# Source: Encyclopaedia  of Indian Cinema#

         Ghulam Haider (1908-53)
Music composer born in Hyderabad. Studied dentistry. Leading composer from the Lahore group with e.g. Shyam Sunder, Khurshid Anwar and S.D. Batish. With Naushad initiated a musical revolution helping to institutionalize an All-India Film aesthetic in India. Learnt music from Babu Ganeshlal, with whom he worked in theatre playing harmonium in Calcutta. Briefly composer for the Jenaphone recording label. Broke into films in Lahore with directors Shorey and Kardar; then worked for Pancholi starting with the Punjabi film "Gul-e-Bakavali" featuring Noor Jehan as a child actress. Regular composer for Pancholi until Poonji. His score for Khazanchi led to a series of Pancholi hits pioneering new marketing strategies. Best known compositions, often sung by Shamshad Begum, invoke Punjabi folk rythms and extensively feature percussion instruments like the dholak. Moved to Bombay in 1944 where he worked in Filmistan(Chal chal re naujawan) and Minerva. Composed one successful Mehboob film (Humayun) and gave Lata Mangeshkar her first big break in playback singing (Majboor, in duets with Geeta Dutt and Mukesh).(There is also a nice Lata solo, "Dil mera toda") Returned to Lahore after partition, where he started Filmsaz with director S. Nazir Ajmeri and actor S. Gul, making "Beaqarar". Also scored Akeli, Bheegi palkein and two Noor Jehan films Gulemar (53) and Laila.
Filmography:1934 - Thief of Iraq
1935 - Majnu, Swarg ki sidhi
1939 - Gul-e-Bakawali
1940 - Yamla Jat
1941 - Khazanchi, Choudhary 1942 - Khandaan, Zamindaar
1943 - Poonji
1944 - Bhai, Chal chal re naujawan, phool
1945 - Humayun
1946 - Behram Khan, Jag biti, Shama 1947 - But Tarash, Manjhdhar, Mehndi
1948 - Barsaat Ki Ek Raat, Majboor, Padmini, Patjhad, Shaheed
1949 - Kaneez
1950 - Do saudagar, putli
1953 - Aabshar----
Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir

Salil Chowdhury with Lata Mangeshkar

By Raju Bharatan

With becoming Bengali modesty, Salil identified himself as the Pele of Music. “Take the game of football,” said Salil, “all the rules are there – free-kick, throw-in, offside, penalty, yet there is a player like Pele who produces something outside the rules, even while being within them. I am that Pele in music!” The talk turned to Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Saathi re tujh bina jiya udaas re’, as scored by Salil for Poonam Ki Raat. Get a feel of how, here, the whole Salil arrangement is yet again in symphony – an instance of ‘harmonic progression’. “What a rendering by Lata, what orchestration, what use of chords – even if I am saying so!” observed Salil, descending with a sense of fulfilment on the piano, as I caught up with him in his Calcutta home. I had dared Salil to move – to demonstrate to me that Lata-Talat Mahmood’s ‘Itna na mujh se tu pyaar badha’ (from Chhaya) was not a lift of Mozart. Salil did not, for a moment, deny that ‘Itna na’ is Mozart’s G Minor Symphony. But then proceeded to detail how precisely he had got Lata to transform the ‘Itna na mujh se’ beat. ‘‘Does it not now sound exactly like Bhairavi?” Salil sought to now. ‘‘But isn’t it still copying?” I asked. ‘‘If it is copying,” came back Salil, ‘‘it is creative copying! Even Shakespeare plagiarised!” Salil added,’’ by way of a parting Pele kick.

carried to Salil, Pandit Ravi Shankar’s point of view that he tended to make the orchestra needlessly complicated – that there was no call for him to have introduced western melody in the Parakh solo, ‘O sajana barkha bahaar aayee’ (a solo Lata named first among her 10 best ever songs, handpicked during her silver jubilee in 1967). Salil was dismissive of Ravi Shankar’s viewpoint – almost in a spirit of: “There is nothing he can teach me about staying Indian or going western!” Whereupon I chipped in, “You must have got someone really big, Salil-da, to play the sitar, a sitar competing with Lata’s vocals, in ‘O sajana barkha bahaar aayee’.” “I don’t agree that the sitar vies with Lata’s voice for attention in ‘O sajana’. Lata’s voice here is something out of this world, the sitar piece, created by me, merely underscores its beauty.

ram Acharya, the sitarist, had a tremendous ‘sense of the microphone’ he was a master in the selection of the right string. Plus he understood the art of ‘placing’ the microphone better than most.” I took this as the opening to ask, “Salil-da, who accompanies Lata on the flute in ‘Aa jaa re pardesi’, picturised on Vyjayanthimala so hauntingly playing Madhumati?” And Salil’s reply, “It’s Manohari Singh on the flute. I don’t, you must comprehend, need famous names for my instrumentation. I need, primarily, a player who will strictly conform to my chords’ system of recording discipline. “I have in ‘Aa jaa re pardesi’,” Salil added, “used the 7th chord as basic melody, the chord of incompletion – symptomatic of ‘desire unfulfilled’ on Vyjayanthimala, playing the apparition in Madhumati. The antara here was Lata’s own suggestion, “Pancham se shuru karte hain,” she said. Lata never ever interfered in the case of my composition, this was the first – and last – time she had made a suggestion. And a great suggestion it turned out to be, too, it made all the difference. There was a spell when I lost contact with Salil, when, out of the blue, he wrote to me in April 1972: “My dear Raju, I am sending herewith a set of Annadata records for your valuable opinion. You will find in them the style and approach which are typically my own. I will very much value your sincere opinion about these compositions, especially Lata’s ‘Nis din nis din mera zulmi sajan’ and ‘Raaton ke saaye ghane’, which is a breakaway from the usual norm of film music

Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir


 		Maestro with the Midas touch : Naushad
Naushad, the undisputed monarch of film music will enter the 81st year of his life on the ensuing Christmas day. The journey from being a struggler in search of an identity in 1937 to being the god-father of film music was a long and eventful one. And though a restless crusader even at 80 Naushad can look back on-life with a sense of pride and fulfilment. Naushad in his days was widely acclaimed as a composer par excellence. To him music was more of a mission than a commerce. Even when he reigned supreme he never accepted more than one or two assignments at a time. As a consequence he composed only 652 songs in 66 films during the career spanning 60 years. But what is significant is that much of what he composed is still remembered and fondly cherished. The public adulations over the years have kept him in the news although he is no longer a part of the music scenario in films. It is his impact on the course of film music in his times that has made him unforgettable.

After he made his debut in Prem Nagar (1940) Naushad was first noticed in the film Station Master (1942) wherein he introduced 13-year-old Suraiya to sing and act in a juvenile role. In the same year, he tested his first big success in the song Panchhi ja peechhe, Raha hai bachpan mera (Sharda) and so did `baby' Suraiya. It was in this song that the matka (earthen pot) was used for the first time for rhythmic effect. The overwhelming success of Rattan (1944) catapulted Naushad to fame. In this film he popularised the folk music of UP (Ankhiyan mila kejiya bharma ke'/Milke bichhad gayi ankhiyan hai Rama) and earned the enviable reputation as a trend-setter. He introduced Mohamed Rafi in Pahele Aap (1944), and groomed Lata Mangeshkar (Chandni Raat/1949) which changed the face of film music. Naushad rose like a meteor amidst the highly creative composers of the time. When the film Baiju Bawra (1952) came his way, he proved the efficacy of the classical music by refashioning it to suit the time. His innovative use of the vibrophone in the song Mohe bhool gaye sanvariya lent a rare lustre to the sadness in the raag `bhairav', Baiju Bawra became a landmark film in the annals of film music and a high water-mark in the composer's career.

Naushad appeared in a new `avtaar' in the film Amar (1953). Though the film failed, the music left an indelible mark on listener's minds. His insistance on the use of the classical music in films eventually led to the establishment of Naushad Academy of Hindustani Music for the propagation of the traditional art. Despite his disenchantment with film music in the recent times it is not easy for Naushad to breakaway from the colourful past which earned him the epithet `Maestro with the Midas-touch'. His reputation mainly rests on the songs such as Dharti ko aakash pukare (Mela), Uthaye ja unke sitam (Andaaz), Milte hi aanken dil huva diwana kisika (Babul), and Jab Dil he toot gaya (Shahjehan).

The lyricist Manohar Iyer of the celebrated `Keep Alive' music group is making a determined effort to make a live presentation of Naushad's memorable melodies to celebrate the maestro's 80th birthday in his presence at the Dinanath Mangeshkar Hall.

- Nalin Shah

Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir


Bimal Roy (1909 - 1966)

Cameraman who photographed P.C. Barua's Devdas, turned Director to produce and direct the same subject decades later perhaps to put himself before the people through this film.

Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir


Gurudutt (1925 - 1964)

With few film that can be counted on fingertips, Guru Dutt however had left the uneraseable print on the earth of film world. All the films were classics in their own ways. Dutt made shadowy, film inspiring thrillers like Jaal and Aar Paar or comedies like Mr & Mrs.55.


Sahir Ludhianvi (1921 - 1980)

The lure of the film industry drew Sahir to Bombay where he started out by writing our fair copies of dialogue. But his reputation as a poet had already preceded him and S.D.Burman used Sahir's beguiling 'Thandi Hawayen' in his Naujawan (1951). Soon the success of Baazi (1951) made Sahir a leading lyricist.The critical and popular success of Pyaasa's songs further elevated Sahir's status.

Noorjehan Noorjehan

Child rodigies usually fade out early. Only a few live up to their initial promise. Very few have ever made it to the top. This child was unique. At five she could reproduce the style of most leading singers of the subcontinent. Two years later, she rendered her first playback song for a Calcutta-based production. With that commenced a career which has spanned six decades of unparalleled, unchallenged reign. In time Baby Noor Jehan became Madam Noor Jehan, then Melody Queen. Artists across the sub continent have been inspired and overawed by her. Indian singer, Lata Mangeshkar, a legend in her recording time, refers to her with veneration. Who else could be Pakistan's personality of the millennium but Noor Jehan?

The exact point in time when the title of Melody Queen was bestowed on her cannot be fixed. She was coronated by popular acclaim by admirers, connoisseurs, experts and critics of music and has ever since ruled the realm of music here with the consent of the masses and classes who have any interest in music. While she got her start from Calcutta, it was in Lahore, close to hometown Qasur where the limelight flooded her. Master Ghulam Haider, a master in the truest sense of the expression put the raw gold in the child's voice in Gul Bakaoli (1939) with "Shala jawanian mane" on the road to lasting fame. In another movie, the same composer's "Bas bas wey dholna" accorded her instant mass popularity. From then on there was no looking back for the precocious child who was just ten at the time. But maturity and professional recognition came with her first film as leading lady, at the age of 14 in Khandan (1942) with "Tu konsi badli mein mere chand hai aaja". Once again the composer was Master Ghulam Haider.

Khandan was directed by Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, a handsome young film editor from Calcutta who had been inducted as director by necessity. The movie led to a tumultuous real-life affair, elopement, marriage, to a saga of romance at times bordering on madness, plunging often into sadness, then despair, finally snapped ties and a scandal-filled relationship marked by the deepest and the most expressive of ambivalence-mostly hate. The two spent years running each other down only to underline that they could not get over their first love. However, much before Rizvi's death the news of his demise was not conveyed to her as she lay ailing in the US for fear that it would disturb her. They had accepted each other's presence and made peace with each other. In a period when singer-actresses ruled the silver screen, Noor Jehan was amply endowed with them. Vivacious, young, only 14, wide-eyed Saadat Hasan Manto described her facial features as exuding excitement, seductiveness and vitality. She was a young beauty whose looks scored with both film-makers and cine-goers and was cast as leading lady even though her short stature caused a few production problems. Teamed with Pran bricks were used in many scenes to raise her to the required physical height. As an artist, whether as singer or actress, she never needed help. Almost from day one, she had a position all her own.

Marriage to Rizvi took her to Broadway, to new and vaster horizons. Director Mehboob cast her in Anmol Ghari (1946) in which she had a chance to work with one of the greatest composers of India, Naushad. Rizvi paired her with a young and promising but little known actor, Dilip Kumar in Jugnoo (1947). Both films were big hits at the box office. The teenaged singer-actress had taken Bollywood by storm; she was heralded as a star of dazzling luminosity. She was poised for sweeping the Indian cinema, both as actress and singer at that time. But in Pakistan, too, her career continued flourishing though the industry was in its infancy, much smaller in size and resources in comparison with Bombay and operated in a restricted circuit. Professional standards were not of a quality to do justice with her immense potential. Despite such handicaps, she went from proverbial success to success, from glory to glory. A somewhat questionable achievement was becoming that first woman director of films in Pakistan. That was with Chan We (1951), produced by Rizvi. But marriage hit the rocks and floundered after ten years and three children. Another marriage with actor Ejaz ended in a similar way after three more children.

There were ups and downs in her personal life. But her career prospered. The magnificence of her voice groomed in her early years by Kajjan Bai, a famous Indian singer of the 20s and 30s, and enriched by riyaz lasting up to twelve hours or more every day, gave her heights while as an actress she gathered lustre with every film. She gave significant performances in Dopatta (1952), Gulnar (1953), Intezar (1956), Lakht-e-Jiggar (1956), Annar Kalli (1958), Koel (1959) and Neend (1959), to name a few of her movies of 50´s. She had indeed become eligible for playing lead only as an actress. It is, however, unlikely that her acting could ever match the excellence of her singing. In any case, marriage with Ejaz put a stop to her career as an actress. He did not want her on the screen and she acquiesced like a conventional housewife. She herself wasn't much interested in acting. The decision provided a boost for her singing. With acting out of the way, she could concentrate on singing with singlemindedness. As playback singer she touched new heights with Mousiqar (1962), Sawal (1966), Lakhon mein aik (1967), Mirza Jatt (1967), Dosti (1971), Naag Munni (1972), Heer Ranjha (1970), Sher Khan, Sala Sahib & Chan Waryam (1981), Sholey (1984), Moula Bakhsh (1988) and innumerable other movies.

Indeed after the break with Ejaz, she plunged headlong into playback singing, often recording five to six songs in a day. How many songs she recorded in her career is anybody's guess. Estimates place the number above ten thousand. It is a sad commentary on the state of management of arts in Pakistan that an undetermined percentage of her work may have perished. There is no inventory even of songs she recorded; a library of Noor Jehan's songs is a far cry. It is time the Ministry of Culture, along with serious-minded people from the film industry (there still are a few professionally-oriented men in cinema) got down to putting things in order and at least preserving what has survived the ravages of neglect. While she has been acclaimed as the supreme soprano, a truly gifted artist and adulated, her class and contribution have never been critically evaluated. What exactly is the place of Madam Noor Jehan in the music of, first, the subcontinent, and then Pakistan? "Unrivalled, incomparable," says Nisar Bazmi, virtually the last of authentic composers of Pakistan's cinema.

Most of the master composers whose work she brilliantly rendered are no more alive or across the border. Master Ghulam Haider, Feroz Nizami, Rashid Attre, Khurshid Anwar, G. A. Chishti, Master Anayet Hussain, Master Abdullah, A. Hameed, Nashad, Kamal Ahmad, etc. are all part of our cultural history, albeit a neglected one. Naushad, one of the first composers for whom she sang in Bombay is in India. Only Nisar Bazmi is around. For him, she is a "gift" from nature, an artist with no peer. He says: "The throw of words by her remains unmatched. She was the first singer to bring expression to film music. She could render love songs, compositions depicting joy, sadness, tragedy with facility of movement." Saying this, he uttered a prayer for her recovery. Veteran recording engineer Sayed Afzal Hussain who teamed with Khurshid Anwar for many films, emphasizes expression from another angle. Her rendering always matched the expression of the artist and her voice had "intangibility, resonance, depth and strength," he says. Afzal Hussain recalls many songs to exemplify this point. One of them is a lori she sang in Lakht-e-Jigar (1956; producer: Agha G.A. Gul; director; Luqman; music; Chishti, cast: Noor Jehan, Santosh, Yasmin, Habib). According to him, there has been "no lori like this in the music of the subcontinent." Ahmed Rahi, who penned the poetry for many a song by the Melody Queen, among them the immortal lyrics of Heer Ranjha (1970) and Mirza Jatt (1967), marvels at her comprehension of words. He found in her a "capacity to decipher good verse from versified lines." He recalls and incident from Jadoo (1974) music: Anayat Hussain: Noor Jehan was then only playback singer). "A verse was considered too heavy by the producer and he wanted it replaced. Sure of his ground, Rahi disagreed, arguing that the people for whom he wrote would know why he had written it. When Noor Jehan came to the verse while recording the song, she looked in my direction and waved to acknowledge the quality," he says. Qateel Shifai also has a word of praise for her rendering of poetry. "She sang with understanding; her delivery was remarkably fluent," he says.

While she remained confined to light music and popular singing, she always believed in classical music. "Pop" she said: "is like a foundation of sand; a cooking pan of wood. The same songs reappear after some time. Classical is eternal". A strong classical base is reflected in her singing. She effortlessly moved in difficult, demanding trajectories. High and low notes came to her with naturalness to underline and elaborate the range of her talent. The fibre of her voice retained resolution in all scales. Her articulation of turns, enunciation of emphasis, pauses and stresses belong to the most creative dimension of virtuosity. Madam Noor Jehan has been a controversial figure in many ways, often marked by contradictions that made her a target for slings and arrows of critics. But great artists are not to be measured by a yardstick. She has also been criticized for a certain harshness in behaviour at times and of greed, too. But she couldn't have survived in the cutthroat world of showbiz without toughness - she could be emotionally blackmailed though. Weakness is exploited more ruthlessly in showbiz than any other area of life. And the reputation for being a hard bargainer is more than offset by her contribution to the 1965 war. It demonstrated that if her heart was set on something, she could sing a song for a song. She endeared herself to the people of Pakistan with her unrelenting, emotionally charged support for the war effort, motivating troops and the rest of the populace. She had legend status in her field even before that. Her war songs, rendered with inspiring conviction, stirred the people like nothing else and made her a very special person.

The government acknowledged her work by awarding the "Pride of Performance Award" to her, making Noor Jehan the first woman to be so honoured. She used to be at the Lahore Radio Station every day, rehearsing for hours and recording a song only when she was fully satisfied. This was the patriotic involvement and commitment of a songstress who normally had one look at the score and delivered every note, every syllable in perfect order virtually off the cuff. Financial considerations never featured in that campaign. Age and illness took hold of her some years ago and she withdrew from public life; her place in the hearts of the people remained intact. When the news that she was seriously ill broke, newspaper offices were inundated with calls from her admirers; it became clear once again that she was widely adulated. PTV's former General Manager Marketing, Khalid Ghias, a film buff and a devoted Noor Jehan fan says: "She is an honest lady, a grand one. For us, she is immortal, eternal". That just about sums up the kind of sentiments and regard many people have for her art and her person. (This Article appeared in Daily "DAWN" Karachi)


R.D.Burman (1935 - 1994)

"Dum Maro Dum" the modern western rock number to "Raina Beeti Jai" the tradionally classical number shows R.D.Burman's command over both types of musics. Pancham, as we usually called, got his first chance to provide music in Chote Nawab in 1961. But it was in the seventies he could find his place in the top class music directors with Kati Patang, Amar Prem and Namak Haraam. Mega hit Sholay and Deewar, showed his creativeness in composing songs of all seasons.


Kishore Kumar

Actor, singer, director, music composer and producer, Kishore Kumar made his film debut as a playback singer by imitating his hero K.L. Saigal in Rimjhim (1949). He stormed the box office as an actor who sang his own songs, mostly in slapstick comedies like Musafir and Naukari. After Chalti Ka Naam Gadi, he gained recognition for offbeat humour and for providing a new musical sound to popular film music. His career as India's most versatile playback singer was effectively launched when he became Dev Anand's singing voice with Ziddi and Munimji. Along with composer Kalyanji, he pioneered the use of electronic music in Hindi films and modernised the melody. An effort which blossomed under the partnership with composer R.D. Burman during the 1970s when Hindi film music boasted of some of the most popular chartbusters like Yeh shaam mastani, Roop tera mastana, Pyaar deewana hota hai, Woh shaam kuch ajeeb thi and many more. If Rajesh Khanna was able to scale rare heights as a superstar, it was primarily due to the voice of Kishore Kumar that had the nation swooning in rhythm. He also sang for the next superstar, Amitabh Bachchan, too and has some memorable numbers to his credit in films like Sharaabi, Don and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.

Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir

Mohammed Rafi

Virtually the voice of India, Mohammed Rafi articulated the joys and sorrows of millions of Indians through his songs. One of the three most popular Hindi film playback singers, ever with Kishore Kumar and Mukesh, Rafi made his debut in 1944 in the film Pehle Aap. He tasted success, however, with Mehboob's Anmol Ghadi in 1946, where he sang duets with Noorjehan. With the longest career span stretching from the 1940s to the 1980s, Rafi has sung for almost all heroes from Pradeep Kumar, Bharat Bhushan, Dilip Kumar, Guru Dutt, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand to Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan. His career was somewhat eclipsed when Kishore Kumar became the voice of Rajesh Khanna, the superstar of the 1970s. The music of composers like Naushad, S.D. Burman, Shankar Jaikishen and the poetry of Sahir, Kaifi Azmi would not have been immortalised without the melodious croonings of Rafi.

Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir

K.L.Saigal Kundan Lal Saigal

By Nalin Shah

The memories of K L Saigal, the singer, refuse to die with times even 53 years after his demise on 18 January, 1947 Idolised by singers such as Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar from their childhood days, Saigal has become a cult figure. His song Babul mora, along with Lata's Ayega anewala, can easily be rated as the most memorable songs of the century that ended. The musical memories of the singing star from the film Chandidas (Tarpet beate din rain') in 1934 to Parwana (Toot gaya sub sapne mere) in 1947 appear to have been cast in imperishable bronze as his songs continue to pervade the air even on the threshold of the 21st century. When Saigal struggled to find recognition, his deep, sonorous and expressive voice prompted Chandibabu of the newly established Hindustan Records to record the unknown artiste. His very first non-filmy song Jhulana jhulao ri in 1932 made Saigal a celebrity as it crossed five lakh mark in sales and that too in the days when gramophones and radios were scarce and the tape recorders

non-existent. Like Chandibabu of Hindustan Records, B N Sircar of the New Theatres too was fascinated by the never-heard-before kind of voice. His initial failure to project Saigal as a singing star did not shake his confidence in the singer. The song Tarapat beate din rain was perhaps the first sentimental love song in the film Chandidas in 1934 which made Saigal a star. The film producers elsewhere found it difficult to meet the challenges thrown by Saigal's unprecedented popularity after the release of Devdas. Sagar Movieton vainly tried to project its singer/actor Surendra as Mumbai's answer to Saigal. Surendra's song in his first film Deccan Queen (Birha ki aag lagi more man main) cast in Saigal's popular Devdas-number Balam aaye baso more man main did not succeed. Saigal continued to win laurels with the successes of his songs such as Ek Bangala bane nyara (President), Preet main hai jevan jakhon (Dushman) and So Jaaraaj Kumar (Zindagi).

Saigal as the obvious choice to be paired with the singing star Kanan Bala in the first musical Street Singer in 1938. Raag Bhairavi never sounded more enchanting till Saigal immortalised in the song Babul Mora in the film. Even after migrating to Mumbai in 1941 Saigal continued to reign supreme with the success of his films such as Bhakt Soordas (Madhuker shyam hamare chor) and Tansen (Sapt sooran teen gram). Though initiated in the art of music Saigal's songs evoked admiration even from the classical masters which included Faiyyaz Khan and Abdul Karim Khan as well. Due to the addiction to liquor Saigal's health was failing when he starred in Shahjehan (1946). But his voice did not lose its lustre when he sang under Naushad's baton Jab dil hi toot gaya and Gham diye mustaquil. Mohammed Rafi prided on the fact that he got a chance to sing two lines in the Saigal song Mera Sapanoon ki raani in the film. Saigal was the only singer who commanded a wide following amongst the singers of no mean repute such as Mukesh, Surendra, Talat, Mehdi Hasan and C H Atma among others.

In 53 years after his death at 42, Saigal societies have cropped up at home and abroad. His songs, original and those sung by others by way of tribute, continue to resurge time and again. The changes in musical expressions over the years have not diminished Saigal's statue as a cult figure. The singer of the century epithet, if applied to him, is not adequate for the one whose musical influence cannot be restricted to a time.

Geeta Dutt ( November 23, 1930 - July 20, 1972 )Geeta Dutt

Geeta Roy was born in Faridpur District in East Bengal in 1930. In 1942 when she was just twelve her parents shifted to Mumbai. Over there in their modest flat at Dadar music director Hanuman Prasad heard her singing casually. He gave her two lines to sing in the film Bhakt Prahlad ( 1946 ). "I gave playback for some children." she said. But her rendering of those two lines stood out and astonished everybody in the recording studio. A minor incident became the genesis of a great musical career. Her major assignment come the following year, 1947, with Filmistan's Do Bhai. Music Director S.D. Burman had heard the song in Bhakt Prahlad and he promptly got hold of her address and met her to use her voice in the film. The music of that film clicked in a big way particularly 'Mera sundar sapna beet gaya.' Geeta Roy had arrived.

Disc scales of the song rocketed to new heights. 1947-1949 saw Geeta Roy rule as the number one playback singer in the Mumbai film industry as she moved from strength to strength. However three films released in 1949. Barsaat, Andaaz and Mahal. All three smashing hits. The music of each film better than the other. In all three films the heroine's songs were sung by a young lady who had also made her debut in playback singing in 1946 but till then had not made any significant headway in her career. The success of these films changed all that. The song 'Aayega aanewala' from Mahal soared to heights of till then unseen popularity. ( It remains an all time favourite even today ) The singer was ... Lata Mangeshkar. Lata went on to become the greatest playback singer the Indian screen has ever seen. Only two singers managed to survive the Lata onslaught in the 1950s. Shamshad Begam and Geeta Roy. Though relegated to the second spot, Geeta managed to hold her own against Lata for more than a decade and she and Lata were the premier two female playback singers of the 1950s.

By 1951, Geeta had become a singer well known for bhajans and weepy weepy sad songs. Jogan(1950 ) in fact had 12 solo bhajans sung by her! But 1951 also saw the release of a film, Baazi. Directed by first time director Guru Dutt, the film, a crime thriller influenced by the film noir movement of Hollywood was a trend setter of sorts, leading to a spate of urban crime films that Bollywood churned out in the 1950s. The jazzy musical score revealed a new facet to Geeta's singing. The sex appeal in her voice and the ease with which she went western was marvellous to behold. While every song in the film was a raging hit, one stood out for special appeal. 'Tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer' a ghazal that was occidentalized into a jazzy seductive song! From then on in the 1950s for a club dance or a seductive song, the first choice was Geeta. The song stood out fo rmore reasons than one. During the recording of the song she met the young director of the film, Guru Dutt. Thus blossomed a romance which culminated in marriage on 26 May,1953. Geeta went on to sing some of her best songs in her husband's films while continuing singing in various outside assignments as well. The couple had two sons Tarun and Arun and a daughter Nina.

However by 1957 the marriage had run into rough weather and was on the rocks. Guru Dutt had got involved with his new leading lady Waheeda Rehman. And it was ironic that Geeta the playback singer's voice was used on Waheeda Rehman the actress as she 'sang' sweet nothings to Guru Dutt. The breaking up of her marriage also began having repercussions on her career. To quieten things down Guru Dutt launched a film Gauri( 1957 ) with her in the lead. She was to be launched as a singing star and it was to be India's first film in cinemascope but the film was shelved after just a few days shooting. This was the time when one heard complaints from music directors about her not being easily available for either rehearsals or recordings. She neglected her riaz. And to make things worse she began finding solace in drinks.

On October 10, 1964 Guru Dutt passed away. Waheeda had gone out of his life. And Geeta and he could never really get back together. It is said his death due to an overdose of sleeping tablets in his drink was an accident but the cause of death remains a mystery. Geeta was a broken woman, shattered by his death. She now had neither her singing or her husband. Lata's younger sister, Asha Bhonsle, had not only taken her place but had gone beyond her. Geeta suffered a nervous breakdown. When she recovered she found herself in a financial mess. She did try to resume singing again, cutting discs at Durga Puja and giving stage shows , even doing a Bengali film, Badhu Bharan ( 1967 ) as heroine! But her health kept failing as she drank herself to a point of no return. She died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1972.

But not before she showed she still had it in her were she given a mike to sing. The songs of Basu Bhattacharya's Anubhav ( 1971 ), 'Meri jaan mujhe jaan na kaho meri jaan', 'Koichupke se aake' and 'Mera dil jo mera hota' represent some of the finest work that Geeta Dutt ever did. The first thing that strikes one when you hear Geeta Dutt sing was that she never sang. She just glided through a tune. Of all her contemporaries her musical training was perhaps the sketchiest but what she lacked in training and technique, she more than made it with her ability to breathe life and emotion into any song she was singing. In the recording room there was no matching Geeta's vivacity, vitality and spontaneity, her sense of rhythm unparalleled. Her capacity to be both sensual yet sensitive gives Geeta Dutt's voice a unique ethereal quality. Geeta Dutt scored heavily as a singer particularly when she sang under the baton of two music directors, S.D. Burman and O.P.Nayyar.

The S.D. Factor :

S.D. Burman was among the earliest to discover the magic in Geeta Dutt's voice. In 1947 with Filmistan's DoBhai. He persuaded the producer to give her a break. The producer being unsure of Geeta made a deal with S.D. Burman. She would record a song but it would be retained only after hearing the result. The song 'Humein chod piyakis desh gaye' was recorded and played back. The rest as they say is history. Even as it lead to Geeta becoming the foremost singer of the industry by 1951 she had found herself in a position where she was regarded good only for bhajans and sad songs. It took S.D.Burman's jazzy and westernized score for Baazi which showcased Geeta's versatility, her breezy voice. S.D. Burman effectively used the Bengali lilt in her voice memorably in films like Devdas and Pyaasa. Thesong 'Aaj sajan mohe ang lagalo' from t he latter is one of the finest examples of the Bengali kirtan put over on the Hindi screen. No female singer has better articulated the spirit of Burmanda's music in its early years. In fact in 1957, when he fell out with Lata, Burmanda was looking to make Geeta his main singer rather than the upcoming Asha Bhonsle. After all by then Geeta was a mature singer while Asha was still raw. But due to her troubled marriage Geeta was not free to practice in the style required by S.D.Burman who was a hard taskmaster in matter of rehearsals. He joined O.P. Nayyar in shaping Asha rather than wait for Geeta.

Some memorable songs sung by Geeta under S.D. Burman's baton are:

'Mera sundar sapna beet gaya' (Do Bhai - 1947 )
'Woh sapnewaali raat' (Pyaar - 1950 )
'Tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer' (Baazi - 1951 )
'Aan milo aan milo' (Devdas - 1955 ) with Manna Dey
'Aaj sajan mohe ang lagalo' (Pyaasa - 1957 )
'Hawa dhire aana' (Sujata - 1959 )
'Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam ' (Kaagaz ke Phool - 1959 )
Geeta sang 72 songs for Dada Burman of which 43 were solos. The last song she recorded for him was from the film Ziddi(1964), 'Main tere pyaar mein kya kya na bana dilbar.'

The O.P. Nayyar wave :

Geeta suited O.P. Nayyar's ebullient themes to a T. He developed the side of Geeta which had emerged with Baazi. Under his freewheeling baton Geeta developed into a really hep singer who could belt out any number - soft, sultry, happy, snappy, romantic, teasing or tragic. It was Geeta Dutt's rare gift that she could effervescently sing for both the doll and the moll. And it was O.P. who got Geeta to stop being overtly emotional in sad songs. O.P.'s comments on Geeta : " ..........Who will deny there is a unique quality to her singing. Give her a blatantly westernized tune this momentand a complex classical composition the next, and she will do equal justice to both with an ease of expression which a singer can only be born with. She is particularly good for songs accompanying boisterous jamborees. With that tantalizing lilt and fascinating curves she puts into her singing,she is the ideal choice if it is seductive allure you want in a song........Geeta Dutt is an asset to any music director. "
Some immortal gems sung by Geeta Dutt under O.P. Nayyar's baton :

'Zara saamne aa'( Baaz - 1953 )
'Babuji dhire chalna' (Aar Paar - 1954 )
'Thandi hawa kali ghata' (Mr. & Mrs 55 - 1955 )
'Jab badal lehraya' (Chchoomantar - 1956 )
'Mere zindagi ke humsafar' (Shrimati 420 - 1956 )
'Chor, lutere, daku'( Ustad - 1957 )
'Mera naan chin chin choo' (Howrah Bridge - 1958 )
'Kaisa jadoo balam tune dara' (12 o'clock - 1958 )

This is not to say that Geeta was any less effective with other music directors. The songs she has sung for Hemant Kumar in Anandmath ( 1952 ), Bahu ( 1954 ),Ek Jhalak ( 1957 ), Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam ( 1962 ) bear testimony to this. It's just that for the sheer volume and the scaleof popularity that the songs of S.D. Burman and O.P. Nayyar reached make them special in Geeta's oeuvre.

Rajkumari Dubey was just 10 years old when she recorded her first song for HMV in 1934. But she started her career as a stage artiste. She recounts, "Vijay and Shankar Bhatt of Prakash Pictures spotted me during one of my shows. They liked my voice and persuaded me to discontinue acting on stage, as it would spoil my voice. (In those days, there were no mikes and you had to shout to be heard!) So, I quit theatre and became an employee of Prakash Pictures, as an actress and singer.

My first film with them was a Hindi-Gujarati bilingual called 'Sansar Leela Nayi Duniya'. In those days, I often acted opposite Zakaria Khan (late actor Amjad Khan's father, whose screen name was Jayant). And I used to sing for popular music director, Lallubhai.

I began getting fed up with having to keep a watch on my figure and decided to stick to just singing as a career. After I quit Prakash Pictures, I started playback singing for actresses like Ratnamala, Shobhna Samarth, etc. I sang a lot of Gujarati and Punjabi songs.

I never really had the opportunity to learn singing. But was very good at picking up what my composers taught me. They thought I was a trained singer! My family has always supported me - when I was an actress and singer. I married very late in life. My husband was from Benares (UP), where he spent a lot of his time (because he owned a shop there), while I was settled in Mumbai. Of course, he joined me later.

I counted among my peers Shamshad Begum, Zohrabai, Juthika Roy, Zeenat Begum, etc. Our voices were very distinct - both Zohra and Shamshad had resounding voices with a high range, while mine was very soft with a smaller range. I sang quite a few songs with Mukesh, the most popular being 'Mujhe sach sach batado kya, ke kab dil mein samaye the'. I did not get much opportunity to sing with Mohammad Rafi - mainly because Lata Mangeshkar was just getting popular at the time and, then, all of us took a backseat. In 'Anhonee', I sang with Lata Mangeshkar - the song was 'Zindagi badli'. Nargis had a double role, so I sang for one, while Lata Mangeshkar sang for the other. I sang with Nurjehan in 'Naukar'. While I never sang with KC Dey, I did sing songs composed by him, along with Manna Dey, his nephew.

I am a great fan of KL Saigal and Nurjehan. I had occasion to sing with the former in 'Bhakt Surdas' and remember him as a very charming person. I have never understood why people criticised him for his drinking, etc. So what if he felt he couldn't sing without drinking? It was his personal choice. I remember him telling me, 'Rajkumari'ji', I want to take you with me when I go from this world.'

In 'Bawre Nain', while singing for Geeta Bali, she'd come up to me and say mischievously, 'Look at me - my actions - and sing accordingly.' She was so full of life. Kidar Sharma, the director, was one of the most talented men I've ever known. It was he who groomed Geeta Bali, Raj Kapoor, Mala Sinha and others. But from all his 'shishyas', I think only Geeta Bali managed to pick up the nuances of his teachings. Kidar Sharma had his own way of showing his appreciation. If he liked something you did, he'd give you a two 'anna' coin. And, in his entire life, he must have given the coin to just three people - Geeta Bali, Raj Kapoor and myself. He treated me with a lot of respect. I sang in his Raj Kapoor-Madhubala starrer 'Neelkamal', 'Bawre Nain' and several other films.

Courtesy :- Mr. Sajjad Qaddir