The SoY award for the best duet goes to?
Now this series is about to come to an end. My first first wrap up on the best male solos had a similar question mark as there was indeed a tough choice between all the top singers Mohamad Rafi, Mukesh, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey, Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar. In the second wrap-up on the best female solos, the surprise was gone because it was a choice between Lata Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar….That would be the situation most of the 1950’s and 60’s. For the duet, the great diversity comes back. Rarely there would be another year with so many great duets in the voices of all the great singers. Most of the duets have become a landmark in our film music history. For a comprehensive list you may refer to the mother post on the Best songs of 1955. Here I am selecting the best ten duets, which are not in the order of preference.
1. Kitna haseen hai mausam by Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar from Azaad, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
Every song in Azaad was a gem. CR must have been an amazing genius to produce a score in 4 weeks, which Naushad had refused on the ground that he did not do a rush job. CR also had to contend with Dilip Kumar’s preference for Talat Mahmood, who was not available. CR convinced Dilip Kumar that he would sing himself with so much likeness with Talat style that no one would know the difference. How true! Unless you know it is sung by Chitalkar, it is as good as a Talat song.
2. Muskurati hui chandni jagmagata hua aasman by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar from Albeli, lyrics Ravi and music by Ravi
From being assistant to composing music for his mentor, Ravi does a terrific job on Hemant Kumar in one of his earliest films. Ravi was also a writer; this song has been written by him. He also had ambitions for singing.
3. Piya piya piya mora jiya pukare by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle from Baap Re Baap, lyrics Jaan NIsar Akhta, music OP Nayyar
This is the song with which Raju Bharatan floored a classical musician, who contemptuously referred to Piya piya mora jiya pukare as a mediocre song. Raju Bharatan pounced on him, “You are not even aware that this song has piya thrice. If you use piya twice, you are perhaps confusing with Piya piya na lage mora jiya from Phagun (1958), also composed by OP Nayyar. You classical types would not understand the difference. It takes a genius of a film musician to understand the difference between two piyas and three piyas”.
4. Bhula nahi dena jib hula nahi dena by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, lyrics Khumar Barabanqvi, music Nashad
What a terrific song picturised on Ajit and an impish Geeta Bali.
5. Aan milo aan milo aan saanwre by Manna Dey and Geeta Dutt from Devdas, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music SD Burman
A very moving Baul song, sung to the young Paro by the wandering minstrels.
6. Nain so nain nahi milaao dekhat surat aawat aaj by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar from Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje, lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Vasant Desai
One of the best songs based on classical ragas.
7. Jane kahan mera jigar gaya ji by Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt from Mr & Mrs 55, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music OP Nayyar
An iconic fun song picturised on Johnny Walker.
8. Udhar tum haseen ho idhar dil jawan hai by Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt from Mr & Mrs 55, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music OP Nayyar
A great romantic song on the lead pair. A leading example of Rafi-Geeta Dutt duets.
9. Pyar hua iqraar hua by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar from Shri 420, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
Raj Kapoor and Nargis in an umbrella while singing this song is one of the most recognizable images from our films (the image used as the thumbnail of this article). As Nargis sings Hum na rahenge tum na rahoge, rahengi apni nishaniya, you see three children (Raj Kapur’s real children) walking towards them.
10. Tum apni yaad bhi dil se bhula dete to achcha tha by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar, lyrics Jaan Nisar Akhtar, music C Ramchandra
Yasmin was another CR landmark in this year. Among several great songs, this is a typical soft and melodious Talat Mahmood-Lata Mangeshkar duet.
One great singer missing from this list is Mukesh. This was the period when he was distracted by his forays into film making and acting. You may stretch to include Ichak dana bichak dana and the second part of O Ramaiya vastavaiya from Shri 420, but these do not belong to the same class as the best ten of the year.
Among other great duets still missing from the above list are Bachna zara ye zamana hai bura (Rafi, Geeta Dutt; Milaap) and Halke halke chalo saanwre (Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar; Tangewali). These were also mentioned by the readers. But I present two bonus duets which I had completely missed and even the most exhaustive comments by the readers did not mention them. So while they may they not make it to the award shortlist, they would figure among some of the best duets which have gone into oblivion.
Two bonus duets
11. Peechhe peechhe aa kar chhoo lo humein paa ke by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar from House No 44, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music Hemnt Kumar
This is not at all an unknown song, I should have remembered it. Here is the beautiful song, picturised equally beautifully on Dev Anand and Kalpana Kartik. Here Hemant Kumar plays a minor role, by just adding He he in between. It may count for all purposes as a Lata Mangeshkar solo.
12. Ye char din bahar ke hansi khushi se guzaar dein by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle from Rukhsana, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Sajjad Hussain
This one is a really forgotten gem. I heard it recently on radio and instantly fell in love with it. What a soft and melodious song, and to think that Sajjad Hussain used to call Kishore Kumar as ‘Shor Kumar’! Kishore Kumar is an undoubted genius. In the same year KK and Asha Bhosle sang for OP Nayyar Piya piya piya mora jiya pukare.
The best five duets of 1955
How do I pick the best five from the above list? I have gone through the comments of readers on the original post. There is a fair agreement about the songs, and my own personal choice also matches with the general consensus. I have a very simple method. If I have five slots, which song I would pick for the first slot, which for the second and so on? So here are my best five in order:
1. Bula nahi dena ji bhula nahi dena Rafi and Lata from Baradari
Among several hundred outstanding duets of Rafi-Lata Mangeshkar, I would have picked it among their top three-four songs three decades back, I would do so today and I would pick it up three decades later. There is something eternal about its instrumentation; it starts with a small prelude which sets the tone; the child lovers grow up by the time mukhda starts. I have lost count of how many outstanding songs I have seen on Ajit. Geeta Bali always brings an innocent charm. I have no hesitation in putting it as No.1.
2. Nain so nain nahi milao by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar from Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje
If Bhula nahi dena was a leading duet of Rafi-Lata, Nain so nain nahi milao holds a similar place in Hemant Kuar-Lata Mangeshkar duets. You would easily pick it among their best ten. The best example of a film song based on Raga Malgunji.
3. Kitna haseen hai mausam by Chitalkar and Lata Mangeshkar from Azaad
The tragedy king Dilip Kumar and the tragedienne Meena Kumari for a change get into the mood of romantic comedy. CR does a perfect Talat Mahmood imitation as he had promised. The setting, the gay abandon of the stars, the music, everything is just perfect. One of the best songs of Azaad, and one of the best songs of 1955.
4. Udhar tum haseen ho idhar dil jawan hai by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Mr and Mrs 55
From at least three Rafi-Geeta Dutt duets in the year it is difficult to choose one. My vote goes for this as a leading example of their romantic duets. Picturised beautifully on Guru Dutt and Madhubala.
5. Pyar hua iqraar hua by Manna dey and Lata Mangeshkar from Shri 420
Frankly, this is not my top favourite of Manna Dey-Lata Mangeshkar for Raj Kapoor-Nargis. I give that honour to Ye raat bhigi bhigi and Aa ja sanam from Chori Chori. But you cannot question an icon. The rains, the play of light and shade in B&W film, the lovers under an umbrella and the three children walking towards the couple to the strains of Hum na rahenge tum na rohoge, rahengi apni nishaniyan – have made the song an eternal classic. Since it is not my top favourite of the type unlike the first four, I keep it at number five.
I can visualise many readers clapping in agreement if I declare that the
SoY award for the best duet of 1955 goes to Bhula nahi dena jib bhula nahi dena by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Baradari, music Nashad