Best Hindi film songs of Subir Sen

April 12, 2011

clip_image001When I did a post on Kamal Barot it was natural that I should do one on Subir Sen as well. One connection between the two was that among the most famous Kamal Barot songs is a duet with Subir Sen Dil le ke jate ho kahan. Another similarity would be that he was also not among the top singers. But there was a vital difference between the two. While Kamal Barot had a distinct voice which you could recognise miles away, Subir Sen’s was indistinguishable from Hemant Kumar. Not much biographical detail is available about him except that he was also like Hemant Kumar a popular and prolific singer in Bengali. Many of his Hindi film songs are quite well known, but unless you know that he was the singer, you might attribute them to Hemant Kumar.

Not that he was making any conscious effort to copy Hemant Kumar like some top singers who, at least at the beginning of their careers, consciously imitated the style of whoever was their idol at the time. Subir Sen was what I would call an involuntary Hemant Kumar clone. You could tell apart CH Atma from KL Saigal, Suman Kalyanpur from Lata Mangeshkar, but it was almost impossible to distinguish Subir Sen from Hemant Kumar. So one reason for doing this post was also to remember his best songs, which are obviously very melodious, so that we give the credit to him in case we were mistakenly attributing them to Hemant Kumar. And here are my favourite songs.

1. Aa ja re nain dware by Subir Sen from Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1961), music Shankar Jaikishan

This song has been a most amazing discovery I made very recently, and I instantly fell in love with it. From this film I was aware of Talat Mahmood – Lata Mangeshkar duet Tum to dil ke taar chhed kar. But if you stumble upon an undiscovered gem it has a special fascination. And that perhaps explains why I put it at the top of my list. This is a background devotional song when you see a group of pilgrims on a boat swaying to its rhythm, then you come across a huge religious congregation at the bank of a river – has to be either Kumbh or a holy Ganga Darshan day such as Kartik Purnima. Even if you are not particularly religious you would appreciate the way the song is able to capture the faith of millions of Indians towards India’s holy places and rivers. It seems this song has multiple versions – apart from the Subir Sen version, there are also a solo by Asha Bhosle and a duet by Asha Bhosle and Subir Sen. Seeing so many riches I can not help wondering why this song remained hidden for so long.

2. Gori tere natkhat naina waar kare chhup jaye by Subir Sen and Geeta Dutt in Hum Bhi Insaan Hain (1959), music Hemant Kumar

It was typical of those times for singer composers to promote budding singers without any sense of jealousy or potential threat of competition to themselves. The most celebrated case of such generosity was of the actor-singer-composer Pankaj Mallik who played a big role in promoting KL Saigal.

3. Dil le ke jate ho kahan by Subir Sen and Kamal Barot in O Tera Kya Kahna (1959) by Kalyanji Virji Shah

This is one of the earliest films of Kalyanji Virji Shah when he started solo till he joined soon after with his brother to form the famed duo Kalyanji Anandji. He shows his great flair for melody notwithstanding the fact that it was a B-grade movie with Mehmood and Chitra as the lead actors.

4. Dil mera ek aas ka panchhi by Subir Sen in Aas Ka Panchhi (1961), music Shankar Jaikishan.

This is perhaps the best known song of Subir Sen. Rajendra Kumar releases a bird free and, as it soars in the sky, he wistfully looks at it. He then leads his group of NCC cadets on cycles singing this song of everyone’s desire to soar in the sky like a bird.  This song transports you back to your NCC days.

5. Dheere chalao zara by Subir sen and Lata Mangeshkar in Aas Ka Panchhi (1961)

This is the second song from Aas Ka Panchhi figuring in my list. This is one of the joyous love duets in which the hero Rajendra Kumar is giving Vaijayantimala a ride in his car, perhaps driving a bit too fast out of bravado, prompting her to plead with him to drive slowly. The remarkable thing about this song was that I always thought the male singer to be Mukesh. Even after listening very carefully I find very strong resemblance to Mukesh style in some parts. Incidentally Mukesh-Lata had a duet Tum roothi raho main manata rahuun in adaaon par aur pyar aata hai in this film.

6. Main rangeela pyar ka raahi by Subir Sen and Lata Mangeshkar in Chhoti Bahan, (1959 ) music Shankar Jaikishan.

You again have a joyous duet between lovers, now in a horse carriage. The actors may not be mainstream stars. So what. Even with Mahmood and Shobha Khote as stars you could have great songs.

7. Humein un rahon par chalna hai by Subir Sen in Masoom (1960), music Robin Banerji.

This must have been the inspiration for Insaf ki dagar par bachcho dikhao chal kar  composed by Naushad, sung by Hemant Kumar in Ganga Jamuna (1961)

8. Manzil wohi hai pyar ke rahi badal gaye from Kathputli (1957), music Shankar Jaikishan

SJ seemed to have a special liking for Subir Sen – they account for his most well known songs. In this song Balraj Sahni sings this melodious song on the piano, which makes Vaijayantimala break into a dance, but from the plaintive wording of the song and the actors’ glances and emotions it is difficult to figure out the state of their relationship – was there some setback, but they were still in love?

9. Gar tum bura na maano main tumse pyar kar loon by Subir Sen and Asha Bhosle in Mahlon Ke Khwab (1960), music S Mohinder

This picture was produced by Madhubala who also played the lead role against Pradeep Kumar.

10 Dekho na jao ae jane man from Boyfriend (1961), music Shankar Jaikishan

You had a Subir Sen song in Mukesh style in Aas Ka Panchhi . Now SJ make him sing in Mohammad Rafi style on Shammi Kapur, this is the typical Shammi Kapur naughty teasing style which SJ and OP Nayyar patented with songs by Rafi. Now while I am quite clear he did not imitate Hemant Kumar – he was born with a voice like him, I can not help feeling that there was conscious effort in imitating Mukesh and Rafi.

11. Pyar mein milna sanam hota hai taqdeer se by Subir Sen and Lata Mangeshkar from Ardhangini (1959), music Vasant Desai

Though Raj Kumar and Meena Kumari came together in several films, it is difficult to see Raj Kumar as a typical romantic lover. So you have this couple singing a somewhat unusual romantic duet on the screen, which must be one of their earliest pairings. Needless to say it is Subir Sen’s likeness to Hemant Kumar that makes this duet especially appealing.

This is a very good song to conclude this post with, but in case you want to end with fast paced numbers you could hear Subir Sen –Geeta Dutt duet Kya kaha zara phir kaho composed by Kalyanji Anandji, lyric by Qamar Zalalabadi in the B-grade movie Gangu (1962) starring Chandrashekhar and Naaz in lead roles; and another नोंक झोंक song Sun le dastaan yun na sata by Subir Sen from film Passport (1961) music by Kalyanji Anandji. Laxmikant Pyarelal who were assistants to KA must have learnt their melody and lilting style from them. The fast paced song is picturised on the wonder non-actor Pradeep Kumar and the ever alluring Madhubala rebuffing his advances as she did with many other heroes in several movies.

Even with this recapitulation the key questions remains – if you hear these songs a year hence would you be able to tell confidently that they are Subir Sen’s and not Hemant Kumar’s?

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mumbaikar8 February 2, 2016 at 6:07 pm

Supriya Sen,
I see that you are deeply hurt by most of us at SOY.
Barring for few knowledgeables most of us do not know anything about music, the only thing common between us is the passion for music and we like to discuss it whether we understand it or not.
What we say about the artist projects what we think about them and not what they are.
Not only your father Subir Sen but all the artist will be remembered for what they are and not what we think about them.
Please do not give us so much importance by hurting yourself so much.

2 AK February 4, 2016 at 3:43 pm

Dear Supriya,
I wrote this article as a tribute to Subir Sen. As music lovers and fans we do not intend any disrespect to an artiste when we discuss him or her as per our understanding. Nevertheless, since some references have caused hurt to you, I sincerely apologise to you. I have already modified the title to “Best Hindi film songs of Subir Sen”.

3 Supriy Sen February 5, 2016 at 9:53 am

Thank you AK for apologizing for the original title for this forum, that was disrespectful towards my father.
I truly appreciate your effort to correct what was wrong.

Here is a sample of my father achieved in the Bengali music scene:

4 Supriy Sen February 5, 2016 at 9:58 am

Perhaps we can keep posting my father’s Bengali songs? There are MANY that are famous and legendary.

5 Supriy Sen February 5, 2016 at 10:04 am

Pagol Hawa: Music by Salil Chowdhury; Sung by my beloved father

Thank you for listening 😉

6 Supriy Sen February 5, 2016 at 10:20 am

Eto Sur aar Eto Gaan: One of my fathers most famous Bengali songs, amongst many.

7 SSW February 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Ms.Sen the link to the song Pagol Hawa that your father sang has the note that it was remade by Subir Sen with different instrumentation. The instrumentation is Salilda since he used it again in Chotisi baat. It has that distinctive augmented chord usage that Salilda favoured. One of my favourites that your father sang is of course this one.

8 ksbhatia February 5, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Ms Supriy Sen ;
We have enjoyed listening to your father’s songs composed by Shanker Jaikishan , Salil Da and other MDs . Now We would like to listen to songs which were composed by your father as music director . Was there any influence of these MDs on your father’s style of composition and orchestration of the songs ?

9 Supriy Sen February 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

Dear KSBhatia
My father has many Bengali songs that were famous.
He arranged many songs with Abhijit Badhopadhya .

I am not sure of your question ” Was there any influence of these MDs on your father’s style of composition and orchestration of the songs ?” . What do you mean?

Supriya Sen

10 Supriy Sen February 7, 2016 at 11:52 am

As far as I am concerned, I would like to post ALL my father’s Bengali songs on this forum.

Not sure how I can do that?

Supriya Sen

11 AK February 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm

All the sings which are on YouTube can be posted here as you have already done a few songs. More compact would be if they are in one playlist, you can copy paste the URL of the playlist.

12 ksbhatia February 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Ms Supriy Sen ;
In other words my question was wheather your father ever worked as music director / composer of hindi films ; and if so what was his style ? Was he influenced by SJ or Salil da style of music …..since he gave maximum numbers of hindi songs under them .

13 Supriya Sen February 9, 2016 at 8:04 am

Dear KSBhatia
I appreciate your request.
My father did work as a music director on many of his Bengali songs.
I am not aware of my father working as music director under Shankar Jaikishen. It was before my time. I was very young when my father sang Hindi songs.
Are you interested in hearing about his Bengali music career?


Supriya Sen

14 Supriy Sen February 9, 2016 at 9:51 am

Dear KSBhatia
My father did compose some Bengali songs.
As far as Shankar Jaikishen , I am not aware. I was a child when my father was famous in Hindi Films. I do have many photographs of my father with Lata Mangheshkar and SJ and others!
I have memories of me spending time with Hemant Kumar in Bombay as a child. .
I have memories of my father trying to promote Aarati Mukkherjee in Bombay.

Supriya Sen

15 Ashok M Vaishnav February 9, 2016 at 1:19 pm

This is w.r.t. comments #108 and #109.

In Sudhir Kapoor’s post ‘Aah Dil Mein Hai Nayan Mein Neer Hai’ , which appears in trackback links at the end of the present post, he writes :
“He also composed music for a Hindi film ‘Midnight’ that apparently was released only in England, in 1970 or thereabout. The film had songs sung by Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, besides himself.”

16 ksbhatia February 9, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Ashok M Vaishnav ;
Yes, I was aware of Subir sen giving music for a hindi movie…. Midnight… made in 1972 which was released in England only . I was only making enquiry whether there were more hindi films which had Subir sen as MD.
I am a great fan of Subir sen from the day one . His voice reflected the younger generation of the 60s . Gar tum bura na mano….is one of his best duet with Asha ji . Look how his voice matches that of actor Pradeep.
Here are some songs from the movie …Midnight…with Subir Sen as MD .
1. Koi mera ho gaya……..Subir sen
2.London ki ek mill mein……..Rafi
3.Zindagi ka hai yeh fasana……Rafi
4.Teri yaad mein sajan o sajan……Geeta dutt
5.Tumsa meet mila…….Talat , Geeta dutt
There are one or two more songs from Midnight which I have to look for on Y T .

Now the duet song I like the most……Gar tum bura na mano….

17 KB February 11, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Indeed Subir sain sang very few songs in hindi especially under Shankar Jaikishan and all his songs were gems.The one song he sang for Vasant Desai Pyaar mein from Ardhangini (1959) shows his caliber.

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