hindi film music

Roshan at 100: The ultimate playlist, plus the story of the three lives of a single song

The legendary music composer had a golden run during the 1960s, but the foundation was set in the previous decade.

The story goes that it was Khayyam who had originally been signed on to compose the music for Barsaat Ki Raat (1960). But when R Chandra, the film’s producer and elder brother of its leading man Bharat Bhushan, insisted that the composer use the tune of the qawwali Na Toh But-Kade Ki Talab Mujhe, sung by the famed Pakistani duo of Mubarak Ali Khan and Fateh Ali Khan, Khayyam put his foot down.

He was promptly shown the door, and Roshan was brought in. As the producer had the singers’ permission, Roshan had no qualms about using the tune. The resulting song Na Toh Carvaan Ki Talaash Hai, an epic 12-min qawwali that took almost 24 hours to record, became a rage and is perhaps the first song that comes to mind when we think of great film qawwalis. The other songs of the film, especially the romantic title track Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi, too hit their mark.

Play
Na Toh Carvaan Ki Talaash Ha, Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1960).

The film’s success rescued Roshan’s flagging career and in the next few years, till his untimely death in 1967, he had a golden run with films like Aarti (1962), Dil Hi To Hai (1963), Taj Mahal (1963), Chitralekha (1964), Mamta (1966) and Bahu Begum (1967). But Roshan had already been working as an independent composer for more than a decade before Barsaat Ki Raat happened. His birth centenary is as good an occasion as any to look back at those early years.

Any list made of artistes and technicians who got their first break in films through the multi-faceted Kidar Sharma would be a formidable one. Roshanlal Nagrath made his debut as an independent music director in Sharma’s Neki Aur Badi (1949). It had two noteworthy female solos – Rajkumari’s Humein Bhane Lage and Amirbai Karnataki’s Chand Hansa Aakash Pe – but it is with his next release that Roshan scored his first major hit.

Play
Sun Bairi Balam, Neki Aur Badi (1949).

Bawre Nain (1950) is today remembered for the lilting Mukesh-Rajkumari duet Khayalon Mein Kisi Ke and the delectable Rajkumari solo Sun Bairi Balam. The latter got a fresh lease of life in the nineties after a memorable exchange between Dubey and composer Anil Biswas during an episode of a popular television reality show.

The first song on our list is a much underrated one from Bawre Nain. The delightful Ghir Ghir Ke, with its upbeat rhythm, tempered by a subterranean sadness, remains the least-known of what can be described as Roshan’s rain songs.

Play
Ghir Ghir Ke, Bawre Nain (1950).

Lata Mangeshkar marks her presence on a Roshan soundtrack with Hum Log (1951), directed by the Marxist Zia Sarhady. Bahey Ankhiyon Se Dhaar is a propitious beginning of a working relationship that would yield many a classic song down the years.

In fact, the very next year, the duo serves up a feast with Nau Bahar (1952), arguably Roshan’s best work in the ’50s. We are spoilt for choice here – the much-played Aeri Main Toh Prem Diwani, and the lesser-known but very soulful Who Paas Nahin could have both made the cut. But we’re going with the rather delicate Dekho Ji Mera Jiya.

Play
Dekho Ji Mera Jiya, Nau Bahar (1952).

In his early films, it was not Mohammed Rafi but Mukesh who was Roshan’s voice of choice. The singer reciprocated Roshan’s faith in him by getting him on board as music director when he decided to turn producer. Malhar (made under the banner Darling Films) is today remembered chiefly for the immensely catchy Bade Armanon Se Rakha Hai.

However, our next pick is the stunning Garjat Barsat Bheejat Ailo, with Indeewar providing the words to a traditional bandish in raag Goud-Malhar. Incidentally, Roshan would repeat this bandish in Barsaat Ki Raat (Garjat Barsat Sawan Aayo Re). Both songs are used over the opening credits.

Play
Garjat Barsat Bheejat Ailo, Malhar (1951).

Gven Roshan’s fondness for Mukesh, and the fact that KA Abbas’s Anhonee (1952) starred Raj Kapoor (it also had Nargis in a famous double role), it is doubly surprising that the composer opted for Talat Mahmood for Main Dil Hoon Ek Armaan Bhara. But it’s an inspired choice. (Incidentally, the song was one among the few that were written by Satyendra Athaiya, who was married to the legendary costume designer and India’s first Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya.)

Play
Main Dil Hoon Ek Armaan Bhara, Anhonee (1952).

One of Roshan’s most memorable songs from the 1960s is Rahein Na Rahein Hum (Mamta, 1966). It was a reworking of another Lata Mangeshkar song Thandi Hawayein, composed by SD Burman for the film Naujawan (1951). RD Burman claims that his father was unaware of the similarities between the songs and it was Roshan who came up to him and told him about his inspiration.

This is fascinating because of various reasons: one, RD Burman himself reworked the tune for one of his famous songs (Sagar Kinare); two, SD Burman himself is said to have been inspired by a tune he had heard being played on the piano in a Juhu hotel; three, Roshan used the tune way back in 1954 in a little-known film called Chandni Chowk.

Play
Tera Dil Kahaan Hai, Chandni Chowk (1954).

Even after Mangeshkar arrived on the scene, Roshan never really abandoned Rajkumari Dubey. In fact, with her rendition of Kajrari Matwari Madbhari Do Ankhiyan, she holds her own in Nau Bahar, which is studded with several Mangeshkar gems. But then inexplicably, Rajkumari went off the radar. And then, in a little-known 1957 film titled Taksaal, we heard her voice again. Or so we thought. But it was not Rajkumari; the singer is Ratna Gupta, who seems to have sung only a handful of songs in films and about whom not much is known.

Play
Aeji Aaye Pyar Ka Zamana, Taksaal (1956).

The final song on our list has to be a Mangeshkar solo, though the thought of going for the Lata-Rafi duet Falak Milega Tujhe (Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali, 1955) is quite tempting. Through the ’50s, Mangeshkar, under Roshan’s baton, gave us a string of lesser-known gems – Yehi Bahaar Hai (Raag Rang, 1952), Dard-e-dil Tu Hi Bata De (Jashan, 1955), the quirky Yeh Surkhi Aur Yeh Shaam (Chhora Chhori, 1955), Kahaan Kho Gayi Hai (Ghar Ghar Mein Diwali, 1955) – apart from more well-known ones like Saari Saari Raat (Aji Bas Shukriya, 1958).

Our pick for the last spot is Ek Din Yeh Aansoo from Heera Moti (1959).

Play
Ek Din Yeh Aansoo, Heera Moti (1959).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

However, getting two-wheeler riders to wear protective headgear has always been an uphill battle, one that has intensified through the years owing to the lives lost due on the road. Communication tactics are generating awareness about the consequences of riding without a helmet and changing behaviour that the law couldn’t on its own. But amidst all the tag-lines, slogans and get-ups that reach out to the rider, the safety of the one on the passenger seat is being ignored.

Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

Despite the alarming statistics, pillion riders, who are as vulnerable as front riders to head-injuries, have never been the focus of helmet awareness and safety drives. To fill-up that communication gap, Reliance General Insurance has engineered a campaign, titled #FaceThePace, that focusses solely on pillion rider safety. The campaign film tells a relatable story of a father taking his son for cricket practice on a motorbike. It then uses cricket to bring our attention to a simple flaw in the way we think about pillion rider safety – using a helmet to play a sport makes sense, but somehow, protecting your head while riding on a two-wheeler isn’t considered.

This road safety initiative by Reliance General Insurance has taken the lead in addressing the helmet issue as a whole — pillion or front, helmets are crucial for two-wheeler riders. The film ensures that we realise how selective our worry about head injury is by comparing the statistics of children deaths due to road accidents to fatal accidents on a cricket ground. Message delivered. Watch the video to see how the story pans out.

Play

To know more about Reliance general insurance policies, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.