The third listening session was planned on 16th March, 2014. The proposed theme was “Lesser Remembered Female Voices from Hindi Films”.
As usual, Chandrashekhar ji was the first one to arrive. As we waited for others to join in, an LP record of movie Rattan (1944) was played. The voices of Ameerbai Karnataki, Zohrabai Ambalewali and Manju in this soundtrack are a treat forever and appreciated by both of us. Record collector Selvin also joined us as these songs were being played.
Selvin introduced himself and talked about his love for Ghazals.
We decided to start the programme. I introduced the theme saying that hundreds of female singers have sung for Hindi films and many of them are not remembered as often as some others. The aim of this session is to enjoy songs sung by these lesser remembered talents.
Playback had come first to Hindi films for the movie Dhoop Chhaon / Bhagya Chakra (1935) with the song Main Khush Hona Chahoon. The background to the song’s recording in the voices of Suprova Sarkar, Parul Ghosh and Harimati. The composer who made it happen is R C Boral and lyricist was Pandit Sudarshan. This was achieved at the New Theatre studios in Kolkata. This group song was picturised in the film as part of a stage scene in a Theatre company. During the picturisation of the scene, this song was played as part of a few short songs in sequence (Pahari Sanyal and K C Dey sang the other short songs).
Since, most of the singers during the initial days used to be the actors themselves, initial portion was a tribute to them. The next song to be played was Jeevan Ka Mol Chukaana, sung by famous actor-singer of yesteryear, Maya Banerjee for the movie Service Limited / Sewa Samaaj (1939).
Next, one side of a 78 rpm of movie Musaafir (1940) was played with the song Radha Rani Roothi Ghanshyaam Manaaye on my gramophone. The rendition was by Vasanti, a well known actress-singer of the 30s and 40s.
Next, it was mentioned that there were many actress singers who sang in the period. Its not possible to include all of their songs but the next thing can be done. The 1939 movie Gharib Ka Laal / Prince of Paupers composed by Sageer Asif had a funny song. Lyricists Rafi Kashmiri or Munshi Kaabil had written the song with each line featuring the name of a popular film actor or actress of the period. I am of course talking about the song, Tujhe Bibbo Kahoon Ya Sulochana, Uma Shashi Kahoon Ya Jamuna Kahoon which was picturised on Kamla Karnataki and Mirza Musharraf (presumably sung by them for themselves). The song has both partners telling each other they are not able to decide by which hero/heroine’s name they want to call their lover! This song was played.
The unique lines are given below to remember the then famous faces and voices:-
तुझे बिब्बो कहूँ कि सुलोचना, हाँ उमा शशि कहूँ या कि जमना
(Tujhe Bibbo Kahoon Ki Sulochana, Uma Shashi Kahoon Ya Ki Jamuna)
तुझे मोती कहूँ कि बिलीमोरिया, तुझे सहगल कहूँ या कि बारवा
(Tujhe Moti Kahoon Ki Billimoria, Tujhe Sehgal Kahoon Ya Ki Barwa)
तुझे कज्जन कहूँ या कि शान्ता, रतनबाई कहूँ, मेहताब कह दूँ या कि माधुरी
(Tujhe Kajjan Kahoon Ya Ki Shanta, Ratanbai Kahoon Mehtaab Kahoon Ya Ki Madhuri)
मेरी बिमला, मेरी कानन, मेरी जद्दन, मेरी रोज़ी, तुझे गौहर कहूँ कि सबिता जी हाँ जी
(Meri Bimla Meri Kanan Meri Jaddan Meri Rosy Tujhe Gauhar Kahoon Ki Sabita Ji Haan Ji)
देवकारानी कहूँ कि ललिता हाँ दुर्गा खोटे कहूँ कि जुबेदा
(Devika Rani Kahoon KI Lalita, Durga Khote Kahoon Ki Zubaida)
तुझे घोरी कहूँ, दीक्षित कहूँ या तुझे चार्ली कह दूँ
(Tujhe Ghori Kahoon Dikshit Kahoon Ya Tujhe Charlie Keh Doon)
कहूँ मिर्ज़ा मुशर्रफ़ या तुझे मैं काबिली कह दूँ
(Kahoon Mirza Musharraf Ya Tujhe Main Kabli Keh Doon)
तुझे सुरेन्द्र कहूँ या कि वास्ती, मैं कुमार कहूँ या कि ग़ज़नवी
(Tujhe Surendra Kahoon Ya Ki Waasti, Main Kumaar Kahoon Ya Ki Ghaznavi)
Since, the next day was Holi, I said the programme would be incomplete without a Holi song. This song was again played on the gramophone and was from the aptly titled movie Holi (1940). This was the second movie of composer Khemchand Prakash. The sweet Holi song, Phagun Ki Rut Aayi Hai was sung by Sitara with Amritlal and the lyrics were by D N Madhok. Everyone liked the song.
As needle was being changed for the next song, a discussion on how often should one change the needle of a gramophone? Best practice is of course to change for every play but a good needle can be used for both sides (as I do). Chandrashekhar ji suggested keeping good stock of needles as they are difficult to get. He enquired which needles I am using and I said they were from erstwhile Twin label.
Next song, I mentioned featured a voice not much heard in Hindi films. I also said that it is a very rare record for some reason and asked to identify the singer. I showed that it is a New Theatre record and doesn’t have the singer’s name though composer and other details are given. One side just mentions that it is Madhabee’s song. I played the other side and the song “Ab Shaad Hai Dil” started playing. Record mentions it as from Yahudi Ki Ladki (1933). Composer was Pankaj Mullick and Lyrics were by Agha Hashar Kashmiri. Since, couldn’t be guessed, I revealed that this was in fact a rare version record released by New Theatres around 1948. The record doesn’t mention that it is a version record and both sides were sung by singer Utpala Sen. The original of this song was sung by Rattanbai and is probably lost forever. The other side had a version song of Oonch Neech, Band Jeevan Ki (Madhabee’s Song!).
Next a song of another singing star was played. The song was Dheere Dheere Sakhi from Saalgirah(1946). Chandrashekhar ji said that the voice is sweet and wondered who it is. Singer was Snehlata Pradhan who was a big name in those days.
We next came to playback singers. The first song played was from movie Tadbir (1945) sung by Naseem Akhtar which was appreciated. The song was “Baanke Nainon Se Kar Ke Ishaare Mora Chhota Sa Dewar Pukaare” composed by Lal Mohammad and written by Swami Ramanand.
The following songs were played after that which were appreciated:-
- Kuchh Ishaaron Mein Kaha by Nargis Junior for Movie Fifty Fifty (1940s Unreleased) (Music: Kumar) (Lyrics: Rehmaani)
- Aaja Aaja Mataji by Baby Nirmala for Movie Dhoom Dhaam (1949) (Music: Sufi Samaj)
- O Bhoolne Waale by Jharna Devi for Movie Iran Ki Ek Raat (1949) (Music: Kamal Dasgupta)
- Mere Mann Mein Aa Ke Koi Samaya by Hamida Bano for movie Aanch (1940s) (Music: N Y Gill) (Lyrics: Bahaar Ajmeri)
- Aankhon Waale Tu Dekh Zara by Lalita Deulkar and Parshuram for movie Parbat Pe Apna Dera (1944) (Music: Vasant Desai) (Lyrics: Dewan Sharar)
- Mera Dil Kya Aapse Mil Gaya Hai by Sulochana Kadam for movie Dharm Patni (1953) (Music: Jamal Sen) (Lyrics: Bekal)
- Aankhon Ki Roshni Hai … Mere Sapnon Ki Sundar Rani by Mrs Vishnilal and S Balbir for movie Chhoti Duniya (1953) (Music: Rajhans Kataria) (Lyrics: Bekal)
- Kar Le Singaar Chali by Kaumudi Munshi for movie Teen Tasveeren (1954) (Music: Neenu Majumdar) (Lyrics: Prem Dhawan)
- Meri Aankhon Se Aankh Milaana by Binota Chakravarthi and Dwijen Mukherjee for Movie 25th July (1951) (Music: Nachiketa Ghosh) (Lyrics: B M Sharma)
- Hum to Love Kar Ke Pachhtaya by Minal Wagh for Movie Titli / For Ladies Only (1951) (Music: Vinod) (Lyrics: Sohanlal Sahir)
- Nainon Se Nain Mila Meri Aankh Phadke by Zarina Mistry for movie Teer (1950s Unreleased) (Music: Suleiman Dafrani) (Lyrics: Shambul Haq Shams)
- Tum Apna Ranj-o-Gham by Jagjit Kaur for movie Shagun (1954) (Music: Khaiyyam) (Lyrics: Sahir)
- Dhake Malmal Ki Saari Manga De by Roshanara Begum for movie Siskiyaan (Unreleased, recorded 1952) (Music: Ragi Rajan) (Lyrics: Shriram Iyer)
- O Pyaare Piya Dil Tod Gaye by Kamal Barot (Non-film)
- Piya Piya Ne Kya Jaadoo Kiya by Chhaya Ganguli for movie Trikon Ka Chautha Kon (1986) (Music: Jaidev)
After these songs, a quiz song was played on 78 rpm asking for the singer to be guessed. The song was correctly guessed as title of the movie Geet Gaaya Pattharon Ne (1964) (Music: Ramlal) with the singer being the young Kishori Amonkar. It was discussed how her mother forced her to quit films after this first film song of hers itself.
Next one side of an EP was played from Qurbani (1980). The song being Laila O Laila sung by Kanchan with Amit Kumar. On request, next song Aap Jaisa Koi by Nazia Hassan was also played in continuation.
Finally, before closing, on Selvin’s request, a song of Parveen Sultana was played from her LP, Innovation Meets Tradition, Guru Charanan Raj which was in Raga Sarang Kauns (Khayal Vilambit: Ek Taal).
Everyone appreciated the program and said they were looking forward to the next Listening session which is planned on 13th April.