SoY award for the best female playback singer goes to Lata, Lata, Lata, Lata….Mangeshkar
(It is a while since I wrote the survey article on the Best songs of 1955 and its first wrap up on the Best male playback singer of 1955. Then a number of interesting themes came up, and completing this string of posts somehow went out of sight. By the time I remembered, it was coming quite close to Lata Mangeshkar’s birth anniversary. Therefore, I am coinciding it with her anniversary as my greetings to her. I realise this is not a satisfactory way of handling this series. Hopefully from the next year onwards I should be able to complete a particular year’s posts in continuity. – AK)
When I wrote the first wrap up on the best male playback singers of 1955, I posed it with a question mark, and as we saw, there was indeed a tough choice between all the six great male playback singers – Rafi, Mukesh, Talat Mahmood, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar. The scenario changes completely in the case of female playback singers. Not only in 1955, but most of the 50’s and 60’s you could pick up ten top songs and they might all be Lata Mangeshkar’s. Never had any playback singer dominated more than this, nor anyone has done so since. Therefore, my using a similar question mark to maintain the form would be like a recent award function anchored by Shahrukh Khan. This was when Vidya Balan was wining all the awards for Dirty Picture. After the customary ‘And the award for the best actor (female) goes to..’, the envelope containing her name was announced. When she jumped with excitement, Shahrukh Khan snapped at her, ‘Vidya, you should stop acting, you know that you are going to get the award.’
So we know who is going to get the award. But it would still be interesting to discuss the best female solos, and see how ‘others’ fare. This asymmetry in female playback requires a somewhat different treatment than the first wrap-up. Therefore, I am putting two somewhat longer lists of the best songs – one for Lata Mangeshkar and the other for others.
Lata Mangeshkar’s best songs
There should be a fair agreement on this.
1. Radha na bole na bole na bole re - Azaad
2. Dekhoji bahar ayi
3. Ja ri ja ri wo kari badariya
4. Pee ke daras ko taras gayi ankhiyan
5. Kitni jawan hai raat koi yaad aa gaya
6. Mohabbat ki bas itni dastan hai - Baradari
7. Kho diya maine paakar kisi ko
8. Dard bhara dil bhar bhar jaye
9. O janewale ruk ja koi dum - Devdas
10. Jise tu qubool kar le
11. Jogiya se preet kiye dukh hoye - Garam Coat
12. Phaili hui hai sapnon ki bahein - House No. 44
13. Saiyan ja ja - Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje
14. Ghayal hiraniya main ban ban dolun - Munimji
15. Aise hain sukh sapan hamare - Ratnaghar
16. Chand madham hai aasman chup hai – Railway Platform
17. Suno chhoti si gudiya ki lambi kahani - Seema
18. Manmohana bade jhoothe
19. O janewale mud ke zara dekhte jana - Shree 420
20. Hamare dil se na jana - Udankhatola
21. Na ro ae dil kahin rone se taqdeerein badalti hain
22. More saiyan ji utarenge paar ho
23. Sitaron ki mahfil saji tum na aaye
24. Mujhpe ilzaam-e-bewafaai hai - Yasmin
25. Wo na ayenge palat ke - Mubarak Begum - Devdas
26. Jate ho to jao par jaoge kahan - Geeta Dutt - Milaap
27. Preetam aan milo - Geeta Dutt – Mr and Mrs 55
28. Thandhi hawa kali ghata - Geeta Dutt
29. Ab to ji hone laga - Shamshad Begum – Mr & Mrs 55
30. Chanda mama door ke - Asha Bhosle - Vachan
Now we come to the difficult part to bring it down to ten. As I said earlier, many of us would simply choose ten Lata Mangeshkar songs, with some regret that we still had to leave her some outstanding songs. I myself belong to that school. But I know there are some very passionate Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle lovers out there. Geeta Dutt was mentioned by several readers. Among her three songs mentioned above, even though Preetam aan milo was mentioned by many readers, since it is so strongly associated with CH Atma, we can take one from the remaining two. Asha Bhosle’s song was mentioned by some readers, but with so many superlative gems vying for place, we can leave out Chanda mama door ke without arousing the ire of anyone. Mubarak Begum’s Won na ayenge palat ke is a major landmark in her career and among the best mujra songs. But that is as far as it goes. Ashok Vaishnavji very generously mentioned that it can be among best also-rans. That leaves Shamshad Begum, who is my great personal favourite among non-Lata singers. Her Ab to ji hone laga has everything which makes her singing so joyous. So I include ‘Thandhi hawa’ and ‘Ab to ji hone laga’ from ‘others’, and choose eight from Lata Mangeshkar, hoping to capture what would be generally agreed as her best.
Ten best songs
Here are thus the ten best female solos of the year 1955, which has to be seen with several caveats mentioned above. Some of these songs have also appeared earlier, but there is no harm in repeating them.
1. Radha na bole na bole by Lata Mangeshkar from Azaad, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
Subodh in his first post on songs based on classical ragas had chosen this as the leading song based on Bageshree. That is some distinction! And as is well known by now, C Ramchandra did Azaad as a quickie, when Naushad declined the request of the Madras based producer to complete the score in four weeks.
2. Jise tu qubool kar le by Lata Mangeshkar from Devdas, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Burman
Devdas is a film in which all the songs are on the ‘other’ girl. But if you think of it, both Paro and Chandramukhi are sympathetic lovers of Devdas. SD Burman gave a mujra also in Lata’s voice, Ab age teri marzi. Jise tu qubool kar le is not actually a mujra, though sung by the courtesan. In this somewhat fast-paced song, Chandramukhi expresses her dilemma how to comfort Devdas and relieve his suffering.
3. Jogiya se preet kiye dukh hoye by Lata Mangeshkar from Garam Coat, lyrics Meerabai, music Amarnath (Chawla)
This must rank as one of exceptional gems of 1955. The music director Amarnath is different from the more well known Pandit Amarnath, who was the elder brother of the duo Husnlal Bhagatram. Based on the information from Mr Sadanand Kamath’s article on Atul’s site, Amarnath Chawla was a highly talented person, a writer, poet and singer, having received training under several gurus including Ustad Amir Khan. This is probably the only film for which he gave music, and what divine and eternal music he composed for this Meera bhajan.
4. Phaili hui hai sapnon ki bahein by Lata Mangeshkar from House No 44, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Brman
Almost everyone mentioned this song in their shortlist. House No. 44 was another landmark of SD Burman in the year. He showed great diversity in the year by creating top quality songs for different playback singers.
5. Saiyan ja ja tose na bolun by Lata Mangeshkar from Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Vasant Desai
My absolute top favourite from this film, and in my opinion one of the best of Vasant Desai- Lata Mangeshkar combination.
6. Ghayal hiraniyan main ban ban dolun by Lata Mangeshkar from Munimji, lyrics Shailendra, music SD Burman
You cannot get a more innocent doe than Nalini Jaiwant.
7. Manmohna bade jhoothe by Lata Mangeshkar from Seema, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
This was the first song mentioned by Subodh in his first post on songs based on classical ragas. Does not need any more proof of its greatness. A representative piece in Jaijaiwanti.
8. Chand madham hai aasman chup hai by Lata Mangeshkar from Railway Platform, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music Madan Mohan
I was not very familiar with this song till some readers mentioned this song in the short list. A very ethereal tune, which has the power to transport you to another world.
9. Thandhi hawa kali ghata by Geeta Dutt from Mr & Mrs 55, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music OP Naiyyar
A quintessential Geeta Dutt.
10. Ab to ji hone laga kisi ki soorat ka samna by Shamshad Begum from Mr & Mrs 55
Shamshad Begum lovers would love this song. Lata Mangeshkar’s domination did not dim her forceful and joyous singing whenever she got a chance.
This still leaves out Lata Mangeshkar’s Aise hain sukh sapan hamare (Ratnaghar) composed by a very elegant composer Sudhir Phadke, and my favourite Naushad’s Udankhatola, from which I would have put More saiyanji utarenge paar ho at the very top, had I not been under moral obligation to reflect the readers views faithfully. This would always happen given the amazing range and overwhelming dominance of Lata Mangehskar. So it is not a spoiler if I announce that:
SoY’s award for the best playback singer (female) for 1955 goes to Lata Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar and Lata Mangeshkar.
But this does not preclude us from discussing which is her best song for the year. Readers’ comments would be interesting, and they need not confine to what is listed here.