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.

8 Replies to “Madan Mohan on his birth Anniversary”

  1. A very good compilation! Madan Mohan’s brand of melody was unparalleled. One can understand or even replicate the melody style of other composers such as Naushad or Salil Chaudhary (difficult, but once you follow their body of work, we can atleast understand their school of thought). But Madan was different.

    It is not a joke to compose songs of that kind without any formal training in classical music. He was indeed a legend.

    I would also add the following to the list

    1. ek baat poochti hoon (film Suhagan?)
    2. songs from Adalat
    3. Mast Pawan dole re
    4. Tum bin jeevan kaisa jeevan (bawarchi)
    5. Woh Chup rahe to mere dil (What a stunning composition)
    6. Woh Jo milthe the kabhie
    7. Do ghadi woh jo paas aa baithe
    8. Hamare baad ab mehfil mein…

    there are many… The no. of not-so-good songs are very less in madan’s case (compared to say, a shankar Jaikishan). he created such fine music.

    1. love all of them and do ghadi woh jo paas aa baithe is a special favorite.

      i agree his ‘hit rate’ was a lot higher. a bit like Salil Da, who has a greater % of my favourite songs than any other music director. even today, the music feels fresh and relevant

  2. Lovely! It is very difficult to select just 15 songs out Madan Mohan saab’s rich collection but you’ve done a pretty good job of it. I like all these songs too – particularly the ones of Haqeeqat (what a movie!) and Mera Saaya (just love “nainon mein badra”). And it is always good to see Rafi saab’s lilting voice, whether in “ek haseen shaam” or “tum jo mil gaye ho”.

    As always happens when you have to shortlist, there are some worthy songs that don’t make it – doesn’t make them any less worthy. I like the songs of Wo Kaun Thi also (esp “lag ja gale” and “jo humne dastaan apni sunaayi”).

    Then there was Aap Ki Parchhaiyaan with the lovely “agar mujhse mohabbat hai” and Rafi saab’s sublime “main nigaahen tere chehre se hatayoon kaise”, one of my personal favourites.

    Then there was Parwana, with “simti si”, “piya ki gali” and “yunh na sharma” (Kishore and Rafi duet, which has lovely variations in pace).

    The Sanjog song you’ve mentioned is a Mukesh number, I quite like the Lata one too “wo bhooli dastaan, lo phir yaad aa gayi”.

    Then Lata’s ghazals in Adalat – just brilliant!

    And how could I forget Naunihal? Rafi saab is absolutely awesome with “tumhari zulf ke saaye mein shaam kar doonga” and that tribute to Nehru “meri awaaz suno”.

    Then “teri aankhon ke siwa” from Chiraag.

    And what about Heer Ranjha’s amazing songs? Again Kaifi saab combining with Madan Mohan in a Chetan Anand movie.

    Then there was “kabhi na kabhi” from the Dev-Madhubala movie, Sharabi.

    There was the fun “zaroorat hai zaroorat hai” from Manmauji, with the lovely “main to tum sang nain milaa ke haar gayi sajna” Lata number too.

    Oh, and so many more. I could go on and on (you shouldn’t get me started in a discussion about old movie songs ;-)) but I think I’ll stop for now.

    As I said, very difficult to select just 15 songs. But you’ve done a pretty good job of it – thanks, Harini.

    1. A great collection of songs and memories. In my view, his music had ‘soul’ to it that no one else had. He also stretched Lata’s voice in myriad ways to create mesmerising effects. The 3 Lata solos from Woh kaun thi in my opinion are 3 great soulful and heart tugging songs you will ever hear. I tried to list 25 of his top songs at Of course, there are more than 25 of his great songs that anyone will love. You can also listen to some of his gems on a music player in the post.

  3. @raja – i love them all. in my car I have my usb full of music and the ones that get played the most (apart from Bhimsen Joshi) is Madan Mohan … there was this sense of non repetitiveness in his music …
    i cheated – sometimes i included all songs from an album – so i guess it is closer to 25. but, it still is not enough for his talent …

  4. fantastic line up that too for a South Indian like me who has grown up only listening to regional songs, this is just amazing.

    It is really sad that such a talented person was shadowed by other top musicians in the industry.

    And what a coincidence – my all time fav of Latajee is ‘Aap ki nazarone samja’

    thanks a lot for this interesting post


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