Wishing Lata Mangeshkar Happy 84th Birthday
The most discussed aspect about SD Burman-Lata Mangeshkar combination is their break up for about five years, 1958-62, rather than their music. In that, he is among a long line of film and music personalities with whom she had one of her famous run-ins. But there is a vital difference. From all accounts, this one did not have the acrimony common to her other fall-outs. And when they finally came together, my understanding is – again from accounts available in public domain – that it was with mutual respect. In the hiatus of five years SD Burman was none the worse as he continued to give some of the greatest music of his career, now with Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle, but he realized he had something beyond, where only Lata Mangeshkar could reach. She also felt that there was something unique in Dada’s music, without which she would remain incomplete. Thus their second innings led to another set of great melodies in Bandini, Guide, Tere Mere Sapne, Prem Pujari, Talash, Anurag, Abhiman etc which continued till the very end of his career. For those interested, here is one account of their split and patch-up. (Note: While most accounts mention Bandini (1963) as their patch-up film, she has a couple of songs in Dr Vidya (1962). Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh has informed me that their first song after patch up was ‘Pawan diwani’ from Dr Vidya.)
Even though SD Burman was 23 years senior to Lata Mangeshkar, their debut in Hindi films was almost concurrent. He debuted as a composer in 1946 with Shikari, she as a playback singer a year later with the film Aap Ki Sewa Mein (though her singing, as distinct from ‘playback’, started five years earlier, details of which are widely available on the net). As we have noted earlier, his first big success was with Geeta Dutt in 1947 with Do Bhai, and he also continued with other singers of yesteryears such as Amirbai Karnataki and Suraiya etc. While Lata Mangeshkar was creating waves with Naushad, Khemchand Prakash, Anil Biswas, Shyam Sundar, Shankar Jaikishan, Ghulam Haider and C Ramchandra as the voice of the future, SD Burman seems to have warmed up to her somewhat late. Lata’s first song for him was probably in Mashal (1950). Mashal is more well known for Manna Dey’s Upar gagan vishaal, which possibly stands as his first super hit song. But next year from Thandi hawayein lahraa ke aayein and Jhan jhan jhan jhan payal baaje onwards, SD Burman created for Lata Mangeshkar a kind of music which was unique and established him as one of the greatest composers of the Golden Era regardless of whether he matched the commercial success of his peers or not.
In one of my earlier posts in the series on SD Burman with major singers, there was a discussion that some of them have been less than fair to SD Burman in acknowledging his contribution in their growth and fame. Lata Mangeshkar has been very prolific in public domain in interviews and writings under her by-line. I think she has been quite generous in praising him. But regardless, I have planned this series not only as a tribute to the singer, but also to SD Burman. So let me present this double tribute with their best songs on the 84th Birth anniversary of Lata Mangeshkar. Incidentally, SD Burman’s Birth anniversary (107th) would come in three days, i.e. October 1.
1. Aaj nahi to kal bikhar jayenge ye badal from Mashal (1950), lyrics Pradeep
I start with this song more for historical interest as this should be among her first songs by SD Burman. I heard this song for the first time while researching for this post. I find the song is very melodious, and it is quite surprising that it was not on the radar screen of the All India Radio. The video quality is excellent. I believe the lady lip synching the song is its heroine Sumitra Devi.
2. Ankhon se door door hi par dil ke paas jo from Mashal (1950)
I can’t help including the second song too from the same film. As you listen, these songs grow on you, and I should classify them as outstanding. Lata’s voice is very fluid and smooth; she had already created sensation with other composers. There is another interesting fact associated with this song. A comment on YT identifies the actor lip synching the song as Rooma Devi, the first wife of Kishore Kumar.
3. Thandi hawayein lahraa ke aayen from Naujawan (1951), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
After a couple of Lata songs in Mashal, which did not create much waves in spite of their intrinsic musical merit, SD Burman creates a song of everlasting fame in the very next year. It is said that this was inspired by Charles Boyer’s C’est la vie from the movie Algiers (1938). Here is a very good article on the legacy of this song, and other ‘inspired’ Hindi film songs based on this source. I listened to the ‘original’ very carefully. For a lay listener, the likeness, if any, is very tenuous. This information does not take away anything from the great composition of SD Burman to my mind. Here is the landmark song:
4. Jhan jhan jhan jhan payal baaje from Buzdil (1951), lyrics Shailendra
I have said earlier that creating one masterpiece can be a lifetime’s achievement. Here is another iconic song from the same year. Though Shailendra is credited as the lyricist, it is – at least the mukhadaa - a traditional composition which has been sung by many classical singers in the Raga Nat Bihag. SD Burman himself sang it much earlier in this Raga which we have seen in my post on his non-film songs. Cuckoo, the precursor of Helen, and more famous for fast and westernised dances in a party scene, performs an elegant dance in Kathatk style.
5. Dard lage pyara pyara pahla pahla pyar ka from Ek Nazar (1951), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
Perhaps it is not counted among SD Burman-Lata Mangeshkar classics, but at a very young age somehow I fell for this song. This was a kind of pahla pahla pyar for me just as a very fresh Nalini Jaywant has for someone (Rahman or Karan Diwan?) in this song.
6. Tum na jane kis jahan mein kho gaye from Sazaa (1951), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
Now another timeless song of not only SD Burman, but also among the all time great songs of Lata Mangeshakar. It is said about Sahir Ludhiyanvi that while other lyricists wrote film songs, he wrote poetry which was used as lyrics for film songs. He starts one of the most celebrated lyricist-composer associations with SD Burman this year.
7. Dil se mila ke dil pyar kijiye from Taxi Driver (1954), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
The music of Taxi Driver won for SD Burman his first Filmfare Award for the song Jayen to jayen kahan – those days the Award was given for a particular song. But when I watched this film about forty years ago, what remained indelibly etched in my memory was Sheila Ramani’s beautiful dance in the night club to this peppy tune, and the small kid playing the maracas in masti. In between, the kid also picks up a coke bottle to take a sip, without a break in his playing and delicate swaying to the tune. Towards the end as the tempo reaches its peak, Sheila Ramani goes up on a stool that has been brought unobtrusively, and continues her dancing, and other companion dancers now dance in circles around her. You could also spot among the dancers, Edwina, who has been rediscovered and made famous by Greta of Memsaabstory. This song would rank at the top in my list of night club dance-songs. My special romance for this song has grown more since I read a trivia about it in a review of Sidharth Bhatia’s book, Cinema Modern: The Navketan Story, done by Madhu. It turns out the Anglo Indians playing the musical instruments – the man with the guitar, the lady on the piano and the child with the maracas – were the Corke family, the landlords of the Pali Hill flat in which the Anand brothers lived. They were offered bit roles in the film by Navketan in a friendly gesture. Without knowing their background, for me they were an important part of the song. So while you sway to the seductive dance of Sheila Ramani, you can’t fail to notice the child, Noel Corke, the father Vernon Corke, and the mother Mrs Corke playing different instruments.
8. Chand phir nikalaa magar tum na aye from Paying Guest (1957), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
It was ironical that the tremendous acclaim which SDB-Sahir combo received for the music of Pyasa this year should also be a cause for strain between the two. Majrooh Sultanpuri begins his association with SD Burman with this film. A renowned Urdu poet in his own right, he also belonged to the Progressive Writers’ Movement, but in films he became famous for his deeply romantic songs. SD Burman, as I have repeated several times in my earlier posts, was a genius who could create iconic songs for different voices and in different genres. Chand phir niklaa is easily among the most romantic songs you could think of, and among the best of Lata songs ever.
9. Khanke kanganaa bindiya hanse from Dr Vidya (1962), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
SDB-Majrooh magic continues, now with Lata Mangeshkar back into his fold after their long hiatus. Even for someone like Mukesh, who was not his favourite singer, SDB created a beautiful Ae dil-e-awara chal in this film. For Lata Mangeshkar he created two outstanding songs in two different genres – Pawan diwani, a classical dance number, and Khanke kangana, in which the bangles’ clanking, Lata’s singing and SDB’s orchestration become one. Notice the pause at khanke at the end of a line which is followed by a combination of wind, string and percussion instruments creating a magical effect.
10. Jogi jabse tu aya mere dware from Bandini (1963), lyrics Shailendra
This song is my greatest SDB-Lata Mangeshkar favourite. I don’t know how to express my feelings for this song. It is absolutely awesome. I am reminded of Arunji’s comments in my earlier post in which he mentioned the opinion of a ‘famous critic’ that SDB was not a talented or original composer, but a lucky one, and that one couldn’t name any song of his which could be considered iconic. There must be something seriously wrong with that ‘famous critic’ if he did not find this or other dozens of SD Burman’s compositions, some of which I have mentioned in my earlier posts on Geeta Dutt, Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh and Asha Bhosle, as iconic.
11. Kanton se kheench ke ye anchal from Guide (1965), lyrics Shailendra
Since I had included two songs from Mashal for historical interest, I would make up by adding two more than the usual ten. Talking of iconic songs, every song in Guide is an acknowledged classic, besides the movie being an undisputed classic for its bold theme far ahead of its time. Typical of SD Burman’s versatility, he pours great songs in the movie in the voice of Kishore Kumar and Rafi as well, besides two solos in his own voice. Lata Mangeshkar had two more solos – a wonderful dance song, Piya tose naina lage re, each stanza of which represents a different form of dance, and another dance song set in classical style, Mose chhal kiye jaye. Each of us would have our own favourite, but Kanton se kheench ke ye anchal encapsulates of essence of Guide – a married lady breaking free from a hopeless and cruel marriage, to go with her lover, who had assured to help in her pursuit of her passion for dance. For those interested in trivia, I have read at more than one source that Vijay Anand found Waheeda Rahman very inhibited, and he had a difficult time getting her to perform in an unrestrained manner for this song.
12. Mera antar ek mandir from Tere Mere Sapne (1971), lyrics Neeraj
This was another movie based on a literary work – AJ Cronin’s novel, The Citadel. An extremely sensitive movie which also gave an image makeover to Mumtaz, known for B-grade movies earlier and later for racy romantic roles, that she could play serious roles with equal élan. I also remembered the movie for equally beautiful songs. Lata Mangehakar’s had two great solos – Jaise Radha ne mala japi Shyam ki besides Mera antar ek mandir. Normaly I would have ended with Guide, but SD Burman was the only composer among his great contemporaries who continued his success in the 70s unabated. I conclude this post with a beautiful song from early 70s.