Lest my friends accuse me of my obsession about SJ’s Raag Bhairavi, I would like to assure them that my focus in this post is on a different aspect of their musical genius. I do not know how many of us have heard about Pannalal Ghosh who died way back in 1960. Well he was not only the best known flute player of 20th century but someone who is also credited for raising flute to the exalted status of a concert level instrument. Pandit Ghosh moved to Mumbai in 1940 and apart from music direction, he also established a music school for his disciples.
(in photo Shri Pannalal Ghosh with Geeta Dutt)
Back to Shankar Jaikishan. After the duo debuted in 1949, they became hugely popular in early 50s. They were regarded as the leaders in innovative film music. Yet the connoisseurs of music were unwilling to equate them with a Naushad or a Vasant Desai or an Anil Biswas because SJ had not yet scored music in pure classical form with the exception of a few songs here and there. Therefore, in early 1956 when R Chandra announced his next film, he had Naushad in his mind (following his success in Baiju Bawra, Shabab etc). However, the director Raja Nawathe insisted on SJ and assured the producer that the songs will become popular once the movie was released. Nawathe was a hardcore SJ fan having earlier worked as RK’s assistant and later as an independent director of RK movie “Aah” in 1953. Chandra agreed and SJ were signed-up.
This movie was a real challenge to the duo. They worked very hard first in conceptualising the type of classical music which would be compatible with historical novel (of Kannadiga author) on which movie was based. The next big challenge was to sign top level classical vocalist and instrumentalist of national repute. Those days performers of classical art form considered it below their dignity to perform for commercial films. Undaunted, the duo approached Pt. Pannalal Ghosh and Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. There was strong resistance from both the artists but after repeated persuasion and perseverance, SJ succeeded in their effort. I’ll save the story of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi for another post. For this particular post, I have selected one of the best flute recitals in Indian movies, combined with beautiful voice of Lata Mangeshkar in an awe-inspiring musical melody of SJ.
Take a look at this video on YouTube:
Sent from my iPad