Top 3 composers of the golden era in Indian film music – part 2

In the ‘top 3 composers of the golden era – part 1’, I listed my two principal criteria for shortlisting top 3 composers:

‘Purity’ of composition – closer to the beauty of classical songs with murkis (gamakas or vocal curves), variations in tone and undulations. Stress is on how the notes are woven together into the tune.

‘Difficulty’ level of composition – as judged by the length of the tune and the variations involved.

Naushad was shortlisted among the top 3 composers based on the above two criteria. Another composer who meets the above two criteria is Madan Mohan. If Naushad’s compositions come closest to being the ‘perfect’ compositions in terms of purity, difficulty and the sheer beauty of composition, Madan Mohan also comes very close to this ‘perfection’. Naushad excelled in classical base, folksy touches and excellent orchestration. Madan Mohan’s music is marked by ‘soul’. There is a particularly endearing and soulful quality in his compositions, which make them mesmerizing. No wonder he was called the ‘King of ghazal like compositions’.

Madan mohan

Like Naushad’s tunes, Madan Mohan never broke up his tunes into short bits. His songs had ‘length’ of tune, which is the hallmark of a difficult to compose tune.

Great musical association

Madan Mohan developed a wonderful musical association with Lata. It appeared that Lata was born to sing his compositions. Madan Mohan made full use of the flexibility and range of Lata’s voice to create beautiful effects. Not only were his compositions ‘pure’ for Lata, they also challenged Lata to sing stretched notes with accentuation or to move between notes skillfully.

Lata’s 3 songs in Woh Kaun Thi (Naina Barse, Lag Jaa Gale, Jo hamne Dastan) stand out as perhaps the most soulful and haunting songs in film music. The lyrics in Lag Ja gale tug at your heartstrings. Madan Mohan’s orchestration, Lata’s magical voice and the sheer ebb and flow of Naina Barse rim jhim rim jhim are mesmerizing. I love the long antras and the way Lata stretches and moves effortlessly between notes in this song.

Soul and classical – a great combination

Also, listen to Woh Bhooli Dastan from Sanjog. This song has a haunting effect. Mohammad Rafi also sang many soulful numbers for Madan Mohan. I consider Rang aur noor ki from Ghazal as Rafi’s best for Madan Mohan.  Madan Mohan’s strong classical base is evident in all his songs. Notice how he repeats notes with fine variations in classical songs like Baiyyan na dharo from Dastak.madanmohan_1

The test of a music director is his longevity and consistency. I must admit I never heard a Madan Mohan song, that I can call as ‘below average’ for not displaying effort and skill in the composition. Even in the 1970s (after the golden era of 1950s and 1960s), Madan Mohan’s tunes were popular. He adapted himself to the world of Kishore Kumar and westernized orchestration. His songs in Parwana (where Amitabh played a ‘villain’ – negative character) were hits. So were his songs from Ek Mutthi Aasman, Hanste Zakhm and Mausam.

You can listen to 10 of his gems in the playlist below. Click on the song, close your eyes, get involved in the tune, the weaving of the notes, fine variations and undulations of Madan Mohan’s soulful music.

If you are in the USA or Canada, you can also enjoy some of these gems in the player below. The player automatically shuffles songs. It does not display the list of songs before hand (to retain an element of surprise). You can use the skip button as well a limited number of times, but I am sure you will not need the skip button for these gems.

A tip to enhance your listening pleasure: When listening to the songs in the player or playlist, if you want to browse further on this site or another one, open a new window for further browsing. You will continue enjoying Madan Mohan songs in the current window while you are browsing)


 Here is a list of my top 25 Madan Mohan songs.

  1. Milon na tumto – Heer Raanjha – Lata
  2. Kaun Aya Mere Man ke dware– Dekh kabira roya – A pure classical song sung beautifully by Manna dey
  3. sitarBaiyan na dharo – Dastak – A lovely ‘pure classical’ – notice how Lata’s voice moves between notes.
  4. Woh Bhooli Dastan – Sanjog – Unlike most of Madan Mohan’s tunes which have variations and undulations, this one is relatively ‘straighter’. You have to listen to this song in a closed room with full volume to enjoy the haunting melody.
  5. Rang aur noor ki baraat – Ghazal – Mohd Rafi caresses the Urdu lyrics lovingly. One of Madan Mohan’s best songs, the tune builds up beautifully and gradually into higher pitch towards the end.
  6. Naghma-o-sher – Ghazal
  7. Lag ja gale se – Woh kaun thi. Madan Mohan showed that you can create an unfogettable tune with hearttugging lyrics and the magic of Lata’s voice. With almost no percussion instruments, this song lingers in your heart as one of the most touching songs of all time with lots of feeling.
  8. Naina barse rim jhim – Woh kaun thi – The antra in this song is set to a ‘lengthy’ tune and Madan Mohan stretches Lata’s voice beautifully across notes. One of the most haunting songs of the golden era.
  9. Tu jahan jahan Chalega – Mera Saaya
  10. Nainon mein badara – Mera Saaya – A lovely classical song from Lata. Lata & Madan Mohan
  11.  Aap ki nazron ne samjha – Anpadh – Lata sang this beautifully. A song with no noticeable percussion, only pure melody all the way.
  12.  Basti Basti Parbat Parbat – Railway Platform – Mohd Rafi.
  13.  Main to tum sang nain milake – Man Mauji – Another example of how Lata’s range is showcased by Madan Mohan.
  14. Chayee barkha bahar – Chirag – Again, observe how Madan Mohan makes Lata stretch and accentuate a few notes to beautiful effect in this classical tune.
  15. Main Re Mai Kase kahoon – Dastak
  16. Teri Ankhon Ke Siva duniya – Chirag – Mohd Rafi
  17.  Aap Ke Pehloon Mein Akar – Mera Saaya – Mohd Rafi
  18. Jo hamne dastan  – Woh kaun Thi. This song completes the trio of soulful and haunting songs from the Madan Mohan and Lata combination.lata&madanmohan
  19. Tere aankh ke aansoo – Jahanara – A Talat Mehmood gem.
  20. Jana tha humse door –  Adalat
  21. Yun hasarato ke dagh – Adalat
  22.  Jiya Le gayo ji more sawariya – Anpadh – lovely classical based song.
  23. Jhumka gira re – Mera Saaya – Asha excels in this lively folk based song.
  24. Badli se nikla Chand – Sanjog – Lata
  25. Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil – Heer Raanjha – Mohd Rafi

I do not care whether he received awards or got due recognition for his work.  It is said that Naushad jumped up and hugged Madan Mohan when he heard some songs from Heer Raanjha. Only a ‘perfect’ composer like Naushad can recognize the greatness of another ‘perfect’ composer.

As a music fan, I admire the purity, perfection and the ‘soul’ he gave to music. My salutations to the King of ‘soulful’ music, whose mesmerizing music will live forever.

Note: You can click here to see “Top 3 composers of the golden era – part 3“.

You can also enjoy more songs of Madan Mohan among of medley of songs from the top 3 composers at Top 3 composers of the golden era – rationale & conclusion.

This entry was posted in Classical base in film music, Great music directors - Hindi, Hindi film music, Lata melodies, Madan Mohan, Top 3 composers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Top 3 composers of the golden era in Indian film music – part 2

  1. Pingback: Lata Mangeshkar-The Queen of Melody | coolone160

  2. rsbaab says:

    Great collection of Lata songs….Coolone! There is an endless list of great songs by Lata. Coming up with a top 10 list for Lata is extremely difficult. Apart from Madan Mohan, S D Burman also had several lovely unforgettable songs by Lata in the 1960s.

    • coolone160 says:

      Thanks! Choosing Lata’s 10 top songs is indeed a hard task. Lata and S.D. Burman collaboration has also delivered some truly timeless classics. Some of my favorite songs of them are-
      “Moraa Goraa Ang Lai Le ” from Bandini

      and “Chand Phir Nikla” from Paying Guest (1957)

      • rsbaab says:

        Yes…..these two are lovely songs. I also like Lata and SD Burman songs from Talash (melodious Ayega re udke mera), Ziddi (the lively Raat ka samaa), Abhimaan (the incomparable Ab to hai tumse).

  3. Rajeev says:

    Kindly let me know about other such remarkable observations

  4. Anonymous says:

    good & ,unforgetable music of S.D.Burmen which has to be written golden words only

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Yes. S D Burman is legendary and he carved a name and a place in history with his special brand of music. Many of his songs are unforgettable and could feature as ‘classics’.

  5. pravinrajpara says:

    Very nice all songs is super

  6. Rafiq Ahmad wani says:

    I vote for Madan Mohan in the three top most
    Music directors of Golden era of Bollywood
    JihanAara,who kuon their,Anpadh,sanjoog,cha cha zindabad,Bhai Bhai,mera saya,jailor,Adalat,

  7. KB says:

    During those days of golden era there were quite a few composers who despite their talent and performance could not get the same recognition. Two such composers of the golden era were Chitragupta and N Dutta. It was sad especially in the case of Chitragupta. He could not get big banners and the movies with which he scored the music did not do so well and hence his great scores could not be remembered. These two alongwith OP should be included in this list of top composers of golden era.

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Yes, I agree…..Chitragupt was a hugely talented composer who gave us some wonderful, evergreen songs during the golden era. There are some N Dutta songs also that are memorable. I will include these two names as well in the list of golden era composers who gave us evergreen songs.

  8. Yes..Madan Mohan ji is the most judicious choice / thanks / a pioneer, genius he gave us tuneful treasures, he almost shook Naushad ji with his composition ‘ ‘हे इसी में प्यार की अाबरू , वो जफ़ा करे तो में क्या करूँ ” film: अनपढ़ Naushad cried with joy and told Madan ji ” give me this composition and take back my whole musical work ” sadly you didn’t include the immortal song : तुम्हारी ज़ुल्फ़ के साये में शाम कर लुगां ” ( रफ़ी ) in the playlists..your write up is most lucid, accurate insight of our golden era of giant maestros..surely we miss them but they will never die कहाँ गये वो लोग ।।

    • RSBAAB Ravi says:

      Thank you Subashji for your comments. Yes, Tumhari zulfein ke saaye mein is a lovely song. I plan to write another post on Madan Mohan and will include a number of his memorable songs, that I did not cover in the Top 3 composers series.

  9. KB says:

    One lesser known aspect is that Madan mohan also excelled in composing duets although his solos are more discussed especially those by Rafi and Lata. His duets with Rafi and Talat and also Kishore were very breezy and melodious and remained in the memories for long. In fact he had brought out good duets with Mahendra Kapoor also.

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