Hummed through the ages, Hindi film duets are a soundtrack for the lovestruck. Narendra Kusnur picks – with difficulty – a shortlist.
Over the years, hundreds of successful duets have been released. There have been various permutations and combinations of playback singers, and each song has had a charm of its own.
To shortlist only 20 duets is obviously an extremely difficult task. Every listener will have his or her own favourite songs, singers and music directors. As such there is nothing like a 20 greatest duets list.
Thus, we chose 20 songs that have been successful during the period between 1950 and 2000. Most of these are the writer’s personal favourites, and as such, the list is subjective. Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar find greater representation, and if some music directors get missed out, it wasn’t deliberate. The list is chronological.
1. Seene Mein Sulaghte Hai Arman – Tarana (1951)
Though Talat Mahmood’s solo gems dominated his compilations, fans loved his duets too. This one, sung with Lata Mangeshkar, was filmed on Dilip Kumar and the gorgeous Madhubala. Anil Biswas composed the music and Prem Dhawan began, “Seene mein sulaghte hain armaan, aankhon mein udaasi chhaayi hai”.
2. Jaane Kahaan Mera – Mr & Mrs 55 (1955)
A marvellous ditty picturised on Johnny Walker and the beautiful Yasmin aka Vinita Bhatt, it was sung by Mohammed Rafi and Geeta Dutt. OP Nayyar provided the music, with Majrooh Sultanpuri writing, “Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji, abhi abhi yahin tha kidhar gaya ji”.
3. Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua – Shree 420 (1955)
One of the most famous duets of its time, Lata and Manna Dey sang, “Pyaar hua ikraar hua hai, pyaar se phir kyon darta hai dil, kehta hai dil rasta mushkil, maloom nahin hai kahan manzil”. Music was by Shankar-Jaikishen and lyrics were by Shailendra. Raj Kapoor and Nargis were on screen in this rain song.
4. Nain So Nain – Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955)
This was shot with Sandhya and Gopi Krishna at the Vrindavan Gardens near Mysore. The brilliant Vasant Desai gave the music and Hasrat Jaipuri wrote the words. Lata was joined by Hemant Kumar whose distinct voice gave the song its own charm.
5. Hum Aapki Aankhon Mein – Pyaasa (1957)
This was an unforgettable dream sequence with Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha doing a waltz. Rafi and Geeta Dutt combined on this tune composed by S.D. Burman and written by Sahir Ludhianvi. The mukhda was, “Hum aapki aankhon mein is dil ko basa de toh, hum moond ke palkon ko is dil ko sajaa dein toh”.
6. Abhi Na Jaao – Hum Dono (1961)
A classic composed by Jaidev, this was written by Sahir in a nazm format, continuing from the opening line “Abhi na jaao chhod kar ke dil abhi bhara nahin”. Rafi and Asha Bhosle lent their voices to Dev Anand and Sadhana. In his career, Dev Anand was associated with numerous duets and this was just one of the favourites.
7. Deewana Hua Baadal – Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)
Sharmila Tagore made her Hindi film debut with this film, co-starring Shammi Kapoor. Rafi was joined after two minutes by Asha, with OP Nayyar providing the music and SH Bihari writing the words. Like Dev Anand, Shammi had a number of duets filmed on him, with different heroines.
8. Saawan Ka Mahina – Milan (1967)
This was filmed on Sunil Dutt and Nutan, with the evergreen Mukesh and Lata singing. Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s tune was written by Anand Bakshi, who used the word ‘sor’ instead of ‘shor’ after hearing someone speak at a paan shop. The coordination between the singers was amazing.
9. Mera Pyaar Bhi Tu Hai – Saathi (1968)
Mukesh and Suman Kalyanpur teamed up in this song filmed on Rajendra Kumar and Vyjayantimala. Naushad composed the music, but instead of his regular partner Shakeel Badayuni, this one was written by Majrooh. The opening lines were, “Mera pyaar bhi tu hai, yeh bahaar bhi tu hai, tu hi nazron mein jaan-e-tamanna”.
10. Baagon Mein Bahaar Hai – Aradhana (1969)
From 1969 to 1974, a number of duets were filmed on superstar Rajesh Khanna, who also had many solo hits. This was one of the early duets, sung by Rafi and Lata, with Farida Jalal as co-star. SD Burman gave the music, and a highlight was the ‘na na na’ section. Anand Bakshi wrote the lyrics.
11. Tere Mere Milan – Abhimaan (1973)
Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film about two singers ended with this brilliant duet by Kishore Kumar and Lata. Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri were the stars. S.D. Burman was the music director, and Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote, “Tere mere milan ki yeh raina, naya koi gul khilayegi, tabhi toh chanchal hai tere naina, dekho na”.
12. Waada Karle Saajna – Haath Ki Safai (1974)
The dashing Vinod Khanna was teamed with Simi Garewal on this hit sung by Rafi and Lata. Kalyanji-Anandji gave the music with Gulshan Bawra writing, “Waada karle sajana tere bina main na rahoon, mere bina tu na rahe, ho ke judaa, yeh waada raha”.
13. Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi – Aandhi (1975)
On this Kishore-Lata duet, RD Burman used the same tune as his own Bengali song ‘Jete Jete Pothe Holo’. Gulzar wrote the words which began “Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa toh nahin, shikwa nahin, shikwa nahin, tere bina zindagi bhi lekin zindagi toh nahin, zindagi nahin, zindagi nahin”.
14. Ek Main Aur Ek Tu – Khel Khel Mein (1975)
As a pair, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh had a large number of duets. This one had Gulshan Bawra writing “Ek main aur ek tu, dono mile is tarah, aur jo tan man mein ho raha hai, yeh toh hona hi tha”. RD Burman’s composition was known for its lilt and strong rhythms. Kishore and Asha sang this song.
15. Dil Dhoondta Hai – Mausam
This was a Madan Mohan composition sung by Bhupinder and Lata. Gulzar was inspired by a Mirza Ghalib line to write, “Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din, baithe rahe tassavur-e-jaana kiye hue”. Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore appeared on screen. The film was dedicated to Madan Mohan, who passed away five months before its release.
16. Jaaneman Jaaneman – Chhoti Si Baat (1976)
A beautifully sung duet by Asha Bhosle and Yesudas, this featured Vidya Sinha and Amol Palekar. Yogesh wrote the lines “Jaaneman jaaneman tere do nayan, chori chori leke gaye dekho mera man, jaaneman, jaaneman”. Music was by Salil Chowdhury.
17. Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye – Silsila (1981)
Lata Mangeshkar sang and Amitabh recited poetry on this song filmed on Rekha and Amitabh. Music was by Shiv-Hari and Javed Akhtar wrote the words, including the spoken line “Main aur meri tanhai, aksar yeh baate karte hain”. Lata sang, “Yeh kahaan aa gaye hum, yunhi saath saath chalte, teri baahon mein hai jaanam, meri jism-o-jaan pighalte”.
18. Ae Mere Humsafar – Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
This film had some melodious songs, and provided a big boost for Udit Narayan’s career. Here, he was joined by Alka Yagnik on Anand-Milind’s tune. Majrooh wrote, “Ae mere humsafar, ek zara intezaar, sun sadayein de rahi hai, manzil pyar ki”.
19. Tu Hi Re – Bombay (1995)
Already a big name in Tamil cinema, AR Rahman made a presence in Hindi films through the songs of Roja and Bombay. ‘Tu Hi Re’ was a duet by Hariharan and Kavita Krishmurthy. Mehboob began with the lines, “Tu hi re, tu hi re, tere bina main kaise jeeyoon, aaja re, aaja re, yun hi tadpa na tu mujhko”.
20. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
Alka Yagnik sang for both Kajol and Rani Mukherjee, and Udit Narayan sang for Shah Rukh Khan. Sameer’s lines “Kya karoon haaye kuch kuch hota hai” were hummed all over. Jatin-Lalit provided the music, and the song symbolised the sound of the late 1990s.