A friend of mine is a Storehouse of Information (SoI) on music of 1950s and 60s. He has an endearing way of posing teasers. One day he asked me if I had heard of Shailesh (Mukherji), the music director. I had not. Then came a helpful one, have you heard the song Nadiya ke pani o re nadiya ke pani. I jumped at it. To think that I did not know the music director of this my great favourite song! I immediately went to Youtube to check up on him. Then it was my turn to pose a teaser to SoI if he had heard Chhupa chhupi o chhupi aagad baagad aye re. He was thrilled to reconnect with the song. So you have two immortal songs from an unknown music director Shailesh Mukherji, that too from the same film Savera.
There is hardly any information available on him on the net. Arunkumar Deshmukh, whom the followers of this and Atul’s blog know as a living encyclopedia, informs that he also acted under the name Srikant Gaurav in the films Miya Biwi Raazi (1960) and Pyar Ki Pyas (1961). He was also a playback singer and sang a number of songs in film like Suhag Sindoor (1953). He was also a good tabla player – the interlude of Aansuon ki chhaon mein bhi hans le by Lata Mangeshkar in Parichay (1954) has good tabla piece by him.
From the information available he composed music for Suhag Sindoor (1953) with Suresh Kumar, Parichay (1954) with Ved Pal and Savera (1958). This is not a great deal of work, but some of his songs have become immortal. I do not know I would have come upon him by myself. But that I am writing on him at this point of time owes it to SoI (like me he also prefers to remain anonymous).
Here are some of his songs unforgettable songs.
1. Nadiya ke pani o re nadiya ke pani by Lata Mangeshkar from Savera (1958), lyrics Shailendra
This was a Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari starrer film. Songs of river or nadi/ nadiya have a special beauty – they refer to the endless flow of nature and somehow they make you feel you have been transported to the bank of a river. This should be one of the best nadiya songs, and is the one with which SoI connected me to Shailesh Mukherji.
2. Chhupa chhupi o chhupi aagad baagad ayee re by Mana dey, Lata Mangeshkar and chorus from Savera, lyrics Shailendra
This is a fascinating children’s song picturised on Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari playing with a bunch of children with gay abandon.
3. Thehro zara si der ko aakhir chale hi jaoge by Geeta Dutt from Savera, lyrics Prem Dhavan
You do not get too many ghazals by Geeta Dutt. This magical ghazal must be a pleasant discovery for Geeta Dutt fans.
4. Mane na mane na by Geeta Dutt from Savera, lyrics Prem Dhavan
Another atypical Geet Dutt song, now a fast paced mujra.
5. Dil ke phaphole jal uthe by Lata Mangeshkar from Parichay (1954), lyrics Keshav
The mukhadaa of this song borrows from KL Saigal Dey’s classic song from Dhoop Chhaon (1935).
6. Sakhi sajan ne mujhko bulaya hai by Geeta Dutt from Suhag Sindoor (1953)
Now you have a more typical melodious Geeta Dutt song from Suhag Sindoor produced by Munshi productions, Bombay, starring Shyama and Asit Baran. Asit Baran is a surprise casting here. When the biggies of New Theatres like KL Saigal had migrated from Calcutta to Bombay, Asit Baran was holding fort in Calcutta and starring in a number of films in early 40s. In the true New Theatres tradition he was himself an excellent singer. Several of his absolutely beautiful songs are now available, and I should be writing about him sometime soon. But the interesting point is that he should have also shifted to Bombay, and as if to mark Bombay’s ascendancy over Calcutta, Asit Baran did not have a single song in this film. (Come to think of it, even RC Boral shifted to Bombay. But while in the New Theatres era he was the Gold Standard of music, I have yet to come across any worthwhile song of his in his Bombay period).