K Datta, born as Datta Korgaonkar alias D P Korgaonkar (as he was credited for Marathi films) was a popular composer of the late 30s and early 40s. Though he is forgotten now, he was active till the mid 50s. Even after delivering fabulous songs in the early years of the 50s, he couldn’t get opportunities to compose for big banners. That’s very unfortunate! In all he composed for 17 Hindi films and 12 Marathi films. Again the question resurfaces! Is talent sufficient to succeed or composing easy on the ear tunes and support from big banners is important too? I think it’s a package of all of these things along with destiny that works. Anyways, let’s move on.
Today, on his 43rd death anniversary, let’s have a look at his career.
Born in the first decade of the 1900s, (the available sources mention either 1901 or 1908) at Sawantwadi in Kokan, he spent his childhood in Girgaon, in South Mumbai.
His mother used to sing bhajans, and he grew up listening to his mother. He was attracted to music and started performing in Ganesh Chaturthi festivals. It is mentioned that he ran a music school in association with his friend, Sadashiv Nevrekar. When the latter left the school to become a composer, Korgaonkar also decided to try for it and shut down the music school.
His first venture as a composer was for a Marathi film called Chandrarao More in 1938.
His first Hindi film was Mera Haq (1939) which was a bilingual (Hindi and Marathi) film. His next two ventures, Alakh Niranjan (1940) and Geeta (1940) were also bilingual films, released in Hindi and Marathi languages.
I was pleasantly surprised to find three of the songs from Mera Haq and one song each from Alakh Niranjan and Geeta on YouTube. Thanks to the uploaders, for making these songs available.
I’m opening today’s post with these songs,
Jhun Jhun Jhun Jhun Baje Jhunjhuna – Mera Haq (1939) Vimla Sardesai / Lyrics – Pandit Anand Kumar
A good song from the vintage era. Sung by a cute little girl. The opening music is so typically vintage era.
Gori Laaj Ki Baat – Alakh Niranjan (1940) Leela bai Chandragiri / Lyrics – Pandit Anand Kumar
The song starts and ends at a slow pace, in between it’s somewhat fast. It appears to be a baby shower (गोद भराई), where women get together for the ceremony and sing.
Saanwra Muraliwala – Geeta (1940) / Baby Suman, Harish, unidentified female voice / Lyrics – S K Kalla
The film starred the popular actors, Durga Khote and Chandramohan in a double role. The film was also bilingual (Hindi and Marathi), directed by P Y Altekar. The song praises Lord Krishna and is very sweet.
First of his popular songs was however from a film called, Yaad which was released in 1942. It’s a duet between then popular playback singers, Rajkumari and G M Durrani. Let’s listen to it.
Yaad Jab Bechain Karti Hai – Yaad (1942) Rajkumari & G M Durrani / Lyrics – Arzoo Lakhnavi
Durrani vanishes from the song after singing mukhda. Rajkumari sings the verses alone. The mukhda is never repeated in the song.
It was in 1943 that K Datta composed for Noorjahan for the first time. I could get four songs on the net, though I think she sang a few more songs for the movie, Nadaan. The film was directed by Zia Sarhadi, who also penned a few songs for the movie. In addition to the highlighted songs, I like ‘Dil Doon Ki Na Doon’.
Roshani Apni Ummangon Ki – Nadaan (1943) Noorjahan / Lyrics – Zia Sarhadi
A very beautiful ghazal, rendered aptly. Though it’s in a melancholy mood, the pace of the song is fast. A very fast paced tabla accompanies Noorjahan throughout. No surprise, the song is still remembered for the tabla and of course, heart touching rendition by Noorjahan. The song is awesome.
Ek Anokha Gham Anokhi Si – Nadaan (1943) Noorjahan / Lyrics – Zia Sarhadi
Another popular song from Nadaan. Even after listening to it repeatedly, I couldn’t decide if it’s a happy mood or sad! Perhaps a mixed one. The song was a favourite with producer-director Mehboob Khan, who used to say, “यह गीत के. दत्ता ने खुदा के दरबार में खा़स तौर से बैठ कर बनाया है”
The other films, Zameen (1943) and Maharathi Karna (1944) couldn’t create magic. He composed for the movie, Badmash (1944) jointly with Khan Mastana. I couldn’t find songs from these movies on YouTube.
Let’s come to the most important juncture of his career. While Korgaonkar was enthralled by Noorjahan’s songs from Nadaan, he got an opportunity to compose for her once again in Master Vinayak’s film, Badi Maa. He was more than excited with the project. He composed four solos for her, and Noorjahan with her magical voice and aura completely mesmerised the listeners. The songs made Korgaonkar immortal, he is still remembered for the song, which I’m adding now.
Diya Jalakar Aap Bujhaya – Badi Maa (1945) Noorjahan / Lyrics – Zia Sarhadi
The song was the peak of their association. Neither Korgaonkar himself nor the lovers of HFM could ever forget the song. The song would top Noorjahan’s song list as well.
Tum Humko Bhoola Baithe Ho – Badi Maa (1945) Noorjahan / Lyrics – Zia Sarhadi
Another gem from Badi Maa. The pathos in the song is heart touching. And the extremely prolonged word, कैसे, conveys the deep anguish the character is going through. The crux of the song lies in that word itself.
After her father, Dinanath Mangeshkar’s untimely demise, Lata Mangeshkar had to work to support her family. Master Vinayak was very helpful to her and she was given an opportunity to act and sing for the movie, Badi Maa. She sang a couple of songs, which were picturised as well on her. But the songs were completely overshadowed by Noorjahan’s spectacular solos. K Datta used to claim that he offered Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle to sing in the chorus for the first time in Badi Maa. None of her songs were solo. But the songs are of historical importance. It was during the making of the movie that Lata Mangeshkar got to interact with her idol, Noorjahan. Lata Mangeshkar imbibed her idol’s style of singing, her way of pronunciation etc. And it wasn’t a surprise that her initial songs are sung in Noorjahan’s style. Their friendship became thick over the period of time. Let’s listen to one of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs from Badi Maa.
Janani Janmabhoomi – Badi Maa (1945) Meenakshi Shirodkar, Lata Mangeshkar & Chorus / Lyrics – Anjum Pilibhiti
Though I couldn’t differentiate with certainty, I think Lata Mangeshkar has sung the last verse. Then the opening lines and first stanza goes to Meenakshi Shirodkar. This was singer and actress Lata in Badi Maa. Her playback career was yet to commence.
In the same year, Rajkumari sang for K Datta in Yateem. Her ghazal from the film is perhaps more popular and known. I was however enchanted by a duet, which I intend to highlight,
Jhoom Rahi Baaghon Mein – Yateem (1945) Rajkumari & G M Durrani / Lyrics – Zia Sarhadi
The song sounds quite modern for its times. The exclamations, अहाहा! make it sound quite different from the other contemporary songs. A romantic song that describes the rains and beauty of nature after the rains. I heard it for the first time, but took an instant liking to it.
After partition, Noorjahan’s decision to migrate to Pakistan left Korgaonkar devastated. It took him some time to recover from the shock. He always used to say that Noorjahan left for Pakistan and took away his creativity with her. She was a perfect muse for his songs. Even though he composed for a few films like Shahkar (1947) and Rang Mahal (1948) , the songs couldn’t leave an impact, though Suraiya’s song from the latter movie is known to her die hard fans.
But he found his feet with the film, Meri Kahani (1948) where he chose Geeta Dutt and Surendra, as the main singers who sang three solos each and a couple of duets for the movie. Lata Mangeshkar also sang a couple of duets, and I’m very fond of those songs. There are a few sad solos by Geeta Dutt and Surendra. But for today’s list I’ve chosen,
Bulbul Ko Mila Phool – Meri Kahani (1948) Geeta Dutt & Surendra / Lyrics – Zia Sarhadi
I won’t call it a great song, but it’s quite easy on the ears. Very pleasant and cheerful. We already have sad songs, and I am sure there are more to come. So a playful song was what I needed.
Dil Ko Tumhari Yaad Ne – Meri Kahani (1948) Surendra / Lyrics – Anjum Pilibhiti
Talk about melancholy songs, and you will find as many as you wish in the films from the 1940s. I don’t get how a single film has so many situations to accommodate sad songs. Anyways, this one’s a bit popular or so I gather. Surendra really sings in Saigal’s style. Sounds good at times, or funny sometimes.
None of his films were released in the next couple of years. He made a melodious comeback with the film, Daaman (1951). The Nigar Sultana and Ajit starrer movie had a lot of popular songs. Lata Mangeshkar was an obvious choice for the main lead. The film holds an historical importance as it featured Mangeshkar sister’s first ever duet for Hindi films. Lata Mangeshkar sang a couple of solos for the movie. The song ‘Tirulilla Tirulilla‘ penned by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, is a delightful song. It belongs to the category of ‘अनोखे बोल’. Moreover, it’s one of the few songs where the playback singer sings her/his own name in the song, ‘गाए लता गाए लता’. The playful song sounds based on a western style orchestration.
The film has a couple of duets, perhaps picturised on supporting characters. Of those songs, Dil Pe Kar Control by Shamshad Begum and Trilok Kapoor is a fun song, worth giving a try. A fast paced peppy song.
The film also had a couple of duets more, which are my choice for today’s list.
Yaad Aane Lagi – Daaman (1951) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Lyrics – Ehsan Rizvi
For me it’s one of the best of their duets. It’s so melodious. Though sorrowful, the song is not a boring one. I mean a few sad songs are very slow, almost testing our patience. This one succeeds to maintain our interest till the end.
Ye Ruki Ruki Hawaen – Daaman (1951) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Rajendra Krishan
The song is my great favourite. The song excellently mixes the sad and happy moods. The transition is very smooth. Lata Mangeshkar sings the sad part while Asha Bhosle sings the fast paced joyous. I’m yet to find a very good audio track of this song, though this one’s reasonably good.
In 1951, his another film, Gumashta was also released, which had Lata’s wonderful solos. I would add,
Mohabbat Dilon Se Juda Ho Gayi Hai – Gumashta (1951) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Waheed Qureshi
Very melodious song, though it’s in a melancholy mood. The second antara is completely sung off beat. K Datta was a master of sad songs.
His next film was Suresh and Nigar Sultana starrer, Rishta (1954). The film is mainly remembered for solos by Lata Mangeshkar and Talat Mahmood. But a couple of songs were also offered to Mubarak Begum. I had already incorporated one of the songs in my post on Mubarak Begum’s solos. So I won’t repeat it. I’m adding pretty obvious songs,
Sajan Se Pehle Baar – Rishta (1954) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Pandit Phani
What a sweet melody! A shy lady confessing her love to herself, but she is too bashful to say it to him. I’ve been in love with this song ever since I heard it. Such a pleasant and cheerful melody.
Wohi Chandni Hai Wohi Aasman Hai – Rishta (1954) Talat Mahmood / Lyrics – Pandit Phani
Talat Mahmood seems to be his favourite male playback singer of the 50s. His velvety voice expresses any emotion with ease. A gentleman missing his beloved on a romantic night. The song was Talat’s favourite too. He always used to mention the song.
A couple of years later, his film Harihar Bhakti (1956) was released. The film and the songs are not popular. But I would like to mention a song, Chhanak Chhanak Chhan Bole sung by Snehal Bhatkar. No one would imagine him to have sung this song. He was a bhajan singer at the core. But he has sung it brilliantly. Please listen to it if you haven’t already.
I have highlighted the most popular duet from the movie,
Chanda Ka Rang Liye – Harihar Bhakti (1956) Mubarak Begum (? Lata Mangeshkar) & Talat Mahmood / Lyrics – S P Kalla
Though there’s a disagreement over the singer of the song, in my opinion it’s Lata Mangeshkar. A very melodious song. The film also features solos by both Lata Mangeshkar and Mubarak Begum, making it more difficult. According to me, Mubarak Begum’s voice never resembles Lata Mangeshkar’s voice. It’s totally different. The chosen video is from LM world, Lata Mangeshkar’s own label.
After a gap of a decade, his last Hindi film, Ajnabee (1966) starring Chandrasekhar and Zeb Rehman, was released. Neither the songs nor the movie were noticed, still Ajnabee Duniya Mein by Rafi is good. The other songs by Asha Bhosle and Suman Kalyanpur are good, though not great.
In brief about his Marathi songs. In addition to his first film and three bilingual films in the beginning of his career, he composed for a few more films, making a total of 12 Marathi films. His last Marathi film was रायगडचा राजबंदी, which was released in 1965 and had a few popular songs. One of the songs was a पोवाडा (a Marathi folklore) sung by Shahir Piraji Sarnaik and Chorus. Korgaonkar also composed a few non-film Marathi songs (भावगीत) and a few नाट्यगीते (songs from musical plays).
Let’s enjoy a couple of his Marathi songs.
किती ग बाई खट्याळ हा पाहुणा – गळयाची शपथ (१९५५) लता मंगेशकर / गीतकार – राजा बढे
A very cute song where the lady describes her beloved in a naughty way
आली तुझ्या दारी – भावगीत (१९४५) / गायिका – रोशन आरा बेग़म, गीतकार – मो ग रांगणेकर
I don’t know much about Roshan Ara Begum, though I was utterly surprised with her diction and clear pronunciation of Marathi words. What a delight it was to listen to this fantastic song!
- K Datta had a popular career in the early 1940s, but somehow Noorjahan’s migration to Pakistan left a deep impact on his creativity. He always believed in Noorjahan and always tried composing keeping in mind her voice. After 1948, he didn’t compose for any film for a couple of years. The film industry however had no intentions to wait for his emotional recovery. The industry moved on leaving him alone. The show must go on as they say.
- But I find it surprising that even after his comeback with Daaman, which had very good and melodious songs, he was not showered with offers. Perhaps the film wasn’t popular and it wasn’t a big banner film. He had only three Hindi films to his credit after Daaman.
The reasons could be various.
- One of the reasons could be his style of composing. The songs are very melodious, but a bit difficult to hum. The tunes are not so easy to sing for a general music lover. This complexity could be one of the reasons. The lack of support of big banners could be another. And destiny may not always support the talent, he wasn’t perhaps fortunate to get big banners. Perhaps he didn’t believe in marketing himself.
The songs of Daaman and Rishta are really good in my opinion. And it has playful songs, sad songs, romantic songs, comic songs, etc.
- The end result was that, after 1965-66, he was completely out of the Hindi film industry. He was interested in astrology and he engaged himself in it professionally. He was very religious and liked to worship God singing bhajans. He had a few friends among the composers of the golden era, who used to visit him on a regular basis. Whatever they might discuss, the chat would always end with mention of Noorjahan and the song, Diya Jalakar Aap Bujhaya. I think he never forgot Noorjahan and refused to live in the present times.
He took his last breath on 23rd December 1978 in G T hospital, Mumbai following a heart attack.
My humble tribute to the genius on his 43rd death anniversary.
I’m thankful to Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh for helping me get a few details. He tolerated my silly queries as well. Also his post on Atul’s blog provided Datta Korgaonkar’s personal details.
What songs would you add?
(Image Courtesy – YouTube)
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.