Late Shri Satish Kalra had written this in response to  someone’s post on shankarjaikishan group on yahoo.

Well, before the resident expert takes over, let me put in  my 2 cents on this.

By itself, the vocals are a very strong and much more important part of the entire song to make it likeable.  And if the good vocals get a support from nice orchestration and good visuals in the film, nothing can stop the song from becoming a hit.  However, soemtimes even mediocre songs can get a boost because of good orchestration. 

To give some examples re the above, take Aawaaraa songs; i) aawaaraa huun; ii) tere binaa aag ye chaananii/ghar aayaa …; iii) ik bewafaa se pyaar kiyaa; and iv) ab raat guzarane waalii hai. 

All the songs have excellent singing by the respective singers.  The first three have heavy accordion-based-orchestration, and story-forwarding visuals – all the essential elements for a hit song.  And although all the four songs were hits, ik bewafaa se pyaar kiyaa….was not in the same hit category as the others, despite the orchestration.  On the other hand, ab raat guzarane waalii hai does not have heavy, but soft orchestration, poignant singing, and well supported by the visual part in the film.     Round one to the vocals

Next example is from Anari.   From this film, I’ll pick the songs: i) sab kuchh siikhaa; ii) kisii kii muskuraahaton pe ho nisaar; iii) teraa jaanaa; iv) dil kii nazar se; and v) vo chaand khilaa vo taare hanse.  Once again,  song numbers i, ii, iv, and v have accordion based heavy orchestration, whereas iii has orchestration led by heavy use of violins.  All have all the hit-elements.  Why then sab kuchh siikhaa… was the best song from the film!  It had the summing up of the entire story-line of the film in one song.  But then, one has to have seen the film.  [Personally for me, dil kii nazar se… is the best song of the film, soft, melodic, and full of romance coming straight from the heart.]     The other two songs of Anari, ban ke panchhii, and ‘1956, 1957….” were also hits, but nowhere near i and

iii.    Round two even between vocals and orchestration.

Jumping over to Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behtii Hai, I’ll concentrate on only one song – ‘aa ab laut chalen’, for the effect vocals have on the success of a song.  This song, too, has all the elements of a hit song, but it stands out for the vocal ‘aalaaps’ of Lata ionthe song, giving it a totally out of this world feel.  Round three again goes to the vocals.

In between, there are films like Yahudi, Shararat, Chori Chori, Shri 420, Boot Polish, Mayurpankh, Naya Ghar, Aah, Shikast, and many others.  Songs from these and other films strongly support the vocals as a major factor for a song being liked. [Some songs did not have the supporting visuals at all, e.g., the Shararat song teraa tiir o be-piir…] 

To give one round for the orchestration, I’ll have to do it in reverse mode – by taking the example of, not S-J, but L-P.  The song I pick is ‘ruuk jaa ai hawaaaaaa..’ from Shagird.  Even though Lata gives it her full-throated vocals, the most positive factor about the song is its orchestration.   Similarly, in one of their much later films, the song ” saudaagar, saudaa kar…” from Saudaagar has heavy orchestration led by cymbals, shehnaaii, violins, dholaks, pakhaavaj, and everything else.  I am not saying that Kavita K. did not sing it well.  But I can’t imagine it to be where it reached just because of the vocals. 

S-J usually gave all their compositions heavy duty orchestration – it is said that Jaikishan insisted on a minimum of a 65-piece orchestra, and that after his death, film producers cut down on that immediately, leading to Shanker further going down the ladder. 

Now one for vocals ruining the song despite good orchestration, take “tumko sanam pukaar ke…” from Diwaanaa.  S-J gave it excellent orchestration, but what could they (it should rather be just Shanker) do with Sharada’s vocals! 

For S-J’s compositions in the 60’s and later, practically every aspect of their music making suffered; The tunes, the lyrics, the orchestration – naturally leading to a diminished impact of good vocals.  Exceptions were there, though, but few and far in between. 

To sum up, good vocals can save a song, despite less than perfect orchestration.  But the same cannot be said for good orchestration doing it to a vocally deficient song. 

And I have not even touched is the lyrics.  

All above IMHO.

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This post was written by late Satis Kalra ji in shankarjaikishan group on Yahoo.

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