Sunday, May 6, 2012


A  couple of days back I was listening to Vividh Bharati on my old radio a bit late at night when suddenly a long lost song from  AMAR DEEP, a Dev Aanand-Vyjayanthimala film of1958, came through like a whiff of fresh air in the sultry room. The song is the duet, ‘Dekh haemin aawas dena’, by Rafi and Aasha, tuned by C.Ramachandra. The song was a very popular one in the late 50s and the early 60s when not a day passed without hearing this song at least once  on Vividh Bharati or Radio Ceylon on their listeners’ request programs. Though the film itself had not won the limelight the songs of the film , especially ‘Dekh hamein’ and ‘Man ke bawra panchi’ had topped the popularity charts  for a long time. What made the song, dekh haemin, linger in the hearts of the listeners was the way the two singers apparently tried to excel each other to make it captivating. It was a refreshing experience to hear the song again on the radio after several years..In fact the night appeared to be special as several of those nostalgic songs like ‘So gaya saara zamana , neend quum aathi nahi’(Lata) from film Miss Mary and the  ‘Oohh neeend na mujhko aaye, dil mera kabraye’(Hemant Kumar-Lata) from film Post Box 999 and  a few others were also heard caressing me to sleep  as a contented listener.
Listening to these songs again on my old radio  my mind went back to several of those very popular old songs which had given us enormous pleasure in our younger days and which continues to do so even now whenever they are heard over the radio or the TV. An interesting feature of these songs is the fact that people still remember them even though many of the  films were not very popular and successful at the box office . In fact even now  people identify the films by the songs and many of these films  had only one or two songs, so enchanting and evoking nostalgia, that  keep the films still in peoples’ mind. It is sad that many such songs are not heard nowadays except  sometimes on Vividhbharati and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corpn on SW.
On a quick mental scan one such song coming to my mind is the beautiful composition by S.N.Tripati from film RAANI ROOPOMATI. It is a Mukesh number, ‘Aah laut ke aaja mere meet ’penned by Bharat Vyas. I stiil remember hearing the song from the local theatre over the loud speaker for months even after the film had vanished from memory. The grief filled voice of Mukesh is all there to be  absorbed by the discerning listener. One should also hear one of the most beautiful duets of all time ,’Zara saamne to  aavo chhaliye, chup chup chalne mein’ composed by S.N Tripati  for the film JANAM JANAM KE PHERE, to realize how great, but how much underrated a composer he was!
The name of music directors, Shankar-Jaikishen, was  always synonymous with box- office success as most of the films for which they had composed music were huge hits. There were two films, AMRAPALI and  SASURAL  which did not get much critical acclaim at that time but there was one song in  each which had caught the hearts of the listeners. The song, ‘Jao re jogi tum jago re’ by Lata, from Amrapali,  picturised on Vyjayantimala is one such song though rarely heard nowadays. The song is a great example of Shankar-Jaikishans’ mastery over semiclassical compositions. The song, ‘Teri pyari pyari surat ko’ from film Sasural was hugely popular especially  among  college students and it used to be the song in the functions of college art societies. Rafi imparting the youthful exuberance and romance contributed much to the success of the song. No wonder Rafi got the Filmfare Award for the best male singer for the song in 1962 and it was the number one song in the Binaca Geetmala program for the year. The film is remembered even today only for this song. There is yet another Shankar-Jaikishen song,.  from the DevAanand-Mala Sinha film LOVE MARRIAGE, a beautiful duet of Rafi and Lata, ‘Dheere Dheere chal, Chand gagan mein’. This was a very popular song  repeatedly heard over Vividh bharati those days on listeners’ requests.
Another song from a Dev Aanand –Mala Sinha starrer ,MAYA, is the one by the velvet voiced singer from Bengal, Dwijen Mukherjee, ‘Yeh dil kahan teri manzil’. There are two versions of this song in which Lata also had rendered a portion. The beautiful composition by Salil Choudhury was a great melodious hit . But, somehow, the song did not linger long probably for the overwhelming success of  the Rafi-Lata duet,’Tasveer tere dil mein’ from the same film. The gifted singer in the Subir Sen-Hemant Kumar mould who could have become a MannaDey, Talat or Hemant Kumar, did not get many chances in Hindi film music, a big loss  for  listeners. To many, the film MAYA  instantly brings Dwijen Mukherji’s song to mind.
That reminds me of another song, a rare Mukesh-Rafi duet, ‘Badi door se aaye hain, pyar ka tofa layi hain’, composed by Kalyanji Aanandji for the film SAMJAUTA . In fact Rafi used to begin his stage programs especially abroad by first singing this song to the utter delight of expatriate Indians. The feeling  which Rafi  imparted  to this song in a couple of  stage programs I was fortunate to attend is still fresh in memory; a  song which could take  the audience with the singer throughout but  rarely heard nowadays.
There are two songs by composer Ravi which had outlived the memory of the films. One is the lovely song by Rafi, ’Husnewale tera jawab nahin’ from film GHARANA a top of the chart song in the Binaca Geetmala  program and a song which gave Ravi the Filmfare award for the best music director in 1961. The other  song is one in which Ravi showed he is not behind anybody as far as rhythm is concerned. Yes, it is the Rafi song from the 1962   film CHINA TOWN , a Shammi Kapur- Shakila starrer, ‘Bar bar dekho, hazar bar dekho’ a highly popular song but slowly being pushed into oblivion in the rush of fast paced rocky numbers churned out these days. But for old enthusiasts the charm of ‘bar bar dekho’ never fades.
Music directors, Laxmikant-Pyarelal  burst into the Hindi film music scene with outstanding compositions in film PARASMANI and went on to become the number one in the field with Raj Kapur opting for them, in place of  their regular composers  Shankar-Jaikishen, with the film BOBBY. But there is one composition from their early film MR.X IN BOMBAY , a  suspense thriller with Kishor Kumar in the lead, viz., the Kishor Kumar song in two parts,’Mere mehboob  qayamat hogi’. It is a haunting melody superbly rendered in a voice that gelled with the mood of the song. Nobody talks about this film nowadays  but there are music lovers who still remember and listen to this song.
Film AKHRI KHAT was an off beat film telling the story of a child left alone in a city and there is a hauntingly melodious song  by Lata, ‘Baharon mera jeevan bhi sawaro’,. The tune composed by the great Khayyam and with Lata at her singing best made this song  memorable. It was a song frequently heard over the radio , a favourite in the listeners’ request programs. The LP record of the film is special as its Side 2 presents pieces from the beautiful background score of Khayyam.
There are a large number of such songs flashing through my mind but I will stop with mentioning one or two more. One, though may fall in the ancient category, is from film BADI BAHEN. The song composed by Husnlal Bhagatram,  ‘Chup chup khade ho, by Lata andPremlata, was our favourite song as children and was  heard over the gramophone during marriage functions. I still remember  several popular parodys of this song in Malayalam. There is also Talat Mahmood’s song  from film ASHIANA, the first major break the singer got from composer Madan Mohan. The trembling voice of the singer was at its best in this song ,’Mera qarar leja’. Alas ! This song nowadays is not heard even on special programs on Talat Mahmood or Madan Mohan.  

There is another film, BOMBAI KA BABU, a Dev Aanand- Suchitra Sen starrer,which had several outstanding songs composed by S.D. Burman.The film did not succeed in spite of the songs and the refreshing and one of the rare appearance of Suchitra Sen in Hindi films.The song, Chalri sajni ab kaya' by Mukesh, 'Saathi na koyi manzil' by Rafi and 'Dekhne mein bola hai' by Asha were great songs. But the Rafi -Asha duet, 'Deewana Mastana hua dil' is one of the best ever and an example as to how a song should be rendered to the mood of the situation. The voice of Rafi was at its best.

It is sad that many  such songs of the 50s,60s and 70s are slowly but surely being pushed into oblivion  as the young generation has no chance to hear them unless they make conscious effort to search for them. CDs and MP3 discs containing the beautiful songs of the past are easily available in music stores. Old songs are also available even now on Vividhbharat in their programs like Manoranjan etc and at night from 10PM onwards in their Chhaya Geet and listeners’ request programs.  Vividhbharati  still give the names of the film, the singer, music director,and the lyricist before or after each song which is always a delight. An encouraging development is that one or two English news channels are running special programs  based on Hindi film stars, singers, music directors etc. to the delight of  lovers of old Hindi film songs. Even in one of our Regional channels a beautiful program titled RAAG RANG on old Hindi film songs is shown.But with dwindling awareness, changing tastes and the overwhelming  presence of fast paced music of the ‘kolavery’ age such golden oldies are on a losing track.

Tail piece:(heard from a friend)Mahe is a place famous for its liquor shops and bars,  a legacy of its former French rulers. Crossing the Mahe bridge and passing through the streets lined with bars, the song ‘Bar bar dekho, hazar bar dekho’ came through the hired car’s music player!

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