Posts Tagged ‘Playback Singers’

By Sharada Iyer Multifaceted Kishore Kumar was an enigmatic personality and an entertainer par excellence. A truly gifted singer with a God-given voice who never received any typical classical training yet proved with every song that he was in no way lesser than any of his contemporaries of the ‘Golden era’. Blessed with a rare […]

via The inimitable Kishore Kumar in ‘classical’ mode — My Views On Bollywood

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When Bollywood directors decide to etch out the character of either a mother or a soul mate in finer detail, lullabies come in handy.

It is widely believed that lullabies, when sung with minimal words and unaccompanied by any kind of music, have more of a soothing effect on a baby. However, given the penchant of the Indian audience to lap up lyrics only when dished out along with some lilting music, our directors make some compromises and come up with songs which not only boast of some soulful lyrics but are also accompanied by a wide range of musical instruments playing softly in the background.

The result is that many of these tend to soothe the frayed nerves of not only a baby but even some adults who appear to be passing through a challenging phase in their lives. In other words, the lullabies on our silver screens not only put babies to sleep but also get deployed as a clever device to provide succour to anguished souls in other age brackets.

Let us recapitulate some of the outstanding lullabies dished out by Bollywood over the past few decades.

For kids in all kinds of circumstances

A key feature of parenthood is the desire to protect one’s child from the harsh slings and arrows of Life. A lullaby could get sung in a protective environment. It could also get rendered when either a mother or a caretaker is seriously concerned about the future of the child.


Do Bigha Zamin

(1953, Music: Salil Chowdhury, Lyrics: Shailendra)



(1955, Ravi, Prem Dhawan)


Do Ankhen Baarah Haath

(1957, Vasant Desai, Bharat Vyas)



(1957, Anil Biswas, Prem Dhawan or Ali Sardar Jafri)



(1959, S D Burman, Majrooh Sultanpuri)


Mujhe Jeene Do

(1963, Jaidev, Sahir Ludhianvi)



(1968, Shankar Jaikishan, Shailendra)



(1972, Madan Mohan, Gulzar)



(1977, R D Burman, Anand Bakshi)



(1983, R D Burman, Gulzar)



(2001, A R Rahman, Javed Akhtar)



(2004, A R Rahman, Javed Akhtar)


Providing solace to adults

When a weary soul is on the lookout for some solace, help comes from a loving and devoted companion, who could either be a soul mate or an empathetic person who believes that it is his duty to comfort the other. The music is so soothing as to put the weary person to sleep, thereby helping him or her to cope with distress.


(1940, Pankaj Mullick, Kedar Nath Sharma)



(1952, C Ramchandra, Rajinder Krishan)



(1954, Naushad, Shakeel Badayuni)


Hum Dono

(1961, Jaidev, Sahir Ludhianvi)



(1965, Ravi, Rajendra Krishan)



(1983, Iliyaraja, Gulzar)


The deep yearning to bear a child

Some of you might agree with me that a soothing song which poignantly captures the deep yearning of a woman to bear a child could also be labelled as a lullaby. Even though it expresses tender thoughts for a child who might still be on the horizon, the feelings portray the same love and affection as the ones articulated in a lullaby.


(2002, Anu Malik, Gulzar)


Most of these songs have a different context. But the underlying sentiment of empathy, compassion and love remains the same. The fertile imagination of a director, coupled with the creativity of a music director, ensures a wide spectrum of the genre of lullabies in Bollywood, ranging from yet-to-be-born children to those who are much past the phase of childhood.

Diminishing returns from lullabies?

This post is surely not an exhaustive one. But while compiling the songs, yours truly was struck by the relative absence of lullabies in the movies released in recent decades. For the 1950s, I could come up with 7 of the songs listed above, whereas for the 2010s I could barely trace 3 songs in  this genre!

Perhaps, our producers and directors no longer appear to believe that the presence of soothing lullabies in their offerings to the gullible audience makes the box office ring any louder. It is not that scripts centered on kids do not find favour with them. In fact, the converse could be true. Think of Tare Zameen Par, Nil Battey Sannata, The Blue Umbrella, I Am Kalam, Stanley Ka Dabba and many others which have been eagerly lapped up by the audience in the recent past. But the character of children has undergone a change. No longer are they to be pampered with lullabies. Instead, they are showcased as being smarter kids, somewhat grown up and awash with dazzling inputs from the digital world that surrounds them. They no longer appear to be vulnerable, needing the emotional support of a lullaby to get to sleep.

Perhaps this has to do with the setting of most scripts having become an urban one. With the rise of the nuclear family and the ready availability of technological gizmos, the space for lullabies appears to be shrinking. Choices for hapless parents who are caught in the vicious circle of materialistic pursuits of life have narrowed down. In children’s formative years, perhaps a soothing touch is getting gradually replaced with cold metallic screens streaming inane cartoons and animation movies which are replete with violent sequences. With each passing decade, the threshold of innocence appears to be getting lowered, thereby reducing the utility of a soulful lullaby to add to the box office collections.

But parents and soul mates need not lose heart. Bollywood’s repertoire of lullabies of the past is a rich one. Many of the songs alluded to above could still be of immense utility when it comes to putting their wards to a restful slumber.

Also, there is the hope that the future may somehow see a revival of this unique genre of Bollywood music. However, given the creative imagination of our script writers and lyricists, one would not be surprised to find a humanoid being shown to be crooning a lullaby wherein the moon has got replaced by inter-galactic travel, the stars have given way to the twinkling city lights and a cool breeze has got substituted by gentle air conditioning!

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/bringing-up-kids)





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My Views On Bollywood


Sharada Iyer

To encompass the greatness of a singer of Mohammed Rafi’s stature into one blog-post is not only impossible but will also not do justice to this incomparable jewel of Hindi film music. On the occasion of his 94th birth anniversary, this blog-post attempts to trace his early steps in the forties which eventually set him on the path to become the emperor of Hindi film music.

Right from childhood he had the rare gift of picking up any song he heard and singing it exactly like the original much to the surprise of the people around him. As a little boy he was drawn to the songs sung by a wandering ‘fakir’ (minstrel) in his village. Enchanted by the fakir’s song little Rafi would follow him everywhere and was able to reproduce it to perfection. The fakir was so impressed by the little boy that he…

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My Views On Bollywood


Sharada Iyer

Most people may not be aware that singer Bhupinder Singh loved for his soulful ghazals and memorable songs from films like Gharonda, Mausam, Thodi Si Bewafai, Kinara, Parichay, Aitbaar, Bazaar, etc., is also an expert guitarist and has composed some of the most memorable guitar pieces ever heard of in Hindi cinema.

Born in Amritsar it was destiny that dragged him first to Delhi and then to Mumbai where he became very popular as a playback singer and ghazal singer thanks to his unique resonating voice. However the guitarist in him never came to be publicized much and this humble man always put in his best and just let his work speak for itself.


Adept at playing different types of guitars like the Hawaian guitar, Spanish guitar and Electric guitar, he joined R D Burman’s group of musicians as one of the lead guitarists…

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Geeta_Dutt portrait

For those who love songs from Bollywood, the versatile singing talent of the late Geeta Dutt is remembered very fondly to this day. Here is an article from Mr Raj Kanwar, an India-based author, freelance journalist and music lover.

A Singer called ‘Geeta’

Geeta Dutt and her versatile voice are remembered on her death anniversary, which was on July 20.

When Geeta Dutt (née Roy) sang, ‘Yaad karoge, yaad karoge, ik din humko yaad karoge’ in ‘Do Bhai’ in 1947, she had not imagined how prophetic the lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan would turn out to be. Today, 68 years after that song had captured the imagination of music lovers and 43 years since her death in 1972, three generations of her die-hard fans still fondly remember her and her melodious voice continues to mesmerise them. Her 43 death anniversary was observed on July 20.

The music of ‘Do Bhai’ with another of Geeta’s song, ‘Mera sundar sapna beet gaya,’ topping the charts, was a hit, and the movie became the second highest grosser at the box office in 1947.

It was virtually Geeta’s first movie, and the countrywide popularity of her songs made the teenager’s nascent career leap overnight to another dimension. Her popularity scaled newer heights in 1948 and 1949, eclipsing Shamshad Begum and Raj Kumari, who then ruled the roost. She became every director’s choice and the reigning diva.

Then suddenly, she found her supremacy being challenged by another teenager, Lata Mangeshkar. Lata had scored a unique hat-trick in 1949 with three mega-hits in ‘Mahal,’ ‘Andaz’ and ‘Barsaat.’ Naushad’s lilting music in Mehboob Khan’s ‘Andaaz’ and Khemchand Prakash’s soulful songs in Kamal Amrohi’s ‘Mahal,’ enthralled listeners. However, it was in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Barsaat,’ with amazing music by the new duo Shankar-Jaikishan, that Lata demonstrated new facets of her talent. She emerged as the new singing sensation, and Geeta found herself relegated to the second position. Nevertheless, Geeta managed to hold her own.

In fact, 1950 turned out to be the most productive year for Geeta, during which she recorded more songs than in the previous year. In ‘Jogan,’ she sang six of Meerabai’s devotional bhajans. ‘Mat jaa mat jaa jogi,’ ‘Main to Giridhar ke ghar jaaoon,’ ‘Eri main to prem diwani’ and the most popular one, ‘Ghunghat ke pat khol’ that captivated the devout. That year, she sang for several reputed music composers as well, such as S.D. Burman, Avinash Vyas, Bulo C. Rani, Chitragupta, Ghulam Mohammed, Khayyam, Hansraj Behl, Khemchand Prakash, Husnlal Bhagatram, SN Tripathi and Vasant Desai.

Then Guru Dutt happened in 1951. Dev Anand’s ‘Baazi’ was his directorial debut. It was on its sets that Geeta and Guru met and fell in love. They married in May, 1953. They spent the first three years blissfully. Their first son Tarun came in 1954 and the next, Arun, in 1956.

Ironically, Dutt’s entry into her life became both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, as Geeta’s career blossomed and she sang some of the most lilting songs in movies such as ‘Aar Paar’ (1954) and ‘Mr. and Mrs. 55’ (1955). Both were huge hits. Coquettish songs such as ‘Ye lo main haari piya’, ‘Jaa jaa jaa bewafa’ and ‘Babu ji dheere chalna’ became chartbusters.

Other singers, such as Lata, were as good if not better, but Geeta’s singing possessed an ethereal charm; she sang from the heart. At one moment, she would sing a devotional song and the next, she would switch over to a catchy ‘Mera naam chin chin chu,’ and then to a seductive number, ‘Tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer bana de.’ There was no end to her versatility.

“A soft spoken woman in real life, she would metamorphose into an exotic cabaret performer with clever modulation of voice in the recording studio. Her voice was rich, vibrant and well-toned and could switch from exotica to melancholy in a matter of minutes,” says Shikha Biswas Vohra, daughter of the veteran composer, Anil Biswas.

Both Geeta and Guru were temperamental, sensitive and emotionally fragile. Geeta as a top playback singer in 1953 made more money than Guru Dutt, who was struggling to make his mark as a director. A few busybodies insinuated that Dutt had married Geeta for money. That hurt Guru no end and he asked her to sing only for his movies. Some brushed aside these insinuations. “Guru Dutt belonged to the type for whom money meant nothing; it was only a commodity to trade dreams with,” comments Amit Biswas who, as a child, used to play with Tarun and Arun in their beautiful bungalow on top of Pali Hill.

Guru was a strict disciplinarian on the sets, but was the opposite in personal life; he was a chain smoker and drank a lot. Though ostensibly they continued to live together, they had started drifting apart. In the midst of this marital turmoil, Guru Dutt introduced a newcomer, Waheeda Rehman in his movie ‘C.I.D.’ in 1956. Rumours of Guru’s affair with Waheeda distressed Geeta. She ignored rehearsals and recordings, neglected her riyaz and took to drinking. Both began neglecting their respective careers. Then Guru Dutt faced heavy financial loss with ‘Kaagaz ke Phool.’

Amid the personal problems was born their third child, Nina, in 1962. Two years later, on October 10, 1964, Guru Dutt allegedly committed suicide. His death shattered Geeta. Then followed the years of financial hardship.

It was out of compulsion that she took up singing again in Basu Bhattacharya’s ‘Anubhav.’ Music was by Kanu Roy and lyrics by Gulzar. She sang three memorable songs, ‘Meri jaan mujhe jaan na kaho,’ ‘Koi chupke se aake’ and ‘Mera dil jo mera hota.’ It was remarkable that Geeta, despite a gap of a few years, had not lost the verve and vivacity of old.

She loved her children. “She was an extrovert and a fun-loving person. I remember the good times we had; at a moment’s notice Mummy would say, ‘Come on, let’s go for a picnic,’ and we would pack up and leave. She loved having people around, our friends used to stay over and she would cook and look after everyone. She loved doing that,” Arun had said about his mother.

But she continued to drink, which eventually took its toll and she died on July 20, 1972, of cirrhosis of the liver. She was only 42.


  1. The writer Mr Raj Kanwar can be reached at rkanwar_in@yahoo.co.uk.
  2. This article of his appeared in The Hindu. Here is the link: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/remembering-geeta-dutt-on-her-death-anniversary/article7456125.ece
  3. Permission from the author to re-publish it here is gratefully acknowledged.
  4. Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/bollywood-legends-talat-mahmood

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For those who continue to be enamoured of the velvet-like voice of the late Talat Mahmood, here is an article from Mr Raj Kanwar, an India-based author, freelance journalist and music lover.

His ‘quivering’ voice still a rage

One of Talat Mahmood’s most unforgettable songs is “Meri yaad mein tum na aansoo bahana,” rendered way back in 1951. Over the following two decades, Talat sang one hit ghazal after another and continued to cast a spell on legions of ghazal aficionados both in India and abroad.

Today 64 years later, the musicality and lyricism of these ghazals still haunt generations of his loyal fans.

However, it was not all hunky dory for Talat Mahmood as he had to compete with the likes of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey.

It is, therefore, creditable that Talat was able to hold his own and remain the first choice for composers and lyricists alike when it came to singing ghazals for films.

Like many of his contemporaries, Talat too had his share of good luck. It took him little time in early the 1940s to establish himself as a ghazal singer of no mean merit in his hometown, Lucknow, with All India Radio becoming his launch pad. His first disc by HMV in 1941, “Sab Din Ek Samaan Nahin The” was hailed as a success. However, it was his next, “Tasveer Teri Dil Mera Behela Na Sakegi…” written by Faiyyaz Hashmi that turned out to be a chartbuster and brought him much accolade and national fame. Talat was just 16 then.
Talat Mahmood’s ghazals still find takers 17 years after his death. His death anniversary falls on May 9.

Calcutta – then the hub of both Hindi and Bengali movies – was his next destination. Taking on the pseudonym Tapan Kumar, Talat recorded numerous hit songs in Bengali. With his good looks, Talat also starred in three successful Bengali movies.

Bombay, however, was not so easy for Talat. He met one music director after another but they disapproved of the ‘quivering note’ or ‘kampan’ that characterised his voice. Though disappointed, Talat continued his rounds of music composers. His perseverance eventually paid off when he found an admiring mentor in the doyen Anil Biswas. Ironically, the very ‘kampan’ that other music directors had considered a flaw, fascinated Biswas no end. He had by then completed the music of ‘Arzoo.’ But so taken in was Biswas by that trademark quiver that he persuaded the director to add another song to the movie. The song was “Ae Dil Mujhe Aisi Jagha Le Chal Jahan Koi Na Ho…,” written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and picturised on Dilip Kumar. It became an instant rage.

Fortuitously, the Bombay film industry had by then become the Mecca for lyricists and poets such as Sahir Ludhyanvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Mehdi Ali Khan, Kaifi Azmi and D.N. Madhok.

Their lyrics struck a chord with the listener and brought tears to his eyes when rendered in impeccable Urdu diction by Talat. No wonder then that some of these poets wrote lyrics specifically for Talat. Such was the magic of this Lucknow boy! And Khayyam always reserved a special place for Talat in his heart.

In a way, Talat’s first song “Ae Dil Mujhe..” in 1949, became the harbinger of the ghazal craze in the country, and Talat became the heart-throb of ghazal lovers.

Songs such as “Shaam e gham ki qasam..” (Footpath 1953), “Jayen to jayen kahan…” (Taxi Driver 1954), “Main dil hoon ek armaan bhara..” (Anhonee 1952), “Hain sabse madhur woh geet..” (Patita 1953), “Itna na mujhse tu pyar badha..” and “Aansoo samajh ke..” (Chhaya 1961) are timeless. These and many more such classics are still in demand, 17 years after his death, at music functions and soirees.

What further lent a sense of poignancy to many of Talat’s songs was their sensitive picturisations. “Jalte hain jiske liye..” (Sujata 1959), written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and set to music by S.D. Burman, is one such example. The song, picturised on Sunil Dutt and Nutan, was so tenderly done that it tugged at the heartstrings of those who watched the movie then.

Talat Mahmood sang 747 songs in 12 Indian languages and starred in 13 films thus becoming Hindi cinema’s biggest singing star next only to Kishore Kumar.

He also had the distinction of having sung duets with all the top female playback singers of his time. Not many will recalls easily but he sang with Shamshad Begum too, their duet “Milte hin aankhein dul dua” was a raging hit then.

Incidentally, he was the first Indian singer to have performed abroad when he visited East Africa in 1956. After that he toured several countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. His last tour abroad was to the Netherlands in 1991.

The ‘king of ghazal’ died on May 9, 1998.


  1. The writer Mr Raj Kanwar can be reached at rkanwar_in@yahoo.co.uk.
  2. This article of his appeared in The Hindu of the 15th of May, 2015. Here is the link: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/his-quivering-voice-still-a-rage/article7207045.ece.
  3. Permission from the author to re-publish it here is gratefully acknowledged.

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