Last week marked the 50th anniversary of one my favourite films of all times Madhumati. Directed by Bimal Roy and starring Dilip Kumar, Vyjantimala and Pran Madhumati was the story of eternal love that cant’ be separated by death. One of the key ingredients that has made this movie an all time favourite is the sound track composed by Salil Choudhary .
Salil Choudhary had composed, what for me, is the finest songs in any film. Starting with the peppy Suhana Safar aur yeh Mausam Hasi, to the haunting Mein to Kab se Khadi is Paar, to the earthy Daya re Daya Jangal Chad Gayo Papi Bichua (tnx Kuffir), to the soulful Toothe huve Khawbon ne, to the flirtatious Dil Tadap Ke Keh Raha Hai Abhi Ja, to the drunken Jungal mein More Nache to the lovely mujra Hum Haal-e-Dil Sunaaye ge – the film is full of songs that have endured the test of time…..
But, in a way that was Salil Choudhary’s expertise. The music that he composed transcends time. His melodies were marked by the use of western instrumentation in a uniquely Indian manner. Also unlike other music directors of his era (Shankar Jaikishen, Naushad or O.P.Nayyar) hetended to favour minimum instrumentation. the purity of the voice rose above the sounds of instruments. Listen to Lata in the opening part of Jago Mohan Pyare or Aa Ja Re Aa; Mukesh in Raton ke saaye ghane or Kabhi door jab din dhal jaaye; to know what i mean. Salil da also used silence – or the pause in the song as a fantastic method of transition (raton ke saaye ) .
The one thing that is guaranteed about a Salil da soundtrack – it would be impossible to find a mediocre song in it..
… Here are my favourites from his repertoire. in no particular order of preference
Suhana Safar aur Yeh Mausam Hasi - sung by Mukesh with lyrics by Shailendra. Picturised on a very young Dilip Kumar – full of hope and a joy for life as he takes on a new assignment working for the villanous Pran. Film Madhumati. The film is full of ever green songs, a fabulous background track and an atmosphere that can very rarely be replicated.
Aa Jaa Ri Aaa, Nindiya Tu Aa - sung by Lata Mangeshkar, with very basic accompaniment . The song is a mellifluous lullaby. Lyrics by Shailendra. The film is Do Bigha Zameen, and the dierctor Bimal Roy. The film had other wonderful songs like Dharti Kare Pukar Ke, Ajab Tore Duniya O Rama. The story is of a farmer who tries to redeem his Do Bigha Zameen (two measures of land) from the landlord (debt). The movie still resonates with poignancy today, especially in the light of farmer suicides over debt. And, no corporatisation is not the answer.
Kahi Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye – Sung By Mukesh, Picturised on Rajesh Khanna for the film Anand. Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. (Trivia: Hrishikesh Mukherjee was mentored by Bimal Roy). The movie is an absolute tear jerker. I remember sobbing my way through the film. Other gems in this movie are Meine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke Sapne Chune (mukesh), Zindagi Kaise Hi Paheli (Manna De), Naa Jiya Lage Na (Lata). No one quite made use of minimum instrumentation the way Salil Da did, to such wonderfully moving effect as in this song…
Jaago Mohan Pyare Jaago - sung by Lata Mangeshkar, picturised on Nargis, lyrics by Shailender. Directed by Amit Mitra. Prouced by Raj Kapoor – one of the few commercial disasters that he produced. The film is Jaagte Raho and the story is a of a man in search of drinking water in the city. I don’t think that Lata’s voice has been sweeter in any other song. I get gooseberries everytime I hear this song. The other masterpiece from this film is Zindagi Khwaab Hai (Mukesh)
Tasveer Tee Dil Mein, Jis Din Se Utari Hai - a lovely romantic duet sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi for the film Maya. The song is picturised on Dev Anand and Mala Sinha. Lyrics are by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The other song from this film that is an all time favourite is Ja Re Ud Jaa Re Panchi (sung by Lata)
Itna Na Mujhse Tu Pyaar Bada – sung by Lata Mangeshkar & Talat Mehmood for Asha Parekh and Sunil Dutt. Lyrics by Rajender Kishen. The film is Chhaya. Other great songs in this film are Aanknon mein Masti Sharaab Ki, Aansoon Samajh Ke Kyon Mujhe (both by Talat Mehmood). Once again the ability of Salilda to use what is essentially a western tune, but fine tune it for desi sensibilities…loved the interludes as much as the song. The film
O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayi - sung by Lata Mangeshkar and picturised on Sadhna. The film is Parakh and the lyrics are by Shailendra
Koi Hota Jisko Apna - sung by Kishore Kumar, the film is Mere Apne. Lyrics by Gulzar. The film is Gulzar’s directorial debut. remember watching it eons ago, and finding it terribly mawkish and sentimental. But, love the song (despite its mawkishness & sentimentality)
Jane Man Jane Man - sung by Yesudas and Asha Bhonsle for Amol Palekar & Vidya Sinha. The film is Choti si Baat directed by Basu Chaterjee. The story is of two shy people who come together. The film had other lovely numbers including Na Jaane Kyon, Hota hai Yeh Zindagi ke Saath (Lata), Yeh Din Kya Aaye, lage phul hase (Mukesh). A favorite at various antaksharis where people would sing this song with glorious besuranes… one of the most difficult duets to sing (in my opinion) …
Rajngandha Phool Tumhare - Sung by Lata , picturised on Vidya Sinha. the film is Rajnigandha. Like many Basu Chaterjee movies this too focused on the complexities of a man woman relationship and the feeling that the grass in greener elsewhere. Check out the Mukesh number in this film – Kahi baar yuhi dekha hai…yahi man ki seema rekha hai….
Nain Hamare Saanj Saakare .. a whimsical number sung by Mukesh. The film is Annadata starring Jaya Bhaduri and Anil Dhawan. I found the movie terribly dragging — but its soundtrack is superlative. Other lovely numbers in the film are Raton ke Saaye (Lata), Guzar Jaye Din Din (Kishore)
There are other great numbers from movies that I haven’t seen…. Ai Mere Pyaare Watan (sung by Manna De for kabuli wala), Baag Mein Kali Khili (sung by Asha for Chand aur Suraj), Kanha Bole Na (sung by Lata for Sangat); Ni Sa, Ga Ma Pa Ni, Sa Re Ga, Aa Aa Re Mitavaa (sung by Yesudas). The list is quite large.
These are some of my favourites…. But, the trouble with Salilda’s music is that every song that you hear of his you think to yourself ….. but that is my favourite….
Also check out The World of Salil Choudhary for his entire collection of his compositions in all languages.