We have covered Manna Dey’s songs with main stream lead actors Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Balraj Sahni, David Abraham, Bharat Bhushan and Kishore Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and Guru Dutt in the present series till now.
Our journey of Manna Dey’s songs for mainstream lead actors is till rests in the last few years of the decade of ‘50s. These are the years wherein most of the second-generation top male stars were struggling to search the key to the door of success in the Hindi films. We have enough number of Manna Dey’s songs for just two male actors for one post.
With Raj Kumar
Raj Kumar began his career as the typical lead actor but is known more to us for his unconventional lead roles, several of these being the anti-hero type, as well. One such game-changing role that he played was that of the husband of Nargis, in the role of Radha as the lead character in Mother India (1957).
Chundariya Katati Jaye Re, Umariya Ghatai Jaaye Re – Mother India (1957) – Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni
Technically, the song plays in the background, but is the unmistakable feeling of turbulence that Shamu (Raj Kumar) undergoes in his struggles on and off-the field.
The song not only occupies an iconic status in Manna Dey’s repertoire but is also rated as one of the best songs of Naushad, too.
Dil Ko Baandha Zulf Ki Zanjeer Se, Hosh Lute Husn Ki Tasir Se – Zindagi (1964) – Shankar Jaikishan – Hasrat Jaipur
We now have a very unconventional Shankar Jaikishan composition, in the form of a recital.
Janak Janak Tori Baaje Payaliya – Mere Huzoor (1968) – Shankar Jaikishan – Hasrat Jaipuri
Raj Kaumar was as his one the best in the unconventional lead role in this film. Shankar Jaikishan have very expectedly chosen Manna Dey for the classical based song.
Har Taraf Yahi Afsane Hai, Ham Teri Ankhon Ke Deewane Hai – Hindustan Ki Kasam (1974) – Madan Mohan – Kaifi Azmi
It is Madan Mohan who has chosen Manna Dey to vent the on-screen Raj Kumar’s emotional thoughts.
Here we take up one song out of chronological turn for its highly uncoventainal but so much creative use of Manna Dey’s voice.
Hum Dil Ka Kanwal Dege Jisko – Zindagi (1964) – Lata Mangeshkar and chorus – Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
Mannaa Dey just sings one line of the mukhda as part of the rehearsal of the dance sequence, that obviously is choreographed by Raj Kumar on the screen.
With Rajendra Kumar
Before Rajendra Kumar was acknowledged as ‘Jubilee’ Kumar in the industry, several voices have been tried for the playback of his songs on the screen. We have Manna Dey’s Rajendra Kumar songs from this initial period when Rajendra Kumar was still struggling to get his feet in the quicksand of success in the Hindi film industry, with two exceptions – the first exception has a link with the unconventional aspect of the song that we just heard from Zindagi (1964) and the other one will underscore the exception of the rule.
Muskura Laadle Muskura – Zindagi (1964) – Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
Knowing well Shankar’s marked preference for Manna Dey, one may not feel very surprised by this exceptional us e of Manna Dey as Rajendra Kumar’s playback, but how would Rajendra Kumar have agreed to the decision does remain a question.
Tere Naina Talash Kare Jise – Talaash (1969) – S D Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri
If S D Burman has easily opted for Mohammad Rafi for a text-book romantic duet dance song, he would have equally easily chosen Manna Dey for this classical-based dance song.
We now comeback to the period of Rajendra Kumar’s struggle for survival the highly uncertain terrains of Hindi film industry.
Mere Jivan Mein Kiran Banke Bikharanewale, Bolo Tum Kaun Ho – Talaq (1958) – with Lata Mangeshkar – C Ramchandra – Pradeep
The song is filmed as the then very popular genre of someone else (mostly street song dancers) venting the feelings of the key protagonists. In the present instance too, the song is lip-synched by a rural couple, but we are left in no doubt that these are indeed the feelings of the lead pair Rajendra Kumar and Kamini Kadam on the screen.
Manna Dey so easily molds into the melody of the song and the intimacy of the feelings of the lyrics, whether it is the alaap in the pre-lude or interludes or seamless synching with Lata Mangeshkar in the body of the song.
O Babu O Memsaab Kya Rakha Is Taqarar Mein, Zara To Aankhen Dekho Mila Ke Bada Maza Hai Pyar Mein – Talaq (1958) – C Ramchandra – Pradeep
This time C Ramchandra has opted for Manna Dey to playback directly for Rajendra Kuamr, in a very light-mood duet.
Bigul Baz Raha Azaadi Ke Naaro Ka – Talaq (1958) – C Ramchandra – Pradeep
Manna Dey’s choice for a patriotic fervor song would have been a foregone conclusion. As we closely listen to the lower-scale opening lines as well as the regular mukhada of the song, we do seem to feel that, if the song would not have to scale very high notes, as it does later on, the composition has been so composed that C Ramchandra possibly would have sung the song himself,as he indeed did for Paigam (1959) song Daulat Ne Aaj Paseene Ko Laat Hai Maari.
Yeh Hawa Yeh Nadi Ka Kinaara, Chand Taaron Ka Rangeen Ishara – Ghar Sansar (1958) – With Asha Bhosle – Ravi – Majrooh Sultanpuri
Ravi has also depended on Manna Dey for playback to Rajendra Kumar. Since Mohammad Rafi’s voice has been used for playback to Johnny Walker, the choice of Manna Dey also can easily be taken as result of the highly probable success formula of Rajendra Kumar-Manna Dey in the cases of romantic duets.
Bole Ye Dil Ka Ishara Aankho Ne Mil Ke Pukara – Santan (1959) – With Lata Mangeshkar – Dattaram – Hasrat Jaipuri
Na Jaane Kahaan Tum The, Na Jaane Kahan Hum The, Jaadu Ye Dekho Hum Tum Mile Hain – Zindagi aur Khwaab (1961) – With Suman Kalyanpur – Dattaram – Pradeep
Here too Dattaram seems to have opted for a highly probable chances of success, as he has done for Mukesh for a pathos song – Kabhi Kisi Ki Khushiyan Koi Lute Na
Mere Ghar Se Pyar Ki Palki Chali Gayi – Palkee (1967) – with Mohammad Rafi, Suman Kalyanpur – Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni
Technically, it is Mohammad Rafi who plays back for Rajendra Kumar in this triad. However, the very strong linkage of Manna Dey in the song, one of those rae Naushad – Manna Dey combination tempts me to include the song here.
Normally we do not include non-Hindi films songs on our column, but the very exceptional nature of the songs again tempts me to include them here.
Mahendi Rang Lagyo was a the then trend-setter film for the Gujarati screen. Roping in Rajendra Kumar and Usha Kiran form Hindi films was a very bold move at that time. It did succeed so well, too.
Mahendi To Vavi Malve Ne Eno Rang Gayo Gujarat Re – Mahendi Rang Lagyo (1960) – with Lata Mangeshkar – Avinash Vyas
(Approximate translation of the opening lyrics in English – Henna (lawsonia alba), planted in Malwa has blossomed to its full color in Gujarat)
If Avinash Vyas has deftly used Manna Dey to play back for Rajendra Kumar in this duet for an intimately emotional, romantic, soft expression of the budding love, he has fallen back on Maohammad Rafi for Nain Chackchur Chhe, Man Aatur Chhe (Eyes are intoxicated, Heart is Eager)
Dard Eka Ja Chhe Ke Hun Bedard Thato Jaun Chhun – Mahendi Rang Lagyo (1960) – Avinash Vyas
(Approximate translation of the opening lyrics in English – The only grief I have is that I have become grief-less. Don’t ask me if I anymore belong to someone.)
If the song would have been composed for a Hindi film, it would definitely have been a front-row ever song in the heart-broken pathos songs.
In the final conclusion, Manna Dey’s songs for Rajendra Kumar may count far less in numbers, but the quality, and the then popularity, does leave us wondering what was still missing to push Manna Dey to become the voice of the popular male lead……..
Our search for the elusive answer is still on…..