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Fading Memories….Unforgettable Songs

Fading Memories…. Unforgettable Songs : November 2021

Salil Chowdhury and Shailendra’s Songs Fading From the Memory: 1958 to 1960

Salil Chowdhury – 10 November 1922 – 5 September 1995 – had had natural attraction towards to folk music and studied inclination towards the Western Classical music. He could also play several musical instruments. In fact, it is said that any instrument that he could lay his hands on he would be able to play it very comfortably. It was the combination of the effect of these music influences that made his compositions always melodious, even when quite complex in the structure. His orchestration was always symphonic with blend of intricate use of the different instruments.

His music never got molded into any pattern. His flair for experimentation always lent his own signature originality to his composition. He was so deeply committed to his personal, social values that he never let his music be driven by the competitive market forces. For him melody was so sacrosanct that strongly believed in composing the tune first and then would want his lyricist to pen lyrics that suit the tune – in metre as well as spirit. Since he was also a poet, he would fine tune his tune with his own (dummy) lyrics. Many a times the official lyricist would love to simply take over Salil Chowdhury’s lyrics as a base to build the lyrics for the song.

It was perhaps the unique skill of Shailendra (B: 30-8-1923/ D: 14-12-1966) to come up with lyrics that fitted the tune and the mood that so easily made Salil Chowdhury comfortable working with him. Coupled with this, it was Shailendra’s knowledge of Bengali language and the earthen-closeness and selection of easy and natural words that Shailendra required to express deep emotions that also would have weighed in building the strong bond between the two. In fact, from the films that Shailendra wrote songs beyond Shankar-Jaikishan quartet team, Salil Chowdhury- Shailendra combination share is almost one third.

To commemorate the memory of Salil Chowdhury, we have been devoting our November episode to Salil Chowdhury’s compositions receding from our memory. We had remembered Salil Chowdhury’s Hindi Film Songs in Other Languages in 2017. We then commenced a series of Salil Chowdhury and Shailendra’s Songs Fading From the Memory, wherein we took up their films together in the chronological order of release for remembering the songs receding from the memory from these films.  Till now we have covered the years

1953-1955 in 2018,

1956 in 2019, and

1957 in 2020

Presently we will take up relatively less heard songs from Salil Chowdhury-Shailendra combination for the years 1958 till 1960. 1958 had only one film Madhumati, 1959 had one song from only one film – Heera Moti- and 1960 had 3 films, Honeymoon, Parakh and Usne Kaha Tha.

Madhumati (1958)

Salil Chowdhury created his own space with his maiden Hindi film Do Bigha Jameen (1953). His subsequent forays with Shailendra, Naukari (1954), Jagate Raho (1956) and Musafir (1957) were well received as far as the music of these films was concerned, but the much-respected roaring commercial success of the films that Bolywood Hindi film arena required for a music director to be in demand still eluded him. Madhumati was that proverbial deliverance of the destiny. As can be recollected from a book by Bimal Roy’s daughter, Rinki Roy Bhattacharya, Bimal Roy’s Madhumati: Untold Stories from Behind the Scenes (published by Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd) – an excerpt from which can be read here – till Madhumati finally happened as it was, it was not very smooth sailing for the Salil Chowdhury-Shailendra duo. In fact, had it not been Bimal Roy’s closeness with and faith in Salil Chowdhury, destiny would have taken different turn. Well, the grand success of Madhumati and its music, in the face of extremely intense competition with a huge successful music of an exceptionally large number of other films during 1957 and 1958 can be better viewed form the fact that for the year 1958, Filmfare awards for Best Music Director and Female Singer being bagged by Madhumati (Aja Re Pardesi, Main To Kab Se Khadi Is Paar), Shailendra got Best Lyrics award for Ye Mera Diwanapan Hai (Yahudi) even when Suahana Safar Ye Mausam HasiN was also nominated in the category.

I have been able to pick up only two songs for the present episode, since all other songs continue to remain hugely popular even today.

Hum Haal-e-Dil Sunayenge Suniye Ke Na Suniye, Sau Bar Muskarayenge Suniyre Ke Na Suniye – Mubarak Begum

This gem of a mujra song, in the voice of Mubarak Begum, has only sakhi-

tumhaaraa dil mere dil ke baraabar ho nahin saktaa
wo sheeshaa ho nahin saktaa ye patthar ho nahin saktaa

and the above lines of mukhada in the film, before the extremely agitated hero, Dilip Kumar opens the door of the hall where this dance was being performed and the lady on the dance floor stops, so naturally, in her steps, It is to the credit of director Bimal Roy and editor Hrishikesh Mukherjee that songs to comes to a dead stop, much against the well-established tenet of the hero’s entry to take place only after the whole song has been played out.

The full song is available its audio form

Aside Trivia:

The couplet (sher) used as Opening Couplet (Sakhi) in this song is picked up from a Daag Dehlvi ghazal.

Similarly, the lines of the second stanza

“Ajab Hai Aah Meri, Naam ‘Daag’ Hai Mera
Tamaam Shahar Jala DogeE Kya Jala Ke Mujhe’

Is also ‘lifted’ from the last sher of the same ghazal by Daag Dehlvi

Moreover, Shailendra has used lines Rahega Ishq Tera of the first stanza again as sakhi in the song. Aa Aabhi Ja Raat Dhalane Lagi (Teesri Kasam, 1966; singer: Lata Mangeshkar; music – Shankar Jaikishan)

(This information is courtesy a comment on the post on this song @ Atul’s Song A Day)

Kancha Le Kanchi Lai Lajo, Ban Ko Baato Laltin Lai Baalera  – Asha Bhosle, Sabita Chowdhury, Ghulam Mohammed

The sakhi and repeated use of the same in song is in Nepali language, which probably Salil Chowdhury would have heard.  This is a folksong narrating the tale of a girl who has, in all probabilities, eloped. Shailendra easily takes over from there and weaves in relevant stanzas.

Salil Chowdhury has gleefully set up several experiments in the composition.

Another noteworthy point in this song is use of Ghulam Mohammed, who was a role model of Mohammad Rafi during Rafi’s initial days. Ghulam Mohammed had fallen on bad times by 50s. This song may have been offered to him as gesture of help.

Aside Trivia:

Here is the rough translation of the lyrics of Nepali lyrics, courtesy a comment by Jeta Sankrityayana on this song @Atul’s Song A Day:

(kaanchha ) the young boy took away (kaanchhi) the young girl
(Ban ko baato) along a forest road (laltin lai baalera) after lighting up a lantern…

Heera Moti (1959)

Naach Re Dharti Ke Pyare Tere ArmanoN Ki Dunuya Saamne Hai Tere  – Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Chorus

This was the only song composed by Salil Choudhary in this movie, all the other songs were composed by Roshan. As noted by World of Salil Chowdhury, just before recording of the song,  Roshan, who was on a cultural mission to Russia was taken ill. He sent a telegram to the director Krishan Chopra to advise him to request Salil Chowdhury to compose the Title music and the opening song.

The song seems to be based on folk tradition.  World of Salil Chowdhury notes that It is a great pity that the song “aay re o pousali bataasey (the air of month of Posh is in the winds) “- the original Bengali version of the present song – was never released. This is one of Salil’s earlier compositions from the ’40s during the IPTA days.

Honeymoon (1960)

The film was directed by Lekhraj Bhakri, who is cousin of Manjo Kumar 9 The hero in the film) and brother of well-known lyricist of 40s, Mulkraj Bhakri. He has used Salil Chowdhury in Tongawali (1955) previously.

The film did not seem to have done well at the box office, but all the songs were extremely melodious. Except two songs – Saanj Bhayi Sun Ri Sakhi and Duniya Na Dekhe Zamana Na Jane – all other songs have Bengali version (which can be accessed at Honeymoon (1960) on World of Salil Chowdhury.

Aside Trivia:

Shri Arunkumar Deshmukh notes that this was the last film of Kuldeep Kaur, one of three leading ladies in the film. She died of a tragic death thereafter. Her life story can be read at KULDIP KAUR: A SPOILED RICH PUNJABAN ACTRESS.

Saanj Bhayi Sun Ri Sakhi Man Chhine Kisaki Bansi – Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar

Look at the way Salil Chowdhury has played with flute first in the mukhada and then in the form of dance beat vocals, as well as the opening notes of interlude orchestration, The song has flute as the central instrument, but used as ensemble orchestra pieces.

Aaha Re Magan Mera Chanchal Man Nis Din Gun Gun Kuchh Apni Hi Dhun Mein Gaye – Lata Mangeshkar

On the face of it this a simple stage-show dance song, a situation very frequently used in Hindi films in those days. But with Salil Chowdhury and Shailendra one can expect interesting experimentation. The song composition runs in almost one breath, with Shailendra deftly using the lyrics making that possible for the singer to sing.

Such a composition can perhaps materialize only when melody comes first and the body of lyrics is built around it to result into a piece of beauty.

Mere KhawboN Mein KhayaloN Chhupe Meet Mere Meri Gali Chalein Aayengein – Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar

Documented as duet, the song, in fact, is a symmetric duet. Sail Chowdhury has used as humming alaap in the interlude pieces. From Salil Chowdhury’s standard, the song is relatively easier one to sing, and as such had gained wide acceptance.

The solo version by Lata Mangeshkar does not seem to have been released on the records, but we have an audio version on YT. Interestingly, the order in which the lyrics have been used in the interludes has been interchanged here. The song was remade by Salil Chowdhury in Bengali for the film Raktaako Bangala (1972), a film produced in Bangladesh.

Duniya Na Dekhe Zamana Na Jane Chalo KahiN Dur Chalein – Dwijen Mukherjee, Lata Mangeshkar

Salil Chowdhury has his own style for the horse-beat Tonga songs. Flute, his favorite instrument, again is the key instrument in the song.

Chhuo Na Chhuo Albele Mere Saiyan Main To Nazuk Badan Chhui-Mui – Mukesh, Sabita Banerjee

In the delight mood  duet, the song opens with first line as if the heroine would be in the trot when she sings the line. This line is played in same way across the whole song.

Tum Jo Mile To Khila Hai Gulab… Piya Tum Tod Na Dena, Khwab Ye Mere Dil Ka….-  Sabita Banerjee

The heroine playfully acknowledging the bud of love germinating is also frequently used situation for a song in Hindi films. Salil Chowdhury brings out that joy in this difficult composition.

Parakh (1960)

Billed as one of the best films directed by Bimal Roy, Parakh (the test of the identity) brings out lighter and satirical side of Bimal Roy’s film-making art. Not surprisingly, Bimal Roy received the Filmfare award as the best director a hattrick with Madhumati and Sujata being the earlier two. The story of the film is written by Salil Chowdhury and the dialogues by Shailendra. The lead male actor, as paired with the heroine in the Hindi film mold is a Bengali actor Basanta Chowdhury (who also went on to become sheriff of Calcutta), but the real hero is Motilal, in the role of a ‘lame’ postman, who lays the script on the screen. He won the Best Supporting (!?) Actor Filmfare award. Parakh was the in the list of 1-core box-office revenue roll for the year 1960. The film was ahead in time in many ways.

The three solo songs, in the voice of Lata Mangeshkar  – O Sajana Barkha Bahar Aayi (Bengali version, an NFS rendered by Lata Mangeshkar), Mila Hai Kisi Ka Jhumka (Bengali version, having the same lyrics in the opening line, in Sabita Chowdhury’s voice), Ye Bansi Kyon Gaaye (Bengali version, also a Lata Mangeshkar rendition NFS, having same opening lyrics) – remain the everlasting highlights from Salil Chowdhury’s baton.

Kya Hawa Chali Re Baba Rut Badli, Shor Hai Gali Gali Sau Sau Chuhe Khake Billi Haz Ko Chali  – Manna Dey

The village postmaster, who finds his life change dramatically when he receives a cheque for Rs. 5 lakhs from a certain Sir J.C. Roy. The cheque comes with a rider – the money would go to the most honest man in the village, someone who would use the wealth for the benefit of the people.

The song represents that search. Salil Chowdhury has fallen back on Bowl folk tradition of rural Begal, but Shailendra gets a clear ground to present his core egalitarian philosophy, as can be seen here:

pahle log mar rahe the bhukh se abhaw se
ab kahiN ye mar na jaye apni khaw khaw se
are mithi bat kadwi lage galiyaN bhali

aaj to jahan ki ulti har ek bat hai … ….  …
are hum jo kahe din hai bhai log kahe rat hai ….. ….
ret me bhi khil rahi hai pyar ki kali

aam mein uge khazur neem mein fale hai aam
dakuoN ne jog liya chor bake ram nam
hosh ki dawa karo miyaN fazal ali

Mere Man Ke Diye… Yunhi Ghut Ke Jal Tu Mere Ladle – Lata Mangeshkar

Salil Chowdhury and Shailendra weave poignancy in the song, so soulfully rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and presented by Sadhana on the screen. Salil Chowdhury has so skillfully used choir chorus in the counter melody as well as in the interlude orchestration music pieces.

Kamal Bose’s catches the song as a classic in B&W cinematography.

Usne Kaha Tha (1960)

Usne Kaha That was a Bimal Roy Production banner film, directed by his one-time assistant in films like Do Bigha Zameen, Madhumati etc, Moni Bhattacharya. The film was cinematic adaption of Chandradhar Sharma Guleri’s renowned Hindi short story by same name[1]. The film adaption somewhere missed out the perfect characterization and development of story plot of the original story. It is actually the tale of love, valor and sacrifice with an underlying melancholy refrain. Set against the rural background of Amritsar and Ambala, it seems the Bengali production unit could neither catch the earthy flavor of the locale of the story nor its nuances of interwoven into the title Usne Kaha Tha.

However, Salil Chowdhury’s melodious music and Shailendra’s appropriate playful lyrics were the redeeming features of the film. Salil Chowdhury exceptionally came up with compositions with natural Punjabi touch, while maintaining his signature symphonic orchestration style.as can be seen in the popular songs, Machalti Arzoo Khadi Baahein ((Lata Mangeshkar) and  Aha Rhimjim Ke Ye Pyare Pyare Geet Liye (Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar)

Chalte Hi Jana Jahan Tak Aaj Ye Rah Chale…   – Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, chorus

Salil Chowdhury blends a tonga song with gay abandon of Punajbi youth. Such a song requires not only power of diction while maintaining the speed of rhythm. As such, having once chosen Mohammad Rafi and Manna Dey, Salil Chowdhury takes the full advantage of the range of their singing and each one is given lines that require rendition in base scale of the higher octave. Salil Chowdhury’s mastery over chorus orchestration also is evident when he makes the chorus also to sing in the similar fashion.

Balkhati Sharmati Aaja LehroN Si Lehrati Aaja, Balkhati Sharmati Aaja, – Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, chorus

Here is one song that epitomizes Salil Chowdhury’s versatility. Someone identified as the music director with penchant for Bengali- Assamese folk tunes and Western classical orchestration styles, Salil Chowdhury perfectly creates Punjabi rural atmosphere in the song.

With these songs Salil Chowdhury-Shailendra combination seems to have reached the peak of quality, and range as well as the popularity. On that note, we continue our journey of Salil Chowdhury and Shailendra’s Songs Fading From the Memory….

We will continue remembering Unforgettable Songs that seem to Fading away from our Memories every second Sunday of the month next year too……..

Disclaimer: All images are sourced from net. All copyrights of the respective image remain with the original owner of the image.

[1] चंद्रधर शर्मा गुलेरी की कहानी उसने कहा था @ Kahani Suno

By ASHOK M VAISHNAV

In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging!
One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems.
So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation.
At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships.
I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator.
And yet,
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

One reply on “Fading Memories…. Unforgettable Songs : November 2021”

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