Raju Bharatan met Shanker at a special piano demonstration for him in the composer’s room . Later Shanker took him to his Famous music room at Mahalakshmi, where this total composer, with the aid of certain musicians, recreated the whole art of SJ’s scoring. From the tape of that memorably live soiree emerges this per-sonalised piece on Shanker on the occasion of the master composer’s seventh death anniversary, falling on April 26. Articles Compiled By Hemant Parikh. From Screen, 29April,1994.[This piece has been taken from http://us.mg2.mail.yahoo.com/dc/launch’.gx=1&.rand=1i7o6lcjs34jc post no.44 date December 18, 2002 reproduced by Mr. Ali Rashid on Yahoo’s Shankarjaikishan Group]
He had invited me to his seaface home he was in his cosy music room there. He was at the piano, the man who composed Geet gaata hoon main gungunata hoan main for Kishore Kumar to put over On Vinod Mehra in “Lal Patthar”. Right now, he was evoking from the piano his “Sangam” notes of Dost dost na raha. He was, another seven-letter name for sangeet. He was the numero uno of the Shanker-Jaikishan duo.
Jaikishan’s ocean-view home was just a mile away on the Marine Drive front. There was Jaikishan’s left hand that naturally went to the piano. Here it was Shanker’s right hand that naturally went to the piano. Imagine Shanker’s right hand on the piano and Jaikishan’s left hand on the piano and have the entire format of our popular you music at your finger-tips!
Shanker had been dogmatic on one point that he would demonstrate the art and craft of composition to me only on the piano. “How much of the real composer in me can you possibly get to savour on the harmonium’” Shanker had asked. “Mind you, I myself played the harmonium in SJ’s Yeh na thi hamari kismat in “Main Nashe Mein Hoon”. Even so the harmonium re-mains a limited instrument where it comes to unfolding your art. On the piano, by con-trast , can zoom with my notes. Here, let me demonstrate how by playing one of my pet compositions. . .
And Shanker proceeded to play finesse and flair from “Yahudi”, Yeh mera diwana pan hai. When I sing it as Yeh mera diwana pan hai, what I mean is Sangeet mera deewana pan -hai! explained Shanker. “In fact, I was lolling in that cot there and gazing at the ceiling when the idea came to me in a flash. Swiftly getting up, I came to this piano here and those first notes as Yeh mera deewana pan hai. They were dummy
words, of course, but Shailendra said they were fine, they fitted the situation pat, when he later came to write-to-tune. I had completed the tune on the piano with my own Mukesh in mind, that’s why I was put out when it was suggested it should be Talat Mehmood for Dilip Kumar playing “Yahudi”.
“In vain did I press my point, for the consensus was in favour of Talat. Only I new how I had given the tune shape and substance with Mukesh’s vocals in mind. In the end, seeing I was not satisfied, it was decided the whole thing would be a toss-up. My joy new no bounds as the spin of the coin favoured Mukesh. But now Dilip Kumar playing “Yahudi” was unhappy he had set heart on Talat. I had nothing against Talat, it was just that I had composed the number for Mukesh. So I earnestly requested Dilip Kumar to come to the songs recording next afternoon, but only after one, when we would be ready from the take Dilip Kumar wanted to come earlier but, I was quietly insistent, for only I knew how besura Mukesh could sound at the rehearsal stage! By the time Dilip Kumar came at 1.30, we were set and raring to go.
And the resonance with which Mukesh came over in Yeh mera diwana pan hai made Dilip Kumar come over and embrace me. It was One of the most fulfilling moments in my life.”
Now I had Shanker talking, but he had laid down this condition that I would not probe whose tune it was: Jaikishan’s or his. I tried a subtle approach to overcome this SJ barrier. “Fine, you have told me how you won over Dilip Kumar” I said, “but what about the time you had a job convincing Raj Kapoor about the theme-song of “Shree 420″‘
The very vigour which Shanker, at this point, descended on the piano was a give-away as to who had composed Mera joota hai Japani.
“Sounds wonderful now it’s proved a hit on Raj Kapoor in “Shree 420″, noted Shanker, “but what a struggle I had here, Mera joota hai Japani is in Bhairavi, here let me show you how. I make a point of its being in Bhairavi because it’s the fashion to attribute this raag in SJ’s repertoire to Jai. Oh, Jai too composed some wonderful tunes in Bhairavi, I concede that, but in the end it remained a shared legacy. “But we were on how Mera joota hai Japani came to be composed. As was my practice, I had prepared five tunes for the theme-song situation. I had already struck an equation with Raj Kapoor in the matter of creating theme-songs. So I was quite confident my very first tune would be okayed.”
“It was the theme-song of “Shree 420″, so I had given it everything in my composing armour. I played my first tune, no response whatsoever from Raj Kapoor. I played my second tune, again no response. Third time lucky I had to be, I reasoned, as I played my next tune, again no reaction from Raj Kapoor! I was in a cold sweat now, this was the first time a theme-song tune was going to the fourth stage. And I well knew that two inferior tunes of the lot formed numbers four and five! Add to that the fact that I was a total mental blank that day after those five tunes, having put every bit I had into the selections. “It was with great hesitation, therefore, I played my fourth tune as..”
And here Shanker turned to the piano to add: “This is how I played that fourth tune to Raj Saab( Imagine listening Mera joota hai Japani): Dunder-dunder-dunder-dunder dunder-dunder-dunder-dunder dunder-dun-der-dunder-dunder dunder-dunder dunder-dunder dunder-dunder -dunder-dunder … And Raj Saab pounced on it, saying it was exactly what he wanted! That crooked smile of Raj Saab’s as I wiped my brow I will remember for life.”
“Why’ I asked. “If those fourth and fifth tunes, too, had failed, would Raj Kapoor have asked Jaikishan to play the theme-song’. “No, way” said Shanker, “the theme-song at RK, with SJ, was my responsibility, so the reason I wiped brow was for something totally different. The point is, not Jai, but I would have had to produce five fresh theme-tunes next day! Produce from where’ I had exhausted my stock that day itself, since I reserved nothing but the best for Raj Kapoor. Don’t’take me literally, of course. I would have come up with five more fresh tunes next day, I am merely trying to communicate to you perplexed state of mind when that third tune, too, stood rejected.”
“Maybe the first three tunes were rejected because they were not in Bhairavi”, I suggested. “They weren’t in Bhairavi, come to think of it. But the total musician never thinks of the raag while composing. He plays in Sur and raag just flows. So I can’t go along with you on the point that Mera joota hai Japani, as it finally emerged, because it was in Bhairavi. I maintain that my first three tunes were good, very good. But then I only looked at the tune Raaj Saab had an exact visual idea of what he wanted. And he just seized that fourth tune from my custody the moment I struck the right note, as he audio-visualised it”.
“What about Ramaiyya vastavaiyya’ I asked, nothing Shanker had momentarily forgotten all about not identifying a tune as his. “Oh, Ramaiyya vastavaiyya, that’s an interesting question. For, after the Mera joota hai Japani theme song, the most important situation in “Shree 420″ was Ramaiyya vastavaiya. How graphically Raj Saab had told me that situation to me! The tune he told me, had to have a sweep and a cadence like nothing heard in an RK movie before. The tune, Raaj Saab had told me must bring the Bombay bustee to vibrant life. Only towards its end, he added, would Mukesh be joining in –we now know Raj Kapoor chipped in with Maine dil tujh ko diya, but, at that point, even the tune was not ready, leave alone the words.
Incidentally, I always prepared the tune first and then got words written by Shailendra. Letting the poet write the song first, I had discovered, led to his penning the song-lyrics in the same monotonous metre. No, I don’t agree this, my reverse style of tuning, placed a limitation on Shailendra’s poetry. The Ramaiyya vastavaiyya tune came first, yet did Shailendra’s poetry suffer in any way’ No! the words for me represented the portrait, the tune the frame. Once the framework was ready in the form of my tune, the portrait, the song- lyric, could always be fitted in, exactly to size.”
It is a job keeping Shanker on the sound track you want, the man knows so much he wanders most interestingly, mind you -from one musical crescendo to another. Gently bring him back to Ramaiyya vastavaiyya, asking which of his five tunes clicked here.
“Ha, you have me back where you want me, Raju,” laughed Shanker. Ramaiyya vastavaiyya came to be tuned immediately after Mera joota hai Japani. Let me be honest and admit that I, normally full of confidence, was nervous here. After all, Mera joota hai Japani came through the hard way, so who new what lay in store. Therefore”
revealed Shanker (turning instantly to the piano), “as a naturalised Andhra I put my own dummy words and played the first tune like this to Raj Saab: Ramaiyya vastavaiyya ramaiyya vasta-vaiyya. And, lo and behold, that very first tune, which I had played with my dummy Telugu words of Ramaiyya vastavaiyya was instantly picked up by Raj Saab!
“My faith in my composing ability stood restored. For Ramaiyya vastavaiyya was a far more difficult situation to compose for than Mera joota hai Japani. In Mera joota hai Japani, you could be freewheeling, Raj Saab or the screen would take care of the rest. In Ramaiyya vastavaiyya, the key turn in the story -line had to emerge from my tune.
Yet I got it right the first time, so I had reason to feel proud. ” I thought I knew Raj Saab’s mind well by the time I came to compose Mera joota hai Japani, it turned out I didn’t. I had doubts about my insights in to Raaj Saab’s mind in the case of Ramaiyya vastavaiyya, it turned out my doubts were misplaced. May I add that, like in the case of Yeh mera diwana pan hai, Shailendra preferred to retain my dum-my punchline of Ramaiyya vastavaiyya. “But it makes no sense,” I pointed out. “It will when you see it on the screen,” said Raj Saab seated by Shailendra’s side.
“How come Ramaivya vastavaiyya too, is in Bhairavi ‘” I asked. Shanker looked stumped. But recovered to note: “Yaar, take it as a sign that I know my Bhairavi as well as Jai did. But seriously, the tune comes first, the raag after.
“Even in the case of the tune you played as soon as I entered this room’” I asked, “The tune you were playing on this piano as I entered was Dost dost na raha, Isn’t that, too, in Bhairavi’ I give up”, said Shanker, “you are the first patrakar to pin me down on this raag matter. All I can say is SJ always looked upon Bhairavi as a sada-suhaagan raag.
Our idea was to create a style of Bhairavi totally different from the Bhairavi of Nauhad. Judge how we changed the entire pattern of Bhairaviin films with Mohabbat ki dastaan and Suno chhoti si gudiya ki lambi kahani. But aren’t those two tunes from “Mayurpankh” and “Seema” the Bhairavi of Jaikishan’ I queried mischievously.
“There’s no such thing as a Shanker Bhairavi or a Jaikishan Bhairavi”, retorted Shanker, retaining his cool, “there’s only an SJ Bhairavi. “I have put him on the defensive, which is the last thing I want, so I say, leadingly, “Shanker Saab, who but you could have orchestrated Pyar hua ikraar hua (in “Shree 420″) and Sub kuchch seekha hum ne (in “Anari”). Whether you care to admit or not it is easy for a musically trained ear to spot out your instrumentation, your orchestration as more ornate, as more rich, in style and content alike. To my ears, Shanker, and Shanker alone, could have orchestrated Jaao re jogi tum jaao re the way it came over in “Amrapali” on Vyjayanthimala.”
Jaao re jogi tum jaao re was some tune, wasn’t it’ “reminisced Shanker, “Dance music is the toughest to orchestrate, the integration has to be split-second here. Yes, I rejoice in the style of orchestration I brought to Pyaar hua ikraar hua, Sub kuchch seekha hum ne and Jaao re jogi tum jaao re. As for Vyjayanthimala in , “Amrapali” from the beginning the arrangement was that I would do the dance section of SJ’ s music. I took it on since I was a dancer myself.”
“In Krishna Kutty’s troupe, wasn’t it’” I said, If I remember right, There was a toda, Vyjayanthimala, as the heroine of “Patrani”, disputed. Whereupon you assumed perform-ing attire and danced it out on the sets to show her how it could be done. “True’” said Shanker, “But that’s not to say I taught an accomplished dancer like Vyjayanthimala something, I merely showed her how it had to be done for my music.”
“This business of showing performers how to do their jobs, weren’t you taking on too much, was it not resented’” I asked.
“But why should it be resented’” enquired Shanker, “Remember, something resented only when the person showing you how does not know the job. And I new music and dance inside out, so I could tell them exactly what to do. But for this knowledge and background, you just couldn’t have got what you call SJ’s distinctive orchestral integration. I myself play the Piano, the Dholak, the Tabla, the Accordion and of course, the Harmonium.”
“That’s why, whether the instrumentalist be Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ramnarain or Rais Khan, he has to play exactly what I want for precisely the length I want. They are very good players in their chosen field, that’s why they are being paid extra well to play. But to play exactly what I want. Nobody dictates to me. If a composer knows his job, nobody can dictate to him.”
Did Shanker then not know his job after Jaikishan died’ Why was he not able to dictate like in his prime’
He was not able to dictate because the first thing filmmakers did, upon Jaikishan’s death, was to withdraw the 60-piece orchestra facility SJ had always commanded. And minus this big orchestra, Shanker was a musician with his hands tied behind his back.
There were 17 SJ releases in the year 1971, in which Jaikishan died. Out of this, 12 films were released by September 12, 1971, the day Jaikishan died. They were flops for the major part, so Jaikishan had to carry the can for their fate as much as Shanker. But then Jaikishan was no more, only Shanker lived on to see the remaining five films, too, fail in l971. This was the signal for producers to withdraw the multipiece orchestra facility from Shanker. Sharp-speaking, Shanker had not made too many friends in the industry. So they hit him where and when it hurt most.
It was a pathetic sight to see Shanker reduced to using the musigan as a “surrogate” to give birth, in his 1972 “Seema” avatar to something like Jab bhi yeh dil udaas hota hai jaane kaun aas paas hota hai. The tune proved one point – that Shanker could capture the old SJ magic only if given the spot aid of the multipiece orchestra that was, by 1971, part of his compositional mindset.
In one and only one film was Shanker accorded this multipiece facility without reserve after Jaikishan’s passing – in Manoj Kumar’s “Sanyasi”. Sohanlal Kanwar, as an old faithful, reposed full faith in the man and Shanker lived up to his promise made to me that, one day, he would do a full theme in Bhairavi to expose the myth of who had mastery over this raag.
I was there as Lata Mangeshkar was brought back into Shanker’s “Sanyasi” recording room by Mukesh for Sun bal brahmachari main hoon kanya kunwari. It was a superbly crafted tune and Shanker, taking time off from the middle, came over to whisper to me, wait and watch how I do it again, this time all by myself!”
The “Sanyasi” theme-song, Chal sanyasi mandir mein, was a stunner, lending Hema Malini a new seductive allure altogether. And has there been a better parody of the bhajan than Baali umariya bhajan karun kaise. Recall, too, the catchy motif of Yeh hai Geeta ka gyan. The well-integrated score of “Sanyasi”, masterfully orchestrated, was
proof positive that Shanker still had it in him. All he needed was a comprehending filmmaker.
Raj Kapoor could have assumed that comprehending role afresh when he broke with Laxmikant-Pyarelal after, “Prem Rog”. The way for Raj Kapoor to hit LP at that 1982 “Prem Rog” point, was to bring SJ back into RK, in the persona of Shanker. Indeed, when Raj Kapoor first dropped Shanker in favour of Laxmikant-Pyarelal for “Bobby”, Shanker, naive as they come, had no idea he was out of RK. There was one more big RK film on the anvil and Shanker’s belief was he would be doing that film! Hence his spirited rejoinder: “Let LP come into RK, now Raj Saab will know on the spot whose work is better.”
Note here that Hasrat Jaipuri in 1994 Inteview clearly stated that: “Some tunes of RK’s late “Bobby” and “Prem Rog” were tuned by SJ at their private sittings. It was only Raj Kapoor to remember those SJ type tunes and LP used it” and became Hit thanks to SJ.
Even after losing out on “Bobby,” the man was the picture of confidence. His musical grip, Shanker knew, was intact, so he felt he needed to fear no one. He lost bounce only when told that R.D.Burman, not he, was to do “Dharam Karam”. To be told that this “Dharam Karam” theme of Randhir Kapoor needed a younger style of music associated with RD, was the crowning insult to Shanker. Any score by SJ and RK has
always been a joint endeavour with Raj Kapoor calling the shots. To be told now therefore that, in effect, SJ’s tunes for Randhir Kapoor’s “Kal Aaj Aur Kal” tunes, like Bhanwre ki gunjan hai mera dil, Aap yahaan aaye kis liye, Jab hum hange saat saal ke and Tik tik tik tik chaltei jaaye ghadi, were not trendy enough for the “Kal Aaj Aur Kal” youth theme of Randhir Kapoor was a wrench. After that, Shanker was never the same ebullient RK music man again, though he kept saying, “I still believe Raj Saab will send for me one day.”
That one day never came, but the day came (April 26, 1987) when Raj Kapoor materialised an Doordarshan to pay his Shraddhanjali tribute to Shanker. There were tears in Raj’s eyes. But those tears remained perched on the eyelids. Those tears refused to come down because they were tears of remorse. Remorse for the man who had helped Raj Kapoor set RK on its musical feet with the able aid of a protege called
Jaikishan Panchal. Shanker Singh had left his native Punjab to settle in Andhra so as to be able to create Ramaiyya yastayaiyya for Raj Kapoor. And Raj Kapoor has jettisoned Shanker when he needs RK’s psychological back-up most.
Maybe Raj Kapoor was not quite his own master after the gigantic losses piled up by, “Mera Naam Joker” and “Kal Aaj Aur Kal”. But that could not mitigate Raj’s sense of guilt in this tele-moment of traumatic thanks-giving to Shanker.
Those penitent tears finally dropped from Raj Kapoor’s eyelids. Those tears were for Raj Kapoor, perhaps, a pearly reminder, of the elaborate dream sequence Shanker had composed for “Mera Naam Joker”, a dream sequence to beat the “Awaara” dream sequ-ence. A dream sequence that had failed to became a screen reality because, by that “Mera Naam Joker” stage, Raj Kapoor had run out of the resources needed to picturise it.
Shanker’s one wish was that I should accompany him to his Famous music hall at Mahalakshmi for him to recreate for me the aura of that “Mera Naam Joker” dream sequence. That day, too, never came. I could get only an inkling of that dream- sequence number from the way Shanker played it on that peerless piano. And what he played was clinching evidence of the fact that here was the total musician in action. Here was a man who believed that only if he wore a kurta could he create something like Sapnon ki suhani duniyo ko for Dilip Kumar in “Shikast”, only if he wore a suit could he create something like Dost dost na raha for Raj Kapoor’s “Sangam”!
He was a peculiar man, tart of tongue, but soft at heart. Even while being very strict with his musicians, he had the knack of carrying them with him by obtaining for them very generous payment from producers. It was this straight rapport with his musicians that was denied to Shanker when the industry cut his orchestral strength. It was like severing his umbilical cord.
“Shanker-Jaikishani” sangeet died the day the industry tried to dictate to Shanker. Shanker was effective only so long as he was dictating the strength of his orchestra and thereby calling the tune. The total musician was thus a total misfit in the end. As Shanker shuffled off his mortal coil leaving all his nine Filmfare Best Music Director awards behind, Na haathi na ghoda hai wahaan paidal hi jaana hai became his self-composed epitaph .