Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hindi Film Songs-Golden Era of Duets.

A joyous feature of Hindi film music during its heydays up to, say, the middle of the 80s, was the romantic, melodious, lyrically charming, meticulously orchestrated and harmoniously sung duets which were a treat to the ears. Producers and music directors gave a prominent place for duets in their scheme of music for films.When we listen to an old duet we can actually feel how the singers tried to vie with each other to excel and make the song a musical experience. Both singers got equal importance and lines and the songs always had a wholesome effect on the listeners.
But things have changed a lot and such soul stirring duets are becoming a thing of the past. Technological advancement, compulsions of the industry, changing taste of listeners etc., are cited as reasons. But for the lovers of Hindi film songs this has been a sad development. Looking back longingly I thought it worthwhile to refresh the memory and to list out a dozen of those all time great duets which continue to give us joy. Of course, it is a random list not to be treated as a ranking list.
1. YAHAN BADLA WAFA KA... Film: Jugnu (1947) Music: Firoze Nizami. Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni Singers. Rafi and Noorjahan :
Mohd .Rafi in Jugnu(courtesy

One of the early trend setters, this is a song I grew up listening first at family functions and wedding houses,later on Purani Geets on Radio Ceylon and Vividh Bharati, much later on my music system and now back on my own gramophones. The song is typical of the music and style of singing, of those days. It always reminded me of my childhood days and I think it would be so for all old timers.

2. MAANG KE SAATH TUMHARA....Film : Naya Daur(1957}. Music: O.P.Nayyar. Lyrics:Sahir Ludhianvi. Singers: Asha and Rafi.
A perfect example for a duet where the singers complement each other to bring out the mood of the song. Besides it is a typical O.P.Nayyar song with emphasis on rhythm and the famous "tonga beats" reminding us the scene of Dileep Kumar and Vyjayanthimala riding "Sankar ka Tonga!!" No wonder that the music of this film got the Filmfare award for best music of the year. Naya Daur was O.P.Nayyar at his best!

3. DO SITARON KA ZAMIN PAR HAIN MILAN: Film Kohinoor (1960) Music : Naushad. Lyrics: Sahir . Singers : Lata and Rafi

Naushad is one great music director who had not given as many duets as others. But his film Kohinoor contained two beautiful duets, "koi Pyar ki dekho" and "Do sitaron" . Out of the two my choice is " Do Sitaron" for its magical melody, romance, singing and background score.

4. KABI KABHI MERE DIL MEIN KHAYAAL : Film: Kabhi Kabhi: Music: Khayyam. Lyrics.Sahir Singers:

Lata and Mukesh.This is one of the several immortal songs of Khayyam.The song's solo version sung by Mukesh as also Lata and a recital of the lines by Amitab Bachhan are also available. But the duet by Lata and Mukesh takes the cake for the sheer pleasure of listening to a haunting duet of magical singing. The song took the No.I spot in the Binaca Geetmala for the year 1976. I cannot but mention here another duet of Khayyam in film Noorie ,viz.,:"Aajare O mere dilbar Aaja,dil ki pyas bhuja jaa re" sung by Lata and Nitin Mukesh. But "Kabhi Kabhi" is a class apart.

5.DIL TADAP TADAPKE : Film: Madhumati(1958) Music: Salil Choudhuri. Lyrics: Shailendra Singers: Lata and Mukesh

In films like CHHAYA,USNE KAHA THA and MAYA Salil Choudhury had given outstanding duets using the voie of Lata, Rafi and Talat Mahmood. But his best duet is "Dil tadap"from film Madhumati. The unorthodox but brilliant style of Salil is all there to see in this song. The Filmfare Award for best music of the year went to Madhumati.

6.ZARA SAAMNE TO AAO CHALIYE : Film: Janam Janam ke Phere (1957)Music:S.N.Tripathi Lyrics:Bharat Vyas. Singers. Lata and Rafi

Though music director S.NTripathi had given memorable songs in films like RANI ROOPMATI he has been an underrated music director.The song "Zara Saamne to" listed here was extremely popular among young and old and not a day passed without hearing the song on the radio in those days.The easy paced composition, melody, excellent singing and, above all, its "hummability" made it a great hit. No wonder it was at the top of the hits in Binaca Geetmala for the year 1957.

7.AAJA SANAM MADHUR CHANDNI: Film: Chori Chori (1956) Music: Shankar Jaikishan. Lyrics.Hasrat Jaipuri . Singers: Lata and Manna Dey

To select one from the large number of popular duets of Shankar Jaikishan is dificult. Songs of Lata and Mukesh in films of Raj Kapoor, her songs with Rafi in films like Junglee,Love Marriage,Dil Tera Diwana and also the one with Subir Sen in film Aas ka Panchi(Mein rangeela Pyar ka rahi) were outstanding.But for sheer pep, variety,singing style and for Manna Dey's sweet sonorus voice "Aaja Sanam" got the place in the list.The music of Chori Chori won the Filmfare award for best music in 1956. Another fast, blistering and hilarious number of S&J is"Jhoomta Mausam Mast Mahina" from film UJAALA sung, again, by Lata and Manna Dey.

8.TERE BINDIYA RE.Film Abhiman (1973) Music: S.D.Burmn. Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri. Singers:Lata and Rafi

Music director S.D.Burman had given a fine variety of duets using the voice of Lata, Rafi, Kishore, Asha and Geeta Dutt. Films like PAYING GUEST,TERE MERE SAPNE, JEWEL THIEF, NAU DO GYARAH, GUIDE etc., are examples.To me his best duet is "Ter Bindya re' which stands above "Tere mere milan" from the same film(Kishor-Lata)

9. O' NEEND NA MUJHKO AAYE.Film Post Box.999(1958). Music: Kalyanji Anandji. Lyrics:P. L. Santoshi. Singers: Lata and Hemant Kumar

Though this song was a big hit in Radio Ceylon and later Vividh Bharati, it was also a sort of forgotten song durng later years. The gramophone records or cassettes of this film are not available but in rare CDs and MP3s the song is available. To me it is an excellent duet for its lyrical charm, melodious tune, simplicity and for the husky voice of Hemant Kumar gelling with the sweetness of Lata's voice.

10.ABHI NA JAO CHHOD KAR . Film : Hum Dono.(1961). Music: Jaidev. Lyrics:Sahir. Singers:Asha and Rafi.

This is an immortal song by the awe inspiring music director,Jaidev. A true classically oriented song, it is cited as one of the best duets by experts as well as ordinary listeners. Though not hugely popular, it is, neverthless, an inevitable choice for serious listening.

11.TERE BINA ZINDAGI SE. Film: Aandhi (1975)Music: R.D.Burman. Lyrics:Gulzar. Singers: Kishore and Lata.

Considerd by many a the best of R.D.Burman, this song is also famous for Gulzar's lyrics. R.D. Burman has used the talents of Lata and Kishore to the full in this song to give expression to his creative genius. This is yet another song for serious listening.

12. TERE PYAR KA AASRA....Film :Dhool ka Phool(1959).Music: N.Duta. Lyrics:Sahir.Singers: Lata and Mahendra Kapoor

This was another highly popular song and , again, not a day passed without hearing it on the radio in my younger days.In f act it is frequently heard over Vividh Bharati even now. Its lyrical charm, compostion, way of singing as required by the mood of the scene and the picturisation(on Rajender Kumar and Mala Sinha) all made it a favourite song for me.

Picking out 12 songs from a plethora of eminent songs by great music directors has been a difficult and unenviable task. I do not claim that these are the best ever.The selection might have been, unknowingly, influenced by my own preferences and nostalgic affinity with some of them . Still if, at least, a few of them found a place in your similar list of duets, then I would consider my efforts well taken.

Tail piece: Industry: Todays music is "cut and paste" music. Great !!!!
Music lover: But where is the soul of the music?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Usha Uthup --Evergreen Singer

One interesting thing about collection of gramophone records, (or any other similar hobby) is that many of the records will have some story to tell,sentiments attached , some nostalgic memory,interesting incident or an important person behind them. One such L.P.Record with me is an album titled USHA SINGS - LOVE STORY AND OTHER HITS by Usha Uthup,the first successful female pop singer of India.

Seeing Usha Uthup as a judge in a very popular reality music show in a Malayalam T.V. Channel prompted me to take out this LP record and listen to it once again.The album brought back memories about my life for a year in Belgaum, a town on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border.It was in the year 1970 when I was a Trainee Officer in a bank. Belgaum,in those days, was a town of narrow streets with people, cattle and motorists jostling for space,abundantly available milk and milk products, art silk sarees and hosiery items,incessant drizzle, extreme winter and prominent presence of military establishments with a temple known as military Mahadeva temple in the Thilakwadi area.

It was during one of those winter nights that I, along with some of my colleagues,set out to watch a stage programme by the then upcoming pop singer Usha Uthup(Iyer). We were then not very fond of or familiar with pop music.But as scope for entertainment was limited and stage shows were rare to happen in Belgaum we decided to buy the tickets in advance.Besides, the singer and her stage programmes were becoming increasingly popular and getting rave reviews in the media. When we reached the venue it was almost full.Right from the beginning the sari clad singer with bobbed hair, husky voice, fabulous stage presence,enchanting smile and sparkling eyes captivated the audience.She carried them along with her songs often making them clap and sing with her.To me, who had seen several top playback singers performing on the stage, it was a different but delightful musical experience.Late in the cold night we returned on our scooters to our colder bachelor's den with bits of her warm songs on our lips. We were a very happy lot that night !!

It was immediately after this that I bought the Album,"Usha Sings" from Bangalore.The album contains songs like," Oh sinner man", "Where do I begin(Love Story)", "Everybody is talking (Midnight Cowboy)etc. She later became a big celebrity singer who gave us such wonderful songs like "Dum Maro Dum" (with Asha and chorus), "Koi Yehan Nache Nache", "Hari Om Hari" and one two Cha Cha Cha etc.

It is wonderful to see this busy singer,performer,film actor and entertainer still retaining her youthful zest, enchanting smile and the sparkle in her eyes.She exudes positive energy and love for music among a whole lot of competing singers who lovingly calls her "Didi" and considers her their guardian angel.