Walking down the memory lane, there are several films that evoked plenty of nostalgic memories of our younger days. One such film is Bimal Roy Productions, MADHUMATI (1958) directed by Bimal Roy with Dilip Kumar and Vijayantimala in the lead. The novelty of the story and theme, viz. reincarnation and life after death, beautiful picturisation, pleasing performance by the lead and supporting actors, the way the story was handled retaining the suspense till the end and above all, the fascinating songs and music by Salil Choudhury made lasting impressions especially on the younger viewers.The fact that the film bagged six National Awards and nine Filmfare Awards for all the major categories added to its aura. Bimal Roy, who had earlier made such wonderful films like PARINEETA, DO BHIGA ZAMIN, DEVDAS, NAUKRI, BIRAJ BAHU etc. acquired cult status with Madhumati and went on to make highly acclaimed films like SUJATA, BANDINI, PARAKH and so on.
While listening to the LP record of Madhumati on my record player, I realised that the most important factor for the success of the film was the music of Salil Chowdhury . The LP record holds 12 songs of the film and most of them are even today hugely popular with Lata’s Filmfare Award winning ‘Aaja re pardesi’ topping the list. The Lata-Mukesh duet “Dil tadap tadap’ is regarded as one of the top duets ever of Hindi films. The Mukesh-Salil-Dilip Kumar song, ‘Suhana safar aur mausam’ happens to be a rare song of Salil Chowdhury filmed on Dilip Kumar. Two lively group songs, viz., ‘chad gayo papi bichhua’ and ‘Zulmi sang aankh ladi’adds variety and displays Salil’s penchant for folk music. Mubarak Begum’s sweet and soulful ‘Ham hal-e-dil sunnaaeenge’was a hit over the radio those days. Not in the least is one of Rafi’s best ever ‘Toote hue khwabon mein’ making the LP record of the film one of the most sought after one even now.
Many of the well known and popular songs of Talat Mahmood were composed by Salil Choudhury and the songs of film CHHAYA , a Sunil Dutt – Asha Parekh starrer, come readily to mind.The song , ‘Ankhon mein masti sharaab ki’, is a rare, but beautiful and pleasant, romantic song of Talat as against his usual ghazals. So also is the song, ‘Itna na mujhse to pyar badha, sung solo by Talat as weIl as as a duet with Lata. Talat is at his ‘ghazali best’ in the song ‘Aansoo samajh ke kyon mujhe’ from this film. The duet of Talat with Lata, ‘Aha rim jim ki ye pyare pyare’ from film USNE KAHA THA and the song,’Raat ne kya kya’ from film EK GAON KI KAHANI are Salil Choudhury’s gems with Talat. And for me Lata’s best song for Salil Chudhury after ‘Aaja re pardesi’ is the melodious lilting song from film PARAKH, viz., ‘Oh sajana barkha bahar ayi’.
Two songs of Mukesh for Salail Coudhury, I just remembered, are the one from the superhit Rajesh Khanna film AANAND,viz., ‘Kahin door jab din dhal jaye’ and the immortal song from the Raj Kapur film JAGTE RAHO, viz., ‘Zindagi kwab mein’ which haunts listeners even today. I also remember two songs of Jesudas for Salil, a popular duet with Asha in film CHHOTI SI BAAT,viz.,’Jan-e-man jane-e-man’, an example as to how a duet is to be sung with the singers trying to excel each other at the same time retaining the mood and tempo of the song. The other is the semi-classical song, ‘Ni sa ga ma pa ni.’ from film ANAND MAHAL. It is also a fact that only Salil Choudhury and music director Ravindra Jain could exploit fruitfully the talent and voice of Jesudas at his prime for Hindi films.
Any discussion of Salil Choudhury’s music without mentioning his fine compositions in film MAYA could be termed incomplete. Lata Mangeshkar’s lilting ‘ Ja re ja re ud ja re panchi’ and Rafi’s fast paced ‘Koi sone ke dilwala’ are outstanding numbers. But, to me, what makes the music of the film noteworthy are the two duets. In fact Salil Choudhury could be credited with some of the best duets of Hindi films with ‘Dil tadap tadap’(Lata Mukesh), ‘Itna na mujhko’ and ‘Ah ha rim jim’ (both by Lata-Talat), ‘Chhota sa ghar hoga’(Film Naukari- Kishore–Usha Mangeshkar)and so on proving the point.The two duets from film Maya are also equally fascinating. One is the lilting melody by Lata-Rafi, ‘Tasveer teri dil mein’ which is even now often heard on the radio. But the top of the chart is the two part duet , ‘Ae dil kahan teri manzil’ by Lata and the inimitable, but sadly foregotten, Dwijen Mukherjee. The tune of the song, meaningful lyrics, the beauty of the two sweet voices matching and complementing each other make this song a top favourite. Dwijen Mukheri, with a voice and singing style of Hemant Kumar, Aas ka Panchi Subir Sen and Hoke Majbhoor Bhupinder , was not heard much in Hindi films in spite of the success of this song and soon vanished from the scene to the utter disappointment of discerning listeners! But the song is still as refreshing as ever.
Salil Choudhury had used the tunes of his successful Hindi songs in Malayalam either for songs as such or in the background. For example, the tune of this beautiful song ‘Chhotta sa ghar hoga badalon ki chhaomen’ from film NAUKARI rendered by Kishore and Usha Mangeshkar has been beautifully used for O.N.V’s lyrics in film AIR HOSTESS for the song ‘Onnaanam kunninmel.’http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=chhotta+sa+ghar+hoga&ei=UTF-8&fr=moz35 In film CHEMMEEN the tune of the song ‘Baag mein kali khili’ from film CHAND AUR SURAJ has been fruitfully used in the background of the chaakara song ‘Pennale kannale’.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwAvatrW3XA
Salil Choudhury whose melody was based on Indian Classical music and folk music with orchestration influenced by Western music ruled the hearts of millions of listeners for more than 40 years. His musical creations will preserve his memory for generations to come.
Tail piece: Madhumati remains as the only film I had seen twice in a theatre. It was on its second release at a local theatre in 1960 on an intervening holiday of my degree exam!