One of the most admired actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, Vyjayanthimala was also known for her classical dance, being a trained Bharatnatyam exponent. Thus many of her songs had elaborate dance movements.
She was also known for her comic timing, which came across effectively in some songs. Like the other prominent actresses of that period, most of her hits were sung by Lata Mangeshkar. This list also has two brilliant duets featuring Asha Bhosle.
Vyjayanthimala’s 85th birthday is on August 13. Here are some huge hits, in chronological order.
1 Man Dole Mera Tan Dole – Nagin (1954)
Music director Hemant Kumar created the iconic ‘nagin’ tune where Kalyanji played the ‘been’ sound on clavioline and Ravi played the harmonium. Sung by Lata, it had Vyjayanthimala doing the snake dance. Lyricist Rajendra Krishan wrote, “Man dole mera tan dole, mere dil ka gaya karaar re, yeh kaun bajaaye bansuriya”.
2 Jise Tu Qabool Karle – Devdas (1955)
Another gem from Lata, this was picturised on Vyjayanthimala and Dilip Kumar. Music director S.D. Burman made wonderful use of the sarod, as Sahir Ludhianvi wrote, “Jise tu kabool karle, woh adaa kahaan se laaoon, tere dil ko jo lubha le, woh sada kahaan se laaoon”. This adaptation of Devdas was directed by Bimal Roy.
3 Ude Jab Jab Zulfein – Naya Daur (1957)
Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi sang this foot-tapping duet, and music director O.P. Nayyar’s tune was bewitching. While Vyjayanthimala and Dilip played the lead roles, the highlight was the group choreography using handclaps and paayals. Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the lyrics as a call-and-response interaction between the girl and boy.
4 Bol Ri Kathputli – Kathputli (1957)
Vyjayanthimala’s comic dancing, eye expressions and perfect timing were the highlights of this Lata song. Shankar-Jaikishen gave the music, and Shailendra wrote, “Bol ri kathputli dori kaun sang baandhi, sach batla tu naache kiske liye, baanwari kathputli dori piya sang baandhi, main naachoon apne piya ke liye”.
5 Aaja Re Pardesi – Madhumati (1958)
Salil Chowdhury composed this gem in raag Bageshri, with Lata singing Shailendra’s lines, “Aaja re pardesi, main toh kab se khadi is paar, yeh akhiyan thak gayee panth nihaar”. The song depicted longing through lines like “Main nadiya, phir bhi main pyaasi”. Vyjayanthimala and Dilip appeared against a backdrop of trees.
6 Dhoondo Dhoondo Re Saajna – Ganga Jumna (1961)
Dressed in orange, the heavily jewelled Vyjayanthimala danced her way in this outdoor number which had Dilip in brief appearances. Lata sang, “Dhoondo dhoondo re saajna, dhoondo re saajna, more kaan ka bala”. Sitar and bansuri featured prominently in this Naushad composition penned by Shakeel Badayuni.
7 Main Ka Karoon Ram – Sangam (1964)
This was actually a fun song, though the story was that Lata never liked it, but sang it only when Raj Kapoor convinced her it was clean. Hasrat Jaipuri wrote, “Main ka karoon Ram mujhe buddha mil gaya” to Shankar-Jaikishen’s tune. Vyjayanthimala changed her attire many times and her chemistry with Raj Kapoor was amazing. She also displayed her flair for comedy on this song.
8 Tere Husn Ki Kya Tareef Karoon – Leader (1964)
This great Rafi-Lata duet was filmed on Dilip and Vyjayanthimala. Naushad gave the music in raag Kalyan, and Shakeel wrote the unforgettable lines, “Tere husn ki kya tareef karoon, kuchh kehte hue bhi darta hoon, kahin bhool se tu na samajh baithe ki main tujhse mohabbat karta hoon”.
9 Kaise Samjhaoon – Suraj (1966)
This was one of Vyjayanthimala’s most memorable classical dance performances, with Rajendra Kumar playing the male lead. Shankar-Jaikishen composed this Rafi-Asha duet in Bhairavi, using a lot of classical nuances. Hasrat Jaipuri wrote the words which began, “Kaise samjhaoon, badi nasamajh ho”. The film also had the super-hit ‘Baharon Phool Barsao’ with the same stars.
10 Rula Ke Gaya – Jewel Thief (1967)
Lyricist Shailendra fell seriously ill after completing this song, and Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote the other songs in the film. Composed by S.D. Burman, it was sung by Lata whose voice was filled with pathos. Vyjayanthimala appeared on screen with Dev Anand. Shailendra’s lines were ‘Rula ke gaya sapna mera, baithi hoon kab ho savera”.
In this list, five songs featured Dilip Kumar. They were one of the leading pairs of the 1950s and 1960s, along with Raj Kapoor-Nargis. However, Vyjayanthimala also had hit songs with the other leading actors of that era. Whichever role she chose, she was perfection personified.