Shankar-Jaikishan’s female dance duets

May 29, 2016

Aji chale aaoMy 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.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard S. May 29, 2016 at 11:36 am

AK, what a splendid list! It is almost perfect. But I would like to suggest one more, Asha and Lata singing for the Vajifdar Sisters in Mayur Pankh:

2 Anil Kane May 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm

AK ji,

Splendid list, Sir.

I too missed the Mayurpankh duet. Yeh barkha bahar sautaniya ke dwar na jaa more sanware piya..

3 AK May 29, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Richard, Anil Kane
Thanks a for your appreciation and for mentioning the Mayurpankh duet. It is noteworthy for its mujra in a tradition which treated it as a high art. It has all the elements: sit-down performance, followed by slow dance with ghazal in recital style, culminating into fast dance.

4 Dinesh K Jain May 29, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Thanks, AK, for another engrossing and enlightening presentation and a scintillating listing.

5 AK May 29, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

6 Naresh P. Manksd May 29, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Engrossing discussion, as always, on a subject which is itself very intetesting. I am sure it will get more and more interesting with comments adding still more value, as always.

7 AK May 29, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Naresh P Mankad,
Welcome back to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation.

8 gaddeswarup May 30, 2016 at 4:56 am

AK Ji, Just curious about the origin of twin dances. These, with both female dancers, seem to popular in Tamil films, many with Travancore sisters before they were introduced in Hindi films Then Minai has some photos of early twin dancers

9 AK May 30, 2016 at 10:30 am

Thanks for the very interesting link from Minai. I see she has also mentioned your name. Obviously, besides mathematics and other things, you are also deeply into dances. Her focus does not seem to the origin of ‘twin’ (versus solo), but more on identifying the ‘dowry dancers’ and early Devdasi dancers in general. Coming to your precise question about the origin of ‘twin’ female dances, my guess is there must be some references in mythology. Indra Sabha had several exquisite beauties to entertain guests, such as Menaka, Urvashi and Rambha. It is possible they danced in pairs.

10 Richard S. May 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm

If you search Minai’s blog specifically for “twin dancers,” you’ll find a little more:

11 gaddeswarup May 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm

AKJi at @9 I have been taking interest in things outside mainly after retirement in 2005., though I have enjoyed film songs since 1940s. Perhaps because of research background, I start asking questions though I do not have much background in these things. Minai and Richard blogs were the first where I started asking questions and then yours. May be because of my age (75), people have been generally tolerant and answering my questions though I have not always been diplomatic.

12 Jignesh Kotadia May 30, 2016 at 1:31 pm

great theme AKji..
too happy with seeing ARE KOI JAAO RE on the top.. since this song is my top favorite since more than a decade !! heard first time in bhule bisre..and the whole music of PATRANI ….. myyy ggod !!! no words..

SJ are almost competitionless in this women fest songs..
adding two more songs of this favorites as well..

Baabul hum tere angna ki chidiya, do din yahan sau din ghar paraye (college girl 1960)

aaha le gayi
ho jiya le gayi
chhavi sundar salone gopaal ki
ho man bhayi surat nand laal ki
(jwaala, 1971)
songs of Jwaala are recorded well amidst the golden era but the film released too late.

13 Jignesh Kotadia May 30, 2016 at 1:43 pm

when i heard song ARE KOI JAAO RE on radio.. the announcer had announced Meena Mangeshkar’s name as Meena Khadikar. AKji, any detail about it ?

14 Ashok M Vaishnav May 30, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Female – Female Dance Duets is indeed a very unique facet of SJ’s music repertoire.
AKji has taken quite a representative set of songs here.

I am sure, as the discussion progresses, we will have a full taste of vast variety of songs in this category.

Special types of Male- Male as well as Female- Female duets, of SJ, as well as other music directors is certainly a very challenging subject. I am sure SoY readers will keep providing enough inputs to AKji to enable him to carve out regular post(s) on the subject.

15 AK May 30, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for dropping in. I should have mentioned your name, too, for bringing the research about Sai Sisters to the fore. It is good that Minai has given link to your blog which has excellent discussion about the sisters. Let me give its direct link.

Mr Gaddeswarup’s query is about the origin of ‘twin’ dances. I am just making an educated guess that the earliest references would be in our ancient texts (epics and puranas) and, later, classical Sanskrit literature (especially Kalidas).

16 N Venkataraman May 30, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Thanks for another interesting and informative post and wonderful selection of songs, which I feel are the most representative.
Assiduous searching may result in another 15-20 such songs. Most of them would not stand up to the songs posted here. Nevertheless, I would like to post two more songs.

Aaj aaye re banke more saiyyan by Usha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, film Pyar Mohabbat (1966), lyrics Shailendra

Pike hum tum jo chale by Usha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, film Gumnaam (1965), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri

17 N Venkataraman May 30, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Sorry. Here is the correct link to the Gumnaam song

18 AK May 30, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Welcome back to SoY and thanks for your appreciation. You were missed. Babul hum tore angina ki chidiya is a fabulous song. Thanks for mentioning it. However, since it has one dominant voice (Lata Mangeshkar), therefore, I would put it in my first post which was on SJ’s dance songs for Lata Mnageshkar. You may have to catch up with the earlier posts if you have not been following.

Aa ha le gayi ho jiya le gayi was new to me. It has surely the flavour of 50s/early 60s. Thanks. Here is its link.

HFGK mentions Meena Mangeshkar. Wikipedia mentions Usha Mangeshkar was the youngest sister of Lata Mangeshkar and Meena ‘Khadilkar’. Obviously, she was married to a Khadilkar.

19 AK May 30, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Ashokiji, Venkataramanji,
SJ do seem to have special talent for female dance songs (both solos and duets). This is probably due to Shankar’s background in tabla and dholak. It was generally believed that SJ had informal division of work – Shankar specialising in classical based songs, pairing with Shailendra, and Jaikishan in popular fast-paced songs pairing with Hasrat Jaipuri. We see predominance of Shailendra in the dance songs.

Both the songs you have added are very nice. Aaj aye ri baanke more sainya is somewhat distinct from general female dance duets. There is intense rivalry in this dance, whereas most of the great dance duets are in perfect synchronisation and harmony.

20 Anu Warrier May 31, 2016 at 3:42 am

Not one of SJ’s greatest scores – not even anywhere near their best – but the dance-off was great.

Muqabla humse na karo from Prince It adds Rafi too, so I suppose it won’t fit your criteria.

21 AK May 31, 2016 at 7:07 am

I had only ‘heard’ this song. Now that I have also seen it, the dance duet between Vyjayanthimala and Helen is superb. This fits in the present theme, though the song is nowhere their best I have included in this post.

22 Arunkumar Deshmukh May 31, 2016 at 1:25 pm

AK ji and Jignesh , ( no ji added, as per our pact.)

MEENA KHADIKAR ( not Khadilkar) is her name after marriage.


23 Jignesh Kotadia May 31, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Akji.. thanks .. thats why i m digging deep into 70’s only to search such songs which have golden era flavor..And i have gathered many.

Arunji…thanks for info…and also for addressing me properly 🙂

24 Jignesh Kotadia May 31, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Akji there is one more song which suits the theme…from PARDE KE PEECHHE (1971)

Teen kanwariyan
Teen kanwariyan
Haathon men mehndi laga de koi
Doli me aake bitha de koi

only third and last time SHAMSHAD BEGUM has sung for SJ in this song.

25 N Venkataraman May 31, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Akji (#9), Gaddeswarupji (#9)
It seems there are references to Uravashi, Rambha, Menaka and Tilottama in Puranas. Bhavishya Purana mentions that a competition was organized by Indra to ascertain, who among the four Apsaras, was the most beautiful dancer. Urvashi and Rambha were a class apart from the other two dancers, Menaka and Tilottama. Subsequently Urvashi and Rambha danced against each other, but Indra could not decide who among the two was a better dancer. ………………………….
Again in Matsya Purana, when Pururava rescued Urvashi from the hands of a demon (who had abducted her) and restored her to Indra, Indra was delighted and asked Bharata to organize a dance performance where Urvashi, Rambha and Menaka participated. I am not sure about veracity of these fables. Puranas as we know them in their present form were composed during the Gupta-Vakataka period. As per historians, they were revised and re-written with new interpretation.
Evidence of twin female dancers, in palace dance scene, can be found in the paintings of Badami caves (6th century AD). The paintings in the Garbhagriha walls of Brahadeswara temple (11th century AD) too depict twin female dancers.

26 AK May 31, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Thanks a lot for this information. Some traditional scholars try to ascribe historicity to Purana, but that is borne more out of desire to claim greater antiquity to our known history. They should be treated more as mythology.

27 gaddeswarup May 31, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Many thanks for the information at #25, particularly from the second paragraph. I made a cursory check for such information from sculptures and paintings but missed them. Both seem to be from the south. Are there any examples from the north? Thanks again for the information and specific names using which I looked at a few of them

28 arvindersharma June 1, 2016 at 12:18 am

Once again an excellent post and a theme which is complementary to Shankar Jaikishan’s dance solos, all my very favorite songs.
The only complaint being that you’ve hardly left any songs for us contributors, but Richard S, Anu Ji, Venkataraman Ji and dear Jignesh have come up with some amazing songs. When I saw your post notification on Facebook I was sure that you would avoid the triad song from Patrani and the Geeta Dutt duet from Yahudi and I would be to post them. The only solace for me is your change of taste (Yahudi song I mean, or was it suggested by Bhatia Ji).
That SJ have given both quantity and quality in this genre is a fact beyond doubt.
The only composers in the earlier times to come anyway near to them, only in quality and not quantity, were C Ramchandra and Roshan. Both of them have some of the best melodious duets. The third MD, who has composed both in quantity and quality, the dance duets according to my opinion was Chitragupta.
Now one song I’ll be posting, which is a great favorite, and thankfully it has escaped everyone’s attention
Antar mantar jantar se maidaan liya hai maar by Lata and Usha from Rajhath

29 ksbhatia June 1, 2016 at 12:25 am

AK ji ;
A perfect ten for the most loved duets of SJ’s dance numbers . It will be difficult to add such songs to the listed ones . Still I will try to dig some in continuation of the above songs .

Here is one to set the ball rolling….

Antar mantar jantar se……Lata, Usha……Rajhath…..

30 arvindersharma June 1, 2016 at 12:31 am

Bhatia Ji
I will have to consider myself lucky enough to be able to share this Lovely song with you at the same time
Great thinking alike Sir

31 ksbhatia June 1, 2016 at 12:34 am

Arvinder ji;
What a coincidence .Before I clicked…. submit… you had already posted the song minutes before. Yes I agree the cream of songs have already been posted by AK ji and very little is left for us to contribute unless more variety is added like……..songs by male singers for female [ or group ]dancers to sway to SJ’s tunes .

32 AK June 1, 2016 at 1:05 am

Arvinder Sharmaji,
I am happy that I proved you wrong. But why should you have any doubt that Yahudi song is not my favourite, or Patrani song would not be my top favourite? Thanks for adding Antar mantar jantar. Dance duets (female) by other composers is worth exploring.

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

33 ksbhatia June 2, 2016 at 2:11 pm

AK ji, Arvinder ji,

Patrani song is a melodious duet that deserve to be in top position . Yes , whenever I listen to Yahudi song my mind goes to another fast paced number , a solo by Lata ji ……Baat baat pe rootho na……from Seema . The rhythm, orchestration and pace is magical and quite identical to Yahudi song .

34 N Venkataraman June 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Here are few more example that I could dig out.
Evidence of twin female dancers can also be found in the Jamnagar-Kalpasutra paintings (13th-14th century),
Paintings of dancing girls at the Baz Bahadur’s palace at Malwa from the ‘Akbarnama’, (Mughal Paintings 1561),
Pair of dancing girls performing a Kathak dance,( Mugha Paintingsl-17th century)at the British Library, London.
Examples of solo, duet and collective dances can also be found in the cave paintings of Pachmarhi.

35 Hans June 7, 2016 at 2:30 am

I have also gone through your other article on SJs dance songs for Lata, though have not read all comments. I always liked SJs dance songs more than other MDs but did not know the reason. Now after watching so many songs and dances I have seen that their compositions are so mesmerising because they go into minute details in composing perfect songs for the dances. Nashad also went to finer details but, the variety of orchestra which SJ used and the special treatment they gave makes them superior.

After coming to this conclusion, I have appreciated your insight in selecting SJ over others, though the others may have more popular dance songs. As an example I am giving the link of the longer version of the Basant Bahar duet ‘kar gaya re’
My favourite dance duet is ‘bechain dil khoi si nazar’.

I want to give some additional info regarding the songs in your write up. In the third song you have put a question mark against the name of Minoo Mumtaz. She is Minoo Mumtaz, so kindly remove the question mark. In the song from Zindagi, the two dancers are Padma Khanna and Rani (whom you have identified in the song fron Jaanwar. Also, the chorus duet from Amrapali may not fit here because it has male voice also. This song is not included in the Amrapali version available on youtube and only the starting part of the prelude is picturised, the occasion being celebrations in Vaishali after its victory over Ajatshatru. ‘Jao re jogi tum jao re’ is also not there in the youtube version, but I remember that it was there when I earlier saw it on DD.

As Sharmaji rightly pointed out you have already plucked the best flowers, so it would be difficult to link good songs .

I have still found out some which I give below.
1. Thahar jara o jane wale from Boot Polish is also a dance duet with 3 singers.
2. There is another duet in Patrani ‘raja pyare mat karo’
3. There was another dance duet in Professor ‘ye umar hai kya rangili’ in which Manna Dey also lends his voice for Shammi.
4. Haule haule na ek bhi ghunghroo bole from Jwala, 1970
5. Ye moonh aur masoor ki dal from Around the World
6. Wo pari kahan se laun from Pehchan

These songs, in addition to the songs in the write up and in the comments above, would perhaps cover all SJ dance duets upto 1970.

36 AK June 7, 2016 at 11:08 am

Thanks a lot for your detailed comments and additional songs. It is easy to exhaust SJ’s dance duets, and I thought I had included the best 10.

Naacho gaao naacho does not easily fit in any category. Since I had planned only two posts under dance songs, and since it does not have an identifiable male voice either, I thought it can be fit here. The song is too good to be left out.

The longer version of Kar gaya re is outstanding.

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