Songs of Yore Award for the Best Female Playback Singer goes to Lata, Lata, Lata…Lata Mangeshkar, with Happy Diwali greetings to all
All superlatives fall short of describing Lata Mangehkar’s dominance in 1951, just as we saw in 1955 and 1953. Mahesh even said that the best female playback singer other than Lata Mangeshkar is Lata Mangeshkar herself. Many of us would give 1 to 10 slots to her, and still feel that many more everlasting songs are still left out. Since the year also had career landmarks of several ‘other’ singers, we decided to split the female singers in two parts. ‘Other’ singers have been covered in the Wrap Up 2. In this Wrap Up (3), devoted exclusively to Lata Mangeshkar, we can discuss her best without being constrained to look over our shoulders to include ‘others’ for equity.
Venkataramanji has been taking great pains to give category-wise statistics of songs as a percentage of total songs in the year. If we compare this withmemorable songs in the year, as evidenced by the list in my Review Post, Lata Mangeshkar’s dominance is awesome:
Share in female solos in 1951
|% of total songs||% of memorable songs|
|Others (36 singers)||60%||35%|
(Note: Venkataramanji computed the second column as 75%/25%, but he may check up again. However, that does not alter the broad picture)
If you recall from the Wrap Up1 regarding male playback singers, there was a phenomena of inversion of the pyramid, i.e. the singer, who had the most songs in all, had the least number of memorable songs. In the case of female playback singers, the pyramid gets flattened, i.e. Lata Mangeshkar’s domination in thetotal songs gets further accentuated in memorable songs.
And what about the musical merit of the songs? SD Burman alone had at least three all-time classics: Jhan jhan jhan jhan paayal baaje, Ye thandi hawaayein, Tum na jaane kis jahaan mein kho gaye. Madan Mohan gives a song in fast tempo – Saanwri surat man bhaayi re piya, and a very soulful Preetam mein meri duniya mein (Adaa). If you take Shankar Jaikishan alone in Aawara, Baadal, Kaali Ghata and Nageena, you have gems like Ghar aya mera pardesi, Jab se balam ghar aaye, Aaj maane na mora jiya, Unse pyar ho gaya, Do din ke liye mehmaan yahan, Humse na poochhe koi pyar kya hai, Tu ne haaye mere zakhm-e-jigar ko chhoo liya etc.
I have already overshot 10, each being an all-time great song, and we are nowhere close. Look at C Ramchandra. On the one hand he gives all the racy duets with himself in Albelaa, on the other he gives an immortal lorie, Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein, followed by another superb soulful melody, Balmaa bada naadan re. But he was on a roll with her in the early 50s. So you also haveAe chaand pyar mera (Khazana) and the radio-era landmark song Dil ki kahani kahna to chaahe (Sagaai). Roshan, like Madan Mohan, had debuted a couple of years earlier with other female singers, but went big with her soon. This was the first year he combines with her, and he comes out with eternal songs like Chhun chhun chhun baaje payal mori, Bahe ankhiyon se dhaar (Hum Log), Mohabbat ki qismat banaane se pahle and Garjat barsat bheejal ayi lo (Malhaar).
If you are keeping the count, I have crossed 20, and I am only half-way through. The maestro Anil Biswas is still left – Man mein kisi ki preet basa le, Baalamwa nadaan (Aaram), Beimaan tore nainwa nindiya na aaye and Wo din kahan gaye bata (Tarana). You have Jamal Sen’s superlative, Sapna ban saajan aaye(Shokhiyaan), widely regarded as one of the best songs in Yaman. The ‘only original’ composer, Sajjad Husain, gave one of his best Lata songs, Aaj mere naseeb ne mujhko rul rula diya (Hulchul), in the year. Baandhi preet phool dor(Maalati Madhav) by Sudhir Phadke is a great song by any yardstick.
Now we are about 30, and we have not yet mentioned the mighty Naushad’s songs in Deedaar and Jadoo. In the face of all these mesmerizing songs mentioned above, I am prepared to pass him up completely (KS Bhatiaji, you can trust me I am as big a fan of Naushad as you). But one composer I must mention is the first duo of film music, and mentors of SJ – Husnlal Bhagatram.Khushiyon ke din manaaye ja..abhi to main jawaan hun (Afsana) is a class by itself. This was the song which charmed a generation of listeners as the Signature Song of Bhoole Bisre Geet, presented by Manohar Mahajan. on Radio Ceylon at 10 every Thursday night. HB were still on a high in 1951, and had some more outstanding songs with Lata Mangeshkar in the year.
It would require a tough heart to bring down the above list to ten. Over 30 landmark songs in a year, which remain indelibly imprinted in our hearts after more than 60 years, is an unparalleled phenomenon in music. However, a good deal of commonality is there in the readers’ choices. So here is the Best Ten of The Best 30+ songs of Lata Mangeshkar in 1951.
1. Thandi hawaayein from Naujawan, lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi, music SD Burman
This song is said to be inspired from Charles Bayer’s C’est la vie in Algiers(1938), and there is a good deal of material on the net on the supposed source, and the long legacy downstream. To my ears, the similarity, if any, was very tenuous, but I leave that for the experts. For me, it is a great song nevertheless, and one of Lata Mangeshkar’s greatest ever.
2. Khushiyon ke din manaaye ja..abhi to main jawaan hun fromAfsana, lyrics Gaafil Harnaalvi, music Husnlal Bhagatram
This song is a part of radio-era romance for many of us, when it would draw us inexorably towards the radio every Thursday night, and then would follow Manohar Mahajan’s mesmerisng voice, presenting Bhoole Bisre Geet. The song has many unique aspects. Firstly, its orchestration is different from Husnlal Bhagatram’s usual style, which at times makes him repetitive. Secondly, it is not a full-length song, and seems to start from antaraa (which, to my mind, adds to its charm). While these are its pluses, I was surprised that such a beautiful song is picturised on two adulterous lovers – Ashok Kumar’s ‘dear’ friend, Pran, and ‘loving’ wife Kuldeep Kaur – having some lovey-dovey cooing behind the gullible man’s back.
3. Beimaan tore nainwa nindiya na aawe from Taraana, lyrics DN Madhok, music Anil Biswas
Tarana was Anil Biswas’s one of the greatest scores in the 1950s and 60s. He composed many great songs for Lata Mangeshkar in the year, as I have mentioned earlier. If I have to pick up one, Beimaan tore nainwa is a clear favourite.
4. Bahe ankhiyon se dhaar from Hum Log, lyrics Udhav Kumar, music Roshan
Roshan can trace his musical lineage to Anil Biswas and C Ramchandra, having worked with them or mentored/influenced by them. But, it is a great tribute to his genius that he could create his distinct style of melody for Lata in the very first year of their collaboration. At least half a dozen songs of Hum Log andMalhar are among her most melodious, and carry a unique Roshan stamp.
5. Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein from Albela, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
C Ramchandra might have been inspired by Anil Biswas, but in the early 50s he created his own school of Lata melody, which was imitated by several composers of the era. One of the most iconic lories in the films, Dheere se aa ja ri ankhiyan mein, is a leading example of this style. We have seen this magic in detail in my post on CR-Lata songs earlier, which evoked tremendous response from the readers, who added several unheard gems of this combination.
6. Ghar aya mera pardesi from Aawara, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
After their stupendous success in their debut with RK Films’ film on ‘love’ –Barsaat (1949) – Shankar Jaikishan come with another great score, now in a film with social message on poor versus rich, and nature versus nurture. Ghar aya mera pardesi is the second part of a two-in-one song picturised as a dream sequence, which is now regarded as a landmark in Hindi films. The two-part song taken together reflects Raj’s tormented soul, first struggling to break free from the life of vice he has been trapped into, then this beautiful, joyous melody follows, showing his yearning to unite with his beloved, Rita.
7. Aaj mere naseeb ne mujhko rula rula diya from Hulchul, lyrics Khumar Barabanqvi, music Sajjad Husain
A maverick and a highly temperamental genius, Sajjad Husain was hugely respected by his peers and by Lata Mangehskar. She is on record saying she found his compositions most complex to sing. But the film industry, or for that matter, the real world is not a very conducive place for Howard Roarks. Sajjad Husain was prone to take and give offence very easily, and his total career output is a mere 14 films. As far as he was concerned, after Allah had created Noorjehan and Lata Mangeshkar, he need not have wasted his time in creating other singers. Aaj mere naseeb ne is one of the best of by the ‘only original’ composer for the melody queen.
8. Sapna ban saajan aaye from Shokhiyan, lyrics Kedar Sharma, music Jamal Sen
Here is the exquisite Yaman, which many of us discovered in the Internet Era. Among forgotten composers, there is already a post on him on SoY. For Shokhiyan, he has risen in such high esteem that many music lovers would like to put him among the best composers of 1951.
After 8 great songs by 8 different composers, for the remaining two slots, I had a strong inclination to include Madan Mohan’s Preetam meri duniya mein do din to rahe hote. But there are a good number of landmark songs still left by SD Burman, Roshan, Shankar Jaikishan and C Ramchandra. With great reluctance I rule out Preetam meri duniya mein, treating it as belonging to CR-Lata style of composition. That means I have room for at most two of the four composers I just mentioned. I choose SJ and CR to reflect their large spread, and immensely popular songs.
9. Dil ki kahani kahna to chaahe haye ri qismat kah na sake fromSagaai, lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra
C Ramchandra gave music for a series of mad-cap comedies in the late 40s to early 50s. In this Indian Laurel-Hardy – Yaqub and Gope–starrer, with breezy support from Rehana, CR still found scope for creating a superb Lata melody, which remains a perennial favourite from the radio era.
10. Unse pyar ho gaya from Baadal, lyrics Shailendra, music Shankar Jaikishan
Very early in their career, SJ started giving music outside RK fold. Good for them, because it was often said that Raj Kapoor had a great musical sense, and the composers only translated what was stored in his mind. SJ proved in Baadal,and other films in the year and later, that they could create different, but still great melodies outside RK fold too. Tough choice between this and Do din ke liye mehmaan yahaan. Unse pyar ho gaya has a very pleasant lilt and a soft dancing tune, which became a distinct SJ trademark.
To sum up:
SoY Award for the Best Female Playback Singer for 1951 goes to Lata Mangeshkar.
And the Best Song is – Thandi hawaayein.