Written by Shri Shashibhushan Hegde

Crtsy-Sudarshan Talwarji

This photo courtesy; Sudarshan Talwar, Kolkata

               An ardent Shankar Jaikishan fan is invariably in love with the early fifties.  At least I am. 

                   Their compositions in the early fifties immediately remind us of the following things:

1.      Lots of Lata Mangeshkar (Films like Poonam, Aurat, Mayur Pankh, Kali Ghata etc feature Lata in each and every song!)
2.      Lots of Raag Bhairavi – SJ were so much influenced by the Raag and they brought out the glory of this ‘Sadasuhagan’ Raag like no one else has been able to do. (6 songs in Barsaat were in Bhairavi, 5 out of 9 songs in Aurat were in Bhairavi….these are just two examples)
3.      Very very rich in melody with minimal orchestration.
The orchestration for these songs was very limited considering the huge orchestra that SJ used during most of their lifetime.  These songs would have at the most half a dozen violins, mandolin, some times a Sitar or a Piano, flute and of course the glorious Dholak. 
Raag Bhairavi was employed in unbelievably wide range that is astounding.  They would come up with a sad song, a peppy song, a devotional song, a philosophical song……..all in Raag Bhairavi.
I am definitely not brash when I say Lata Mangeshkar’s career took off because of SJ.  There is no other composer who gave so many songs to her early in her career in the early fifties.
Presenting a few select songs in different moods and shades but all are based in Bhairavi and sung by Lata.
1.       Hum se na poochho koi pyar kya hai – Film: Kali Ghata(1951) Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri.
You haven’t heard this song if you haven’t heard the prelude of this song, which is GORGEOUS!  The Grand Piano prelude is definitely one of the finest of all time.  The mandolin, flute pieces and the Dholak stand out as usual.
2.       Taqdeer ka shikwa kaun kare – Film: Poonam(1952)  Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri.
If the previous song was a peppy one, this is an out and out sad song in Bhairavi. But what a composition! Years back, in 1988, HMV had brought out a 2 cassette set “All time Greats – Shankar Jaikishan).  This was the opening song of the album. (The first three songs that I am featuring in this article featured in that album)
The Sitar and violins pieces in the prelude and the fabulous couplet “Chand poonam ka khila…..” and the short mandolin link line that precedes the song create a totally apt ambiance for the song. Pay heed to the Dholak…..so much in sync with the singer.
                               http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4KHi0wqYtE
3.      Mohabbat ki dastan aaj suno – Film: Mayur Pankh (1953), Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri
I would rate this as one of the best song ever written, composed and presented.  What a beauty in Bhairavi that depicts an ode of love.
This composition is as smooth as silk, as pure as milk and as delectable as honey!  The mandolin, harmonium, flute, minimal violins and the Dholak drift you off to the world of melodious trance in a jiffy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3nWQK7VaOY4. Ulfat ka saaz chhedo chanda suhana hai – Film: Aas (1953), Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri
A fabulous, evergreen beauty the tune of which has been copied by a Greek band years later!  Interestingly as in all songs in this category, the mandolin has an imposing presence in addition to the accordian and Dholak never fails to catch attention.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLpC77POXi05. Ja ja ja re ja re ja – Film: Naya Ghar (1953), Lyricist: Shailendra
A song which I consider 24 carats of pure bliss! Look at the pace, speed and the pep the composition delivers.  The Dholak, mandolin, accordion compliment Lata word to word.  If there was ‘Happiness Quotient’ for songs, this would score 10 out of 10 – good enough to drift anyone into happiness.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXEZg6aoJFM  

6 Mori bipda aan haro – Film: Pooja (1954), Lyricist: Shailendra

 Though rarely heard, this in my opinion is one of the finest bhajans created in film music.  By SJ standards, this is a very simple composition orchestration wise.  But the mimimalistic music with the flute, mandolin, Dholak and absolutely adorable tune along with Lata’s excellent rendering make this a really special song.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYCYDHRgVwAThe tunes and music apart, it is the verses of Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra which have given tremendous value addition to these compositions as always.Though there are many dozens of songs that fall in to this category, I have chosen half a dozen covering different moods and shades, albeit the same Raag – the Sada suhagan ‘Bhairavi’ of which there was no better exponent than Shankar Jaikishan in Indian film music.