Having recently done a list of happy songs of Mukesh, I had no intention of doing another Mukesh post anytime soon. But dustedoff, AP Joshi and Subodh Agrawal in their comments entered into an earnest discussion on ‘happy’ duets of Mukesh and requested I do a list of my favourite such duets. This opened the floodgates of my memory and several beautiful duets came streaming in my mind. About the same time another amazing coincidence happened. I heard on radio, after at least four decades, a most fabulous Mukesh-Lata duet lying in deep recesses of my memory. This post is an outcome of all these happenings.
Duets are a special class of film songs, which I feel are more than the sum of their parts. I also hold that a peppy song becomes peppier in a duet, especially if the male singer is one whose natural instinct favours soulful, slow emotional songs. You would see this in Mukesh duets I am presenting. It becomes more pronounced in case of Talat Mahmood, as if the presence of a female singer lets him come out of his own shackles. That is for some other time when I get to write about Talat Mahmood. For the moment I invite you to savour my favourite ‘happy’ duets of Mukesh.
1. Thane kajaliya bana lun with Lata Mangeshkar from Veer Durgadas (1960), lyrics Bharat Vyas, music SN Tripathi
This is the song that made me overcome my hesitation to do this post now. Unfortunately only the audio of the song is available, but from its beautiful music, beat and variation in pitch one can imagine the dance must have been out of this world. Before Lata’s voice fully tapers off, Mukesh joins at high pitch and glides smoothly to low pitch when Lata joins in a seamless manner as if passing the baton in a musical relay race. Its tune was etched in my memory, though I remembered only snatches of its lyric. I could never have traced it on my own because of its mukhda in Rajasthani (the lady tells her lover I would transform you into kajal and keep you shut inside my eyelids), but it must have been destined that Vividh Bharti should play this song about the time my readers were asking for my favourite Mukesh duets.
2. Tujhe chand kahun ya phool kahun with Lata Mangeshkar from Sunehri Nagin (1963), music Kalyanji Anandji
What if the actors are Mahipal and Helen if the song is so good? Another B-grade movie, but a fabulous duet. AP Joshi mentioned that contrary to popular perception, Mukesh sounds good at high pitch also. Mukesh is mesmerising at low pitch, but this duet is a prime example that at high pitch also he is beautiful. If you think of it, in his iconic solo Ye mera diwanapan hai (Yahudi), he starts the recital part Dil se tujhko bedili hai at high pitch and glides down effortlessly to the main song at low pitch.
3. Kahe nainon mein kajra bharo with Lata Mangeshkar from Badi Bahu (1951), lyrics Prem Dhawan, music Anil Biswas
Early 1950’s and Anil Biswas – class would always show. Folk based songs have something enchanting and universal about them.
4. Chura le na tumko ye mausam suhana with Suman Kalyanpur from Dil Hi To Hai (1963),lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi, music Roshan
Contrast this unrestrained duet with the sad solo version by Suman Kalyanpur Yun hi dil ne chaha tha rona rulana teri yaad to ban gayee ak bahana; you would agree with my theory about the duets being more than sum of its parts, and bringing in extra zest.
5. Begani shadi mein Abdullah diwana with Lata Mangeshkar from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hain (1960), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankat Jaikishan
The dacoit Sardar’s daughter Padmini falls for the simpleton Raj Kapoor, who is completely clueless about women, heart, love etc. She throws enough hints about her feelings for him. She even mentions she might get married one day. Raj Kapur gets excited and proclaims he would sing at her marriage party. Idiot! But lovable, and she cannot help dancing and singing at this queer character. The song starts primarily as a Lata solo and you can feel the impact when Mukesh joins in.
6. Dekho mausam kya bahar hai with Lata Mangeshkar from Opera House (1961), lyrics Majooh Sultanuri, music Chitragupta
My first song was by SN Tripathi from a B grade film. Here is another foot tapping lovely duet from a B grade film composed by his once assistant Chitragupta, picturised on Ajit (the villain we all know) and B Saroja Devi.
7. Lagi tumse lagan sathi chute na with Lata Mngeshkar from Saranga (1960), lyrics Bharat Vyas, music Sardar Mallik
I have to now stop describing films as B-grade. Saranga was a landmark score of Sardar Malik (father of Anu Malik). Though he was hugely talented, he could not hit the big league. This beautiful duet picturised on Sudesh Kumar and Jayshree Gadkar is but only one of several fabulous songs in this movie (Every Mukesh fan would know Saranga teri yaad mein).
8. Humse hoti mohabbat jo tumko with Asha Bhosle from Mohabbat Isko Kahte Hain (1965), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Khayyam
Mukesh with Asha Bhosle is not a natural combination. But what a lilting duet on Shashi Kapoor and Nanda composed by one of the greatest composers Khayyam who never compromised his standards. He was not counted in the big league but while his giant contemporaries fell by the wayside in 1970s and 80s, he achieved great commercial success as well with films like Kabhi Kabhi, Umrao Jaan, Bazaar etc. You can notice Mukesh opening recital Tum isko khel samjhe ho, followed by mukhda by Asha Bhosle at normal pitch. Then Mukesh joins in at high pitch with Chhod do tum ada roothane ki and glides down to low pitch. Again at his next turn he follows the same pattern with Is qadar lag rahi ho haseen tum at very high pitch and comes down effortlessly. Beautiful!
9. Ye wada karo chand ke samne, with Lata Mngeshkar from Rajhath (1956), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar Jaikishan
A foot tapping duet picturised on Pradeep Kumar and Madhubala, but Mukesh in his sweet voice beckons you to enjoy the song in solitude of night all by yourself.
10. Ye kisne geet chheda with Suman Kalyanpur from Meri Surat Teri Ankhen (1963), lyrics Shailendra, music SD Burman
If you consider the longest lasting, and the largest variety of singers for whom any music director has composed everlasting songs, SD Burman would be perhaps the undisputed king. His talent is awesome, another great duet from this film Tere bin soone nain hamare figured in my best ten list of Rafi-Lata duets.
11. Dil lootnewale jadugar ab maine tujhe pahchana hai with Lata Mangeshkar from Madari (1959), lyrics Farooq Qaiser, music Kalyanji Anandji
Among KA’s earliest work and what great talent! An immortal song on perfect B-grade stars. Laxmikant Pyarelal were their assistant. The mentor and protégé would later rule the music world in 70’s.
12. Duniyawalon se door jalnewalon se door with Lata Mangeshkar from Ujala (1959), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
Shammi Kapoor had not yet fully switched to Mohammad Rafi, therefore you have a different Shammi flavour appropriate to Mukesh. The duet is great all the same.
13. Tum chal rahe ho hum chal rahe the magar duniyawalon ke dil jal rahe hain with Lata Mangeshkar in Duniya Na Mane (1959), music Madan Mohan
The same year and similar song in which the lovers talk about going far away from this world which is so jealous and intrusive about two people in love. This breezy duet makes even a staid Pradeep Kumar let himself go and join the revelry with carefree Mala Sinha. Contrast the peppy duet with Mukesh’s solo version which is in his typical melancholy style.
14. Mano ya na mano with Suman Kalyanpur from First Love (1961), lyrics Gulshan Bawra, music Dattaram
Suman Kalyanpur’s biggest asset – that she was born with a voice like Lata Mangeshkar’s – became her curse. But her solos and duets with Rafi and Mukesh are among the most beautiful songs of their class. See Suman Kalyanpur outshines Lata Mangeshkar for a more detailed article on her.
15. Tum kahan le chale ho with Lata Mangeshkar from Poonam Ki Raat (1965), lyrics Shailendra, Salil Chaudhry
Even as the lady is asking the hero where is he taking her, she is thoroughly enjoying this journey to the unknown. A beautiful composition by Salil Chaudhry.
16. Ankhiyon ka noor hai tu with Suman Kalyanpur from Johar Mahmood in Goa (1965), lyrics Qamar Lalalabadi, music Kalyanji Anandji
Is it a happy or sad song? While Sonia Sahni lip synchs Suman Kalyanpur, Mukesh’s voice is coming from her invisible lover, whose presence is felt through a dancing flower or footprints.
17. Nee baliye rut hai bahar ki with Lata Mangeshkar from Kanhaiya (1959), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
If you are as thrilled as Raj Kapur at getting married, even if you do not know dancing you would not feel inhibited to break into a jig.
18. Hum tum ye khoyee khoyee raahein with Lata Mangeshkar from Rangoli (1962), lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
A beautiful duet picturised on perfect B-grade actors (I have no clue who they are nor do I want to quote second hand information from the internet).
19. Dil se dil ki dor bandhe from Chhaya (1961), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Salil Chaudhary
If the heroine is in sari (which was the norm those days), the hero too is in dhoti kurta. But they can still have a romantic day out in the woods and the sea (Oops! by the end of the song Sunil Dutt’s dhoti has become pyjamas and Asha Parekh has changed into more than one salwar kurta even though they were not carrying any bag which could allow them this sartorial experimentation in this wilderness).
20. Mehboob mere mehboob mere with Lata Mangeshkar from Pathar Ke Sanam (1967), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Laxmikant Pyarelal
Laxmikant Pyarelal were now emerging as the top composer duo, displacing the titans Shankar Jaikishan. By 1967 they had established their distinct style of melody. Here is my top LP favourite. I am aware, in a voting Sawan ka maheena pawan kare shor or Yug yug se ye geet milan ke from Milan would perhaps win hands down, but my own favourite is Mehboob mere.
I have been generally stopping at ten in my favourites lists. But in this case even after ten there were several which I found impossible to leave out. Therefore, you have a rather longish list of twenty. What is interesting is that it still leaves out several songs mentioned by readers in my earlier Mukesh post. That just shows what inexhaustible reservoir of wonderful music we have. These are my personal favourites and I had indicated my list would contain surprises.