Bhule Bisre Geet

There are few first-rate singers who sang beautiful song(s) just in one or two movies and then vanished. (Note: We’re only talking about Hindi movies here.) I don’t know the reasons for their disappearance, but I wish they had sung more songs because these singers (details below) had quite unique (and unconventional) voices.

The first song is from the movie Kudrat (Music by R D Burman). This movie had a very famous, loved-by-all song sung by Kishor Kumar: “Humen Tumse Pyar Kitna”. But the song (one of my personal favorites) I am referring to was sung by Praveen Sultana, who got a national award for Best Female Playback Singer in 1981 for this song. I don’t think we heard from her again after this one wonderfully-sung-written-and-composed song. (The lines “Tumhe Koi Aur Dekhe, To Jalta Hai Dil” from Kishor’s version is nicely replaced here with “Koi Jo Daare Tumpe Nayanva, Dekha Na Jaaye Mose Balamwa, Jale Mora Manwa, Jale Mora Manwa.”) Hers was not the most suitable voice for a mainstream actress, but I wish she had been given some more classical songs.

Gaman (1979) had a couple of beautiful ghazals composed by Jaidev – who was quite underutilized in my opinion. This song in particular was sung by Chhaya Ganguli: “Aapki Yaad Aati Rahi”. (She also got a national award for Best Female Playback Singer for this song.)

With a simplistic structure, haunting tune and minimal instrumental arrangement, the pang of separation that it tries to convey is very effectual. Chaaya Ganguli’s melancholic voice takes it to a level that very few other songs can attain. A timeless classic!

Koi Deewana Galiyon Me Phirta Raha, Koi Aawaz Aati Rahee…

Next song “Aaye Zanjeer Ki Jhankar” is sung by another rarely heard singer Kaaban Mirza. Khayyam (one of the greatest music composers of yesteryears) composed music for this movie – Razia Sultan.

Khoon Dil Ka Na Chaalak Jaaye Meri Aankhon Se, Ho Na Jaaye Kaheen Izhaar Khuda Khair Kare…

Talking about Khayyam, very few people know that her wife – Jagjit Kaur – also sang few songs in Hindi movies. The following song is from Baazar called “Dekh Lo”. (Two more popular songs from this movie are: Karoge Yaad To” and “Seene Mein Jalan”.)

Another song by the ace music composer Jaidev from the movie Gharonda“Tumhe Ho Na Ho” was sung by a Bangladeshi singer Runa Laila. Although very popular in her native country, she never made it big in India. I just love the unconventional tune/structure of this song and even more unconventional lyrics (I mean, you can find at least, I would say, five songs for any given situation. But how many songs can you recall in which the girl is telling her boy-friend that whatever his feelings for her are, she’s pretty sure that she herself is not in love with him?) Other popular songs in this movie (“Ek Akela Is Shehar Mein”, “Do Deewane”) were written by Gulzar, but “Tuhme Ho Na Ho”, however Gulzar-ish it might sound, was actually written by Naqsh Lyalpuri.

Sudha Malhotra, who sounds much like Asha in the following duet from Prem Rog, is not as rare as other singers mentioned above. She sang some more ghalzals (“Ishq Ishq Hai”), and being a “typed singer” some children songs too, but was never given much opportunity. Lyrics of “Ye Pyar Tha” were written by Santosh Anand.

The following Punjabi song, with quite rhetorical lyrics (It’s okay to break a temple of mosque, but breaking a heart? No way.), is from Bobby: “Beshak Mandir Masjid Todo”Chanchal sang this song, bagged a National Award for Best Playback Male Singer (1973), and then disappeared from the music scene. (Again, because of his unconventional voice which was probably considered unsuitable for lead actors.) Music was by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lyrics by Inderjeet Singh. (All other songs of Bobby were written by Anand Bakhi.)

Hemlata is another singer that remained almost a one-time-wonder. After all these years “Akhiyon Ke Zarokhon Se” hasn’t lost an iota of its freshness. With the innocence of Hemlata’s voice, and the unparalleled honeydew sweetness of this melody composed by Ravindra Jain, this songs remains to be one of the best female romantic solo. (Although, every time I hear this song, I can’t help but notice how Hemlata mispronounces Jharokhon as Jharokon!

Let me end this post with a poignant lullaby written by Gulzar: “Do Naina Aur Ek Kahani” from Masoom – composed by R D Burman and sung by Aarti Mukharjee.

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8 responses to “Bhule Bisre Geet

  1. Ritesh

    Vish, Wonderful article – all this unconventonal or so called orthodox vocal songs my favourite too. Look at the flow of “tume ho na ho mujhko to…..” immidiately after listening to this song you almost assume that its picturised on you and all lyrics start getting into your DNA.

    “Dekh lo aaj humko ji bharke…” wow, just wow – the soft melody, the pain and agony in the lyrics so magnificently expressed by singer in a perfect pause….and at times she will not finish the line by singing but music will do that part.

    Yes where are this singers, why did they not make it big into indian cinema or music? I might know partial answer to that, but than I think is it not better off that way? what would we than call rare songs or rare singer….if they would give voice to almost all the actors.

  2. Vishal

    Thanks for your comments Ritesh!

    Yes, had they given voices to many actors, we probably would not have missed these “rare singers” much.

    Anyways, all of these songs are from yesteryears, but even in last several decades we have so many talented singers (and actors) whose talent is not being utilized to fuller extent. For example, where did Shivaji Chattopadhyay go after singing “Ye Safar Bahot Hai Katheen Magar”? We don’t hear enough from the talented singer Richa Sharma whose “Ab Jo Kiye Ho Daata” from (new) Umroa Jaan is one of best and saddest feminist songs of all times. I don’t even want to get started with the wonderful actors that are not given roles in movies.

  3. TJ

    Vish, its been a long time since I visited your website and I definitely found this article to be a refreshing read. Almost all the songs you mention are either classics or extremely popular with the masses and it would have been great if these singers had sung more often commercially for Bollywood movies.

    Some of these singers had already carved out a niche for themselves or did so after lending their voice to these lovely songs in areas other than film music.

    Begum Parveen Sultana, also referred to as the Queen of Hindustani Music, is regarded to be one of the most revered and versatile proponents of the Hindustani classical form of Gayaki. Runa Laila, as you mentioned, was and remains immensely popular in Bangladesh even though she could not make it big in Mumbai. Narendra Chancal, who perhaps was not given enough work in films due to his unconventional vocal tone, made it big in the Devotional/Bhakti genre where his Vaishno Devi and Mata Ka Jagran bhajans are immensely popular.

    A few names I would love to add:
    Anup Ghoshal (Tujhse Naaraz nahi Zindagi, Masoom)
    Sharma Brothers (although one can argue that they belong exclusively to the Devotional genre)
    Devaki Pandit (Woh To Hai Albela, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na)

    And we can only hope that pure classical singers like Ustad Rashd Khan (Aaoge Jab Tum, Jab We Met) would bless us with more “commercial” songs in the coming years !

  4. Vishal

    Hey TJ! I am glad you enjoyed the article. I just watched Ijaazat (again) last weekend and while wathing the picturization of the male version of Tujhse Naaraz Naheen Zindagi I thought that ‘hey, I missed to mention this rare singer in my post!’ and the very next day, your comment! Although imprerfect (as compared to Lata’s rendition), I personally like Anup’s version more than Lata’s.

    In addition to the other names that you mentioned, I also miss Shivaji Chattopadhyay (who sang Ye Safar from 1947 A Love Story).

  5. Carol Ann

    I love the voice of Shivaji Chattopadhyay – my goodness he should have been a singing legend after his excellent delivery of “Yeh Safar” in “1942 A love Story”. He single-handed brought me to Indian songs when I first heard him sing the song on a YouTube video. This is one of the most outstanding songs ever and in my opinion, the best delivered song of that movie. His voice is distinctive and his sensitivity came through as a singer. What a beautiful song and touching performance. He touched me so deeply. Can someone get this message to him?

  6. Vishal

    Carol, too bad he didn’t sing any Bollywood movie songs after 1942 A Love Story (the ace music director, R D Burman, who gave him this break, died before the release of this movie). He has sung in some Bangla/Bengali music albums (that I haven’t heard). I don’t have his contact info.

    Hey, if you haven’t, you might want to check out Bhupen Hazarika’s songs. Not as melancholic as “Yeh Safar” but very distinctive singing style.

  7. sahishnu

    @Carol, as Vishal has said, Shivaji mainly sings Bengali songs. He actually mimics Hemant Kumar (Hemanta Mukherjee ) – and mainly sings cover versions of his Bengali songs

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