Saturday, January 19, 2013



In my collection of gramophone records there are a few LP records of Pakistani singers and music directors including Mehdi Hassan, Noor Jahan, M. Ashraf(Music Director), Masud Rana,Runa Laila,  Nahid Akthar and so on. While legends like Mehdi Hassan,  Noor Jahan, Ghulam Ali, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Runa Laila are very popular in India and several of their  LP Albums were released throughout the  country singers like  Nahid Akthar remained fairly unknown for the music lovers of the country.

Singer Nahid Akthar was very active in Pakistani small screen and film music  during the 70s and 80s and she had a place of her own in the music world. In the same mould as Noor Jahan and Runa Laila  as far as traditional  style of singing Urdu  poetry, Pujabi folk songs and ghazals is concerned, Nahid Akthar has an expressive  voice of her own suited for all types of songs including film songs.She also has a powerful magnetic stage presence. She was introduced in Pakistani film music by the veteran music director  M. Ashraf in the film Nanha Farista(1974) with the song,’Jane kyun dil tarapta rahta hayao’. But she was catapulted into fame and popularity with the songs in film Shama again with music by M. Ashraf. The soft  melodious song, ‘Kisi mehrban ne’  and ‘Aise mausam mein chup kayoon ho’, both penned by Tazleem Faazli, are a treat to the ears.      In film  ‘Muhabbat Zindagi hai’ (Music M. Ashraf)there is this beautiful song. ‘Dil –Dil- Dil- Dil sambhala”showing the range of Nahid Akthar. All the three songs are included in the LP Album  FILM HITS-NAHID AKTHAR  a must possess album for lovers of Pakistani film songs. The album also includes a few popular songs of Nahid Akthar tuned by Kamal Ahmed.

But the most popular film song of Nahid Akthar is the  fast, foot tapping number from film Muhabat Zindagi Hai, viz., ‘Tut toro toroo tara tara’, her voice adapting to the need of the song with a lot of huskiness in the Asha Bhosle style.The song became so  popular that Nahid Akthar came to be identified with the song. ( song and several other similar fast, husky disco songs are included in the LP Album REFRESHINGLY NAHID AKTHAR. Apart from a few songs composed by M. Ashraf  songs tuned by music director Nizar Basmi are also there. Nahid Akthar’s versatality and range is amply  evident in the album NAHID SINGS PUNJABI HOT HITS . The album contains eleven Punjabi folk songs. The song ‘Munda mere pind da’(Music: Nazir Ali)stands out among them.

To the veteran music director M. Ashraf also goes the credit of introducing several singers like Shaukat Ali, Masud Rana, Nayyara Noor, Anwar  Rafi and so on in Pakistani film music.I have in my collection a few LP Albums of films for which music was composed by M. Ashraf. One is film DAMAN AUR CHINGARI  containing nine songs by Noor Jahan, Masud Rana,Ahmed Rushdi and the great Mehdi Hassan.The two film LP Album of films DO BADEN (Music:M.Ashraf) and SABAQ Music:Nizar Basmi) has twelve songs of the great singers like Mehdi Hasssan, Noor Jahan, Runa Laila, and so on.  Hearing Mehdi Hassan singing film songs is a refreshing experirnce.In the LP album of films PARDE MEIN RAHNE DO and AAS under the same composers we have again singers Noor Jahan , Runa laila,Nayyara Noor, Ahmed Rushdie and so on.There is also an exclusive LP album of Masud Rana containing his songs from various films.

It is unfortunate that singers like Nahid Akthar could not rise in popularity in India unlike a Noor Jahan , Runa Laila, Ghulam Ali and so on.   With the lifting of the ban on import into Pakistan  of Indian films in 2005 and the conscious liberal policy of cultural exchanges ( Business as usual policy as somebody remarked)there has been a flood of Pakistani singers and artists into India with some of them like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Adnan Sami ,Shafquat Amanat Ali,Veeena malik and so on earning fame and fortune.Obviously singers like Nahid Akthar  were the victims of the policies of the period.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Anybody listening to the song, 'Dil gham se jal raha hai', a masterly composition by Ghulam Mohammed for the film Shama could mistake it for a song of Lata eventhough it is a song by that wonderful singer Suman Kalyanpur . Again the same impression will definitely be reinforced when one hears the Snehal Bhatkar  melody, 'Haal-e- dil unko sunana tha' from film Faryad.The beauty of the voice, the talent, versatility, the authentic singing style  and the impression she had created among  listeners with a large number of hit songs under renowned music directors like Khayyam, S.D.Burman, Shankar Jaikishen, Roshan, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Madan Mohan and so on should have established her as a front line singer in Hindi film world. Unfortunately, it did not happen.  The fact that she remained as one of the most underutilised and unexplored singers of our time is  one of the several  similar contradictions and  under achievements  in Hindi film music as in the cases of Bhupinder Singh, Subir Sen, Hemlata, Jesudas and to a lesser extent, Mahendra Kapur.

Though Suman Kalyanpur had sung  only a limited number of solo songs there were a few outstanding numbers among them. The foremost among them is the one from film Baat  ek Raat Ki, viz., ‘Na tum hamen jano, na hum to me jaane’ under the baton of S.D.Burman. Then there is this melodious, ‘Sharabi sharabi yeh saawan ka mausum’  (film Noor Jahan, Music- Roshan) again echoing Lata’s voice and style of singing. Then there is this haunting song,’Mere mehboob na jaa’ from film Noor Mahal with music by Jane Babu Qawwal. In film Shagun, Suman Kalyanpur has two beautiful romantic numbers under the baton of the great Khayyam, viz., ‘Zindagi Zulm sahi jabr sahi gham hi sahi’ and ‘Bhuja diye hain khud apna hathon’. In film Mohabat Isko Kahte hain, Khayyam has  again used the voice of Suman Kalyanpur for this beautiful song, ‘Jo hum pe guzarti hai tanha’ to reveal her natural talent for singing melodies. In film Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan, music director Ravi has brought the best in Suman in the song ‘Ab to ankh lad chuki’. Music maestro  Madan  Mohan, known for his preference for Lata, had made Lata sing ‘Haal-e-dil yoon unhen sunaya gaya’ for film Jahan Aara, a  sort of cover version of Suman’s song, ‘Haal-e-dil’, from film Faryad. To many listeners the version by Suman was the better of the two. She had also sung several solo songs for music directors Duttaram, N,Dutta and so on.

Suman Kalyanpur’s versatility and range were evident in several semi classical songs she had beautifully rendered. The first song coming to  mind is ‘Mere sang ga gunguna’, a duet with Rafi, from film Janwar with music by Shankar Jaikishen.The beautiful ghazal, ‘Baad muddat ke yeh ghadi aayee’ from film Jahan Ara with music by Madan Mohan  and the Sonik Omi  title song with Rafi from film ‘Dil ne phir yaad kiya’ show her control over semi-clasical songs and ghazals. The song, Ajhun na aaye balamwa’ ‘ for S&J in film Sanj aur Savera is another semi-classical number of Suman. Her talent  for singing fast happy numbers is amply evident in a few duets with Rafi  like ‘Aajkal tere mere pyar ke charche’ (Film Brahmachari-Music S&J) and ‘Tumse oh haseena’(Film Farz-Music Laxmi Pyare) and ‘Tumne pukara aur hum chale aaye’ (Film Raj Kumar- Music S&J).
Probably the major contribution of Suman Kalyanpur to Hindi film music is the large number of melodious duets she had rendered with Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Mukesh and above all Muhammed Rafi. Her contribution will be remembered and taken forward through generations more by these duets than through her solo songs.In film Pyase Panchi with music by Kalyanji Anandji, there is this flowing duet with Hemant Kumar,viz., ‘Na jaane kahan tum the’.With Mukesh she had sung a few duets and the first coming to mind is,’Mera pyar bhi tu hai’ from Film Saathi (Music:Naushad).In film ‘Dil hi Tu Hai’ Mukesh and Suman sang this lilting ‘Chura le na tum ko mausam suhana’, the two voices complementing each other to the delight of listeners. Again under music director S.D.Burman in film Meri Surat Teri Ankhen Mukesh and Suman had sung the soft melody,’Yeh kitne geet chehda’which was very popular those days. With Manna Dey there are a few popular duets the prominent being ‘Na jaane kaha tum the’ from film Zindagi aur Khwab’ with music by Duttaram.The song ‘Tum jo aao to pyar aa jaye’ composed by Robin Banerjee for film Sakhi Robin was another popular duet of this duo. There is yet another duet ‘Yeh nasheelee hawa’ from film Neeli Aankhen (Music:Duttaram) emphasising the harmony of voices in duets which is missing in present day music in general.

Suman Kalyanpur’s duets with Muhammed Rafi  are many and varied bringing out the best in the singers. It is noteworthy that Suman Kalyanpur could sing  these songs at a time when the preferred voice for composers and producers  for singing all types of songs was that of Lata Mangeshkar. Probably the difference of opinion between Lata and Rafi over certain trade issues resulting in their not singing together over a period of time could have also helped. For the composers if Lata was not available the next best option was Suman Kalyanpur with the similarity in voices and singing style. It was for this reason that Suman Kalyanpur was often referred to as the ‘Poor man’s Lata’! Rafi and Suman had sung duets under most of the leading com[posers of the time. Apart from the duets mentioned earlier in this post  she had sung for Khayyam the song, ‘Parbeton ke pedon par sham ka basera hai’from film Shagoon; for Roshan the song, ‘Aise to na dekekho ki’ in film Bheegi Raat and ‘Rehena na rehenn hum’ for film Mamta; for Shankar Jaikishen several songs including, ‘Itna hai tumse pyar mujhe’ for film Suraj and for Kalyanji Anandji, the song ‘Na na karte pyar tumhe se kar baiten’ for film Jab Jab Phool Khile and so on.

In spite of her huge singing talent Suman kalyanpur could not reach the heights she richly deserved and she always remained as a second option mainly for the image that got rubbed on her as the poor man’s Lata. Her voice and ability to sing like Lata, instead of helping her, in fact, proved to be a handicap in her way upward. The whims,fancies and ‘polytricks’ in  the music industry of the period  also stood in the way. The bottom line is, regrettably, ‘loss’ to music lovers!