I published the list of my favorite ‘Trios’ from Hindi films in March this year and was wishing to post ‘Quartets and more’ in April. But I got busy with other posts and it skipped my attention completely. When I was searching for incomplete posts in my folder, I found it.
As I always say, trios and quartets enchant me no end. I am fascinated by these songs. It sounds great when three or more distant voices come together to sing a song and bring their own flavour and style. Obviously there are very few occasions when this magic happens.
As I tried to explore the quartets and songs by more than four singers, the most common scenario was that of Qawwali. Surely the list has a few qawwalis. Usually for a qawwali there are two groups of singers, at least in Hindi films. So three or four singers usually sing a Qawwali. Though originally meant as a devotional Sufi song, it also handles other subjects. So at times a filmy qawwali focuses on love.
A film has to have a quartet or even a song would have more than five singers, if it happens to feature more than one lead pair. Here, I remember films, Hum Saath Saath Hain and Mohobattein. The former had three lead pairs, while the latter had four. So it obviously had songs with more than five singers.
The title track of the movie, Hum Saath Saath Hain had six singers, Hariharan, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anuradha Paudwal and Alka Yagnik.
For today’s list, I haven’t been keeping a timeline. As such the number of songs won’t be more, so I didn’t think of writing a follow up post on the songs from the 90s and later movies. So here we go……
1. Hoke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaya Hoga – Haqeeqat (1964) Rafi, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey and Bhupendra Singh / Madan Mohan – Kaifi Azmi
This was obviously (at least I think it to be so) the first song I could think of for the post. The stalwart playback singers of Hindi cinema come together for the song. The song is heart touching and the rendition of singers is just too perfect. Each of the singers sings a verse and so all get equal opportunity to sing. The song never fails to make me tearful, especially when Talat’s verse starts. His quivering voice perhaps makes it more appealing.
Bhupendra Singh sings for himself in the song, though erroneously he lip syncs to Rafi’s voice as the latter opens the song. The song is picturised on soldiers, who perhaps have lost hopes of returning home and reuniting with their families. They miss their wives and loved ones. For me the song deserved the first position on the list.
2. Nadiya Kinare Mora Dera – Tarang (1952) Rafi, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum & Chitragupt / Chitragupt – Ram Moorthy Chaturvedi
Last year when I was researching for Rafi’s duets with Geeta Dutt, I came across this beautiful song. Though many times, it’s referred to as a trio, it’s actually a quartet, the composer himself singing with the other three singers. We can very clearly hear four distinct voices and all the singers get a good opportunity to sing separately. Chitragupt was an underrated composer and though his initial career revolved around B or C grade films, he composed with full devotion. Listen to this wonderful and lesser known song from an obscure film. It could be a song sung along the banks of a river with a bonfire by a gypsy troupe.
3. Tumhe Husn Deke Khuda Ne – Jab Se Tumhe Dekha Hai (1963) Rafi, Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle / Dattaram – Anand Bakshi
A beautifully composed and sung Qawwali. It’s a long, close to ten minutes song. But not a dull moment! Thanks to the singers and the on screen performers. The film’s lead pair was Geeta Bali and Pradeep Kumar, but for the qawwali, guest artists, Kumkum, Shashi Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, and Shyama made a cameo appearance. The song also featured Om Prakash and Bhagwan dada. And I was again glad to observe that the singers sang for a particular actor. Rafi sang for Shashi Kapoor, while Manna Dey sang for Shammi Kapoor. Lata Mangeshkar sang for Kumkum and Asha Bhosle for Shyama. Enjoy the wonderful qawwali.
4. Sun Le Pyar Ki Dushman Duniya – Pyar Kiye Ja (1966) Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey & Kishore Kumar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Rajendra Krishan
Pyar Kiye Ja was a romantic comedy Hindi film featuring Shashi Kapoor, Kishore Kumar, Mehmood, Kalpana, Rajshree and Mumtaz. Kalpana and Rajshree play sisters in the movie who fall in love with Kishore Kumar and Shashi Kapoor, who play close buddies. It sounds a bit odd that they all announce their love openly in a garden, but then it’s a movie and such liberties are to be granted. One of my favourites from the movie. And I was happy to note that one singer sings only for that particular character, for example, Asha Bhosle sings for Kalpana, while Lata Mangeshkar for Rajshree. The song is good and it was actually the second song I could find fitting the list.
5. Jab Dosti Hoti Hai – Biwi Aur Makan (1966) Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Balbir & Ghulam Mohammad / Hemant Kumar – Gulzar
The film actually has a couple of quartets. The song talks about friendship. I could identify Hemant Kumar singing for Biswajit and Manna Dey for Mehmood. If I’m correct, the singer Ghulam Mohammad was a different person than the composer Ghulam Mohammad and he had sung a few songs in Hindi films. The only one that I can remember is Kanchale Kanchile from Madhumati. In comparison Balbir is a relatively well known singer. The majority of the portion is sung by the main singers, the others play a supporting role. And after listening and watching the songs, I’m now interested in the movie. I must watch it someday, especially when its Marathi remake was a blockbuster and is my all time favourite.
6. Jalwa Jo Tera Dekha Humne – Gateway of India (1957) Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar, Mubarak Begum and Meena Mangeshkar / Madan Mohan – Rajendra Krishan
Yet another qawwali on today’s list. It’s not at all popular, though it’s one of the few qawwalis Madan Mohan composed for Hindi films. It’s absolutely fabulous to listen to. Though it’s a quartet, the two voices to sing the majority of the song are Asha Bhosle’s and Mubarak Begum’s. At least I could clearly identify these two voices, perhaps the other two singers didn’t have separate lines, their contribution is more or less like a chorus. Among the on screen performers, I knew Madhubala and Chandrashekhar of course. In addition I could identify Ratna Bhushan, Manorama and Meena Fernandes.
7. Soorat Ho To Aisi Ho – Baarish (1957) Talat Mahmood, Rafi, Chitalkar & Francis Vaz / C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishan
I liked the song when I heard and watched it for the first time a couple of years back. I particularly liked and remembered it for Nutan’s looks and her expressions. But there were other interesting aspects of the song as well. Firstly, it’s a multilingual song, mainly in Hindi, but Punjabi and Goan lyrics can also be appreciated. Secondly, the four actors who tease the beautiful Nutan. I could finally gather their names. The first actor to open the song with Talat’s voice is Kundan. Then comes Sampson, who receives Rafi’s playback. We all identify Mehmood, who sings Goan lyrics in the voice of Francis Vaz. Chitalkar sings for the actor, Kumud Tripathi.
It’s not very common to find four guys at a time teasing a girl, but we do find it here. Except Talat’s expressions, which sound more like a praise than teasing, other do a perfect job. The orchestration also changes according to the language. In all a perfectly enjoyable song.
8. Hum Ko Tumse Ho Gaya Hai Pyar – Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Anand Bakshi
I think the song is iconic and I like it. Though there are three male singers, Lata Mangeshkar alone sings for all the heroines, Parveen Babi, Shabana Azmi and Neetu Singh. Kishore Kumar gets a bit more footage as he opens the song for Amitabh Bachchan. Mukesh sings for Vinod Khanna and gets comparatively lesser footage. Rafi singing for Rishi Kapoor is the best part for me. The song still maintains popularity. In addition to this song, the other quartet from the 70s that is my favourite is Janu Meri Jaan.
Now, let’s have a look at songs with more than four singers.
9. Hum Bhi Hain Tum Bhi Ho – Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) Mukesh, Geeta Dutt, Mahendra Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey & Chorus / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
One of the most popular songs of the movie. The prominent singers of the song are Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar, the other singers have only a few lines of their own. Nevertheless it’s quite an interesting and enjoyable song. In addition to the singers, the song has enchanting orchestration and good dance steps by Padmini. Talking about the singers, Mukesh obviously sings for Raj Kapoor and Lata Mangeshkar for Padmini. Geeta Dutt sings for Chanchal and Manna Dey for Pran. I couldn’t identify the supporting characters, Mahendra Kapoor sings for. The song will always find a place on a list of similar kinds.
10. Na To Karvan Ki Talash Hai – Barsaat Ki Raat (1960) Manna Dey, Asha Bhosle, Sudha Malhotra, Rafi, S D Batish & Chorus / Roshan – Sahir
One of the most popular qawwalis from the movie. It is said to be in two parts, if we consider ‘Ye Ishq Ishq Hai Ishq Ishq’ to be the second part. The song is opened by Manna Dey from the gentlemen’s group, while Asha Bhosle (singing for Shyama) and Sudha Malhotra (singing for Ratna Bhushan) join him in rejoinder. Rafi joins late in the second part. S D Batish has a supporting role to play and Asha Bhosle too has a comparatively smaller part. The major attraction of the song is however the part sung by Rafi. The verse finishes all the religious boundaries as a Sufi song like qawwali, incorporates the tale of Radha and Krishna. A totally phenomenal qawwali. A qawwali like never before. Enjoy the entire song.
I’m taking a leap in the 2000s. I’m particularly highlighting a couple of songs from that decade.
Yash Chopra’s Mohabbatein had four lead pairs, including a group of newcomers. The playback for the newcomer couples was given to newcomer playback singers. Though the songs and the film were successful at the box office, none of the new talents, except Shweta Pandit, had a career as a playback singer in Hindi cinema. I’m adding a song from Mohabbatein that has eight playback singers.
11. Soni Soni Ankhiyon Wali – Mohabbatein (2000) Udit Narayan, Jaspinder Narula, Udbhav, Manohar Shetty, Ishan, Shweta Pandit, Sonali Bhatwadekar, Pritha Mazumdar / Jatin Lalit – Anand Bakshi
A song celebrating Holi in the modern times. A good song with a typical Yash Chopra touch. The song is full of energy and makes you tap your feet automatically. The voices of the newcomer singers were good, though they were not successful later. The film and the performances by Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh were acclaimed and the film was a commercial success at the box office. It was a relaunch for Jugal Hansraj, but he couldn’t succeed later as a main lead in Bollywood.
12. Bole Chudiyan Bole Kangana – Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (2001) Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sonu Nigam, Kavita Krishnamurthy & Amit Kumar / Jatin Lalit – Sameer
K3G was a very popular movie and all the songs were popular too. I watched the movie just after completing my internship. The song is meant to celebrate Karwa Chauth, and the song with full on energy makes you get up and dance. Quite a catchy rhythm. Kavita Krishnamurthy gets to sing for Jaya Bhaduri and Kajol both,while Amit Kumar sings for Amitabh Bachchan. The dance steps are good too, not at all like the funny dance steps of the 90s. Enjoy the song.
I end the post here. I know there still would be songs to add to the list. I haven’t explored the 70s and the 80s in detail.
Please add your favourite befitting song.
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