Wo Bhooli Dastaan Lo Phir Yaad Aa Gayi….
Late 80s. College. Rock & Metal. Hindi film music at its nadir. First old Hindi film music cassette. Lata Mangeshkar and Madan Mohan. Heaven!
That sums up how I was drawn to the wonderful world of old Hindi film music. As I outgrew my brief flirtation with rock music (I still go back to it from time to time with a certain nostalgic fondness), I turned to old Hindi film music. The first cassette I bought was picked up quite randomly. It was called "I Remember Madan Mohan" by Lata Mangeshkar. Since then, my obsession with old Hindi film music in general, and Lata Mangeshkar in particular, shows no signs of waning. I have been religiously collecting Lata Mangeshkar songs for many years now and have a collection of around 2400 songs in audio cassettes, CDs and mp3s.
A few months back, while cleaning up my database of Lata Mangeshkar songs I started a purely random exercise of picking up my favourite songs from among the 2400+ songs I have in my database. And that led to a list of 1 song per year, which I will be putting on this blog over the next few weeks. Needless to say, this is purely a personal list, with personal predilection and past memories having a huge role to play in the final outcome. This is also based on a database of 2400 songs I have heard, which is probably just a third of all songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
The earliest song I have is Lata Mangeshkar's first ever song sung in 1942 (at least the first song used in a movie) – Chaitrachi Navalai, a duet with Snehaprabha from the Marathi film Pahili Mangalagaur. But since that is in Marathi, it does not make this list.
Without further ado, let's move on with the list.
1946: Lata Mangeshkar's first Hindi film song was released in 1945, but the earliest one I have is from 1946. She sang a duet with Shanta Apte under Vasant Desai's music direction for a film called Subhadra. The song - Main Khili Khili Phulwari - was also picturised on her.
Main Khili Khili Phulwari (1946 - Subhadra - Vasant Desai - Moti B.A.)
1947: Lata Mangeshkar's first playback song for a Hindi film was released this year. Although this song from the film Aap Ki Seva Mein was first recorded in 1945, it was released as a record only in 1947. Written by actor Mahipal and composed by Datta Davjekar, this thumri – Paa Lagoon Kar Jori Re – did not get much attention and Lata Mangeshkar had to wait another year before Hindi film music directors took notice of her talent.
Paa Lagoon Kar Jori (1947 - Aap Ki Seva Mein - Datta Davjekar - Mahipal)
1948: Music aficionados would know how Lata Mangeshkar's voice was rejected by a leading film producer for being too thin, and then Master Ghulam Haider took it as a challenge to mentor her. In 1948, Ghulam Haider did several songs with her, including her first major break with Dil Mera Toda (Majboor) that is believed to have been instantly composed while traveling on a local train or Bedard Tere Dard Ko (Padmini) that was composed through the night. However, it would be wrong to give the sole credit to Master Ghulam Haider since other music directors like Khemchand Prakash, Anil Biswas and Naushad had as much role to play in giving her singing opportunities. If I were to pick up my favourite song from this year, it would be Ek Dil Ka Lagana from Anokha Pyar. For this film, Anil Biswas chose wife Meena Kapoor as the voice of the lead heroine Nargis, whereas Lata Mangeshkar was the voice of Nalini Jaiwant. In those days, each song used to be recorded twice – once for the film, and once for the gramophone record. Meena Kapoor fell sick when the gramophone disc of Anokha Pyar was to be recorded and Lata sang all the songs for the disc. This meant the future generations would hear Lata's voice as the primary voice of Anokha Pyar . Listen to both versions:
Ek Dil Ka Lagana Baaqi Tha (1948 - Anokha Pyar - Anil Biswas - Zia Sarhadi)
Lata Mangeshkar's version from the disc:
Meena Kapoor's version from the film:
1949: This was the year! The hurricane called Lata Mangeshkar completely swept the Hindi film music industry. She sang a mammoth 161 songs this year and had several huge hits – Ladli with Anil Biswas, Andaaz and Dulari with Naushad, Patanga and Sipahiya with C Ramchandra, Badi Behen with Husnlal Bhagat Ram, and of course the biggest hits of them all – Mahal with Khemchand Prakash and Barsaat with Shankar Jaikishan. Of these 161, I have 76 songs (by 12 music directors from 26 films) in my collection and it's not easy to pick up one favorite. Do I pick up Aayega Aanewala (Mahal) over Jiya Beqarar Hai (Barsaat)? Uthaye Ja Unke Sitam (Andaz) over Kabhi Khamosh Ho Jana (Patanga)? Chale Jana Nahin (Badi Behen) over Chanda Gaye Pardes (Chakori). If I really have to pick one, then I would go for Shyam Sunder's Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi (Lahore). Not only is this song (along with another by the same music director in the film Bazaar - Sajan Ki Galiyan Chhod Chale ) beautifully composed and expertly sung (though still in the Noor Jehan mode), they somehow get overshadowed by obvious biggies like Mahal and Barsaat.
Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi (1949 - Lahore - ShyamSunder - Rajinder Krishan)
To read about my favourite Lata Mangeshkar songs from the 1950s, read on.