Forgotten Composers Unforgettable Melodies (7): Jamal Sen

July 1, 2013

Jamal SenThere are some people whose reputation precedes their arrival.  Jamal Sen has come in for some great praise on at least three occasions on this blog. In Subodh’s piece on Yaman, Jamal Sen’s composition Sapna ban sajan aye was mentioned in comments as one of the best examples of Yaman, and several readers mentioned him as a befitting candidate for this series. Earlier, while researching for Suraiya’s songs, I came across an unheard gem Raton ki need chheen li ankhon ke intezar ne from Shokhiyan (1951), which I had to include over some other well known songs. And later, while writing on Mubarak Begum, Jamal Sen’s contribution in giving her some of the most memorable songs, especially the duet with Mohammad Rafi, Devta tum ho mera sahara in Dayera (1953), was recognised.

With music of such high quality, it is one of the vagaries of the film world that Jamal Sen remained on the fringes and virtually unknown. I myself do not recall being aware of him and his songs before the internet era. I am fulfilling a long pending request of the readers to write on him as a tribute to one of the very talented, but forgotten composers of the Golden Era of our film music (1950s and 60s).

Jamal Sen’s profile

Originally from Sujangarh in Churu district (Rajasthan), Jamal Sen imbibed music from his family tradition. One of his ancestors, Kesari Sen, was said to be a disciple of Tansen. His father Jeevan Sen was a court musician in some princely states. Jeevan Sen also gave music in some Parsi Theatre. Jamal Sen was an adept Kahak dancer. He was also a singer with the All India Radio, Calcutta. He became an assistant to Ghulam Haider in Lahore, and in many musical programmes as well as films like Khazanchi he played the tabla and dholak. Recognising his talents, Kedar Sharma gave him a break in Shokhiyan (1951) over his traditional composers, Roshan and Snehal Bhatkar. Jamal Sen fully met the confidence reposed in him. The next film was Dayera (1953), which was also remarkable for its music. This was the film which made Mubarak Begum famous.

Unfortunately, he could not repeat the success of Shokhiyan and Dayera, even when some of the songs in his later films were reasonably good. Later he also gave music in a Chhatisgarhi film Ghar Dwar (1971) and Bhojpuri film Nag Panchami (1964). Some of his films could not see the light of the day. Interestingly, one of his songs Beeta hua ek sawan ek yaad tumhari was recorded for his first film, Shokhiyan. This song could not find a place in the movie, but was used by Kedar Sharma in his telefilm Pahla Kadam, released in 1980. Dejected by the state of his career, Jamal Sen reportedly took to alcohol. He lived in anonymity and died unsung on April 12, 1979 at Borivili (Mumbai). However, he would be happy in the heaven to know that his grandson Sameer Sen (part of Sameer Sen and his uncle Daleep Sen duo) has achieved commercial success, though he may not be too much enamoured of their music.

Jamal Sen’s select filmography

Jamal Sen gave music for the following films:

Shokhiyan (1951)
Dayera (1953)
Dharmapatni (1953)
Rangeela (1953)
Kasturi (1954), with Pankaj Mullick
Ritu Vihar (1954)
Patit Paawan (1955)
Amar Shaheed (1960)
Baghdad (1961)
Alha Udal (1962)
Manchali (1962)

(Acknowledgment: The above information is based on Pankaj Raag’s Dhuno Ki Yatra, a magnum opus on the music directors, and

Now let us enjoy some of his best songs. But before we get to his songs, let us have Kedar Sharma’s short video clip talking about Jamal Sen


(It is mentioned on the YT that it is a part of a short film made by Sharad Dutt for Doordarshan. Readers would recall Doordarshan had dozens of short films on music personalities such as Naushad, Anil Biswas, Pankaj Mullick etc. You name them and they had it – all made by Sharad Dutt. Thank you Sharadji for creating such everlasting legacy.)

And his grandson Sameer Sen being part of some initiative to honour his grandfather.


1.  Sapna ban sajan aye by Lata Mangeshkar from Shokhiyan (1951), lyrics Kedar Sharma

This Prem Nath- Suraiya starer film had absolutely outstanding music as you associate with a Kedar Sharma film.  We have discussed this song earlier, but it bears repetition.  If we call this the definitive Yaman in Hindi films, it would not be too much of an exaggeration. Atul’s site has some useful information about this movie and Jamal Sen.


2.  Ayee barkha bahar by Lata Mangeshkar and Pramodini Deasi from Shokhiyan (1951)

From classical, let us go to the other end of folk. Can you think of a sweeter song than this? The picturisation of beautiful damsels frolicking in water is subtly erotic.


3.  Tu to aa ja re by Suraiya from Shokhiyan (1951)

Another folk beauty.


4.  Aa bhi ja meri duniya mein koi nahi, bin tere kab talak by Talat Mahmood from Dayera (1953), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Talat Mahmood was at the peak of his popularity in the early 50s.  Jamal Sen draws all the famed silky softness of Talat’s voice in this ghazal.


5.  Aansoo to nahi hain ankhon mein pahlu mein magar dil jalta hai by Talat Mahmood from Dayera, lyric Majrooh Sultanpuri

This one again has everything that you expect from the best of Talat.


6.  Deep ke sang  jalun main by Mubarak Begum from Dayera, lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Mubarak Begum was the lead singer in Meena Kumari-Nasir Khan starrer Dayera.  Video clips are also available of all the songs of this movie on the YT.  But their quality is not so good.  Therefore, I am giving the audio link.  You hear this song and exclaim, Kya baat hai.  And then, you rue why was the music world so unfair to Mubarak Begum , or for that matter to Jamal Sen.  From the video link it appears as a background song as Meena Kumari tends to her ailing husband.


7. Bachpan ke sathi tujhko mera bachpan pukarata by Lata Mangeshkar from Patit Pawan (1955)

When was Lata Mangeshkar at her peak? To my mind early fifties.  And this rare gem from a completely obscure movie – one does not even know if it was released.  But God bless the uploader of this song – for such rare melody of Lata Mangeshkar composed by Jamal Sen. The blurb mentions that it was a Lalita Pawar Bipin Gupta-Jeevan-Sulochana starrer movie.


8.  Raat zulm ki kat jayegi by Md Rafi from Amar Shaheed (1960), lyrics Arjun

This is as good a patriotic song by Rafi as it gets.  In a sad irony, the uploader has given the picture of Naushad with Rafi.  Jamal Sen could have been spared this disrespect.  Shivaji Ganesan,  Gemini Ganesan, Padmini and Ragini were the lead players in this film.  It appears from the Hindi Film Geet Kosh that this film was dubbed from the Tamil film Veerapandiya Kattabomman made in 1959.


9.  Tum pe hum kurban kismat ban jaye by Md Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur from Baghdad (1961), lyrics Pt Indra Chandra

This typical romantic duet sung by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur is pleasant enough, but I find it special because it is picturised on MG Ramchandran and Vyjayanthimala.


10.  Beeta hua ek sawan ek yaad tumhari by Lata Mangeshkar from Pahla Kadam (1980)

Finally the song which I have mentioned in my write-up which Jamal Sen created in 1951 for Shokhiyan, but could not be included in that film.  Kedar Sharma included it thirty years later, but Lata Mangeshkar’s voice is clearly vintage early 50s.  A beautiful song.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok M Vaishnav July 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for this piece on Jamal Sen – not only for meeting a long standing request, but providing enough background information at one place, now, and, for having presented quite a representative songs.

The songs do give enough depth of view into the range of Jamal Sen’s repertoire.

It seems one of the very important criterion for a song to be ‘popular’ is its ease of singing by the listener. A song, both in terms of tune and lyrics, must not only catch the heart, mind and spirit of the listener, it should be easy to come to the lips as well.

The composers who veritably created unforgettable melodies seem to score low on this count.
And then of course, the banner, actors success of the films etc. do play a big role in the commercial success, and hence , possibly, the longevity, of the music director.

2 Personal Concerns July 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Beeta Hua Ek Saawan and Sapna Ban Saajan Aaaye are my all time favorites. I hope to be introduced to more such gems on this lovely website. Thanks Ashok Vaishnav Ji for letting me know of this great space on the net!


3 Subodh Agrawal July 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Thank you AK for writing this post about one of the most talented and most ignored composers of the golden age. As you have mentioned, I discovered him through ‘Sapna ban sajan aaye’ and it completely charmed me. I must have played the song over twenty times in twenty four hours after listening to it. ‘Devta tum ho mera sahara’, ‘Raaton ki neend chheen li’ and ‘Beeta hua ek savan’ are enough to keep his memory alive for all times to come. Thanks again for digging out enough songs of this genius to make a full post.

‘Sapna ban saajan aaye’ is a beautiful composition in Yaman, but it is not very orthodox in presentation of the Raga. Jamal Sen departs from the standard movement of the raga several times during the song, but he always returns to it. Such forays from the main raga are pretty common stuff for Bhairavi, Pilu, Pahadi, Khamaj, Desh etc. but it takes a composer with guts to tinker with a raga like Yaman. It could have completely ruined the mood, but in his hands these little departures have the effect of emphasizing and enhancing the beauty of the principal raga. Let me illustrate: the line ‘Neel gagan ke sundar tare’ in the second stanza would be more at home in Bhupali than Yaman – not a major issue, as Bhupali is very much a part of the Yaman family. The next line ‘Chun liye phool samajh ati nyare’ would fit much better in a Chhayanat or Bilawal composition. The third line ‘Jholi mein bhar laye’ is so typically and forcefully Yaman that it could be used as Yaman’s signature. This ‘homecoming’ after a detour adds a delicious charm to the song.

Nice to know that Dilip Sen and Samir Sen are doing something in the memory of their ancestor. Wish their music had also carried the imprint of Jamal Sen.

4 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 1, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Ak ji,
Thanks for a nice article on this talented but neglected composer. I dont know why only the talented people (Sajjad hussain,Madan Mohan,C.Arjun and a host of others) do not get the help of good luck ?
Patit pawan was a released movie.
As far as Lata is concerned,in one of the interviews she had given, she admitted that when she learnt about Jamal sen’s film,she was very keen to sing for him and sent several messages to him to indicate her desire to sing for him.
Film Ritu Vihar was not released.
Lalit Sen is also a music director who works only for TV serials and is quite well known and in demand composer in the TV circles. He too is jamal’s Grand son.

5 AK July 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Thanks a lot. Some great composers were able to bridge the gap between art and popularity. Some others created great music, but could not achieve mass popularity. The banner and the commercial success of the movie was also an important factor determining the longevity of a composition.

Personal Concerns,
Thanks a lot. Beeta hua ek sawan and Sapna ban sajan aye are indeed incredibly sweet songs. I must say you write a very impressive blog and you have some equally impressive followers.

I remember your reaction on discovering Sapna ban sajan aye. Your comments on the nuances of Yaman are very impressive. We have to wait for Mr N Venkatarman’s appearance for a shastrarth between the two Vidwaans.

6 AK July 2, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation and the additional information you have given about Jamal Sen. About talented people not getting good luck, one reason could be that the field was very crowded. In any field of human endeavour, only so many people can reach the top. Others equally or only slightly less talented are left behind. I remember in ‘Freakonomics’ (Levitt and Dubner) there was a chapter how in the field of sports or entertainment some top stars earn humungous amount of money, where as others almost equally talented earn a fraction of that. There could be something in this, besides the more obvious factors like the banner etc.

7 jignesh kotadia July 5, 2013 at 1:01 am

So, after eating different recipes of different places for a long time,ultimately, i got my favt desi dish ..roti, bhindi and chhaash. It has been always pleasing my tongue and satisfying my stomach. Thanx Akji for serving it again.
I had only heard 1 song from ur list…that is ”palkan ki palki aansoo sanwarta,,bachpan ke saathi tujhko bachpan pukarta” (patit paawan…amazing one !…kya baat !) . Heard ”sapna ban saajan” first time…EXCELLENT Subodhji said, me too listened it several times in a day.
1951 is really everest of hfmusic ! <3 <3 <3

'Raato ki neend chhin li' of suraiya is a typical sajjad tune !

No. 10 song…'beeta hua ek saavan's audio quality is too weak. Cudnt catch the tune 🙁

8 AK July 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Thanks Jignesh. Songs of Yore would always have something interesting for music lovers like you. If most of the songs were new for you, it shows how much wealth we have hidden which needs to be discovered.

1951 was indeed one of the greatest years. The credit should go to the great music directors.

I heard Raaton ki neend chheen li again. I found the audio quality quite good. May be you need to jack up the volume. I do wish you get to hear this song properly, it is so beautiful.

9 Arunkumar Deshmukh July 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm

AK ji,
few years back i had read a book,” Rahen na rahen hum” by Shantaram Mankikar. I had made some notes from that book.One pertains to Jamal Sen, like this-
Jamal Sen knew Producer K Asif for many years. once when they met,Asif took him to the sets of Mughal- E Azam,where a dance was to be filmed. The sets were all ready and Dancer Gopikrishna was rehearsing the dance steps. Jamal Sen saw all this,but kept quiet.

Ak ji,
few years back I had read a book” Rahen na rahen hum” by Shantaram Mankikar.I had made some notes from this book. One of the notes is about Jamal Sen-
Jamal Sen knew Producer Director K.Asif for many years.Once they met somewhere and Asif took Jamal to the sets of Mughal-E Azam. There a dance sequence was to be shot and Gopikrishna was rehearsing the steps.Jamal saw everything but did not comment anything. As Asif knew him well,he suspected something and asked Jamal what was wrong. Jamal told him that the sets are absolutely appropriate but the dance steps and the ‘Bol’ were not comensurate with the period when Akbar was reigning. Asif asked him then and there to make new Dance steps,prepare the ‘Bol’ and make music for that sequence.
Jamal Sen did that and Asif was more than happy.
However that piece of Dance and music was not used by Naushad in the film.
Jamal sen fell isolated and lonely,due to his proud and arrogant nature.He never bent to beg for work and soon was thrown out of the Industry. Out of frustration,he took to Drinking .After his second son Madan died at 40 yrs of age,Jamal Sen took a shock and died within 6 months after that.
Jamal Sen was expert in a variety of Music. here is a song-exactly opposite to his image – from Bhagwan Dada’s film Rangeela-1953,which is set in a western tune.


10 AK July 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Thanks a lot for this additional information about Jamal Sen. In show biz one needed more than talent.

11 jignesh kotadia July 7, 2013 at 1:38 am

Arunji… Yes..”sun sun meri kahani” is out of Jamal sen’s style…very good song.

Here is another superb song(asha-rafi duet) from ‘Rangeela’
”matwale naino wale
kaahe hum par jaadu dale”

12 jignesh kotadia July 7, 2013 at 1:53 am

Another beauty of Jamal sen in ”Rangeela”
Rafi-Asha fantastic duet

‘Dheere dheere sang mere gaao o babuji
Ghadi ghadi hansi na udaao o babuji’
‘Mai dehaati panchhi babu, shaheri geet na janu
Sidhi saadi boli meri, mai sangeet na janu
Raag rang mujhe na sikhaao o babuji’

13 jignesh kotadia July 7, 2013 at 2:26 am

who is singer of this lovely song of ‘dharam patni’ ? Arunji, Akji ?

‘Laagi tumse lagan
Mere bhole sajan…

14 AK July 7, 2013 at 8:55 am

You have added so many unheard gems of Jamal Sen. Thanks a lot. Hindi Film Geet Kosh mentions Asha Bhosle as the singer of Lagi tumse lagan mere bhole balam of Dharm Patni. In the early 50s Asha Bhosle’s distinct tonal style had not yet developed, and some songs of this period bear a distinct mark of Lata Mangeshkar style.

15 jignesh kotadia July 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

yes yes..Akji…it’s Ashaji…i cudnt recognise at first time. Thanq. Song is really nice one.
A big salaam to all those yt uploaders who have preserved our precious heritage and now been sharing it generously.

16 N Venkataraman July 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm


Thanks for bringing into limelight the talented MD Jamal Sen. We have repeatedly seen that talent alone cannot ensure success. Whatever be the reason, he was left in obscurity, regardless of his talent. You were right in pointing out that very few people knew about Jamal Sen before the internet era. In fact I heard about him for the first time in the seventies. I was introduced to his composition through Subodhji’s article on Yaman.

The first three songs from Shokhiyaanand the next three from Dayera proves that Jamal sen was not only a good composer, but was also a versatile music director. Regarding the first song on Raag Yaman, I do not have much to add after Subodhji has put forward his erudite observations. Jamal Sen has efficiently weaved in and out of Yaman, Bhoopali and Chayanat, all belonging to the Kalyan That. This one song not only reveals his depth of knowledge in classical music, but his ability to skillfully merge allied Raags effectively in short compositions. His son Shambhu Sen ‘s composition in same Raag in the film ‘Mrig Trishna’ was also good. It seems both of them had a penchant for this Raag.. ‘Raaton ki neend Chheen lee’ was another wonderful song from this film.

I had come across the song from ‘Amar Saheed’, while doing the post on dubbed version songs. But this beautiful composition was different from the one from Tamil version. But there were other songs where the compositions were same. (may be due to compulsions). Out of the dozen or few more films for which Jamal Sen had composed music, we find, at least, two were for dubbed films. That further reduces the scope and opportunity of the MD.

The songs presented from the limited repertoire were good, especially #7 and #10.

Let me add a few more songs which I liked.

Here is a beautiful song by Asha Bhosle from the film Kasturi. But I am not sure whether the composer was Jamal Sen or Pankaj Mullick. I find both names in the net. On listening to the song the composition does not seem to be that of Pankaj Mullick. Here is the link. Ak ji or Arunji , can you give further information on this song/film. Subodh ji will be pleased to find another happy song picturised on Nimmi.

‘Mujhe apna banaya door door se’, by Asha Bhosle, lyrics Vrajendra Gaud

Here is another song from Baghdad.

‘Dil ka mausam Khil Khil phoole’ by Suman Kalyanpur, lyrics Pt. Indira Devi

Another beautiful song from the film Shokhiyaan by Raajkumari

I was back yesterday after a hectic travel. I could go through this post only yesterday night.

Thanks once again Akji for another post on ‘forgotten composers’.

17 Vinay Kulkarni July 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Lata has sung a splendid a song of Jamal Sen ” Jyoti Kaun Dikhaye in the film Patit Pavan. If possible pl.upload it.

18 jignesh kotadia July 7, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Vinayji….thanx,,,u brought an alluring info,,, causing a craving for this unheard song. Someone should upload this song.

19 n.venkataraman July 8, 2013 at 12:10 am

Here is a duet by Suman Kalyanpur and Md.Rafi from the Chattisgarhi film ‘Ghar Dwar (1971), lyrics Hari Thakur, music Jamal Sen

…a solo by Md.Rafi from the same film

..and another duet by Suman Kalyanpur and Md.Rafi

20 AK July 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

This is an awesome list, especially the songs from the Chattisgarhi film Ghar Dwar. I could not locate these songs while searching for this post. Now we need to discover his Bhojpuri songs from Nag Panchami.

As for Mujhe apna banaya door door se by Asha Bhosle from Kasturi, the songs are separately identified by Pankaj Mullick and Jamal Sen in HFGK, and this one happens to be composed by Jamal Sen (another feather in his cap!).

Vinay Kulkarni, Jignesh
A Lata Mangeshkar song by Jamal Sen does seem tantalising. I could not find it on YT, though there are songs by Mohammad Rafi and Geeta Dutt. (I have already included a Lata song from Patit Pawan, #7 in my post).

21 n.venkataraman July 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Thank you for the reply. So it is confirmed that this particular song was composed by Jamal Sen.
I hope very soon somebody will post his Bhojpuri songs and the song mentioned by Vinay Kulkarni.

22 jignesh kotadia July 9, 2013 at 1:28 am

Another wonder creation of JAMAL SEN with MUBARAK BEGUM

23 jignesh kotadia July 9, 2013 at 1:37 am

”Suno more naina, suno more naina

Mujhko jo gham hai, koi sune naa
Tujhko kasam hai, chupke hi rehna
Unse na kehna, unse na kehna
Suno more naina, suno more naina

Jaagu akeli, birha sataye
Nindiya bulau, nindiya na aaye
Beete na raina, beete na raina
Suno more naina, suno more naina

Chitwan se bhi hum koi na jhalke
Palko se koi aansu na dhalke
Gham yun hi sehna, gham yun hi sehna
Suno more naina, suno more naina”

Mubarak begum in Daaera

24 AK July 9, 2013 at 6:23 am

This is a wonderful song. Its very interesting. In her debut songs, Mubarak Begum had distinct Suraiya imprint. This song has a distinct Lata Mangeshkar style.

25 Rakesh Srivastava March 3, 2014 at 10:57 am

Thanks for this informative post.It is sad that such a talented composer gifted us only few movies.

26 AK March 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

You are welcome. Thanks for your appreciation. Vagaries of the industry!

27 Indu khare July 31, 2016 at 9:43 pm

I was fortunate to have known him personally, he was a dear friend of my father. His sons Madansen and Tansen taught me kathak dance. But I did not know that he was such a good and gifted composer. I grew up in borivli, and the family were friends. My father was very fond of music and we had get together at our home on various occasions, I heard him sing but was unaware of his talents. Thanks for this post and giving me some moments of my childhood back. I have some very fond memories of them.

28 AK August 1, 2016 at 7:44 am

Welcome to SoY. It is great to have someone who knew Jamal Sen and his family so closely. I hope you find SoY of your interest and continue your engagement.

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