A tribute to Mukesh on his 45th Remembrance Day (b. July 22, 1923 – d. August 27, 1976)
The saga of performed songs in India is an age-old tradition. The knowledge transfer in the ancient times used to happen by a word of mouth. Many lessons were encapsulated into the form of songs, which were rendered in the singing form to make them more interesting and easier to remember.
Ancient saint poets created devotional songs that were easily moulded into singing pattern. On the other hand, social events like festivals or births, deaths, marriages also provided ideal platforms for the songs as means to share joy, or sorrow. The advent of theater created another genre of songs – songs that were essential part of the story of the play. These used to be romantic songs or dance songs or national spirit songs and such varieties. It was not uncommon for a song to be played for the whole night as it would keep getting incessant ‘once more’s.
In a parallel development, for the ease of presentation on a shorter time scale, the classical oral singing schools also created semi-classical forms of pure raags to render traditional folk poetry as easy-to-appreciate songs.
As such, it was no surprise that when films went ‘talky’, songs constituted an essential and integral element of a film recipe. The recording companies saw a big commercial potential for their business and actively started encouraging music directors to create songs beyond the use in films. Advent of radio also provided impetus to a rich crop of music directors and singers to create songs in ‘light-classical’ format. Most of the big names of film singing of the vintage era earned their passage into the films via these non-film songs. As a result, non-film songs, as a genre, developed its own roots, traditions, and styles.
By the end of decade of ‘40s, the new crop of music directors was on the path to carve out a different composition style, wherein an increasing ensemble of music instruments provided the core of a film song. The preludes and interludes started gaining nearly equal importance to the lyrics and went on to gain the status of music director’s own identity. The taste of generation of Hindi film listeners born during forties and fifties was ingrained with this instrumental music dominated film songs. When we regularly started listening to radio for the whetting appetite of film songs, we had devised a simple test – if a song had ‘fair’ amount of orchestration, it was a film song; otherwise, it was a non-film song. As it so happened, there were large number of such non-film songs to listen to in the voices of likes of Talat Mahmood, Hemant Kumar, Mukesh etc.
My own taste of listening to film songs started maturing more when I graduated to the purchasing the records after I started earning in early 70s. I did collect quite a few records of NFSes. Most of my purchases of Mukesh songs used to be in the form of a record for all the songs of a film. Of course, I did purchase a stand-alone record of Mukesh’s Gujarati NFS.
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Aaj Bhi Unaki Mohabbat Ka Tassavur Hai Wohi
The songs of Mukesh opened up in a very fresh light when I received the new, 2020, edition of Mukesh Geetkosh from Shri Harish Raghuvanshi. The Geetkosh is interestingly designed, making searching for different aspects of Mukesh’s songs a pleasure hunt. More one studies the Geetkosh, more one can find out hitherto hidden nuances of Mukesh’s songs. One such genre of Mukesh songs that caught my attention was Mukesh’s non-film songs.
The opening note of Mukesh Geetkosh for the Hindi non-film songs of Mukesh states that Mukesh commenced his singing career journey by recording two non-film songs at Delhi in July August 1940 on record no. N16396. These were
- Gokul Nagari Jaana….. Sanwariya Sang Nahi Man Ko Hai Bahalana
- Meri Andheri Kutiya Mein Woh Aye Ujala Hi Hoga
Overall, 78 (known) non-film songs of Mukesh have been listed in the Geetkosh. Of which we have selected here today a few of his known or less known geets and ghazals only. For the sake of convenience, I have retained the sequence in which the songs appear in the Geetkosh I have limited the selection to just one song per a particular lyricist-music director combination. I have also retained the record number of the song as given in the Geetkosh but have turned onto the highly resourceful YT for a digital link to the song for the purpose of listening the song.
Ashaar YuN To Mere Jamane Ke Liye Hai – Lyrics: Jan Nissar Akhtar – Music: Khayyam [Record no. ECSD 2723]
From among Hindi film music directors, Khayyam is one music director who had very professionally taken up recording non-film songs during the early 60s. This was probably because, Khayyam could find the medium of NFSes to present music that could be presented in his natural style, in the period when the trend of fast-paced easy-to-sing film songs had started emerging.
Aankhon Mein Bas Ke Dil Mein Sama Kar Chale Gaye – Lyrics: Jigar Muradabadi – Music: Murli Manohar Swaroop [Record No. N 88324]
It was quite customary those days for amateur music directors to select highly amenable to singing Hindustani / Urdu poetry of known, or even not-so-known poets for the records sponsored by the music company.
Aaj Gagan Se Chanda Utara Aa Gaya Meri BahoN Mein – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: J P Kaushik [Record No. N 88375]
Even as a smaller number of musical instruments characterized the composition of NFSes, the innovative music directors did not hesitate to use different types of instruments as well as using the same instruments for the obbligato support of the song.
Aaj Bhi Unaki Mohabbat Ka Tassavur Hai Wohi – Lyrics: Jan Nissar Akhtar – Music: Vipin Mehra [Record No. N 88323]
Jan Nissar Akhtar is not an unknown name as lyricist in Hindi films. But not many listeners of his film songs would have read his poetry. Here, one of his poems is presented so sweetly.
Aabaad Raho Mere Dil Ko Jalanewale – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: V Balsara [Record No. N 35740]
During his stint of working with music company, V Balsara has created some of the finest NFSes. His NFSes had his distinct touch. However, for a lay listener like me that aspect would be beyond recognition while listening to the song in its normal course. It was the in-depth pursuit of Mukesh Geetkosh now that I specifically chose to listen to these songs and start enjoying the nuances of lyrics, composition, and orchestration, as is the case here with use of piano or deep tone of Mukesh’s voice.
KyuN Pheri Nazar KyuN Pheri Nazar Ddekho To Idhar – Lyrics: Anjum Pilibhiti – Music: Naushad [Record No. N 88034]
The song was originally recorded for Anokhi Ada (1948). However, when it was not finally included, it is now classified as NFS. However, the song would simply stand out as a film song when the test of use of number of music instruments would have been applied. From that point of view, the song is typical film song, even if the song belongs to a period when the use of number of music instruments was rather limited!
Kisi Ko Deke Dil Koi Nawa_Sanj-e-Fughan Kyun Ho – with Talat Mahmood – Mirza Ghalib + Daag Dehlvi – Murli Manohar Swaroop [Record No. N 88300]
Here is the case of a very interesting experiment, wherein Talat Mahmood sings the parts of Ghalib Ghazal and Mukesh sings that Daag Dehlavi (e.g., Jo Dil Ho Qabu Mein To Koi Ruswa-e-Jahan Kyun Ho).
We find a couple of more such Talat-Mukesh duets in the Geetkosh. Each one is composed by Murli Manohar Swaroop but bears different record number. This could probably be interpreted as one experiment found to be successful was repeated in subsequent records as well.
Gai Yak-ba-Yak Jo Hawa Palat Nahi Dil Ko Mere Qarar Hai – Lyrics: Bahadurshah Zafar – Music: Mukesh [Record No. P: 45-N 88420]
Mukesh has composed music for his own film Anurag (1956).
He has composed five NFSes in all, published on two different records. The present song is on, what was then available as, a 45 rpm Extended Play record which contained two songs on each side.
We can find one more song – Diya apni khudi ko jo hamne mita – which seems to be on the same side of record.
Jiyenge Magar Muskara Na Sakenge – Lyrics: Kaif Irfani – Music: Mukesh [Record No. N 88042]
This is one of the very well-known non-fil songs of Mukesh. However, I came to know that it was a Mukesh’s own composition only because of Mukesh Geetkosh.
The other song – Do jhulmi naina ham pe jhulm kare – on the second side of this record is also an equally well-known one.
Jhehal-e-Miskin Makun Taghaful Duraye Naina Banae BatiyaN – with Sudha Malhotra – Lyrics: Amir Khushro – Music: Murli Manohar Swaroop [Record No. LP: S/3AEX 13004]
Murli Manohar Swaroop experiments a male-female duet for an NFS.
The present song is essentially a Sufi poetry, which normally are the compositions of prayers for which the classical form is qawwali. If some singers have chosen to render it in ghazal style format, several other singers have rendered it in the qawwali form.
Tere LaboN Ke Muqabil Gulab Kya Hoga – Lyrics: Shiv Kumar ‘Saroj’ – Music: Kishor Desai [Record No. ECP 2468]
Shiv Kumar ‘Saroj’ was a well-known announcer to my generation of Radio Ceylon listeners. However not many would have known that he was a very good poet too. Few of his poems have been recorded as well. One of the famous songs is Khamosh zinadagi ko kyoN awaz de rahe ho (NaMag Mandir, 1966; singer- Mohammad Rafi; Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal).
Kishore Desai is better known as sarod and mandolin player. YT has several video clips on his performances. One of the famous examples of his virtuoso performance is extensive mandolin pieces in Tum bin jauN kahaN (Pyar Ka Mausam (1969); Singer – Mohammad Rafi; Music: R D Burman)
Na Hui Gar Mere Marane Se Tasalli Na Sahi – Lyrics: Mirza Ghalib – Music: Khayyam [Record No. N 88362]
One noticeable feature of NFSes is presentation of the many different shades of a singer’s tonal variations.
Main Chakori Tum Gagan Ke Chandrama – with unknown female singer –Lyrics: ? – Kalyanji Anandji [Record No.: ?]
The song is supposed to have been recorded for a proposed film Purnima, but not included finally.
The song is a validation of classification of a NFS on the basis of level of orchestration!
We end the present episode with a very interesting NFS. An ad jingle….
CigarettoN Mein Sab Se Aalaa, Public Jane Kala Pakitwala – Lyrics: ? – Muisc: ? [Record No. QC1550 (Matrix No. – QJE 13689TI)
Just look at the amount of effort that has gone into composition of this jingle!
BTW, Mukesh Geetkosh notes that the composition of this jingle is based on Raag Bahar! Wow!
We will look at Mukesh’s film songs from other different angles, with the help of Mukesh Geetkosh, on some future occasions.
Acknowledgement and disclaimer:
- Mukesh Geetkosh, 2020 edition – Harish Raghuvanshi: For the basic information of the songs selected herein the present article.
- The song links have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of the music lovers. This blog claims no copyright over these songs which vests with the respective owners.
This article is originally published on Songs of Yore as Mukesh’s Non-film Hindi Geets and Ghazals on 27 August 2021.
 Mukesh Geet Kosh – Compiled by Harish Raghuvanshi, Second edition : 2020
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