Friday, 27 September 2013

United Colors of Separation

Today if you ask Salman Khan who was his initial voice, it might take him a while to recall the name of S P Balasubramanium. By the time, Salman came into acting, one hero one playback voice concept had long been over. Still, it seemed, SPB had finally got a superstar face on screen to boost his career with Salman. Together they gave hits like Maine Pyar Kiya, Sajan, Love, Dil Tera Aashiq and Hum Aapke hai kaun- but that was it. Salman took a break for couple of years and when he made a re-entry with Judwaa(1997), he was a different Salman altogether. SPB-Salman can safely be termed as the terminal combination of the concept of one hero-one voice.

But there was a time, when Shammi Kapoor wanted only Rafi, Rajesh Khanna vouched for only Kishore and Raj Kapoor would never sign without Mukesh(or, Manna De at best). There were also some type of heroes who never cared who the playback was- Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar spent bulk of their career giving lips to right from Mahendra Kapoor to Bhupinder. And there was a third lot, who started with one particular voice and then with the change of times, immediately shifted to another.

Majority of Shammi Kapoor hits in the 50s were rendered by Talat Mehmood. Talat was for quite a long time Shammi’s voice till “Tumsa Nahi Dekha” happened. It is not that Rafi did not playback for Shammi before Tumsa Nahi Dekha, but the extent of Talat’s contribution was far higher. But, with a clean shaven cleared moustache and more youthful resurrected Shammi from Tumsa Nahi Dekha, only Rafi could do justice to the image. So, it was a Bye Bye for Talat henceforth from Shammi, and welcome Rafi for good.

Shailendra Singh created quite a sensation as the playback for young Rishi Kapoor with Bobby. He continued for some more years with movies like Rafoo Chakkar, Zehreela Insaan, Khel Khel Mein etc. But, then, with Laila Majnu and Hum Kisise Kum Nahi- Rishi Kapoor swiftly shifted to the more matured voices of Mohd Rafi and Kishore Kumar by the late 70s. While Rafi catered to the romantic Rishi in Amar Akbar Anthony, Karz and Sargam; exuberant Kishore gave chartbusters in Hum Kisise Kum Nahi, Karz, Jhutha Kahin Ka etc. Shailendra was there for Rishi, pitching in intermittently in Zamane ko Dikhana Hai and Sagar, but the good old days were all but over.

There was also Biswajeet, who started off his career by giving lips to the hit songs of Hemant Kumar. Bees Saal Baad, Kohra and Bin Badal Barsaat. But those were the stories of Black and White Biswajeet. With the colour era, Biswajeet turned swanky with rock and roll numbers of Rafi under the tunes of Shankar Jaikishen and O P Naiyyar. Between 1965-1970, Biswajeet carefully left his “Bhadralok” Bengali Babu image with Hemant Kumar songs behind and turned into a hip-hop hero with a good female following as well!!

 The first 5 movies of Rajesh Khanna- Aakhri Khat, Raaz, Baharon Ke Sapne, Doli and Aurat- had all of them with Mohd Rafi as his voice, just like any other hero those days. His 6th and 7th movies- Aradhana and Do Raaste- also had Rafi singing for him. The problem was in the last mentioned movies, the Kishore songs made super heavy impact and within a couple of years, although Rafi kept on singing intermittently for him throughout, Kishore-Rajesh combo became a Nationwide phenomenon.

Regarding lapse in association, coming out of hero-singer discussion, there were some worth mentionable instances in other combos as well. Director- Music Director: Well, as a director-producer, Raj Khosla was never ditched by the melodies of Madan Mohan. In fact, Woh Kaun Thi and Mera saaya might just qualify to be the best musical soundtracks of Khosla’s career. Just when the things were looking bright, Khosla suddenly changed his preference and shifted to Laxmikant Pyarelal in Do Raaste, never to return to Madan again.

 Lyricist- Music Director: We all know why S D Burman and Sahir never worked together post-Pyasa. But, who had the advantage at the end of the day? Don’t know about others, but Guru Dutt, definitely considered keeping SD in the camp to be more important.

Music Director-Singer: Chain se humko kabhi aapne jeene na diya, O P Nayyar’s last composition for Asha Bhosle ironically, told his own feeling towards the singer, perhaps.


  1. Very illuminating article Arghya da. I too am a huge fan of the golden era with Kishore Kumar being my perennial favorite singer....although Rishi Kapoor got the creme-de la-creme from Kishore da while Rafi saab also contributed nicely for him thanks to Laxmikant-Pyarelal in AAA,Sargam,Karz,Do Premee,Deedar-e-Yaar (Laila Majnu being an exception)...Rishi always considered Shailendra Singh as his true voice...because in the programme Evergreen voices on CNN-IBN there was a Shailendra Singh special where SS had mentioned that, "One day Rishi came to meet me and gifted me with a cup where it was written "You are my soul"... Cheers and looking forward to more beautiful articles from you.


  2. Nice article Arghya bondhu...I guess that day by chance we were discussing about voices for heroes on whatsapp which may have prompted you to elucidate here further.. :)))

    Whatever you have mentioned i absolutely concur...But i believe our source of topic was Dev saab...As we discussed, you could have mentioned here that Dev saab was one hero even in THOSE TIMES who was not beholden to one particular singer...Somehow i still relate Salman khan with SPB if you ask me, since i grew up in childhood listening to 90s or late 80s songs which still has some affinity mark left on me...

    One aspect i felt you could illuminate for your next article more ( subsequent edition of this article) can be shifting loyalties on music composers!!! I believe shifting voices is more discussed, but shifting loyalties with MD's is a little less discussed...


    ABHINISH KALE... :))

    1. Yes, right Abhinish, thinking were pretty much in the line of discussion we had on Whatsapp. Shifting loyalty is an age-old issue and for MD-Singer there are many bitter-sweet stories in the industry. Surely will delve some of them in future. Thanks again.

  3. Arghya Da, your article on Kishore Kumar-Shankar Jaikishan has become extremely popular. I want you to please visit the blog Songs Of Yore and the article, "Rafi's best songs by SD", and scroll down to the comment no. 37 written by one Mr. K R Vaishampayan where he has praised that article.

    Also in that blog you'll find various articles to your liking on the golden era and its singers. It has SD Burman's association with all the singers and their best songs with him. As usual, the same Rafi-Kishore debate is going on about who sang better for Karta and who was his favorite. Please read the articles in that blog and I'm quite sure you'll love it.


  4. Thanks Udit for bringing this to my notice here. Many thanks from my side. I find these discussions mundane nowadays, SD composed different sets of melodies for Rafi and Kishore at different times, and to jump on to conclusion without delving deep is immaturity IMHO, which many of the people involved there did. Given time, would surely try to do a better researched(musically) thesis on that topic in my blog in future. Cheers...

  5. Dada, you are right in your observations. Sachin Da was perhaps the only music director who composed equally great songs for Rafi Saab and Kishore Da without compromising on the melody factor which remained intact till the very end and that's why he remained at the top till his death while his contemporaries (OP,Naushad, SJ) vanished into oblivion (which you know very well and I am too small a person, both in age and knowledge in front of you to write all this). OP's best album of the 70s is Ek Baar Muskura Do and Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye, while Naushad never looked beyond Rafi. Shankar found difficult to cope up due to Jaikishan's death. Even Ravi's best work of the 70's was Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka (dominated by Kishore). Sachin Da knew well how to adapt with the changing times and his genius son inherited this trait from him.

    Also can you please write an article in due course about Kishore Da's association with different heroes as the fickle media has stereotyped him with RD and Dev-Rajesh-Amitabh. It would be grateful of you


  6. Arghya Da, given below are the URL links of Shammi Kapoor unplugged where Shammiji talks about his association with 'other' singers apart from Rafi saab and some interesting facets about them. I think you have seen these videos and know these songs: (the last one is capital I not L) (capital I)


  7. The great Manna Dey has passed away...a sad day for indian film music...R.I.P Manna Da