Friday, March 25, 2016

Phir Wo Bhooli Si Yaad Aayi Hai … Remembering Sapan - Jagmohan

This piece is written by Shankar Iyer. It first appeared as part of the Guzra Hua Zamana series on Sangeet Ke Sitare, a music group on Facebook.

Sapan Jagmohan Collage GHZ
Picture Courtesy Kaustubh Pingle; Posters Sourced from and other online sources

Some composers in Hindi Film Music (HFM) have not had the privilege of being associated with large or well-known banners. Music composer duo Sapan - Jagmohan would fall in that category; although they did work with B R Ishara, who cannot easily be called “low-profile”. That said, with more than 70 films across Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and Bhojpuri languages, their music output deserves a closer look, greater appreciation and better representation amongst connoisseurs and masses.

Sapan - Jagmohan began their career as duo in the early 1960s. Theirs was an interesting mix - the lilting rhythms of Punjab (Jagmohan Bakshi) with soft melodies of Bengal (Sapan Sengupta). Their overall style evolved, occasionally imbibing from various sources, but inherently built around their individual music backgrounds and erudite abilities.

SapJagBorn on 17 July 1932, Sapan Sengupta spent his childhood as neighbour to renowned composer and singer Pankaj Mullick. The influence was evident; Sapan regarded Pankaj-da as his guru, getting to learn and draw inspiration from the man’s work and prevailing musical atmosphere. Pankaj Mullick‘s son was Sapan’s friend and that too helped. On the other hand, the love of singing and music brought Jagmohan Bakshi (born 29 July 1929) to Bombay. Graduating from Lucknow University, Jagmohan was known to be fond of dancing and singing as a child.

Bombay welcomed Jagmohan in 1952, while Sapan arrived on its shores in 1957. They started off as chorus singers and were part of the “Bombay Youth Choir” group formed by noted composer Salil Chowdhury. With love for music and partition memories being common, they soon became good friends. While Sapan also composed for All-India Radio when in Bombay, Jagmohan Bakshi’s individual singing attempts trace back to the very early “Mujhse aapko shikwa hai”, a song recorded for HMV (His Master’s Voice) under Dhaniram’s music. Then came two duets with Asha Bhosle, one in Chham Chhama Chham (1952) under O. P Nayyar’s baton, and another in Taxi Driver (1954) under S D Burman’s music. “Dekho maane nahin roothi haseena” from Taxi Driver became popular during its time. There were two other songs that Jagmohan sang and they were for composer Ramesh Naidu: (“Ghir ghir aaye badarwa” with Mohd. Rafi, Hamlet, 1954) and “O saathi re tu aa bhi jaa” (with Lata and Usha Mangeshkar, Piya Milan, 1958).

Ghir Ghir Aaye Badarwa - Hamlet (1954) - Mohd. Rafi & Jagmohan Bakshi - Ramesh Naidu - Hasrat Jaipuri

While all this was happening, both youngsters realised the challenges of becoming (and further remaining) established mainstream singers. They moved their aspirations to becoming composers someday. In this regard, an early opportunity to record for a film China Bridge did come their way and a song (“Chand se pyaara hai”) is said to have been recorded in Asha Bhosle’s voice. Alas, the film never got completed!

Take-off happened with the Punjabi film Jijaji in year 1961 starring Nishi, Karan Devan, Achla Sachdev, Sunder and Tun Tun. Film - maker Poonam Prakash takes credit to have given the break to them. And the duo made good use of the offer. Two songs from the film “Oye oye oye main ta jhaali aan” (Asha Bhosle) and “Aavo loko nas ke” (Mahendra Kapoor) became hugely popular. The other songs that had the audiences swaying were “Tu sun meri raaniye” (Rafi & Asha), “Main kundal waaliyan zulfaan nu” (Rafi & Suman Kalyanpur) and “Ni chittiye kabootariye” (Rafi, Shamshad Begum & Chorus). The film had lyrics by Naqsh Lyallpuri, Naresh Paul and Manohar Singh Sehrai.

Oye Oye Oye main Ta Jhalli Aan - Jija Ji (Punjabi, 1961) - Asha Bhosle - Sapan-Jagmohan - Naqsh Lyallpuri/ Naresh Paul/ Manohar Singh Sehrai

The first released Hindi Film in Sapan – Jagmohan’s music was Begaana, in year 1963, produced and directed by Sadashiv J Row Kavi. It brought them in the news straightaway. The song “Phir woh bhooli si yaad” (thanks also to Rafi’s heartfelt rendition) was included in HMV’s “Yaadon Ki Manzil” collection released to commemorate hits of the 1961-63 period. The movie’s other songs sounded nice too, especially the haunting Mukesh solo “Na jaane kahaan kho gaya” and the folksy “Saagar ka jhilmil paani” (Asha, Manna Dey). It is important to add here that the film had 2 solos by Asha Bhosle (“Pyar nibhana bhool na jana” and “Tose nazar ladi sajna re”). That was start to a partnership which stayed for many years and dominated the Sapan - Jagmohan output. Asha Bhosle was soon to become their favourite singer!

Phir Wo Bhooli Si Yaad - Begana (1963) - Mohd. Rafi - Sapan-Jagmohan - Shailendra

Despite the promising beginning, no Hindi film came the duo’s way immediately. On the other hand, Shokan Mele Di (released in year 1965) was instrumental in establishing them in Punjabi films. “Jaach mainu aa gai gham khan di” with Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s stirring lyrics and Rafi’s soulful vocals (note the powerful Saxophone playing in the interludes) hit top resonance with listeners. Another song from the film that wooed masses was “Main kandiali thor ve sajna” by Asha Bhosle. A truly stunning tune!

zimbo finda a sonThe sincere endeavour of Begaana did not usher in a movie-signing phase for Sapan- Jagmohan. In fact, their next Hindi film Zimbo Finds A Son only came three years later (1966). However, the fresh appeal in their music remained. Asha Bhosle’s “Kaiti kaiti neeli neeli” with its racy feel and “Dil jiske liye betab raha” were winners. There was also the nicely sung duet “Aye dil tere muqaddar ka” involving singers Bhupinder Singh and Mubarak Begum. Another Asha solo “Gungun gaoon hawa main lehraoon”, picturised on popular yesteryear TV Host Tabassum, had a distinct spirited feel to it. And so was the carefree Asha - Usha duet “Meri jaan yoon hi raho”.

While Begaana had songs written by Shailendra, Zimbo Finds A Son started a long partnership for the duo with poet Naqsh Lyallpuri in Hindi films, having already worked with him in Punjabi. The evocative title song in Asha’s voice and the waltz style Rafi solo “Khuli waadiyon ka safar hai” from Aayega Aane Wala (1967) are gems (although lost ones) as we hear them today. Year 1967 also had an incomplete film Gumbad (Sudarshan Babbar’s direction) with Sapan-Jagmohan’s music.

Their next venture Teri Talash Mein (1968) witnessed a couple of high impact songs. Firstly, the eerie title song (“Teri talash mein”) in Asha’s voice that sends shivers down the spine even today. Next - the quintessential, well-known Rafi solo “Teri aawaz ki jaadugari se” with an intense melancholic touch. The film’s interesting song, however, was the Rafi - Asha duet “Koi deewana tumhein chahega”. Interesting as the tune was re-used by Sapan-Jagmohan 12 years later as “Teri saanson mein kaisi khushboo hai” (Shaadi Se Pehle, 1980). That too was a duet and sung by the same pair of singers!

Teri Talash Mein - Teri Talash Mein (1968) - Asha Bhosle - Sapan Jagmohan - Naqsh Lyallpuri

Gustakhi Maaf (1969) too had some lovely melodies. The Asha solo “Sajna mera jiyara jale” stands out for its inspired feel, well adding to actor Tanuja’s expressive eyes on screen. Two other songs of contrasting nature “Tum door jaaoge kaise” (Asha) and “Aye jaan-e-jaan chali kahaan” (Asha, Rafi) add up to the score’s overall effect. Rafi’s poignant singing in “Shaayar to nahin hoon lekin” (Insaaf Ka Mandir, 1969) indicated that Sapan-Jagmohan were slowly beginning to augment their place as HFM composers.

The duo’s first crowning glory was, perhaps, the film Chetna released next year (1970). The movie, which in a way, started a new trend of bold and provocative themes in commercial cinema, had one of Mukesh’s all-time popular songs “Main to har mod par”. The emoting played perfect foil to Naqsh Lyallpuri’s hard-hitting poetry “Pyar ki raah mein, phool bhi they magar, maine kaante chune”. The movie also had the sweetly tuned “Jeevan hai ek bhool” by Suman Kalyanpur. Another 1970 release Gunaah Aur Kanoon had Asha and Rafi solos of which the breezy “Aisa to kabhi mumkin hi nahin” (Rafi) deserves a mention.

Main To har Mod Par - Chetna (1970) - Mukesh - Sapan Jagmohan - Nqash Lyallpuri

With the arrival of the 70s, a certain level of authoritative confidence began to show in Sapan Jagmohan’s music. Do Raha (1971), a film publicised as being made by young Film Institute of India graduates, had three very good solos in Asha Bhosle’s vocals (“Tumhi rehnuma ho” a pacy Cabaret style composition, “Meri bagiya ki kali” a flowing lullaby and “Dole jhumka mora” immersed in traditional folk). Moreover, the renewed feel in their orchestration, that could perhaps be attributed to Violinist and musician Uttam Singh’s entry as music assistant / arranger, brought pep and sparkle to their compositions. A small trivia for Do Raha: all its songs were written, for a change, by Indivar. The next film Man Tera Tan Mera (1971) also had some unforgettable compositions - “Kahin kaanton mein mehak hai” in Asha’s heart-rending voice was easily the best, followed by “Aye meri jaan main bhi hoon” and “Na main boli, na woh bole” (both Asha)

baazigarKankan De Ohle (Punjabi, year 1971) requires mentioning here for a couple of songs featuring Mohd Rafi and Usha Timothy as singers. Baazigar (Hindi) released in year 1972 had all its four songs by Asha Bhosle (solos) set to a folksy mood, though they had nothing to write home about. The movie did not do well and so did the score. Ramsay “Horror” brothers’ Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche followed that year and it saw Vani Jairam singing for them. Once again, neither the movie nor its music did well.

The two Rafi solos from Rocky Mera Naam (year 1973) viz. “Soja sanam teri jawaan” and “Dil kabhi tumne diya tha”, originally composed for the unreleased film “Tere Milne Ke Baad”, are remembered till this day for the soft and tender mood. Especially the former, ornamented with modern orchestration in the interludes. The Asha solo “Deewana dil hai pyaar ka” added further to the score’s appeal. Sapan - Jagmohan had now begun to blossom. Interestingly, “Soja sanam teri jawaan” was remade with a modern feel as “Pyaara lage” in Habari (1978). They are also said to have recorded a Mukesh solo “Ek chabi hai who naina mein” for a film Samarpan at around the 1973 period. That movie too never saw the light of the day.

Soja Sanam - Rocky Mera Naam (1973) - Mohd. Rafi - Sapan Jagmohan - Naqsh Lyallpuri

The peppy “Roop ka nasha hai” (Do Number ke Ameer, 1974) in Asha’s intoxicating voice, Mukesh’s “Do honth hile” and “Mujhe teri baahon Mein” (both from Nayi Duniya Naye Log, 1973) came as nice additions to the Sapan - Jagmohan magic. Further, scores like Call Girl (1974) with the tandem versions of “Ulfat mein zamane ki” (Kishore and Lata, sensitively written by Naqsh Lyallpuri) and Kaagaz Ki Nao (1975) with “Har janam mein hamara milan” (Asha, Manhar) and “Na Jaiyo Re” (Asha) endorsed their ability and lent further dimension to their creative output.

sajjo raniAll four songs of Mera Jeevan (1976) were good with Rafi’s “Tera jogi aaya, tera jogi aaya” and Kishore’s “Mera Jeevan kuch kaam na aaya” receiving good airplay around the film’s release. Sajjo Rani (1976) also had some good songs: “Jiya maane na” (Asha Bhosle) and “Saanson mein chandan sa” (Aarti Mukherjee)

Similarly, Abhi Toh Jee Lein and Aaj Ki Radha released in 1977 had some pleasant music. Kishore Kumar’s resounding voice was heard via two completely contrasting creations: “Na jaane agla pal” and “Yeh mehfil yoon hi sajegi”. And not to forget the ever popular duet “Tu laali hai saverewali” picturised on Jaya Bhaduri and Danny Denzongpa from the former film.

This was followed by two Hindi-Bengali bilinguals Lal Kuthi / Lal Kothi (1978). Laal Kuthi was perhaps the last score where Sapan - Jagmohan were seen in their essence. “Ke jaay re” by Asha (with its scary feel) probably ranks as one of their best ever creations. “Ta re bholano galo na” (Asha), “Karo keu noyko ami” by Kishore and the duet “Dhole jete jete” sound pristine even today. Their next venture Prohari/ Pehredaar (1979) was a valiant final attempt one feels, but only Asha’s “Jafrani rong akashe” / “Neel gagan ke panchhi’ carried a familiar infectious energy.

Ke Jaay Re - Lalkuthi (Bengali, 1978) - Asha Bhosle - Sapan Jagmohan - Mukul Dutt

The 80s saw Sapan - Jagmohan doing a couple of mythological films like Ganga Dham and Sheetla Mata, a few dubbed films, some Punjabi films including the very popular Mamla Gadbad Hai, a foray into Bhojpuri films with Pyari Dulhaniya, and some Hindi films, which are largely forgotten. There were, however, a few likeable tunes from some of the movies of the time viz. “Tujhe dil mein basa loon re” (Kishore in Siskiyaan, 1983), “Utre jo zindagi teri gehrayion” (Bhupinder Singh in Pratibha, 1984) and “Jhilmil sitaron ke naina” (Kishore in Amber, 1985). The duo composed more folk-based tunes in that period. However, continuous box-office failure of a lot of their movies and changing music tastes ensured that their best was behind them. A welcome spark, however, was the title song “Man ek seepi hai” sung beautifully by Amit Kumar for Television Serial Chunauti (1987)

Man Ek Seepi Hai - Chunauti (TV serial, 1987) - Amit Kumar - Sapan Jagmohan - Yogesh (?)

As with many of their notable predecessors, Sapan- Jagmohan started their innings trying to find feet during the formative years. Influences of other HFM biggies could not be avoided: “Bulati hai bahaar” (Begaana, 1963, Salil Chowdhury flavour), “Aaye gayo more man bhaaye gayo” {Lata, Usha in Begaana, the Shankar - Jaikishan (another S-J!) hangover), “Raaz-e-dil hum Se kaho” (Teri Talash Mein, 1968, O P Nayyar andaz ), “Nindiya kho kar nain hanse” (Insaaf Ka Mandir, 1969 showcasing some of the Jaidev-ian murkis) and “Sun pyaare sajna re” (Insaaf Ka Mandir, 1969 – listed in the Rare Gems – Duets compilation released by HMV – with typical S D Burman staccato phrasing). However, as years progressed, the self- confidence was seen in handling the different song moods: “Maate ang chola saaje” (bhajan from Alingan, 1974), “Chanda ki chhaon mein” (folk by Asha in Sajjo Rani, 1976) and “Nathaniya ne hai ram” (Mujra in Shobha Gurtu’s voice, Sajjo Rani, 1976). Under the name of experimentation, they dabbled well with songs like “Love can fly” (Ursula Vaz in Nayi Duniya Naye Log, 1973), “Main tumhare khayalon mein” (Asha in Kaagaz Ki Nao, 1975) and “I am a call girl” (Ranu Mukhejee, Call Girl 1974), to name a few.

I am a Call Girl - Call Girl (1974) - Ranu Mukherjee - Sapan Jagmohan - Naqsh Lyallpuri

One cannot also deny the R D Burman melody and style of orchestration (Percussion and Horn Section especially) heard in many of their songs: “Do nigahein teri” (Jeevan Sukh (1973), “Dil kisiko jo diya na ho” (Do Number KE Ameer, 1974); “Hum hain jahaan” (Call Girl, 1974), “Humse jo kaho” (Johnny Uska Naam, unreleased) , “Lo hamein baahon mein” (Darwaaza, 1978), “Khilta Hai Joh Raat Ko (Aaj Ki Radha , 1977) or even “Tumhi rehnuma ho” (Do Raha,1971).

Statistically, if one were to look at their films of the 60s and 70s only, close to 70 % of Sapan – Jagmohan’s Hindi output featured song-writer Naqsh Lyallpuri. With regards to the voices used, a whopping 40 + % of their Hindi songs is attributed to solos / duets involving Asha Bhosle. The numbers go up further if the Punjabi and Bengali outputs are brought in to consideration

When one looks at Sapan Jagmohan’s career as a whole, they emerge as strong and well-rounded composers. The fact that they were mostly relegated to B-grade movies and that seldom affected their enthusiasm proves what they were made of. As a result, their music, at least until the late 70s, rarely sounded indifferent. One wonders where they constantly drew their energies and motivation from. Yes, we all gained though!

Jagmohan passed away on 26 Feb, 1999. Sapan Sengupta lives in Bandra, Mumbai. Though Sapan - Jagmohan’s compositions form part of music sessions, discussions and internet threads, their complete work never gets the deserved due and respect. The unmistakable passion in them to create some glittering gems requires to be explored, celebrated and applauded. HFM and its admirers will live on and so must Sapan - Jagmohan’s music!


  1. Jeeja Ji (1961) - Punjabi
  2. Pardesi Dhola (1962) – Punjabi (with S. Mohinder)
  3. Begaana (1963) - Hindi
  4. Shokan Mele Di (1965) - Punjabi
  5. Zimbo Finds A Son (1966) - Hindi
  6. Aayega Aane Waala (1967) - Hindi
  7. Teri Talaash Men (1968) - Hindi
  8. Gustakhi Maaf (1969) - Hindi
  9. Insaaf Ka Mandir (1969) - Hindi
  10. Chetna (1970) - Hindi
  11. Dupatta (1970) - Punjabi
  12. Gunaah Aur Kaanoon (1970) - Hindi
  13. Haveli (1970) - Hindi
  14. Kankan De Ohle (1970) - Punjabi
  15. Kulli Yaar Di (1970) - Punjabi
  16. Doraaha (1971) - Hindi
  17. Man Tera Tan Mera (1971) - Hindi
  18. Baazigar (1972) - Hindi
  19. Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche (1972) - Hindi
  20. Jiwan Sukh (1973) - Hindi
  21. Nai Dunia Naye Log (1973) - Hindi
  22. Rocky Mera Naam (Tere Milne Ke Baad) (1973) - Hindi
  23. Aalingan (1974) – Hindi (with Jaidev)
  24. Call Girl (1974) - Hindi
  25. Do Number Ke Ameer (1974) - Hindi
  26. Dharam Jeet (1975) - Punjabi
  27. Kaagaz Ki Nao (1975) - Hindi
  28. Mera Jiwan (1976) - Hindi
  29. Raakhi Aur Rifle (1976) - Hindi
  30. Raees (1976) - Hindi
  31. Sajjo Rani (1976) - Hindi
  32. Aaj Ki Dhara (Aaj Ki Radha) (1977) - Hindi
  33. Abhi To Jee Len (1977) - Hindi
  34. Nachdi Jawani (1977) - Punjabi
  35. Nakhro (1977) - Punjabi
  36. Darwaaza (1978) - Hindi
  37. Habari (1978) - Hindi
  38. Laal Kothi (1978) - Hindi
  39. Lalkuthi (1978) - Bengali
  40. Udeekan (1978) - Punjabi
  41. Pehredaar (1979) - Hindi
  42. Ganga Dhaam (1980) - Hindi
  43. Johnny Uska Naam (Unreleased) (1980) - Hindi
  44. Shaadi Se Pahle (1980) - Hindi
  45. Ek Aur Sangram (1981) - Hindi
  46. Josh Jawani Da (1981) - Punjabi
  47. Sheetla Mata (1981) - Hindi
  48. Geet Ganga (1982) - Hindi
  49. Prahari (1982) - Bengali
  50. Mamla Gadbad Hai (1983) - Punjabi
  51. Siskiyaan (1983) - Hindi
  52. Duja Viah (1984) - Punjabi
  53. Dushmano Ka Dushman (1984) - Hindi (Dubbed)
  54. Milenge Kabhi (1984) - Hindi
  55. Munda Naram Te Kudi Garam (1984) - Punjabi
  56. Pratibha (1984) - Hindi
  57. Takraar (1984) - Punjabi
  58. Videsh (1984) - Hindi
  59. Amber (1985) - Hindi
  60. Prem Yuddh (1985) - Hindi (Dubbed)
  61. Gunehgaar (1986) - Hindi
  62. Maa Ki Saugandh (1986) - Hindi (with Rajesh Roshan)
  63. Swarthi (1986) - Hindi
  64. Pyari Dulhaniya (1987) - Bhojpuri
  65. Jyoti (1988) - Bengali
  66. Manimala (1989) - Bengali
  67. Prem Pujari (1991) - Bengali
  68. Mahashoy (1992) - Bengali
  69. Tara Rani Ki Amar Katha (1994) - Hindi
  70. Woh Chhokri (1994) - Hindi
  71. Ghar Ka Kanoon (1995) - Hindi
  72. Kumari Maa (1995) - Bengali
  73. Beyadap (1996) - Bengali
  74. Jiban Jouban (1997) – Bengali


  1. Dhunon Ki Yatra by Pankaj Raag
  2. Hindi Film Geet Kosh by Harmandar Singh ‘Hamraz’
  3. Suvarna Kaal - 1931 – 1960 by Isaak Mujawar
  4. 1960s write-up courtesy Kaustubh Pingle