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Revisiting History

Manna Dey’s Non-film Hindi Gems on his 103rd Birthday

Nathli Se Toota Moti Re: A tribute to Manna Dey on his 103rd Birthday (b. 1 May 1919 – d.  24 October 2013)

Among his contemporaries- of 50s – Manna Dey was considered as versatile as others. His voice had unique strength even when being inherently soft. Devoid of any jerks, his voice radiated a feeling of eternal peace despite the extreme passion embedded in the rendition. As such the connoisseurs of film music fondly credited his voice to be capable of delivering the poetry along with music and melody. He was considered artist among fellow artistes and a singer of singers. It was perhaps his being so respectfully perched on a high pedestal that kept him away from being considered as ‘popular’, ‘mass’ singer.

However, I was lucky that my awareness, and in turn liking, for Manna Dey’s voice occurred during the very early years when I was unconsciously getting groomed to liking the films songs, much before I started reading about those divergent views about Manna Dey’s singing. As a result, all that I read about his singing never affected my very own liking for that enchanting voice.

That period was of that of the years of around 1966 to 1968, my second/third years of graduate=level engineering studies. The elder brother of my close classmate had recently joined in an executive position with a leading textile group of Ahmedabad after completing his MBA at IIM, Ahmedabad. His liking for Hindi film music had yielded into a hobby of purchasing vinyl records. We were quite raw in that field, however being ‘good’ friends of his younger brother, we were granted special privilege of listening to his records at my friend’s home. My friend’s brother was curating the collection of the records from the Hindi films of late 40s and 50s. As such, that opportunity introduced me to the voices of Suraiya, Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt. Interestingly, my induction to the voices of Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar was through their non-film songs which we could get to listen in these visits. I particularly liked the non-film songs of Manna Dey so much that I would insist playing those couple of 45-RPM EP records every time we paid a visit to my friend’s place.

The three non-film songs of Manna Dey that got so etched onto my mind that when I started collecting records, in 70s, the EP records of these songs were among my first few purchases of records. These songs are:

Sajani….Nathli Se Toota Moti Re…. Kajarari AkhiyaN Rah Gayi Roti Re… – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: Manna Dey

It is not at all surprising that our raw minds were totally impressed with way Manna Dey flows into the song from the very first note.

Ye Aawara Raatein Ye Khoyi Si Baatein, Ye Uljha Sa Mausam Ye Nazaron Ki Ghaatein, …. …..  KahaN Aa Gaye Hum, KahaN Jaa Rahe The – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: V Balsara

When I must have heard this song first time then, I had surreptitiously looked closely on the cover of the record to ensure that that the singer was indeed Manna Dey, for I could not believe that he is the same singer who has rendered Nathli Se…..I was to realize much later about the versatility of voice and of his diverse range of singing styles.

NazraoN Mein Ho Tum KhayaloN Mein Ho Tum, Nazar Mein Tum Jigar Mein Tum JahaaN Mein Tum Hi Yum – Chandrashekhar Pandey – V Balsara

The song had made so deep impression my mind that after I purchased the record myself, I would keep playing the record at night after putting off the lights. In the process, I unconsciously started appreciating the nuances of different elements of a song.

I would have very easily continued with other ‘popular’ non-film Hind songs of Manna Dey which I used to listen through those records or cassettes or CDs that I had curated during 80s and 90s respectively. However, when I broached up my intention of writing this article to my son, Tadatmya, he sent me across a link of YT channel of Archisman Mozumder and urged me to listen to Manna Dey’s non film songs curated there. I listened to around ten fifteen songs over next couple of weeks. That was my re-incarnation to the Manna Dey’s non-film Hindi songs.

I then searched YT in greater depth and could get hold of, and still counting, more than forty or so songs that I had heard for the first time and a few songs that I had heard so rarely that those songs had totally vanished from my memory (what a shame!)

So, I will now present here, in no particular order, Manna Dey’s non-film Hindi songs from my that newfound treasure. I have limited the choice to one song per lyricist. I have also remained within the geets and ghazals genre only.

Tum Jaano Tumko Gair Se Jo Rasm-o-Raah Ho, Mujhko Bhi Puchhate Raho To Kya Gunah Ho – Lyrics: Mirza Ghalib – Music: Manna Dey

Commencing the mukhada in lower octaves, Manna Dey easily slips into higher octaves during the interludes, thereby portraying the emotions so sensitively.

We will observe during this episode that many of the non-film songs have been competently composed by Manna Dey himself, perhaps to give more space to his creativity that Hindi film songs did not offer, quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

Tum Mere Dil Meri Chahat Pe Bharosa Kar Lo, Ye Haqeeqat Hai Haqueeqat Pe Bharosa Kar Lo – Lyrics: Kafeel Azar – Music: Murli Manohar Swaroop

Just as we listen to the song emphasis on Mere Dil, Meri Chahat or Ye Haqeeqat or the first line of interludes, we effortlessly get intertwined into the mood of the song.

Tumhari Jafayein Hamari Wafayein Barabar Ki Chotein Barabar Ki Sadayein – Lyrics: Beena Naaz – Music: Murli Manohar Swarup

One big advantage of listening to non-film songs is to get to know so many poets / lyricists who generally remain away from the glare of film music.

In the present case, we also get to listen how Manna Dey has so effectively conveyed the feeling of resignation as lyrics build up the case of neglect that the protagonist has been subjected to by his ladylove.

O Yaad Phir Aayi Dard Sang Laayi Woh Na Aaye Jaan Jaaye, Haye Kaisi Ye Wafa – Lyrics: Chandreshekhar Pandey – Music: V Balsara

The sheer force of a V Balsara composition has led me to present one more song from the same pair of lyricist and music director.

As I listen to non-film compositions of V Balsara, I simply wonder what sort of constraints he must have felt when he set the music to his film songs so that such depth, such feelings, such serendipity could not be created in those songs!

Ruk Ja Ke Subah Tak Na Ho Ye Raat Aakhri…. Shayad Zindagi Ke Lamhaat Aakhri – Lyrics: Irfaan Warsi – Music: Yunus Malik

The way song unfolds we feel that we are deep into the night of a ghazal mehfil.

Shaam Ho Jaam Ho Suboo Bhi Ho, Khud Ko Paane Ki Justjoo Bhi Ho – Lyrics: Zameer Kazmi – Music: Yunus Malik

If the mood of the previous song drew us into the atmosphere of late night mehfil, here the lyrics help accentuate that feeling.

Chandrama Ki Chandni Se Bhi Naram Aur Ravi Ke Bhal Se Garam, Hai NahiN Aur Kuchh Kewal Pyaar Hai – Lyrics: Ramnath Awasthi – Music: Satish Butani

Lost in his own world of imaginations, Manna Dey’s voice also pills us into that world and the way he pronounces Woh Nahi Aur Kewal Pyar Hai in the end firmly leaves us wandering in our world of imagination.

Do Panchhi Bechain Nayan Ke Do Panchhi Bechain  .. Kho Baithe Hai Chain Nayan Ke …. – Lyrics: Laxman Shahabadi – Music: Shyam Sagar

The uploader of this clip has put a photograph of Manna Dey as if he in a trans while singing. Whether he meant it that way or not is obviously not known, but that image so aptly conveys how Manna Dey must have got so completely involved while rendering such a song.

Hamse Achhi To Farishton Ki Basar Kya Hogi …. Gam Ki Raunak Idhar Hai Udhar Kya Hogi – Lyrics: Gulzar – Music: Deepak Chatterjee

Gulzar at his vintage best mood as poet is so aptly reflected in Manna Dey’s pensive rendition.

Nach Re Mayura – Lyrics: Narendra Sharma – Music: Anil Biswas

Only Anil Biswas can so perfectly create the feeling of drizzling rain outside and only Manna Dey can so deftly present such a difficult composition with so deceptive ease.

Sunsaan Jamuna Ka Kinara, Pyar Ka Antim Sahara, Chandani Ka Kafan Odha So Raha Kismat Ka Maara, Kis Se PucchuN Main Bhala Ab Dekha KahiN Mumtaz Ko…  Meri Bhi Ek Mumtaz Thi – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: Manna Dey

If Madhukar Rajasthani and Manna Dey swept us into the pensive mood in the opening song of this episode, they draw us into this total mood of pure pathos as we draw curtains to the present episode.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer:

  1. I have relied upon Gaana.com to select the names of lyricists and music directors for the songs presented here.
  2. The song links have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of the music lovers. This blog does not claim any copyright over them, which rests with the respective owners of the rights.

 

This is the republished version of the post ‘Nathli Se Toota Moti Re: Manna Dey’s Non-film Hindi Gemson Songs of Yore.

Categories
I Liked Music from films

Ninu Mazumdar : A Trifoliate of Note, Lyric and Sound

Ninu is the family pet name of Niranjan Mazumdar (B: 9-9-1915 | D: 3-3-2000), who has 20 Hindi films to his credit as music director, 28 Hindi film songs in his own voice, one film each as lyricist and as a film director. Ninu Mazumdar was born in a community, which was traditionally more literate in those times. His father, Nagendra Mazumdar, was a dramatist and director of silent film era. Nagendra Mazumdar has also acted in a comedy cameo role in K L Saigal’s classic Tansen (1943). Ninu Mazumdar’s childhood upbringing happened under the guidance of his maternal grandmother at the then Gaikwad princely state Baroda. She herself was a leading social reformist. Here Ninu Mazumdar got his initial training in classical music under Ustad Faiyaz Khan and Ustad Imam Chili Khan.

In 1931, he came to Bombay and settled with parents. Here he met wide-ranging film personalities. His early initiation to Rabindra Sangeet also happened in those years. For some time, he had stayed in UP as well, where he picked up his liking for folk music as well as semi-classical music forms like, Chaiti, Hori, Thumri, Dadra etc. Soon he got his chance to compose music for Hindi films. His involvement in the world of music spanned singing, lyrics-writing, and music composition.  Avinash Vyas, his contemporary in the world of Gujarati Light Music, used call him trifoliate bael (Aegle marmelos) leaf  – स्वर, the (sound) note (the seven notes base of Indian Classical music), शब्द, the word (lyric of a poem) and सूर, the tune

The uncertain nature of Hindi films drove him to pick up invitation to join All India Radio (AIR) in 1954. His creativity fully flourished here. He introduced many budding Gujarati singers to the world of radio, and in the process popularized ‘light’ Gujarati music to the masses. He invited leading Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati poets to lend their poems to the AIR programmes to lend the breadth and depth to the Gujarati Light music. He introduced the concept of chorus singing into Gujarati light music with the help Bombay Choir Group (an association with which Salil Chowdhury also was associated). He is also credit with initiating one of the most popular programmed on AIR – Jaymala. His insatiable urge to learn and experiment led to him to learn Sanskrit after his retirement from a 20-year stint at the AIR service in 1974.

Ninu Mazumdar has composed music for 20 Hindi films, spanning a period of 1942 to 1967. Of these films, the films for which there is no trace on YT are: Masterji (1943) -co-music-director B R Deodhar; Pratigya (1943) – as recorded by Shri Harish Raghuvanshi in his famous Gujarati newspaper column article*- ; Rangile Dost (1944), Gudia (1947); Pul (1947); Ramshashtri (1944); Aflatoon (1950): Azamyish (1952) – except one song.  Ninu Mazumdar has penned songs for ‘Paristan’ (1944) and directed ‘Kuchh Naya’ (1948).

The Singer of His Own Compositions

To commemorate the death anniversary of Ninu Mazumdar, we will listen to his compositions in Hindi films in his own voice, as are available on YT at present.

Haay Haay Haay Haay Dil Ko Le Gaya Chor – Black Out (1942) – Ninu Mazumdar, Rehmat Bai – Lyrics: Wahid Qureshi

The song opens with prelude orchestration based on western music instruments. runs on a fast-western rhythm in the male voice and switches over to a slow waltz rhythm in the female voice. Ninu Mazumdar also easily improvises with scale variations in the second line.

If we have had more songs form this very first film of Ninu Mazumdar digitally available, we would have had enough proof of his intense willingness to experiment.

Main To Lambe Safar Ko Jaaungi, Saiyan Mera Ticket Babu – Kiran (1944) – Unidentified Female and Male Singer

HFGK records female and male singer as Unidentified. However, while uploading the following video on YT, Sadanand Kamath identifies female singer as Leela Chitnis and I would place my bet on the male singer as Ninu Mazumdar.

The song is light-hearted romantic song wherein the female singer enlists he wishlist and male singer agrees to meet that and more.

Pal Bhar Ki Aap Se Pahechan… Kal Se Aaj Suhanaa Lage – Paristaan (1944) – Ninu Mazumdar, Amirbai Karnataki – Lyrics: Ninu Mazumdar, Roopdas

The song rendition is more in the typical vintage era style, but Ninu Mazumdar’s orchestration has his own stamp, So are the skilful variations in throw of words by both singers as they melodiously sing the initial lines in after another. Amirbai Karnataki singing only one word ‘Bhala’, @00.54, with a little extension of the last vowel ‘aa’ is again ample testimony of Ninu Mazumdar’s experimentations. The first stanza opens on a higher scale at a slightly rapid beat and then switches on to an easier paced second line. This is how Ninu Mazumdar has used folk tunes in his compositions.

Bamna Ki Cchhori Dil Le Gayi, Ho Baniye Ka Put Jiya Le Gaya – Main Kya Karoon (1945) – Ninu Mazumdar, Hameeda Bano – Lyrics: D N Madhok

The song is set to Gujarati folk music – Garba- rhythm, but the delivery of the lyrics is very innovatively presented as a light mood song. In the initial line- mukhda- Hameeda Bano literally cuts through the line being sung by Ninu Mazumdar. In the first stanza, Ninu Mazumdar chirps in, almost as counter melody, at every pose by Hameeda Bano. Interestingly first stanza itself comes in seamlessly with the mukhada, without any intervening interlude music as usual.

O Gori Kahaan Chali Us Paar … Chhod Ke Ganv Ki Bahar – Jail Yaatra (1947) – Ninu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics: Sajjan

Jail Yatra has attained fame more as Raj Kapoor’s one of those initial films where he was not the lead actor. Ninu Mazumdar has recorded songs filmed on Raj Kapoor in Raj Kapoor’s own voice. So the songs that Ninu Mazumdar has chosen to sing in his voice may have been filmed on the Gajanan Jagirdar, who was the lead actor in the film. Ninu Mazumdar is credited with using Meena Kapoor very early in her career.

The song composition is nearer to vintage ear style, but the song does not progress linearly. Every line of the song has some or other variation in the delivery. Ninu Mazumdar once more demonstrates his improvisation skill in the way he has used the folk dance music at the end of the song from 2.18 onwards.

Duniya Sari Jail Re, Jiski Unchi Hai Deewarein – Jail Yatra (1947) – Ninu Mazumdar – Lyrics: Sajjan

The song is basically set to Bengali folks baul styles tune. Ninu Mazumdar, as can now be expected, introduces his own improvisation in the template. The way chorus has been used in the song one such sweet improvisation.

Aayee Gori Radhika Brij Mein Balkhaati – Gopinath (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics:  Surdas

In the glory of the fame that this song has got as the inspiration of Yashomati maiya se bole nandlala (Satyam Shivam Sundaram, 1978), it is perhaps being missed that is was Ninu Mazumdar who introduced the traditional ‘bhajan’ (prayer) music styles into Hindi films through the Surdas and Meerabai bhajans in this film.

Kaare Badar Baras Baras Kar Thak Jaaein Bar Bar, Re Birhan Ke Dware .. Gae Koi Aaj Koi Gaaye Re Malhar – Gopinath (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar – Ram Murti

Ninu Mazumdar has based the song on the folks ritual singing styles of wandering ascetics.

Piya Milan Kaise Jaogi Gori, Rang Roop Sab Jaat Raho Ri – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics:  Meera Bai

Ninu Mazumdar comes up in new style by singing the song in base scale. As a music director, he uses Meena Kapoor in a contrasting scale, to come down athe same scale in the last line, wherein Ninu Mazumdar also joins to end the song.

Kar Ke Singar Chali, Sajan Ke Dwar Chali Chatura Albeli – Part 1 – Teen Tasweeren (1954) – Kaumudi Munshi, Ninu Mazumdar, chorus – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Kaumudi Munshi**, a trained semi-classical singer, popularly known “Nightingale of Gujarat”, is an established and well-respected name in Gujarati ‘light’ music world. She started as chorus singer in AIR music programmes when Ninu Mazumdar was heading the Gujarati music programmes section. Ninu Mazumdar’s first wife, Shardaben, had passed away a few years back. The professional relationship between Ninu Mazumdar and Kaumudi Munishi got converted in personal relationship and they married in 1954.

This song is also set to a ascetic ritual folk rhythm. Ninu Mazumdar has very easily crafted the tune to a different mood, of a young maid expectantly looking forward to proceeding to her new, in-laws home.

The song has a twin part 2 which is a solo by Ninu Mazumdar. Since we only have an audio clip here, we are not able to ascertain the siutaion in which the song would have been filmed on the screen. However, the Kar Ke Singar Chali Sajan Ke Dwar of female version now becomes Kar Le Singar Chatura Albeli Jaan Hoga Sajan Ke Dwar in the opening line and the song takes a form of well-wishing message.

Dekh Liya Jag Wale Tera Jag Dekh Liya – Teen Tasveeren (1954) – Ninu Mazumdar – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

In song based on wandering ascetic folk song style, Ninu Mazumdar has introduced a novel approach to the orchestration support.

We now have a song in Ninu Mazumdar’s voice, which is technically not his own composition.

Karo Hamein Parnam Karo Jee, Baar Baar Parnam – Manjhu, Ninu Mazumdar, Unidentified voice – Ramshahstri (1944) – Music: G Damle – Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi

Kaumudi Munshi’s site records Ramshastri in Ninu Mazumdar’s filmography. However, HFGK records G Damle as the music director for Hindi version of the film (YT has several videos of film’s Marathi version). The names of the singers have been added in addenda of HFGK , Vol. II -1941-1950, signifying that the information was available at a very late stage.

This led me to approach Shri Harish Raghuvanshi, whose article* mentions this film, Shri Har Mandir Sinh ‘Hamraaz’ of HFGK and Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh, who has done pioneering posts on Atul’s Song A Day w.r.t. Ninu Mazumdar. Har Mandirji informs that Ninu Mazumdar himself had confirmed to him that he had composed songs for this film with another music director, K. Bhole.

Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh throws further light on the background of this film. He states that, “Film Ramshastri-44 was originally directed by Raja Nene. During the shooting of the film in 1943, Raja Nene along with Mukhram Sharma, Datta Dharmadhikari and few others decided to quit Prabhat. Keshavrao Bhole was the first MD for this film. He too wanted to quit, but he stayed, completed the work, and then left. This is told by Bhole himself. After Raja Nene left, Vishram Bedekar directed the film, but he too quickly left  and the film was completed by Gajanan Jagirdar as a Director. He was the Lead actor too in it. I do not know who this G. Damle is, mentioned as MD. Ninu might have assisted Bhole in this period.”

The audio version of the song also is very kindly provided by Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh.

The following are the songs for which I have not been able to locate digital versions. Since, there was enough number of songs already available for one post, I have not troubled knowledgeable sources like Har Mandir Singh ‘Hamraaz’. Harish Raghuvanshi, Arun Kumar Deshmaukh, who already have taken enough pains to provide base material and clarifications even for the present post.

(Note: Subsequent to posting the article, Shri Arun Kumar Deshmukh has sent in audio files of three of the songs in the list herebelow. These files ar now auploaaded along with the respective songs)

Sajan aao chalein kahi door, is neele aakash ke neeche – Black Out (1942) – Ninu Mazumdar, Leela Sawant – Lyrics: Wahid Quereshi

Mauj kare duniya anadi bahar, phoolon se mauj kare – Amanat (1943) – Ninu Mazumdar, Jyoti, Harish – Neelkanth Tiwari, M A

Pujari ab to mandir kholo – School Mater (1943) -Ninu Mazumdar, Chorus – Lyrics: Pt. Indra

  1. Sipahi sipahi ab to bigul baja – School Mater (1943) – Ninu Mazumdar, Chorus – Lyrics: Pt. Indra
  2. Aa Bahar Kar Ke Phoolon Ka Singar – Pul 1947 – Neenu Mazumdar – Lyrics : Rammurti Chaturvedi
  3. Aaye Bhi Nahin Bit Gaye Din Bahar Ke – Pul 1947 – Neenu Mazumdar, Meena Kapoor – Lyrics: Rammurti Chaturvedi
  4. He Ji Dagmag Dole Hamari Naiya, Bichhad Gaye hain – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
  5. Bahut Rahi Babul Ghar Dulhin Chal Tere Piyu Bulai Hai – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
  6. Lena Fakiri Phir Kya Dilgiri, Sada Magan Mein Rahena Ji – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar – Lyrics: Meerabai
  7. Koi Saaf Na Dekha Dil Ka, Ye Chola Ban Zilmil Ka – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar
  8. ………Kar Le Singar – Kuchh Naya (1948) – Ninu Mazumdar

Notes:

  1. Rami Dhoban (1953), noted in the filmography of Ninu Majumadar at Kaumudi Mishi’s site**, apparently appears to be an error of memory, since HFGK database records Hiren Bose as music director,
  2. Kaumudi Munshi’s site** also notes that Ninu Mazumdar has sung a duet with Sardar Akhtar in Uljhan (1942, Music: Ramchandra Pal), but HFGK database does not validate this claim. All, except, the 20 songs that he has rendered in his own voice, belong to his early career of 40s. As such, I have not been able to locate the digital version of these songs:

Ninu Mazumdar consciously charted his own course at a time when vintage era music directors like R C Boral, Khmechand Prakash, Pt. Amarnath, Anil Biswas, Ghulam Haider, Feroze Nizami held the sway over the public taste. His compositions in the voices of other singers is also an equally interesting area which we will recall at some other opportune occasion.


Acknowledgements and references:

  1. * Harish Raghuvanshi’s Gujarati article “ઉત્તમ સંગીતના તરફદાર નીનુ મઝુમદાર
  2. ** Kaumudi Munshi’s website: The Life and Art of Kaumudi Munshi
  3. A pioneering anthology, ‘Gaurav Gurjari: – Nandini Trivedi, Published 2006; Publisher N M Thakkar and Co, Mumbai 400002., e-version  located at com @ hyperlinked title of the book.

The article is first published on Songs of Yore as Remembering Ninu Mazumdar – the composer and the singer.

Categories
I Liked Music from films

Ajit Merchant – Kah Do Agar Tum Mar Ke Bhi Jee Lu

Ajit Merchant (15-8-1925 | 28-3-2011) belongs to that Hindi cinema club which has very talented but commercially not successful music directors who have their name in the roll of honours, on account of just a song or two from the few that they could get to compose in their career.

Ajit Merchant was born in (then) Bombay to a business community known as Kutchhi Bhatia. His father a criminal lawyer by profession, was a keen follower of classical music. An adolescent Ajit also would accompany his father to the classical music concerts. Young Ajit Merchant initially worked as a drama artist. Many of the stage personalities of those days were also associated with radio feature programmes. One such person was Chandravadan Chimanlal (C C) Mehta, who was an already established and respected name in the Gujarati stage circuit as a playwright and the director.

In around 1945, CC Mehta was finally rehearsing for his radio feature about south Gujarat based sailor community. Avinash Vyas was the music director for that radio feature. As required by the AIR rules of those days, the music director of the feature also had to remain present at the rehearsal. Unfortunately, Avinash Vyas was not available on that day. Since the programme was already notified in the next schedule, it had to be aired at the appointed time. One thing followed another, and the dice of fate rolled in favour of Ajit Merchant for that job. The two songs that he composed for that feature were liked by all and were well received. Later, when Ajit Merchant produced a Gujarati film on that very subject – Divadandi (1950) / The Lighthouse – he recorded one of the two songs in the voice of Meena Kapoor: Pandadi Si Hodi Dejo (Give me a leaf like boat)

Ajit Merchant soon started working as assistant to Ashok Ghosh, who was composing music for a film for Ranjit Movietone in those days. Soon he got his first independent assignment as music director for Refugee (1948) The film, however, did not succeed. Ajit Merchant also got an opportunity to compose music for a Gujarati film, Kariyawar (1948), – Dowry – which also was not a major success.  Ultimately, Ajit Merchant’s career as music director of films remained confined to 8 B grade Hindi films and 9 Gujarati social films – of which one did not reach censor certification. Ajit Merchant still could carve place for himself in roll of honours on the strength of three songs –

Taari Aankh No Afini Taara Bol No Bandhani, Taar Roop Ni Punam No Paagal Hu Ekalo – (Indolented by your eyes, addicted by your speech, I am the only one madly in love with your beuty) – Divadandi (1950) – Lyrics: Venibhai Purohit

Ajit Merchant who had undertaken production of this film under the Neelam Films (named after his wife) was thrust upon one song for him to compose. It was not yet decided whether the song would be filmed the hero or not – ultimately filmed on the villain – and whether it would pass through the editor’s scissors too. Engrossed in these pressures his music mind was toying with two tunes at that time – drum beats of Rock Round The Clock – which too  has inspired a legion of dance tunes later on – and the tune of Vasant Ritu Ali Ali (Chandidas, 1934 – Umashashi – Music: R C Boral – Lyrics: Agha Hashar Kashmiri) – for the song. The song was ultimately recorded in the voice of Dilip Dholakia. Raj Kapoor, who happened to be present at the recording, congratulated Ajit Merchant for the song and is believed to had said that tis song will be an immortal one. That prophecy has come so true. More than 60 years after the release, the song is still being remembered by each passing generation. He is even said to have used the base tune for initial lines of his song Mera Juta Hai Japani (Shree 420, 1955)

The song, too, has inspired many songs: Chanda Loriya Sunae (Naya Sansar, 1959 – Music: Chitragupt),  Raat Ne Ghesu Bikarae (Sapera, 1961 – Music – Ajit Merchant); Haayi Hayiga Jabili (Velugu Needadu, 1961- Music – P Nageshwar Rao) ; Mera Naam Hai Chameli ( Raja Aur Rank, 1968- Music – Laxmikant Pyarelal)

Laagi Ram Bhajan Ni Lagani Laagi (getting to absorped with adoration of Ram) – Bahoorupi (1969) –  Jagjit Singh – Lyrics: Venibhai Purohit

When Ajit Merchant presented a young turbaned Sikh to Minoo Katrak, the sound recordist who was highly respected for his sense of music, Minoo Katrak was not ready to try one more voice that Ajit Merchant had brought up. He was somehow convinced to listen to the young man’s voice on the microphone without any music support. The test did not last a few words. So pleased was Minoo Katrak with that voice that the song was immediately recorded with full orchestra and okayed at the first take.

That was maiden film song by Jagjit Singh. Jagjit Singh makes it a point to pay tribute to Ajit Merchant for this window that he had opened up. The song is also included in Jagjit Singh’s 2004 album, Muntazaar.

It so happens that the second song that Jagit Singh recorded for films is also composed by Ajit Merchant.

Ghanshyam Gupchup Gupchup Bhatake Bhatake, E Mana Ne Vaat Achanak Malati (Dark clouds keep wandering silently in the eyes, when the heart suddenly lands up on track)  – Dharati Na Chhoru (1970) Jagjit Singh, Suman Kalyanput – Lyrics: Venubhai Purohit.

Ajit Merchant has very skilfully pitched Jagjit Singh on a high scale at the beginning of each stanza.

Roop Tumhara Aankho Se Pee Lu, Kahe Do Agar Tum Mar Ke Bhi Jee Lu – Sapera (1961) – Manna Dey – Lyrics: Indeevar

This is one song that has put Ajit Merchant’s name in roll of honours of Hindi film music. The song opens with a prelude of soft violins on the base rhythm support of guitar and then a few soft strings of violins keep company across the song, in the form of countermelody. The interlude music erupts with an ensemble of flutes in the lead. Manna Dey also goes into high scale in the first line to come down to the normal base tone in the second line. Overall, the song leaves you in the trance when its ends.

It was not only the Hindi film music world that dealt unfair treatment to Ajit Merchant. He had worked as music director at AIR for around 10 years. Fed up with petty politics, when he gave up that job, all his work was wiped out from the AIR library archives by his opponents. Gone with that was an invaluable treasure of some rare NFS that Ajit Merchant had recorded with a wide range of singers.

Theatre continued to give him work and acceptance. He has composed music for around 200-250 Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi plays. However, there is no established set up to record the soundtracks of the plays. So, his work again is lost with the passage of time.

If it were not for the internet, and the enterprising spirit of some of the ardent YT uploaders, all the songs that were composed by Ajit Merchant would have been consigned to the pages of historical archives like HFGK.  Of some 50+ songs that he got to compose for his 8 Hindi films, about a third of the songs are still available for us to listen on YT.  I have brought them up here.

Ujadi Hui Hai Ishq Ki Duniya Tere Bagair – Refugee (1948) – Sulochana Kadam – Lyrics: Panf=dit Fani

The song is set to typical vintage era style composition.

After, the first film, Ajit Merchant got his next call only in 1956.

Panchhi Gane Lage Prabhati, Aaya Sarad Savera, Jaag Sundari – Indra Leela (1956) – Lyrics: Saraswati Kumar Deepak

Ajit Merchant has moved with the times in his composition style. Here we get Mohammad Rafi in his basic elements, right from base scale beginning to the higher scale ending of the prelude couplet to the judicious variations to match the lyrics.

Sun Lo Jiya Ki Baat… Ho Piya Kar Lo Jiya Ki Baat – Indra Leela (1956) – Asha Bhosle – Lyrics: Saraswati Kumar Deepak

When surrounding environment is conducive to the tender feelings, it is time to exchange the sweet talks with each other. Asha Bhosle is quite playful in this gay mood song.

Koi Lakh Kare Chaturai, Karam Ka Lekha Mite Na Re Bhai – Chandi Pooja (1957) – Singer and Lyrics: Pradeepji

Almost al songs that Pradeepji had rendered in his time were resoundingly popular.

Ek Dharati Ka Rajkumar, Dekho Ji Chala Hai Hawa Pe Sawar – Chandi Pooja (1957) – Shamshad Begum – Lyrics: Pradeepji

I recall looking forward to listening this song on Radio Ceylon, in my pre=teen years in early’60s,  along with the iconic children-story song of K L Saigal, Ek Raje Ka Beta Le Kar Udanewala Ghoda (President, 1938 – Music : R C Boral- Lyrics: Kidar Sharma). Listening to this song today is still so pleasant to the ears. Ajit Merchant has presented Shamshad Begum in her fill flow, at this relatively fag end of her career.

Ae Ji, O Ji Kaho, Badi Aji Ki Daravani Hai Raat, Jara Jagate Rahena – Chandi Pooja (1957) Mohammad Rafi, Shamshad Begum – Lyrics: Pradeepji

The song has been presented a playful repartee of small talk dialogues between the two love birds, while seemingly on a horse cart ride.

Ritu Raja Ne Teer Chalaya, Jiya Lalachaya….Sajaniya Aa – Ram Bhakt Vibishan (1958) – Sudha Malhotra – Lyrics: Saraswati Kumar Deepak

The season of Vasant is when the nature is at her full beauty. Wasps hum their love with eye toe contact with flowers, fairies merrily roam the skies. Under such compelling environment, our heroine enjoins her friends to lay a swing of flowers underneath the moon and weave the braid of the hair with flowers.

Raat Ne Ghesu Bikharaye, Mera Dil Mukjhe Tadpaye, Kisane Chhena Hai Mere Chand Ko – Sapera (1961) – Manna Dey, Suman Kalyanpur – Lyrics: Indeevar

In the second half of 50s, when Mohammad Rafi was expanding his reign as the first choice playback singers for the mainstream heroes, Manna Dey was frequently used as voice for the upcoming talent, particularly for the duets by the not-from-the-first-raw music directors. Most of these duets remain etched in the memories of the Hindi film lover generation of those times.

Ajit Merchant has used a variation of his famous ‘Tari Ankh No Afini’ tune here.

Bairi Chhed Na Aise Raag Dil Mein Jaag Uthe Aag – Sapera (1961) –  Suman Kalyanpur – Lyrics: Indeevar

Ajit Merchant has based snake charmer tunes for the song. He has created that musical effect by innovating the use of flutes and other instruments..

Main Bhi Hu Majboor Sajan Dil Bhi Hai Majboor – Challenge (1964) – Mukesh, Asha Bhosle – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Set to Mukesh’s natural range for such pensively romantic songs, Ajit Merchants whets his appetite for creativity by higher-scale violin ensemble play in the interludes.

Badale Re Badle Re Rang Badle Zamana Kai, Hai Mohabbat Wahi Ji Wahi  – Challenge (1964) – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

Ajit Merchant’s touch can be seen the way Badle Re repeats thirce before the initial lyrics come into play. He then uses these very Badle Re melodiously in chorus form in higher scales, supported by brief pieces of flutes in the counter melody. One song hads so much of variety so creatively stuffed !

Mohabbat Ne Kiya Mujh Ko Badnam YuN Zamane Ne…. Main Ho Gai Badnam Tere Liye – Challenge (1964) – Asha Bhosle – Lyrics: Prem Dhawan

The opening notes of harmonium foretell that the song is mujra dance, which is further validated as Asha Bhosle sets the tone in the prelude couplet. But Ajit Merchant cannot be easily confined to a given template. The main song comes as a soft complain in the voice of Asha Bhosle. However, the intensity of the feelings is reflected in a higher scale rendition of interlude orchestration pieces and the opening of stanza by Asha Bhosle.

Qatil Hai Teri Har Ada, Har Dil Hai Tujh Pe Fida, Rahi Bhale Apni Manzil Bhule Dekh Ke Chahera Tera – Lady Killer (1968) – Mukesh – Lyrics: Indeevar

Hindi crime thriller movies mandatorily have villains and his cohorts operating their search operation on the dance floor, the dancer  or her camouflaged lead male actor – who is easily identified by the audience – throw a catchy song, lyrics of which have very clear message that except villain everyone do get. Music directors and lyricists have invariably come up with songs that have kept the audience glued to the seats. Ajit Merchant’s adaptability to the film situation is evidenced at every stage of the song.

Chacha Ne Chachi Ko Chandi Ki Chamchi Se Chutney Chatai  – Lady Killer (1968) – Manna Dey, Krishan Kalle – Lyrics: Indeevar

Indeevar has very craftily woven repeated rhyming of word Ch in each word of the opening line.  Ajit Merchant has set the throw of each of that word in the similar mischievous style. By weaving in the song in western dance style, he has given enough elbow room to the director to create smoke screen to build the environment for showing a back-stage sinister plot being played. At the end, the director gives a Hitchcock-style jolt of showing a murder being executed when the audience is engrossed in the mood of the song.

Auro Ka Chahera Paon Tera…. Diwana Hai Sara Gaon Tera – Lady Killer (1968) – Mahendra Kapoor – Lyrics: Indeevar

Ajit Merchant has skillfully roped in Mahendra Kapoor for a standard sulking-pacifying play acting song..

Even with just a third of the songs available, we get a reasonable glance at the wide range of variety of singers, song styles, song composition and orchestration that Ajit Merchant has been able to commandeer. If it were not either because of the insidious tweak of the destiny or perhaps his own lesser love for film music in comparison to that for the theatre, we would have had more songs under Ajit Merchant’s baton,  from the films that may have succeeded at the box office and hence may have been available little more generously.

Sources credit: Acknowledgement –

  1. Sketch – Young Ajit Merchant – Urvish Kothari’s post: અજિત મર્ચંટની વિદાયઃ ભીની આંખે છેલ્લી સલામ
  2. The background of process of composition of Taari Ank No Afini – Biren Kothari’s post તારી આંખનો અફીણી’: સર્જનની સફર
  3. Background story of recording of Laagir Ram Bhajan Ni Lagani Laagi – Biren Kothari’s article, ‘દીવાદાંડી સમા સંગીતકાર અજિત મર્ચંટ in the Gujarati Magazine ‘Aha Zindagi’

Originally posted on Songs of Yore as : Remembering Ajit Merchant

Categories
Fading Memories….Unforgettable Songs

Fading Memories…. Unforgettable Songs: June, 2017

V Balsara – Sunaye Hal-e-Dil Kya Hum Hamara

It was in 70s that whenever I could sneak out from my official work during visits to Bombay, I used to be in look out for a sneak pick into(the then) Rhythm House at Kalaghoda, even if for a few minutes. On one such visit I was on a quick look out for records of Manna Dey’s Hindi NFS. I was quickly shown one EP record that contained these songs:

Ye Aawaara Raaten Ye Khoyi Si Baaten (1960)

Nazaaron Mein Ho Tum Khayaalon Mein Ho Tum

I listened to these songs briefly and purchased the record. On way back I read its back cover to see who the music director of these songs was. When I read that it was V Balsara, the name was new to me then.

I kept listening to the record several times on reaching home. One of my friends then took it to his home. There his father also liked the songs. Few days later when he returned the record, it was accompanied by one more record. That record was an LP of his instrumental tunes, which among others, had the following:

We all were now very devout fans of V Balsara. I then went on to add a few more of his instrumental LPs.

For our present series when I noticed that June (22nd, 1922) is his month of birth day, it was with great apprehension that I started searching for his songs for the article for this month from his maiden film Circus Girl (1943) to other films like O Panchi, Rangmahal, Madmast, Talash, Char Dost, Vidyapati and Pyar. Well, my apprehensions were quite misplaced, as our netizen friends have been able to place many of the songs on net.

So here are a few of the multi-faceted songs in tribute to V. Balsara (Vistap Ardeshir Balsara).

Roothi Hui Taqdeer Ko Ab Kaise – Mukesh (NFS) – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani

It seems that till he started regular work for composing music for Hindi films, V Balsara very rightly adopted the route of publishing records of NFS. These songs went a long a way in keeping V Balsara in to the memory of the listening public. There are a couple of more NFS mukesh songs that can be accessed on YT.

Ye Hawa Ye Fizza Ye Nazare Hum Yahan Tum Wahan… – Geeta Dutt

It is recorded that Geeta Dutt has only 25 NFS in her career. It is our luck that the present song happens to be one of them.

Our big catch happens to be songs of Madmast of 1953.

Chaal Anokhi Dhang Nirale, Tadap Uthe Hay, Aji Dekhane Wale – Madmast (1953) – Asha Bhosle – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani

Kisi Ke Zulm Ki Tasveer Hai – Mahendra Kapoor, Dhan Indorewala – Lyrics: Manav

In our May, 2017 episode on Snehal Bhatkar, we had listened to the first solo song of Mahendra Kapoor. The present song takes on the credit of first ever recorded song of Mahendra Kapoor, much before he came to limelight after having won Murphy contest and then singing on Chand Chuupa Aur Taare Doobe

Main Lal Paan Ki Begum Hu, Begum Begum Begum Hu, Main Lal Paan Ki Begum

Main Baadshah Hu Kalekha, Main Baadshah Hu Kalekha – Shamshad Begum, S D Batish – Lyrics: J C Pant

Sunaye Hal-e-Dil Kya Hum Hamara – Lata Mangeshkar –

We then have Vidyapati (1964) which has one more Lata Mangeshkar gem which is totally forgotten.

More Naina Sawan Bhadon – Lata Mangeshkar – Lyrics: Prahlad Sharma

A song with same mukhda, based on the same raga Sjivranjani has so much of our mind space that listening to this song is so enriching experience.

Chubh Gaya Kanta, Ui Kaise Main Ab Ghar Jaaun – Pyar (1969) – Aarti Mukherjee – Lyrics: Prahlad Sharma

The common listener may have treated the song as too experimental for his liking…

We cannot conclude the episode without taking note of some of the instrumental compositions of V Balsara.

In an interview on Doordrashan Calcutta, V Balsara had narrated his association with Hindi Film world as specialist instrument player.  He has played harmonium like an accordion in several of SJ songs. Here are three such examples:

This is considered to be Solo Piano Concert. Robin De has captured it as a very documentary piece of V Balsara’s association with Bengali Music.

And Madhumati (1958)’s Aja Re Pardesi

Continuing with our tradition of ending every episode with a Mohammad Rafi song, we will end our present episode with the two solos, in two totally different moods, by Mohammad Rafi, composed by V Balsara :

Door Gagan Ke Chanda, Kahiyo Sajan Ke Sandesh…… Mo Se Rooth Gayo Banwaari Jari Gayo Madhuban, Sukhi Jamuna Gali Gali Dukhiyari – Vidyapati (1964) – Lyrics: Prahlad Sharma

Here we have signature Mohammad Rafi song, starting sakhi on a very high note then coming back to a pathos-suited scale, interspersed with scaling peaks.

Rahoge Kab Tak Hamse Dur, Pyar Ka To Aisa Dastur Ishk Pukarega Tumko, Aana Hi Hoga Re Aana Hi hoga Re, Ishq Pukarega Tumko Aana Hi Hoga Re – Woh Ladki (1967) – Lyrics: Prahlad Sharma

This can also be considered a very typical of Rafi romantic song, which we normally associate with his care-free songs.

We will continue our search for Unforgettable Songs that seem to Fading away from our Memories every second Sunday of the month……..

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