A lot of acrimonious debate has been going on here on a topic that, to be very frank, has been debated ad nauseam for the past forty years or so. In fact I think it has become the norm rather than exception to debate these things whenever anything about SJ is discussed. You are simply not in the reckoning at all about SJ if you don’t flaunt your “knowledge” of identifying a S tune from a J tune or speak with casual familiarity of the rift or split between them. Never mind their music. Knowing what kind of swear words Shankar would use or whether Jai liked his scotch with soda or plain water is what would make you an expert enough to write a book on them. (of course, you have to ensure that you create a controversy about yourself or make a nasty comment on someone even before you put pen to
paper. That is the first
step to get publicity for the book that you are threatening to write.)

I normally don’t wish to join in these discussions simply because for me SJ were always invisible, far off inaccessible characters like all celebrities are to most of us. In fact, when Jaikishan passed away, I had just started going to school but nevertheless remember the incident being discussed by the elders in the family as an important event along with India’s victory at the Oval and the impeding war with Pakistan. Thus in the following months, while looking out for the pictures of General Aurora and Maneckshaw and that of Eknath Solkar diving to take that famous catch to dismiss Alan Knott I started  coming across the picture of S and J as well in various magazines, enough to recognize them later in my life. It was only in my college days in the eighties, by which time the Bappi Lahiris and
others were hammering away to glory that I started to discern the differences between the old and new songs.  And I also understood that even among the old timers, there was something unique about each one’s style with SJ being a class apart. Thus for me it has never made any difference as to who composed what and what they did in their spare time. But since this topic refuses to die down I might as well spew my venom as well.

Let me first list out the popular theories that keep floating around about SJ

a)      Songs with lyrics by Shailendra or lyricists other than Hasrat are S compositions while songs written by Hasrat are J compositions.
b)      Sharda was promoted by Shankar only while Jaikishen was cold to her.
c)       S and J were not seeing eye
to eye from mid 60’s and would take assignments independently, although to satisfy the general public, they kept up a facade of being partners.
d)  Shankar was rough and crude while Jaikishan was suave and debonair.
e)      By late 60’s Shankar was a spent force and post 71 he was a flop or faded away. The reasons given for this are his abrasive behaviour and his obsession with Sharda leading to the inference that he was all along living only in the reflected glory of Jaikishan.

These theories have become so important that normally the worth of a SJ fan is a value that is directly proportional to how much of hot air he can produce by pompously giving his expert comments on these issues.  Never mind the fact that till today nobody has a shred of evidence for anything other than what is available on the net, which in turn would have sourced these
from the gossip columns of magazines. While taken individually, these sound plausible, I have rarely found these to withstand scrutiny when examined against one another.
Off hand, I can think of songs like Jaane Chaman Shola badan, Chale jaana zara tehro, taaron se pyare and a few others which are written by HJ and sung by Sharda. This would straightaway indicate that either (a) or (b) above has to be false. Add to this, films like Andaz where all songs are penned by HJ but you have photos of Shankar directing Sushma Shreshta. You also have photos and video clips of Jaikishan directing Sharda.  Thus the most reasonable conclusion is that possibilities are either (a) or (b) or both are false but it is a certainty that both cannot be true.

Now, no one can possibly believe that every SJ song is a result of Shankar and Jaikishan simultaneously clutching the same harmonium and
tweaking the buttons together to produce the tune. Even with my zero knowledge in music, I can understand that composing the tune is not the same as the final song that we all hear. Equating them would be like believing that your house is ready the moment the bricks and cement land on your site.  This is where the real partnership or team work lies. One may produce the basic tune and the other may fine tune it only to be refined by the first one and so on till both are satisfied that this is what is needed for the song. Thereafter fitting the lyrics and tweaking the tune again to accommodate the lyrics and the arrangement of the instruments etc would be another exercise by themselves.
Having carried on my profession in partnership for close to 25 years now, I know how we work in our firm. If an appearance before the Income tax commissioner or tribunal is needed, it is always me, but when it comes to an audit, I conveniently look at my partners
to handle it. This does not mean that we go solo and don’t discuss among ourselves what is happening. Nor does it mean that my partners cannot handle tax cases or that I cannot handle an audit.    It is just a case of division of work with the partners resting easy in the knowledge that the other partner is handling it as per the scheme agreed by all. There are also instances when a partner handles an assignment all by himself without really consulting the others. Even this is not really a ‘solo’ effort, since the work would be carried along a set or established pattern which would be a product of past team work. In such cases, the partner would be merely supervising what trusted assistants are doing. These assistants are our Dattarams and Sebastians who would be perfectly aware of what is needed and would prepare the groundwork beforehand.

It is significant that Gregory Booth
in his book has remarked that SJ were perhaps the first studio musicians who ‘industrialized’ the production of songs in factory like set up. It is quite possible that as their team work stabilized, they would have allocated major areas of production of a song according to their strengths with the other partner adding his inputs. And from experience I can also say that a partnership is most likely to break either in the rising curve stage or at the time of facing the inevitable loss of business. In case of SJ if at all there was a split, it should have either happened around mid 50s when they were rising rapidly with both partners getting ideas about striking it rich individually or around 1977 when there was no further hope for Shankar. But by then Jai had already passed away. Mid 60’s appear to be least likely time for a split. Disagreements are bound to be there in any human interaction and in a partnership to some extent it is desirable too.
In fact the very reason why people get into partnerships is to have variety under one roof. If all partners have the same idea about everything then you really don’t need a partnership. You might as well work individually.

Those who say Shankar was a spent force by late 60s are only acknowledging that he was a force to reckon with before that. Does that mean Jaikishan was a dud until then? After all, if the net is to be believed, it was Shankar who was handling the business end, but S himself in an interview has said that J being a typical Gujarati businessman was in charge of finances. So pre-65, why would the crude and crass Shankar carry-on with a junior who was not contributing much? Post 65, if the producers were not comfortable with him, what prevented them from approaching the smart, savvy, party hopping Jai to take over fully? Considering that almost all films of post 65 had songs of Sharda and lyrics by HJ and poets other than
HJ, and assuming at least (a) or (b) above is true, one can only conclude that S and J were equally involved in all these films. So where was the split?

Finally did Shankar flop in the 70s? If you were to judge him by the standards that he himself had set earlier, then I would say yes. But the question is who did anything great post 75? What was the grand achievement of the Naushads and O.P.Nayyars during that time? Even Rafi, Mukesh and Lata were spent forces by then and leaders like LP, RDB and KA were giving more of mediocre stuff than anything great. Shankar didn’t give anything inferior to what the rest of the pack gave.  So judging by industry standards of that time, I wouldn’t say Shankar failed either.

Balu   Balu & Anand Chartered
http://www.balunand.comJanani Janmabhoomishcha Swargadapi Gareeyasi – Being near to your mother in your motherland is better than being in paradise