What was so special about Shankar Jaikishan?

Let us begin with their Barsat. This movie was scored by two composers who were rank newcomers to Hindi Film Music. Moreover they were untrained musicians who’s only aim in life was to score music and compose new songs.

Their contemporaries were great scholars of various schools of music with thorough exposure and training in Indian Classical music. Their music reflected all that they learnt from their masters, with impeccable precision. As most of them came from rich family backgrounds, their exposure to Western Music was also very wide, as such they did use Western Music in their compositions.

Shankar was 24 and came from a very modest background and Jaikishan was 17 with a similar economic background. What brought them together was their burning desire to make a mark as they knew, that what was within them was far superior to what was being heard all around them.

Raj Kapoor gave them a break on the advice of his father the great Prithviraj Kapoor , when he fell out with his Ram Ganguli. This was something destiny had written for them and when such prodigies are given on opportunity, the grab it with all their life.

What kind of music they scored for Barsat, need not be mentioned here. But let us just take a look at the songs, which were lapped up by the audience and listeners all across India. Each song was as fresh as dew drops, as pure as springs flowing down the mountainous forests, and as rich as evergreen rain forests.

Each song has the fragrance of native soil and had the presence of a touch of a new flavour of something unheard earlier. What was this? This was their use of Western orchestration for songs composed with native flavour. They had blended Indian music with Western orchestra which was new.

Having achieved bumper success, they were now fired up to scale new heights and create new music which reaches the listeners heart. Shankar Jaikishan knew that their final judges were the listeners and audience. As they did not have any fixed boundaries for their creativity, which was the case with most of the other scholarly and knowledgeable contemporaries. For Shankar Jaikishan sky was also not a limit.

If their final target judges were the audience , then the story and situations were their real challenge. Shankar Jaikishan were known to create their music strictly as per the requirement of the script, character and the actor on screen. Year after year, movie after movie they scored music which was different from their earlier scores and movies.

Nothing we heard in Barsat was ever heard in any of their latter movies. Awara was different and unique as was Badal, Nagina or Kaali Ghata. Their faith in their creativity was so strong, that they never held back any composition for a latter day. Their early movies were studded with many songs in each movie, and it was a challenge to choose one favourite out of them as each one was different and in style and genre.
In my humble opinion, their secret to success was their ability to think on their feet, and create music as the movie and story demanded. As a sample we shall examine their movies from Barsat to 1954, which means their first 5 years. I am listing them here and the readers can evaluate for themselves .

1949 Barsat 1951: Awara, Badal Kaali Ghata and Nagina

1952: Daag , Parbat , Poonam 1953: Aas, Aah, Aurat, Naya Ghar, Patita and Shikast

1954: Boot Polish, Mayur Pankh and Pooja .

Each of these movies and their music albums was different from the other. Each of these movies had more than 6 songs and had different styles and orchestrations. While Barsat broke all the records in India , Awara shattered all the International barriers and became a timeless classic all over the world.

Variety and innovation with local flavour and popular appeal was the essence of their music and soul of their creativity was 100% commitment to their craft and total honesty to their producers who had placed their faith in their creativity.
They were very simple human beings at heart and genuine craftsmen immensely committed to their craft and profession.

I will continue this series, covering their journey for each 5 year period or may be less, as years passed by, their number of movies in each year kept on increasing.

Hope you like the contents.


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