Naushad’s music has many dimensions. Over the years, people have associated his music with classical base, purity and of course, chart busting popularity.
Indian film music encompasses several genres. However, two genres stand out as dominant pillars (among others) in Hindi film music (especially the pre 1970s music). One genre is based on classical traditions and the other on folk traditions. Classical music tends to be more intellectual and perhaps more ‘metro’ or urban in nature. However, folk music appeals to all tastes and is extremely popular among rural as well as urban folk. We are indeed blessed to have these two strong traditions enriching our film music. Naushad straddled these two pillars of classical and folk base like a giant and rode to the pinnacle of popularity during the 1940s, 50s and to some extent in the 60s as well.
With Rattan, he showcased the immense appeal of folk music very early in his career. In later years as well, he created a number of lively songs with a folk base and flavor that make them easy on the lips as well as ears. Even when a song has a classical base, he introduced elements of folk. One never knew where the classical ended and the folk began. He created two important milestones in Hindi film music – Rattan for folk music and Baiju Bawra for classical music. A common feature across most of his lively songs is a fine blend of rhythm and melody. The blend of melody and rhythm makes his songs flow in waves with the melody synchronized to go up and down in tandem with the rhythm. As a result, dances on the screen fit perfectly to the tune and are graceful, smooth and easy flowing like the tune they are based on.
This post is devoted to the multitude of lively songs that he composed through the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I have deliberately emphasized the word lively. By lively, I do not mean only songs that celebrate joy or abandon. I mean songs that have a (relatively) lively and attractive pace when compared to slow, brooding songs. Some of his lively songs may actually be sad situations. But the songs may be lively with a relatively fast tempo or with lyrics, expressions or situations that appear cheerful!. For example, Afsana likh rahi hoon (Dard) is actually a sad situation but the song canters along at an attractive pace, much like any other joyful song.
Enjoy 25 of these lively songs on the player below. You can skip a few songs, if required. On repeated plays, the player automatically shuffles songs. Click on the play arrow below and enjoy!
(The player stops playing when you click the back button or go to another link on this page or somewhere else. This happens because the player is embedded on this page. To listen to these songs without any break, open another window after clicking the play arrow on the player. If you want to browse further on this site or another site, use the newly opened window. The player will keep playing the songs as you browse in the new window).
Among the music directors of his era, Naushad spent a lot of time in mastering the finer points of instrument arrangements and overall orchestration. He experimented with western styles in Jadoo and brought in beautiful instrumentation in films like Dillagi, Dard and Uran Khatola. Uran Khatola is notable for many innovative and appealing features of Naushad’s music. Mere salaam le jaa is composed as a western song with western harmony and rhythm. Above all, notice the beautiful use of chorus singing in choir style (one chorus section singing the refrain, the other chorus section singing in choir style). He was also very innovative by using only chorus in Mere Saiyyanji in the musical interludes. There are no instruments at all! The overall appeal of song is enhanced many times with the use of western style chorus humming that blends beautifully with the Indian folk style ‘Haiyya ho’. Naushad was among the few music directors who mastered western style notation. He experimented with new techniques of recording in Aaj mere man me (Aan). He is also credited with introducing the combination of flute and clarinet as well as mandolin and sitar. And who can forget the heavenly sounds of the flute in Mela and Dillagi? Just listen to Leke dil chupke se (Dillagi) and immerse yourself in the sweet sounds of the flute.
A perfectionist to the core, Naushad used percussion instruments beautifully. Notice the lovely rhythm of tabla and dholak that blends beautifully into the melody in Umango ko sakhi (Amar). And whenever I hear Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiyya (Mother India), I cannot stop admiring the beautiful roll of folk drums that elevates this lovely composition to an outstanding one.
Naushad never stopped experimenting and innovating. During the 1960s, Saathi marked a milestone in his career for songs that sounded totally different. He used western concepts of counterpoint beautifully in Mera pyaar bhi tu hai, among many other experiments in this song. (Counterpoint means playing two or more instruments simultaneously, with each instrument playing in different patterns, shapes or melodies).
He continued his innovative and experimental use of instruments in the 1970s as well. Rafi sang Ye naiyya meri beautifully in My Friend. This is the same tune that is heard many times as the background instrumental music of Pakeezah (Songs composed by Ghulam Mohammed and title, background music by Naushad). In fact, I found the background music to be more attractive than Mohammed Rafi’s Yeh naiyya meri. Pakeezah was a high point in Naushad’s skills in orchestration and background music. There are several attractive thumris in the background. However, Lata’s aalap in the title music, which is repeated throughout the movie, is hauntingly beautiful and is the highlight of his music. Even in a period film like Pakeezah, he used guitars and other modern instruments to superb effect to capture the dreams and yearning of Meena Kumari. In later posts as well, I will highlight more experimental and lovely arrangements by Naushad.
Naushad’s sprightly solos (some folk based, some simple and delightful numbers) feature a number of singers ranging from Zohrabai, Suraiyya, Uma Devi, Noor Jehan, Shamshad Begum and of course Lata Mangeshkar. Jawan hai Mohabbat (Anmol ghadi) is perhaps top of the list in sprightly solos. This solo set the standard for many generations to come for such lively songs. Uma Devi (who later became popular on the screen as Tun Tun) had a limited range. But Naushad made the best use of Uma Devi’s voice in the chartbuster Afsana likh rahi hoon (Dard) as well as in the lively Kahe jiya dole (Anokhi Ada). Suraiyya was given a break by Naushad and sang many lively and popular numbers for Naushad including Dil dhadke (Dard). Lata, of course, had the lion’s share of solos with Naushad. Kari badariya (Aadmi) is a lovely Lata solo that uses folksy lyrics in a classical base song.
Naushad laid particular emphasis on the lyrics and made the best use of Shamshad Begum’s impeccable diction in songs from Dulari like Chandni Ayee and Na bol pee. He brings back all our childhood memories of patangs and dheel in the delightful Meri pyari patang (Dillagi) that Shamshad sang with Uma Devi. And in the mukhda of Nazar mil gayee (Anokhi Ada), he brings out the coyness from Shamshad Begum’s strong voice and crystal clear tone.
Another admirable dimension of Naushad’s music is his use of chorus. In Uran Khatola, I showcased his use of the chorus with western styles of singing in two songs. There are also many other Indian style songs where the chorus is either a highlight or used with remarkable effects. Pyar kiya to darna kya (Mughal-e-Azam), the iconic song featured chorus that accompanied the visuals of a dancing Madhubala in multiple mirrors. This remarkable use of chorus made the song an unforgettable one. Apart from this defiant chart buster song from Mughal-e-Azam, observe the lovely use of chorus in two songs with a strong Indian touch – Ghar aaya mehman (Uran Khatola) and Udhi Udhi chaayee (Amar). The chorus sections are not mere repetitions of the main vocals. The chorus often sings a tune that is different from the main vocals as in Udhi Udhi chayee and integrates beautifully into the main melody.
Many of us may believe that creative powers of an artist may decrease with age. Naushad clearly is an exception. Around the ripe age of 84, he composed songs and background music that in relative terms (compared to other songs in those years) stand out for pleasant and novel orchestration and a simple and attractive flow. Taj Mahal – the eternal love story, released in 2005 featured a lovely qawwali, Ishq ki dastaan with Kavita Krishnamurthy and Preeti Uttam singing beautifully, accompanied by the traditional chorus in a qawwali. Even after many years in hibernation after his peak years, Naushad showed that age has not dimmed his enthusiasm and creativity.
Naushad’s music carries a strong flavor of folk music from UP, Rajasthan, Punjab and other parts of the northern belt. Rattan was a super hit and its folksy music became the craze all over the country. One of the reasons for such popularity was Naushad’s use of singers with a folksy twang like Zohrabai Ambalawali. Her Akhiyan milake is hugely popular even today. Of course, in later years, Naushad employed mainstream singers like Rafi and Lata for folk songs like Tan rang lo (Kohinoor). It needed all the professional skill and talents of a singer like Rafi to sing Nain lad jaihen re (Ganga Jamuna) in a chaste local dialect.
Naushad seemed to compose his songs with loving care. Being a perfectionist, he created songs that caressed the lyrics lovingly. Some of his songs were unhurried, languid spending a lot of time in bringing out the best in lyrics with an easy flow. As a result of this unhurried style, a number of his songs were graceful apart from being easy for the ears. Observe the two Dilip Kumar piano based numbers in Andaz (1949) and Ram aur Shyam (1967). Both Jhoom Jhoom ke (Andaz) and Aaj ki raat (Ram aur Shyam) seem to flow easily, lazily without any hurry whatsoever. His musical interludes also had the same unhurried and smooth, caressing flows. Lata’s Jogan ban jaaongi (Shabab) also seems to flow gracefully and easily throughout the song accompanied by the delightful flute. Even in a predominantly western song like Mujhe duniya walon (Leader), the musical interludes and the song flow easily as if Rafi had all the time in the world to sing the song. Perhaps this style of music reflects Dilip Kumar’s acting and dancing styles – measured, unhurried. Also, like Dilip Kumar’s dialogues – the impact is mesmerizing.
My personal favorite in this category of easy flowing songs is Lata’s Tere sadke balam (Amar). I can hear it a thousand times, but each time I end up admiring the unhurried and easy flow that melds the interludes and vocals into a delightful ride on melodic waves.
I tried to highlight some of his “lively” songs in this post. There are many other facets of this creative genius who believed in excellence in all aspects of film music. It is not surprising that he was the epitome of perfection in all departments of film music and earned the respect of everyone in the film industry. Apart from excelling in multiple dimensions of music, his songs were attractive and appealing to all sections of people. With his versatile talent and skills, he imbued his songs with a ‘lively’ blend of classicism, folk, melody and rhythm. I can only bow in reverence to this master who created such lively evergreen songs that live in our hearts even today.