Monthly Archives: January 2016

Where exactly Shankar-Jaikishan excelled !!


Shri Arun Bajaj

When Shankar-Jaikishan made their entry with Barsaat in 1949, the musical space was dominated by giants like Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Anil Biswas, S.D. Burman and Hemant Kumar. Waiting in the wings to make a splash were Madan Mohan and O. P. Nayyar. However, the music of Barsaat followed immediately by Awaara, established the supremacy of the new duo, for a very very long time, in no uncertain terms.
It would be an interesting study to have an insight into where exactly Shankar-Jaikishan excelled..and why. I will spell out four key areas as under :
1. Selection of the right musical instrument..
2. Selection of the right singer keeping in view the demand of the composition..
3. In the crafting of matching interludes to expand on the mood of the song and singing it off at a tonal point from where the singer can effortlessly resume to take on the Antara to the next level..
4. Simplifying the melodic structure to a rhythm and pace which would render it hummable even by a layman..
1. Right musical instrument.. Musical instruments owe their origin to various genre like String family, Brass, Percussion, Wind, Woodwind etc. and it is always a tough challenge for any composer to select the right instrument to convey the dominant mood of the screenplay, as perceived by the director. This is usually done by two methods : score of background music which comes in undertones and through use of songs which is blatantly done in overtones.The combined effect of these two methods help in carrying the story forward.
Music steps in where words fail. One poignant sweep of bow over a violin will convey far more melancholy than a barrage of dialogue by a dying mother. Little strumming on mandolin will communicate oodles of joy and wellbeing than a verbal explanation of his smile by a happy character.
With this backdrop to appreciate and appraise film music, when you look at the oeuvre of composition created by Shankar-Jaikishan, you are amazed by their ingenuity in not only selecting the right instrument for their compositions but also in choosing the right player to work on those instruments. Now sample some very ingenious use of musical instruments :
Three octave use of Harmonium played by V. Balsara in Awaara Hoon in Awaara, melodic use of flute played by Pannalal Ghosh in Main Piya Teri in Basant Bahar, rhythmic beat of earthen matka in Yaad Aai Aadhi Raat Ko in Kanhaiya, interlude piece of dilruba in Chali Kaun Se Desh Guzaria in Boot Polish, use of sitar in Dil Mein Sama Ke Milane Na Aaye in Kanhaiya, fleeting strains of oboe and fife in Pyar Hua Iqraar Hua in Shri 420, use of mandolin in Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi in Awaara, magical use of violins in Aa Ab Laut Chale in Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behati Hai, clever use of ghunghroo and tambourine in Tera Teer O Be Peer in Shararat, use of bagpiper in Bol Radha Bol in Sangam…these are pure muisical lessons to understand the virtuosity of these musical instruments and how effectively they can be used to heighten the mood.
Selection of the right singer keeping in view the demand of the composition :
Even though S-J always had the most popular singers like Mukesh, Rafi, Lata, at their beck and call, to do justice with any kind of composition, they always selected the voice most appropriate to the need of the song Examples..
Picking up Subir Sen for Manzil Wahi Hai Pyaar KI (Kathputli)
Selecting Hemant Kumar for Rula Kar Chal Diye Ek Din (Badshah)
Using Talat Mahmood for Ae Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal (Daag)
Selecting Asha Bhonsle for Dhani Chunri Pehan (Hare Kaanch Ki Choodiyan)
Zeroing in on Rafi for a Kishore starrer..Ajab Hai Dastaan Teri Ai Zindagi (Shararat)
Mubarak Begum for Mujhko Apne Gale Laga Lo (Humrahi)
Manna Dey for Ye Raat Bheegi-Bheegi (Chori-Chori)
Shamshad Begum for Ek Do Teen (Awaara)
Crafting of matching interludes :
Listen to the song “Raat Gayee Phir Din Aata Hai” from Boot Polish. In the interlude piece the mandolin starts strumming after the aspirations of hungry, flat-bellied urchins are vocalized and with each strumming of mandolin string, the ‘aam aadmi’s’ heart begins pounding. One can almost see the dark, miserable night dissolving into a golden dawn in the midst of slum and deprivation. The imaginative chorus adds luster to the mood of the song and the listener gets transported to a surreal world; and precisely that is what the film-maker wanted the music directors to deliver. That’s one reason why all Raj Kapoor films seem to be woven with wistful magic which no commercial film maker has been able to recreate thus far.
In the interludes of Aja Re Ab Mera Dil Pukara and Sunte The Naam Hum both from Aah, lower octave is blended with higher tones, to create effect of passion and longing. The interludes of Sab Kuchh Seekha Humne (Anari) and the theme song of Awaara, Accordion-Harmonium pieces in three octaves run the entire gamut of emotions and re-kindle the mood of Nehruvian era of a resurgent India conveying the hopes and frustrations of the youth of fifties..

“I have watched Shankerji on his music composing & notation writing sessions” Sharda

'Chale jana . zara thehro...At a function , with Mubarak Begumji'

I have watched Shankerji on his music composing & notation writing sessions.
His fingers moving like lightning on the keys of the harmonium bringing out beautiful pieces, piece after piece each better than the other that filled the air .
Sebastian with his pad & pencil trying to catch up with the speed captured the pieces in the music sheet . And on the spot he will play the pieces in his violin & Shankerji will ok them Afterwards Sebastian will fix the chords , counterparts & decorate them All those wonderful music pieces in SJ songs came to life like this
Many musicdirectors will let the musicians play on their own for interlude music .Not Shanker jaikishen . They composed each & every piece.. …Also not taken from the computer & fit them in the song like todays mds.
Occasionally Shankerji will let the musicians play solo pieces by themselves, like in song ‘Dekho mera dil machalgaya ‘ ustad Rais khan sab played the sitar . Naturally a stalwart like Rais khansab cannot be told to play some fixed notes. So Shankerji asked him to play on his own & he played by his imagination . Later on Shankerji told me that in each take he played different pieces
Many friends are asking me to share my experiences with SJ work & therefore I am writing this

Shanker-Jaikishen’s styles – Sharda

Most of the time the notation sessions of Shankerji will last for 2/3 hours or even more. Because Shankerji would want to play all those exotic pieces in his harmonium , to his heart’s content. He will go on playing , playing & Sebastian will go on writing , writing . Sometimes for one requirement Sebastian must have written 6 or more pieces. He will play all of them for Shankerji , to select one..

Playing playing Shankerji will stop & ask for tea.Tea will be prepared & brought . But before it came he would have started another spree of his music playing . The tea cup will be sitting there , tea getting cold & forgotten .Then again after sometime he will ask for tea & again the same story .

The music writing over, the song would have already been written , Shankerji will summon his rhythmists ,who were on his permanent pay role All of them would come & take their positions with their instruments. Then between themselves, Shankerji in his harmonium & Sebastian in his violin they will play the full song with all the music to the accompaniment of the rhythm

And Shankerji will tell me to sing the song along with them . Whether it was my song or other’s . I was under training & Shankerji thought it will give me good experience .

Once the whole thing was played a few times , small changes made & Shankerji was satisfied ,he will announce pack up .Then he will discuss with Sebastian about which musicians should be called for the recording. A list will be made & given to one of the staff who will contact the musicians. And shankerji. will fix a date for rehearsal

Then he will sit back & have his long due tea .

Memories of Shankar-Jaikishen by Sharda

Written by Singer Sharda

Shankerji loved Jaikishenji very dearly & vice versa . He treated Jaikishenji as a younger brother & Jaiji also took Shankerji like an older brother.

Jaikishenji loved to have fun , liked to go to restaurants, parties meeting friends & all & visited the music hall off & on
Where as Shankerji was a workaholic & went to the music hall every day religiously whether there was a recording or not & sat there from morning till evening.He must have his daily dose of baja playing for hours together , which he could do ‘aramse’ in his studio.

During non recording times , which were very rare & far between, Shankerji used to be in his studio , playing harmonium , accordian or the grand piano which stood there & even tabla. Sometimes trying his hands on cricket ball throwing . His hall was big enough for that.

People used to drop in all the time. Many producers ‘ offices were there in the same building like Fc mehra & others . They used to drop in to have a chat with him , talk about situations in their movies or to sign him up for their new movies, Chai will constantly be on the making & being served to all visitors

Jaikishenji patronised 2 restaurants particularly , Gaylord in churchgate & one iranian restaurant called Bombellis in warden road

Jaikishenji will be sitting there in Bombellis having breakfast , brunch or lunch. In the next lane there was this Sophia college for girls .During break time all the girls will come out & hover around the restaurant with their giggles , ‘khus puses’ , throwing sideway glances at Jaikishenji. Some of them would venture inside the restaurant , make small talks with him & ask for autograph , Jaikishenji will gladly oblige

In the meanwhile Shammi kapoor’s huge boat like cheverlet will come zooming in the road , [no traffic like today]

Suddenly there will be shouts , shrieks & yells ‘Shammi kapoor , Shammi kapoor Shammi kapoor . There will be utter chaos. For the time being Jaikishenji will be forgotten.

Then when the car disappeared, the commotion over & the situation came back to normal the girls will turn their attention back again to Jaikishenji

At that time there were only 3 big cheverlets in Bombay, When they came in the market 3 cars were imported in India , one belonged to Shankerji one to Jaikishenji & the other to Shammi kapoorji,All the fans knew the color of the cars & knew which one belonged to who . When they see the car approaching , from far they will know who is coming &start shouting their names.

Such adoration to a music director team like a star hero have never been heard of.

Then one day Jaikishenji got married… Shankerji told me that it is a secret marriage & he has to do the ‘kanya daan ‘ So he took the place of a father & performed the ‘kanya daan ‘.

later on he told me that things were not the same . But the care , concern , love & affection between them were in tact till the end ………..