The period of about four decades from the later half of the 1940s could be called the golden age of music in Hindi films. The period was memorable not only for the great contributions of musical stalwarts but also for the fact that music formed an integral part of Hindi films and to a large extent the music and songs determined the success or failure of a film. People wanted to know who the director and the actors were. But they equally wanted to know who scored music for the film. In the usual full page advertisements of films in magazines like SCREEN and CINE ADVANCE top billing was, in those days, given to music directors. Nowadays film advertisements in print media have become brief and, often, one has to use a magnifying glass to find out the name of the music director.
During this golden era Hindi cinema had several talented, dedicated and successful music directors who gave us a variety of wonderful songs in their films. Arguably, the most successful of them was duo known as Shankar Jaikishan[ShankarSingh Raghuvanshy 1922-87 and Jaikishen Dayabhai Bansal (1929-71). Shankar from Punjab and Jaikishan from Gujarat began their musical 0dyssey as assistants to the duo of Husnlal Bhagathram and later became an integral part of Raj Kapoor's R.K. Films along with Duttaram who also later became a noted muic director. SJ got their first break as music directors in Rajkapoor's Barsaat in 1953.That was the beginning of a long and fruitful musical partnership between RK and SJ. All films produced by R.K Films thereafter,likeAwaara,Sree 420,Boot Polish,etc., upto Sangam and Mera Naam Joker were musical hits of SJ. However thereafter there was a shift in loyalty and RK started using the music of Lakshmikant Pyarelal beginniFng with Bobby.There was a time when none could think of a RK Film without the music of SJ. In fact RK's films were popular even in Russia due,largely,to the personal charm of RK, SJ's music and Mukesh's soulful rendering.The songs of Barsaat came as a whiff of fresh air in Indian film music and people wholeheartedly accepted and celebrated them!! The pathos filled "chod gaye baalam" and the joyful "hawa mein udtha" were made immortal by the listeners.
From the year 1953 to1971(the year Jakishan died) the team SJ remained at the top of Hindin film music.The name SJ was synonymous with success and they became the highest paid music diectors of film industry. With about 250 films to their credit it is difficult to rank them according to their success and popularity as they all were! The long list f awards and recognition they got give ample testimony to their contribution. They got the prestgious Filmfare award for best music director for a record 9 times for their films CHORI CHORI (1957),ANARI(1960),Dil Apna Preet Parai(1961),Professor(1965),SURAJ(1967),BRAHMACHARI(1969),PEHCHAN(1971),MERA NAAM JOKER(1972) and BE-EMAN(1973)In Binaca Geetmala programme apart from dominating the programmes through the weeks their songs listed below were ranked No.I of the year in popularity six times between 1955 to 1971. [ A scene from Sri 420]
Mukesh Mera jhoota hai Japani Sree 420 Md.Rafi Teri Pyari pyari soorat Sasural 1961
Lata Ehsan Tere hoga mugh par Junglee 1962
Mukesh Bol Radha bol sangam Sangam 1964
. Rafi Baharon phool barsao Suraj 1966
Md Rafi Zindagi ek safar Andaz 1971
There are innumerable films in which SJ had shown their mettle.Aah, Patita,Seema, Yahudi,Arzoo,Aasique,Poot polish, Choti Bahen,Gumnam, Humrahi, Jish desh mein ganga bahati hai, Jab pyar kise se hota hai, Rangoli, Aas ka panchi, Ujala etc are a few of them.
The combination of Shammi Kapoor,SJ and Md.Rafi and his style of singing for Shammi Kapoor was a hit formula as the songs perfectly gelled with the taste of the young generation who thronged to see these films. Films like Junglee,Janwar,Dil Tera Diwana,Professor, Laat Saheb, Prince, Love in Tokyo and An Evening in Paris are a few examples.To the credit of SJ goes the one and only lullaby picturised on Shammi Kapoor contrary to his then popular image.(Mein gaon tum so jaao. Film Brahmachari). Similarly a song sequence picturised for the first time on the handsome,loveable "villain",Pran was by SJ in film Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai.
Though SJ created hits during their entire reign, to the connoisseur, their earlier films like Barsaat,Chori Chori,etc., upto the middle of the 60s were the best. The apparent decline may possibly be attributed to their romoured split and their tuning songs separately instead of each song as a joint effort.
The hallmark of SJ's music was its rich orchestration, their penchant for rythm, intelligent use of Indian folk music and western music to inject a youthful zest and joy into their songs, delightful use of the piano accordian and extensive use of Hindustani classical ragas. They had given a number of semi classical songs as seen in film Basant Bahar(Sur naa saje -Manna Dey and Ketaki gulab - Manna Dey and Bhimsen Joshi) and Chori Chori (Rasik Balma-Lata) and Jis Desh Mein Ganga(Oh Basanti-Lata).
Though Md.Rafi, Lata, Mukesh and Asha were their favourite singers, they had used the voice of other singers like Manna Dey, Suman Kalyanpur etc., also often. New singers like Subir Sen( Dil mera ek aas ka panchi in film Aas ka Punchi, Manzil Vohi hey pyar ki in film Katputli and Mein Rangeela pyar ka rahi with Lata in Choti Bahen) and Mubarak Begum( Mujko apne gane with Lata in Hum Rahi) and Sharda( Titli udi in Suraj) were also given chances. Talat Mahamood sang a number of beautiful gazals for SJ like Eh mere dil kahi aur chal(Daag) and Andha jahan ke Andhe raste and Hai subse madhur woh geet ( both from Patita).
Another feature of SJ's music was that they used the lyrics of only Shailendra and Hasrat jayapuri in their films except rare exceptions.
After Jaikishan's death in 1971 Shankar continued to do music in the name of the duo. But the magic was missing in the songs and eventually Shankar was lost in the fierce competition and died in the year 1987.Though the duo is no more their rich legacy remains even today making millions happy.
Tail piece: What is the height of musical ecstacy? To sit alone away in an underlit corner of the house, preferably at night, with your gramophone and records and listen to the soul stirring music of yester years.
Chood gaye balam........Yaad kiya dil ne .........Teri pyari pyari soorat................. Sur na saje...............Oh basanti............Tera janaa dil ki.............Yeh mera divanapan ........Choudvin ka chand..............Suhani rath.......Soja rajakumari........