Songs that have made history

Songs that have made history

When I look back at the wonderful array of songs in Hindi popular music, I always feel indebted to them. These songs have enriched my world so much. Those great voices, those superb tunes and those enchanting lyrics that jelled into all those memorable songs have made one corner of my mind their home. Through thick and thin, they have always been there at my side- shedding tears in despair and sharing smiles in delight.

As a listener who likes to delve into the historical perspective of popular music, some songs have fascinated me more than the rest. Mind you not all of them can be termed as ‘great songs’ musically but historically they have been the true shining milestones. These are the defining musical moments that shaped the things to come in Hindi popular music.


1941. Pankaj Mullick’s soft, Baangla magic brings the famous Tum tum (Horse-cart) rhythm through Chale pawan ki chaal (Doctor). This famous rhythm would be later regularly employed by masters like Naushad (Bachpan ke din bhula na dena) and O.P.Nayyar (Piya piya piya mera jiya pukaare).

The same year, Ghulam Haider rocks the nation with his Punjabi punch in Khazanchi and Shamshad Beghum steals the show with a boisterous Saawan ke nazaare hain, lala lala. Haider -who later migrated to Pakistan after the Partition- has to be given the credit for being the pioneer composer who popularized rhythmic Punjabi tunes in film music.

1946. The movie Shahjehan features the swansong of K.L.Saighal in Naushad’s music – Jab dil hi toot gaya. The famed actor-singer who was then uncrowned king of popular music expires soon after but leaves behind a legion of singers influenced by his style. Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and C.H.Atma head the list of these ‘inspired’ singers – the first three slowly discover new identities but Atma loses the race by not being able to do that.

1947. Partition takes away some of the best musical talent to Pakistan. Noorjehan – the teenage singing actress is the prime example. She leaves behind memories of brilliant songs like Aawaz de kahan hai!

The independence year also sees the entry of rock ‘n’ roll into Hindi film music when C.Ramchndra comes up with a bubbly Meri jaan meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday aana in Shehnaai.

1949. Khemchand Prakash creates a musical marvel in Mahal. His composition Aayega aanewala makes the music world sit up and take notice of a musical phenomenon called Lata Mangeshkar – a singer who has come out of the shackles of her Noorjehan fascination and who is now set to rule as the Melody Queen of India.

It’s also the time for Jiya beqarar hai. Apart from confirming the growing popularity of Lata, Barsaat also brings together an amazing wealth of musical talent – Raj Kapoor as a musically sensitive and sensuous film-maker, Shankar-Jaikishan as the composer duo par excellence, Shailendra and Hasrat as the lyricists with flair. The same year defines Mohammed Rafi as a singer with a magical presence through Suhaani raat dhal chuki in Dulari.


1952. Through songs of Baiju baawra like Tu Ganga ki mauj (Raag: Bhairavi), Mohe bhool gaye saawariya (Raag: Bhairav), Man tarpat (Raag: Darbaari) and O duniya ke rakhwale (Raag: Maalkauns), Naushad shows the way how Indian classical music could be incorporated into film songs. Ironically it also marks the beginning of the era for a great composer.


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