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Lata Sings For Shankar Jaikishan

For many days I have wanted to write on this unique music-director duo, but never got down to do it. The prime reason being that there is so much to say that it would never fit in any one post; secondly, my appreciation for their music is so strong that 'logic' and 'structure' of a post gets lost. Hence, I begin with a disclaimer, that this post is an outpour, and might seem jumbled, but believe me, it will be very tough to edit this post.

SJ ruled the music industry for more than two decades with the irrepressible musical magic from their baton; in that age, films were sold purely on the strength of their name. Purists have always scoffed at their music, dismissing it off as too 'popular' or 'pedestrian' , but for me Shankar Jaikishan define what film music should be. But to rule for two decades with bumper hits after super-hits is no mean achievement, and I am pretty confident they would have rocked the seventies also had not Jaikishan expired (yes, this despite their personal differences because they were both individually complete musicians). Well, it might sound silly, but just speak out their name - even that is full of rhythm and jhankaar.

They gave the form and grammar to film music that has been followed till date. A large bulk of their songs are three stanzas ones - and in them, they gave a wonderful symmetery : the first and the third interlude is always the same.

Apart from making the form, S-J gave a lot of emphasis on the music that went between the songs - the interludes. They were always rich and varied and of course their orchestration is legendary. But the best part is that they knew how to use the orchestra - a case in point , which I never tire of quoting, is the hit song 'Kaun hai jo sapnon mein aaya' ( Jhuk Gaya Aasman ); just listen to the lush of violins that begin the song - isn't that breathtaking! And they composed this in an era where their were no sophisticated gadgetry available to simulate sounds. Yet, none of the electronic timbres of today can match upto the quality achieved by S-J.

The music between the 'antaras' was never forced; it flowed in a natural progression. Plus, they never left the antaras naked, meaning there was always some background musical support for the vocals.

S-J not only worked hard on the interludes, they also gave the supporting music of the vocals (the beats) a heaviness. Listen to any of their songs, it always has a 'jhankaar' sound with it.

Also, SJ have to their credit songs that sometimes define genres - think of a 'lori' and one cannot miss mentioning 'Mai gaaon tum so -jaao' (Brahmchari) ; speak of children's songs and 'Re mama re mama' (Andaz) has to find a place ; mention Mehmood's antics, 'Hum kaale hain toh kya hua' (Gumnam) is on the forefront ; any listing of bhajans is incomplete without Tu pyaar ka saagar hai ( Seema); talk of 'masti', there is the evergreen Mai rangeela pyaar ka raahi (Chhoti Bahen) or All line clear (Chori Chori ) ; Chitrahaar
wouldn't be complete on Raksha Bandhan without Behna ne bhai ki kalai se pyaar baandha hai (Resham Ki Dori) ; dream sequences found an expression with Ghar aaya mera pardesi (Aawara); a compilation of horror songs will remain gumnaam without Gumnaam hai koi. And do I even have to mention how many times we would have quoted Budha mil gaya'(Sangam) , Phir bhi dil hai hindustani (Shri 420), Aap yahan aaye kisliye/aapne bulaya issliye (Kal Aaj aur Kal) Chal sanyasi mandir mein (Sanyasi), Parde mein rahne do (Shikar), Mujhe meri biwi se bachao (Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar), Sayonara ( Love In Tokyo ) and Paan khaaye sainya hamaaro (Teesri Kasam). Till date, most 'dulhans' in weddings enter to the strains of Baharon phool barsaao mera mehboob aaya hai (Sooraj) playing in the background.

Have you noticed that SJ did most of the films that needed the 'international' touch when color came and filmmakers discovered foreign locations - An Evening In Paris , Sangam, Around the World, Love in Tokyo , Singapore are some names.

SJ pioneered the concept of 'item' songs; they made 'cabarets' popular (before Pancham took this to dizzying heights); and, they gave 'seduction' a new meaning. They were the first and complete 'hindi film music composers'. Though they did not give many pure 'classical' songs but the songs of Basant Bahar and Amrapali prove that they could give a resounding slap on the face of their detractors. Incidentally, one of my favorite songs of this style, Jhanak jhank tori baaji paayalia (Mere Huzoor) is an SJ composition sung by Manna De.

With Lata Mangeshkar, S J had one of the most comfortable professional relationship (though it did get a tad broken when Shankar opted for his lady-love Sharda in the latter part of the career; however, Shankar had to bridge the gap in the seventies and then Lata sang for him in Sanyasi, Do Jhoot and Paapi Pet Ka Sawaal Hai) - for those who don't know, the film Do Jhoot had a song that went Chhatri na khol udd jaayegi hawa tez hai / arre kholne de, bheeg jaayenge (it was quite a big hit at that time).

Perhaps the comfort in their working relationship came from the fact that both SJ and Lata started their careers nearly the same time. Though Lata was singing for some time, both SJ and Lata tasted their first super success in 1949 (with Raj Kapoor's Barsaat). When you start your careers together, there always is a rapport that is impossible to replicate elsewhere. Likewise for Lata and SJ. In all her interviews Lata Mangeshkar always recalls S-J with fondness.

S-J were the 'naughty' duo who always challenged Lata Mangeshkar with the impossibly high pitch songs - try singing Aji rooth kar kahan jaayiega (Aarzoo) and you will know what I mean. Also, SJ created the concept of having the same song in a female version.
Invariably all the female songs went to Lata Mangeshkar. Any song created for the male vocal is tough for a female to emulate. But hats off to Lataji who took up the challenge and gave the female versions their own standing - a prime example in this category is (another personal favorite) Ehsaan tera hoga mujh par ( Junglee ).

Here is a 2004 interview excerpt on what Lataji had to say on Shankar Jaikishan:

" I remember Aji rooth kar ab kahan jayiyega in Arzoo. What a high pitch that was! My ears reddened when I sang it. But I stubbornly sang at that impossible scale, refusing to admit defeat to any range. I would get very angry, and sing at any range, without complaining.

I used to have arguments with Jaikishan. I would ask him, 'Kya baat hai, aap meri pareeksha le rahe hain? Maine aap ka kya bigada hai jo aap mera kaan laal kar rahe hain? (What's the matter? Why are you testing me? What have i done that you should trouble me so?)'

Actually, Ehsaan tera hoga was only meant to be sung by Rafi. But the film's hero, Shammi Kapoor, suddenly decided that the heroine should sing it as well. It was picturised with Rafi's voice on Saira Banu and later dubbed by me. So I had to sing it in the same sur as Rafi. The same was done with Jiya ho jiya kuch bol do (Jab Pyar Kissi Se Hota Hai).

I shared a great friendship with Shankar-Jaikishan"


Creating a list for me is always tough - esp if the body of work is as vast as that of Lata Mangeshkar and SJ combo. So, here I am attempting a list of Lata Mangeshkar solos created by Shankar Jaikishan in the Black-and-White era: (this list is not in any order, I like all of them equally)

Bol ri kathputli dori kaun sang baandhi - Kathputli : The first time I heard it was on a Chitrahar, when I was still in my half-pants. I fell in love with the easy-on-lips tune. At that time I had no clue who or what music composer meant. Much later I collected it in my collection. Listen to the mindblowing accordion use in the beginning, and the wonderful interludes; of course, Lata sounds sweeter than honey!

Kisi ne mujhko apna banakar muskurana seekha deeya - Patita : What simple thought and expression; and what a simple tune! And yet so evocative. Since this was from a 'small' film, it goes to SJ credit for coming up with lovely music. The other hit song from the film was Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum.

Tera Jaana - Anari : The music of Anari was spectacular; the entire album is irresistible. But this is a song that always shakes me up. Once again, at the cost of repetition, would request you to please listen to the first interlude, and the way it ends just before the stanza begins. HMV has a combo of Anari and Chori Chori - both the films had ALL the songs that can be heard. It is a must buy!

Ajeeb daastan hai yeh - Dil Apna Preet Parayi - A song that needs no introduction. It is one of Lataji's personal favorites as well and she always sings it at her concerts. I have the song in four different versions by Lataji herself - one, the original from the film, two from her concerts in the seventies and late nineties and last, a small portion in the medley of the film Mujhse Dosti Karoge. In each of the era, Lataji has only excelled herself.

Raja ki aayegi baarat - Aah and Lo aayi milan ki raat suhani aaj - Aashiq - Two sumptous marriage songs. The first is a song that welds sorrow with happiness to merge the entities of the emotions in a seamless whole. Lata Mangeshkar's rendition of 'magan mai nachoongi' is no less pure than a saint calling to his divine being!

In the second, my favorite couplet is the opening one - Nasheeli raat hai / saare chiraag gul kar do / Khushee kee raat mein kya kaam hai jalne waalon ka. There is a lovely use of 'sarangi' in the song, an unlikely instrument in a marriage song, but then that was the
genius of SJ

Raat aur din diya jale / Jeena humko raas na aaya / Na chhedo kal ke afsaane / Aawara ae dil bata - Raat Aur Din - Though the film was released in the 'colored' era, it was however shot in black and white, hence including it here. I racked my brain to include only one song from this film, but it was impossible to segregate the gems. Each of the songs is a nugget to be savored. If the push becomes a shove, probably I will go in for the 'intoxicated' Na chhedo kal ke afsaane, karo iss raat ki baaten - one of the first songs where Lata sang as a 'drunk' lady. In Aawara ae dil bata, the riffs in the first and third stanza have me boogeying.

Aa aa bhi jaa , raat dhalne lagi, chaand chhupne chala - Teesri Kasam - what a song! what a composition! This film was produced by lyricist Shailendra, and he entrusted his best friends SJ with the music. They delved deep and came up with diamonds that can stand any assault of time - Sajan re jhoot mat bolo ( Mukesh ) , Paan khaaye sainya hamaaro ( Asha ) , Duniya banane waale kya tere mann mein samaayi ( Mukesh ) , Chalat musafir moh liya re ( Manna De ) are some of the evergreen songs of this film. Though Lataji got only two songs ( largely because the film was based on a nautanki waali's life and hence the ...
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