The Classical Music Giants contribute to Hindi Cinema – II

I’m late to come with the second part of the series. I was busy with other work and couldn’t really manage to look at this part for a week or so. It has been nearly more than two weeks, from my last post. But, better late than never!

Here I’m with the second part of the series. Today we’ll have a look at the contribution of classical vocalists to Hindi films, as a playback singer. The list appears exhaustive, I have further divided it in two parts.
Right from the golden era of Hindi films, a number of classical vocalists have contributed to Hindi Cinema. I think, in the introduction of the previous post, I have covered most of the aspects of their involvement in Hindi film songs. The classical singers were requested to lend the voice, mainly when a song is purely classical based, and only a classical singer could do full justice to it! I think, even in the 1940s a few classical singers have sung for Hindi films.

In the last post, I encouraged the readers to give their opinions about the possible reasons of failure of these giants in Hindi films. A few readers expressed their views on the subject. Dusted off had a view that the classical giants could not get enough time to pay attention to composing for films, and that they worked for a handful of films. It takes a long time to establish as a composer in the industry, and If they could have stuck around for long, they might have become successful. I think the explanation is possibly one of the simplest reasons. And I agree. Songs of Yore said, the two fields are completely different and the failure should not be held against them. I also had expressed a similar view in the last post that, the fields are totally different and it was unfair to compare them.

Let’s now move on to the list, without further ado. The classical music vocalists contributing as playback singers in Hindi films.


firoz dastur

He was Indian classical vocalist of the Kirana Gharana, though he has sung and acted in Hindi films as well. He started his music lessons with Krishnarao Jaokar, and later joined Sawai Gandharv. He was a faculty member of Hindustani classical music at Mumbai University, and was a regular participant at सवाई गंधर्व महोत्सव in Pune from 1953 to 2008.
He was a popular child actor – singer in the 1930s. But after his training in classical music, he devoted himself completely to classical singing. His first public performance as a classical vocalist was quite early, in his late teens actually.

But on and off, he sang for Hindi films, like
Lal E Yaman (1933) Music by Master Mohammad, Joseph David
The Return of Toofan Mail (1942) Music by Gyan Datt
Sharbati Aankhen (1945) Music by Firoz Nizami
Prabhu Ka Ghar (1945) Music by Bulo C Rani
Pujari (1946) Music by Hansraj behl
Gul Bakawali (1947) Music by Firoz Dastur & Bandu Khan
Neki Aur Badi (1949) Music by Roshan
Bhumika (1977) Music by Vanraj Bhatia
He was a child artist, and one of the highest paid of his times too. We may skip his songs from Lal E Yaman, as far as today’s post is concerned.

My choices would be

Kyun Jee Scent Lagaya Hai – Neki Aur Badi (1949) / Roshan

A duet with Amirbai Karnataki, with elements of cute Chhed-Chhad.

Ghat Ghat Mein Ram Ramaiya – Bhumika (1977) / Vanraj Bhatia (Traditional Lyrics)


ustad amir khan

He was one of the greatest Indian classical vocalists, and founder of the Indore gharana. He contributed generously to Hindi films and sung a number of classical based songs that are still remembered for the rendition.
He has sung for the following films,
Baiju Bawra (1952) – Naushad
Shabab (1954) – Naushad
Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) – Vasant Desai
Raagini (1958) – O P Nayyar

I would pick, Both the credits songs
Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje – Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955) Ustad Amir Khan & Chorus / Vasant Desai


Jogiya Mere Ghar Aaye – Raagini (1958) / O P Nayyar


d v paluskar

Pandit Dattatray Vishnu Paluskar was Hindustani classical vocalist of the Gwalior Gharana. His father Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was a well known classical singer and he was trained under his father’s guidance. His voice was very expressive and is considered one of the sweetest male voices of classical vocalists.
His memorable contribution to Hindi films is his duet with Ustad Amir Khan. But the film, Baiju Bawra is till date remembered for the song. A Jugalbandi between Baiju and Tansen.

The winner of the contest, is the singer who melts the marble, kept in a water bowl.
Aaj Gawat Man Mero Jhumake – Baiju Bawra (1952) D V Paluskar & Ustad Amir Khan / Naushad – Shakeel Badayuni
Both the stalwarts neck and neck. Excellent musical masterpiece. Immortal!

The credits song of Baiju Bawra
Tori Jai Jai Kartar – Baiju Bawra (1952) D V Paluskar / Naushad



He was a classical vocalist known for his Khyal singing. He has sung a number of bhajans and अभंग in Marathi, Hindi and other languages too.
He was a disciple of Sawai Gandharv and he along with Vasatrao Deshpande, started the most famous सवाई गंधर्व महोत्सव in 1953, as a homage to his guru. His first live performance was in 1941, when he was 19.
His most popular Hindi film song is from Basant Bahar, at the time he was young and upcoming classical singer. After a long gap of about two decades, he sang for Birbal My Brother (1973) & Sant Tulsidas in 1975. Jaidev called him for Ankahee in 1985 and made him sing two spectacular Bhajans.
Basant Bahar (1956) – Shankar Jaikishan
Birbal My Brother (1973) – Shyam Prabhakar
Sant Tulsidas (1972) – Ram Kadam
Ankahee (1985) – Jaidev

Let me add my favourites,
Ketki Gulab Juhi – Basant Bahar (1956) Bhimsen Joshi & Manna Dey / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra

Ram Prabhu Aadhar Jagat Ke – Sant Tulsidas (1972) / Ram Kadam – B D Mishra

Thumak Thumak Pag – Ankahee (1985) / Jaidev


bade ghulam ali khan

It’s a very well known story as to how, K Asif persuaded Ustad Saab for the songs of Mughal E Azam. It’s said that, Ustad ji asked for twenty five thousand each song, parhaps because he wasn’t interested in film songs. But K Asif was ready with the amount and Ustad ji had to sing. Naushad also has told the story of the recordings of the songs. It seems, he was a difficult man to work with, when it came to film songs. But the end result was fantastic.
My choice would obviously be,
Prem Jogan Ban Ke – Mughal E Azam (1960) / Naushad
A memorable and immortal romantic scene between Salim & Anarkali. The song runs in the background and highlights the soft romance.


nirmala devi

She was classical vocalist of Patiala Gharana and was also Hindi film actress in the 1940s. She is actor Govinda’s mother, and her Husband Arun Kumar Ahuja was a well known actor of the 1940s.
Savera (1942) and Sharda (1942) were her earlier known films. The latter had a couple of songs by Nirmala Devi. She sang for a number of films later and she acted in her earlier films opposite her husband, Arun Ahuja. It is said that, after his husband faced failure in film production, their financial situation was difficult. She started performing in concerts all over India, and her classical singing used to have a mesmerizing effect on the audience. She also sang some rare raagas and thumris.

I should have a separate post based on her songs. I would pick a couple of songs for today’s post

Saanjh Bhayi Aao Piya – Sehra (1948) / S Mohinder
I hadn’t heard any of her songs, and now I can’t wait to listen to more songs.


Akhiyan Milake Bhagna Na – Jeevan (1944) / Naushad – Majrooh



Lakshmi Shankar was a popular classical vocalist of the Patiala Gharana. She was known for her Khyal, Thumri performances. She rendered many bhajans which are still popular. She married, Uday and Ravi Shankar’s brother Rajendra Shankar in 1941. She started her career as a dancer, but later had to give up dancing. She was already associated with Carnatic music and later trained herself in classical singing under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan.
She had a number of Hindi film songs to her credit. I think the first one was from Aandhiyan in 1952.
Later she sang for, Roshan, Madan Mohan, Vasant Desai, Jaidev, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Arun Kumar, Kalyanji Anandji, Bhupen Hazarika etc. It was not that, she always sang for the main lead. But she sang all the film songs with dedication and conviction. And all of her film songs are not classical based, she sang light musical songs as well. The songs I’ve selected, offer her range as a playback singer.

Aaye Sajna Hamar – Tanksaal (1955) Lakshmi Shankar & S D Batish / Roshan – Prem Dhawan
A cute song, I had heard it many years back and had forgotten about it. Thanksfully, I remembered it and included here.

Jab Se Tune Bansi Bajai Re – Aarop (1974) / Bhupen Hazarika – Maya Govind

Kahe Kanha Karat Barjori – Bawarchi (1972) Lakshmi Shankar & Chaube Maharaj / Madan Mohan


krishnrao chonkar

Master krishnarao Chonkar was born in 1908, in Bombay. In music, he was trained by Govindrao Dhurandhar, Mohan Palekar & Shankar rao. He joined Gandharva Natak mandali as a
Hero in dramas after matriculation. He used the classical music on his stage performance mainly.
Though he sang in early films, no records are made. From 1940 to 1960, again he worked in films like Mali-44, Chhatrapati Shivaji-52 etc .
His some songs in films Pooja-54, Rani Roopmati -59 and Hamara Hindustan, etc were popular. In 1962, he directed a Marathi film Nandadeep. He had 2 daughters and one son.
The elder daughter Nalini Chinkar was an actress in Marathi and Hindi films. (I thank Mr. Arun Kumar Deshmukh for providing this information)

Films of Krisnarao Chonkar as an actor are
Sohni Mahiwal-33
Saubhagya laxmi-34
Kala Vagh-34
Flashing Sword-34
Afgan Bala-34
Payam e ulfat-35
Kamroo desh ki kamini-35
Bahadur Beti-35.

And to choose songs, let me add

Rumjhum Ke Bajao – Pooja (1954) with Rafi / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra

A widely known song,
Baat Chalat Nayi Chunari Rang Dari – Rani Rupmati (1959) with Rafi / S N Tripathi


saraswati rane

She is the daughter of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, and her first Guru was her own brother, Sureshbabu Mane and then her elder sister, Hirabai Badodekar. She was top grade radio artist and also participated as a playback singer in Marathi & Hindi films. She sang for C Ramchandra, Shankar Rao Vyas, Sudhir Phadke. She was also a very popular भावगीत गायिका in Marathi. She along with her sister, Hirabai started the concept of Jugalbandi by ladies vocalists. She was a frequent performer at the सवाई गंधर्व महोत्सव in Pune.

I will choose,
Beena Madhur Madhur Kachhu Bol – Ram Rajya (1943) / Shakar Rao Vyas – Ramesh Gupta


Tinak Tin Taani – Sargam (1950) Saraswati Rane & Lata Mangeshkar / C Ramchandra – P L Santoshi
The song appears light hearted one, where Saraswati Rane sings for a lady singing with comic expressions. Both the voices are apt.

Mondar Baju Baju Re – Bhumika (1977) / Vanraj Bhaita (Traditional Lyrics)


pandit jasraj

He was a renowned classical vocalist of Mewati Gharana. He was inspired by Begum Akhtar and took keen interest in classical singing. He is famous for Khyal and Thumri Gayaki, though he added his own flavour to it by adding elements of different Gharanas. He created a form of Jugalbandi called Jasrangi, where a male and a female vocalist sing in different Ragas at the same time. He is also known for Haveli Sangeet, which is a form of semi classical performance in temples. Pandit ji organises ‘Pandit Motiram Pandit Maniram Sangeet Samaroh’ in Hyderabad in the memory of his father.
He sang for V Shantaram’s ‘Ladki Sahyadri Ki’ in 1966 under Vasant Desai’s music. V Shantaram was his father in law. Later he sang for Birbal My Brother, which was a Jugalbandi with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi in Raag Malkauns. Latest he sang for Vikram Bhatt’s 1920.

My choices are,
Vandana Karo – Ladki Sahyadri Ki (1966) / Vasant Desai – Bharat Vyas

A Jugalbandi from, Birbal My Brother
Greatly sung in Raag Malkauns, by Pandit Jasraj & Pandit Bhimsen Joshi


Kishori Amonkar

We have already covered her contribution as a composer, for Govind Nihlani’s Drishti (1991). But she had sung for Hindi film much earlier, in the 1960s for V Shantaram’s ‘Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne’. It was a stage performance by Rajashree in the film and the classical based song was sung wonderfully by Kishori Tai. But her mother didn’t approve of her playback singing and Kishori Tai kept herself away from Hindi films for more than 25 years. But in 1991, she not only sang, but composed for Drishti.
She was a non believer in Gharana system, and had created her own style of singing. For her, singing is only singing, it can’t have fixed boundaries. Her songs in Drishti were an expression of her own thoughts in various Raagas. Her wish was to express her own way of singing a Raag and she did it best in her songs from Drishti. Of course, such songs remain limited to a certain audience, and general public ignores it due to its strong classical base.

To choose from her songs,

Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne – Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne (1964) Kishori Amonkar & Chorus / Ramlal – Hasrat Jaipuri
Beautifully sung song, though at places her voice sounds high pitched.

Meha Jhar Jhar Barsat Re – Drishti (1991) Kishori Amonkar / Kishori Amonkar
A thoroughly wonderful song, in Raag Malhar, I guess!

I’ll be back with the third and final part of the series. The last part will continue to cover the classical singers contributing to Hindi cinema, in the 70s and thereafter!

Disclaimer –
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 convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

20 Replies to “The Classical Music Giants contribute to Hindi Cinema – II”

  1. Beautifully written,Anup ji. Very informative and great selection of songs.
    I will mention two songs that will make you exclaim. ” Oh!”

    A Marathi/ Hindi bilingual.
    Music: Ram Kadam.
    Lyrics: ?

    Bhimsen Joshi & Lakshmi Shankar.
    1. Piya bin nahin aavat chain..
    2. Ae ri Maayi Shubh Mangal gaao


    1. Thanks Pradeepji for the appreciation.
      And, Yes
      I came across the Pativatra songs. But I couldn’t get the reference to it being a bilingual film. So I omitted it.
      It has two wonderful duets mentioned by you.
      Thanks a lot for adding those songs to the list.


  2. Anup,
    This is turning out to be a wonderful series. Theses are the singers that came to my mind. I found another song of Pt. Krishnarao Chonkar from the film Shahenshah Akbar (1943), lyrics Pt. Indra, music Ustad Jhande Khan.

    Piya bin Saawan Bhaado nain by Pt. Krishnao Chonkar


  3. I thoroughly went through both your posts today. It is so wonderful. I knew some songs, but most were new. Needless to say all are great.
    My mother tells me often that when they were young my Nanaji used to open Akashvani and many a times they woke up to D. V. Paluskar’s “Payo ji maine Ram rattan Dhan payo”. In her opinion no other rendition can beat that.
    Looking forward to the next part.


    1. “My mother tells me often that when they were young my Nanaji used to open Akashvani and many a times they woke up to D. V. Paluskar’s “Payo ji maine Ram rattan Dhan payo”. In her opinion no other rendition can beat that”

      Oh my god! Would you believe, if I tell you, my mother says exactly the same thing!
      These stalwarts were so great really!
      All the songs they sang are wonderful.


  4. “Oh my god! Would you believe, if I tell you, my mother says exactly the same thing!”-
    Yes I would totally believe it.
    We lost D. V. Paluskar way too early, but what he did in that meagre time is just beyond words.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A Mixed Bag

Science, Literature, Sports n more ............

Evergreen Indian film music

Great film music and great music directors

Rekha's Sousaphone

"Geet, beet, bajao baaja!"


The spice of life

Songs Of Yore

A Journey Through Golden Era Of Hindi Film Music

%d bloggers like this: