Sunday, February 15, 2015


When one thinks of old melodies, especially haunting melodies and ghazals of Hindi films one name that always come up top in the mind is that of the highly talented music director the late Madan Mohan (1924 – 1975).His career in Hindi film music,  beginning with the 1950 film Ankhen , to the haunting melodies of film ‘Woh kaun thi’(1964),  through his  National Award winning music in film Dastak(1970), to the much acclaimed music of ‘Mausam (1974) and to the films released posthumously including the IIFF Award winning music of  ‘Veer – Zaara’, had been a musical journey in the pursuit of  excellence  firmly rooted in Indian classical music where no compromises with quality were allowed.  There were innumerable films for which he had composed music in which the Madan Mohan stamp was always there even in those films which did not do well in  the box office.
One notable feature of Madan Mohan’s music was his penchant for using ghazal style for his compositions especially during his  earlier years. It was Madan Mohan who best exploited Talat Mahmood’s  voice and talent for ghazals beginning with MADHOSH(1951-Meena Kumari-Manhar Desai)).In this film Talat  rendered the beautiful lyric penned by Rajah Mehdi Ali khan,viz., ‘Meri yaad mein tumna aansoo bahana’ in his inimitable trembling voice. This song  remains a much listened Talat ghazal even today. In film AASHIANA(1952-Raj Kapoor- Nargis),  Madan Mohan composed two evergreen ghazals for Talat using the lyrics of Rajinder Kishen. One is, ‘Mera qarar leja’ and the other is, ‘ Mein paagal mera manva paagal’ often aired by Radio Ceylon and Vividh Bharati those days.  In film CHHOTE BABU (1957-Nimmi-Sekhar), there is this popular ghazal by Talat, viz., ‘Do din ki mohabat mein humne’ and  a Lata-Talat duet, ‘Teri chhamak ke aankhon mein’. In the highly popular  film DEKH KABIRA ROYA(1967) with lesser known actors like Anita guha and Annop Kumar,  Madan Mohan  again uses the voice of Talat Mahmood to create another great ghazal, ‘Hum se aaya na gaya tum se bulaya’, the lyrics penned by Rajinder Kishen. In fact this film was a big musical hit with a wide variety of songs composed by Madan Mohan. There are two semiclassical numbers by Lata, the first being ‘Lagan tose lagi balma’ and the sweet melodious ‘Meri veena tum bin roye’. Along with these two there is also  the soft, romantic melody, ‘Tu pyar kare ya thukraye’  indicating how best he uses Lata’s voice to embellish  his  rather difficult compositions. The film is also noted for one of the top semi-classical melodies of Manna Dey,viz., ‘Kaun aaya mere man ke dware’. It is a pity that the music of this film did not fetch a Filmfare Award for Madan Mohan.

The fruitful association of Madan Mohan with Talat continued in  films like BAHANA(1960), with  Meena Kumari  in the lead. The lyrics penned by Rajinder Kishen, viz., ‘Barehen aasman meri manzil bata’ was tuned soulfully for Talat to croon and again an Asha – Talat ghazal was created with the lines beginning ‘Teri nighahen mein teri hi baton mein’.  Lata’s melodious semi-classical number  ‘Ja re badra bairi ja’ was also there. Sadly these songs are not often heard nowadays.The culmination of the success of the duo of Madan and Talat was in  the film JAHAN ARA(1962-Bharat Bhusha-Mala Sinha)) . The three ghazals penned by Rajinder Kishen,’Phir wohi sham wohi gham’, ‘Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon’ and ‘Teri aankh ke ansoo’were probably the last of Talat’s fascinating ghazals for Hindi films as Talat Mahmood faded away thereafter to the regret of music lovers.
A few of the best ever filmy ghazals of Rafi was also composed by Madan Mohan.The one coming to my mind readily is, ‘Main nighahe tere chehre se’ and ‘Yah hi hai tamanna’ from film AAP KI PARCHHAYIYAN (1964-Dharmendra-Sashikala) with lyrics by Rajah Mehdi Ali Khan who along with Rajinder Kishen was the most favoured lyrist of Madan Mohan. In film DULHAN EK RAAT KI(1967- Dharmendra-Nutan)we can listen to Rafi at his melodious best with the song ‘Ek haseen sham ko dil mera kho gaya’(Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan).In film GATEWAY OF INDIA (1957-Bharat Bhushan-Pradeep Kumar-Madhubala)the duet ‘Do ghadi woh to pass ho baithe’ has two versions, one by Asha-Rafi and the other by Lata-Rafi,  both versions equally captivating. In film AAKHRI DAU(1958-Sekhar-Nutan)there is this popular Rafi ghazal.’Tujhe kya sunaon mein dilruba’ and the melodious Rafi-Asha duet, ‘Humsafar saath apna chhod chale’.

Another feature of Madan Mohan’s music was his preference for female voice and most of his haunting melodies were  in female voice. In fact a perusal of the LP albums of films with his music will reveal the dominance of female singers which, of course,  in no way had affected the quality of his songs. In film ADALAT (1958-Nargis-Pradeep Kumar) all the songs except a chorus were in female voice  with Lata’s ‘Yun hasraton ke dagh’ and ‘Unko yeh shikayat hai’ topping the list.It was only in his earlier films when he was using the voice of Talat Mahmood  that we could see better use of male voice. Still Madan Mohan had used the voice of Mukesh for two of his famous melodies.One is the grief  filled melody from film DUNIYA  NA MANE(1959-Mala Sinha-Pradeep Kumar)viz., ‘Ham chal rahe hai, woh chal rahe hai, Magar duniyawalo ke dil jal rahe hai’. There is also a happy version of this song, a duet, by Lata -Mukesh. The other is a ghazal from SANJOG(1961-Anita Guha-Pradeep Kumar),viz.,’Bhooli hui yadon’ which used to be heard frequently over the radio. Film Sanjog is also noted for two of the most popular melodies of Lata,viz.,’Woh bhooli dastan lo phir yaad a gayi’and  ‘Badli se nikla hai chaand’. The strength,timbre and quality of Lata’s voice are in full evidence in these songs as well as in the song ‘Ham pyar me jalne walo ko chaine kaha haaye aaram kahe’ from film JAILOR(1958- Raj Kumar-Gita Bali). No wonder Lata remained as the most trusted singer of Madan Mohan and their personal rapport seemed to have contributed much to the success of the duo.  No wonder that Lata’s tribute to Madan Mohan echos this .  “Madan Mohan’s music will prevail; for it embodied melody, the basis of Indian music. It was my privilege to have sung for him.”
The songs of film WOH KAUN THI(1964-Sadhana-Manoj Kumar)’ was the crowning glory of Madan Mohan’s  musical success. The film with supernatural incidents as its central theme, as in films like Madhumati and Bees Saal Baad, had some of the top haunting melodies common for such themes those days. The song “ Aajare pardesi(Madhumati-Lata- Music: Salil Chaudhury) and  ‘Kahin deep jale kahi dil( Bees Saal Baad-Lata-Hemant Kumar)were till then two of the top such songs.  But Madan Mohan, with three songs by Lata, viz., ‘Naina bharase rim jim rim jim’, ‘Jo hamne dastan apnee sunaaee aap kyon roye’ and ‘Lag jaa gale se phir ye haseen raat ho na ho’ rewrote history. The beautiful lyrics of these songs were by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan and no wonder why he became one of Madan Mohan’s preferred lyricists. That reminds me about a rare duet of Madan in this film, viz.,the  breezy “Chhod kar tere pyar ka daman’ (Lata-Mahendra Kapoor)The music  of this film was nominated for Filmfare Award for best music but to Madan Mohan’s eternal disappointment the Award was given to Laxmikant Pyarelel for film DOSTI. Even prior to Woh Kaun Thi,  Madan Mohan in film ANPADH(1962-Dharmendra-Mala Sinha) had composed  a few beautiful melodies including the path breaking ‘Aap ki nazaron ne samjha’ of Lata. There  is also a rare comic song in the film , Mahendra Kapoor’s ‘Sikandar ne porus se’. The success of Woh kaun thi  led director Raj Khosla to make two more films with similar theme viz. Mera Saaya and Anita. For Mera Saaya  Madan Mohan composed yet another haunting memody for Lata,viz., ‘Too jahan jahan chalega mera saaya sath hoga’ which was a superhit.  But for film ANITA  Laxmikant Pyarelel was assigned to do the job. Obviously, by then this musical duo had arrived on top. The decline of Madan Mohan  also started around this period.

Madan Mohan continued to compose music for several films but the magic, somehow, remained unnoticed. The films were not box office successes and top artists were also not there in them. He tried to make a come back with HEER RANJHA (1970) and DASTAK(1971-Sanjeev Kumar-Rehna Sultan) but it was not enough. The highly acclaimed Dastak  fetched the National Award for Madan Mohan with  Lata’s  ‘Baiyaan na bharo balma’ becoming highly popular. Again his music in film MAUSAM( 1974-Sanjeev Kumar Sharmila Tagore) showed that he had not lost his magic as the Lata-Bhupinder duet ‘Dil dhoondtha hai’ and  Lata’s  solo ‘Ruke ruke se qadam’ achieving tremendous popularity.But alas! In spite of his enormous talent and success he could not get the same prominence which Naushad, S.D.Burman, Shankar Jaikishen  and  even a Laxmikant Pyarelal could get. He was more like the ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ Khayyam and the ‘Hum Dono Jaidev who also could not achieve the celebrity status in spite of talent and success. Talat Mahmood, Madan Mohan’s most trusted male voice,  said of Madan Mohan; ‘ Madan Mohan never made any compromises in his life and in every tune he produced there was newness”. Probably his inability to make compromises stood in the way.

Friday, January 2, 2015


The years 1960 and 1961 were years of great melody in  Hindi films with the release of highy successful, musically charged films like  Mughal-E- Azam, Barsaat ki Raat, Kohinoor , Chaudvin ka Chaand, Junglee, Gharana, Sasural,Hum Dono, Kala Bazar  and so on. The decades  of the 50s and the 60s were also the heydays of great music directors like S.D.Burman, Shankar Jaikishen, Naushad, O.P.Nayyar,  Roshan and so on whose songs were hitting the top of the chart  on the radio and figuring prominently  in the list of winners of the Filmfare Awards . In the early 60s two songs from two films used to be heard several times daily  on the radio be it the Radio Ceylon or Vividh Bharati of  AIR. Both the songs are by Muhammed Rafi, the title song ‘Chaudvin ka chaand ho’ from that film and ,‘ Husnewale tera jawab nahin’ from film Gharana. They were two of the top songs of the period  and both were composed by the redoubtable, but less celebrated, music director Ravi ( Ravi Shankar Sharma-March 1926 – March 2012).There are several common factors for the two songs; both were penned by Shakeel Badayuni winning  Filmfare awards for best lyricist for the songs in 1960 and 1961; the song Chaudvin ka chaand  won for Rafi the Filmfare Award for the best male singer  and the song  Husnewale  tera jawaabb nahin  won for Ravi the Filmfare Award for the best music director ; both are beautiful romantic melodies delightfully picturised on the pairs of Guru Dutt-Waheeda Rahman and Rajinder Kumar - Asha Parekh respectively ; the first is intense and the other  happy and  light hearted. Frequently heard on the radio and repeatedly featuring in the weekly Binaca Geetmala programs the two songs  were our favourites  eventhough  the top of the hit  position in the Binaca Geetmala program for the years 1960 and 1961 were won by Roshan’s  ‘Zindagi bhar nahin ‘ (Barsaat ki Raat) and S & J’s ‘Teri pyari pyari’ (Sasural) respectively.

Ravi’s  earlier films  like Vachan, Ek Saal, Dilli ka thug, Chirag Kahan Roshni kahan and so on also had several beautiful songs in them. Film Dilli ka thug had a few popular songs by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle like ‘ Yeh ratein yeh mausam nadi ka kinare’ (Kishore -Asha), Yeh bahar yeh shama(Asha) and  the hilarious, ‘C.A.T.,  CAT  Cat mane billie’ (Kishore). In Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan there is this children’s song ‘Tim tim karke tare...’. In Ek Saal there is this immortal ghazal of Talat Mahmood, ‘ Sub kuch luta ke hosh  mein aaye to kya hua’.  But it was Ckaudvin ka Chaand  which gave Ravi the well deserved recognition as a top music director of Hindi films. The song scene of the title song Chaudvin ka chaand showed how best even black and white photography (Cinematography- V.K.Murthy) can exploit the light and shade to glorify a scene.The film has a few other wonderful  songs like Rafi’s ‘Yeh Lucknow ki sar zameen’ and the Asha Bhosle – Shamshad Begum qawwali, ‘Sharma ke kyun pardanashin’ (two parts). The song ‘Husnewale tera jawwaab nahin’ from film Gharana still remains as one of the top romantic songs of Rafi.There was no looking back  thereafter for Ravi in the 60s and early 70s when he came out with  musical hits  for films after films like Khandan, Bharosa, Kajal, Gahra Daag, Pyar ka Saagar, China town,Do Badan, Ankhen, Waqt, Neeel Kamal, Tower House, Yeh raaste hai pyar ki, Aaj aur Kal  and many more.

The music of film Khandan (Sunil Dutt- Nutan)brought for Ravi the Filmfare award for best music director in 1965; the song ‘Tuhmi meri mandir’, one of the noted bhajans of Lata, brought  her the Filmfare award for best female playback singer and the best lyricist award for Rajinder Kishen.  The Guru Dutt – Asha Parekh starrer Bharosa  had a  beautiful song by Rafi, ‘Is bhare duniya mein’ and a duet, ‘Aap ki mulakat  bas itni’ by Lata and the then new singer Mahendra Kapoor.For Ravi, Asha  remained his favourite female voice with songs like the bhajan, ‘Tora man darpan’ and the semiclassical number, ‘Chhun chhun gungharu bole’ both from  film Kaajal( Dharmendra-Hema Malini),the  ‘Jab chali tandi hawa’number from film Do Baaden (Asha Parekh- Manoj Kumar),  the songs ‘ Chehre pe khushi chha jaati hai’ and ‘the haunting ‘Aage bhi jane na  tu’ from the star studded film Waqt (Raj Kumar, Sadhana,Sashi Kapur, Sharmila Tagore, SunilDutt, Rahman and Balraj Sahni) and many more from other films.But it is also a fact that some of the best songs of Ravi in female voice were also by Lata like, e.g., the melodious ‘Lo aagayi unki yaad’ from Do Baadan,’Lagi na mora jiya’ from film Gunghat,’ Ai mere dil-e-naadan’ from Tower House, ‘Milti hai zindagi’ from  Ankhen and so on. In Yeh raaste hai payarki’, a film based on a real life story and in which Ashoj Kumar gave a memorable performance as the defence lawyer, there is  the title song, ‘yeh raaste hai pyar ki’ by Asha and a duet of  Asha with Rafi,’ Yeh kahmoshiyan yeh Tanhaniyan’ boh very popular and frequently heard on the radio those days but sadly missing nowadays. This applies to the rare songs of Mukesh for Ravi in film Pyar ka Saagar, e.g. ‘the duets with Asha,‘Vafaa jin se ke bewafa ho gaye’and the grief filled ‘Pyar ka saagar dekha hai’. That reminds me of the songs of Mukesh for Raj kapur in film Nazrana, especially the beautiful inter active duet with Lata,‘Bikhrake zulfein chaman mein' and the sad Mukesh solo,‘Ek woh bhi Diwali thi.

Film Gumrah( Sunil Dutt-Mala Sinha) marks the beginning of a long and fruitful association of Ravi with singer Mahendra Kapoor . In fact it was Ravi  who lifted the singer, reeling under the shadow of a Rafi at his peak,  to the centre stage with this film. In fact there was no song for Rafi in this film and the three solos rendered by Mahendra Kap oor, viz., ‘Aap aayen’, ‘Aa bhi ja’ and Chalo ek bar’ earned for him an identity of his own and listeners  could  connect to his voice and style separate from that of Rafi. The songs were super hits on the radio and Mahendra kapoor won the Filmfare Award for the best male playback singer for the song ‘Chalo ek baar’. The duet, ‘aaja aaja re’ with Asha also was hugely popular. Film Gumraah was followed by Waqt in which  Mahendra Kapoor had three duets with Asha the top being ,’Maine ek khwab sa dekha hai’ and, ’Din hain bahar ke ‘ a close second. Of course the most popular song of the film  is by Rafi,viz., ‘Waqt se din aur raat’  followed closely by the evergreen Manna Dey hit, ‘Ae mere Zohra Jabeen’.

The success of the team of Ravi-Sahir Ludianvi(lyrics) and Mahendra Kapoor  in film Gumraah and Waqt was repeated in the super hit film Hamraaz(Sunil Dutt-Vimi- Raaj Kumar). In fact it was Mahendra Kapoor all the way in this film with four super hit solos including , ‘ Yeh  neele gagan ke tale’ which won him the Filmfare Award for the best male playback singer for 1967. The song ‘Na moonh chupake jiyo’ and ‘Tum agar saath dene ka wada karo’ were also super hits along with the high pitched,  melodious ‘Kisi pather ke murat se’. These songs were  a fitting reply to the critics, many of them perhaps motivated, who sidelined Mahendra Kapoor  as a singer who adopted Rafi’s style. The singer’s own style was, of course, obvious  to the discerning listeners.

There are two films the music of which showed Ravi’s talent and range in different types  of music. One is film China Town, (1962-Shammi Kapoor-Shakila) in which all the songs were by Rafi and Asha. The film offered ample scope for dance songs, Rock-n-roll and club dance songs etc. and Ravi showed that he could do justice to the need. Though the film was not a huge hit  the songs were very popular , the ‘Bar bar dekho ‘ in particular, with Rafi sizzling.  The songs ‘Yumma yumma yumma’ and the title song ‘China town’ shows Asha in her elements . The duets of Rafi and Asha, ‘Bada quatil hai’ and ‘Humse na poochho’, were also pleasing. Ravi with these vibrant foot tapping songs showed that he can give even O.P. Nayyar  a run for his money as far rhythm is concerned.

The other film which tested Ravi’s talent is the 1982 film Nikaah with Raj Babbar, Deepak Parashar and Salma Agha in the lead.  All the songs of the film were Ghazal based ones as demanded by the theme  and all of them were rendered by Mahendra kapoor and the leading lady Salma Agha herself.The ghazals were appreciated by the discerning listeners and it was Salma Agha who got the Filmfare award for the best playback singer of the year for her song ‘Dil ke armaan ansuon mein bah gaye’, the special nasal timbre of her voice helping her to do justice to the composition. This is true in the case of ‘Fiza bhi hai jawab bhi (in two parts) also. Mahendra kapoor shows his range in the ghazal,  ‘Bete hue lamhon ki kasak saath to hogi’ and also in the duet with Salma, ‘Dil ki yeh arzoo thi’ with  clear, emphatic delivery of words. The qawwali,’ Chehra chhupa liya hai kisi ne nagar  mein’  by Kapoor, Asha and Salma is an added attraction.  The LP album of the film also contains Ghulam Ali’s famous composition ‘Chupke chupke raat din’ making it a collectors’ item.

Music director Ravi who was very busy in Hindi film music till the early years of the 70s   was seen less and less thereafter and during the 80s and 90s became very busy in Malayalam films  especially in association with director Hariharan and poet/lyricist O.N.V. Kurup  and came out with award winning music in  films like Panchagni, Nakhashatangal, Sargam ,Vaisali, Parinayam, Srukretam, Ghazal and so on. He won National award for best music Director  for films  Parinayam and Sukrutam and Kerala State Award for  Nakhakshatangal and  Sargam. Singer K.S.Chitra won her third National Award for the song ‘Indupushpam choodi’ from film Vaisali.

 Though Ravi came back into  Hindi film music strongly with Nikaah in 1982, he was unable to weave his former magic as by then the trend had changed with the ascendancy of Kishore Kumar, Lakshmikant Pyarelal and so on  and  had to remain content with working in Malayalam films with Mayookham(2005) being his last Malayalam film. Music Director Ravi, Known as Bombay Ravi in Malayalam film world continues to be remembered and respected in Kerala as a king of melodies.

Tail piece:-There was a successful Palmolive ad featuring Kapil Dev and the jingle ‘ Pamolive da jawab nahin’ seemed to have been inspired by the Gharana song,’Husnewale tera jawab nahin’.