Madan Mohan on his birth Anniversary

Today is the birth anniversary of one of the most talented music directors in Hindi Cinema – Madan Mohan.

To look at his body of work and pick a few great songs is difficult -because he had a repertoire that was awe inspiring. His sense of music and rhythm, his ability to use silence in his musical scores  led to some music that has – and will  – stand the test of time. His partnership with lyricist Rajinder Kishan created poetry set to music.   Madan Mohan, like other music directors of his generation, had this uncanny knack of being able to blend western instruments with Indian sensibilities. He was, supposedly, Lata Mangeshkar’s favourite music director. She definitely sang some of her best songs under his direction. But, personally i loved Mohd Rafi’s work with Madan Mohan – many of which are listed here. One of these days i will get down to researching, and writing about those songs. ..

So, in no particular order of preference, my favorite 15

Aai Dil Mujhe Bata De – lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. Sung by Geeta Dutt. The film is Bhai Bhai

The song is a fun, flirtatious falling in love song… playful and wistful at the same time.

Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha – lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar. One of my favorite all time Lata Songs. The song is based on Raga Adana. The film is Anpadh – starring Mala Sinha and Dharmendra (who looked uffff so edible). The film looks at the issue of the education of girls. Mala Sinha is the anpadh (uneducated). The film also features the other Lata hits Hai isi mein Pyaar ki Aabru and Jiya Le Gayo ji Mora Saawariya (in Raga Kalyan)


Baiyan Na Dharo – lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. The film was Dastak – the 1970 version starring Sanjeev Kumar & Rehana Sultana. The song is based on Raga Charukesi and sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Trivia : The film was edited by Hrishikesh Mukherjee who won the national award for this film. The film was directed by Rajinder Singh Bedi who was considered to be the father of the parallel cinema (art film) movement in India.


Bhuuli Huyi Yaadon Mujhe Itna Na Sataao – lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. The film is Sanjog and the singers is Mukesh. The song is based on Raga Kalyan.

Dil Dhoondta Hai Phir Wahi – Lyrics by Gulzar. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Bhupinder. This was a song in two versions – a happy one shared here, and a morose one. The film starred Sanjeev Kumar & Sharmila Tagore, and looks at the life of a young foul mouthed prostitute (Tagore) who is hired for a month by an old man (Sanjeev Kumar), who never touches her and treats her with tremendous respect.

Ek Haseen Sham Ko Dil – lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan sung by Mohd Rafi in the film Dulhan ek Raat ki. A lovely, flowy falling in love song – that is seductive in its composition. The film stars Dharmendra and Nutan. A typical Mills and Boons story (it was actually based on Thomas Hardy’s book Tess of D’ubervilles). A lot of victorian novels were highly rated M&B’s ..but that is the subject of another post.

Hum Pyaar Mein Jalne Walon Ko – Lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar. The film is Jailor directed by Sorabh Modi

Kaun Aaya Mere Mann Ke Dware -lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. The film is Dekh Kabira Roya and the singer is Manna De. The song is picturised on Anoop Kumar (brother to Ashok & Kishore Kumar). The song is based on Raga Rageshri.

Khelo Na Mere Dil Se – based on Raga Charukesi – lyrics by Kaifi Azmi. Singer Lata Mangeshkar and the film is Haqeeqat – possibly the best Hindi war film ever. Based on the life of soldiers in the 1962 war against China, the film is a masterpiece on all levels, acting, direction and music. This song was never featured in the film. The film has 4 other songs I absolutely adore – Kar Chale Hum Fida Jaan aur Tan Saathiyon (cannot hear this song, sung by Rafi, without the eyes filling up with tears), Main ye sochkar uske dar se uthha tha ( a lovely song sung by Mohd. Rafi), Hoke Majboor Hame and Kahi yeh woh to nahi ( based on raga Kalyan)

Meri Yaad mein na tum aansu bahana – lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Singer Talat Mehmood. The song from film Madhosh is based on Raga Jaunpuri. A farewell song, that just has the right amount of pain and pathos in it. Both Madan Mohan and Talat Mehmood handled this emotion very well.

Naino Mein Badra Chaye -lyrics by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. The singer is Lata Mangeshkar in the film Mera Saaya starring Sunil Dutt & Sadhna. The film is the story of twins – one good and the other not so good – and the man who has to figure which is the one he loves … The song is based on Raga Bhimpalasi. The film has a great sound track – that includes the title song Mera Saya (sung by Lata), Aap Ke Pehlon mein Aake Ro Diye (sung by Rafi) , and the ever green Jhumka Gira Re (sung by Asha)

Baad Mudat ki Hai – lyrics by Rajinder Krishan. Sung by Mohammed Rafi & Suman Kalyanpur for the film Jahan Aara. A lovely love song, composed in Raga Chayanat. The pace of the song, that allows the singers to have a ‘conversation’ through the lyrics makes it one more of Madan Mohan’s songs to savour. There are two other great songs in this film. Phir Wohi Sham – and sung by Talat Mehmood . A wistful melanchonic song that talks of lonliness. For a period of time in my life, that song resonated with state of mind. Talat Mehmood’s voice was velvet and just apt for this song. The second is Kisi ke Yaad mein – a lovely ghazal sung by Mohd. Rafi in Raga Kedar

Rang aur Noor ki – lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi. And, sung by Mohammed Rafi for the film Ghazal. The film is based on Raga Puriya Dhanashree.

Tujhe Kya sunaon dilruba – lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri and sung by Mohd. Rafi for the film Aakhri Dao. The song is picturised on an Actor called Shekar. Which, also tells us a bit about the Madan Mohan problem. Despite a fantastic body of work he never, in his lifetime, found the kind of glory that music directors like Shankar Jaikishen (most of the RK Films) or SD Burman (most of Dev Anand Films) found – and that was primarily because he worked with smaller film makers and more obscure films. Many of these films did not last for too long at the box office. And, the songs usually died with the film. Tapes and LP’s didn’t sell that much and it was left to All India Radio (AIR) and its shows to popularise the song.


Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho – lyrics by Kaifi Azmi. Sung by Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar for the film Haste Zhakm. The film is picturised on Naveen Nischol and Priya Rajvansh. A simmering, passionate song that has a fantastic background score – check out the sounds of thunder & lightning as part of the song..

When you talk about Madan Mohan, the first thing one thinks of is his body of work with Lata Mangeshkar and ghazals. But, Madan Mohan worked with a great number of other artists and his body of work was myriad. Truly talented. But, his inability to play politics and find a mentor – a studio or a powerful producer – meant that he ended up composing for second rung films. Those films barely ran. In an era before mass Television, a non running film was the kiss of death for the music director – the music didn’t get heard. His many fans, including singers and musicians, kept his legacy alive for a new generation. We talk about Madan Mohan with a lot more awe and respect, and he is possibly more popular now than in his lifetime .

His was a story of immense talent, neglected by the industry. He took to drinking heavily and died of Liver Cirrhosis – he wasn’t the first in the industry to plumb the depths of despair because he wasn’t popular, and he won’t be the last. That is the nature of the business – to survive, you don’t need to be just talented but incredibly thick skinned.

DNA Column – The Multiple Personality Disorder of the Middle class

My column in today’s DNA


Psychiatry identifies a condition called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), popularly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, in which two or more distinct identities or personalities compete with each other to take charge of the patient’s behaviour. If you were an alien observing the Indian media to observeIndia, you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that there is a severe case of DID that requires urgent attention and treatment.

Indians especially those of us living in cities and working in relatively high paying jobsseem to suffer from acute multiple personality syndrome when it comes to India and our fellow citizens. There is one personality that sees Indiataking her place at the high table of world powers. There is another personality that thinks that India’s poor are people from another country and another time. There is a third personality that believes that rules should be applied uniformly and the corrupt should be locked up and the keys thrown away. And then to counter that there is a fourth personality that believes that it is completely all right for them to jump the red light and slip the traffic policeman a fifty rupee note along with their licence. There is a fifth personality that will use every contact, every piece of influence in their larger family and friend circle to get their kids into elite schools

and colleges or jobs. And a sixth personality that chaffs at

the concept of reservations. There is another personality that will sit in its comfortable drawing room and talk about how wonderful it is that people from other countries turn up in large numbers to protest against their government or participate in the electoral process, and to counter that is a personality that will send SMS’s or press like buttons in lieu of participation and plan a holiday on election weekend.  And of course there is a personality that moans at the non application of rules and the reign of goonda raj where the rich and powerful reign. And there is another personality that outrages that  officials – especially police officials – applying the rules without prejudice are puritans from another century or the Taliban from another country. All these personalities and opinions reside within a single person. If it was spread across the country you would call it diversity. But, within one person it seems like a serious problem that requires some concerted psychiatric care.

There is nothing that exemplifies this affliction more than the recent fracas in Mumbai over police raids on watering holes, night clubs and bars. At one level you have had the media and citizen groups that have gone hammer and tongs at the system not sending people to prison when laws are violated, at the other there is outrage when these laws are applied to them.

Mumbai has some of the most archaic rules that govern alcohol and nightlife. Everyone needs a permit to drink alcohol – a permit that states that you need alcohol for medicinal reasons; essentially a permit that declares you an alcoholic. This permit requirement goes back to 1949 – the Bombay Prohibition Act – which no one has bothered to repeal .There are three things that policeman can do in a situation like this. One is ignore the law and do nothing. The second is take money and look the other way. The third is doing something about it. There are many who advocate option one. But, the job of the policeman is not to interpret the law – that is the job of courts, nor is it to make the law – that is the role of legislators. The Policeman’s role is to implement the law.

We keep using the West as an example – in the west establishments breaking overcrowding rules will be penalised. Those that serve alcohol without license will be fined. Those that serve the underage alcohol will be shut down. Teenagers caught with traces of narcotics will end up with a jail record. Parents who take their underage kids into night clubs will be prevented from entering the establishment. There is something called the rule of law and it is obeyed. . And when the law is wrong, as in many cases it can be, groups of citizens lobby their elected representatives to change it.  They get involved. There is a conversation, it is a process.

There are just too many laws and rules that govern us, and many of them violate our personal rights and personal space. Those laws need to go. But, we need to be conscious that our rights are in relation to the rights of others, and not absolute in themselves and vice versa.  It is important  that we sit down together and find solutions. Vilifying policemen who carry out the law is not conversation. It is a tantrum of those who ask ‘how dare anyone ask us what we do’, at the same time as raging against those who do the same.