Bollywood Musical Saga by Kaushik Maitra

Nutan&Dev Anand       Nargis rajkapoor

“Songs” have been always a very important part of Indian films; especially the Hindi films. This was something unique, as it was not at all used in the films of any other countries.

madhumati        madhubala

In the decades of the 50-s to 70-s, even the popularity of a film was measured with the popularity of its songs. Many times, it affected the film’s business also. Famous producer, director and actor, Raj Kapoor, used to release the songs first (in form of gramophone discs) and later prepare the for the film. He even used to make changes in the film- story, according to the lyrics of the songs. Same thing was done by many more directors/ producers.

The popularity of Hindi film songs began in the era of late forties. The pioneers of this phase were stalwart singers like- K.L. Saigal, Ashok Kumar, Noor Jehan, Suraiya and Pankaj Mallick; composers like- Khemchand Prakash, Ghulam Haider, Naushad, Anil Biswas, Pankaj Mallick and S.D. Burman; lyricists like- D.N. Madhok.

However, the songs of this era, are still blamed to be “very monotonous”, with very less variation of orchestration and experiments.

This picture changed from 1949 onwards; when the legendary composers (the first trend setters of Hindi film music) Shankar Jaikishan entered the field. In the meantime, Bollywood had been bestowed with tremendous versatile singers like- Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Mohd. Rafi, Manna Dey, Geeta Dutt and Talat Mahmood; lyricists like- Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Rajinder Krishan, Shakeel Badayuni and Majrooh Sultanpuri.

The combination of Raj Kapoor- Shankar Jaikishan- Shailendra/ Hasrat Jaipuri created a history, with their first big success of “Barsaat” in 1949. The music of this film changed everything- the orchestration, the melody and also the trend of music. “Barsaat” created a history in Indian film music. This was also the film, from which the names of the playback singers started to get displayed on the titles; previously their names were not displayed.

Within another few years, Bollywood got enriched with more singers like- Hemant Kumar and Kishore Kumar; composers like Roshan, Madan Mohan, O.P. Nayyar, Ravi, Salil Chowdhury and Hemant Kumar. This was the time, when “songs” became the most important part of a Hindi film. This continued for another 30 years. It even reached the peak, when more talented and versatile composers (like Kalyanji Anandji, Usha Khanna, R.D. Burman and Laxmikant Pyarelal) entered and started to rule the music world of Bollywood.

A few evergreen songs from this era

Madan Mohan 

O.P. Nayyar 

Salil Chowdhury 

4 thoughts on “Bollywood Musical Saga by Kaushik Maitra

  1. Indeed the reading was musical..
    suhana safar aur yeh mausam haseen…i am a great fan of bollywood music and films….what about picking up one film album and or film itself…and writing an article on it… 😛 …all for the sake of nostalgia

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