My last song blog post was on the various ways in which music – especially classical music has been depicted in songs of the golden era. When I was shortlisting songs for the post, I noticed that quite a few of these songs were sung by Manna Dey (or Prabodh Chandra Dey, 1919-2013). There is no questioning the fact that he was par excellence in rendering classical raga based songs given his strong foundation in classical music. Unfortunately, he got typecast and several of his songs, at least in the early 1950s were for classical music based movies (e.g. Basant Bahar, 1956) or the historical/mythological ones (e.g. Kavi Kalidas , 1959). Another branch of the same genre was philosophical songs playing in the background egging the protagonist to fight all odds (e.g. Nirbal Se Ladai Balwaan Ki, Toofan Aur Diya, 1956). This makes one (falsely) infer that this was his forte.
Even when one lists his romantic duets, it is the usual suspects that find a place in the list – Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori, 1956), Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh (Shree 420, 1955), Tu Chhupi Hain Kahan (Navrang, 1959), Saanjh Dhali Dil Ki Lagi (Kala Bazar, 1960), Pyaar Hua Iqraar Hua (Shree 420, 1955), Zulfon Ki Ghata Lekar (Reshmi Rumal, 1961) and Masti Bhara Hain Sama (Parvarish, 1958). This made me explore other renditions of Manna Dey – the light hearted romantic duets – especially the lesser heard ones. I did quite a bit of research, skimming through almost 1300 songs to shortlist apt songs for this post. Many of the films are non-descript but the songs are hidden gems.
I shall present this post in two parts. I have excluded all qawwalis and classical music based duets – largely to make a point that Manna Dey was equally adept in singing light hearted romantic numbers. I have included six songs each of Lata and Asha. I have also incorporated two duets of Manna Dey with Usha Mangeshkar. All the songs are of the golden era.
Manna Dey’s lesser heard duets with Lata Mangeshkar
1) Aap Hue Mere Balam (Karodpati, 1961) Lyricist: Shailendra; Music Directors : Shankar Jaikishan. This is a melodious romantic duet – the only that Manna Dey sang in the movie. Picturized on Kishore Kumar and Kum Kum, this song is rather special because Manna Dey is singing for Kishore! The film was important for Shashikala who was the female lead. This was a movie produced by her husband Om Sehgal (a relative of the legendary singing star K.L.Sehgal). It took six years for the movie to be released and led to financial turbulence for Shashikala and her husband.
2) Pyaar Jagaanewala (Zara Bachke, 1959) Lyricist: Asad Bhopali; Music Director: Shaukat Dehlvi ‘Nashad’. This is a rather lesser known movie of Nanda, though it was released in the same year as Dhool ka Phool and Choti Behen, which established her as an actress to reckon with. The music of Nashad and the lyrics of Asad Bhopali are enthralling. This romantic duet also has a sad version which is a solo sung by Manna Dey. There is also a third truncated version of the song sung by Lata alone. The YouTube link below has all the three versions.This duet has great recall value and is quite hummable.
3) Din Albele Pyaar ka Mausam (Begunaah, 1957) Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri; Music Directors : Shankar Jaikishan. Though the video of this beautifully rendered duet of Manna Dey and Lata is not available, from the sound track one can make out that this is perhaps a song on a tonga. The rhythm of the galloping horse has been used in several songs, particularly by O.P.Nayyar.
This movie – a Kishore – Shakila starrer – has a lot of trivia worth mentioning. This movie was made in 1957 but barely 10 ten days after that, all the prints were destroyed because of a court order, as there was a violation of the copyright law. This movie was purportedly a plagiarized version of Knock on Wood (1954) – an American movie. However, recently the reels of this movie have been discovered by the National Film Archive of India. The movie was very unique because one of its songs sung by Mukesh – Ai Pyaase Dil Bezubaan – had Jaikishan playing the piano on screen. You can imagine how elated lovers of golden era film music are because of this treasure that has been unearthed. Efforts to trace the court judgement are on to get to the root of the controversy.
4) Woh Chand Muskaya (Aakhri Dao, 1958) Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Music Director: Madan Mohan. This is a lovely romantic duet praising the night sky. Madan Mohan’s music and Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics work magic. This song has an eerie resemblance to Yeh raat Bheegi Bheegi of the movie Chori Chori, which also incidentally is a very popular Lata – Manna Dey duet. Manna Dey and Lata have done full justice to the song. This film has several memorable songs, Humsafar Saath Apna Chhod Chale being my favourite song. What’s surprising is that Lata Mangeshkar who sang several of Madan Mohan’s compositions has only this song in the movie, with Asha singing the rest of them.
5) O Gori Aaja Gaddi Wich Baith Ja (Sapan Suhane, 1961) Lyricist: Shailendra; Music Director: Salil Chowdhury. I heard this song for the first time while researching for this post and fell in love with this. The lyrics are tongue in cheek. Sample this:
Tu jaise phulo wali dali goriye tu to hai, nazon ki pali gora rang jal jaye na na to main, phulo wali daali chhaliye na hu main nazon ki pali tu kisi aur ko bana
The lilting tune has the stamp of Salil Chowdhury all over it; it reminded me of Zulmi Sang Aankh Ladi (Madhumati, 1958). The high pitch of the song and the way the two singers handle it is marvellous. This movie had Balraj Sahni and Geeta Bali in lead roles. Geeta Bali looks adorable in this song.
6) Bole Yeh Dil Ka Ishaara (Santaan, 1959) Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri; Music Director: Dattaram Wadkar. This is a mellifluous, lilting melody composed by the less celebrated Dattaram Wadkar. The lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri are good but I do feel the following lines could have been more charitable to the heroine. I have discussed songs with such lyrics in my blog post Songs of Surrender.
Dil mein lagan teri sajan charnon mein tere ye jeevan mera
There were a few other songs that I had shortlisted but did not include in the interest of brevity. These include – Taar Taar Baj Raha (School Master, 1959), Pyaar Bhari Yeh Ghatein (Qaidi No.911, 1959) Bheegi Chandni, Chaayi Bekhudi (Suhaagan, 1964) and Mere Dil Mein Hain Ek Baat (Post Box No. 999, 1958).
Manna Dey’s lesser heard duets with Asha Bhosle
1) Bahon Ko Zara (Kabhi Andhera Kabhi Ujala, 1958) Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Music Director: O.P.Nayyar. Manna Dey did not sing many songs under O.P.Nayyar’s music direction. This is one of the rare duets where he did. Though the video of the song is not available, given the star cast, it appears that Manna Dey sang for Kishore Kumar yet again. Asha was anyway the first choice for O.P.Nayyar.
2) Bheegi Bheegi Hawa Shokh (Main Aur Mera Bhai, 1961) Lyricist: C.Arjun; Music Director: Jan Nisar Akhtar. This is a peppy and yet another rare duet of Asha and Manna Dey. C.Arjun, the music composer of this song is another underrated talent. But, if you listen to the songs of this movie, there would be no doubt that he had great calibre. The other song of the movie that I love is a Mukesh -Asha duet- Main Abhi Gair Hoon.
3) Kyun Dil Humko De dala (Pehli Raat, 1959) Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Music Director: Ravi. This is again one of Nanda’s early movie as the lead actress. The year 1959 witnessed several of her movies getting released. This peppy, playful duet has the unmistakable mark of music director Ravi. It reminds you of the tune of Neele Parbaton Ki Dhara which Ravi composed much later (for the movie Aadmi aur Insaan, 1969).
4) Thandi Thandi Yeh Hawa (Kya Yeh Bombai Hain, 1959) Lyricist: Noor Devasi; Music Director: Bipin Dutta. This Manna Dey – Asha number is a playful duet shot in a swimming pool and hence the thanda thanda paani. The lyrics of the song are quite amusing.
Hosh me aa jaaiye Majnu miyaan aaj se warna tum rahoge kisi kaam ke naa kaaj ke baat kijiye akal ki chhodo ye naadani chup se chale jaiye ji hogi meharbani
This duet has been composed by Bipin Dutta of the Bipin – Babul duo. Both Bipin and Babul began as Madan Mohan’s assistants. However, despite being talented, both could not get the recognition they deserved.
5) Ai Kaash Chalte Milke (Manzil, 1960) Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Music Director: S.D.Burman. This duet, like the others in the movie, is loveable, especially because of the screen presence of Dev and Nutan. The song has been composed as a playful duet with both voices complementing and supplementing each other’s half sung lines. The same has been done for another duet of the movie – Chupke Se Mile Pyaase Pyaase (Rafi – Geeta duet). This was a movie whose plot was about the struggles of a music director; hence three male voices – of Md.Rafi, Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey – have been used for Dev Anand’s songs. This is the only duet though that Manna Dey has sung in the movie.
6) Kali Anaar Ki ( Chhoti Behen, 1959) Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri; Music Directors: Shankar Jaikishan. This duet from Chhoti Behen, yet another Nanda starrer from 1959(😊) presents one of those rare occasions where Rehman can be seen running around trees! The duet by itself though apparently light hearted, actually speaks of commitment in love. These lines say it all:
Kar lo kabhi to hans ke do baate kaate kate na biraha ki ye raate aaoge jis din le ke baaraat de denge haathon mein ye haath kisi ke pyaar ko pyaar se sajaao jivan bhar kaa saath nibhaao o kali anaar ki na itna sataao pyaar karne ki koi reet bataao
Like in the case of Lata’s duets there were several other duets that I did not include : these include Mere Jeevan Mein Kiran (Talaq, 1958), Sagar Ka Jhilmil Pani (Begaana, 1963), Mujhko Sanam Tere Pyaar Ne (Flying Rani, 1959) and Naseeb Hoga Mera Meherbaan (Chalis Din, 1959; in this Manna Dey is a part of the chorus and only sings one line of the aalaap!)
Manna Dey’s lesser heard duets with Usha Mangeshkar
Music runs in the Mangeshkar family. Thus, Usha Mangeshkar too started singing at an early age. She has sung quite a few Hindi film songs as well. Here, I am listing two of her duets with Manna Dey, which are pretty rare.
1) Ja Re Ja Kahe Chhede Beimaan (Gunehgar, 1967) Lyricist: Akhtar Romani; Music Director; Vedpal Varma. Picturized on Bhagwan and Laxmi Chaaya(?), this is a fun duet. Both the music director and the lyricist though talented are not celebrated. Akhtar Romani wrote memorable songs for Hatimtai (1956) and Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1969).
2) Khile Phool Raah Mein (Aayee Phir Se Bahaar, 1960) Lyricist and Music Director Vedpal Varma. This duet is a rare gem. The movie is based on the theme of widow remarriage. Vedpal Varma once again proves his mettle not just as music director but this time as lyricist too.
This is the first part of this blog post which enlists Manna Dey’s lesser known (and heard) duets with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar. In the second part, I shall dwell on Manna Dey’s duets with Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur and Shamshad Begum.
I have tried to highlight the fact that Manna Dey was a very versatile singer and could sing any genre of music with great aplomb. Unfortunately, his classical raga based songs are highlighted as his forte. This blog post is an attempt to not just dispel this notion but to also flag his light hearted romantic duets – especially those which are lesser heard/known. I am sure there are more apart from those mentioned by me in this post. Please do feel free to add on.
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