Shamshad Begum songs by Naushad

April 14, 2015

A tribute to Shamshad Begum on her 96th birth anniversary (14 April 1919 – 23 April 2013)

Shamshad Begum and NaushadIn my mind the best of Shamshad Begum always meant Naushad. I would be surprised if any of her famous songs, which I would automatically attribute to him, turned out to be composed by a different music director. Much later, when I was better informed and I had an overview of her career, I knew she was discovered by Ghulam Haider, she sang for most of the famous composers of the vintage era, and she was already at the top when Naushad first used her in 1946 (Shahjehan). She continued her great run concurrently with C Ramchandra, SD Burman, Ghulam Mohammad and later with OP Nayyar, but the 60 odd songs she sang for Naushad still remain at the highest pedestal for me. Naushad publicly acknowledged that she played an important role in giving a boost to his career at a critical stage when he was looking for a voice which did not have the ‘nautch-girl’ tinge. She, too, acknowledged Naushad’s role in her career, even though he did not hesitate to jettison her when he firmly settled for Lata Mangeshkar (giving her about 160 songs).

Born on April 14, 1919 to conservative Muslim parents, Miya Hussain Bakhsh Maan and Ghulam Fatima in Lahore in a large family, her naturally-gifted talent for music was discovered early when her voice towered over others in school prayers. The principal assigned her to lead the prayers at the age of ten. Her father did not like Shamshad to take up music seriously, but her uncle Amiruddin persuaded him to let him take her to a recording company. The father reluctantly allowed her, but with strict conditions that she would sing under veil, and she would never let herself be photographed. She gave her audition before Ghulam Haider, who was the music director of the record company. Masterji was so impressed that he instantly signed her for 12 songs at Rs 12.50 per song, a big sum that time. She was about 13 then.

She did not have a formal training in music. Ghulam Haider polished her singing. She sang about 200 songs for the gramophone company (Xenophone), which made her quite well-known. This led to her entry as a singer in AIR Peshawar, and later Lahore around 1937. Thus, she was already famous when Das Sukh Pancholi gave her a break in the Punjabi film Yamala Jat (1940). This movie became a big hit, prompting Pancholi to use her in the Hindi film, Khazanchi (1941). In what must be unprecedented for a singer on debut, all the nine songs of this film were in the voice of Shamshad Begum. Its music took the film world by storm, and spawned what is known as the Punjabi school of music. Sure enough, the biggest names in Bombay beckoned her. Mehboob Khan got her to sing in Taqdeer (1943) for Rs 300 a song. This was the movie which launched Nargis as the leading lady (she had debuted earlier as a child actor). After flitting between Lahore and Bombay, she finally shifted to Bombay mid-40s with her family. She had meanwhile married a lawyer she loved – Ganpat Lal Battoo – at a young age despite her family’s opposition.

Many of her earliest songs of radio era are lost as they were broadcast live. Some of her film songs, too, are lost for odd reasons. All the songs of Panna (1944) were sung by her, but the records were brought out by HMV in the voice of Rajkumari, as Shamshad Begum was under contract with Xenophone. This problem did not recur when HMV bought out Xenophone.

Shamshad Begum’s first solo for Naushad, Jab usne gesu bikharaye, was also the first song of Majrooh Sultanpuri in Hindi films. Her clarity of tone had Naushad floored, and thus started a partnership with stunningly beautiful songs in many films. She was the lead singer in Anokhi Ada, Mela (1948) and Chaandni Raat (1949). After using Lata Mangeshkar as the lead singer in Andaaz (1949), Naushad came back to Shamshad Begum with a bang in Baabul (1950) and Jadoo (1951). His tilt to Lata was becoming clearer, but the few songs he gave to Shamshad in Lata-dominated films created an everlasting impact, such as her songs in Dulaari (1949), Deedar (1951), Aan (1952), Mother India (1957). Her last song for him was the iconic qawwali-muqaabala – Teri mehfil mein kismet aazma kar hum bhi dekhenge (Mughal-e-Azam , 1960).

Other composers too, such as C Ramchandra and OP Nayyar laid the foundation of their successful career on her, but dropped her when it suited them – CR for Lata and OPN for Geeta Dutt/Asha Bholse. Her last well-known song is Kajra mohabbatwala from Kismet (1968) by OPN. She sang later too, off and on; her last released songs were heard in the film Ganga Maang Rahi Balidan (1981), but these were probably recorded much earlier.

In the selfish film world, she was a simple, contented soul, living happily with her only daughter’s family, away from the glamour world. Her photographs were not seen until 1970 when she started giving interviews, and staged a ‘Shamshad Begum Nite’ in Bombay, causing some consternation to the established singers even at that stage. She lived such a private life that people believed when media erroneously carried the news of her death in October 1998 (the Shamshad Begum who passed away then was a small time actress-singer by the same name, who was the mother of Naseem Bano and grandmother of Saira Bano). She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2009. She passed away on 23 April, 2013.

The timbre of her voice gave her a unique place in film music. Even her unheard songs you come across on the Internet sound delightful. But most of her songs for Naushad are superhits, familiar to all music lovers. Let me pay my tribute to her on her 96th birth anniversary with some of her songs by Naushad.

1.  Jab usne gesu bikharaye from Shahjehan (1946), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Majrooh Sultanpuri makes a grand debut as a lyricist in Hindi films with this beautiful song by Shamshad Begum composed by Naushad.  The song is picturised as an equally beautiful dance in the court of emperor Shajehan, most probably on Azurie, who was a  famous dancer of the 1930s and 40s.  She became the inspiration for Cuckoo.  Richard has done exhaustive research on Azurie.

 

2.  Hum dard ka afsana duniya ko suna denge from Dard (1947), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

I mentioned Shamshad Begum’s talent was first utilised for leading school prayers.  As a tribute to that origin, Naushad creates this school prayer song in which Shamshad Begum leads the chorus.  This film was the debut of Shakeel Badayuni in films that led to his becoming Naushad’s main lyricist with over 300 songs for him.  This Munawwar Sultana-starrer also had Suraiya as actor singer.  It also launched Uma Devi (Tuntun) as a singer in a major way, with Afsana likh rahi hun.  A landmark film in many ways, and quite a crowded field, but Shamshad Begum makes a mark with her two songs, the other being Ye afsana nahi zaalim mere dil ki haqeeqat hai.

 

3.  Aaj kahan ja ke nazar takraayi from Anokhi Ada (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

One of the prettiest faces of her time, Naseem Bano, the mother of Saira Bano, lip-synchs this beautiful Shamshad Begum song.  You rarely get a a better female piano song.  Only Naushad could surpass himself with Mukesh’s piano songs in Andaaz, a year later.

 

4.  Mohan ki muraliya baaje sun thes jiya pe mora laage from Mela (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Mela is the highest point of Shamshad Begum with her 9 songs of all moods dominating the film.  In fact one song Dharti ko aakash pukare permeates throughout the film.  You could pick any, it would be as good as any other.  Here is a sad song when Nargis discovers there are spokes in her relationship with Dilip Kumar.

 

5.  Chhaya meri ummeed ki duniya mein andhera from Chaandni Raat (1949), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Naushad continues with Shamshad Begum as her lead singer with three solos and three duets with Rafi.  Shakeel Badayuni continues his long innings with Naushad.  It is said that Majrooh Sultanpuri’s left-wing political activism led to his break-up with Naushad after Andaaz, until he returned to his fold about two decades later with Saathi (1968).

 

6.  Chaandni aayi ban ke pyaar O saajna from Dulari (1949), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Naushad switches to Lata Mangeshkar in a big way in Dulari.  If you look at only numbers, she had nine compared to a measly two songs by  Shamshad Begum, but these two – Chaandni aayi ban ke pyar and Na bol pi pi more angna, panchhi ja re ja – are stand out songs from the film.  Here is the song, picturised on Geeta Bali, that made Shamshad Begum synonymous with Naushad for me.   The guy she is singing and dancing to is Shyam Kumar, who sang some beautiful songs for Naushad in Dillagi the same year, such as the duet with Suraiya, Tu mera chaaand main teri chaandni.  As everybody on this planet is now aware, thanks to Arunji, this Shyam Kumar was different from the hero Shyam who never sang.  Shyam Kumar generally played negative roles, as he did in these movies too.

 

7.  Aag lagi tan man mein dil ko pada thaamna from Aan (1952), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Naushad does a balancing act between Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum in this film, harnessing their respective strengths.  I have earlier used the exquisite Holi song, Khelo aaj hamare sang, which has both the voices.  In this naughty Shamshad solo, Sheila Nayak teases her mistress, the princess Nadira for falling to the charms of the commoner, Dilip Kumar.  Nadira, in turn, seems to be  angry at her emotions, trying hard to be in denial as she bathes in the rose-water, as if to drench the fire in her body.

 

8.  Door koi gaaye dhun ye sunaye tere bin chhaliya re (with Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar) from Baiju Baawra (1952), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

My mind was wired to remember Door koi gaaye as a Shamshad Begum song.  Now I realise it had Rafi (with just Ho ji ho coming form far away) and Lata Mangeshkar, too, coming in with a soft stanza at the end, and a Naushadian chorus in the interludes.   But I am not wrong, the song leaves a lingering memory of Shamshad Begum towering over the other two.  Naushad’s main singer is now firmly Lata Mangeshkar; he would henceforth use Shamshad Begum as a niche singer, but with tremendous impact.

 

9.  Laagi more man ki O saajna from Shabaab (1954), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Shamshad Begum is reduced to a very marginal place in Shabaab, but the one song she gets is quite memorable.  Naushad is the undisputed master of using chorus as the interludes and accompaniment.

 

10.  Pee ke ghar aaj pyaari dulhaniya chali from Mother India (1957), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Naushad had inscrutable ways, because Shamshad begum gets a major revival, with some of her career best songs in Mother India, which would rank among Naushad’s best.  If Holi aayi re Kanhai is an all-time great Holi song and Gaadiwale gaadi dheere haank re an all-time great bullock-cart song, Pee ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniyta chali is an all-time great vidaai song.  As the Mother of the Village, Nargis (metaphor for Mother India) is invited to inaugurate the village dam, her entire life of trials and tribulations of epic proportions plays out in her mind.  This song starts in flashback, with the emotion-laden wedding scene at her maika.  The plaintive strains of shehnai are followed by poignant, but powerful voice of Shamhsad Begum in the background, to the scenes of Nargis’s sad family members and the villagers sending off the daughter in a procession of bullock carts.  As the song proceeds, the bride reaches her sasural, to a waiting gaggle of girls to welcome her, and ends in the bridal room with the shy bride, and tentative groom, Raj Kumar.  In one song of 4 minutes, Mehboob Khan captures centuries of village traditions in a most authentic manner.  Naushad had earlier given an equally immortal vidaai song Chhod baabul ka ghar (Baabul, 1950).

 

11. Teri mehfil mein qismet aazma ke hum bhi dekhenge (with Lata Mangeshkar) from Mughal-e-Azam (1960), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni

Nigar Sultana and Madhubala, the two competitors for Dilip Kumar’s love in this magnum opus, get a chance in this qawwali muqaabla to showcase their different philosophies of love: one aggressive, the other all sacrificing (Mohabbat humne mana zindagi barbaad karti hai, Ye kya kam hai ki mar jaane pe duniya yaad karti hai).  With Prince Salim already mesmerised by Anarkali’s beauty, the result of the muqaabla is a foregone conclusion, but Shamshad Begum in her swan song for the Great Mughal leaves a lasting impact even in this seemingly fixed match.

 

 

Acknowledgement:

Gajendra Khanna’s interview with her at shamshadbegum.com, and some other materials at this site.

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

1 maheshmamadapur April 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm

AK ji,
Excellent. I think you have covered almost the whole picture of the combo including trivia not directly related to them as a team.

Her strong metallic and melodious voice and the great compositions of the maestro will remain unparalleled in the annals of HFM.
Her second song from Dard, mentioned, but not represented in the list is my favourite.
I have sent a mail to you regarding a minor typo error.

Many Thanks.

2 AK April 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Mahesh,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation, and the mail on the side. The music world has been unfair to her. She would have been equally good in 70s too. If you think of it, some singers went on much beyond ‘Use best before..’ date, she was chopped when she had many years left.

3 ASHOK M VAISHNAV April 14, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Even if an established fact that highly fierce competitive (and combative) forces certain took the career paths of so many talented singers and music directors, does not fully explain the eclipse of singers like Shamshad Begum.
May be the voice just that shade too metallic to the other two competitors – Lata Mangeshakar and Asha Bhosle !

One simply wonders how would the female playback singing arena fared if there was as much laissez faire as (perhaps) was in the male playback singers arena !

4 AK April 14, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Ashokji,
Indeed, the male playback singing arena was more democratic. Two female playback singers from the Vintage Era who ought to have a longer career are Rajkumari and Shamshad Begun.

5 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 14, 2015 at 4:47 pm

AK ji,
A good post.Enjoyed it too.
You say that Shamshad’s career was cut short before time. But then who was responsible for it ? I think Shamshad dropped her weapons well before even the fight started. The fear of defeat did her in,I suppose. If only she had stood up boldly,showed some patience and pushed a little,I think there were composers who were game for her even in that atmosphere. When she herself ran away,who could help her ?
Its not that there were no female singers in Lata/Asha’s era. There were very much. Composers would have still preferred Shamshad to other singers than Lata/Asha.
Lata /Asha too did not get it on platter first. They had to struggle very hard and they left no stone unturned-ethical or otherwise- to hold on to their positions unchallenged. One example of OPN was enough to prove that it could be done.
Comparatively,it was easier for Shamshad,if she had tried,since there were her credentials behind her.
It is another thing that Shamshad never ever tried to reach the new crop of Composers and those who knew her prowess faded one after another on the horizon.
Geeta gave a fight and but for her own depression and helplessness,she sure would have continued beyond atleast 70s.
-AD

6 Nasreen April 14, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Hi

The last line in the fifth verse of your Tribute to Shamshad Begum mistakenly says that “Teri Mehfil men…..” is from “Mother India”. It might have been an oversight as further down in the list of songs, you did correctly attribute it to Mughale Azam.

I suppose Naushad went over to Lata because Lata’s voice was more gentle, soft, mellifluous. Shamshad Begum’s voice had stamina and melody, certainly a voice that stands out as something apart (like Geeta Dutt’s) – but her voice probably did not fit in with the persona of the majority of Indian lead actresses of the time. Most of whom were portrayed as young, naiive, innocent, yielding, soft and sweet….whereas Shamshad Begum’s voice was one that would have suited a more mature age, perhaps fiesty kind of person. I can imagine her song picturised on say Nadira, Lalilta Pawer (if she ever had to sing, but not sure that ever happened) – or maybe the dancer Cuckoo.

Maybe Shamshad Begum would have flourished more if most songs in hindi films were not picturised solely on the hero/heroine. Her voice had character and it would have suited those playing character roles (like Lalita Pawar, etc.).

Anyway true connoisseurs of melody will appreciate the voice that could so easily get feet tapping. I actually find her style of singing similar to Amirbai Karnataki – check out “milke bichhad gayi ankhiyaan”, such little difference in the way they sing.

Regards

Nasreen

7 AK April 14, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Arunji,
I think you are right that among the ‘others’, she could have survived longer because she was so unique. It could be partly lack of trying, and partly the awkwardness any person, who has been at the top once, feels in pleading.

8 AK April 14, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Nasreen,
Obviously it must be an oversight.

Coming to your substantive comments, we had no problem in accepting Shamshad Begum as the voice of Nargis in 1950 in Babul, a year after Lata Mangeshkar had been her voice in Andaaz and Barsaat. I think we get conditioned to what is presented to us. But at the very least, she would have been good for niche songs you have described for many more years. Here the composers were lazy to move out of their comfort zone.

9 SSW April 15, 2015 at 3:18 am

AK , Nasreen does have a point where the voice of the heroine is concerned. I think the MD’s preferred the virginal sweetness the young girl sound that Lata’s voice invoked. I cannot comment on most people accepting Shamshad as Nargis’s voice as I was not around in 1950 and rarely watch Hindi films. My appreciation of songs has always been through the radio and which was good in some ways and bad in the others. Even today the Lata effect is seen when one comes across young singers. Which is why even though Shreya Ghosal is a wonderful singer she puts on that extra dollop of syrup while singing for the heroine , whereas Rekha Bharadwaj with her interesting world weary voice will rarely sing for the heroine (unless of course the heroine is a mature lady).

Personally I do not think that Naushad exploited a certain facet of Shamshad’s voice namely her ability to go from piano to forte like say SD did in this song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k21-5ox6HQc

Or say how the incomparable Sajjad uses her here with some lovely orchestral flourishes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy2QpW6LB5g.

And as for singing a complex composition this is quite wonderful
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOEBO5xnHQM
and the same composer gets her to do this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5DYGksDISQ

I would disagree about Naushad being the undisputed master of using the chorus in interludes and accompaniment. His usage was melodically lovely but it was simple and conventional.

10 AK April 15, 2015 at 6:35 am

SSW,
One theory is that the heroines changed, therefore Lata Mangeshkar became The Female voice. This is not the entire truth. Nargis in Babul is just one example. This is true of many who started in 40s and worked in 50s and 60s. Kamini Kaushal had Surinder Kaur, Amirbai Karnataki, Shamshad Begum, Lalita Deulkar singing for her. Those songs are immensely popular till today. She remained the same, then Lata happened, and everything changed.

On the later part of your comment, you are coming as a pundit. As a lay listener, I am hardly in a position to argue, except to say that to me, Naushad’s use of chorus in the interludes, often as a substitute for orchestra sounds magical.

11 N Venkataraman April 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Akji,
An admirable and most enjoyable write-up. Enjoyed the songs too. As Maheshji had said you have covered all the aspects of her career with Naushad.

A singer par excellence, with clear diction and throw, and a piercing voice packaged with drama and feeling, we could have had more of her singing. Whatever be the reason, we the listeners are left with an unfulfilled expectation.

We can see a similarity in the careers of Zohrabai Ambalevali and Shamsad Begum, although Zohrabai had fewer films and songs than Shamsad Begum. True, after 1950 Naushad’s tilt towards Lata Mangeshkar was evident. Earlier Naushad had gradually shifted from Zohrabai Ambalevali. With Rattan, Pehle Aap, Jeevan and Sanyasi, Zohrabai was Naushad’s main singer in 1944 and 1945. She also had a song in Geet. In 1946 we find a similar (gradual) shift towards Shamsad Begum. The late 40s was time of change. This was the time singers like Noorjahan, Shamshad Begum, Khurshid, Amirbai Karnataki, who dominated earlier, were replaced by singers like Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle. After the arrival of Lata Mangeshkar in 1948 the shift and popular taste was towards finer voices, effectively bringing their careers to a gradual end.

Since the year started with a post on Naushad and C Ramachandra, I thought you would cover some of her songs with C Ramchandra too. I was tempted to do a comparative study. Then I thought you must have earmarked it for another post. A post on Shamsad Begum’s songs with Ghulam Haider too will be interesting.

It is known to everybody that in the year 1946, when Shamsad Begum first sang for Naushad, she rendered a duet with Zohrabai Ambalewali . Here is the song, Udan khatole pe ud jaaun from the film Anmol Ghadi (1946), lyrics Tanveer Naqvi. This may be the forerunner to the song Bachpan ke din bhool na jana. I doubt how one can sing while running behind a hackney coach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FPBcpk9caI

I believe two songs sung by Shamsad Begum were deleted from the film Deewana (1952). Here is one of them. A typical lilting Shamsad Begum song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg5UGcXZoGE

Likewise I understand that Shamshad Begum’s three songs from Son of India (1962) were re-recorded in Shanti Mathur’s voice and used in the film. Needs confirmation. Arunji can help.

Here is another deleted song rendered by Shamsad Begum and Mubarak Begum from Mughal-e-Azam. I have mentioned/posted this song earlier.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM3bnIHd4XQ

Thank you Akji for the excellent tribute to Shamsad Begum and I too join you in paying my respects to the great singer.

12 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 15, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Venkataraman ji,

Zohrabai,though started in 1938,ended her career by 1952 end itself,except stray songs in 53. This means she missed out on the larger period of the Golden era. Shamshad,on the other hand started in 41 , but continued till late 60s/early 70. Thus she did more films and more songs.
Secondly, I think only one song of Shamshad was deleted from film Deewana-52 ( which is posted here,by you).
Thirdly,I have no confirmed information about Shamshad’s songs of Son of India,though I too faintly remember having read about it somewhere long back.
-AD

13 SSW April 15, 2015 at 7:01 pm

AK both Lata and Shamshad sang for Nargis in Babul. I don’t understand what you meant by different singers singing for Kamini Kaushal and what it signifies.
On the other point I agree. All musical opinions are subjective.

14 AK April 15, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Venkataramanji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. As for Zohrabai Ambalewali, besides what Arunji has said, she had more pronounced what Naushad termed ‘nautch girl’ tinge. Therefore, he was more sure about her that she had to be changed.

Naushad and CR were equally prolific and important for Shamshad Begum, and it would have been difficult to accommodate both in the same post.

Thanks a lot for the rare songs you have added.

15 AK April 15, 2015 at 9:19 pm

SSW,
Among the singers I have mentioned for Kamini Kaushal, most would be considered unsuited for heroine. Surinder Kaur, for example, could be considered an older generation Rekha Bharadwaj. But we don’t find anything odd in her singing for Kamini Kaushal in Shaheed. But I don’t mean to overstate my point – simply that there is an element of conditioning.

16 N Venkataraman April 15, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Thank you Arunji and AKji for the clarification and reply.

17 Rakesh Srivastava April 15, 2015 at 10:07 pm

A very fragrant and melodious journey down the memory lane-Each song a doorstep to supreme bliss for melody lovers.Her voice had a unique impeccable charisma never felt again after her and I fail to imagine the fate of songs rendered by her had they been in some other’s voice.

I agree with Venkatraman ji in looking forward impatiently to newer posts on her songs with other music directors viz.Ghulam Haider(Bairam Khan-1946-Ashkon Pe Hua Khatm),Ghulam Mohd.(Shama-1960-Dil Gaya So Gaya),Gyan Dutt(Sunehre Din-1949-Maine Dekhi Jug Ki Ree),Husnalal Bhagatram(Sanam-1951)and many more.

18 SSW April 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Okay I still don’t understand about Kamini Kaushal. When Surinder Kaur sang for her in Shaheed she was Bhagat Singh’s mother in a film that had little to do with the run of the mill film plot. Hardly the role of a young heroine. Yes I do agree there is an element of conditioning, and it is both evolutionary and cultural.

19 Hans April 16, 2015 at 1:53 am

AK,
Thanks for opening up your Naushad bonanza vis-a-vis singer combos with my favourite combo. Shamshad to me is a female version of Rafi so far as her personal qualities are concerned. She was continuously ditched by MDs, but she was a contented person and never complained. To my knowledge she sang 54 songs for Naushad and there would be hardly any song I dont like and I am sure we have hardly any disagreement about this combo. I have noted your unequivocal praise for both of them.

I think Naushad could have given her some more songs, especially because there was scope for that because in those days there were more female songs in the films and it was easier to use her along with Lata. But, I have not much regrets because this combo provided a lot of variety.

20 Soumya April 16, 2015 at 2:43 am

When I started to listen to Hindi film music in the late 60s, it took me some time to get used to Shamshad Begum’s voice used as I was to the sound of the Mangeshkar sisters. But once I started appreciating her voice I regretted the fact that composers did not utilize her more often. Once composers shy away from a singer he/she has no other option but to be resigned to the fact. In the highly competitive world of film music one needs a godfather. Asha could not have survived without OPN. Kishore could not have survived without the Burmans.
A fitting tribute to Shamshad Begum, AK.

21 Hans April 16, 2015 at 2:55 am

Arunji (comment 5),
Is it fair to put blame for the deeds of MDs on Shamshad herself. Can we say that Lata did not put up a fight in the case of OPN. Every singer makes extra efforts at the start of the career, but to run from pillar to post for some songs after reaching such a stage is hardly possible.

I would here give some facts. I am aware that you know all these facts, but some may not have been considered by you. Shamshad had about 600 songs in the decade from 1941 to 1950. In the next decade – in which she is supposed to have been finished – she had sung about 550 songs. From 1946 to 1957 continuously she sang more than 50 songs each year. It is well known that there was an upsurge of films and songs from 1946 and after the partition many singers left. Accordingly, there was an upsurge in Shamshad’s songs also for three years of 1948, 49 and 50. I would say despite Naushad deserting her she maintained the average of songs with other MDs. The prime reason for reduction in the number of her Hindi songs from 1958 onwards was mainly due to the fact that she was singing a lot of Panjabi songs in Panjabi films particularly from 1955 to 65. She was the queen there and she was getting more remuneration per song than Hindi films. Persons like Bhatiaji and Arvinder Sharmaji would testify how Hans Raj Behl and Shamshad Begum were a craze in Panjabi films. Panjabi film industry was at its zenith in those days. Why she should agree to be a Bandi in Hindi films when she was Rani of Panjabi films.

The fact you mentioned about the initial struggle of Lata is a myth in my opinion. As I mentioned, there was an upsurge in films and songs from 1946 and there were added opportunities for singers from 1947 due to partition. It can be seen from the fact that from 1941 to 1945, only 438 films were censored, while from 1946 to 1950 a total of 753 films were censored. And traditionally female songs have dominated the Hindi films and this remained so at least till the end of 1950s. So it was very easy for quality female singers to establish themselves. after partition many of the MDs who had their preferences for singers moved to Pakistan and many good MDs started their career and they had no emotional attachments with older singers. In my view whatever struggle Lata had was in monopolising all the major Music Directors. Except that, I dont think she had any struggle.

22 AK April 16, 2015 at 5:46 am

Rakesh Srivastava,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. All her songs you have mentioned with other MDs are my great favourites. I will have to complete Shamshad Begum some day.

23 AK April 16, 2015 at 5:49 am

SSW,
I meant Shaheed of 1948.

24 AK April 16, 2015 at 5:53 am

Hans,
Thanks for your appreciation. Raju Bharatan mentions in ‘Naushadnama’ that this combo gave 62 songs. There is always some counting error, therefore I mention a ballpark figure.

25 AK April 16, 2015 at 5:55 am

Soumya,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

26 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 16, 2015 at 10:00 am

Hans ji,

Thanks for your own views on Shamshad Begum and the ‘struggle’of Lata.
I found them logical and interesting.
I did not know about Shamshad’s this much success in Punjabi films. This is new to me ,thanks for this additional information.

-AD

27 mumbaikar8 April 16, 2015 at 6:12 pm

AK,
Here I am to agree with all.
I agree with you that Shamshad Begum and Rajkumari ought to have a longer career.
I wonder with Ashokji how female singer arena would have been with wider presence .
I agree with Nasreen and SSW about voice character of Shamshad Begum less soft and gentle, (but then how can you explain the disapearance of Rajkumari?)
Like Venkataramanji I was expecting a comparison of Nasushad’s CR’s Shamshad, but you like to surprise and we like surprises.
I agree with Hans over his analysis over Shamshad and Rafi personalities and Lata’s struggle.
Naushad was, I think, a personality who believed in “पानी में रह कर मगरमाछ से बैर नहीं करते” that’s why he dropped Shamshad, still he backed Rafi so much shows that he was absolutely confident about Rafi rising (probably more than Rafi himself).
Applicant for your DBI category?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRfmknmlJEQ

28 SSW April 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Sorry AK , now you know my knowledge of Hindi film song is as sketchy as my knowledge of Hindi films. 🙂

Mumbaikar apropos of Rajkumari and Lata what do you think of this…whether it be situational or not..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2vqn8nWjYg

29 AK April 17, 2015 at 9:54 am

Mumbaikar8,
“Agree with all”! Since when have you become a politician? We like you when you disagree with everyone, and aggressively at that.

The film version of Mohabbat choome jinke haath is a perfect case for DBI. I think the record version was only a Rafi solo.

30 AK April 17, 2015 at 10:04 am

SSW,
I once said something to the effect that there is nothing under the sun that SSW doesn’t know. I still hold the same view. 🙂

You have hit a perfect song to question Mumbaikar8. But don’t you think they wanted to accentuate the difference between the two Nargises – the characters, as well as the happy-sad situation?

31 Hans April 17, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Arunji,
Thanks for your appreciation. I feel honoured that I have been able to add to your knowledge.

As for Shamshad’s Panjabi songs I would like to give here a few samples, which would give an idea of her singing qualities which made her so popular and acceptable.

1. Batti baal ke banere utte rakhni aan,
gali bhul na jave chann mera. – film Bhangra
(Roshni jala ke munder pe rakhti hoon,
kahin mera chand gali na bhool jaye.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbQN06a85LE

2. Mul vikda sajan mil jave,
lai lawan main zind vech ke. – film Bhangra
(Agar mera preetam keemat men bikta ho,
to main apni zindagi bechkar le lungi)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5JpkO7AYqA

3. Bhanwe bol te bhanwe na bol,
ve channa vas ankhiyan de kol. – film Do Lachhiyan
(Chahe mujhse bol chahe na bol,
O chanda bas(rah) ankhon ke paas(samne).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_K7bFrRclM

Shamshad had such a Panjabi impact even in Pakistan that people there started saying that Shamshad sings Panjabi songs better than Noor Jehan. Noor Jehan tried to offset this by recording some of Shamshad songs. Here is a link of Noor Jehan singing ‘batti baal ke’ and losing in comparison.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX3XQwZb21s

32 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 17, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Hans ji,

I heard both the songs and I 100% agree with you about Shamshad being one up on Nor jehan in singing ‘Batti bal ke’.
Shamshad’s punjabi songs seem to be really very melodious. It is not only because of the tune or music,but the josh,energy and emotions she put into the songs. Thanks for opening a new vista for me. Hetherto my exposure to Punjabi songs was only upto few songs sung by Lata and some by Balbir. Frankly I had not much interest in them-may be due to my not understanding the language.
I believe in learning new things always and gleefully accepting new knowledge anytime. It does not make you anyway less capable. In fact one enriches oneself with this.
Thanks once again.
-AD

33 Hans April 18, 2015 at 3:01 am

Arunji,
Thanks for your nice words. I also believe in the same theory. There is no end to learning. I, like you, never hesitate in sharing whatever I know or in asking questions about what I dont know.

1950s and 60s was the golden era for Panjabi films too. After partition, the large number of displaced persons started taking fresh pride in their panjabi culture. Pre-partition Panjab only promoted English and Urdu. After partition their was upsurge in Panjabi films as well as efforts to revive panjabi folk music. Surinder Kaur was one example of selfless zeal for this cause. She left her Hindi film career midway for this cause. She could have a bumper career in panjabi films, but she sang very few songs in panjabi films. Instead she alongwith her sister Prakash Kaur and with the help of her husband took to the cause of revival of panjabi folk music. Initially they spent a lot of their savings for this cause. Later they got help from others. So we see that for some people film careers were not the only goal.

Talking of Shamshad’s panjabi songs here are two links from Jugni for which music was given by Sardul Kwatra, who was another shining star of Panjabi films.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQlMfS4YhBc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Km1THcp32w
The first one ‘o wela yaad kar’ has been used for a number of remixes. The most famous being by Gurdas Maan.

34 gaddeswarup April 18, 2015 at 2:10 pm

I do not know how many piano assisted songs are there by Shamshad Begum outside those for which Naushad was MD. I know one for which S.Rajeswara Rao was MD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwvLc2d1rYY

35 gaddeswarup April 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

I listen to Punjabi songs often even though I do not understand Punjabi. Here is a song I listen to frequently sung by Shamshad Begum and Asha Bhonsle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiXq_bFNTlc

36 Hans April 19, 2015 at 2:12 am

Nasreen started an interesting discussion about Lata’s voice which was seconded by SSW and also partly by Mumbaikar8. AK tried to reason with arguments which were to me correct, but he fell in minority. Nasreen has called Shamshad’s voice fit for older females and also says later that her songs set the foot tapping. I was thinking what she wanted to say and could make nothing out of it. Her facts are also not correct. Heroes/heroines never got the majority of songs as a rule. It is true that in some theme based films that would be the case. But, generally songs were spread among the star-cast. Actually in the play-back era heroes started to get more songs only after the big three started insisting on more songs. In the pre-playback era songs, situations were set according to actors who could sing.

All this propaganda of voice suiting heroine etc has been done on behalf of Lata and most of us have believed that. This was done to cloud the atmosphere where people accused her of monopolising singing. She also told us that Ghulam Haider took her to filmistan people, they turned her away for her thin voice and Ghulam Haider told them blah blah. We also believed that. If she was lapped up by MDs for her virginal sweet voice then why was she turned away from Shaheed.

The truth is that none of the facts is true. There have been many sweet voices before Lata and also after Lata. All kinds of voices existed pre-Lata. Look at this song from Shaheed ‘bachpan ki yaad’.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZybe9hZ21A
Is the voice of Lalita Deulkar any different from Lata’s voice of those times. AK and me discussed the similarity of Nalini Jaywant’s voice with Lata. Manju also had very fine voice. There are also others, I have given just a sample. If Lalita was allowed to sing why was Lata refused. The fact is that Lata has always resorted to such false stories after the death of the concerned people to make her own propaganda. This story told us 3 things. That Lata had to struggle because of her thin voice (which was not the case), that there was no voice born on earth prior to Lata which was her equal and that somebody predicted that everyone would make a bee-line for her.

Prior to Lata no male or female singers tried to allocate songs to other singers. Nor any one insisted on singing only for heroine. Take the case of the two recently discussed films Rattan and Elan. In Rattan Zohrabai sang for the heroine and Amirbai for the dancer, which role was reversed in Elan. It was Lata who started choosing songs for others to sing with the help of MDs who danced to her tunes. Shamshad, Geeta and Asha all were picked for such songs. Though in early phase she had sung very outrageous songs bordering on being double-meaning, later she started saying I dont sing such songs and they suit these three singers better. Her apologists started to club all the three and berate them for singing such songs. Though she continued to sing such songs in the later period also whenever she found them melodious and likely to be popular.

The first sample of her monopolisation we got in Anokha Pyar (again with an MD who just did her wishes), when she recorded all the songs of Meena Kapoor in the name of her getting ill. Everybody knows that songs were first recorded for the film and then the whole crew went to the record company to make the records. How was it that Meena Kapoor was fit for recording songs for the film but not for the record company. If for arguments sake we say that the recordings for the record company were done on a different day. Then also it is not easy to record with another singer because the other singer has to be porperly rehearsed for the recording. It there was time for the rehearsals, then why there was no time to wait for Meena Kapoor getting fit. She must have been suffering from some minor ailment. Meena Kapoor recorded a lot of songs that year and the record nos of her songs tell us that she was recording songs around the same time when she is supposed to be so ill that she could not sing.

SSW raises doubts about Rekha Bhardawaj’s acceptance for heroine. I do not think so. If there has been songs and music like the past her voice would have been received favourably. There are such instances even after the Lata and Asha era. Remember Nikah in 1982. Also in Suraj Sharda provided hits. Asha’s ‘dum maro dum’ has been rendered in thick voice. Usha Mangeshkar took Jai Santoshi Maa to such heights.

37 AK April 19, 2015 at 5:48 am

Hans,
My limited point was that other singers, too, could sing for the leading lady, and it didn’t sound discordant. But that does not take away anything from Lata Mangeshkar and the fact that she was truly exceptional. I would rest my case at that and would refrain from taking such a strident position against her as a person.

The popular history we have been told, or the interesting counter-history you are proposing – neither is based on our direct experience or knowledge. I take them as part of celebrity-hood, without being judgmental either way.

38 SSW April 19, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Hans, my conversation with AK was based on some personal observations and my agreement with Nasreen also follows from a personal idea rather than irrefutable evidence that I can present.
Nasreenactually said that she thought Shamshad’s voice suited a more mature role and was perhapsfeisty. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. It is an opinion.
You also say that her statement that more songs are pictured on the hero/heroine is incorrect. I do not see many Hindi films but the few that I have seen usually consistof the hero/heroine warbling songs of love, separation etc etc with the odd performer in the background singing some philosophical lay. Unlike many listeners on this site I do not really care for the pre-playbackera songs, I find most of them quite staid musically and unimaginative.
But Lata was a principal participant in the playback era so I think my
opinions relate only to that period.
One does not disagree that there were many sweet voices before and after Lata. What I do notknow is whether MDs of that time found that Lata’s voice had something extra that could project their creations better, or whether HMV said her songs sell more and we need her to set the cash registers ringing.
I think she was quite phenomenal as a singer and perhaps struck a certain chord with many people.
Why was Edith Piaf revered in France and Europe and in many ways still is when there wereso many other singers around?

Your arguments seem to based, more on assumptions of political chicanery rather than musical merit and I’m not sure that that can be a complete story.

My favourite MD used Lata in some of the most complex songs he created,in Bengalieven when his wife, a native speaker of that language, was interpreting his tunes quite masterfully.
Why? Maybe she had something extra for a particular idea he had in mind. You can’t get into his head. And he needn’t have used her in Bengali at all.

Lastly on the point of voice texture. The human ear from an evolutionary perspective seemsto be more receptive to frequencies at higher pitches especially in matters of sex selection. It is less threatening more amenable . It is a fact that when people wish to wheedle somethingout of somebody the voice is pitched higher and softer. Even puppies respond to this in training. That is why dog handlers say speak in a soft high pitch voice while saying
“good dog”.
We associate voice depth with power and maturity and youth with a higher pitch and perhaps a degree of instability. This is true of all cultures. Mezzo sopranos and contraltos are rarely used for young heroines they always play supporting parts But it serves men in positions of power as exemplified in this magnificent aria from Mozart’s Die Zauberflote.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvejdHpyofw

Perhaps Lata’s child woman voice of a certain vintage
was more acceptable to listeners and with her undoubted talent provided her an edge.

I think AK we could write a paper using Darwin’s theories how Hindi film song led to the extinction of women with deeper voices. 🙂

So yes Rekha Bharadwaj’s voice may be used for the heroine but it hasn’t been. Asha sang”Dum maro dum” not for the heroine but for a drug addled hero’s sister .

I really don’t think in these arguments that there is a right and a wrong. However no one doubts Lata’s qualities and her influence on the Hindi film female voice is palpable.
Is it a good thing? Perhaps .

I will end with one of my favourite Lata songs composed by her brother. Her voice tempers and enhances the erotic content of Suresh Bhatt’s lyrics.

But first this is a version by another singer that I like a lot with Hridayanath himself playing the harmonium. Her voice is completely different from Lata’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAoi2sV7V5Y

This is the Lata original.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BvLj2KYvCg

39 gaddeswarup April 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Was there not an interruption in Shamshad Begum’s career because of her husband’s death?

40 SSW April 20, 2015 at 7:06 am

As usual I’m sorry for all the typos and bad grammar, words jammed together without spaces in between etc . They still make sense but so other than and obvious “seem to be based on” the rest will stay put. I should edit before I press the submit button but never do.

41 AK April 20, 2015 at 9:47 am

Gadeswarupji,
It seems her husband died very early, in 1955. But two of her main composers, Naushad and C Ramchandra, had already made a decisive shift towards Lata Mangeshkar. OP Nayyar would soon follow suit with Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle. Therefore, that may not be a very major reason for her decline.

42 AK April 20, 2015 at 10:15 am

SSW,
Don’t worry. You were absolutely clear.

I thought I had concluded the debate about Lata Mangeshkar and ‘others’ with my comment #37. Now that it is up again, let me try to state what I understand from Hans’s comments. He seems to be making two points: that Lata Mangeshkar resorted to dirty tricks, and that this had some bearing on her overwhelming dominance. On the first, my difference was more than semantics. There is a difference between saying ‘she did‘ and ‘it is said that she did’.

The second point is a matter of opinion. I see that you, too, and most of us believe that whether she did all that she is accused of, or not, she was truly exceptional. Even without the said manipulations, the situation would have been her and ‘others’. In the Vintage era there were no ‘others’.

While I don’t much lament her decimation of her contemporaries, I do have a romance for the Vintage Era singers. Therefore, the loss of that vocal germplasm makes me sad. But rather than blaming anyone, I take it as one of those things that were there Once Upon A Time, and that were Gone With The Wind. Whether the answer is in Darwin or something else I don’t know. This is an interesting subject for serious study. Why don’t you, as the formidable duo, take it up?

Lots of other things too, related to film music, have become extinct, which you have observed once, such as the arrangers, musicians, the music sittings and rehearsals in the music rooms of MDs.

One evolution has been for the good – the smoothening of the dialogue delivery of the heroines of 1930s and 40s. The evolution of female singing also had something to do with that. What I found interesting and puzzling was that the stilted, artificial and theatrical delivery was more a feature of the heroines than the heroes. This could be an even more interesting and substantive subject for the Warrier Duo.

43 gaddeswarup April 20, 2015 at 11:05 am

AKji, Wikipedia gives a slightly different picture but I do not know how reliable it is. “The well-known later playback singer, Lata Mangeshkar, started to sing when Begum was at the peak of her career, and Begum’s break after her husband’s death boosted Mangeshkar’s career, helping her to be offered high-quality songs. In the early careers of Mangeshkar, as well as her younger sister, Asha Bhosle, between 1944 and 1956, they had often been asked by producers and music directors to imitate Begum’s style of singing, because producers could not afford Begum’s fees….. It was the period between 1958 and 1963, that career of Lata got major boost as music directors started gradually preferring her soft voice,…..”. But I did not read too much on this issue except this and may be, it is one person’s opinion.

44 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 20, 2015 at 1:28 pm

gaddeswarup ji,

The problem with Wiki or even IMDB is that these are open to any individual to edit. One does not require any supporting proof. The result is,often these sites reflect an individual’s views or opinionated statements as authentic informations. While using info from these sites,it is always safe to corroborate facts with other sources or quote “according to wiki/IMDB…” with its information. Perticularly IMDB is very dangerous in providing Filmographies and dates of birth and death.
-AD

45 gaddeswarup April 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Arunkumarji, Agreed. I have no stake in this matter and certainly very little knowledge. I just wondered whether the voluntary break was forgotten in the discussion and mentioned it just to see whether it would jog the memories of more knowledgeable persons.

46 AK April 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Gaddeswarupji,
Adding to what Arunji has said, the Wikipedia is clearly off. As you would have noticed, Lata Mangeshkar had reached her peak around 1950-55, post-that was consolidation of what she had achieved. Geeta Dutt, too, had her best in this period. Asha Bhosle created a storm with Naya Daur in 1957, OPN having already made the switch from Shamshad Begum.

47 mumbaikar8 April 20, 2015 at 6:14 pm

AK,
I agree and disagree with many things Hans said and I agree and disagree with what you say.
I do not agree with you that “stilted, artificial and theatrical delivery was more a feature of the heroines than the heroes”.
I enjoy Saigal singing but I just cannot watch his movies. Ashok Kumar was not different either, the only exceptions was Motilal. Dilip Kumar and Balraj Sahani arrived at the end of the vintage era.
While I do believe in some things that are said about her, I cannot disagree with you that we can accuse her of many things but cannot accuse of disappointing her Mds and her listeners (I would refrain from writing fans because I doubt very much, with the feeling we carry for her, can we qualify to be called her fan? )
I cannot understand music at all, I feel my music and I have never ever felt that she has faltered.
Performing the way she has again and again and again……..not only showcases her talent but speaks volume of her sensibility too, she should be credited for that.
I actually believe that Rafi was equally talented (if not more), I will stick my neck out and say I have doubt about his sensibility.
Would any practical person take ( what we call) “ panga”,( in bambaiya language) with somebody he called” Maharani” for the cause against his own peers?
If her sensibility felt she had to do what she did, may be she had a reason.

Hans,
I have a question for you, do you really believe that Sharda’s marketing gimmick hit Suraj can prove any point?

48 AK April 20, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Mumbaikar8,
The heroes’ dialogue delivery too might have been different from what we consider natural. But there was a distinct difference between the way the hero and the heroines spoke. You would see that between Saigal and Kanan Devi, and Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani/ Leela Chitnis.

We have discussed Lata Mangeshkar enough. I would like to bring the focus back to music, rather than the person.

49 SSW April 21, 2015 at 12:28 am

My favourite song in Mother India is “Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiyya, ab sukh aayo re” where I can sometimes hear only Shamshad Begum to the exclusion of all other singers her clear voice shining through even in the chorus. I read somewhere that this song is considered to be in raga Megh but to me the voicing sounds closer to Madhmad sarang. The scale of both ragas are identical but to me Madhmad sarang is joyous and light and lives in the upper portion of the scale and Megh is expressive in the lower tetrachord and sounds better when sung or played slower. Somebody with more knowledge could comment.

50 Hans April 21, 2015 at 1:39 am

Gaddeswarupji,
#35
The mukhda of the panjabi song you mentioned is translated below
1P. Chali pyar di hawa mastani, te ghund lah gaye kaliyan de
Hindi – chali pyar ki hawa mastani, to ghunghat utar gaye kaliyon ke
English – the sweet air of love has blown away the veils of flower buds
2P. Aj awana he mere dil jani, main raah vekhan galiyan de
Hindi – aaj aana hai mere dil jani ne, main raste dekhun galiyon ke
English – today may beloved is coming, I am looking the way in streets.

#39
Thanks for reminding. I had this in mind but forgot to mention. As AK said Naushad and CR had moved decisively away from Shamshad even before her husband’s death. She has herself told that Mother India was her prior commitment, perhaps due to the fact that Mehboob wanted her for the folk songs. But, OPN perhaps broke up with her during this period of mourning and did not later remember her. She sent gentle feelers to him (specially because his music was special to him based on panjabi folk) but chose to ignore. He later admitted it was an act of ingratitude on his part. The others simply forgot her and she continued with her panjabi songs.

51 Hans April 21, 2015 at 1:44 am

Mumbaikar8,
I had mentioned Sharda as one of the examples of a different voice in response to his statement on Rekha Bhardwaj and not to prove any point. I dont know which marketing gimmick you are talking about. Can you elaborate.

52 Hans April 21, 2015 at 2:09 am

AK
In reply to Mumbaikar8 you have said we should not discuss Lata as a person.

Firstly, I dont think anybody is discussing her as a person. What is being discussed is part of her career. What she did or did not do in personal life is not being discussed here. Whether you agree or not a large number of people believe she adopted unfair and unprecedented means against her fellow singers. Censoring of the mention of those actions would mean the perpetuation of the unfair deal which these singers got. These things are part of a discussion on any blog. Without these the discussions would be dull and dreary. Suppose SDB’s break with Lata and KK is discussed, then it is but natural that the actions of these 3 people are discussed. This blog is better than others because it allows more freedom. Secondly, anecdotes and trivia and life stories which have a bearing even on personal characters of other music personalities have been freely discussed here. So why this restriction in the case of Lata. If somebody says something nasty then you are always at liberty to intervene.

Besides that, the tone of SSW’s reply to my comments needs a reply from me. I would do so only if you permit me.

53 AK April 21, 2015 at 5:59 am

Hans,
As you would have realised I don’t treat any person or anything as a holy cow. Fortunately, people on SoY are well-educated and mature, and don’t need to be censored. It is true that it is impossible to firewall an artiste’s personal life from his or her work. It also sometimes becomes necessary to make a reference to that.

Music is a very emotional subject, and sometimes even if we don’t intend, people may take offence at our comments. We can’t take care of super-sensitive people. We have to be careful that our comments do not appear to be offensive to a normal, liberal person with a healthy sense of humour.

It is only rarely that I had to step in to moderate. It happened in the case of Mukesh. At times, I write side-mails to people, I have earlier written to you, too. There never have been a time when they misunderstood me.

You are yourself extremely knowledgeable and mature. You have surely understood me. There is no censoring even now. You don’t need my permission to comment.

54 gaddeswarup April 21, 2015 at 7:21 am

Arunkumarji (at #44). Just noticed this. May be more reliable knowledge will emerge at least in certain areas. http://historybombaycinema.weebly.com/syllabus.html

55 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

Thanks,Anand ji.

56 Subodh Agrawal April 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

I will get back on ‘Dukh bhare din’ later but a word in passing on Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘dirty tricks’. To my knowledge Lata didn’t send goondas to beat up composers who would give a chance to other female singers or use any other such ‘heavy’ methods. The worst that can be said about her is that she refused to work with a composer if he encouraged others. This threat would have not force, if her merit as a singer was not already well established.

57 Hans April 23, 2015 at 1:46 am

Subodh,
You have quite simplified the case of Lata. But, do you sincerely believe in this theory. You once mentioned you have firmly followed the precept of ‘haseenon se to bas sahab’, which means you know the power of women. I would not go into details, because I dont even talk about these things about Lata even in private with the closest friends.

Take the case of SJ. They used Mukesh, Rafi, Manna Dey, Talat, Hemant and all of them had established their merit as singers. In the first 10 years SJ composed 200 solos out of which 150 were female solos. Out of these 50 male solos all these great male singers could muster just 40. 10 were given to others like KK, Atma, Aparesh Lahiri. Out of the 150, Lata got 145, Shamshad got 1 and the remaining 4 went to Asha. Even out of these 4 Asha songs one was ‘mud mud ke na dekh’ one was in Boot Polish in which Lata was not singing. The remaining two were one each in Shikast and Kismat Ka Khel. Videos of the last two are not available on youtube. So perhaps they did not find a place in the film. Do you think all this was being solely done on the basis of the merits of a singer. If that was so, why SJ lagged behind others and OPN came all of a sudden from nowhere and reached the top. It was at this point, eyes of SJ were opened and they increased the share of Rafi and reduced that of Lata and soon they were on the top.

Take another example. OPN was the only MD against whom a boycott was declared in the film industry. Those leading the tirade against him were Lata and Biswas. There have been a number of instances before and after OPN of MDs replacing other MDs and also singers replacing singers. Biswas himself replaced others and was also replaced by others. But, OPN is the only instance of boycott in hfm and he is the only instance of an MD who did not use Lata.

Nowadays, there is an ad of Wildstone running in the media. The female model comes over to the side of the male model and cuts the thread of his kite with his teeth. What would have happened if a male had done that to his kite.

58 gaddeswarup April 23, 2015 at 5:01 am

Hansji, Both Asha Bhonsle songs (from Shikast and Kismat Ka Khel) are available on YouTube. I found them via http://hindigeetmala.net/movie/kismat_ka_khel.htm
http://hindigeetmala.net/movie/shikast.htm
I enjoyed both of them. Thanks. Thanks also for the translation of the song from Posti. There is a better version from the video of the film.

59 Hans April 23, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Gaddeswarupji,
The songs in your links are both sung by Lata and not by Asha.

60 Richard S. April 24, 2015 at 2:51 pm

AK, I am slowly catching up on your Shamshad Begum posts… I have looked over this one and the C. Ramchandra post, and though I like C. Ramchandra a lot, I have to agree that Shamshad sang her best songs for Naushad.

You have posted from some great soundtracks, including Anokhi Ada, which I love. But the song in that film that I always get stuck on is “Nazar Mil Gayi” (which was also included in the tribute by Upperstall). I can never watch/listen to this song just once:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmFNS9czo7s

I am glad that you didn’t stick to solos in your selection (and didn’t choose to save them for another time), because I think Shamshad Begum really did often stand out in songs that she sang with other people, and I agree about her “towering” in “Door Koi Gaye.” There is another Naushad song that I always think of as an outstanding Shamshad Begum song, even though she sang with Uma Devi and a chorus in that one… It’s from a Suraiya-starrer that I don’t think anyone mentioned – that is, Dillagi – and the song is “Meri Pyari Patang.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZpvNPqS638

Anyway, I guess that is all I wanted to say for now… Except, thanks for the reference re. Azurie. I think you always give me too much credit! If there was any exhaustive research in that post, it was by the people who commented, certainly not by me.

61 AK April 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm

Richard,
In Anokhi Ada, her duets, too, with Mukesh and Surendra are outstanding. Meri pyari patang is my great favourite. Thanks for mentioning it.

I know Azurie is a combined effort, so is Cuckoo and her husband, you are currently working on. I hope I am not embarrassing you if I say that given your background, what you are doing is amazing. And I have a serious thought to do a post on you sometime.

62 Subodh Agrawal April 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Reverting to ‘Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiya’ and SSW’s thoughts on that. Frankly I am not able to say anything definite on that. The two ragas do sound very similar. The joyous mood, however, would not rule out one in favour of the other. My approach to ragas is more intuitive than formal – if hearing a song evokes the mood and feel of an established composition in a raga, I take it as an example of that raga. Using this approach on the following four compositions – two in Megh by Ustad Amir Khan and one each in Madhmad Sarang by Veena Sahsrabudhe and Mallikarjun Mansur I would go for Megh. Hear them and make your own judgement:

https://youtu.be/ZMRbLdo7jWI
https://youtu.be/An28rtPaI6M

https://youtu.be/GpFwdgo1uiU
https://youtu.be/WqG958nK97w

The Veena Sahasrabudhe piece however strongly suggests that another song credited as Megh – ‘Kahan se aye badra’ from ‘Chashm-e buddoor’ – is actually Madhmad Sarang.

63 gaddeswarup April 25, 2015 at 1:27 pm

For whatever it is worth, I too go along with AKji in the opinion that the most memorable songs of Shamshad Begum are for Naushad. But C.Ramachandra has a big edge over many others in his versatility.

64 AK April 25, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Subodh,
Kahan se aye badra does evoke the mood of Veena Susrabudhe’s Madhmad Saarang, but I have read it somewhere described as Brindavani Saarang. How different are they? That also evokes a similar mood.

65 AK April 25, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Gaddeswarupji,
Compared to CR, Naushad-Shamshad does sound superior to me. It would be interesting to compare with other composers, say OPN, Ghulam Mohammad, Govind Ram and Ghulam Haider.

66 maheshmamadapur April 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm

AK ji,
In terms of popularity, Shamshad Begum will always be associated with Naushad, CR, SBD and OPN. However for technicalities, melody and vintage songs other MD’s as you have rightly mentioned will very much be included.
As far as superiority comparison with CR is concerned, Naushad will win hands down. ( However this may not be the case with Lata Mangeshkar if we consider only these two composers, since there are ample songs of Lata with both and it will be extremely difficult to arrive at a conclusion)

67 SSW April 25, 2015 at 5:56 pm

Subodh thank you very much for your opinion, I shall listen to the clips you provided later. To me as a child “kahan se aaye badra” sounded quintessentially Megh. Madhmad Sarang was of course typified by “Aa laut ke aaja”. Also my exposure to Madhyamavati in Carnatic muddles me somewhat as the usages are different in the genres. There is an interesting speech by Pandit Ramashreya Jha where he expounds on the similarities and differences.
I will take the liberty of pasting the link here though doubtless you would have already heard it.
http://www.parrikar.org/music/sarang/jha_sarangspeak.mp3
It has always been interesting idea to me as to how our ears find pentatonic scales so soothing.
AK , Brindavani Sarang has a shudh Nishadh in the ascent whereas Megh and Madhmad Sarang uses only the komal Nishadh. You would probably hear Madhmad Sarang in the descent depending on how the artiste chose to highlight it.

68 Richard S. April 26, 2015 at 9:39 am

AK, thank you for your continuing flattery. 🙂 There are U.S.-based bloggers and YouTube people other than me who have actually gained more extensive knowledge of classic Indian cinema and/or related music and dance, who also started without any Indian background and possibly less exposure to Indian culture in their lives (certainly with less in their geographic areas than what I’ve had in New York City). I thought of mentioning them and detailing what I know, but I don’t know if I should be discussing their histories for them. 🙂 Anyway, it would make for a long post. So, this is all just to say that I don’t think I should be considered unique in this regard or all that “amazing.”

I AM assuming that your mention of my background refers to the fact that it’s not at all Indian. But it could be something else… Like the fact that I was a part-time rock critic for a couple of decades and was a punk rocker in my youth.

Anyway, I am glad that you like what I am doing on my blog and appreciate that I have learned some things. If you want to do a post about me, I have no objection to that!

Moving onto another subject… I have read the comments here in a little more detail, especially the parts about certain singers’ film careers ending sooner than they might have had it not been for the arrival of Lata and conscious choices by music directors such as Naushad. I guess this is true in some cases…

Though, like many people, I think that Noor Jehan would have lasted in Hindi films very well had she not gone to Pakistan after partition. (But she was so good, maybe she would have continued to determine the trend, and Lata would have had to continue imitating her!)

Also, a note regarding Zohrabai… I have read in a few places that she consciously ended her singing career, herself, earlier than she might have because she wanted to devote more time to helping her daughter, Roshan Kumari, in her endeavors as a Kathak dancer. So, as with Shamshad Begum, maybe her departure was not entirely due to changing trends or the choices of fickle music directors and their desire to replace her with someone else (whether Lata or Shamshad).

69 SSW April 26, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Richard, regarding your comment on Noor Jehan continuing to determine the trend, perhaps that would have happened only if the Punjabi school of MD’s had continued to remain in the ascendancy. However the winds had begun to move in another direction, and while I do rate Naushad he wasn’t from that school, nor was he in my opinion, path breaking after 1950. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened especially with Lata not being hampered by acting or a family and the Bengali school coming into Bombay, plus Shankar Jaikishan emerging and C Ramachandra continuing to be in the mix. On the imitation trend , I think that would have stopped fairly quickly. The newer generation of music directors had no reason to continue with the styles of singing established in the 1940s.

70 Arunkumar Deshmukh April 26, 2015 at 6:11 pm

AK ji,

I first came across Richard ji’s Blog few years back and since then have been a regular visitor there. I dont cease to wonder about him and the passion with which he runs his posts and the Blog. Every visit to his Blog is a lesson in learning so much as the Blog visitors are quite knowledgeables and their comments and Richard ji’s replies are so full of information that I feel I have yet to learn so much.
It is surely worthwhile to do an article on him and his wonderful Blog.

-AD

71 gaddeswarup April 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

There are a few more such including one on dances by Cassidy Behling where some of the posts are like research articles. My impression is that most of these run out of steam in five years or so. On the other hand, there are some who provide information, tapes, correct the blogs and seem to have much longer staying power like Messers Arunkumar Deshmukh, Surjit Singh, Tommy Dan etc. may be a post can be written about their contributions, links to where they are available

72 Richard S. April 27, 2015 at 1:47 pm

First, an answer to Arunkumar (whom, though I am not accustomed to it, I feel I must address as Arunkumar ji 🙂 )… Thank you for your nice words – much appreciated!

Gaddeswarup mentioned one of the blogs I was thinking about… Cassidy aka Minai lives in Utah, and she did not spend most of her life in a place where there were a lot of people anywhere nearby who had an Indian background. In recent years, she has made the acquaintance of some South Indian people who probably helped her with her research, but I think she was well on her way with her blog before that happened.

Swarup, I am unclear from what you wrote whether you think my blog is the type that runs out of steam after five years. 🙂 I have slowed down a little, but that’s partly because I have been distracted by the temptations of Facebook. (It was never my intention to be, but somebody else started my account for me in 2012, and I have been trapped since then.)

I began my blog all the way back in the summer of 2007, but it was intended as, mostly, a contemporary “global” music blog (though with emphasis on South Asian sounds) and didn’t really start leaning heavily toward Indian films until the spring of 2008; then it gradually became more and more focused on Golden Age and Vintage Hindi films (and some Tamil films) during the rest of that year. I changed the name to Dances on the Footpath at the beginning of 2009 (from something that I would rather not explain right now). So, that’s maybe six and a half, seven, or almost eight years, depending on when one considers it to have become the blog that it is now.

And I think I still have a lot of steam left. 🙂 One interesting thing that has happened is that although the frequency of posts has decreased, there is a larger amount of information and writing in general going into comments to old posts (in exchanges between me and a few other people), and the blog remains livelier than ever in those comment sections. In fact, sometimes I think that is where the heart of the blog is now.

Well, Gaddeswarup’s comment has prompted me to go into the details that I was going to skip before . . .

Regarding backgrounds… Tom Daniel aka Tommydan told me during an exchange in 2008 or so that he really had no Indian people living around him (in Hawaii) and had embarked on his own YouTube project without interaction with an Indian community (although he had been to India and other countries in South Asia many years before). Of course, that changed a lot, too, but he was another one I was thinking of who came from surroundings that were maybe even less Indian than mine. And there are quite a few more…

Anyway, it almost goes without saying that Arunkumar Deshmukh and Surjit Singh contribute a lot online, but I don’t think they qualify as being surprising in light of their backgrounds in the way that AK was talking about me. 🙂

And, by the way, if we’re also talking about people with Indian backgrounds, Madhulika Liddle actually seems to be picking up more steam in her blog Dustedoff after well over six years.

73 AK April 27, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Richard,
Zohrabai Ambalewali’s change in priorities might have had something to do with her fading. But, she would have faced tougher situation even otherwise, because her voice had that most distinct tinge, which made it ‘un-leading lady’ type. However, the personal factors do not seem to be the reason in the case of Shamshad Begum, she was done in because of the Lata-Mangeshakr factor (this is not to suggest that she had any hand in it).

On your Noorjehan-Lata Mangeshkar speculation, we had gone over it many times, and finally we agreed to disagree. But I can’t let your conclusion go unanswered. Besides what SSW says, please consider the following:
1. Noorjehan might have continued acting for 15 years more in Pakistan, but in India, in the face of Madhubala, Nargis, and later Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala, she had no career as the leading lady. I hope I am not offending you, if I say that, to me, she looked like the mother of Dilip Kumar in Jugnu (1947). Thus, 50% of her USP was gone.

2. Lata Mangeshkar’s Noorjehan-tinge was gone as early as 1950-51, and that made her great. With no Noorjehan around, she could have merrily continued her ‘Noorjehan-imitation’, if that was all there to her, and if that was the secret of success. While she could outgrow Noorjehan, could Noorjehan have outgrown Noorjehan? I doubt very much. Noorjehan limited to Punjabi-Urdu-style-Noorjehan would have found the going very tough in the face of Lata Mangeshkar. I did a long piece on Lata Mangeshkar versus Noorjehan, which you have probably seen. I concluded that by saying that the question is not what would have happened to Lata Mangeshkar if Noorjehan had stayed on, but what would have happened to Noorjehan if she had stayed on.

But I should acknowledge you have made your point in quite a mild manner. The celebrated novelist-cum-journalist Khushwant Singh, whose column was titled “With malice to all”, had said Lata Mangeshkar would have been roaming on the streets of Bombay, with a begging bowl in her hand, had Noorjehan stayed on. We have a lot of people with pre-partition romance about the old Punjab, and everything associated with that.

74 gaddeswarup April 27, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Richard, no disrespect meant. I was extrapolating from an observation that I had about Indian research institutes many of which started during Nehru’ time. Many did well for 25 years or so and slowly outside atmosphere like regional and other attitudes crept in and also things like promotions, increments careers etc. on the whole India produced scientists of very high calibre before the institutional set up. I wondered how long things last when outside circumstances were somewhat alien to the goals of the institutions. Of course blogs are different and the Internet era, there is mich more information and communication. Still I think that there may be similar phenomenon. I felt that is what happened to one of my favourite blogs memsaab’s. The initial enthusiasm and learning carries blogs for a while. Then there seems to be staleness, artificial constructs and classifications. Luckily, when blog owners are tolerant, comments keep them going for a while more. There is no real research except what is easily available by Google search except in some blogs like Minai’s. That is my vague feeling but I am not really into music or a deep student of blogs. If I feel that I am learning new things or finding new nice songs I go on and when it stops I seem to loose interest.

75 Richard S. April 30, 2015 at 1:14 pm

It’s interesting that although I devoted the smallest part of my comment two comments back to the subject of Noor Jehan and what would have happened with both her and Lata if she stayed in India, this was the part that was responded to most extensively by far. I guess it’s still a subject that people like to debate about (and I have seen both sides argued in different blogs)… Actually, though, it is not one that concerns me all that much.

At their respective peaks, Noor Jehan and Lata really are my two favorite film singers, so I am happy to see either praised. But though they are my two favorites, the order in which I favor them seems to be the reverse of people’s order here. Noor Jehan was the best to my ears. She also became a great legend in Pakistan, much beloved all along (from what I can tell) even if she did actually go in and out of fashion as a film singer. So, it’s not as though she went unappreciated… As to whether she could have gotten much greater global glory had she stayed in the Indian film industry, it’s not something I see any point in debating about (and thank goodness I don’t get into debates as often in my blogging about Hindi films as I have done writing about politics, etc.). So, I will be happy to retreat on this point.

Regarding Zohrabai, I wanted merely to relate a fact that I thought some people may not have known about – that, at least according to several sources, she did make that choice to leave playback singing in part to help her daughter become one of the most renowned Kathak dancers in Indian cinema. (I would like to find out more about that. Did Zohrabai somehow facilitate her daughter’s famous breakthrough as the performer in what may be the most highly praised dance in Indian cinema (and deservedly so), the Kathak scene in Satyajit Ray’s Jalsaghar? But maybe I am going off on a bit of a tangent here…)

I wanted to answer Swarup’s last comment, too… I think Greta-Memsaab’s blog stalled after about seven years… Actually, I had an exchange with her in which we talked about a possible seven-year something (itch? jinx?)… I also remarked that in the seventh year of my blog, I had begun to get slower about certain things. We both seemed to share a difficulty in watching whole films as much as we used to (though I think hers was more serious). And after several years of intensive viewing, some things in the old Indian films do start to look a little too familiar, etc. But I have watched some films since then, and I have always been just as happy to turn my attentions to music, dance, general themes, etc., rather than reviewing films. I think Memsaab was more dependent on the film review structure, which maybe was a factor in what happened. But I think that Greta-Memsaab also seems to know how to make the right connections with people (in ways that I don’t) and seems to be doing so outside of her blog, too, facilitating collaborations in that other area that Swarup talks about. I could say more, but maybe it would be better to do so in e-mail outside of Songs of Yore.

76 tpk June 23, 2016 at 7:48 pm

I have read with great interest the various comments.No doubt lataM was highly competent and could handle complex songs.But as she sang too many songs,her voice became monotonous to hear.Even a Sharada was a welcome change!She sang a lot of high pitched songs and sometimes could not handle low notes after high notes.e.g.in jaago mohan pyare.She,as per popular perception, also used politics/blackmail to prevent other singers from getting songs.All said and done, she was used extensively by the best music directors and has the largest number of beautiful songs to her credit

77 AK June 24, 2016 at 12:34 am

tpk,
Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your comments.

78 tpk June 26, 2016 at 5:40 pm

AKji,
Thanks for your gracious welcome.

79 mohammad khan October 6, 2016 at 3:55 am

sir,i am looking for a song of Shamshad Begum <o souey houay man main khushi ki leher aye,the music dir was Noushad and I think it from 1940s, a short clip of this song is on youtube the video name is can someone please help me with name of movie,thanks

80 mohammad khan October 6, 2016 at 3:59 am

the short clip of this song is already is uploaded in a video by the name of Melody continue Noushad,thanks

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