One overlooks the gems he created for the top female singers of the 1940s and 1950s by Narendra Kusnur
When one talks of legendary music director Naushad, one immediately remembers a string of Mohammed Rafi hits, including ‘Man Tadapat’ in Baiju Bawra and ‘Madhuban Mein Radhika’ in Kohinoor. At times, one overlooks the gems he created for the top female singers of the 1940s and 1950s.
On his 101st birth anniversary on December 25, we chose 10 such classics he composed for the likes of Lata Mangeshkar, Noorjehan, Suraiya and Shamshad Begum. Of course, he worked sparingly with Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt.
Unless mentioned otherwise, most of the songs were written by Shakeel Badayuni, whose equation with Naushad was special. The list is chronological.
1 Akhiyan Mila Ke – Rattan (1944)
As a soundtrack, Rattan was Naushad’s first big hit, coming four years after his independent debut Prem Nagar. Here, he used the voices of Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnataki and Manju, besides actor Karan Dewan. D.N. Madhok wrote the lines “Akhiyan mila ke, jiya bharma ke, chale nahin jaana”, and the song was a rage.
2 Jawaan Hai Mohabbat – Anmol Ghadi (1946)
One of Noor Jehan’s gems, this was one of the highlights of the hit film Anmol Ghadi, along with ‘Awaaz De Kahan Hai’ and ‘Aaja Mere Barbaad Mohabbat Ke Sahare’. Suraiya and Surendra also sang in the film, which had lyrics by Tanwir Naqvi. The main lines were “Jawaan hai mohabbat, haseen hai zamaana, lutaya hai dil ne, khushi ka khazana”.
3 Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon – Dard (1947)
An early super-hit for the Naushad-Shakeel combine. this was sung by Uma Devi. also known as comedy star Tun Tun. The film also starred Shyam Kumar, Nusrat and Munnawar Sultana. The opening lines were, “Afsana likh rahi hoon, dil-e-beqarar ka, ankhon mein rang bhar ke, tere intezar ka”.
4 Tu Mera Chand Main Teri Chandni – Dillagi (1949)
Beautiful actress Suraiya sang eight songs in the film, but her ‘Tu Mera Chand, Main Teri Chandni’ with Shyam was the biggest hit. The song had wonderful flute passages and title line was continued by Shakeel’s “Main tera raag, tu meri ragini, nahin dil ka lagana koi dillagi, koi dillagi”.
5 Milte Hi Ankhen Dil Hua – Babul (1950)
A wonderful duet by Shamshad Begum and Talat Mahmood, picturised on Munnawar Sultana and Dilip Kumar, seen playing a grand piano. Naushad and Shakeel combined again, and the opening lines were, “Milte hi aankhen dil hua deewana kisika, afsana mera ban gaya afsana kisi ka”.
6 Mohe Bhool Gaye Sawariya – Baiju Bawra (1952)
Naushad did many great numbers with Lata Mangeshkar and by 1952, she was the leading female playback singer. In Baiju Bawra, the composer created songs based on classical raags. This one in raag Bhairav was picturised on Meena Kumari. Shakeel penned the words.
7 Duniya Mein Hum Aaye Hai – Mother India (1957)
Shakeel’s immortal words were “Duniya mein hum aaye hain toh jeena hi padega, jeevan agar zehar hai toh peena hi padega”. Picturised on Nargis, it was sung by Lata with her sisters Meena and Usha Mangeshkar. Naushad’s tune was filled with sadness.
8 Teri Mehfil Mein – Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
Styled around the qawwali form, this was picturised on the gorgeous Madhubala and Nigar Sultana. Sung by Lata and Shamshad Begum with a chorus, it had Shakeel’s words “Teri mehfil mein kismat aazmakar hum bhi dekhenge, ghadi bhar ko tere nazdeek aakar hum bhi dekhenge”. The film had the other Lata gems ‘Mohe Panghat Pe’ and ‘Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya’.
9 Mujhe Huzoor Tumse – Son Of India (1962)
In one of her few appearances with Naushad, Geeta Dutt sang this song that had a strong jazz-meets-waltz backdrop with horns, accordion, violin and electric guitar. The song was set in a restaurant, and Shakeel wrote, “Mujhe huzoor tumse pyaar hai, tumhi pe zindagi nisaar hai”. Starring Kamaljit, Sajid Khan, Kumkum and Simi Garewal, the film flopped, despite the hit song ‘Nanha Munna Rahi Hoon’.
10 Saawan Aaye Ya Na Aaye – Dil Diya Dard Liya
Compared to Lata, Asha Bhosle did far fewer songs with Naushad, including the films Amar and Ganga Jumna. But this duet with Rafi in Dil Diya Dard Liya, featuring Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rahman, was a beauty, building from a long instrumental passage to sheer vocal melody in raag Brindabani Sarang. Shakeel was the lyricist again, and yes, one couldn’t avoid Rafi in any Naushad list.
While Naushad was known for his use of classical raags and other Indian styles like folk and qawwali, some of his songs also had some striking western arrangements. He was a truly versatile artist.