Naushad’s exceptional Mukesh

July 22, 2015

A tribute on Mukesh’s 92nd birth anniversary (22 July 1923 – 27 August 1976)

Naushad and MukeshIf someone had asked me a few years ago who the second most prolific male singer of Naushad was, I would have never guessed Mukesh. His songs number only 26 compared to 149 of Rafi. If you compare Mukesh songs by different composers, Shankar-Jaikishan and Kalyanji Anandji did about four times more. Naushad-Mukesh association is essentially limited to three films in 1948-49: Mela, Anokhi Ada and Andaaz. Thereafter, he seems to have forgotten Mukesh for about two decades, until he reappears with some songs in Saathi (1968). By that time, it was clear, Naushad was not too enamoured of him. In Jo chala gaya use bhool ja, a song which is right up Mukesh’s alley, the prelude at high notes has been sung by Mahendra Kapoor, because it was felt that he could not handle it. Not a very flattering revival of their association.

Sometime back Mahesh, trying to recall an article he had read long ago, asked me if I knew why Dilip Kumar discarded Mukesh. I replied to him that probably the right question to ask was why Naushad discarded Mukesh.

Does it mean Mukesh was an exception to Naushad’s scheme of things? Far from it. Each song he composed for Mukesh in Mela, Anokhi Ada and Andaz is a masterpiece, and easily among his career best songs. Why did he discard him so completely has remained a mystery for me. Mukesh’s limited range is not an entirely satisfactory answer, because Naushad had shown he could work around Suraiya’s limitations, and had a long innings with her. He could have gone on with her longer had she not withdrawn herself because of her personal affairs. Hans suggests, if I understand him correctly, that Naushad had zeroed in on Rafi very early, even as he was working with Mukesh and Talat Mahmood, and was only waiting for an opportune moment when Rafi would have been more prepared, to present him in full glory with Deedar (1951), and later Baiju Bawra (1952).

If I have to use one word, Mukesh’s songs (i.e. the early songs) for Naushad are exceptional. That was the period, when Anil Biswas-composed Dil jalta hai to jalne de in Pahli Nazar (1945) had made Mukesh a sensation. Around that time Rafi was making a tentative beginning with Naushad, often as a minor voice in chorus songs. He soon got some solos, but Naushad’s main singers then were Surendra and Shyam Kumar. In this backdrop, Mukesh became the voice of Dilip Kumar in Mela (1948), and Prem Adib in Anokhi Ada (1949). Mukesh was also the part of Andaz (1949) magic, and his songs that Dilip Kumar emoted on the piano are an unparalleled visual and aural delight.

Continuing my Year of Naushad celebrations, I am presenting ten of his gems for Mukesh as a tribute to Mukesh’s 92nd birth anniversary.

1. Kabhi dil dil se takarata hoga from Anokhi Ada (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

When you talk of quintessential Mukesh songs, this should rank among the top. Prem Adib had sung many songs in his films earlier, but Naushad chooses Mukesh to sing playback for him. In this love triangle, Surendra sings his own songs, naturally. His presence must have been daunting, but I think it is Mukesh which leaves an indelible imprint.


2. Bhoolnewale yaad na aa from Anokhi Ada (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Prem Adib had fallen in love with the ethereal beauty, Naseem Bano (some would say she was more beautiful that her daughter, Saira Bano), but their train meets with an accident, which leaves Naseem Bano with loss of memory. In this state Surendra comes into her life. In a fit of rage, Prem Adib hits her. As she is treated in hospital, a remorseful Prem Adib sings this sad song.


3. Main bhanwra tu hai phool ye din mat bhool (with Shamshad Begum), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni from Mela (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

A happy romantic song between the lovers. You can see Naushad’s skill in marrying Mukesh’s soft singing in the middle range to Shamshad’s open-throated singing at high notes.


4. Gaye ja geet milan ke tu apni lagan ke from Mela (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

As Dilip Kumar returns to the village as promised, he is excited that he would be meeting her beloved, Nargis. Little does he realise that in his absence, the villain Jeevan has played his tricks, and his love has been manipulated into marrying an old man. As he sings this beautiful song of expectation to meet his beloved, unknown to him her doli passes him by. No one could do a happy, but poignant song better than Mukesh.


5. Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe from Andaz (1949), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

There have been love triangles before, and after, but none as lavish as Mehbob’s Andaz. Mukesh’s four songs that Dilip Kumar sang on the piano are an important part of the Andaz magic. The first encounter between Dilip Kumar and Nargis leads to situations, in which he finds himself drawn towards her romantically.


6. Tu kahe agar jeewan bhar main geet sunata jaaun from Andaz (1949), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Love from his side and ‘friendship’ from her side continues as she invites him to her birthday party. She requests him to sing a song, which he is more than willing to accept. He could go on singing for ever at her asking. Cuckoo livens up the party with her dancing. The inspiration for Helen, Cuckoo’s dancing is another major attraction in the film.


7. Toote na dil toote na from Andaz (1949), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Things have moved very fast. Following her father’s death, Nargis makes her ‘friend’ 50% partner and entrusts all her father’s business for him to manage. But soon the third angle, Raj Kapoor, appears on the scene. He had been the man in Nargis’s life, and returns from London as promised. Dilip Kumar is in a piquant situation as he is asked by Raj Kapoor, who had heard about him, to sing. He has to be discreet as he pours out his heart in this third Mukesh song on the piano. The two happy lovers, Raj Kapoor and Nargis, rest their elbow on the piano as Dilip Kumar watches them with melancholy eyes.


8. Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj gao khushi ke geet from Andaz (1949), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Raj Kapoor-Nargis relationship has to reach its logical conclusion. Dilip wants to escape from all this, but he is forced to come because everyone is waiting in the party for his song and Cuckoo’s dancing. It is too late to say who is at fault for this mess. He could only sing किसी को दिल का दर्द मिला है किसी को मन का मीत. Another exquisite dance by Cuckoo.


9. Mera pyar bhi tu hai ye bahar bhi tu hai (with Suman Kalyanpur) from Saathi (1968), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Mukesh returns after 19 years with Naushad. Along with him also returns Majrooh Sultanpuri. It was impossible to recreate Andaz magic, but this happy duet, when everything is going right between Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayanthimala, is quite charming, and was a big hit in its time.


10. Ankhen khuli thin aye the wo bhi nazar mujhe from Saathi (1968), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

I end with a less heard solo from Sathi. Its mukhada starts very promisingly, but somewhere down, the song fails to rise above the commonplace.



{ 111 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dinesh K Jain July 22, 2015 at 11:18 am

Thank you, AK, for another of your very interesting, perceptive, knowledgeable, and yet somewhat arguable commentary.
While I enjoyed your piece, let me dwell briefly on my last adjective.
In all these years, as many as yours, I have now heard Bhoolnewale yaad na aa for the very first time; only to find it among the best of Naushad-Mukesh! Likewise for Ankhen khuli thi, indeed more so for this is supposedly from a film that I have known well enough and the song was just not there! At the same time, I also realise that both my comments might only demonstrate your far greater knowledge of HFM than mine.

2 R.Nanjappa July 22, 2015 at 11:33 am

I am just a lover of our old film music, and not technically or musically knowledgeable.. To me, a song is good if it has melody, rhythm, meaning and mood. Songs are composed in films to suit a situation, but the really great songs which defy time are those which rise above the limitations of the given filmy situation. Listening to thousands of songs over the last 60 years, I have felt that almost every singer has risen to these heights on occasion. I always ascribe the feat to the music director, and the lyricist, more than the singer himself.

That is why I cannot understand this talk about ‘limitations’ or limited range of a voice, like that of Mukesh or Talat. Even about Kishore, some M.Ds had reservations because his voice was supposed to be untrained. In real life, every voice has its natural range, and hence natural limitations. This we see in the case of trained classical singers too. That way, it is not fair to compare the voices. Each is great within its own range.

A good composer ought to be able to utilise a voice as it is. In such cases, limitations can really turn into unrivalled strengths. This is what has happened to Mukesh, Talat and Hemant Kumar. Every other song they sang is a gem.

Rafi saab is said to have a voice with fantastic range. But I have felt that this very vast range has worked against him, and made most of his songs just plain ordinary, forgettable. It is only a few composers who really brought out the full sweetness of his voice- SDB. Jaidev, C.R, Roshan,Ravi, OPN ( to a limited extent) come to mind. Even Naushad ranks lower. And SJ just made Rafi noisy, in the name of making him breezy.

The only exception seems to be Lata. But then, I read in the ‘Speaking Tree’ column in the Times of India some time ago that Lata’s voice is like an instrument, not a plain human voice. That accounts for its remarkable range. Even so, there are some instances, as in Miss Mary or Taxi Driver where Asha is almost indistinguishable from Lata.

Music Directors can surely have their own preferences ( and prejudices),but I feel a competent one cannot blame a voice for its limitations. It is a bad workman who quarrels with his tools. Who can ever believe that Mukesh had any insurmountable limitations considering how a vast range of MDs created gems of songs for him- Salil Chaudhury, S.N.Tripathi, Sardar Malik, Dattaram. SDB, Snehal Bhatkar, Naushad himself, and others- leaving alone SJ and KA!

I join to pay my tributes to this great singer on his 92nd birth anniversary.

3 Antara July 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

Superb article… these are indeed gems. All the songs of Andaz especially are heart touching… I enjoy these out-of-the-box articles by you AK – this new way of looking at Mukesh through Naushad songs who had a Rafi fascination more than anyone else. … These articles are always a new perspective for me!

4 Ravindra Kelkar July 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm

R Nanjappa,
Some interesting points raised by you. I agree with you that the tune quality & lyric quality are more important. Moreover, if the quality of tune is ordinary, the final song remains ordinary irrespective of lyrics & the singer. You will find even in the golden period of 50s & 60s many ordinary songs, sung by all singers, without exception.

5 Dinesh K Jain July 22, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Oh, and by the way, AK, although beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, on available evidence, of Naseem Bano in Anokhi Ada and Saira Bano in the 1960s (any movie), the daughter wins hands down; there is simply no comparison. Of course age would be another factor, and Naseem of AA (Anokhi Ada) is not so unappealing – to my eyes – as Saira during these last two decades.
Any earlier movies references to Naseem at the peak of her looks as she is touted to be?

6 R.Nanjappa July 22, 2015 at 3:26 pm

I should have added Khayyam saab too to the list of MDs who created gems with Mukesh. I am ashamed of the slip.

7 AK July 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm

There is always a first time when we hear a song. You didn’t tell me how you felt when you heard Bhoolnewale yaad na aa. I would put it in the category that mesmerises you on the first hearing. I don’t hold the same view about Aankhen ankhen khuli thi. It was just to show a sample of their late re-combining.

No comments on your views on Naseem Bano – Saira Bano. You may watch Sohrab Modi’s Pukar (1939), regarded as a landmark film. It has a younger Naseem Bano. A good quality print is available on YT.

8 AK July 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm

R Nanjappa,
I agree with you entirely that the range of a singer’s voice is not the determining factor for a song’s greatness. Mukesh, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar are a proof of that. I differ slightly with you on lyricists. My personal view is that what lingers in the mind is the tune and the voice, and the words (lyricist) follow after that in a film song.

On Mukesh you have missed another great composer – Roshan.

9 AK July 22, 2015 at 3:52 pm

You are very generous with your praise. Thanks a lot. Your own articles on your blog show a much deeper research.

10 Antara July 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

I would like to differ with you here. Some lyrics are so evocative, had they been substituted by others, may be impact would have been different…

Talking of Mukesh, the first song that comes to mind where the lyrics make the first impact is – Kahin…(pause)…door (pause)… jab din dhal jaaye (the way he begins… the listener is hooked even before the melody starts to catch on and what an awesome creation it is…)

Would like to mention that the songs Mukesh did for Salil Chowdhury were also class apart – e.g. the one above and of course “Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai”… simply ethereal.
I am not an expert in music… These comments are purely on the basis of how I react to music instinctively.

~ Antara

11 Jignesh Kotadia July 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

Happy Birthday Mukesh…Long Live !
A wonderful collection of his songs with Naushad.. Almost all of them are outstanding and all are my Favorites. “Kabhi dil dil se takrata to hoga” does really deserve that has also two other versions in film…A Shamshad solo and A slow paced short duet by Mukesh and Shamshad.
Sadly this pairs (also Talat and Naushad) didnt continue to work together, whatever the reason then, otherwise maybe we would have “Takra gaya tum se dil hi to hai” in Mukesh voice !!

I am also one of those who believe Naseem bano is more beautiful than Saira bano. She is most beautiful and seductive lady to my eyes from all the women faces i have seen from 30’s and 40’s.
As i could define she was Incinerating beauty who can induce a 4th Degree Laser Burn to the man standing in front of her within few moments,, the Burn that doesnt harm the outer layers of a man at first but burns down everything inside the body, only can be detected during an Autopsy ! 🙂 !
“Shama dikhakar husn ke jalwe bana de jab diwana Jale na kyun parwana !?” Surendra is literally true here when these lines are sung for Naseem, i fully agreed with him.
Dineshji, if she looks a bit less appealing to you in Anokhi Ada, it is bcz she was 32 (born 1916) and a mom of two children at the time she worked in Anokhi Ada..more, Saira might have more accomplished make up artists than Naseem had in vintage era. Also we have never seen A 17-18 year old Naseem on screen in Color by that we can compare her beauty to her daughter !!

12 Mahesh July 22, 2015 at 4:24 pm

AK ji,
Many Thanks.
A link displaying the details of the combo.

As written in the post Sorab Modi was making “Pukar” once again in late 70’s , but it seems it never got completed. Mukesh I suppose has 2 songs in it which I would dare say are not worth listening when compared to the beauties ( I mean the songs and not the other discussion happening) of the late forties.

Another interesting , but unfortunate trivia,

It was Mukesh who who introduced Lata to Naushad during the making of Andaz in 1949 and you have only one insignificant duet of theirs for Naushad, that too as late as 1975..

13 Subodh Agrawal July 22, 2015 at 4:43 pm

One would normally not think of Naushad and Mukesh together. Once you have drawn our attention to this pair, however, one realizes how good the songs of Mukesh in films like Mela and Andaz are.

One of the lost gems of this pair is ‘Dharti ko aakash pukare’ – a song that exploits to the hilt the ability of raga Shivaranjini to pull at one’s heart strings. I say ‘lost’ because I am sure there is more to this song than this Youtube clip. I remember watching a movie on Naushad in pre-internet days which showed a stanza too by continuing the Dilip-Nargis scene in the second half of this clip. I once bought the LP of this film hoping to find the full song but no luck. Would anyone know if the full song exists?

14 mumbaikar8 July 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Interesting! Naushad Exceptional Mukesh! Remebering Mukesh on this day with all his fans.
Had Naushad continued with Suraiya is hypothetical so I cannot debate on that but he surely discarded Shamshad, who was very much around, for Lata implies that once he found the singers he thought were the best for his songs he stuck to them or you can say that he discarded others.
I too have the opinion that as Rafi was best with SDB, Mukesh gave his best with Salilda.
Mukesh’s songs in Saathi sound more like his Kalyandji Anandji.
Saathi had one more Mukesh song
Husne jana idhar aa

15 Jignesh Kotadia July 22, 2015 at 5:59 pm

R.Nanjappa ji
your comment #2 is a great one.
‘Limitations can really turn into unrivalled strengths’ ! Very well said..for Mukesh,Talat and Hemantda it is very true..they were kings in their ranges,,sang few songs but all are well remembered and on the other hand indiscriminate use of Rafi’s voice led many of his songs to obscurity.

Naushad had also used Mukesh voice in 70’s in Tangewala(1972) and Sunehra sansar (1975). “Kar bhala hoga bhala , ant bhale ka bhala” is a good one from Tangewala and the duet “Bhigi bhigi hawa hai” from Sunehra Sansar is a different Naushad as you said !

On mukesh you both have omitted Anilda to mention !?!

16 AK July 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm

I often have serious run-ins with the readers on this blog with regard to lyricists. My limited point is that in our recall of four persons associated with the song – music director, singer, film and the lyricist – the first three get registered easily and we remember these three parameters forever, we often do not relate the lyricist with the same importance. That is not to say that lyrics are per se not important.

17 AK July 22, 2015 at 6:41 pm

You know my ignorance about post-70s. On Naushad I have strong views – he overstayed the welcome. (This is coming from someone who swears by him).

I had no reason to mention Anil Biswas. I mentioned SJ and KA to show that they had four times more. Yet, Naushad stands in the tallest company with Mukesh.

18 AK July 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Thanks a lot for the Cineplot link and the interesting trivia. You are a genuine Mukesh buff.

19 AK July 22, 2015 at 6:44 pm

I am happy enjoyed it. I think the so called full Dharti ko akash pukare is there only in the film. You would probably not find it in records.

20 AK July 22, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Thanks for your comments.

21 Anu Warrier July 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Lovely post, lovely songs. I hadn’t thought much about the Mukesh-Naushad collaboration, so it took this article to suddenly realise, hey, their partnership lasted for but a short while.

Like Antara, I take grave exception to the anti-lyricist stance taken by this blog. 🙂

I also wonder why people take issue with anyone stating that Mukesh had a limited range as a singer. He would have been the first to admit that that was true. A composer can only work with the capabilities of the person singing – a good composer will compose a tune that takes into account a singer’s weaknesses, and plays to the singer’s strengths. To say that that is ‘blaming one’s tools’ is like taking a hammer when what you need is a wrench and then blaming the hammer for not doing the job properly!

Also, this is another thing that I cannot understand – to say that Mukesh had a limited range does NOT take away from the fact that he was a great singer within his range, that his voice held a wealth of emotion, that he had a talent to touch your heart-strings, that he deservedly took his place among the greats because he was great! Stating a fact does not make it a criticism.

I say this as a person who does not consider Mukesh her favourite singer, but can yet love so many, many of his songs. (How many, I learnt, when I was challenged by AK to write a post on him.)

In memory of a good man, and a great singer, therefore: Happy Birthday, Mukeshsaab. I’m glad I grew up with your songs, even if I only came around to appreciate them much later in life. That was my loss.

22 Antara July 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Thanks Anu for the support 🙂

Since we are talking of Mukesh here I would limit my argument to him (he is not my favourite singer, which is another point on which I agree with you but some songs of Mukesh are so ethereal, only he could have done justice to them)

AK, for me in some songs the lyrics take precedence over everything else – the music, the singer, the actor, the situation. E.g:
Har dil jo pyar karega, woh gaana gayega
Deewana saikdon mein pehchana jayega

The sheer simplicity of the words of this song by Shailendra makes you marvel at the depth of meaning of the words in the guise of something just so effortless. The music is great, so is the innocence in the voice of the singer… but the words hit you first. I mean they hit ‘me’ first.

Another one in the same vein is “Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon…” – the singer again has done full justice to this great composition by Khayyam but for me, had the lyrics by Sahir said something else, I perhaps would not have paid that much attention to the gravity and relevance of the song.

When Mukesh renders these words:
Kal aur aayenge nagmon ki khilti kaliyan chunne waale
Mujhse behtar kehne waale tumse behtar sunne waale
Kal koi mujhko yaad kare, kyun mujhko yaad kare
masroof zamana mere liye kyun waqt apna barbaad kare..

The words and their scorching impact leave you stunned at the stark truth. Mukesh with his deep pathos is the best choice for this dynamite from Sahir.

Remembering Mukesh for me will always come with these songs… the impact is lasting.

23 ASHOK M VAISHNAV July 22, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Mukesh had a very strong successful run in the second half 40s, when he was used quite extensively by almost all music directors for a wide range of actors. So Naushad also (probably) chose (0r shall we say compelled ) to work him.
Rise 50s also show rise of three actors – Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. In order to create their own individual USP, each one carved out their own styles, own set of directors, music directors and singers. They kept on poaching the heroines to create a short term competitive advantage !
So, it is Saathi that should stand out as an exception, because Mukesh was no where the preferred singer as far as either Rajendra Kumar or Naushad were concerned.
In the final analysis, almost 5-60 years after, all those intrigues hardly matter. What counts is the great work that happened at each point of time.

24 SSW July 22, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Nice AK. I rather like “Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe…”. From Andaz this song along with “uthaye ja unke sitam” has never lost its allure for me after repeated listenings.
On the topic of lyrics v/s music, for me the melody in “Kahin door jab din ” has started long before Mukesh comes in, the electric piano/organ combo and the flute and the jingle of the bells.

Now I wonder what Antara would think of this song, if she did not understand the native Bengali…The lyrics and music are both by Salilda. The prelude is completely different some great string pieces and there is a very nice piano , alto saxophone duet in the second interlude
I wonder if Yogesh took his cue from Salilda’s Bengali lyrics..

25 AK July 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm

Anu, Antara,
‘Anti-lyricist stance of this blog‘ (?) – you can blame me, but not the blog. There is at least one more lady, Mumbaikar8, who has violent disagrement with me on this issue. But probably I am not able to convey myself clearly. There are four markers of a song – the film, the singer, the music director and the lyricist. You would be remembering the first three markers of several dozens of songs, but you would often flounder on the lyricist. Was it Shailendra or Hasrat Jaipuri, Prem Dhawan or Indivar or Bharat Vyas? That is not to undermine the importance of lyrics. In fact, the lyricist has the primary copyright, but I was referring to how we archive film songs in our brains. If you still decide to hang me, I have no defence. 🙂

On the issue of ‘range’ I am entirely with you.

I guess Antara is a native Bengali, so your question is addressed to a wrong person. But you do make a valid point from another plank. It is even more true for our classical (Hindustani) music. Its core premise is the primacy of notes over words.

Thanks a lot to all of you for your comments.

26 mumbaikar8 July 22, 2015 at 10:57 pm

You and AK seem to be on the same page as long as lyricists are concerned.
I am happy Antara has focused (and Anu has seconded it, II remember Anu had seconded me too) on the lyricists’ importance, I have always felt that the songs stand on three pillars and only if all the three pillars are equal we get classic albums like of Pyaasa , Guide, Hindustan Ki Qasam to name a few.
Antara will answer your question but I will ask you what you have to say aabout another song of the same movie.
Maine tere liye hi

27 Siddharth July 22, 2015 at 11:09 pm

Thanks for the lovely post on my favourite singer Mukesh.
Apart from the frontline MDs, lot of lesser known MDs have their best work with Mukesh.
Hearing Mukesh one would feel that he/she can also become a singer but no one can match the feelings in his voice and that’s the beauty of his voice/singing. The simplicity stands out and we all know that “It is difficult to be simple”.

28 AK July 22, 2015 at 11:14 pm

But I have no difference with you on songs that have exceptional lyrics. I am talking of film songs in general; SSW is talking of music at a fundamental level. It is the music or the tune that makes the impact. None of you is responding to my point that we tend to remember the singer, MD and the film of hundreds of songs,but not so clearly the lyricists.

29 SSW July 22, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Mumbaikar8 I don’t disagree about the importance of lyricists. I am perfectly happy to read or listen to Sahir/Simon/Brassens/Vayalar without any accompanying music or singer.
Nor do I disagree with the idea that the music, the singer and the lyrics have to be equal to get a classic album of songs.
But a good tune is a good tune and can stand by itself even if the lyrics are banal (at least what passes off as my idea of banality).
At the risk of offending people I will offer this tune. The melody is lovely, the arrangement and the harmony is gorgeous, but the words, at least to me, are ho-hum.
I think Shailendra had a bad day here, or perhaps the metre that the song is composed in did not lend itself naturally to more nuanced words in Hindi.

30 SSW July 22, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Coming back to Mukesh/Naushad, there is this song from Andaaz that never made the final cut. Quite a pleasant song.

31 SSW July 22, 2015 at 11:35 pm

I forgot to add in the previous song of Mukesh you (at least I can) can hear shades of Kedar just as you can hear it in “uthaye ja unke sitam”. In fact in this song you can hear “uthaaye ja unke sitam”. This is the Naushad that I like.

32 Antara July 22, 2015 at 11:40 pm


I am very well aware of Amai Proshno Kore… it is one of my favourite songs since childhood and the starting orchestration in this song is very different from its later version in Anand. My point was not whether the music precedes or succeeds the lyrics. The point I was trying to make is that the impact of the words in some songs rises above the music and the voice… where you remember and identify the song with the lyrics first.

I agree with you on the 3 pillars – take away one and the song crashes… Very often we have found great lyrics trapped in a pedestrian tune or vice versa… a lovely tune stuck with mediocre lyrics…. sometimes the voice does not do justice to some great compositions. When all 3 elements of the creation combine in perfect sync with each other, you get a masterpiece.

I guess I have not been able to convey myself clearly. Lyrics are just as important as the composition and the rendering and the lyricist way of weaving the words many a time determines the success of the song.
Ref to your comment: You would be remembering the first three markers of several dozens of songs, but you would often flounder on the lyricist. Was it Shailendra or Hasrat Jaipuri, Prem Dhawan or Indivar or Bharat Vyas?
Just as some of the tunes you hear you will be wondering if this is Madan Mohan or SJ, or you may wonder if this is OP Nayyar or SDB (their is bound to be an overlapping of inspirations), the same happens with lyricists too but even then, lyricists of the yore did have their trademark. You can make out from the way a song starts and progresses and make an intelligent guess about who may have penned it and many a time your guess is right. Talk of romance, with verve and vigour and you can identify a Majrooh creation with eyes closed. Talk of a stinging comment and you would know it is Sahir. Talk of simplicity and no one can beat Shailendra. For sheer imagery it is Gulzar. I do not expect you to agree with me (my impressions and observations are purely instinctive)…. but I just wanted to explain what I meant by the lasting impact of words.

33 SSW July 23, 2015 at 1:30 am

Antara my point is not whether you are aware of “Amai Proshno Kare..”. The point is simply that a song can live without words just as a poem can live without music. But it seems the reaction to music is more elemental than to the spoken word. It probably harkens back to a time before we animals invented speech and pain and joy etc. were expressed as sequence of sounds. Try this one.

Once heard you will always remember the tune.

This has nothing to do with the appreciation of the spoken word. But to a lay audience the cadence and tenor of the spoken word will still matter. Which is why maybe somebody will say ” I don’t know what she said but she said it wonderfully.”

34 SSW July 23, 2015 at 2:30 am

And of course I was reminded of the wonderful…

35 AK July 23, 2015 at 5:38 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

36 Anu Warrier July 23, 2015 at 7:55 am

Antara, back at ya! 🙂 Once again, in complete agreement that one can usually pinpoint the lyricsts of the golden years by the way they use the language and expressions.


SSW/AK, I disagree. A good tune can stand by itself, absolutely, and a poem can live without music, but for it to be a good *song*, one needs the words as well. Otherwise, one might as well stick to instrumental music. Or read it as poetry.

I will stipulate that this may be because of the different ways in which we ‘hear’ a song; I do not know enough about music or the various instruments; for me, a song has to touch my emotions – that is usually because of the words sung by the singer, strung in a melody composed by the music director/musicians. For people who listen to the music first and foremost, the words may or may not be important, even if they can appreciate the beauty of the poetry/lyrics otherwise.

I agree about music speaking to us, which is why we can appreciate music without words as well; but songs? Ah, where would songs be without its bol?

(And no, you will not hear me say – ever – that I don’t know what she said, but she said it beautifully. I will tell you exactly what she said and the way she said it, her tone making her meaning very clear. But then, I make a living out of words, so they are what I hear.)

37 Anu Warrier July 23, 2015 at 7:58 am

Sorry, meant to add a note to Mumbaikar, but I posted before I finished. 🙂

Mumbaikar, yes, I remember agreeing with you about the importance of lyricists. I wonder how many of our Hindi songs would have been so popular if they didn’t have words that appealed to people’s emotions. One reason why songs are so popular is because someone – a poet, a lyricist – put words to describe what we feel at different times, in ways that we ourselves could not express. How many times have you listened to a song and said to yourself, ‘Oh that’s just how I feel!’ or ‘Oh, I wish I’d written that! That describes my feelings to a T!’.

38 N Venkataraman July 23, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Ak ji,
Thank you for the lovely tribute to Mukesh in the year of Naushad. I too join you in paying my tributes to Mukesh. True Mukesh’s songs in the year 1948 and 1949 for Naushad were excellent, even though their association was limited to few films/songs. In any case Mukesh has a high percentage of popular songs to his credit. Mukesh songs will always be special. Enjoyed listening to the songs.

In the year 1948 Mukesh had the maximum number of songs (around 40), the year in which Mukesh sang the maximum number of songs (may be the best songs) for Naushad. In the following three years (1949-1951) although Mukesh rendered good number of songs, there was steady decline in numbers. Especially from 1952 to 1958 he rendered less number of songs averaging roughly 7-8 songs per year. What could be the reason? Was he preoccupied with other things like acting and film production? In 1959 he came back touching his 1948 numbers. 1960 and 1961 were his best years wherein he rendered more than 50 songs in each year.

It was quite interesting to go through the energetic debate by Antara ji, Anu ji and Mumaikar ji on the significance of lyrics/lyricists in HFS. They have said everything that needs to be said. And I would simply raise my hand in support.

39 AK July 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

On the issue of music standing by its own without words, I can also go outside the classical. Árabian Nights’ and Anand Shankar’s albums, became roaring hits all over the world. It may not be valid to the same degree for film songs, but you have made the right point that even some banal lyrics are now all time great songs because of the composition – one is talking about the Vintage and Golden Era of music.

I was aware of some unreleased songs of Andaz (1949). A very nice one, again a Mukesh solo is Kyun pheri nazar. There is very nice Rafi-Lata duet too that could not be included: Sun lo dil ka afsana ho.

Kyun pheri nazar by Mukesh from Andaz (1949, not included in the film)

40 AK July 23, 2015 at 4:37 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

The dip in Mukesh’s songs is because of his misplaced priorities in that period. He realised later. He was lucky to make a big re-entry with Anari.

41 Mahesh July 23, 2015 at 4:48 pm

AK ji,

His re-entry was with Yahudi, Mahumati, Parvarish and Phir Subah Hogi all in 1958, one year before Anari happened.

42 Mahesh July 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Another unreleased but out-standing solo from Andaz. The song remains with you for a long time after hearing.

43 SSW July 23, 2015 at 5:14 pm

Yes , I’ve heard that song too. What I like about Naushad in the 40s was the freshness that was there in his music. The tunes were simple but there was beauty in the economy. Less was more.

Mr.Venkatraman you have left our camp and joined forces with the distaff side. That is betrayal of the highest order sir.

I assume that all AK was saying was that in a song the melody is supreme and that captures your fancy first. I agree with this completely and as the statistician of the site you would know that this is true of almost all songs.

Does this melody stand on its own? Would it need situational lyrics, Shakeel’s lyrics are not great, it is the melody and singing that raises this song above the mundane.

In an ironic twist I will quote a not unknown poet (I am sure my wife will have something sardonic to say)

Whatever the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending
I saw her singing at her work
And O’er her sickle bending
I listened motionless and still
And as I mounted up the hill
The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more

44 Ravindra Kelkar July 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm

I am with you in that, I get attracted by the quality of the tune first & then the lyrics & as you rightly point out, I can generally recall the singer, the MD & the film associated with the song readily, but struggle to recall the song writer. Also, a great tune I continue to listen to again & again, even if the words are not great. But if I don’t like the tune, I will not listen to it again even if words are outstanding.

45 AK July 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Thanks for the correction. Somehow, Anari had registered in my mind as his major landmark on re-entry.

Sunaun kya main gham apna suna nahi sakata has been mentioned earlier by SSW. Andaz seems to have all the left-out songs of the highest order.

46 AK July 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Even if the other camp seems to have more numbers, the truth is on our side. 🙂

Venkataramanji is a very fair person. He would soon come to the right side.

The poem is excellent. Thanks a lot.

47 AK July 23, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Ravindra Kelkar,
I think we are stating what is obvious. Thanks a lot. I don’t want to make it into a numbers game.

48 Antara July 23, 2015 at 6:58 pm


If only I could copy-paste your response and claim it as my own! 200% agree with what you have said. I could not have expressed this better!!

I think it was Sahir who was the first songwriter to demand royalties for his films and get them. Such was his importance, at par with Lata Mangeshkar and Naushad. He didn’t write songs. He wrote poetry and the music directors lapped them up. One of the selling points of that music was that it is written by Sahir.

I completely agree with you – if it is music alone that is the flagbearer of a song and the rest of the elements, especially the lyrics are follow-ons then one might as well listen to instrumental music. And poetry can stand alone on its own without music. But a film song is built around a situation. There are some songs (many actually) which are fillers in a film – take the song out, and you don’t have any sense of loss as such. Some songs on the contrary are critical links through which the story progresses. Take that song out and you will end up with missing link and a jarring note. In the first case (filler songs) – it can be a great song or an ordinary one, it does not matter. But in the second case, it does matter and here the words rule supreme.. the music and the rendition follow. Because the words of such songs are the lifeline of the story.

Ref to your comment: (And no, you will not hear me say – ever – that I don’t know what she said, but she said it beautifully. I will tell you exactly what she said and the way she said it, her tone making her meaning very clear. But then, I make a living out of words, so they are what I hear.)
Yes, yes… that’s ME! Very aptly put, Anu! Thank you for this. 🙂

Thank you for the video links. I checked them out. The Canteloube – “Bailero” is fantastic. Since the debate here is on Hindi film music, I would reserve my arguments to them. In this regard, I would agree with AK’s observation: “I am talking of film songs in general; SSW is talking of music at a fundamental level.”

My instinctive reaction to a song is usually as Anu put it – “if only I could have written that. It is me, all the way.” Or only Sahir could have said this, or only Gulzar can express it this way or only Majrooh can talk of pure love with such vigour… that kind of thing. I am no expert on music, not even in the remotest sense of the term. You can club me with the “But to a lay audience the cadence and tenor of the spoken word will still matter.” I enjoy the song in its entirety, not as separate elements.

Mumbaikar8 and N Venkataraman ji, thank you for the understanding and agreeing with our (I am referring to Anu and myself here) point of view. I am not exactly equipped to engage in such discussions that involves such an informed and qualified audience. But this has indeed been an enriching discussion, from which I am taking away much as new perspectives.

This is not about camps. It is about looking at the same thing from different points of view… the more the merrier and wider becomes my vision.
I am deeply grateful to all of you 🙂

49 Anu Warrier July 23, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Since my husband and I seem to be clubbing it out in public… 🙂

I love that poem you quoted. I do. But as an editor, I have a bone to pick with Wordsworth – if he couldn’t hear what the maiden was singing, what music did he bear in his heart as he passed? She was working in the fields; as far as I can see, she had a sickle in her hand, not a musical instrument.

Antara, this time you put in words what was in my mind. 🙂 I think we musical philistines should go off and have chai and samosas and discuss lyrics, and leave these erudite people in peace. 🙂

AK, where does a question of camps and sides arise? There are many different ways in which people appreciate Hindi film songs. Does one ‘side’ have to be ‘wrong’ for the other to be ‘right’?

Mr Venkatraman, thank you for your support. One virtual order of paal payasam delivered to you, sir. 🙂

50 AK July 23, 2015 at 10:23 pm

Anu, Antara,
Camps and sides was in jest. Seriously, I do need to respond to a new point mentioned by Antara: whether the film songs derive their existence from the context in the film concerned, or do they have independent identity outside the film? The problem is that instinctively you are relating the songs to the situation in the films you have seen. You are missing the point that there are hundreds of eternal songs of 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s whose films are just lost, or if available, one does not feel any compelling reason to make efforts to see them. In the radio era, the small towns like Jhumri Tilaitya, Rajanandgaon that acquired iconic status because of their radio clubs which sent hundreds of farmaishes everyday, lived and breathed film songs, without knowing or caring the situations they depicted in films. No one doubts today that one of the important Indian identities is the integral place the film songs occupy in our popular culture. Its mass popularity in antakshari, ‘sangeet’ etc. can not be because we have seen those films and we found them critical to the narration. I have very strong views that our greatest film songs have personality and identity delinked from the films. Sangita Gopal and Sujata Murti make the same point in an academic style in their ‘Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance’.

51 ksbhatia July 23, 2015 at 11:44 pm


Childhood was there to enjoy and hum the tune or melody. In our youth we danced to the beats and rhythm of the song . And now we are looking up the meaning of the lyrics [ Yes , in some cases , meaning vis a vis situation of the song in the movie] . In fact now is the time to enjoy the songs in totality of the bygone era .

Coming back to Mukesh Naushad combo I think songs of both Mela and Andaz are excellent ; that stands quite distant apart from Rafi/ Talat songs of Udan khatola and Babul . One wish that Naushad association with Mukesh should have continued for more years . Look at SJ ; they picked up the threads left by Naushad and very appropriately used mukesh voice in their melodies of late 50s and 60s. There after , starting with KA , every other MD utilised mukesh’s voice in their songs . Even the unknown music director like S . Ghosh gave a superb song……. Do roz mein woh pyar ka aalm badal gaya ….and Woh tere pyar ka gam ……by Daan singh is another master piece . So to say that Mukesh had long innings to play; as such he should have contd. his assocition with Naushad saab.

As far as music of Saathi is concerned I think it was producer Shridhar desire to have sort of a symphony based songs. The consequent results are best known to the fellow members of SoY.

52 SSW July 24, 2015 at 12:17 am

Wordsworth was perfectly honest when he said he did not know the maiden was singing. As an Englishman perhaps he did not understand Gaelic. Or even assuming that she was singing in English, the chances of an Englishman understanding English sung with a highland accent is debatable. “Och aye, ye dinna ken that did ye bonnie lassie?”

Antara though I grew up in Bombay, I did not see Hindi films. Even more to the point my grasp over well spoken Hindi was tenuous at best so lyrics were glossed over in favour of the music. But this is true of most of India where Hindi is not spoken and in other parts of the world where Indian or non native songs are popular. It is the music that speaks to most of us I guess.

How about this song sung by a lady called La India de Oriente

53 arvindersharma July 24, 2015 at 12:55 am

AK Ji,
Here I would also like to put up a point which I assume is pertinent. Many a time, we do listen to songs, of other languages, where do not understand one word of the song.
I am referring to songs of other languages.
But we find them most appealing to the ears, which is because of the tune and the music only.
I myself remember, as I child, I have visited Kerala with my family a number of times.
And there, a very close business friend of my father used to play some Malayali records, like ‘Pullimanulla mainulla’, Kalyan raatri, and many more.(I am sorry if I’ve erred in naming the lyrics, as I can recall as much only).
I can still remember the song tunes, though words I do not.
Or in Hindi, listen to Hare murare, from Anand Math. I can bet if ninety percent of the people listening to the song cannot sing along, though the same percentage of people will love it.
And there is one thing I’ll have to admit.
My father preferred lyrics of the song and based his opinion there upon.
Naushad and Mukesh will have to wait for another comment.

54 mumbaikar July 24, 2015 at 3:05 am

Anu , Antara
For me writing is मजबूरी , because the good old days of कहो, सुनो are replaced by read and write, so it is a matter of survival for me.
Thanks for giving words to my thought, those are exactly my thoughts.
Mr.Venkatraman was never in your camp:)he has always been supporting us in his subtle way, we thank him for that.
In short I would say that, we listen to the music and we feel the lyrics if you’ll still want to disagree then I can only recite Ghalib’s sher“Ya Rab! Wo Na Samajhe Hai Na Samjhenge Meri Baat, De Aur Dil Unko, Jo Na De humko Zubaan Aur”.

55 Jignesh Kotadia July 24, 2015 at 3:15 am

More than 50 comments within 48 hrs of this post’s release! wow ! it’s a record-break opening, beating “Bahubali” ! 🙂 Congratulations Akji. I agree with you when we listen songs the main data inputs have been MDs and Singer in majority cases. It is hard to recall or attend the lyricist name for people like you and me, despite the fact that ‘lyrics’ is the biggest factor of a song.

why the lyrics are at no.1 place ??

Because Heart enjoys.

When i feel the words, the song descends into my heart. The emotions have been at highest level whether it is of joy or sadness.
this time i am listening the songs of “Sambandh”. Read the words of a song of it…

Kis baag me mai janma khela
Mera rom rom ye janta hai
Tum bhool gaye shayad mali
Par phool tumhe pahchanta hai

Jo diya tha tumne ek din
Mujhe phir wo pyar de do
Ek karz mangta hu
Bachpan udhaar de do

Tum chhod gaye the jisko
Ek dhool bhare raste me
Wo phool aaj rota hai
Ek amir ke guldashte me
Mera dil tadap raha hai
Mujhe fir dulaar de do

Tumhe dekh naach uthte hai
Mere pichhle din wo sunahare
Aur door kahi dikhte hai
Mujhse bichhde do chehre

Jise sunke ghar wo
Laute mujhe wo pukaar de do
Ek karz mangta hu
Bachpan udhaar de do

His mom is dead now..his father is at distance for yrs.. and the words pierce the heart.. Lyrics send the MD and Singer behind it. This is only one example from galore.
How can OPN create such out and out poignant album ?? who is known for his invigorating music !! Every song of Sambandh brings tears in eyes( Ravindra Kelkarji do you have any comment on this ?), and magic is of lyrics.

Despite knowing the importance of the lyrics, sadly i am unaware of the wordsmith of this movie and still not tried to know, and this is the point on which Akji emphasised.

56 Jignesh Kotadia July 24, 2015 at 3:52 am

I can still enjoy a song where i dont know any word of it. where the tune, the singer and the orchestration mesmerize me. It is a brain enjoyment.

e.g. A terrific malayalam song from “mizhi randilum” (2003). It is one of my favorites have heard this song several times in last decade but i could not locate it on YT. I request Anuji and SSWji if they can find this on YT, plz find its video for me.

Poo thumbi paadumo poo paadam koyyumo
Neelavaanile thinkal kunyu poovinaay paadoo
Lolamaanasam thullum manju geethagam thookoo
Aaro.. moolum taaraattin raagam neeyum tedaamo
Kadiraadum kuliraay nee arigilva
Kadha paadum kiliyaay nee koodaanva

So Music director comes at second place and lastly Singer ( OPN proved it without using Lata and in late 60’s without Rafi !!)

57 AK July 24, 2015 at 6:52 am

Where are you? You started the fire with your provocative comment ‘anti-lyricist stance of the blog’. I tried to douse it, but see how the tide has turned.

Still thinking, Main idhar jaaun ya udhar jaaun?

I will come back to other comments later.

58 arvindersharma July 24, 2015 at 8:31 am

I share your feelings about this song and more so, as I lost my dear father just around the time, when this movie was released. This song will remain etched in my memory because of this reason.
And the lyricist of the songs was the great Pandit Pradeep Ji.

59 Siddharth July 24, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Dear All,
What a fascinating discussion!.
I would like to add that to remember the words/lyrics/poetry the music plays an important role. Take the case of Ghalib, whose words are very complex , but thanks to the music i could remember them which makes it easier to understand them as well. Also, if you listen to poets and shairs, they also have rhythm when they recite.

Here I would like to acknowledge and thank Ghulam Mohammad for his wonderful composition of Mirza Ghalib. So many people have sung Ghalib, but his composition only comes to mind first.

60 Dinesh K Jain July 24, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Thanks, AK, for your well-meaning advice. Following it I did see Pukar on UT. It was a legendary film, about which I knew precious little, and as such I have no regret that I did what I did. But I do have two points of disappointment, which I am sharing here, not for any particular reason, but just because we have the blog group! One, I discovered that it was a theatre or a drama masquerading as a movie, but understandable for something going back to late thirties – well before I was even born. And second, much the bigger disappointment, Naseem Bano. Naseem of Pukar was undoubtedly an improvement over Naseem of Ankhi Ada – nine years later, but only marginally, and, besides, she did not know how to act, and was ‘healthy’. In my perception, Naseem still remained far from her daughter in the latter’s earlier years. And mind it, regardless of the much-touted sobriquet of ‘the beauty queen’, I never found Saira any great shakes in the looks department. Goes back to the old adage about the subjectivity of beauty!

61 AK July 24, 2015 at 2:59 pm

KS Bhatiaji,
We all rue the short association of Naushad-Mukesh. Just imagine if they had been together in 1950-55. By Saathi both were past their best.

62 AK July 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm

We can also add Kolaveri Di and Didi (Khaled’s).

63 AK July 24, 2015 at 3:09 pm

कुछ कहने पर तूफ़ान उठा लेती है दुनिया.

64 AK July 24, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
I couldn’t agree with you more.
Waiting for your comment on Naushad-Mukesh.

Thanks a lot for your appreciation, and the lovely lyrics you have added.

We should thank Anu, Antara for starting this discussion. We need to acknowledge that both the seemingly contradictory positions may be correct.

It is nice that you remembered the great Ghulam Mohammad on a Naushad post. Naushad was himself respectful to his senior, but who had to work as his assistant. Highly talented composer.

65 AK July 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I can address your second point first: no comments.

I also often feel dissatisfied when I watch very old films which are considered as landmark. Firstly, the production values would be poor compared to the later technology. The films also look dated on many other counts. Coming to Pukar‘s theatricality, Sohrab Modi was inspired by Parsi theatre, and he himself acquired fame for his theatrical dialogue delivery.

66 Ravindra Kelkar July 24, 2015 at 5:09 pm


I will address you Jignesh, since your are less that 40 years old & I am 55. However, I will also request you to address me as plain Ravindra. I work for an MNC & we address each other by the first name. No “Ji” or “Sir”.
Coming back to your song from Sambandh, it’s a very touching song & it tugs to your heart. Also, have you listened/watched the twin songs in the same movie, where the son sings(in the voice of Mahendra Kapur) “Kisi se ab mera rishta na koi naata hai, ab to shamshan ki maati hi meri maata hai”, followed by a reply from his distant father (in the voice of Hemant Kumar – only Hemant Kumar solo under OP’s Music Direction – AKji who is a great fan of Hemant Kumar should like it) “Yeh mat samajh ke kisi se na tera naata hai, ab to is desh ki maati hi teri maata hai” ? It’s even more heart touching. These two songs are not in the LP record, but they are in the DVD of the movie. The words of Kavi Pradeep are just out of this word. OP as usual has excelled.
The two links – 1)

OP used to tell us (I was lucky enough to meet him at least 2o times) that “Sambhadh” was his greatest acheivement, because it was an emotional subject, for which OP was not expected to be able to justice.
The music of OP for Sambandh was very different from his usual style for which he became famous.

67 SSW July 24, 2015 at 5:10 pm

The lyrics that you have quoted are not from a song from “Mizhil Randum”. They are from a film “Krishna paksha killikkal”, which literally translated means the “The little birds of Krishna paksha (waning moon)”. The music director is Raveendran in my opinion one of the greatest composers of popular song from India. The song is on youtube without the film.
Here it is if this is the one you are thinking of.
It is not one of Raveendran’s best compositions , in fact it is fairly pedestrian for him, his compositions are usually far more complicated and intricate.
Do you understand Malayalam? If not what attracted you to this song?

68 Ravindra Kelkar July 24, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Jignesh, AKji

Just have a look at this vidio of OP & Pradeep. It explains about making of Sambadh songs.

69 Antara July 24, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Had you not said in so many words, I would have never guessed you and SSW are connected and how!!! There is a saying in Hindi “Ram milaaye jodi”… Your musical and literary clashes online has me hooked. The chai and samosas are on me for two reasons – (1) for putting into words so eloquently all that I wanted to say (2) for your amazing blog which is a treasure of information and perspectives. I must thank you AK for helping me discover this amazing blog. I will keep going back to Conversations over Chai and draw insights from it just as I keep visiting SoY. And of course, you will know when I quoted you when you will receive a pingback 🙂

I perfectly understand where you are coming from. I am a so-called “Probashi Bengali”, made in Delhi, brought up among Punjabi friends and English medium schools but my mother ensured that I was well acquainted with Bengali, the literature, the music and of course the cinema. Alongside, because of a Delhi upbringing, my Hindi is stronger than most native Bengalis and also the fascination for the ghazal remains. This is not the case with other regions of the country. I agree with you here. Hindi film music is perhaps one of the greatest unifying factors in our country, along with Hindi films and their matinee idols and many a time, people love the songs without understanding the lyrics. Why only Hare murare from Anandamath, we have all heard the popular Muthukudi kawadi hadaa without ever understanding what it means really because when it is Majrooh trying out Tamil/Malayalam, it is risky 🙂 If you check out Hemant Kumar’s hugely popular rendition of a Meghdutam sequence in Kaschitkantha biroho guruna (Alor Pipasa), you will find that people love the song without really understanding all that complex Sanskrit. (

I have no disagreement on the premise that people may love a song without understanding the lyrics. Of course, I too love songs which I don’t understand anything much. The point I was trying to make is that when a “film song”… the emphasis is on the word “film song” becomes a masterpiece, we remember the song by the words and not by simply humming the tune and very often we remember the lyricist too who could say something that connects ever so deeply. So we can say that “Tu kahe agar jeewan bhar main geet sunata jaaun” is a typical Majrooh and his mastery over the love song. Recently in a story I did on the Raj Kapoor-Nargis phenomenon, one of the people I spoke to (Sundeep Pahwa) recalled endearingly that his father had wooed his mother with this song. Try substituting that with just the music.

I do not disagree with you that “our greatest film songs have personality and identity delinked from the films” – they are like the couplet in the ghazal, they can stand on their own and also merge seamlessly with the film they belong to. And I know about the radio clubs and their phenomenal influence (Abhimaan actually immortalized them)… I was trying to emphasize that the context of the song may depend upon how the director + music director + lyricist deal with it… whether they are able to build it as a link or just put it in as a relief. The singer’s role is the last one here. The primary responsibility of building that link through words rests with the lyricist, followed by the music director who should be able to create a perfect situational music and orchestration and finally the director who must picturise it with dexterity. We see this happening often in the films of Bimal Roy, Vijay Anand and Guru Dutt. The audience may remember the song as a part of the film or enjoy it as an individual entity – either way it is a hit.

And to conclude, this is by far the longest comment I have ever written in my life 🙂

70 Anu Warrier July 24, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Arre, AK, I was pulling your leg wonly when I said anti-lyricist stance of this blog. Did you not see smiley face at the end of that statement? I’m verklempt!

I too agree with you that film songs have an identity beyond films, or I wouldn’t like so many songs from films I haven’t seen. I also agree that I like a lot of songs from other languages where I do not understand the lyrics. Unlike my husband, who soaks himself in the music (and I envy him that ability), my enjoyment of a song is curtailed because I cannot understand what they are singing about. I do not know how to explain this any better – I like the song, I like the melody, I like the way it’s sung. I can even feel the music. But I always, always think: oh, I wish I knew what they mean!

This is not the case with Western Classical music for instance, where I know there are no lyrics to be understood.

Poor Mr Venkatraman is surely maintaining a judicious distance from blogland. I have to record officially that I’m very grateful for his show of support. 🙂

Antara, I’m shameless. So if you are offering chai and samosas, I’ll gladly accept. Takalluf nahin karoongi. Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I hope to see you there.

Mumbaikar, khoob kaha aapne. 🙂

AK, my sincere thanks for hosting such an enjoyable discussion. It was fun and illuminating.

71 SSW July 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Just to nitpick on the allusion to western classical music , one of the great compositions that many have heard of, but few have probably heard in its entirety is Beethoven’s 9th symphony (I must hasten to add that it is not my favourite Beethoven work). The final movement contains Schiller’s great poem “Ode to Joy” set to music. But few people remember the words. However most people especially school children who learn to play the recorder know the melody to which the poem is set. This is a very nice recording. The first notes of the main melody makes an appearance at 3:04 in the clip first played by the oboes. Then the melody vanishes and briefly and re-appears at 3:50 in its entirety when the cellos pick it up followed by the strings and the other woodwinds and then the entire orchestra brasses , timpani everything and the music reaches a crescendo and ebbs. Finally the poem starts up sung differently and then joins the main melody at 8:47.

72 N Venkataraman July 24, 2015 at 11:57 pm

That is a typical Hindi film ending. Enjoyed the discussion.
I fail to see any side here. I continue to be firmly rooted as ever to my point. Economy of words is not my forte. Nor I am conversant with words and expressions. That may be something I would prefer leave it to those more au fait with the language. Antara, Anu, Mumbaikar8 you have said everything so well that I would have liked to express. AK, SSW and others thanks for the vibrant discussion.
SSW, let me thank you for declaring me the ‘official statistician’ of this blog. At least I can have some fun with figures for some time more. Thanks too for the rich embellishments which I would read, listen and enjoy at leisure.
Anu, thank you for the Paal Payasam .
Borrowing from Jignesh’s and Bhatia ji’s comments I conclude,
We may seldom recall or attend the lyricist name, despite the fact that ‘lyrics’ is also a significant factor of a song. And now we are looking up the meaning of the lyrics. In fact now is the time to enjoy the songs in totality of the bygone era. I am glad that we had a lively and prolonged discussion on lyrics/lyricist and let us continue to give the lyricist, their due recognition, at least in this blog.

73 Jignesh Kotadia July 25, 2015 at 12:15 am

Thanks for sharing the feeling, i can feel your nostalgic attachment to this song.

Yes, the Hemantda solo of this film is too much affecting with its wonderful lyrics. Thanks for the video link of OP and Pradeep telling experiences of working together.

74 Jignesh Kotadia July 25, 2015 at 1:07 am

No i cant understand or speak Malayalam but i can read and write Malayalam…because around 2002-03 i was very enthusiastic to learn the alphabets of each language of india..during this phase i used to purchase south indian news papers like matrubhumi, malayal manorama, eenadu etc. One day i bought an Mp3 CD of new Malayalam film songs(curious to have some new experience) from the shop where i used to buy news papers..and i fascinated by many of its songs Without understanding any of their lyrics !! What i liked were melodious compositions, very apt instruments and voices.
Poothumbi paadumo is one of them. Later the CD deteriorated and i had no computer to save them then. I forgot many songs(as well the films names) which i used to hum. Few yrs back i downloaded poothumbi from internet on which some sites show the movie name Mizhi Randilum.
Then i tried to find some songs on YT which i could recall and found a few e.g. karuppinazhaku, manninum pinninum manasorupole…but failed to find poothumbi.
Many thanx to give its link SSWji, but i was expecting a video, instead mere images found 🙁

75 Jignesh Kotadia July 25, 2015 at 1:13 am

And yes, also thanks for to correct the film name.

76 AK July 25, 2015 at 12:35 pm

You should apologise to Anu and SSW for your Ram milaye jodi remark. I am sure you know it is the first part of a proverb, which is used in a totally opposte way to what you intend. 🙂

77 Antara July 25, 2015 at 12:50 pm


As they say little knowledge is a dangerous thing… I have placed myself nicely in the trap. I was not aware of the whole proverb. This is a common proverb used in Delhi parlance where the ideal couple is called Ram milaaye jodi… used wholly in the positive sense for every perfectly matched couple we come across. Many are not aware of the full proverb, like me. Now that you told me I Googled it and found it means something else.
My sincere apologies to Anu and SSW… I just hope and pray they are not fully aware of the rest of the proverb and they won’t Google now. And if they do, they would take it as a compliment from a person who thought her Hindi was good enough and is suddenly awakened to the fact that it is quite, quite inadequate. 🙂
See, this is the reason I avoid commenting due to my limited awareness and knowledge. Thank you for putting me back on terra firma. 🙂

78 Antara July 25, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Anu and SSW,

Meri Hindi par mat jaao, bhavnao ko samjho… Read it as “Waah waah Ramji, jodi kya banaayi” 🙂 🙂

79 gaddeswarup July 26, 2015 at 5:27 am

It seems that I should be careful in posting the songs I like since often I do not know the meanings. In Telugu, I find that sometimes a nice line may favour the song against equally good or better songs. In other
languages, I do not know what it is, melody, rhythm, … and sometimes just the voice. Here is a song from the edge of the golden period that I liked mainly for the voice

80 Anu Warrier July 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

Antara, I know the idiom, but no worries – this is what my English teacher in school would call ‘with reference to context’. I knew what you meant. 🙂

81 Antara July 26, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Phew….! Thanks so much Anu! And my Hindi teacher would probably call it “sandarbh sahit vyakhya karo” … See how diligently I am revisiting my Hindi now? 🙂

82 Subodh Agrawal July 28, 2015 at 7:54 am

AK, you never know what hidden benefits a blog post will bring. Who would have thought that a post on Naushad+Mukesh would welcome a new member to the SoY ‘Adda’ in Anatara and treat us to this wonderful discussion between Anu, SSW and Antara with inputs from you as well. May the ‘Adda’ grow and flourish!

83 Subodh Agrawal July 28, 2015 at 8:04 am

This discussion makes me think of the collaborative nature of music as an art form. Painters, sculptors, poets and authors normally work alone. At best painters and sculptors may be aided by their assistants. Music – particularly singing – has always been a collaborative effort between the lyricist, composer, singer, and instrumentalist. Film music and music videos add the director, actor and cameraman to the list.

I remember seeing a discussion in the Parliament on a bill seeking to give lyricist a share of earnings from a song. Javed Akhtar spoke in support of the bill. I think it was Ravi Shankar Prasad who made a point with the example of ‘Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya’. He said that the impact of the lyrics by themselves would have been limited if it had not been set to music by Jaidev, sung so beautifully by Rafi, presented on screen by Dev Anand and the whole song not been made a part of the movie ‘Hum Dono’ by the director and the producer. Valid point.

84 AK July 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm

You are coming at the end of the heated discussion. I have already thanked Antara, Anu and everyone for initiating and participating in this discussion. One discovery we made was the supremely diplomatic side of Vankataramanji, who maintained a studied silence even after being invited by both the parties to share his views.

I am familiar with Javed Akhtar’s views. His point of protecting the rights of lyricists and composers is valid, but his solution is very illogical. I don’t want to get into that here. However, another interesting thing has happened since. Some stars have also put their hat in the ring, that they also have a claim on the rights of a song. This raises a new area of enquiry, not debated so far here. Let me try to summarise the issues conceptually and on economic/practical considerations.

A song writer’s creative process is very different from a poet’s. Barring poets like Sahir Ludhiyanvi, or some pre-existing literary pieces taken as a song, for a film song, typically, the situation was described to a music director, who composed the tune appropriate to the emotion or mood. The lyricist was then told to write the song to fit in the tune. Thus, the MD and the lyricist have created this art, the lyricist’s right being probably subordinate to the MD’s. Then enters the singer. The philosophy at one time was that he was merely a voice, who was paid at the time of recording. After he received his remuneration per song, his role ended and he had no share in the royalty. This was at the core of Rafi-Lata spat. The contented Rafi was quite happy with the aforesaid proposition; Lata Mangeshkar felt that singers are not job workers. They also have a right in the royalty, because it is their voice that adds to the commercial value. There can be no right or wrong answer to this.

Now enters a new entity, the actor. This claim is being led by a big star, well known for his social consciousness. An actor is remunerated by a fixed negotiated amount for his performance in the movie, which, in common parlance, is known as his market price. He can always negotiate some fixed amount plus a share in profits (in which case the fixed amount would be much less than his usual price), in which he loses on the downside, but gains heavily on the upside. But share in the royalty of songs – what has he/she added to the creative output? But let us think about a song like Khaike paan Banaraswala, or Pag ghunghroo baandh Meera nachi re. Their value has increased enormously because of Amitabh Bachchan’s performance on the screen. So he ought to have a persisting share in the royalty. But there can be a counter argument that a star’s humungous price takes all that into account, and he cannot expect to be rewarded twice.

I have sufficiently muddled it. I don’t know if the readers still have some appetite for carrying on this discussion further.

85 Shalan Lal July 28, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Hellow AK and all the Jolly Ragers of SoY,
The post Naushad’s Exceptional Mukesh though small in size provoked many points of discussions among the readers and lovers of the Blog SoY. This has done a good winning point for AK for popularising the SoY.

I think the readers are winning in this skittle. I want to throw down my Kangan and not so much as a gauntlet.

Firstly I take the stage of the point of music first or lyric first like “the chicken first or the egg first” the eternal debate that has no ending. At this I shall raise some points and will not take either side.

Here is a wonderful poem that has a major point even the poet himself was not aware about it. I became aware of it when I read this post. The poet is William Wordsworth (1770-1885) He was honoured of becoming a Poet Laureate in 1843. He was an English romantic poet. The romanticism started by the German poet and writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Scholars believe that at the root of the romanticism the access of reading of the Sanskrit literature by both European and English writers were immensely benefited.

The Solitary Reaper

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! For the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?–
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;–
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

After reading the poem if you have not got the point let me bring you back to the verse starting from, “Will no one tell me what she sings?”.

The singer’s notes reached the poet first and he became curious to know the lyrics later on. But he is satisfied if the meaning of her lyric is not known to her because he is overwhelmed by the singing voice of the “Solitary Reaper”. Read from:

“And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides……..

The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

So this example is that the sung notes touch more deeply and then meaning if needed is chased out. This poet has collected ballads and this lyric is written in that form. I hope AK would enjoy this point with much relish and elation.

But my next point will bring him down to the earth as this is a skittle game.

The Vedic literature is supposed to be the oldest literature of the human civilizations. The Vedas are four. Rigved, Yajurved, Samved and Atharved.

They are chronologically in above order. In this order Rigved comes first and the Samved is third. In the Bhagvad Gita only first three Vedas are mentioned. So the last Ved could be spurious but not important in the present discussion.

Rigved contains lyrics or as they are called “Sukta”s. These are poems in words about the various natural phenomena personified as gods and goddesses.

And Samved tells how these poems should be sung. It is the first book on the art of singing.

So now we are back to the “Egg first or Chicken first”.

Those elated by this above Vedic superior point and are in the seventh heaven or on the cloud nine must not enjoy too much of their ecstasy.

There is the Darwinstic evolutionary point.

The primitive man had sound in his throat but it was not much communicable. He saw and heard the birds singing and understood after many years that the birds communicate each other by variable notes. So the copycat primitive man learned a few variable notes and started using them and developed further his mouth apart from just eating food but to the arts of singings and speaking as well simultaneously.

I shall take the “range of Singing” issue later on as there is more horrific history.

Shalan Lal

86 AK July 28, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Shalan Lal,
Perhaps you missed SSW’s comment #43 in which he mentioned the above poem of Wordsworth (at least the relevant part of it), and the discussions thereafter. But thanks for presenting the beautiful poem in entirety. Now we have all converged to an agreed position, that is:
1. Music or tune is of paramount importance in retaining a song in memory.
2. However, in film songs, words give a context, and have a special significance.
3. Some lyrics deeply impact us for their beauty or emotional content.
4. In general, we tend to remember the singer, music director and name of the film associated with our favourite songs, but we find it difficult to remember the associated lyricists.
5. The above statements are not mutually exclusive, and they are not in contradiction with each other.

In the above debate I have added a new angle in my comment #84. I find this topic is of perennial interest. Thanks a lot for your detailed comments.

87 Shalan Lal July 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm


I think your recapitulation is perfect. We should call it day or rather “Naandi” in the Snaskrit play and happilly sleep over it as the end of the debate on this particular issue.

But your post has other issues? Shall we continue as Subodh Aagrwal says this is “Addaa”.

Shalan Lal

88 AK July 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Shalan Lal,
Other issues are open from my side. Depends on the readers if they would like to carry it further.

89 Shalan Lal July 30, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Thanks AK.

I hope to come back about the singer.s range business after a couple of days as I have got a few things in my hand to finish.

I like your quote “कुछ कहने पर तूफ़ान उठा लेती है दुनिया.” comment number 63. However this storm is not in a” Cuppa Tea”. It is a great stimulating explosion of ideas and feelings about a song ideology.

You must not think it as an “Adaalat” of the readers but just an amusing Addaa.
Shalan Lal

90 AK July 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Shalan Lal,
You are right, finally everyone has understood what others were saying.

अड्डा is old hat now. A more appropriate description of SoY is a thriving, chaotic democracy, much like our country.

91 Shalan Lal July 31, 2015 at 4:08 pm


It looks like that. But I enjoy it. Beleive me when I say other great democracies of Europe and U.S.A are too more or less describe the similar Indian state. But we have freedom. India.s neighbours have no such freedom and just think of what a hell the Middlea East has become.

In this particular post, post readers reactions were very intelligent and the dialgour of “Antara and Anu” is the cream out of this churning.

Shalan Lal

92 Antara July 31, 2015 at 4:50 pm

AK, Subodh Agrawal ji and Shalan Lalji,

“And the dialogue of “Antara and Anuu” is the cream out of this churning”… oh my! Thank you for the very kind words. Delighted to have discovered new insights, perspectives, information and angles of looking at particulars elements in the craft of music and film making. And another gain has been to stumble upon Anu’s blog… which will now be a regular visiting spot along with AK’s hugely informative SoY along with the chai and samosas of course.

Truly enjoyed this discussion and leaving richer 🙂

93 Anu Warrier July 31, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Like Antara, I’ve to say ‘thank you’ for the kind words! I’m extremely glad that our voices of dissent (Antara’s and mine) did not drive anyone away, or worse, bore them to tears! The discussion was interesting, and though heated at times, was stimulating, and what’s even better, remained civil.

Thanks, Antara, for the kind words about my blog. Looking forward to meeting you there.

94 Shalan Lal August 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Anatra and Anu Warrier, thanks for your email addressing to, AK.,Subodh Agarwal and me as well. Your interesting dialogue and voice are cultured and intellectual and well put. I support it entirely.

I augment the argument about the “range” further but I shall not pose as I wanted to convince it to anyone. I present mere some information for the context.

A range in voice is the elasticity of the voice stretching up to the higher octave where octave is of seven notes in a scale. All those who sing have a vocal register to start with. This usually is fixed when a baby starts to talk. The talking register and singing register could be two different registers. A register is a pitch either speaking or singing voice.

European, American and British actors undergo speech training with the help of the Piano keys in which speech in high notes is taught without breaking the vocal cord and voice as well. This is needed as the auditoriums are huge in the size like Albert Hall

The singing register is usually known or found by a keyboard instrument. A piano is usually a perfect instrument to find one’s singing or even speaking register. It has a middle C note that plays C4 note and this is on the fourth octave starting from the first white note in the left of the piano. This is taken as the guide mark. On the right side of the Middle C are higher registering notes and on the left side are lower registering of notes. Lowest and further notes are Bass notes.

Usually male voices in the lowest two octave notes and female singer’s voice start on the second or third octave not near middle C which is the fourth octave.

In England, Europe and America music is a part of the curriculum in the lower and higher schools. Recently as Muslim population in the UK started growing in numbers some schools are allowed Muslim pupils not to join the music classes if their parents object to the Music lessons.

A growing up child is usually used to to the singing through nursery songs which contain the singing notes as well speech notes and this prepare a child to the English sounds spoken as well as singing.

A Music teacher usually tells the child his or her singing register note and teaches how to go higher but at the same time takes care that if the child is labouring hard at high note then the child is encouraged to sing in the lower notes. Here the care is taken not to damage his or her vocal cord and vocal folds from which the singing comes out.

Often good and professional singers temporally lose their singing voice due to many reasons. Some blame it because they were asked or encouraged to sing in high notes.

The vocal cord and vocal folds are seated in larynx part of the throat and believe it that it looks similar to the female yoni. The vibration of both vocal cord and vocal folds produce sound that could be musical or speech.

In the old system children were forced to sing in higher notes. Modern system thought it was cruel to force children singing on the higher notes. There was a time it was thought that singings in higher notes is essential part of the singer and the song. Especially the Church and operatic music demanded the singing in the higher notes.

The advent of the radio, films, television, vinyl record to the digital records and popularity of all kinds of singing changed the old fashion attitude and expectation from the singers. A crooning singer like Frank Sinatra and an opera tenor singer both have places in the popular culture. This is because music has been made accessible to all people.

Nobody will expect Fred Astaire to sing as a tenor singer and insist that tenor singing is the singings and what Astaire did in his films was not singing in the terms of Opera or Church music.. He made filmy musicals popular in the Hollywood Musicals of the Thirties and forties. He sang on a lower register.

In India Saigal made filmy music popular.
From 14th century to the end of 19th century in European church and opera music in high note singing was required from male singers and hence just before the puberty, before the male voice was breaking they were forcefully castrated so their voices would remain in the same register and they could go on singing in higher scales. They were called “Castrato”.
There is still a demand on the Pope that he should apologise for the inhuman cruelty to male singers and the church establishing that high register singing is ideal requirement in the singing.

So often when the word “range” is used by musicians or listeners it often means singers ability to sing in higher notes.

This creates undue pressure on the singer that he or she should sing in higher notes. Both Mukesh and Talat Mohmood occasionally sang the songs of the classical type songs which were voice-types that could be handled by Rafi, Manna Dey and Hemant Kumar (Anarkali- Jaag Dard-Ishk). But one can feel that was not their forte.

When in the third paragraph of his post AK has said, “Mukesh’s limited range is not an entirely satisfactory answer, because Naushad had shown he could work around Suraiya’s limitations, and had a long innings with her. Poor Suraiya is dragged along in this rank of irregular, regular nouns “Shva, Uva, Maghva” even she sang “Man-More Hua Matwalaa” in “Afasar 1950” But AK insists the range was not matter with Nuashad.

But it looks from the evidence of his great success of “ Deedar 1951 and “Baiju Bawara 1952” Naushad went for Rafi with the composition on higher scale notes for the main male singer. Range mattered much for Naushad and not for other contemporary composers. Naushad was decided by the public as saver of the classical music when light music influenced by the Western music influenced generally. It was Lariappa against “Tu Ganga Ki Mauj….

Furthermore the voice of Mukesh showed more fitting to RK and he openly said that Mukesh was his voice even in his funeral tribute. Many times one feels that the songs Mukesh sang for other actors were very like for the RK voice. After the film Dastan RK was not involved in any film that Naushad composed for.

Although I regard Nuashad high as the composer and orchestrator of the filmy music other composers were equally great and they had used the voice of Mukesh freely without any hang-ups about the “Range matters” and Mueksh sang them sweetly. For example in “Saranga 1960” Saranga Teri Yaad Mein” is nearly a raagdari song. His Gujarati songs all are supremely melodious.

A song moves within the singing rage of the singer and it is an unfair belief that a singer is a poor singer who sings in a lower scale. There are many songs that Mukesh gave emotional and heartfelt performances.

Shalan Lal

95 SSW August 4, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Shalan Lal, with due respect I must disagree with some of your assertions. What distinguishes a great singer is not just range but texture (or tessitura if you want to be swanky) and the ability to move from note to note with dexterity at various volume levels. Mukesh’s voice had really good texture in the lower frequencies but at higher frequencies the nasality became more pronounced. I have not heard many songs by Mukesh where quick glides between notes are performed easily. His was a more straightforward style of singing and perhaps Naushad wanted more flexibility in his songs. Rafi provided it. Mukesh did have a range of approximately one and a half octaves which is easily adequate for popular songs. If you listen to songs like “Jaane kahan gaye woh din” he traverses up to I think the “gandhara” in the upper octave and the effect is quite pleasant. But on the other hand what Rafi does in a song like “Toote hue khwabon ne” where in the antara he sings “Dil ne” without any seeming effort is quite wonderful since the two words are separated by an octave. Perhaps Mukesh could not have done this with the same ease and smoothness and that is why Salilda took Rafi for this song. But of course these are just personal musings.
I dare say it is as difficult to hold low notes over a longer period and move quickly from one note to the other in a lower octave as in a higher one. For example this song which has the much maligned Suraiya. I think she has sung this wonderfully , this is not a simple song to sing.

By the way the reason why opera singers were castrated was not just for the range. Castrati rarely sang in complete soprano. They were higher than counter tenors possibly an octave higher which was the highest male register but they were not as high as a soprano. It was just that when they attained their full growth , because of castration their bone joints were more flexible and grew longer and this increased their rib cage which gave them an enormous lung power and ability to hold notes with greater volume. Otherwise composers would have continued to have women in those roles.

I don’t know if you have seen the movie Farinelli. It is quite a good movie. Here is what is ostensibly a castrato singing. The actual voice is a computerized merging of a soprano woman singer (Eva Godieska) and a male counter tenor (Derek Ragin) to create the effect of what we believe may have been a castrato singing. The composition is by Handel and the scene also relives the young boy’s castration after he is drugged with opium.

96 ksbhatia August 4, 2015 at 11:38 pm


I think Mukesh did a good job where he quickly glides and shift the notes in the song ….Yeh to kaho kaun ho tum kaun ho tum ….from Aashiq . Of course the interlude music helped a lot in this shifting of notes .

97 AK August 5, 2015 at 9:58 am

Reference to your conversation with Shalan Lal. Would you agree that Mukesh slides between high to low notes effortlessly in these songs?

Thane kajaliyo bana lyun

Ye mera deewanapan hai

98 shalan Lal August 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm

SSW, ksbhatia and AK
This discussion is getting very interesting more and more by days.

I think SSW has well put his points and I have full praise for his exposition.

Themention of the song ““Toote hue khwabon ne” from Madhumati is the only song Rafi got. But many believe that it was Mukesh song.

I am happy about all those raised some points. It is very good for us that we can now talk about Indian Filmy songs very interestingly and freely as well.

My parents though saw Indian movies never liked to hold discussion on thefilmy art as it was thought very cheap and “baajaru”. But they talked about the classical music and mant times bluff their way about the knowledgabel arguments.

Big thanks for all of you. I enjoy reading the posts and comments section.

Shalan Lal

99 Mahesh August 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm

I am not complaining, but wonder why Mukesh is subjected to so much scrutiny for which at the end of the day there are no logical conclusions.

But then let me join in with these songs and seek views of more knowledgeable readers, since technically I am next to zero.

and particularly the fag end of this song

Incidentally both the songs have some parts which I had not heard in the audio versions.

100 ksbhatia August 5, 2015 at 11:46 pm

Mahesh’ji ;

….. logical conclusion….. yes …..; All that ends well ends well . Mukesh in his times has given so many melodies for all of us to cherish for rest of our life. …. cahe kahin bhi tum raho , chain gey tum ko umre bhar, tum ko na bhool payenge a very appropriate tribute by Hasrat jaipuri . Hear this song for slide and glide of notes . An SJ masterpiece :

101 SSW August 6, 2015 at 12:30 am

Okay I am sorry I got into this business of comparisons at all. I’ve no use for it and I like Mukesh as much as the next man. AK of your two songs the Rajasthani one does not have a great octave range , the one from Yahudi is quite good. But I’ve not spoken about range. I’m talking about moving smoothly between quick notes even within the octave. Some people like Manna Dey , Rafi etc found this easier perhaps and while this is of delight to some people what makes a song memorable and great is not just virtuosity. In this song another Husnlal Bhagatram composition Rafi cracks in the higher tonic at 4:13 (he spans two octaves maybe the lowest I have heard him go) but I still like this song.

102 Ashwin Bhandarkar August 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Perhaps it would be apposite to listen to this bhajan, largely based on Raga Hameer, and sung by Mukesh at this stage in the argument. Its refrain is

Sur ki gati main kya jaanoon
Ek bhajan karna jaanoon

103 Mahesh August 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm
104 AK August 8, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Ashwin Bhandarkar,
It is a beautiful bhajan. I believe all his available non-film songs are post-50s. Mahesh mentions some pre-40 songs.

Beautiful song. Sheesham had another great Mukesh song, Ek jhoothi si tasalli wo mujhe de ke chale. I reckon Roshan among the very top MDs.

105 SSW August 8, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Mahesh the two songs you gave earlier Mukesh spans approximately an octave and two tones, slightly less than an octave and a half. I could be off by a semitone but the scale roughly seems to start at E3 and go to A4. Is that what you wanted to know ? A4 is about the highest range of the operatic baritone. But I am never sure with youtube videos. Things seem to speed up by a semitone in some cases but the relative range is still the same. They are all wonderful songs including the bhajan that Ashwin linked and the one you provided later.

106 Shalan Lal August 8, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Mr Bhadnarkar’s point that the if the singer has the intnesity in the song then he is as good as any other singer or perhaps better than who has singisng qualities as mentioned by SSW in his erudite comment.

Shalan Lal

107 mumbaikar8 August 9, 2015 at 6:27 am

I want to thank Mr. Shalan Lal for explaining, Mr. Bhandarkar’s point of view in depth, the comparison was way beyond my understanding.
I truly believe in the old phrase “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder “in our circumstance it should be beauty lies in the ears of the auditor.
Baharon Phool Barsao, I believe, was voted by thousands of listeners as # 1 song of the century, in my opinion I would not rate in 1 to 100 or even more.
Do I mean that thousands of people are mistaken? No, but expressing opinions and observations should be welcomed. If agree acknowledge It, if disagree contradict it, debate it.
Unity in diversity is fun, smothering is not.

108 Mahesh August 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm

SSW ji,
Honestly, I don’t understand these terminologies. Will make an attempt to learn. I just cited two of the many songs which Mukesh has sung with some labored efforts which was not exactly his forte.

Ashwin ji,
I understand it may not have been your intention, but it tends to suggest that its his some sort of auto-biographical song which is not at all the case. It’s just a couplet of the several bhajans that he sang. The context of posting the Roshan link was in this regard.

109 SSW August 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Mahesh, yes, perhaps he laboured at them, but you and I and many others love those songs and finally that is what matters.

110 Ashwin Bhandarkar August 9, 2015 at 7:15 pm


I do know that the song that I cited was not Mukesh-autobiographical but it seemed to fit nicely into the context of the arguments being made, which is why I made the citation. The point that I was trying to make has been explained very well by Shalan. I also totally agree with the views expressed by mumbaikar8 in Comment 107.

111 Prakash Singh Rautela March 9, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Dear Dineshji,

Namaskar. Yes, “Aankhein khulein theen… ” was not included in the film; yet to me it is a very unique, classy and effective song, not at all commonplace, as suggested. Not referring to that hugely popular, profoundly emotional and classy Mukesh song “Husn-e-jana idhar aa…” surprises me a lot. Lastly, “Mera pyar bhi tu hai…” had a sad version too.


Prakash Singh Rautela

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