Happy Birthday Suman Ji!

Today I am extremely happy to present this article about my favourite playback singer ‘Suman Kalyanpur‘ on her 81st birthday. I was waiting for this opportunity since I started my blog. The word Suman means Flower and the fragrance of her songs always lingers around us!
Suman Hemady was born on 28th January 1937. Her father held higher post in Central Bank. Hemady family moved to Mumbai in 1942, after Second World War, when little Suman was hardly five. She was very good at painting and singing in school days. She got primary training in music from Keshavrao Bhole, who was a composer himself. Later she took formal training in Classical music from ‘Navrang Nagpurkar’ and ‘ Khansaheb Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan’. The veteran music director and poet Yashwant Dev was her Guru, who also was very much impressed with her soft and sweet voice.

suman k 3Her first recorded Hindi song was for the film Mangu that released in 1954. But, her first released song was from the film, Darwaza in the same year. It is said that, Talat once heard her voice, at a college function and was impressed with it and recommended her name to HMV. Music Director, Mohammad Shafi heard her voice during a Marathi song recording and he instantly gave her an opportunity for his film, Darwaza. She recorded two solos and a duet with Talat (Ek Dil Do Hai Talabgar), the latter is popular till date.
After that she worked with many music directors, but unfortunately the films were B grade or low budget. So she sang a number of songs in late 1950s, some of those were popular, but big production houses were still a distant dream! But she continued working, her songs kept on playing on radio and she slowly became a well known name in Hindi film industry.

nandaji & Suman

She married Ramanand Kalyanpur on 27th April 1958 and took a break from playback singing for a few months. She sang for Kalyanji Anandji in ‘Satta Bazaar’ for the first time after the break. In 1958, ‘Meri Preet Mera Pyar’ from ‘Teerthyatra’ released which proved to be a popular song under the composer Suresh Talwar.
In 1960s, her career progressed much faster, when she got the opportunity to sing for major composers and she was very busy during this period. She sang all types of songs, from romantic songs to bhajans, from lullabies to Qawwalis and from sad songs to Mujra songs. Her voice was very sweet, expressive, but it appeared shaky in high notes. She was very good at expressing the feelings, hidden in the songs and her sad songs were heartwarming and made you cry literally. One such example is ‘Jo Hum Pe Guzarati Hai‘ from Mohhobat Isko Kehte Hai for Khayyam. Majrooh’s poignant lyrics actually turn alive with her voice, her shaky voice at high notes really makes theemotions more intense. She has sung a few Qawwalis, though generally we won’t consider her voice suitable for such songs and yet she manages to come out with flying colours, one such example is ‘Zindagi Hai To’ from Khufia Mahal for music director, Pardesi. I’ll post her duets in next week,I would shed more light on such songs.
Her tender voice in those days was very similar to Lata’s voice. She didn’t boast about it, but the similarity proved to be an obstacle in her future career. She sort of ‘replaced’ Lata in some of the duets in 1960s, when Lata refused to sing with Rafi, due to royalty issues. During this phase, many music directors (Even hard core Lata fans like Madanmohan, Naushad and Salil Choudhari gave her an opportunity to sing for them). But all MDs, again turned to Lata, after the dispute was over and Suman was once again pushed aside. She never made fuss about anything, though different kinds of rumours were instrumental in the background.
It was an injustice in a way to this talented, versatile singer. Unfortunately she never received her due credit, and always remained underrated. She alwaysremained loyal to her job though, which was to sing as a playback whenever opportunity knocked the door. In 70s she remained active and busy for a few years. But she wasn’t treated well by some music directors in late 70s.

suman 2

She always hated the politics that went on in the industry. She was at a concert abroad, when her mother passed away. She always had the guilt of not being able to meet her mother during her last days. Her mother’s death caused a great mental trauma and she lost interest in singing. She was unable to concentrate at her ‘Riyaz’ and always felt the void. Her soft and tender heart was far from tolerating the anguish.
Finally she decided to end her career in Hindi films. Her last song was ‘Zindagi Imtihaan Leti Hai’ from Naseeb in 1980 for Laxmikant Pyarelal.
Her career in Marathi films is undoubtedly more glorious and glamorous, which I intend to underline in another post, someday!

I have planned this post in two parts. This first part deals with her solo songs with prominent as well as other music directors.

Let’s make our way through this fragrant melodious journey……….

1. Koi Pukare Dheere Se Tujhe – Mangu (1954) / Mohd. Shafi – Saba Afghani
This is her first recorded song, which is a lullaby song. She recorded three songs for this film under Mohd Shafi’s music direction. But he left the film midway and O P Nayyar took over. Her other two songs were cut out, but the lori remained. It’s a beautiful lori sung with love and the humming Aalaps that run in the song are said to be by Hemant Kumar and Bela Bose. If you haven’t heard this song before, here it is for you. Enjoy it!

2. Likh De Piya Ka Naam – Saranga (1960) / Sardar Malik – Bharat Vyas
This is her only song for the movie. Even with other Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar songs, it makes huge impact due to excellent rendition by Suman. This appears to be pre- marriage song, where she is asking her friend to write her partner’s name in mehendi. Sardar Malik has composed a fabulous tune for this song and what it needs is a quiet and calm attitude to sing it. Suman manages this with ease and makes it a memorable song.

3. Aayi Baad E Bahare Leke – Noorjahan (1967) Roshan – Shakil Badayuni
This is perhaps my most favourite song on this list. As compared to other M Ds, who gave her opportunity as a replacement for some other singers, Roshan gave her fair chance to sing solos as well. This is one of such examples and the song is really a treat. A cheerful song where we can see Meena Kumari as a princess,enjoying and laughing (for a change in late 1960s) with her sahelis in a garden. Suman sings it with open voice,full throat and easily takes the higher notes without shaky voice. If you compare her voice in this song with ‘Sharabi Sharabi Yeh Sawan Ka’ from the same film, there is surprising difference. The songs sound quite apart. A part of it is due to echo effect in the latter song but still…

4. Chhodo Chhodo Mori Baiyyan – Miya Biwi Razi (1961) / S D Burman – Shailendra
This was her first song with the legendary composer, Burman Da. Even if ‘Na Tum Haumen Jano’ is more popular, I particularly chose this song, because it appears to be a straightforward song. But being Burman Da’s song, it has many small twists and turns (Harkats and Murakiyan), which are hard but she has managed to create an impact with this song. The necessary expressions are conveyed beautifully by Suman. She wasn’t preferred for such songs, even though her versatility is quite evident!

5. Itne Bade Jahan Mein – Dark Street (1961) / Dattaram – Indeevar
She had a long association with Dattaram, who worked by and large for B grade films, unfortunately. She began working for him with Kala Aadmi & Shriman Satyavadi, which had her beautiful solos and duets. Their association continued to flourish in 60s. The film Dark Street was a crime thriller, not a Box office success. But this song was a hit of the year and is worth listening to. It was picturised on Nishi (Arman Kohli’s mother). The song has a second part, which is sad of course! My another favourite by this duo is ‘Kyun Uda Jata Hai Aanchal’ from Shriman Satyavadi

6. Haal E Dil Unko Sunana Tha – Fariyad (1964) / Snehal Bhatkar – Kidar Sharma
A beautiful and melodious song, again one of her best songs. Her expressions in the song are too wonderful! Just listen to ‘Aap Ko Apne Banana Tha! Banaya Na Gaya’. Of course the words by Kidar Sharma are beyond excellence. But for a complete song, its presentation also matters a lot! The song wins on all the fronts. She continued singing for B grade movies and the songs even though popular, couldn’t get her much acclaim. But she made a mark in Hindi films, when Mangeshkar sisters were ruling the industry, and she proved herself as a versatile singer.

7. Bujha Diye Hai Khud Apne Haathon – Shagun (1964) / Khayyam – Sahir
My all time favourite song. It’s just too good. I consider it as one of her best Hindi songs. Her sad songs appeal to me more, her voice expresses emotions in those songs too beautifully! Here we have poignant lyrics by Sahir and Wahida Rehman to perform it on screen. She has finally made her mind to forget him but then she finds it impossible. She decides to avoid him and never to mention his name again.

8. Mere Sang Gaa Gunguna – Janwar (1965) / Shankar Jaikishan – Hasrat Jaipuri
She worked with S J for the first time, in Dil Ek Mandir(1963) and then she continued singing for the duo for years to come. This is a classical based song, sung wonderfully. She was comfortable with such songs as well. On screen dance by Rajashree, adds a flavour to the song. My other favourites by the duo are Juhi Ki Kali (Dil Ek Mandir), Pehla Pehla Pyar Hai Yeh (Badtameez) and Ek Thi Nindiya (Seema)

9. Mere Mehboob Na Ja – Noor Mahal (1965) / Jaani Babu Qawwal – Saba Afghani
This is her best known song. (Thanks to Doordarshan – Chitrahar, for introducing this song to my generation in late 80s and 90s) This song actually has four stanzas, and is surely one of the best haunting melodies of Hindi Cinema. Suman must have taken a lot of efforts for the song. It’s a high pitched song throughout and still she manages not to sound loud and irritating! I remember a small funny thing related to the song. Power failure was a routine those days in my city (in 90s), and whenever we used to experience it, me and my sister used to carry lighted candles in hands and move about in home singing this song.

10. Meri Saheliyan Byahi Gayi Saari – Teesara Kaun (1965) / R D Burman – Anand Bakshi
A fun song. All the girls are enjoying at friend’s wedding. The movie had Kalpana & Firoze Khan. Kalpana is singing this song and pretending to be unhappy about her not getting married. Her friends got married; they keep on telling her about their husbands, she has to keep quiet. Finally she was about to get engaged, but her would be husband, rejected her as she isn’t fair skinned. It’s a usual sort of fun that goes around in any marriage! It’s a fun to listen to and watch. Off hand, I can’t remember any other song by Suman with R D Burman. In my observation, she sings cheerful songs with equal ease and her voice appears more real.

11. Sanwariya Re Apni Meera Ko – Aanchal (1960) / C Ramchandra – Pradeep
The song has two versions. The happy version is filmed on Nirupa Roy & Ashok Kumar as a couple and it’s very romantic. sad version has weeping Nirupa Roy singing it, with Ashok KUmar & Nanda. Nanda was very much appreciated in this film, and got Best Supporting Actress Filmfare Award for her role. Both the versions are phenomenally sung by Suman Kalyanpur. I’m posting both the songs.

12. Chhed Na Sajna – Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960) / Kalyanji Anandji – Akhtar Romani
The song opens with Maharashtrian Lawni style music and words. It requires a typical style of singing and different kind of emphasis on certain words. She does that beautifully and again, this song shows her versatility as a singer. Kumkum looks stunning in this typical Lawni attire!

13. Sun Re Sun Albele – Tarzan Comes To Delhi (1965) / Dattaram – Anand Bakshi
This time we have a western style song. A club dance, Helen dancing, in presence of Mumtaz and Dara Singh. Quite an enjoyable song! Helen dances gracefully and flawless. To sing such dance numbers wasn’t Suman’s forte. But she sings it wonderfully. It’s not a great song, I agree, but shows her versatility as a singer.

14. Apne Piya Ki Main To – Kan Kan Mein Bhagwan (1963) / Pandit Shivram – Bharat Vyas
Another popular song from a low budget movie. It’s my favourite, again for Suman’s excellent performance and Bharat Vyas’s pure Hindi lyrics. Oh boy! How easily he assimilates those words.

15. Barkha Bairan Zara Tham Ke Baraso – Sabak (1973) / Usha Khanna – Asad Bhopali
Her association with Usha Khanna started in 60s and continued in 70s. She has sung a few duets as well with Usha Khanna. In this song her long awaited partner is arriving. She is requesting the rain to take a break for a while only to resume after his arrival. Then the rain should pour so heavily that he won’t be able to leave. A cute idea altogether. Enjoy this rain song. The song is a ‘Do Pehlu’ song, where the happy part is by Mukesh and other by Suman.
The songs from Ek Paheli (1971) by Usha Khanna Again, are worth listening and for me ‘Aansoo Ki EK Boond Hoon Main’ is one of her best songs.


I again wish Sumanji happy 81st birthday!

Which is your favourite song by Suman Kalyanpur?


13 Replies to “Happy Birthday Suman Ji!”

  1. I really like Suman Kalyanpur a lot too. Several of the songs in your list are new to me, though you’ve also included some of my favourites (or at least mentioned them – Na tum humein jaano, for one. Nice post, thank you!


    1. Thanks Madhu ji,
      I hope you are fine now. Thanks a lot for your appreciation.
      Na Tum Humein Jano is my favourite too obviously, but I thought it to be too obvious to include, so I included Chhodo Mori baiyyan.


  2. Anup G , Excellent descriptive article with complete info.of Sumanji’s personal as well as hindi cine-sangit life nd the add-on r the top 15 songs U have mentioned .

    It is very clear from the posts of ” Solo nd Duets of Suman ” that U r a die-hard fan of Sumanji.

    ” Her career in Marathi films is undoubtedly more glorious and glamorous, which I intend to underline in another post, someday! ”
    These r Ur words in the article ,So when wud we get the chance to read it .

    If U will nt take it seriously ,Sumanji will ask ” TULA TE AATHVEL KA SAARE ”
    nd finding that U have still nt fulfilled Ur promise , Sumanji sadly will sing ,

    Well , jokes apart , thnx a lot for 2 very nice treats of Suman Geet.
    Waiting eagerly for Ur write – up on ” Suman Kalyanpur Marathi Geete “


    1. Thanks Pramodji for your praising words.
      Yes, I’m a die hard fan of sumanji.
      Your requests about her Marathi song, Let me see when would that be possible!
      I can’t say, but I’ll try. May be next January on her birthday!
      The idea of mentioning her Marathi Bhavgeete was nice, I liked it.
      As soon as I could do it, would be my answer.


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