Kamal Barot – a forgotten voice.

Talking of the Golden era of Hindi film music always brings memories of various first rung playback singers. But there were a few playback singers, who couldn’t leave a mark. Among them Kamal Barot is one of the prominent names. Her career was highly limited to duets, so much so that we can hardly remember her solos. She has also trios and quartets to her credit. Though her songs were also popular, it hardly helped her build her career. Let’s listen to her memorable songs on her 82nd Birthday.

kamal-barot

Born in a Gujarati family, on 18th November 1938, in Tanzania, Africa, Kamal was interested in singing since her childhood. Nothing is known about her music teachers. She came to Bombay (now Mumbai) in the late 1950s. Her debut as a playback singer was with the movie, Sharda in 1957 under the baton of C Ramchandra. It was a stage performance, a quartet with Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle and Chandabala. Obviously her separate identity was not established. And she must have been very young, still in her late teens. Nothing much happened for a couple of years, except a duet with Lata Mangeshkar in Madari in 1959. The last year of the 1950s, however, brought her fame, when she sang for Roshan for Barsaat Ki Raat. It was a wonderful classical based song, a duet with Suman Kalyanpur. The coming decade saw her sing solos as well, though very few, and the majority of the songs belonged to B or C grade films. Her duets with male and female playback singers were released throughout the 1960s.

Unfortunately she was not considered a first rung singer and her contribution was usually confined to a song or two for the majority of the films. Even if some of her trios and quartets were popular, the songs could not help her build her career. Later she also sang private songs, but I think those songs also went unnoticed.
Her brother Chandra Barot is well known for the film Don. I wasn’t aware of their relationship, came to know about it, only during the research for the post.

Kamal Barot’s voice was unconventional. It had a nasal touch and was somewhat similar to the singers of the 1940s. It also had an innocence that made it suitable for children’s songs. But there was something distinct about her voice, it was certainly completely different from the other playback singers. We can call it tangy. Her voice was full of sweetness, that compels us to listen to her songs again and again. Her duets with female playback singers were mostly dance numbers, and she also sang club songs. Her duets with the male playback singers were largely confined to supporting characters. She got to sing for the main lead characters only occasionally, that too for B or C grade films. It’s interesting to note that she sang for top composers as well in her career. Madan Mohan, O P Nayyar, Kalyanji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Chitragupt are some of her prominent associations. She has also worked with Usha Khanna, Ravi, S N Tripathi, etc.

While I was exploring her Hindi film songs, I found eight of her solos among the total of around 120+ songs. That’s quite a negligible number. And though a couple of her solos are relatively well known, the others are not very popular. And while searching I was surprised to find her official YouTube channel. I’ll come to it later of course.

Let’s have a look at some of her solos.

1. Suna Hai Jabse Mausam – Ramudada (1961) / Chitragupt – Majrooh
What a cute and sweet Chitragupt melody! I’m in love with it right from the day I heard it. Kamal Barot’s voice sounds like an innocent child, yet it’s full of expressions. Sheila Vaz wearing a kimono dances to it. The tune is catchy, Majrooh’s lyrics are meaningful and good, and sung very well by Kamal Barot. If anyone wants to know the magic of Kamal Barot’s voice, listen to it.

2. Murge Ne Jhooth Bola – Manmauji (1962) / Madan Mohan – Rajendra Krishan
Kamal Barot’s voice resembles that of an innocent child and in the song, she sings for a girl. She sings parables and it’s interesting to watch birds and animals acting very aptly. The song is quite popular.

3. Kahiye Janab Kaisa Haal Hai – Gangu (1962) / Kalyanji Anandji – Qamar Jalalabadi
While Kamal Barot is a perfect choice for a child’s playback, listen to a club song sung by her. Her expressions are perfect and she appears at home with the club songs too. How easily she modulates her voice!

4. Aaj Humko Hasaye Na Koi – Badshah (1964) / N Datta – Anand Bakshi
Listen to the song before you typecast her for any genre. The grief and the sad expressions in her voice are wonderful. Otherwise the actress is too average to express anything.

Let’s move on to the most popular part of her career, that is duets. Her duets with other female playback singers were very much popular, namely the Mangeshkar sisters. But actually there are just a handful of her duets with Lata Mangeshkar. She has sung maximum number of female duets with Asha Bhosle (around 20), followed by Suman Kalyanpur (around 15). Her other frequent female co-singers include Usha Mangeshkar, Krishna Kalle, Shamshad Begum etc.

Let’s start with her duets with female playback singers.

5. Hasta Hua Noorani Chehra – Parasmani (1965) with Lata Mangeshkar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Asad Bhopali
The immense popularity of the song made her a well known singer. Till date her name is mainly remembered in association with the song. For me, this is her most popular and best known Hindi film song.
It is a dance performance by Jeevankala and Nalini Chonkar. Just listen how beautifully her voice amalgamates with the voice of Lata Mangeshkar. The distinct contrast between the two voices is otherwise very apparent.

6. Piya Khinche Hue Bandhe Hue – Dulha Dulhan (1964) with Lata Mangeshkar / Kalyanji Anandji – Anand Bakshi
What an excellent catchy rhythm ! You just start tapping your feet automatically. Sadhna and Madhumati are singing and dancing by a beautiful river. What a picturesque landscape! The tune is quite pleasant and catchy, though I guess the song is not very popular.
Kalyanji Anandji offered quite a good number of songs to Kamal Barot, and many of the songs were popular.

7. Garjat Barsat Sawan Aayo Re – Barsaat Ki Raat (1960) with Suman Kalyanpur / Roshan – Sahir
It’s very popular despite being a credits song. Based on raag malhar, it’s one of the best semi classical songs of Hindi cinema. It is picturised on Shyama and Ratna Bhushan.

8. Ek Do Dus Upar Se Aayi Bus – Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960) with Suman Kalyanpur / Kalyanji Anandji – Shakeel Nomani
This could be perhaps her first song for children. Kamal Barot sings for the girl, while Suman Kalyanpur sings for the boy. An enjoyable song that is quite simple and straightforward. The tune made me think of another song though I haven’t been able to point it exactly.

9. Dadi Amma Dadi Amma Maan Jao – Gharana (1961) with Asha Bhosle / Ravi – Shakeel Badayuni
It is perhaps her best known children’s song. A cute song depicting two cute grandsons coaxing their granny. The latter appears to have a faux anger, but she manages to maintain it for quite a long time. Very apt expressions.

10. Hu Tu Tu Tu Tu – Humjoli (1970) with Asha Bhosle & Chorus / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Anand Bakshi
I was not aware of the song, but it sounded interesting. Asha sings for Leena Chandawarkar, while Kamal Barot sings for Aruna Irani, though later in the song the distinction is not maintained. Quite enjoyable I found it!

11. Main To Ho Gayi Re Badnaam – Sunehri Nagin (1963) with Mubarak Begum / Kalyanji Anandji – Vedpal
There are three dancers, but only two voices. Very catchy, foot tapping rhythm. But it’s melodious as well. The film has a couple of dance numbers by Kamal Barot. In general, Interestingly all the songs of the movie are in colour, though the other scenes are in black and white.

Coming to Kamal Barot’s duets with male playback singers. Her duets with Mukesh are quite popular, though I couldn’t find more than three of their duets. Her maximum number of duets among the male singers are with Rafi, followed closely by Mahendra Kapoor. I could find only one duet each with Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey and Subir Sen. It’s interesting to note that her duets with Mukesh are for the main lead pair, but from B or C grade films. On the other hand, her duets with Rafi are picturised on supporting characters or comedy side characters. But some of her duets with Rafi are from A grade films. Her duets with Mahendra Kapoor are mainly for B grade films.

Let’s take a look at her duets with male playback singers.

12. Jabse Hum Tum Baharon Mein – Main Shadi Karne Chala (1962) with Mukesh / Chitragupt – Majrooh
To confess, I’m fond of the other version sung by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur, because I heard it much earlier. So later I could never forget its charm. I know some of the readers like the Mukesh version. Again the innocent voice of Kamal Barot steals the show, though Mukesh has also rendered it perfectly.

13. Na Jane Chand Kaisa Hoga – Rocket Girl (1962) with Mukesh / Chitragupt – Prem Dhawan
One has to agree that Chitragupt was a magician. Just look at the way, he has composed the song. Sounds so simple, but what a beautiful melody. And Kamal Barot is as usual sweet, innocent but with perfect expressions.

14. Kitna Haseen Mera Piya – Sunehra Jaal (1966) with Mahendra Kapoor / Hansraj Behl – Qamar Jalalabadi
I couldn’t avoid the temptation of adding the song to the list, though it was also there on my Hansraj Behl list. Once you listen to the song, you tend to forget about the grade of the movie it belongs to. Just pure melody and Kamal Barot’s childlike nasal voice.

15. Hey Natraj Gangadhar Shambho – Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962) with Mahendra Kapoor / S N Tripathi – Shailendra
It was very apt to offer the song to Kamal Barot, who sang for the little Tansen. It perfectly suits the occasion.

16. Yahan Bhi To Nahi Hai – Preet Na Jane Reet (1966) with Rafi / Kalyanji Anandji – Gulshan Bawra
As I said in the introduction, Rafi’s duet with Kamal Barot are mainly picturised on comedy side characters. This one has Johnny Walker and Minoo Mumtaz. It’s a fun song, very enjoyable and pleasant. He is searching for his lost heart.  Here’s the video.

17. Pehli Nazar Tere Pyar Ki – Tel Malish Boot Polish (1961) with Rafi / Chitragupt – Prem Dhawan
Though the video of the song is not available, it could also be a song picturised on side characters. Catchy tune, foot tapping rhythm, perfect rendition by the singers. It has a funny touch to it, though it’s primarily a romantic song.

As I said in the introduction, Kamal Barot also sang a number of trios and quartets. I could find around 20+ songs in the category. Let’s hear some of the songs.

18. Itni Jaldi Kya Hai Gori – Sati Savitri (1964) with Lata Mangeshkar and Usha Mangeshkar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Bharat Vyas
When Laxmikant Pyarelal were still struggling, they composed for a few mythological movies. With Bharat Vyas they created a number of masterpieces. Sati Savitri had a bunch of beautiful and melodious songs. Unfortunately video of the song is not available, though we can make out the picturisation to a certain extent. Savitri’s sahelis are teasing her before she gets married. A cute song. Lata’s share is obviously bigger, but it’s a delight to listen to.

19. Zara Sambhalana Meri Jaan – Aaya Toofan (1964) with Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Asad Bhopali
Laxmikant Pyarelal composed for stunt-action movies in the earlier part of their career. What an interesting orchestration. A good amalgamation of Dholak and other instruments, Foot tapping rhythm. Though Kamal Barot’s contribution is small, the tangy flavour adds a different charm to the song.

20. Dhadka To Hoga Dil Zaroor – CID 909 (1967) with Asha Bhosle and Mahendra Kapoor / O P Nayyar – Aziz Kashmiri
I guess the song is quite popular. The film has a couple of trios by Kamal Barot. But of course, the poor lady has no separate lines of her own. She shares all the lines with Asha Bhosle. Anyways she still manages to make her presence felt. Completely in sync with Asha Bhosle.

Non film songs
And before I end today, let me add a few of her non film songs. As I have mentioned in the introduction, I came across Kamal Barot’s official YouTube channel. There are four of her video songs that mention her visit to Pakistan and there she was mesmerized with Noor Jahan. She recorded the songs there. I’ll add a couple of ghazals here. I won’t call them great, but her voice sounds very much mature. The childish innocence of the 60s is missing. The videos were directed by her brother, Chandra Barot. The videos were uploaded seven years back, in January 2013. I could find a few of her other non film songs, though I won’t be able to highlight all. And there are a few Gujarati songs as well. 

§ Raat Kal Kaise Kati – Geetika / Fida Hussain – Kamaal Ahmed Siddiqui
We can call it a ghazal or a Mujra. Good use of Sarangi. Kamal Barot’s pronunciation of Urdu words is good and I also liked her expressions.

§ Ab Aur Kya Kisi Se – Geetika / Khalil Ahmed – Faiz Ahmed Faiz
I liked the song and the aura it creates. She has succeeded in conveying the meaning. Her voice sounds fresh and good too.

I found a more recent upload on YouTube. It seems she is still active. Before I conclude, I wish her a very happy 82nd birthday and healthy years ahead.

Please add your favourites by Kamal Barot.

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.

17 Replies to “Kamal Barot – a forgotten voice.”

  1. I see Dhadka toh hoga dil zaroor! What a coincidence that I posted this one on your last female dance duets post. (On a tangent, have you ever thought of doing a ‘male dance’ – or ‘male dance duets’ post, though I think that would be even less common). I can think of so few dances where there are only men dancing, no women at all…

    Excellent post, btw. Garjat barsat saawan aayo re was the first song that came to my mind when I saw Kamal Barot’s name.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the appreciation Madhuji. Many of her duets have been memorable, though she was unable to sing a good number of solos. Gajrat Barsat Sawan and Hasta Hua Noorani Chehra and the solo from Ramu Dada are my top favourite Kamal Barot songs.

      “have you ever thought of doing a ‘male dance’ – or ‘male dance duets’ post, though I think that would be even less common”

      Oh! sounds really interesting, though I must confess I can’t off hand think of any song for the list. But it would be very interesting to look for the songs. Let me think. Thanks for the suggestion.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anup ji,
    You are turning out to be prolific and giving us good posts. Keep it up.

    ANKHEN, 1969.

    Loot jaa, loot jaa,
    Yahi din hai , kisipe loot jaa…

    With Asha Bhosle and Usha Mangeshkar.
    Sahir, Ravi.

    PRIYA, 1970.

    Na sun sun sun bura…

    Mahinder Kapoor, Anand Kumar C, Peter.
    Qamar Jalalabadi, Kalyanji Anandji.

    Used to enjoy listening to this song in my school days for the unusual singing voices.

    Like

  3. Well researched and written post. Not easy to hunt for appropriate songs, may be for me. I have heard most of the songs but never associated them with this lady in the shadow of other singers. You had opened my eyes. She deserved a much higher pedestal than what she got. You have brought out a highly informative post.

    Like

  4. 3 Children’s songs :

    1. Poocho koi sawal bachho..

    Rafi, Usha Mangeshkar, Usha Khanna, KB.
    Shakeel, Ravi.

    NARTAKI, 1963.

    2. Phoofa ji, zara sachh sachh bolo..

    Mehmood, Krishna ( Kalle ), KB.
    Prakash Mehra, Kalyanji Anandji.

    PURNIMA, 1965.

    3. Ha ha ha chutti aa gayee…

    Krishna Kalle, KB.
    Kaifi Azmi, Madan Mohan.

    NAUNIHAL, 1967.

    Like

    1. Oh!
      Thanks for sharing the songs Pradeepji.
      KB seems to be a favourite choice for Children’s playback. So many of the songs for children. Fun to listen to.

      Let me add the links,
      Puchho Koi Sawal Bachcho

      Fufaji Zara Sach Sach Kaho

      and,
      Chhutti Aa Gayi

      🙂

      Like

  5. Anupji, wanted to add a song. Here is a duet with Subir Sen.
    Dil Leke Jaate Ho Kahaan (O Tera Kya Kehna, 1959) Lyricist Indeevar, Music Director Kalyanji Anandji. This playful duet picturized on Mehmood and Chitra (original name Afsar Unissa Begum) is the lone duet Subir sang with Kamal Barot. Both the music and the lyrics are lovely. It has all the elements of a typical Mehmood song.

    Like

  6. I will present a beautiful Gujarati song, composed by Purushottam Upagyay
    पूछो न अमने प्यारमां शुं शुं थयुं नथी
    सोगन तमारा कांई पण बाकी रह्युं नथी
    (Please do not ask me what all has not happened with me in this matter of love, I swear by you, nothing now remains to happen.)

    Like

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