Guest article by Ashok Vaishnav
(Mr Ashok Vasihnav needs no introduction to the regulars at Songs of Yore. His highly informed and researched comments are several times worth the original article. Therefore, his movement from the bottom boxes to the top line is a mere formality. I had written on Twin Songs more than two years ago, which was primarily about the plain vanilla songs which had a male and a female version. Anu Warrier also presented some twin songs in her blog recently. Mr Vaishnav, as is his wont, recognises that Twin Songs are a small sub-set of a larger group, and delves deep and wide into this fascinating class of songs. In the first of his series of articles on this theme, he presents an overview of the various types of multiple version songs. A befitting Diwali gift to celebrate the multicoloured lights and sparklers. – AK)
“In popular music, a cover version or cover song, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording of a contemporary or previously recorded, commercially released song or popular song. It can sometimes have a pejorative meaning implying that the original recording should be regarded as the definitive or "authentic" version, and all others merely lesser competitors, alternatives or tributes (no matter how popular).” [Source: Cover version].
Hindi Film songs also have their own versions of what can be broadly classified as “twin /cover / version” songs. The post on twin songs (recall: Twin songs: A front runner and a laggard) as well as a similar post by Anu Warrier (It’s The First Anniversary Of My Blog) have evoked diverse and interesting responses. The listing of twin songs itself – a song rendered by a female playback singer and a male playback singer in the same film – would be a subject of a massive compilation and research – which need to be categorised in convenient groups by a music director or a specific combination of male/female singers or by a male singer or by a female singer – to lend a meaningful insight to Hindi Film musicology.
Let us take one step back, for an overview of what types of other possible variations of this theme – twin or version songs – exist in the Hindi Film music. Some very broad categories, known to all music lovers, are as follows:
1. ‘Hybrid’ songs (occurring in the same film)
A. Male solo (happy)/ (sad) – same singer/ different singers
B. Female solo (happy)/ (sad) – same singer/ different singers
C. Male or female solo/ duets or more singers
D. Screen version/ record version in different voices
2. ‘Hybrid’ songs (across different films)
A. Songs with the same tune, similar mukhda/ wordings used in different films.
B. Parody songs: e.g. in Mr India, Lamhe, Main Chup Rahungi
3. Classical ghazals/qawwalis in films/ renowned ghazal non-film singers
Lagta nahi hai jee mera, Nukta cheen hai gham-e-dil etc
4. Traditional bandishes (thumri/light classical/bhajans) in films/ non-films
Babul mora, Hato kahe ko jhoothi banao batiyan, Amir Khusro’s songs etc
5. Hindi film songs/ Other Indian languages films and folk
B. Hindi/Tamil, Telugu, Kannad
C. Hindi/Marathi, Gujarati
It is obvious that there are so many songs in each category/sub-category that each would require a separate post which I propose to take up subsequently. No single person can have enough information on this, and this has to be a collaborative effort. Fortunately many of the SoY’s regular followers are extremely knowledgeable and they come from different regions. They can help in compiling bank of songs and, perhaps also volunteer to write guest posts on some of the above categories in which they have more information.
The above categorisation may not be exhaustive. The purpose of this article is to present an overview of different types of ‘Version Songs’, with at least one example in each category.
1. Hybrid “twin” /cover /version songs
A. Male solo / male solo OR a female solo / female solo OR a solo and a duet or a chorus OR a fast and another one in slow tempo types of version songs :
In the classic twin song scenario one song is rendered by a male singer and another by a female singer, whereas here we look at a song whose both versions are rendered by, either same or different, male singer or female singer or a duet or a chorus or any combination thereof. In most of these cases one song has fast (happy) tempo and the other one has a slower (sad) tempo.
Main Gaoon Tum So Jao – Brahmchari (1968) – A happy and a sad version – both by Mohammad Rafi – for which Shankar Jaikishan have composed music.
B. Differing versions on film sound track and on the film music records
As the title suggests, in this variation one finds a different version on the Film soundtrack and on the music records released. Keen observers of Hindi Film Musicology will find many instances of this variation.
We are very familiar with Saranga Teri Yaad Mein by Mukesh in Saranga (1960). However, thanks to the age of internet , we also have a Mohammad Rafi version of this song.
C. The song used as an instrumental tune in the titles of the film
Shankar Jaikishan were one of those music directors who had tremendous knack of using the title song of the film as a very well composed and orchestrated instrumental versions in the titles of the film.
D. The popularity of the song induces noted professional stage performers to render a song
Here we do not refer to commercial stage shows performed by (so-called) ‘sound-alike’. But we do have to take note of re-renderings of a popular Hindi film by a noted professional singer / artist at highly specialised stage –shows.
Piya milan ko jana ha piya milan ko jana – Kapala Kundala (1939) – Pankaj Mullick
This classic song has attracted several professional stage performers to render this with or without injecting variations in the original tune. Here is one such rendering by the Pakistani Ghazal singer Nadeem Umer.
E. The songs which have either a common mukhda or a common first line of the mukhda
The mukhdas of several popular ghazals or folk songs also have been a matter of great attraction for use in Hindi film songs.
Dekh lo aaj humko jee bhar ke – Bazaar (1982) – Jagjeet Kaur, lyrics Mirza Shauq, music Khayyam
This mukhda also can be seen in this rendering by Tahira Syed, a noted Pakistani Ghazal Singer:
2. Classical ghazals used in / as Hindi film song and its versions by professional ghazal singers
Ghazals have a very special place in the Hindi Film Song universe. Interestingly, one can find some ghazals written by the noted shairs which have been adapted very successfully into Hindi films. Some of these ghazals were natural choice as the film itself is based on the life of that shair, e.g. Mirza Ghalib (1954) , directed by Shorab Modi
Aah ko chahiye ek umra asar hone tak – Mirza Ghalib (1954) – Suraiya – Ghulam Mohammad
This is rendered again by Jagjit Singh:
3. (Folk) bhajans used in / as Hindi film songs and its versions by other professional artists as non-film songs
We would take up one of the most famous bhajans – Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye, by a Gujarati poet, whose devotion to Krishna is considered as legendary as that by Meerabai for from Marwar. Incidentally Mahatma Gandhi also liked this bhajan so much that it had become an inseparable component of his evening prayers.
Vaishnava jana to with lyrics and meaning translated in English:
And its film version by Bhupen Hazarika in Gandhi To Hitler.
Now let us look at its different versions: By Lata Mangeshkar.
And a Manna Dey version:
A classical rendering on tar shehnai by Maiya Singh:
How would Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye sound on the saxophone?
And no less, a Riyaaz Quawwali:
This is still a small list of examples of a vast number of versions of this bhajan.
4. Bandish or a popular folk or traditional song, used in /as Film Song and also rendered, essentially as non-film version, by a professional classical singer:
The Hindi film song may or may not be based on a classical raga, but the other version is definitely rendered in any of the accepted formats of Indian claasical Rags system.
Phulgendwa na maro version in Funtoosh (1956) – Asha Bhosale – S D Burman / Sahir Ludhyanavi
Phoolgendwa na maro: Asha Bhosle from film Funtoosh
This has a far more popular version in Dooj Ka Chand (1964) by Manna Dey, music Roshan.
This traditional Bhairavi thumri has been sung by many classical singers. This piece by Rasoolan Bai of an early period 1935 provides an interesting version.
5. Hindi Film Song, adapted from a song from another language.
A. The music director has composed a song in other language before or after the Hindi film song
Quite a few of our music directors who had been active in different languages would use the song in other language to use the tune in Hindi film songs. Many a times our lyricist would provide the lyrics to that tune, befitting the situation of the song. But, there are very noted examples where the song in both languages is outright translation, the lyricist in both cases, generally being different. We have a large repertoire of such songs from the stable of our Bengali music directors – R C Boral, Pankaj Mullick, Hemant Kumar, S D Burman, Salil Chaudhary, RD Burman, to name a few.
Yeh bansi kyun gaye re – Parakh (1960) – Lata Mangeshkar – Salil Chaudhary
Now listen to its Bengali version – Bashi keno gaye
B. Hindi film song on the same tune from the film re-made or (vice versa) in a different language
Hindi Cinema also has very rich tradition of films being re-made from original films in other language. There are instances where a Hindi Film has been successfully, subsequently, been re-made in other regional language(s). These situations also gives us its own genre of version songs.
Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya – Mohd Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar – Suvarna Sundari (1957) – Adi Narayan Rao
Telugu version of the song is Haayi haayiga aamani saage. (Since my efforts to locate the related video clip has not succeeded, I have placed a stage performace where this song is presented):
Manalane Mangaiyin Bagiyam is the Tamil version of Telugu Suvarna Sundari and is heroine Anjali’s home production by her music director husband Adi Narayana Rao.
6. Versions of Desh Prem songs
Desh Prem songs are also a genre on its own in Hindi film songs. So, we also see different versions of the same song – either because the mukhda or the entire song is immensely popular or because several versions of the films being made on the same subject.
Rang de basanti chola – Shaheed Bhagat Singh (1963), lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Husnlal Bhagatram
Then we have another good film on Bhagat Singh – Shaheed (1965) – which had the same song in the voices of Mukesh, Mahendra Kapur, Rajendra Mehta and chorus, lyrics and music Prem Dhawan.
And its variations in the same film:
A recent version of the celebrated song figured in the film The Legend Of Bhagat Singh starring Ajay Devgun in the lead role:
7. Adaptation of a tune from films from other countries
This is also a very interesting and widely (or hotly!) discussed genre of version songs. Our music directors drew inspirations not only from folk tunes or classical Ragas, but have freely adapted (sometimes flagrantly lifting) the tunes from western films. Aansoo samajh ke kyun mujhe by Talat Mahmood from (Chhaya), music Salil Chaudhary is considered to be adapted from a Mozart symphony. Incidentally, Salilda has used this tune for a Bengali song too. The listeners would hardly complain, since most of the renditions have been so masterly blended by native lyrics, innovative orchestration, and above all, very pleasing picturisation. This site has a comprehensive list of Hindi film songs ‘inspired’ from foreign tunes. The ‘Roll of Honour’ includes the biggest and most respected music directors.
Rimjhim rimjhim rimjhim ye barase moti ke daane: Private song by Suman Kalyanpur
And Nazre mili dil dhadka from Raja (1995) too can not claim much originality:
Here you have the original title soundtrack of Come September