khyal dil ko sataye to kya karen’ (S:Talat Mahmood-MD:Govind Ram-F:Naquab) among the first 10.
Similarly ‘Kahan Ja Raha hai tu’(S:Md.Rafi-MD:Shankar Jaikishan-F:Seema) could have been a claimant.
Another song “Jiyoonga jab tak tere afsane yaad ayenge’ (S:Talat Mahmood-MD:Manohar-F:Chingari) was equally beautiful. But I am not sure whether this movie belongs to 1955 or 1953. There were two opinions expressed in the you-tube.
There are two more Talat Mehmood songs which I coud not find in the master list.
1. ‘Jeevan hai Madhuvan’ – Jasoos(1955)-Anil Biswas
And I take leave today with this fervent prayer –
2. ‘(Mere)Abhiman ko mere door karo’ – Swami Vivekanand – R C Boral

15 AK October 16, 2012 at 7:43 am

You have given three Talat Mahmood songs, which I am hearing for the first time (Chingaari is a 1955 film). As I had said 1955 clearly belonged to Talat Mahmood, and therefore I had no hesitation in declaring him as one of the winners. I am also a great fan of O door ke musafir, but, surprisingly, I did not find many sharing my fondness for this song.

It is interesting that you should mention RC Boral and Swami Vivekanand. I also made a mention of it in the master post in the following words:

“I always wondered what happened to the greats of the New Theatres. I find the name of RC Boral as the music director of a film titled Swami Vivekanand, whose songs obviously no one knows. It makes one somewhat sad at the end of a great era. RC Boral was the lynchpin of the New Theatres in Calcutta and defined the best in music with iconic songs by KL Saigal like Babul mora naihar, Tadpat beet din rain etc. RC Boral (as also others) migrating from Calcutta to Bombay and becoming inconspicuous by 50’s signified Bombay finally prevailing over Calcutta for better or worse.”

Here are the three ‘new’ Talat Mahmood songs which you mentioned:

Tera khayal dil ko sataye to kya karein by Talat Mahmood from Naqaab, lyrics Prem Dhavan, music Govind Ram

Jiyunga jab talak tere afsane yaad ayenge from Chingaari, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music Manohar (!)

Abhiman ko mere choor karo from Swami Vivekanand, lyrics Shankar Sen, music RC Boral

16 n.venkataraman October 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Ak ji,
Thank you.
There was one more song sung by Talat Mahmood.
1. ‘Jeevan hai Madhuvan’ – Jasoos(1955)-Anil Biswas

I could see an exclamation mark against MD- MANOHAR’s name.
You might have noticed the information by our knowledgeable friend Arun Kumar Deshmukh ji in the link provided by you. I quote:

‘Manoharlal Sonik was half blind when composing as MANOHAR. His condition worsened and he stopped giving music.Meanwhile Omprakash, his nephew came to help him.They worked for others.They were Arranger for Madan Mohan,before starting again as a team SONIK-OMI duo.By this time Manoharlal was totally blind and made only tunes while Omi did all other work.’

17 AK October 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I had indeed noticed Jeevan hai madhuban, but since it was a quite well song, I referred to the three songs which were ‘new’ to me. In my travelling in and out over the last few days, my hurried comments did create an impression that I had not noticed this song. This further stregthens Talat Mahmood’s claim to being the singer of the year.

Manohar is such an unknown name that I put the exclamation mark. To think that he was a part of Sonik-Omi pair who were quite well known!

18 Abdul Majeed June 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Among the above legends the one whom i will continue to love till the end of my life is the great MUKESH. but was greatly surprised to see the short text on him.

19 jignesh kotadia June 23, 2013 at 6:09 am

@Abdul Majeed…. Nice words for a Deserving man. Here’s a Mukesh song from 1955 for u.

”Ai duniya ke maalik tu bata
Ab jaaye to jaaye kahan”
Film: Baghdad ka chor

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