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’.
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.
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.
- Milon na tumto – Heer Raanjha – Lata
- Kaun Aya Mere Man ke dware– Dekh kabira roya – A pure classical song sung beautifully by Manna dey
- Baiyan na dharo – Dastak – A lovely ‘pure classical’ – notice how Lata’s voice moves between notes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Naghma-o-sher – Ghazal
- 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.
- 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.
- Tu jahan jahan Chalega – Mera Saaya
- Nainon mein badara – Mera Saaya – A lovely classical song from Lata.
- Aap ki nazron ne samjha – Anpadh – Lata sang this beautifully. A song with no noticeable percussion, only pure melody all the way.
- Basti Basti Parbat Parbat – Railway Platform – Mohd Rafi.
- Main to tum sang nain milake – Man Mauji – Another example of how Lata’s range is showcased by Madan Mohan.
- Chayee barkha bahar – Chirag – Again, observe how Madan Mohan makes Lata stretch and accentuate a few notes to beautiful effect in this classical tune.
- Main Re Mai Kase kahoon – Dastak
- Teri Ankhon Ke Siva duniya – Chirag – Mohd Rafi
- Aap Ke Pehloon Mein Akar – Mera Saaya – Mohd Rafi
- Jo hamne dastan – Woh kaun Thi. This song completes the trio of soulful and haunting songs from the Madan Mohan and Lata combination.
- Tere aankh ke aansoo – Jahanara – A Talat Mehmood gem.
- Jana tha humse door – Adalat
- Yun hasarato ke dagh – Adalat
- Jiya Le gayo ji more sawariya – Anpadh – lovely classical based song.
- Jhumka gira re – Mera Saaya – Asha excels in this lively folk based song.
- Badli se nikla Chand – Sanjog – Lata
- 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.