Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lata Mangeshkar Sings For Shankar Jaikishan - Part 2

The Lata-Shankar Jaikishan association that produced such delectable melodies in the 50s, continued to remain strong, at least till the mid sixties. Of course the melodies paled in comparison to the 1950s, but that was true of the music scene in the 60s as a whole. At least in the earlier part of the 60s, there are many Lata-SJ songs that are popular till date.

In 1960 came Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi, a Kishore Sahu directed Meena Kumari starrer tearjerker that had some nice Lata songs. My favourite from this film is the evergreen Ajeeb Dastan Hai Ye, a ditty that I like as much for Lata’s voice as for the preludes and interludes, and of course the excellent choral use.

Ajeeb Dastan Hai Ye - Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960) - Shailendra

The other Lata-SJ song that I love from 1960 is O Basanti Pawan Pagal from Raj Kapoor’s Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. This tune is a classic example of how SJ used some pieces of melody from the background score of their films to create a full-fledged song. The tune of this song came from the background music of Awaara.

O Basanti Pawan Pagal - Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) - Shailendra

It was at this time that SJ also started a trend of sorts by making Lata sing tandem versions of songs that were originally composed for a male singer (in most cases, Mohd. Rafi). This meant that she had to sing at an impossibly high-scale. Her tremendous vocal range was instrumental in her doing full justice to the songs (except in a few stray cases where her voice clearly showed signs of strain), but she is on record for not being too happy about this.

One such song is Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par from Juglee. In Lata Mangeshkar’s own words, “it was a difficult song because it has many high notes. The range of a male voice is much higher - and no one could sing as well in higher octaves as Rafi Sahib - so it was difficult to sing.” (Source: Lata Mangeshkar ... in her own words by Nasreen Munni Kabeer)

Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par - Junglee (1961) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Some of my other picks from the early 60s include:

Saiyan Na Chhedo Dil Ke Taar - Krorepati - A light number reminiscent of the Lata-SJ beauties from the 50s.

Saiyan Na Chhedo Dil Ke Taar - Krorepati (1961) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Tum To Dil Ke Taar Chhed Ke - Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja - Though essentially a Lata solo, the film version includes some humming by Talat Mahmood in the beginning.

Tum To Dil Ke Taar - Roop Ki Rani CHoron Ka Raja (1961) - Shailendra

Jhanan Jhanjhana Ke Apni Payal - Aashiq - The initial notes hummed by Lata Mangeshkar in this song based on Raag Shankara would later re-appear as a full-fledged song in Raat Aur Din.

Jhanan Jhan Jhana Ke Apni Payal - Aashiq (1962) - Shailendra

Tera Mera Pyar Amar - Asli Naqli - I like this song more for a sense of nostalgia than for anything else. This was one of the songs that drew me away from the rock and metal craziness of college in late eighties.

Tera Mera Pyar Amar - Asli Naqli (1962) - Shailendra

O Jaadugar Pyar Ke - Ek Dil Sau Afsane - Beautiful melody, quintessential SJ.

O Jaadugar Pyar Ke - Ek DIl Sau Afsane (1963) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Man Re Tu Hi Bata - Humrahi - A song I can listen in an endless loop.

Man Re Tu Hi Bata - Humraahi (1963) - Shailendra

Aaj Kal Mein Dhal Gaya - Beti Bete - A tandem song, where I actually prefer Lata’s version over Rafi’s

Aaj Kal Mein Dhal Gaya - Beti Bete (1963) - Shailendra

I am not much of a fan of SJ’s music post-1965, a lot of which sounds cacophonous to my ears. They did come up with some good melodies during this period, especially with Lata, but those were few and far between. Here are some of my picks from this period:

Bedardi Balma Tujhko - Arzoo - This is a good example of how SJ created some of the most evocative alaaps for Lata to croon. The entire song, however fails to live up to the promise of the alaap, save for the saxophone pieces in the interludes.

Bedardi Baalma Tujh Ko - Arzoo (1965) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Gumnaam Hai Koi - GumnaamOne of the many ‘haunting’ songs Lata sang.

Gumnaam Hai Koi - Gumnaam (1965) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Tumhen Yaad Karte Karte - Amrapali - If there is one SJ soundtrack I would pick as the best of post-65 SJ, it has to be Amrapali.

Tumhen Yaad Karte Karte - Amrapali (1966) - Shailendra

Tumhari Qasam Tum Bahut Yaad Aaye - Gaban

Tumhari Qasam Tum Bahut Yaad Aaye - Gaban (1966) - Shailendra

Koi Matwala Aaya Mere Dware - Love in Tokyo

Koi Matwala Aaya Mere Dware - Love in Tokya (1966) - Shailendra

Aa Aa Bhi Ja - Teesri Kasam - This song is very similar in structure and feel to the song from Gaban I had mentioned above.

Aa Aa Bhi Ja - Teesri Kasam (1966) - Shailendra

If I look at the list above, I realize that there were still quite a few (what I call) good songs by Lata-SJ in 1965-66. But 1967 is really the cut-off year. Post this it is quite a chore to find really good Lata-SJ songs, both because I don’t quite relish the quality of SJ’s music then and also that the sheer number of Lata songs for SJ during that period is quite less, as other female singers started singing for them more frequently.

Jeevan Ke Dorahe Pe - Chhoti Si Mulaqat - I pick this song for the same nostalgic reason mentioned earlier, though this film had another nice Lata song - Kal Nahin Paye Jiya.

Jeevan Ke Dorahe Pe - Chhoti Si Mulaqat (1967) - Shailendra

Awaara Ae Mere Dil - Raat Aur Din - I like every single song from this soundtrack. This is the song that germinated from the opening notes of the song from Aashiq, as I mentioned earlier.

Awaara Ae Mere Dil - Raat Aur Din (1967) - Shailendra

Tan Man Tere Rang - Archana (1973, Neeraj) - I have picked this song only because I wanted 70s to be represented, and this song is probably the only “good” Lata-SJ song from this period.

Tan Man Tere Rang - Archana (1973) - Neeraj

Madhubala’s last film, Jwala, was released in 1970, but its songs were recorded sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. It had a number of Lata songs, out of which I pick this one.

Jaagi Raat Bhar - Jwala (1970) - Rajinder Krishan

Thus ends the two-part post on my favourite Lata-SJ songs. Of course, given the sheer volume, there are many songs that I had leave out. On another day I might pick an entirely different list, but I do hope I have been able to provide a cross-section that is fairly representative of the entire body of work Lata and Shankar Jaikishan did together.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Lata Mangeshkar Sings For Shankar Jaikishan - Part 1

“I believe no one can equal the music composed by Shankar-Jaikishan. They composed classical songs, cabarets, dance numbers, love songs, sad and happy songs. Few composers have been able to match their range. Their music has extended the life of many films - films that would have otherwise been forgotten..."

Lata Mangeshkar (in Nasreen Munni Kabeer’s book, Lata Mangeshkar in Her Own Voice)

1949 was a significant year for Lata Mangeshkar in that it marked the beginning of her domination in the world of Hindi film playback singing - a domination that would last several decades. This year also saw the debut of one of the most successful composer duo in Hindi films - Shankar Jaikishan. Over the next 35 years, Lata and SJ collaborated on over 450 songs, many of which are firmly etched in the minds of Hindi film music lovers.

In the first part of this post, I will talk about the songs from the period 1949-59. This was the period when, in my opinion, SJ were at their creative best and Lata at the pinnacle in terms of voice quality. This was also the period when Lata was the main singer for SJ. She sang an unbelievable 65% of all songs composed by SJ during the period. And I really mean ALL songs, including those sung by male singers. During this period there were several SJ soundtracks (Mayurpankh, Kali Ghata, Parbat, Poonam, Aas, Aurat, Patrani, Halaku, etc.) where every track had Lata’s voice - solo, chorus backed, or with other co-singers. For this post I am focusing only on solos and chorus backed songs of Lata, although I believe that when it came to composing romantic duets for Lata there were very few composers who could come close.

Although people largely believe that Aayega Aanewala from Mahal that made Lata, I don’t think that’s entirely correct. True that the song is a masterpiece, but it was the simultaneous release of many outstanding soundtracks in a single year (1949) that established Lata Mangeshkar as a singer. And I also think in terms of popularity, the songs of Barsaat had a huge role to play in creating the legend of Lata Mangeshkar. With 10 songs by Lata, each a gem, SJ’s Barsaat is one of the most impactful debuts ever by a composer. I can never get tired of listening to the songs of this film.

Meri Aankhon Mein Bas Gaya Koi Re - Barsaat (1949) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Following the super-success of Barsaat, SJ got a number of assignments outside the RK banner where they came up with compositions that established the unique SJ stamp -simple, but extremely melodious tunes embellished with lush orchestration. Given below is a random sample of SJ compositions from the year 1951 sung by Lata. These songs demonstrate that the singer-composer duo was equally adept at sad songs and light, dance numbers.

Aa Jao Tadapte Hain Armaan - Awaara (1951) - Hasrat Jaipuri
Unse Pyaar Ho Gaya - Badal (1951)–Shailendra

DIl Mein Tu - Kali Ghata (1951) - Hasrat Jaipuri
Tune Haaye Mere Zakhm-e-Jigar Ko - Nagina (1951) - Shailendra

Each and every soundtrack SJ produced in the 50s had many lovely songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar. The only exception was RK Films’ Boot Polish in 1953. It was a big surprise because both Raj Kapoor and SJ had by now become staunch Lata loyalists. But this remained an aberration because Lata continue to be the main female singer for SJ till the mid 60s. Here are some more of my favourite Lata-SJ songs from the early fifties.

Aayi Aayi Raat Suhaani - Poonam (1952) - Hasrat Jaipuri
Ye Shaam Ki Tanhaiyan - Aah (1953) - Shailendra
Nainon Se Nain Hue Chaar - Aurat (1953) - Shailendra
Mitti Se Khelte Ho - Patita (1953) - Shailendra
Kaare Badra Tu Na Ja - Shikast (1953)–Shailendra

In the following song from Pooja, notice the prelude music, which formed the basis of a song from Seema a year later (Tu Pyar Ka Sagar Hai). There are many instances where SJ developed a tune used in the background music or preludes/interludes in song into full fledged songs.

Main Murlidhar Ki Murli - Pooja (1955) - Shailendra

In 1955 came Seema. I think it is a fairly significant film in SJ’s oeuvre, primarily because of two songs, both sung by Lata. This was the first time SJ composed something that was semi-classical. The first was Manmohana Bade Jhoote, a composition in Raag Jaijaiwanti. This (in my opinion) is one of the best (if not the best) Lata-SJ song of all time. Starting off with a lovely alaap, the songs highlights are the wonderful taans that Lata negotiates so effortlessly. The other noteworthy song from this film is Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya Ki, a composition in Raag Bhairavi. While the song is sung well by Lata, the real star of this song is Ustad Ali Akbar Khan who demonstrates one of the best use of Sarod in Hindi film music.

Manmohan Bade Khoote - Seema (1955) - Shailendra
Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya Ki - Seema (1955) - Hasrat Jaipuri

1956 was another big year for the Lata-SJ combo, who produced 50 songs this year. This meant that roughly one out of every 4 songs sung by Lata this year was composed by SJ. The 7 soundtracks SJ produced this year are in my opinion their very best. My personal choice includes Raj Hath, Patrani, Chori Chori , Halaku and the biggest of them all - Basant Bahar.

The producers of Basant Bahar had taken a big risk by taking on SJ as the composers instead of the favourites Naushad or Anil Biswas. While there was no questioning SJ’s ability to provide great, popular music, but they hadn’t demonstrated enough their mastery over songs based on classical music, which was so essential to this film. But see, what SJ produced - a soundtrack that made classical music so accessible to people! This was a soundtrack that can keep both the purists and laymen happy. Every song from this film is a masterpiece, but the Lata song I love Main Piya Teri, which is based on SJ’s favorite raga - Bhairavi - and has some amazing flute interludes by Pannalal Ghosh.

This clip includes the lovely flute prelude which unfortunately is not included in most audio releases of this song.

Main Piya Teri - Basant Bahar (1956) - Shailendra
Chandrama Madbhara - Patrani (1956) - Shailendra
Mere Sapne Mein Aana Re - Raj Hath (1956) - Shailendra

In my book, the following song from Halaku ranks very high on the melody quotient. The fluidity of the tune is brought alive by Lata Mangeshkar’s dulcet voice.

Ye Chaand Ye Sitaare - Halaku (1956) - Shailendra

In order to round-off this write up on the first 10 years of the SJ-Lata collaboration, I select one song per year from 1957-59, each belonging to a different genre

First, a soothing lullaby …

So Ja Re So Ja Mere Raj Dulare - Kathputli (1957) - Hasrat Jaipuri

Next, a light, romantic number …

Aate Jaate Pehloo Mein - Yahudi (1958) - Shailendra

Finally, a sad song. For me the high point of this song is the way Lata renders the second line of the mukhda - Koi Dekhe…

Tera Jana - Anari (1959) - Shailendra

In the next part of this post, I will talk about Lata Mangeshkar and Shankar Jaikishan in the 60s and beyond.