Saturday, November 20, 2010


In my last post I was recalling the Music of Hemant Kumar, the great singer and music director from Bengal. Hindi film music had seen another highly talented singer from Bengal, Subir Sen, who burst into the scene with the the evergreen song, 'Manzil wohi hai pyar ki' from film 'Kath Putli' in the year 1957. The film with music by Shankar-Jaikishen had several lilting melodies including Lata's 'Bole re kathputli' in it; but the most popular at that time was "Manzil wohi' by Subir Sen. What caught the attention of the listeners was the fresh, soft, sweet voice of the singer which, to some extent, resembled that of Hemant Kumar whose several songs were very popular and frequently heard over the radio those days. Listeners found the voice and style of singing refreshingly different from the large number of songs(male voice) of Rafi, Mukesh and the rest. Subir Sen, I remember, had received a lot of critical acclaim for this song and pundits were predicting a bright future for him in the Hindi film industry.

He followed it up with several hit songs for Shankar-Jaikishen like, Aajare aaja' in Roop ki Raani Choron ka raja', 'Gagan ke chanda' with Lata in Apne hue Paraye,Dekho na jaao ae jaan-e-man' of film Boy Friend and the beautiful duet with Lata,viz., 'Main rangeela pyar ka rahi' from film Chhoti Bahen in which we could see the subdued but pleasant voice of Subir Sen gelling perfectly with the versatile voice of Lata to create a great duet sung in gay abandon. He also sang notable songs for several other leading Music directors during the period.For kalyanji Aanandji there is the song,'Sun ja dastan yan na sata' in film Passport. For Vasant Desai, he sang, ' Pyar ne Milna sanam' with Aarti Mukherjee in film Ardhangini. In film, Hum bhi Insaan hai', Hemant Kumar composed the popular duet of Subir sen with Geeta Dutt,viz., 'Gori tere natkat naina'. For lesser known music directors also he sang outstanding songs. For example, for Robin Bannerjee, he sang the soulful,'Humein un rahon pe chalna hein jahan girna aur sambhalna hai' in film Masoom(1960), along with Aarti Mukherjee. And there is the duet with Aasha in film Mehlon ki quaab',
'Gar tum bulana manon' composed by S. Mohinder.

But of all the music directors , Shankaer -Jaikishen gave the best solo songs to Subir Sen as again evidenced by the song,'Dil Mera ek Aas ka Panchi' in film Aas ka Panchi apart from a duet with Lata, Dheere Chalo zara''. The scene in the film, picturised on Rajinder Kumar as an Army cadet releasing a white dove in the sky is still fresh in my memory. This again was a song celebrated in the campuses in early 60s.

But inspite of several hit songs under the top composers, especialy ShankarJaikishen, Subir Sen could not scale the heights expected of him in Hindi film music. Music directors preferred to use him more to sing duets than solos, may be, because of the stranglehold of singers like Rafi, Mukesh, Talat and Kishor in the field of playback singing during the period. Subir Sen's, apparent, limited range also might have contributed to this. But more than these, the peculiar 'politics' of the industry which could easily sideline gifted singers like Jesudas and Vani Jairam might also have worked against Subir sen. Allegations were made that Mahendra kapur copied Rafi. Suman Kalyanpur was branded as poor people's Lata. The similarity of Subir Sen's voice to that of Hemant Kumar was held against him. These were the ways of the industry. In short, this gifted singer faded from the scene to become highly successful in Bengali music expecially Rabindra Sangeeth.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


There are a number of old Hindi film songs of the period from the late 40s to the early 80s which we had heard, hummed , lived and grown up with and which invoke fond memories of the years gone by. For me some of these songs are so unforgettable that not a day passes without my listening to at least a few of them.Songs like'SojaRajkumari'(Zindagi)'AyegaAaanewale'(Mahal),'Aaajare Pardesi'(Madhumathi), 'Chaudwin ka Chand ho'(Chaudwin ka chaand), Pyar kiya to darna kya'(Mughal-e-Azham), 'Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein'(Kabhi Kabhi), 'Tere pyare pyare soorat ko'(Sasural),'Jo wada kiya woh nibhana'(Taj Mahal), 'Suhani Raat(Dulari), and a large number of other equally haunting songs make one relive the golden memories of our school and college days and life thereafter.

The songs mentioned and many others are all by the stalwart singers of those days and tuned by the leading music directors. But there are a few songs, with similar impact even now, of less celebrated singers and music directors, even though their less than celebrity status do not take away even an iota of the nostalgic charm of the songs. In this category comes the songs of Hemant Kumar, the music director , crooner, baritone and whose voice had a special, deep, haunting quality that brings to our minds the feelings associated with natural elements like ' Bin, Badal, Barsat', 'Kohra' , twilight, moonlit night, blue sky, mystery and suspense. Probably he also had some affinity towards these themes that he gave music for such films like Nagin, Bees saal Baad, Kohraa, Bin Badal Barsat etc where he used his own voice with great effect

Hemant Kumar was, like
Kishor Kumar and C. Ramachandra, one of the very few singer -cum- music directors of Hindi cinema . He had composed music for only about 50 films in Hindi and about 130 films in Bengali.He had sung under the baton of all noted music directors including S.D.Burman, Shankar Jaikishen, Kalyanji Anandji, Naushad, C.Ramachandra and Kishor Kumar.

It was S.D.Burman who had, in the 50s, used Hemant kumar's voice for a number of films , one of the best being the song from Pyasa,"Jane woh kaise log the'. Again there is the song 'Sun ja dil ki daastan' and also another song,' the duet with Lata, 'Chandni raaten pyar ki baten' from film Jaal.There is another duet with Sandhya Mukherjee ,'AA gupchup gupchup pyar karen' from film Sazaa. It fact during the heydays of Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rahman, Dev Anand, Geeta Dutt etc., S.D. Burman was using the voice of Hemant Kumar extensively before he switched his attention to Kishore and Rafi. In film Baadsha (Shankar-Jaikishen) Hemant Kumar had two songs, Aa Neele Gagan tale Pyar' and the grief filled 'Rulakar chal Diye ek din' and in Patita(S&J) there is the melodious duet with Lata,'Yaad kiya dil ne'. For Naushad, there is the song in Ganga Jamuna,'Insaf ki dagar pe' and in Shabab, the duet with Lata,'Chandan ka palna'. For C.Ramachandra, there are two songs in that immortal film Anaarkali,viz., Zindagi Pyar ke do char ghadi' and 'Jaag dard E-ishq jaag', the exclusive warmth of the voice gelling with the mood of the song. For Kishore Kumar, two songs of H.K. come readily to my mind. First, the haunting melody, 'Door ka raahi' from the film with the same name and 'Rahi ko ruk mat jana' from film Door Gagan ki Chaon Mein' which are evergreen melodies. And for Kalyanji Aanandji the song , 'Ai dil Kahi leja' from film 'Bluff Master' and the song, 'Tumhen jo bhi dekh lega' from film Majboor come readily to my mind.

A notable contibution of Hemant Kumar is his beautiful duets with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha. Geeta and Suman Kalyanpur.Apart from those duets mentioned above, the duet with Lata from fil
m, Post Box 999 (Kalyanji Anandji),'Oh neend na mujhko aaye', is an outstanding one. In fact Hemant Kumar's voice is tailormade for lullabies and songs relating to 'neend' as shown by the song, 'Jab jaag uthe arman to kaise neend aaye' from Bin Badal Barsaat'. In film, 'Baat Ek Raat ki' there is the song, Na tum hamen jaano' with Suman Kalyanpur and , of course, the tonga beats song from film 'Tangawali' with Lata,' Halke halke chalo saavare' under the baton of Salil Choudhury.

The best of Hemant kumar as a composer and singer has always been in films for which he had himself composed music. Songs from films like, Bees saal baad, Kohraa, Bin Baadal Barsat, Anupama, Nagin, Shart, Ek Jhalak, Khamoshi, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, etc.The success of these films depended, to a large extent, on the music of H.K. The haunting song, 'Kahi deep chale kahi dil' of Bees saal baad continues to be an alltime great. Yes the song gave Lata the Filmfare award for the best female playback singer in 1962. Our childhood favourites , 'Man dole' and Jadugar saiyaan' from Nagin' with the 'bean music' still captivate music lovers.No wonder H.K. got the Filmfare award for the best music director in the year 1955 for his songs in Nagin. 'Man dole mera tan ' was again the number one song in the Binaca Geetmala Programme for the year 1954. The two songs, 'Zara nazron se kahdo ji' and Beqrar karke hamen', both from Bees saal baaad, crooned by Hemant kumar were hugely popular in those days for the beauty of his voice and the hummability,which, of course, is the hallmark of H.K.s songs. 'Zindagi kitni khoobsurat hai' and 'Ek baar zara phir kehdo(duet with Lata), both from film Bin Badal barsat are also in the same category. There are two great typical haunting melodies of Lata in film Kohraa,viz., 'Jhoom Jhoom Dhalti Raat' and 'O Bequarar dil' apart from the 'Rah bani khud manzil' which brings out the crooner in H.K. to the utter delight of listeners.In fact can anyone imagine these four films having similar themes without Hemant Kumar's music?

In film,'Saheb Bibi our Ghulam', H.K. had used the voice of Asha and Geeta Dutt to create the musical mood of the film. 'Bhanwara bada naadan', 'Meri baat rahi mere man mein' and the typical chorus,'Sakhiya aaj mujhe neend nahi aayegi' all bring out the best in Asha. ' Piya aiso jiya mein', ' Na jao saiyan chhoda ke baiyan' and 'Chale aao' brings out the pathos of the theme through the inimitable voice of Geeta. These songs also show the uncanny knack of H.K. in selecting 'singers for the songs'. In film Anupama his own song,'Dil ke suno duniyawalo' is an out and out H.K. song and Lata's,'Dheere dheere machal ae dile bekrar' is melody at its best. And what about H.K.'s own 'Tum pukar lo' in Khamoshi?

When I started I wanted to write about only two specific songs of H.K.. But, faced with an array of wonderful songs composed as well as sung by him, I was compelled to dwell on others also. It also gave me an opportunity to hear a large number of his songs at a stretch. In the beginning I had said that there are a few songs which retained a lasting imprint in our
hearts mainly because they were intimately linked to our childhood memories. One such song is S.D.Burman's,' Hai apna dil, to awaara', from the film, SOLVA SAAL. The film was released in the year 1958 when I was an under graduate. The young lead pair Dev Aanand and the new heroine Waheeda Rahman, the simplicity of the tune composed by S.D.Burman, the soft inimitable style of singing of H.K. in his unique voice, the No.I status of the song week after week culminating in its becoming the top song of 1958 in the popular Binanca Geetmala programme, the huge success of the film among the college students all made it the campus song of those days! Yes, the song and memories connected with it are still refreshingly fresh in the heart.

The second song is from the 1957 film, MISS MARY, a Gemini Ganeshan-Meena Kumari starrer with music composed by H.K. All the ten songs in the film sung mainly by Lata and Rafi were big hits. 'Oh raat ke Musafir'(Lata),'Brindaban ka Krishna kanhaiya'(Lata-Rafi),'Sakhiri sun bole'(Lata-Asha) were the better known and more popular of the ten. But to me the the best is the soft romantic song. 'Sogaya Saara Zamana, Neend kyoom Aati Nahin' crooned beautifully by Lata at her softest best bringing out every nuance intented by the music director. The moment one hears it he will be compelled to hum it ! Not only then, but even now, I prefer to enjoy the song late at night!

It is sad that these songs are becoming rarer over the radio even at places where AIR is airing Vividh Bharati and even over the DTH radio of Prasar Bharati.