Golden Period of Bollywood Music
Bollywood gave us a lot to enrich our social and personal lives. Guru Dutt produced the most thematic movies like Pyasa and Kagaj ke phool that exposed the hypocrisy of our social milieu of that time . Unfortunately, he died at a very young age of 39 years. Had he lived for another 30 years, we could see many more superb films like Love and God- his next venture at the time of his death. K. Asif gave us the first magnum opus in Mugle Azam(1959) followed by Sangam, Guide and Mera Naam Joker seven years later. Sholey was the only blockbuster (in 1974) that broke all records of staying at one cinema hall for more than two years in Mumbai.
But the most enduring and everlasting benediction/benefaction/beneficence of Bollywood was the soothing, sweet, vibrant, touching, humming, resonating, evergreen, rhythmic, throbbing,melodious, refreshing, captivating, soulful, magical, even hypnotic and memorable music for two decades between 1950 and 1970.The span of five years between 1970-75 was the transition period. Thereafter the film music first turned into cacophony and then into noise. Sheilley, the famous English poet rightly said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. This statement aptly fits on Indian music of that era as well. I doubt very much if any other country in the world had ever produced that kind of soul steering music. This captivating music of two decades consisted of the combined efforts of versatile music directors, lyricists and singers. So the sweet music was a combination of three beauties i.e. tunes, lyrics and melodious voice of singers.The right combination of the three components synchronized after 1949 when Lata Mangeshkar arrived on the scene and sang her debut song in Mahal (Aayega anewala) under Khemchand Prakash (1907-50). The melodious voice of Lata swept through the urban Indiaand she became a celebrity overnight.
Soon after singers like Mukesh (had a touch of K.L. Sehgal), Asha, Usha, Suman Kalyanpur, Geeta Dutt, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Talat and Mohinder Kapoor were scouted. Earlier versatile K. L. Sehgal (1904-47), Suraiya, Shamshad Begam and Mohamad Rafi occupied the stage. Likewise a new crop of lyricists arrived in Mumbai to try their luck-Shailender, Shakeel, Hasrat, Majrooh, Akhtar , Indivar, Rajinder Krishan,Kaifi Azmi, Prem Dhawan, Kavi Pradeep and Sahir Ludhianvi. Anand Bakshi came in sixties.The new entry of eleven Music directors consisted of Shanker-Jaikishan, C. Ramchander, Ravi, S. D. Burman, Roshan, Chitragupta, Madan Mohan, Hemant Kumar, O.P. Nayar, Kalyan Ji-Anand Ji, Laxmikant-Piareylal & Usha Khanna. Music directors like Khyam, Salil Choudhary, N Dutta, Iqbal Quereshi, Hansraj Bahal, S.N.Tripathi, Sardar Malik and Jaidev formed category B. They also gave superb music in some of the films (Shagoon,Madhumati,Razia,Dhool Ka Phool, Light House, Shola Aur Shabnam,Umar Quid, Mohabat isko kahte hain, Kinare-Kinare Dharam Putra, Sadhna, Miss Bombay, Saranga) but somehow could not occupy much space in the Industry. Gulam Mohmmad gave very soul steering music in Laila Majnu (1953-Asman wale teri dunia se dil ghabra gya), Hatimtai (Parwar Digar-e-Alam), Pardesh, Mirja Galib,Pakeeja and Shama (1961) and even surpassed Naushad. He got film award for music in Mirja Galib in 1955. He died in 1968 at the young age of 52 years. Previously (1938-50) the soulful music purely based on Shastriya sangeet was tuned by RC Boral,Anil Biswas (Tarana – 1951),Husanlal-Bhagatram, Sajjad Hussain, Gulam Haider, Khemchand Prakaash and Naushad.
Then came the team of Shanker and Jaikishan from Gujarat in Rajkapoor’s Barsat (1950). This team mixed local tunes with Sashtriya sangeet and produced songs that became hit with a larger segment of society. But the man who took the music to villages was Hemant Kumar Mukherjee popularly called Hemant Da. He composed the music for Nagin (1954) and it was an instant hit. For the first time village urchins started humming the tunes of two popular songs of this film I. e. Man dole mera tan dole and ‘Mera dil ye pukare aaja’.Hemant Kumar was the first to produce a suspense film (Bees Saal Baad in 1960) with very thrilling songs.
Simultaneously other music directors started composing equally beautiful and captivating tunes till 1970. C. Ramchandra gave memorable music for Anarkali, Devta (Soona hai mere dil ka jahan), Bahurani, Perchhainyan (Muhbat hee jo naa samjhe)Albela (1951-Dheera se aja ree nindia), Amardeep and Azad. Nausad gave heart rending music for Baijubawra, Mother India and Mugle Azam. It was difficult to rank who was greater-C. Ramchander in Anarkali or Naushad in Mugle-e-Azam.The story was the same in both the movies-Anarkali. Likewise it was difficult to rank the Music Directors in Tower House (Ravi, 1962, Aye Mere Dile Nadan), Guest House (1959, Chitragupta), Light House (N.Datta-1958) and Opera House (Chitragupta-1961). Roshan composed melodious songs for Malhaar (Mohabat ki kismet banane se phele), Barsat ki Raat, Babar, Dooj Ka Chand and Aarti. Jaidev was superb in Hum Dono and Kinare-Kinare, Chitragupt for Bhabi, Barkha (Ek raat mein do do chand khile), Jabaq (Teri duniya se dor) and many more movies, Shankar-Jaikishan for Poonam,Badal (Do din ke liya mehman hain ham, Duniya badal rahi hai) (1951), Badshah, Awara (1951-Aajao tadpte hain arman), Rangoli, Aah(1953-Raja ki ayegi barat), Rajhath (Aye bahar bankar), Ashiq (Lo aayi raat Suhani – one of the few best songs of Lata),Sri 420, Ujala, Asli-Nakli, Basant Bahar, Kanahiya,Dil ek mandir, Haryali aur Rasta etc. Tera Mera Pyaar Amar ( Asli-Nakali) and Ja-Ja Mere Bachpan (Jungli)were among the most enchanting songs of mass appeal. Among the serious ones, the songs – Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko (Sadhna-N.Dutta) and Sansar se bhage firte ho (Chiterlekha-Roshan) both penned by Sahir are superlative.
Kalyan ji-Anandji created a stir by giving music in Madari, Chhalia (Terirahon mein khade), Bedard jamana kya jane and Samarat Chandergupt.Initially the two brothers were assistant to Hemantda in Nagin. The been in the two songs was played by them. Laxmikant-Pyarelal were assistant to Kalyan ji-Anandji and became instant hit in providing music for Parasmani (1963) and Dosti (1964). They stayed for two decades and composed many popular songs (Lootera, Sant Gyaneshwar, Arpan-1983) but could not recreate the heart rending music of Parasmani and Dosti. S. D. Burman was becoming equally popular in parallel. He composed music mostly for Devanand films like Taxi Driver, Baji, Nau Do Gyarah etc and others like Kaise Kahoon and Devdas . His first peak came in Pyasa (1957) when Sahir Ludhianvi penned very revolutionary songs. Hemant Da was three in one-producer, music director and singer. He tuned very beautiful songs in Durgesh Nandani, Kohra, Farar, Sahib Bibi aur Gulam.but could not show his old touch in Anupma and Majhali Didi.
As a consequence, we continued to listen beautiful songs one after the other for 20 long years. Every week or fortnight, one heard a new song of a new film with very captivating tunes rendered either by Rafi or Lata or Asha. The sweet music was flowing like sea waves throughout the country. Ravi became famous for his music in film Vachan (1955)- first film of Rajender Kumar. His greatest moment came in Chaudhvi ka Chand in 1959.The title song won the filmfare award. He produced very refreshing tunes, where singers had to sing at a very high pitch like Sau Baar Janam Lenge (Do Ustaad) or Sub kuchh luta ke hosh mein aye (Ek Saal-1962), Shehnai (Is traha toda mera dil), Jindgi kya hai and Jane bahare husn tera lajwab hai (Pyar kiya to darna kya), Deewana kahkar phir pukariya (Mulzim). Earlier Naushad was highest paid music director. Then S.J. went much ahead and charged fees equal to that of a lead actor.
Each music director reached the pinnacle of his career and then started fading gradually. Shanker-Jaikishan attained the dizzy heights in Sangam in 1964. All the eight songs of this film were a great hit. He got filmfare award in Suraj(1966, Baharo phool barsaao). But Arjoo (1965) was the last best bet of melodious songs composed by the duo. Their music in Mera Naam Joker could-not match that of Sangam. After the death of Jai Kishan, Shankar provided melodious tunes in Sanyasi (1975-Chal sanyasi mandir mein).
After composing two very beautiful songs in Dil bhi tera ham bhi tere (Mujhko is Raat ki Tanhai mein) and Saheli(Jis Dil Main Bassa Tha Pyaar Tera), K-A provided last best music in Himalaya ki god mein and Jab-2 Phool Khile. The team started fading gradually after giving reasonably good music in Upkar and Porab-Paschim. His last one very beautiful song was in Yadgar (jis path pe chala). His songs won the best ranking in Binaca Geetmala but never brought a filmfare Award. After composing wonderful music in Taj Mahal (1963), Bhigi Raat and Devar (1966) (Duniya mein aisa khan sabka nasib hai), Roshan also started fading and found wanting in Daadi Maa and Anokhi Raat. Lately, Nausad’s best music score was in Mere Mehboob (Yad mein teri Jag Jag kar) and Leader in 1964.He provided good music in few more movies of Dilip & Rajender Kumarlike Palki, Aadmi, Ram aur Shyam, Sathee and Ganwar but lost the old touch. S. D. Burman was at his peak again in Guide (1966). He provided good music in few other films like Jewel Thief and Prem Pujari. But music in Aradhna (1969) again brought him at the top. Most tunes were composed by his son R. D. Burman. This music resurrected Kishore Kumar who never looked back thereafter. But this music could not surpass the composition in Guide. R. D. Burman took over completely from the father and a new R. D. era began thereafter.
Madan Mohan became the master of gazals (Sapne main Sajjan se do baatein – Gateway of India – 1957) or Unko to ye shikayat hai (Adalat) or Aaj socha to ansoo bhar aye(Haste jakham) or Mujhe yaad karne wale (Ristey-natey) or Rasme-ulfat (Dil ki Rahein). His best musical score was in Sanjog (Badli se nikla hai chand), Anpadh and Dekh Kabira Roya. His last best performance was in Mera-Saya (1966) and then he faded gradually. Throughout O.P. Nayyar composed stimulating and lilting tunes. He had a tiff with Lata and this gave Asha Bhonsley a great opportunity to come back with a bang. His songs for C.I.D. (1956), Naya Daur (1957) and Fagun (1959) became very popular in villages. His last best score was in film Kismat (Duniya hai mere pichhe – 1968). He copied the tune of Tere pyar ka asra chahta hoon song (Dhool ka phool)and composed Bahut sukriya badi meharbani (Ek Musafir Ek Hasina) and informed N. Dutta to seek his consent. People could not judge the imitation. S D Burman also produced two songs in the same tune in Guide (Saiyan Beiman and Kya se kya ho gya) which people could not judge. Usha Khanna was the only female Music Director in the film industry for five decades. Her style of composition was something between that of O.P. Nayar and R.D. Burman. Her best musical score was in Shabnam (1964-Ye Teri Sadgi), Ek sapera ek lutera (Tumse juda hoke-1965) and Souten in 1983.
This is how ten music directors faded into oblivion one by one after achieving immortality in their careers. Only Ravi was the sole exception. He won filmfare award for the song of Khandan 1965 (Tumhi mere mandir). Next year again his music in Do Badan was bold and superb. He was again superb in Ankhen and Neel Kamal. He composed throbbing music for few more films like Gauri, Umeed and Amanat (Door rahkar na karo baat) till 1977. He resurfaced in 1982 when he provided best musical score for Nikah which was again an instant hit with flashes of old music of golden era. Rafi was in tears when he recorded the song Babul ki duain leti ja (Neel Kamal-Ravi).Earlier his most soulful rendering in a sweet voice was in Deedar where he sang many memorable songs like – Meri kahani bhoolne wale – Naushad. Ramanand Sagar tried to replicate the situation of the scene with the song Pyar kiya to darna kya (Mugle-e-Azam) in the film Zindgi where Lata sang Hum pyar ka suda karte hain ekbar (S-J) but could not succeed. The song Tang aa chuke hain kashamkash zindgi se hum penned by Sahir was sung twice in Pyasa and Light House. The resemblance in tunes and style of songs is also observed in many cases as exemplified below.
Agar dil kisi se lagaya na hota (Bada Admi-Chitragupt).
Teri Ankh ka jo iasara na hota (Nai Roshni-Ravi)
Agar bewafa tujhko pehchan jate (Raat ke andhere
mein-Prem Dhawan). or
(Dulhan ek raat ki-M.Mohan).
Allah ye ada kaisi hai in hasino mein (Mere humdam mere dost-L.P.).
The 5000 songs of golden period had achieved a magnetic pull not simply because of their tunes. The lyrics and voice of the singers were equally mesmerizing.The variations in the voice of Rafi, Asha and Lata were unbelievable. They could sing in shrill voice of children in many birthday songs. Asha worked wonders when she sang exactly like Meena Kumari in Pyar Ka Sagar (Raat-raat bhar jag jag kar intjar karte hain). Variations and nuances in Lata’s voice were superb in Jahanara gazal (Wo chup rahein to dil ke daag jalte hain) and Siri-Farhad (Gujra hua jamana-S. Mohinder). Rafi showed similar variations in Guide (Din dhal jaye raat na jaye) and Diwana (Tasveer banata hoon par tasveer nahi banti and Tasveer banata hoon khune jigar se – Bradari both composed by Naushad) and many more like Maine chand aur sitaron ki tamanna ki thi (Chanderkanta).
Listening to the best in the world is another aspect of ecstasy and delight. They were more than what Bradman was in cricket (he was out for no score 7 times), Pilley in soccer and Dhayanchand in hockey. Pondering over the nuances in voice and appropriateness of lyrics with humming tunes gives you transcendental joy and ecstasy. All the lyricists e.g. Shakeel Badayuni (brother-in-law of Naushad), Shalender, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipur, Rajinder Krishan and Sahir Ludhianvi were unrivalled in their shayiri. It was very difficult to rank who was better than the other. Shakeel sahib mostly paired with Naushad and Ravi. Shalender and Hasrat with S-J, Raja Mehndi Ali Khan and Kaifi Aazmi with Madan Mohan (Heer Ranjha) etc. The lyrics were as fitting as they could be in the given situation. For example, Shalender was superlative in Haryali Aur Rasta when he wrote – Lakhon tare asman mein per dhonde se magar ek bhi na mila, dekh ke duniya ki diwali dil mera chup-chap jala or raha gardishon mein hardam mere isk ka sitara by Shakeel in Do Badan or Tumhe yaad hoga hum tum mile the by Hasrat Jaipuri (Satta Bazar) etc. They hardly left any aspect of life that was not woven into lyrics. Likewise, they also captured the precise feelings and spirit in consonance with the situation. Listen to the remarkable song of Saheli-Itna to kehdo humse, tumse hee pyar hai or Kahe jhoom-jhoom raat ye suhani (Love marriage-S.J.) or Bahar Ban ke who muskerye (Apne hue praye-S.J.) or Rang dil ki dhadkan bhi lati to hogi (Patang-Chitragupt-1960).
Male singers at that time were Rafi sahib, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Talat and Mahender Kapoor. Two third songs were sung by Rafi sahib, 20% by Mukesh and rest by others.It was Madan Mohan who brought out the best in Rafi in Haqiqat when he sang Kar chale Hum Fida Jano tan sathio ab tumare hawale watan sathio. It was equivalent of Lata’s all-time great Ai mere watan ke logo ab ankh mein bharlo pani (specially composed by C. Ramchander after war with China in 1962) that brought tears to the eyes of Jawharlal Nehru. Kishore Kumar monoplised only after 1970 when RD era started. Kishore was superb but tunes were not refreshing. His best rendering before was in Sriman Funtoosh and Ganga ki Lehrein. Manna Dey was best in Kabuliwala when he sang the famous song composed by Salil Chaudhary, “Ai mere pyare watan, ai mere bichhre chaman tujh pe meri jan kurban”.It looked as if Hemantda was the singer of this song. Mahender Kapoor and N Datta were best in Dhool ka phool when he sang with Lata the famous duet, “Tere pyar ka asara chahta hoon”. Talat and Lata were best in Ek Saal (sab kuch luta ke hosh main aaye to kya mila – music composed by Ravi). S.D. Burman and Iqbal Quereshi brought out the best in Mukesh in Bandani (O Jane wale ho sake to laut ke aana), Bambai ka baboo (Chal ree sajni ab kya soche) and Umar Quaid (Mujhe raat din ye khyal hai).
The queen among female singers was Lata. She had a mellifluous voice that was neither shrill nor corse. She sang 70% songs. Asha sang 20% till RD came on the scene. Suman Kalyanpur, Usha Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt and Sudha Malhotra filled rest of the gap. The quality of their singing varied very little and all of them werereal nightingales. Lata came out best in Mugle Azam when she sang Pyar kiya to darna kya along with initial couplet Insaan kisi se duniya mein ek bar mohabbat karta hai or in Kali topi lal rumal when she sang Na to dard gaya na dawa hi mili, dhhond ke dekha jamana with the couplet composed by Chitragupta or In Taqdir se sikva kaun kre (Poonam-1952-S-J). In Oonche Log Lata creates an effect as the heroin is singing in a well in the song Aa ja re mere pyar ke rahi composed by Chitragupt. Asha did wonder when she sang in Teesri Manjil under RD”O hasina julfon wali jane jahan”. Only she could stretch her vocal chords to that extent like Rafi did the same in Haqiqat. Geeta Dutt ‘s song Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam is considered the best among all the songs sung by female singers.
This is how nearly 5000 songs were penned, composed and sung between 1950 and 1970. At least 500 songs were the most heart rending, refreshing and everlasting. These were absolute gems. Some of these songs penetrate your soul when you listen these in Radio or in TV like Dil ka khilona haye toot gya (Goonj uthi sehnai-Vasant Desai) or Kanto se kheench ke ye aanchal (Guide) or Tera jalwa jisne dekha (Ujala-S.J). Ravi was known for composing best songs for tragedy situations (Shehnai- is tarah toda mere dil and Bharosa-who dil kahan se laoon). Naushad was famous for composing tunes full of intensity and depth and based on Sashtriya sangeet (Shabab, Palki, Amar, Son of India). Others gave comparatively soft music. Ravi also composed best songs of prayer scenes before Lord Krishan in Ankhein, Phool aur Pathar, Gharana, Ghoongat and Kajal S.J. composed Manmohan Krishan Murari (Lata-Sanjh aur Savera). He also gave two beautiful songs of Raksha Bandhan in Chhoti Behan and Resam ki Dori. Most popular prayer song was Ai malik tere bande ham in Do ankhen barah hath (music composed by Vasant Desai-his best musical score was in Goonj uthi shahnai (Dil ka khiloa hai toot gaya) and Toofan aur Diya) and followed by Tumhi ho mata, pita tumhi ho in Main Chup Rahungi – music composed by Chitragupta. Roshan was famous for composing qualis. Ravi always asked the lyricists to write the mukhra and then he composed the tunes. Others first composed the tune and lyricists wrote the lyrics thereafter. The main fault of all the music directors was that they allowed Lata, Rafi and Kishore to take the lions’share.
The main cause of sudden deterioration of rich music was too many pictures at the hands of music directors in sixties.Thus, quantity destroyed quality. Also, Shanker-Jaikishan introduced the trend of using large orchestra and initiated trendy music. Others also gradually followed suit. Also, some producers started shooting films in foreign locales and pressurized the music directors to give a western flavor to the songs. Then R. D. Burman did the rest and left behind everybody in the race. He had the knack of copying Western tunes and modifying these into Indian setting. The mixture so produced became a craze for the young generation. Ravi and Naushad were still the notable exceptions.
This is how the story of two decades of golden period of film music ended. The next 50 years of film music (particularly after 1990) are very painful. What we hear today is not music but something else that defies all descriptions. Fortunately for us, All India Radio still broadcasts old melodious songs under it’s different programs. Old songs are also stored in easily available cassettes and U-tube. These songs are sung because listeners of our age groups are still there. What will be the fate of these songs after we disappear in next two decades. The next generation is not prepared even to listen one line of these oldies just as we are allergic to new cacophony. Reason for this apathy is incomprehensible. One student told me “Our parents never bothered to tell us the richness of the old music of yesteryears, So we are the product of modern music of jazzy trend only, “He is right to a great extent.”
Now will the government or parents makesome special efforts to shift the interest of present generation towards the old era music. Or will a new music director come and make some efforts to dig out the treasure of old music and create a new wave reminiscent of the golden past. Likewise, will India have another Rafi sahib(a perfect gentleman with zero arrogance) or another Lata or Asha or another Ravi or another Shailender or Sahir or Shakeel? Such legendary people are born once in centuries. Still every possibility depends on the future. But this diaspora of music directors, lyricists, singers of two decades and a storehouse of 5000 songs will remain a great heritage for coming generations of the future.
By R.N. Malik