Manna Dey’s was the bridge who made passage of classical based songs to move to the comedy form. This happened during a period when the prevalent practice was required that the best songs can be created on a note of pathos only. The next slot was assigned to the songs of pure romance. Comedy songs were simply ‘filler’ songs. No one noticed the serious efforts that went into making of comedy songs. The music director had weave a tune which is very easy to sing, the lyricist had to use the ‘light’ lyrics, the actors had to try not be ‘loud’ and the playback singer had to improvise on multiple styles in one song. Above all, it had to be so created in the film that the audience remains seated during the song sequence.
Obviously, all the experiments were not very successful in integrating all these differing elements in to a song that would stand competition with a tragic or a romantic songs. But some songs which did measure up to that competition, one of the most frequently seen common element was Manna Dey’s very distinct style of sinning the comedy songs.
While commemorating the birth centenary of Manna Dey, we have specially focused on Manna Dey’s comedy songs – first with Mehmood and then, in the last episode with ‘other comedy actors. Presently, we take up the last episode of our Manna Dey centenary commemorative series, wherein we have recalled Manna Dey’s comedy songs for Agha and I S Johar.
Manna Dey – Agha
Agha(jan Baig) gained recognition as comedy actor very early in his career. Once the practice of allocating a song to a comedy actor became an established part of the Hindi Film formula, Agha also got to sing songs on the screen. He did not have a specific playback singer as his THE voice. As such, association of Manna Dey and Agha can be traced to an ‘Insaaniyat’ (1955) song.
Main Ravan Lanka Naresh – Insaniyat (1955) – with Mohammad Rafi – C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishna
In this song Mannaa Dey sings for a charchter playing Ravana in the stage play. Agha seems to be absconding from the police, and gets a reprieve as he takes on the make-up of Hanuman, to save his skin. Mohammad Rafi sings for Agra-turned-Hanuman on the screen.
Bum Bholanath Bum Bholanath – Rajtilak (1958) – C Ramchandra – P L Santoshi
Here is a tailor-made situation for a comedy song, with an element of comedy blended with the altruistic motives.
Phul Gendwa Na Maaro – Dooj Ka Chand (1964) – Roshan – Sahir Ludhyanvi
This is one of the landmark classical raag based comedy song. Even as the song is a parody of a classical Bhairavi thumri rendition, Roshan, Sahir and Manna Dey have ensured that song maintains the basic charm of the original composition style.
Ho Gori Ter Banki Banki Chitawan Mein – Aadhi Raat Ke Baad (1965) – Chitragupt – Prem Dhawan
Chitragupt was quite adept in fusing the indigenous and western styles of song composition over a variety of moods. Presently, Chitragupt has set the opening of the song on a classical singing style, but then easily switches to western style, possibly to create the sense of comedy in the composition itself. Manna Dey is his very usual natural self at every twist and turn of the composition.
Manna Dey – I S Johar
I(nder) S(en) Johar, though may be known more as a comedian in Hindi Films, was a versatile film personality. He was producer, director and the story writer as well. For some time, he administered a column of witty exchange of questions and answers in a well-known film magazine, Filmfare. The first film in which he acted was Ek Thi Ladki (1949) and the first film he wrote and directed was Shrimatiji (1952).. He also has several roles to his credits in major Hollywood films.
Are HaaN Dildaar Kamado Wale Ka Har Teer Nissane Par – Bewqoof (1960) – with Shamshad begum – S D Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri
Here is the song that should suffice to vouch for the sense of comedy that I S Johar had. He sings, from the back of a radio, to pose that song comes out from the radio!
Manna Dey had two more songs in Bewqoof – which I S Johar had produced and directed as well -that had I S Johar on the screen. In Delkh Idhar Tera Dhyan Kidhar Hai, I S Johar masquerades as a girl (played back by Asha Bhosle) to entice two “gentleman” (played back by Manna Dey). Manna Dey also got to sing a line in Dhadka Dil Dhak Se., which is filmed as dance song on Helen (playedback by Asha Bhosle).
Yeh Do Diwane Dil Ke – Johar Mahemood in Goa (1965) – with Mohammad Rafi – Kalyanji Anandji – Qamar Jalalabadi
Johar Mehmood In Goa was the first in the subsequent series of films that I S Johar di with his own name in the title of the film. Though the films had huge leaning on comedy, the background of each film was the contemporary historical perspective of the locale – which was also included in the film title. It was very unfortunate that such a talented personality churned out slapstick comedy films.
Pyaar Kiya To Marna Kya – Raaz (1966) – Kalyanji Anandji – Shamim Jaipuri
This is also a direct, and complete parody of Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya (Mughal-e-Azam, 1960)
The songs that we have now are not worth to listen in detail. Whether in terms of the quality of the music or from the quality of I S Johar’s screen roles. However, these songs do provide us Manna Dey’s comedy songs by the music directors, lyricists or playback singers not covered hitherto, or give us the types of films that I S Johar perceived (e.g. Nasbandhi, (1978). Moreover, we have satisfaction that we have done fair justice to the in completing the documentation
Bachpan KI Hasin Manzil Pe Jab Husn Guzar Ke Aaye – Johar in Bombay (1967) – with Usha Mangeshkar – Usha Khanna – Asad Bhopali
Besharmi Se Sharm Na Kar, Hera Feri Se Mat Dar – Teen Chor (1973) – with Mohammad Rafi , Mukesh – Sonic Omi – Rajendra Krishna
Ham Sab Ka Hai Subhchintak – Khalifa (1976) – with Kishore Kumar – R D Burman – Gulshan Bawra
Kya Mil Gaya Sarkar Tumhe Emergency Laga Ke – Nasbandi (1978) – with Mahendra Kapoor -Kalayanji Anandji – Hullar Muradabadi
We conclude our Manna Dey centenary celebration series here.
There could still be some comedy songs that may not have been covered in this series. We would take up these stray songs in our parallel, annual series, Manna Dey – Chale Jaa Rahen Hai .
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All episodes relating Manna Dey’s centenary celebrations series can be read / downloaded by clicking on the respective hyperlink.: