This theme has been in my mind ever since I started my blog. After making various song lists having a particular word, I thought of various locations where the song is picturised.
A few months back, while I was preparing my post ‘My Favourite Eye songs’, I came across a song that was picturised as a Radio song. By that I mean it was shown as being aired on a transistor. I got interested ( I mentioned so in the post that time as well) and looked for similar songs. That’s when I discovered that majority of those songs are picturised in a radio station’s recording studio. That brought me back to my original theme of Recording studio Songs. Further I gathered interesting bits of information about the recording studios and history of song recording in India.
India’s first ever audio record dates back to 1902, when Gauhar Jaan sang a khayal in raag Jogiya for a 78 rpm gramophone record, on 2nd November 1902 in Calcutta (now Kolkata). The recording engineers were Emile Berliner and Fred Gaisberg. Gauhar Jaan announced- “My name is Gauhar Jaan ” at the end of the record. Two large hotel rooms were converted into studio for the recording. This record was a sensational attraction those days and was very popular.
Whenever we think of a recording studio, we get an image in our mind. A person wearing headphones is singing in a soundproof room and the composer is conducting the orchestra for a smooth and flawless melody. But our Hindi film industry wasn’t that fortunate in the beginning. The first Hindi film song record was launched in 1932 for the film, Madhuri. It had two songs by Vinayakbua Patvardhan, under composer Pransukh Naik. It was followed by the films, Amrit Manthan (Music by Keshavrao Bhole) and Chandidas (Music by R C Boral) in the year 1934. Both these records turned out to be hugely popular.
〈 A senior blogger AKji from Songs of Yore provided a different info about the first Hindi film song record. The first recorded Hindi film song was from a 1931 film ‘Trapped’ or ‘Farebi Jaal’ (1931). click here for its link on youtube. The conclusion is drawn from a researched doctoral thesis by Shri Narendra Shrimali.〉
In old days such song recordings used to take place live. Concept of playback singing was yet to come.That meant the actors used to act and sing at the same time, which is very difficult indeed. The shooting used to be at night so as to keep noise levels to minimum,as soundproof rooms weren’t available . The cinematographer had to take care not to include the musicians in the view. They would be hidden in thick bushes or would climb a tree. It sounds very funny and impossible today, but just think about that time. How hard these people worked for a song! One more similar incident about Shankar Rao Vyas, who wanted an echo effect for a song from a movie, Vikramaditya (1945). He went straight to a temple with a high dome and got the song recorded there at night, with the desired effect. Hats off to these brilliant people, who thought of a solution to overcome any obstacle. Such was the passion.
After the introduction of playback singing, the scenario changed for good. Now the actors no longer needed a qualification of being at least an average singer! Still there were lots of difficulties. There used to be only one microphone for the singers, and another for musicians. I think, the songs in 1950s must have been recorded like this. If the singers want to record a duet, one would sing his/her line, get away noiselessly for other singer to sing, and come again for their own part. And, if a musician makes a mistake, the whole track would be recorded again from the top. There was also no technique to alter the intensity of sound, if the sound was supposed to come from a distance, the singer had to stand away from mic, slowly advancing towards it, to get the desired effect.
Further more, if the two singers with different voice quality, for example, Lata’s soft voice and Shamshad’s stern voice were to be recorded for a duet, Lata would stand close to mic, whereas Shamshad would stand some feet away from the mic, to get an equal intensity of both the voices. Same was the case with players, there used to be places marked for the musicians, with respect to the microphone, to achieve the required effect. I remember one incident narrated by Anil Biswas in one of his interviews. For a certain film, the situation in the song required voices of the chorus coming from different directions. He marked the places for the chorus who stood at different angles and distances from the mic, and sang it softly or loudly as per Anil da’s directions. The final result was ultimate. But fortunately the scene changed soon, and became a lot more sophisticated.
A recording studio of today’s era is a specialized place designed by an audio/sound engineer, for sound recording, mixing and audio production of instrumental or vocal musical performances. Their size can range from a small one, adequate for a singer-guitarist, to a large building enough for a 100 musicians orchestra. The technical details of course do not form a part of this post, (I went through the details on the net, and it was very interesting). Now a days with the help of multi track recording the music tracks are already ready and singers can record their part, whenever they get time. So now, for duets, the singers may not come together. But this has resulted in a sort of dry songs, the soul seems missing. Have we lost the emotions in a song in the process? Something to think about really!
I would like to add some details about the radio studios, called as broadcasting studios, as the songs on the list mainly have a radio studio where the singer is singing and it’s getting aired live. These studios are essentially similar to the other recording studios. They have soundproof isolation booths, where the singer and the musicians perform live. They also have the equipments like telephone hybrid, POTS codec, dead air alarm (this detects unexpected silence) and a broadcast delay for dropping unwanted sounds like coughing.
Coming back to today’s theme, Such songs actually are meant to underline the circumstances in the movie or the emotions, a character is going through at that point! Or the songs appear as a part of the movie, where the character is a singer. I think, many of the movies on the list fall under the latter category.
Here are ten songs pictured in a recording studio. Majority of the films are from pre70s era ( though this time I’ve crossed timeline of the blog) and the songs are in no particular order.
1. Baharon Ne Jise Chheda Hai – Sunehare Din (1949) Mukesh / Gyandatt – Shewan Rizavi
One of the early films of Raj Kapoor, when he wasn’t an established star. It’s a story of a singer, Premendra (Raj Kapoor), who has three women as his big fans, Rehana, Nigar Sultana, and Roop Kamal. The three are good friends.
The film had some good songs, including this one. He is singing it live and the women are listening to it on a radio. A thoroughly enjoyable song.
2. Sari Sari Raat Teri Yaad – Aji Bas Shukriya (1958) Lata Mangeshkar / Roshan – Faruq Kaiser
This song gives a good idea about the recording process those days. There is only one microphone high up for all the musicians.
Perhaps the most popular song from the movie. I like Geeta Bali, but the picturisation is not at all impressive in my opinion. It changes into a dream sequence later.
3. Woh Hum Na The – Cha Cha Cha (1964) Rafi / Iqbal Qureshi – Neeraj
Here, the hero, Chandrashekhar, is a blind singer. Helen helps him for the operation to regain his eyesight. She takes him to a big city for a better prospect and gradually they fall in love. But her relatives do not approve of it.
We can hear the radio announcement before the song, and Helen listening to it with tearful eyes. One of the earlier hits by Neeraj.
4. Apni Ada Par Main Hoon Fida – Teen Batti Char Rasta (1953) Lata Mangeshkar / Pandit Shivram – P L Santoshi
A film, directed by V Shantaram, that speaks about the beauty of one’s soul rather than the external appearance. Sandhya plays a role of a popular singer, who is not conventionally good looking. The song also comments about the inner beauty, giving metaphors about the Chand- Chakor and Shama-Parwana. I don’t know if handing the mic-stand really causes any disturbance during the recording. She handles the mic as if taking support of it for standing, makes me feel horrible.
5. Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhulegi – Barsaat Ki Raat (1960) Rafi / Roshan – Sahir
My most favourite on the list. For me, the song means Madhubala, the ever gorgeous Madhubala and no one but Madhubala. A treat for eyes and ears. Enjoy its lyrics, Rafi’s voice, Roshan’s tune and Madhubala. It’s like a perfectly carved sculpture by Sahir.
6. Pyar Karne Walon Ke Liye – Apradhi (1949) Sitara Kanpur / Sudhir Phadke – Amar Verma
One of the early movies of Madhubala. A lesser known song, it says the world is full of love and its meaningless without love, care and affection. Look at the preliminary studio setting with only one microphone for all. Not much is known about the film. Enjoy the beautiful song. Music director Sudhir Phadke didn’t get his due credit. He always remained underrated and limited to mythological and low budget films. Although he had a lot to offer to Hindi films as well.
7. Ek Tha Bachpan – Ashirwad (1968) Lata Mangeshkar / Vasant Desai – Gulzar
A heart warming song, but very badly performed on screen.Such poignant lyrics, great tune by Vasant Desai. The girl is missing her father badly, and all she has got left is her childhood memories.She is numb with her grief and she remembers her father playing with her cuddling her.Now it is all gone. The actress doesn’t show these emotions well in my opinion.
8. Hum Ne Dekhi Hai – Khamoshi (1969) Lata Mangeshkar / Hemant Kumar – Gulzar
A song of late 60s. We can see the changes in the recording studio as compared to the songs from early 50s, an independent room for the announcer and controller etc. A completely mesmerizing song with beautiful lyrics. It talks about the tenderness and freshness of love. The singer does a bit over acting in my opinion, but goes well with the lyrics.
9. Loote Koi Man Ka Nagar – Abhiman (1973) Lata Mangeshkar & Manhar / S D Burman – Majrooh
Abhiman is actually a 1970s movie, but its music retains the flavour of 60s. Thanks to S D Burman! In the song, we can see the process of recording as it was in those days. It’s being recorded for a track, on a good quality tape. We can clearly see the isolation booth, the musicians, the sound recordist, sitting in a separate room and monitoring the progress. It’s of course quite melodious to listen to as well. I like Jaya Bhaduri a lot, so for me she is the main attraction of the video.
The film was about a singer couple, that faces problems due to his ego. She becomes more popular and his male ego gets hurt. No need to say more,it’s well known.
10. Baadal Chandi Barsaye – Saaz (1997) Devaki Pandit & Jyotsana Hardikar/Bhupen Hazarika – Javed Akhtar
I included this song, firstly as the period depicted in the movie is 1950s, and secondly, its story was said to be similar to a real life sibling rivalry. The picturisation gives us a good idea of the recording process, in 1950s, when high tech studios were not available. Both singers are singing on the same mic with the musicians playing the instruments live.
The films is about two sisters, both singers, who try to establish themselves in the hindi films as playback singers. The elder one, Manasi, is talented and now popular too. She decides to encourage her younger sister, Bansi. But she doesn’t actually want her to succeed.She wants to be the number one, always. So even if she pretends to help her sister, actually she doesn’t allow her to sing her lines. Manasi sings all the lines herself and Bansi’s contribution is restricted to supportive words, ‘Rumjhum Rumjhum Rumjhum’.
Which song would you add?
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.