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Music Review - Female Duets In Hindi CInema

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)

(Listen to Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao sing some of her favourite solos and duets (including some from this article) from Hindi films of the 50’s to the 80’s along with Raghu Saranathan and Krithika Jeyaraman on May 1st at The Hall at 125 Prospect Street, Framingham, MA.  For details, email Sudha at laksuds@gmail.com or visit: http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/cal.php?stage=1&event_id=7466 Hear duets by Sudha and Krithika

Thandi Thandi Hawa - http://www.youtube.com/user/sudsless#p/u/22/VS_4GpI10_4

Kajra Mohabatwala - http://www.youtube.com/user/sudsless#p/u/6/g3M0azviLqM )

During my childhood and later on while singing with my group in Madras in the late 80’s and 90’s, I was aware of just a few female duets, which we would regularly or on occasion perform – Kajra Mohabatwala, Gore Gore being most popular amongst music groups and audiences.  Then over the last decade or so, I have been enthralled and hooked by some really interesting and rare duets sung by female singers in Hindi films. Dance numbers, lullabies, 2 heroines vying for or lamenting about the same man, or just 2 girlfriends singing without a worry in the world, or a mother and daughter or sisters singing – so many situations and scenes that a duet with female voices are so eminently suited for! We have always heard of competition between the famous female songstresses, the politics and the lobbying by them and the music directors or the directors or actors who had their own favourites.  But listening to these duets, one just cannot imagine or even make out any shades of rivalry – they sound so much in sync and tune with each other and remember in those days the recordings were done all at one time – no separate tracks or recording sessions for each singer or the orchestra as it is nowadays – how did they do it! 

I would like to share my list of favorite duets from Hindi films by female voices from the 40s to the 60’s - by no means do I insist or claim this is a comprehensive or complete list – it is just a short list of around 10 of my favorite female duets that have been etched in my memory and heart forever for various reasons.  They may not be the best or even most popular ones but for me they are special indeed! And some of them while not actually picturized on two women (like bachpan ke din bhula and kajra mohabatwala), they are still included in my list as they are sung by 2 female voices!!

Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Na Dena
A classic that I have heard and loved since childhood with a horse or tangai beat and picturized on a boy and girl on horseback singing bittersweet lyrics.  There is a Rafi version of the same song featured on the adults that the children grow into (Dilip and Nargis).  Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar have sung this marvelous duet for music director Naushad with lyrics were by Shakeel Badayuni for the 1951 film Deedar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ_sle7yHXc

Gore Gore                                                                                                                       This peppy and catchy early 50’s C.Ramachandra number from Samadhi is based on Edmundo Ros’ Chico Chico, also very popular in its Tamil version as Ayyasami (which followed the Hindi version more than the western original) sung by M.L.Vasantakumari.  This dance number simply rocks and still gets audiences on the dance floor with its magical beat and jazzy arrangements.  Lata and Ameerbai Karnataki sing for Nalini Jayawant and Kuldeep Kaur as they sway and swing before a roomful of soldiers.  Lyrics are by Rajendra Krishan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqPU1BU_e9k
Chup Chup Kade Ho Zaroor Koyi Bath Hai

 This 1949 song from Bade Bahen written by Rajinder Krishnan and composed by Husnlal Bhagatram features female extras who sing and dance as Rehman and Suraiya look on and listen.  The Tamil version Enni Enni paarka manam is what I heard first and is an equally enthralling female duet!

Thandi Thandi Hawa                                                                           

This elegant melody that is one of my favourites was brought to my attention by my friend Siraj Khan, a great O.P.Nayyar aficionado and music lover while compiling the song list for a tribute to OPN saab that we did a couple of years ago.  Vintage OPN with his trademark alternating western and Indian beats – the song has the listener hooked from the opening bars of humming by Asha. Geeta then saunters in to complete this charming waltz from Johnny Walker, the arrangements and orchestration of which are deceptively simple especially the section of interweaving violins through each interlude.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNnI9mWmwr8

Bachpan Ke Din Bhi                                                                                                 
Sujata had some outstanding compositions by S.D.Burman – jalte hain jiske liye, nanhi kali sone chali to name a couple.  This song contrasts the characters so well – Geeta Dutt sings for Shashikala the privileged daughter of the house playing the piano and singing without a care in the world and Asha for Nutan – the servant’s daughter doing her chores around the house and humming along.  Asha only hums in this song but that does not make her part in the song any less significant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIFswH3IGO8

Kajra Mohabbat Wala                                                                                                   
In this O.P.Nayyar classic sung by Asha for Babita dressed as male and Shamshad for Biswajit in drag in Kismet.  This song in the style of a qawali has seen various avatars of remixes and is still so popular amongst young and old listeners alike.  The opening bars of the harmonium and tabla set the mood for the song and then Asha with her sweetness and Shamshad with her full-throated coffee/whiskey vocals take over to make this a song for all seasons! 

Yaaro Kisi Ke Na Kehna
Again a big thanks to my friend Siraj Khan for pointing me in the direction of this relatively unknown and rare jewel of a song! Rare because it is one of the few songs that Actress Nutan had sung in her lifetime!  Listening to it, one cannot deny the fresh and simple quality in Nutan’s voice and even though she is pitted against Geeta Dutt, she still holds her own ground and both of them together deliver a song with a great beat and feel!  From the film Chhabli (1960) with music by Snehal Bhatkar and lyrics by S.Ratan.


Na Main Dhan Chahoon

A most beautiful and poignant invocation from the 1960 Navketan film Kala Bazaar sung by Geeta Dutt and Sudha Malhotra picturised on Nanda, Leela Chitnis and Dev Anand.  Touches and stirs the listener as both singers pour their heart and soul into this beauty of a composition by S.D.Burman with lyrics by Shailender.  

Hasta Hua Noorani Chehra
Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s first film Parasmani was a musical delight and had a number of wonderful songs including woh jab aad aaye.  This chirpy and spritely duet and dance number sung by Lata and Kamal Barot stayed on top of the charts of Binaca Geet Mala for weeks! The orchestration especially the tabla and dholak accompaniments are really rich and elaborate and make it one of the most popular Hindi film dance numbers to have been composed.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KkkDRCj3l8&feature=fvsr

O Chaand Jahaan Woh Jaaye
What a beautiful melody sung by sisters Lata and Asha – each one vying for vocal honours as they approach the raga on which the song is based with their distinctive styles and vocals, both so sweet and flawless.  The sisters lend their voices for the equally beautiful and talented actresses Shyama and Meena Kumari for the film Sharada with music by one of the greatest music directors of Hindi films, C.Ramachandra.

Mere Chaand Mere Laal Re
Suraiya and Lata Mangeshkar’s lilting and soft lori duet from the film Deewana (1952), picturised on Sumitra Devi and Suraiya.

Amongst some of the other charming female duets:

Huzure wala - Asha and Usha Mangeshkar - Ye raat phir na aayegi
Jhuki jhuki pyar - Asha and Geeta -Johnny Walker
Kya ho phir do jin rangeela - Asha and Geeta - Nau Do Gyarah
Door Koi gaye Dhun - Lata and Shamshad - Baiju Bawra
Sakhi ri sun bole papiha us paar -Asha-Lata - Miss Mary
Udan Khatole pe ud jaoon - Shamshad & Zohrabai - Anmol Ghadi
Ae Hey Dilruba (Pa Pa Jamaar Lo) - Geeta Dutt & Asha Bhonsle –Dr.Vidya
Dil tera diwana - Geeta Dutt & Asha Bhonsle - Mr.Qartoon M.A
Main chali main chali – Padosan – Asha and Lata –
Bedard Shikari - Lata and Suraiya - Sanam

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao

(Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao is a homemaker & amateur light music singer (specialising in the golden oldies) based in New England - sings with Saptaswar in the US and Friends' Orchestra in Chennai, India and also gives private Karaoke based performances. She is also deeply involved with Tanker Foundation (that helps the poor & needy with kidney ailments- www.tankerfoundation.com) and Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust (a home for orphan and destitute children in Chennai).
Sudha's music websites:
http://www.youtube.com/user/saptaswar )

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1.small correction December 14, 2014Neeraj Bhatia  
2.hi October 27, 2010hi 
3.Hindi duets July 7, 2010arun7 

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