The Classical Music Giants Contribute to Hindi Cinema – V

Last month I posted the fourth part of this series, which actually was a supplement to the original series. Some readers were surprised to see a fourth part. Those who were not surprised then, let me surprise them with the fifth and finally the final part of the series.

AK ji (from the blog, SoY) commented that there is a scope to complete the series with a part covering the classical instrumentalists contributing to Hindi films. He rightly observed that, even if they had reservations about composing for Hindi films, they readily contributed as instrument players for a song or background score. That was a good suggestion and I started thinking about it. He was kind enough to name a few artists fitting the theme, when I asked for it. And, before I actually start the post, I thank AK ji for the suggestion and dedicate the post to him. Madhulika Liddle (from the blog ‘Dusted off’) also encouraged me to go for it!

The instrumentalists played for a particular song or an entire film, as the case might have been. And compiling the list would certainly add value to the entire series of classical music artists. This off screen contribution is nevertheless noteworthy. It was a difficult task, as no definite information about the stalwarts being associated with a particular song or a film is available, except for a few of them. I have collected other information from various books I came across. So I can not claim authenticity for the information. It’s just a compilation of information that I have gathered.

The classical music giants were called in when a movie needed nothing but the best from the field. When a film based entirely on a Shehnai player was thought of, Ustad Bismillah Khan was engaged with the project. When a dream project like Mughal E Azam was on the floor, a number of classical music stalwarts were involved in the making, some as a vocalist, some as instrumentalists. K Asif wanted the best for his movie. He never cared for the budget, and in the end, the movie turned out to be a class apart! A gem! When a song was woven around a certain musical instrument, the composers insisted for an expert for the song. They achieved the required effect and impact in this way! Some musicians like Pandit Ravi Shankar must have played for their own movies and a few other movies. But when I found no clear cut mention about it, I have not included the name on the list.

Let’s start the list, the classical musicians contributing as instrumentalists for Hindi films, as usual in no particular order.

1. Ustad Bismillah Khan –
bismillah khanHe was a Shehnai player par excellence! He is credited with making the Shehnai a popular concert instrument. He was invited and he performed shehnai on the eve of independence in 1947 and on first republic day in 1950. He is best known for his contribution for Goonj Uthi Shehnai in 1959. He has played the Shehnai for all recitals and songs in the film. He has a similar association with the Kannada film, Sanaadi Appanna. He has participated in various music festivals and concerts across the globe and was acclaimed for the same. He was respected all over the world for the dedication and passion. His disciples are carrying forward the legacy.
He was awarded the highest civilian honour, ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 2001.

Tere Sur Aur Mere Geet – Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) Lata Mangeshkar / Vasant Desai – Bharat Vyas
The playful sounds of Shehnai accompany us all the way. The prelude as well as the interlude pieces are adorned with the beautiful Shehnai. It appears as if we’re standing in a temple, the song has that divine touch.

Teri Shehnai Bole – Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Vasant Desai – Bharat Vyas
The song opens with a soul touching piece of Shehnai. Even if it’s not used in the stanza, it perfectly creates the expected ambience in the song.

2. Pandit Ram Narayan –
ram-narayanHe is credited for popularizing Sarangi as a solo concert instrument in Indian classical music. He became attached to Sarangi at an early age and soon achieved expertise. He joined AIR Lahore as a Sarangi player when he was 17, and later moved to Delhi. But he wanted to expand his field and in 1949, he joined Hindi cinema. He worked with all major Hindi film composers as a Sarangi player, for films like, Adalat, Ganga Jamna, Kashmir Ki Kali, Mughal E Azam.
He followed his dream of performing solo in concerts and soon touched sky heights as a classical instrumentalist. He was awarded with Padma Vibhushan in 2005.
Sarangi has been an important instrument for a Mujra song, or a song sung by Kothewali. Nearly all such songs have Sarangi in the prelude or interlude. But Sraangi has been a versatile instrument, O P Nayyar and Naushad have used it beautifully in romantic and playful songs as well, in the above mentioned films. It is said that, Pandit Ram Narayan was O P Nayyar’s favourite and he always insisted on his presence for the final take.
But to select an apt song, I would choose,

Yun Hasarton Ke Daag – Adalat (1957) Lata Mangeshkar / Madan Mohan – Rajendra Krishan
There is a beautiful pieces of Sarangi in the interlude, that bestows a soulful touch on the composition. It highlights the sorrow of Nargis’s character.

3. Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan –
abdul halim khanThe well known Sitar maestro was associated with Hindi cinema since 1946. Composer Khurshid Anwar introduced him with the film, Parwana. His notable films are, Anarkali, Mughal E Azam, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, Kohinoor, Goonj Uthi Shehnai etc. His contribution as a classical instrumentalist has enriched the Indian classical music. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

Zindagi Pyar Ki Do Char Ghadi – Anarkali (1953) Hemant Kumar / C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishan
The sitar complements the melody beautifully.

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re – Kohinoor (1960) Rafi / Naushad – Shakil Badayuni
The sitar in the final face off between Kumkum and Dilip Kumar is enriched with the maestro’s touch. It is said that Dilip Kumar actually learnt the basics of sitar, so that he should look natural on screen. And it does to a full effect!

4. Ustad Ali Akber Khan –
Ali Akbar KhanHe was a classical musician, a Sarod player. He has also composed for a handful of films. For Hindi films, he has Aandhiyan (1952) and Humsafar (1953) to his credit. In 1955 film Seema, Ali Akbar Khan played the Sarod, that formed an important part of the song, ‘Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya Ki’. It is said that when Shankar Jaikishan approached him for the song, he wasn’t ready at first. But Shankar took pains and efforts to learn the basics of Sarod and then made him listen to the Sarod interludes. He praised the duo and was ready for the song.
Suno Chhoti Si Gudiya Ki Lambi Kahani – Seema (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Shankar Jaikishan – Hasrat Jaipuri
The prelude and the interludes are full of Sarod pieces. This is the sad version of the song and the Sarod adds to the overall mood of the song.

5. Pandit Samta Prasad –
Pandit Samta PrasadHe was a classical musician and Tabla player from Banaras. After the initial training from his father, he was trained under Pandit Bikku Maharaj. He soon established himself as a solo Tabla player and as an accompanist in classical music concerts. He performed in India and abroad as well.

He was also associated with Hindi films. Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, Meri Surat Teri Aankhen, Basant Bahar and Sholay are among the notable films, he has worked for! It is said that, S D Burman wanted him for a song from meri Surat Teri Aankhen and postponed its recording till Smata Prasad was available!
I’m of course going to add the song ‘Nache Man Mora Magan’.

Nache Man Mora Magan – Meri Surat Teri Aankhen (1963) Rafi / S D Burman – Shailendra
The raag Bhairavi based song is an example of one of the finest classical based songs of Hindi cinema. The tabla is played in keharwa Taal (as per the internet, my personal knowledge is zero) and for the specific rhythm, Burman da wanted an expert like Samta Prasad. The tabla beats are enchanting.

6. Pannalal Ghosh –
pannalal ghoshIn my last post on classical artists, we have seen his contribution as a composer in Hindi films. In addition he was known for playing flute for a number of film songs under other composer’s baton. His contribution as a flute player is incredible and let me add his most well known song, from Basant Bahar.

Main Piya Teri Tu Mane – Basant Bahar (1956) Lata Mangeshkar / Shankar Jaikishan – Hasrat Jaipuri
What can I say about the song? It sounds like a Jugalbandi between Lata Mangeshkar and Panna babu’s flute. The latter closely follows former’s voice. A great song, greatly played flute.

7. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma –
shivkumar sharmaHis role as a composer with Hariprasad Chourasiya is well known. He himself has played Santoor for Hindi film songs. In his early days, he was also known for playing Tabla. And the two most famous Lata solos from the movie, Guide had him as a Tabla player for Burman da. I’m obviously adding the song from Guide.

Mose Chhal Kiye Jaye – Guide (1965) Lata Mangeshkar / S D Burman – Shailendra
When Sharma was known for his tabla, Burman da called him for the song, much important in the movie.

Aaj Koi Pyar Se – Sawan Ki Ghata (1966) Asha Bhosle / O P Nayyar – Majrooh
I found Shivkumar Sharma’s name mentioned in connection with this beautiful Asha Bhosle solo. The Jugalbandi between santoor and violins in the opening piece is simply out of this world! The santoor piece in the first interlude is also impressive.

8. Pandit Hariprasad Chourasiya –
hariprasad chourasiyaApart from his contribution as a composer, he has played flute for a number of songs in Hindi cinema. I could not find a particular song that is credited to him as a flute player. But there is mention of him as a musician in Hindi film songs, so I’m including him on the list.
And, I’m adding a song from one of his own films,

Tere Mere Hothon Pe – Chandni (1989) Lata Mangeshkar & Babla / Shiv Hari – Anand Bakshi
The flute in the prelude of the song is popular till now and surely deserves to be. The flute appears throughout the song and the sweetness is unparalleled.

Have I missed any important name?

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

6 Replies to “The Classical Music Giants Contribute to Hindi Cinema – V”

  1. Anup,
    Thanks a lot for taking up my and Madhu’s suggestion, and coming up with an excellent post. I guess Ravi Shankar must have played the sitar in the films he composed. And he would have surely played it in Satyajit Ray’s movies.


  2. Lovely songs, and thank you especially for the revelation of who played the sitar in Madhuban mein Radhika naache re. It’s one of my favourite songs, so discovering this was very satisfying for me!


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