Tuesday, April 23, 2024

10 Ashok Kumar songs

In a career spanning six decades, Ashok Kumar had numerous memorable roles, first as hero and later as character actor. He also appeared in many great songs, sometimes as the main character and on other occasions, as one of the onlookers.

To mark his 21st death anniversary on December 10, we choose 10 songs filmed on him. Interestingly, he has given voice to four of them. The order is chronological.

1 Main Ban Ki Chidiya – Achhut Kanya (1936)

Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani starred in and sang this song composed by Saraswati Devi. Lyricist J.S. Kashyap wrote, “Main ban ki chidiya ban ke ban ban boloon re; Main ban ka panchchi ban ke sang sang doloon re”. The film, which addressed social discrimination, was one of the biggest super-hits in the pre-Independence era.

2 Dheere Dheere Aa Re Badal – Kismet (1943)

Ashok Kumar was paired opposite Mumtaz Shanti in this film which had music by Anil Biswas. While he sang the male part himself, Ameerbai Karnataki sang for the heroine. Kavi Pradeep wrote the words, “Dheere dheere aa re badal, mera bulbul so raha hai”.

3 Aayega Aanewala – Mahal (1949)

Everyone knows this as one of the early classics of Lata Mangeshkar. On screen, of course, the footage was dominated by Ashok Kumar, with Madhubala appearing only briefly. Music was by Khemchand Prakash and lyrics were by J. Nakshab. The song had a long intro before the main lines.

4 Babu Samjho Ishare – Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

The three brothers Ashok Kumar, Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar appeared in this fun song, set in an open-air vehicle on Mumbai’s streets. Music was by S.D. Burman with Majrooh Sultanpuri writing, “Babu samjho ishaare, ‘horan’ pukare, pam pam pam”. Kishore and Manna Dey were the singers.

5 O Re Maajhi – Bandini (1963)

S.D. Burman sang this in his inimitable style. Shailendra wrote, “O re maajhi, o re maajhi, o o re mere maajhi, mere saajan hai uspaar, main man maar, hoon is paar, o mere maajhi, ab ki baar, le chal paar, le chal paar”. Filmed on Ashok Kumar and Nutan, the song took place at the film’s end.



6 Poocho Na Kaise – Meri Surat Teri Aankhen (1963)

An absolute gem by Manna Dey, this was composed by S.D. Burman in raag Ahir Bhairav. Shailendra wrote the words, “Poocho na kaise maine rain bitaai, ek pal jaise, ek jug beeta, jug beete mohe neend na aayi”. Ashok Kumar was seen playing tanpura in the song.


7 Chhupa Lo – Mamta (1966)

In this wonderful duet, Hemant Kumar and Lata sang for Ashok Kumar and Suchitra Sen. Majrooh wrote, “Chhupa lo yoon dil mein pyaar mera, ke jaise mandir mein lau diye ki”. Music was by Roshan, and the voices of the singers complemented each other. The film also had the Lata gem ‘Rahen Na Rahen Hum’.


8 Rail Gaadi – Aashirwad (1968)

No list of Ashok Kumar songs would be complete without ‘Rail Gaadi’, whose racy tune and singing style were described as rap much before the genre came into being. Ashok Kumar sang the tune himself, with Vasant Desai providing the music and Harindranath Chattopadhyay writing the words. The song was filmed with children in a park.



9 Beqarar Dil – Door Ka Rahi (1971)

This song was filmed on Ashok Kumar, Tanuja and Kishore, who sang for his elder brother, and also composed the song. Sulakshana Pandit had her first big hit as a singer. Lyricist Irshad wrote, “Beqaraar dil, tu gaaye ja, khushiyon se bhare woh taraane, jinhe sunke duniya jhoom uthe, aur jhoom uthey dil deewane”.


10 Piya Bawari – Khubsoorat (1980)

Ashok Kumar was seen playing tabla and reciting bols in this song, which featured dance by Rekha and Shashikala. Asha Bhosle sang this beautifully, and music director R.D. Burman set the tune in raag Bihag. Gulzar wrote the words and the song was embellished by beautiful sitar and bansuri passages.

Obviously, 10 songs isn’t enough for an actor who appeared in so many great numbers. Besides these, there were commercial hits like ‘Do Bechare’ (Victoria No 203) and ‘Jab Bhi Koi Kangana Bole’ (Shaukeen). He also appeared briefly in ‘Aaiye Meherban” (Howrah Bridge), ‘Chalo Ek Baar’ (Gumrah) and ‘Na Jaane Kyon’ (Chhoti Si Baat’). We could go on adding to the list.


Narendra Kusnur
Narendra Kusnur is one of India’s best known music journalists. Born with a musical spoon, so to speak, Naren, who dubs himself Kaansen, is a late bloomer in music criticism. He was (is!) an aficionado first, and then strayed into writing on music. But in the last two decades, he has made up for most of what he didn’t do earlier.

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