My last post on Talat Mahmood’s songs by Anil Biswas reminded me that last year when I had ‘closed’ my series on SD Burman, Venkatarmanji and some other readers mentioned some more singers who gave memorable songs with Dada. Talat Mahmood was one of the names mentioned. They fit in very nicely. SD Burman was unarguably the greatest musical talent from Bengal after Anil Biswas to enrich the Hindi film music. Talat Mahmood had a good deal of Bengal in him, having worked under the name of Tapan Kumar in Calcutta for a number of years before he shifted to Bombay and created a sensation with his very first song with Anil Biswas, Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal. It was natural SD Burman would also take him in. However, with Dada’s natural fondness for Kishore Kumar, and the versatile Rafi, Talat Mahmood’s had only about 15 songs with him, a fraction of the other two singers. In any case Talat Mahmood was a niche singer; his total number of songs – about 450 Hindi film songs – would be a fraction of what the other mainstream singers sang. But his impact was way beyond his numbers, and SD Burman created several immortal songs with him, as he did with Mukesh with about the same number of songs.
Talat Mahmood has a special place because his Jayen to jayen kahan was the song that fetched SD Burman his first Filmfare Award. One of the important elements that make Bimal Roy’s Devdas (1955) the ‘definitive’ version is Talat Mahmood’s songs picturised on Dilip Kumar. And on a personal level, Jalte hain jiske liye is the song by which I identify Talat Mahmood the most.
So let me revive the SD Burman series on public demand with his best songs for Talat Mahmood as my tribute to the two great artistes.
1. Luta de apni khushi….ye aansoo khushi ke aansoo hain from Ek Nazar (1951), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
Luta de apni khushi khushi se – what beautiful lyrics! The song starts with this recital, with musical prelude in Raga Des (experts to confirm). Des has natural pathos, and Talat Mahmood in the beginning of his career was at his vocal best. I am hearing it for the first time. I start with this beautiful song which should be his first with SD Burman.
2. Dar laagey duniya se balma ho with Lata mangeshkar from Buzdil (1951), lyrics Kaifi Azmi
An incredibly sweet romantic duet with Lata Mangeshkar, who was at her best in the early 50s. Kaifi Azmi’s debut.
3. Aa ja aa ja tera intezar hai with Lata Mangeshkar from Sazaa (1951), lyrics Rajendra Krishna
The best Talat-SDB song in 1951, according to me, is this sad duet from Sazaa which also had Lata Mangeshkar’s immortal Tum na jaane kis jahan mein kho gaye. You can make out from the picturisation that the lovers have been separated by the circumstances. Of course, after some weepy scenes, where Nimmi is unbeatable, they would come together in the end.
4. Bharam teri wafaaon ka mita dete to kya hota from Armaan (1953), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
We have seen while discussing the songs of 1953 that SD Burman was generally inconspicuous even though he had a good number of films in the year. But you can’t say that about his Talat songs. This one has his famed velvet voice and equally worthy poetry by Sahir.
5. Chaahe kitna mujhe tum bulaao ji … bol na bola e jaanewale with Asha Bhosle from Armaan
But even better is this well known duet with Asha Bhosle, which also had her solo version. Some readers have earlier mentioned its two parallel tunes of the female and male parts. One of the best Talat-Asha Bhosle duets.
6. Jag mein aaye koi koi jaye re from Babla (1953), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
This song is a further evidence that Talat was always above a certain benchmark. Sahir’s deeply philosophical poetry has been tuned by SD Burman mainly as a recital in the antaraa. Talat is the right man for such songs.
7. Naazon ke pale kaanton pe chale from Sahenshah (1953), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
The same Talat-SD Burman-Sahir combination, but now they create a fast rhythmic song. Another proof that Talat never disappoints. I heard it for the first time.
8. Tere sath chal rahe hain with Lata Mangeshkar from Angarey (1954), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
Angaarey also had a Talat solo, Doob gaye akash ke taarey, but I like this duet with Lata Mangeshkar more.
9. Mitwa laagi re ye kaisi anbujh aag from Devdas (1955), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanvi
Now we come to a great landmark in cinema. While Saigal had two songs (plus Abdul Karim Khan’s thumri Piya bin nahi awat chain, sung by Saigal), SD Burman takes up the challenge and creates two incredible Talat songs on Dilip Kumar. (If you remember Sanjay Leela Bhansali/ Ismail Darbar wisely refrained from creating any song for Shahrukh Khan). We have discussed these songs (the other song being Kisko khabar thi kisko yakeen tha aise bhi din ayenege) a good deal while reviewing the best songs of 1955. Devdas-Paro relationship has reached a point of no return because of Devdas’s wavering at critical moments. So how do you express it? Not by a conventional song, but by Sahir’s poetry, recited by the plaintive Talat for Dilip Kumar, who is equally powerful with his back to the camera as he is when facing the camera, with tragedy, guilt, hopelessness writ large on his face.
10. Jalte hain jiske liye from Sujata (1959), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
I started with Talat’s first song with SD Burman. I end with what should be their last song, which is sad because Talat Mahmood had at least five more years of active career. But their swan song created an immortal classic, which for many is the defining Talat Mahmood song. That is SD Burman for you; whether he does ten songs or a hundred songs with a singer, he would create something everlasting.