My post on Shankar-Jaikishan’s dance songs for Lata Mangeshkar generated a great deal of enthusiasm. I think the readers were with me that these songs are of exceptional quality and their orchestration and picturisation are very unique to SJ. KS Bhatiaji who has a great liking for SJ, matching mine for Naushad, suggested that their female duets and the standard male-female duets, too, have outstanding dances, and asked whether I had any plans of writing on them. On female dance duets, I am entirely with him, because a large number of songs pop up in my mind, which are absolutely melodious, and their dance rhythm is equally pleasing. The songs I refer to are not the ones in which you have to storm up the floor, but your heart and the whole being sways to joy in bliss – the feeling of Jhoome jhoome dil mera.
On their male-female duets, my first thought is that I don’t instantly recall songs which I can put at a special pedestal, compared to songs by other composers, for example even an unheralded composer like Chitragupt. But I would be open to the readers’ views on this and looking at it more closely. We are going to have more of SJ in the year.
But, thanking Bhatiaji for the timely reminder, I continue my series on SJ by paying my tribute to them with their superlative female dance duets (which includes songs by more than two female singers, too).
1. Are koi jaao ri piya ko bulaao ri by Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar and Meena Mangeshkar from Patrani (1956), lyrics Shailendra
A newly-wed Vyjanathimala is being teased by her sahelis, asking someone to call for the gori’s piya. Those were the days when wedding songs had not been overtaken by furious Bhangra beats. An absolutely mesmerizing song by the three Mangeshkar sisters. It is such dance songs which make SJ special to me. I start this post with my top favourite in this genre.
2. Kar gaya re kar gaya mujhse jadoo sanwaria by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Basant Bahar (1956), lyrics Shailendra
I had mentioned in my post on SJ’s songs for Manna Dey that Basant Bahar was their Baiju Bawra. Though the latter has acquired an iconic status, and Basant Bahar could not match its success, it had absolutely superb songs. Here the two rival Mangeshkar sisters jell perfectly to give one of their best duets. The song belongs to a unique class of happy-sad duets – Nimmi lip-synching Lata Mangeshkar seems to have been betrayed, Kumkum joyously dancing as her love is on the upswing, Bharat Bhushan is torn in between. The melody, rhythm, and Kumkum’s dancing make it an unforgettable song. We had earlier discussed a number of happy-sad duets in another context. The readers may recall one such: Betaab hai dil dard-e-mohabbat ke asar se by Suraiya-Zohrabai Ambalewali from film Dard (1947).
3. Aji chale aao tumhein aankhon se dil mein basaya by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Halaku (1956), lyrics Shailendra
The two great Mangeshkar sisters combine again in this wonderful dance duet, now based on West Asian music. The two lead dancers, Helen and Minoo Mumtaz, are among the most renowned dancers of Hindi films.
4. Manbhawan ke ghar jaye gori by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Chori Chori (1956), lyrics Shailendra
Nineteen fifty-six is an amazing year for Shankar-Jaikishan. Scoring for one memorable film is an achievement. Here SJ pour out one outstanding score after another. And, they also give superb female dance solos and duets in these films. The first four songs in this post are from 1956. You still have to reckon with New Delhi and Rajhath which had several great songs. Nargis in wedding fineries is conflicted because her meeting with Raj Kapoor has changed her views about her earlier infatuation for Pran. But, oblivious of her dilemma, the famous Sai-Subbulakshmi sisters dance to this outstanding Lata-Asha duet. The readers may recall they were the dancers in Aplam chaplam in Aazaad (1955), too. Sai (also spelt as Sayee) and her sister Subbulakshmi were trained in Bharatnatyam and also performed Kathak and folk style dance. They were the most famous dance duo of Tamil and Hindi films in the 50s and 60s, renowned for their amazing synchronization, agility and springing leg movements. Not much was known about them besides their dances in these two films. But we are lucky to have a good deal of information on the sisters thanks to several bloggers, especially Cinema Nritya Gharana.
5. Bechain dil khoi si nazar by Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Dutt from Yahudi (1958), lyrics Shailendra
SJ now change tack to compose in a very different style to another set of dancers, Cuckoo and Helen, who were at the top in different eras. We have seen a generational shift in music, such as Shamshad Begum to Lata Mangeshkar in 1949 (Patanga). A similar shift has taken place in dance from Azurie (30s-40s) to Cuckoo (40s-50s) to Helen (50s through 70s). Thus, you have this fascinating dance duet with a newcomer Helen and her idol Cuckoo. Readers would remember, the year 1958 was Helen’s breaking big with Mera naam chin chin chu (Howrah Bridge, OP Nayyar).
6. Kya hua ye mujhe kya hua by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai (1960), lyrics Shailendra
Raj Kapoor’s message films were heavily clothed in music and dance. This film set in the backdrop of reformation and surrender of the dacoits of Chambal ravines is remembered more for its outstanding songs and dances. The sardar’s daughter Padmini has fallen in love hook, line and stinker with the simpleton, Raju, who has landed in their midst – she can’t figure out what has happened to her. Shailendra is a master of penning simple lyrics perfectly fitting the situation.
7. Koi ayega ayega ayega by Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle from Professor (1962), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
As Kalpana joins the local belles in dancing and singing, speculating that someone would come, Shammi Kapoor walks in.
8. Naach re man badkamma by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Raj Kumar (1964), lyrics Shailendra
From classical to West Asian to tribal style dance song, SJ do it all. I guess ‘badkamma’ is a Telugu word, a reference to Shankar’s roots in Andhra Pradesh.
9. Chhoone na dungi main haath re by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Zindagi (1964), lyrics Shailendra
Another fascinating synchronized dance duet by two unknown dancers in the style of Sai sisters, performing on the occasion of the wedding between Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayanthimala. Raj Kumar’s arrival unsettles her in spite of his greetings and genuine good wishes, and she tells him what the ladies have told the third person in innumerable Hindi films – if he really meant her happiness, the best he could do was to vanish from her life.
10. Jab ishq kahin ho jata hai by Asha Bhosle and Mubarak Begum from Arzoo (1965), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
Those days, the girls in love were marked out; Sadhana’s friends in the hostel can’t help teasing her and trying to draw her out from her brooding. Now SJ compose the dance song in qawwali style with rhytmic clapping.
11. Ankhon ankhon mein kisi se baat hui by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Jaanwar (1965), lyrics Shailendra
In this wild Shammi Kapoor film, you have this traditional style mujra duet picturised on the dancers Rani (lip-syching Lata Mangeshkar) and Madhumati (lip-synching Asha Bholse). Shammi Kapoor is doing what he does best, disguised as a nawab, with his retainer Rajendranath in tow.
12. Jabse laagi tose nazariya by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle from Shikar (1968), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
This dance duet came about when SJ were in decline. But they manage to compose a very melodious duet picturised on Asha Parekh and Bela Bose dancing a tribal dance.
13. Naacho gaao nacho (chorus) from Amrapali (1966), lyrics Shailendra
I end this post with an exceptional dance song. Amrapali is based on the traditional story of Vaishali’s Royal Courtesan, Amrapali, who falls in love with the enemy Magadh king, Ajatshatru (Sunil Dutt), hiding injured in her home. There could not have been a better person to play the eponymous lead role than Vyjayanthimala, who was a trained classical dancer. SJ show their mettle in composing classical based score with all superb songs, though the movie was not a great success. This must be a unique song with no lead singer. Shailendra wrote it especially as a group song, and SJ composed another masterpiece. Unfortunately, I could not find any video of this song. It would be great if some reader has downloaded its video, which I can upload and embed.