Wishing the readers Happy Makar Sankranti, Pongal, Lohri and Magh Bihu with the concluding tribute to N Datta, with his songs for ‘other’ singers
N Datta’s music in BR Films’ Sadhana (1958), Dhool Ka Phool (1959), and Dharmaputra (1961) is of such a high quality that I found it quite surprising that Gumrah (1963) onwards Ravi became almost a permanent fixture in BR Chopra camp. The music and the movies were so successful that it was difficult to think of anyone replacing Ravi. But it is important to remember that N Datta gave music for BR Chopra films five years before Ravi first joined the banner, and secondly, N Datta’s music is absolutely superb, his iconic songs matching with the best of anyone, and treating him as some kind of lesser-Ravi, or Ravi-filler is misplaced. As for record, N Datta debuted with Milaap (1955), the same year as Ravi debuted with Vachan. And if Ravi had been assistant to Hemant Kumar, N Datta to an even more celebrated Bengali music director S D Burman.
It is interesting that in my post on Ravi’s songs for Lata Mangeshkar, two readers mentioned N Datta’s name; probably they make the same connection as I do with regard to N Datta-Ravi. However, an interesting similarity was highlighted by Arvinder Sharmaji that Asha Bhosle was even more the principal female playback singer, and Lata Mangeshkar, ‘the other’ singer, by a big margin (158 to 28, i.e. 5.64 to 1) for N Datta than Ravi (4 to 1). A very knowledgeable friend (a silent follower of SoY) gave me another interesting perspective: N Datta gave soft, soulful ghazals to Asha Bhosle and cabaret songs to Lata Mangeshkar – though I do not agree with this generalisation.
Venkataramanji gave a detailed account of how the quartet B R Chopra, Ravi, Mahendra Kapoor and Sahir Ludhiyanavi came together for the first time in Gumrah, and continued thereafter strongly. I read it again very carefully, but I couldn’t find any reason or explanation how and why N Datta was jettisoned. He had given superb music for three BR Films in which Sahir Ludhiyanavi was the lyricist, and Mahendra Kapoor got to sing some iconic songs like Bhool sakta hai bhala kaun, and duets Tere pyar ka aasra chaahta hun and Dhadakane lage dil ke taaron ki duniya. We can only say, it was fate as Arunji often emphasises, and as Bhartrihari said long ago, यत् विधिना लिखितं ललाटपटले तन्मार्जितुम् को क्षम:. An unlucky genius if ever there was one.
I rate N Datta as Ravi-plus, minus his luck. Many lovers of old film music share my admiration for N Datta. Hans Jakhar has already written on N Datta’s principal singers, Asha Bhosle and Rafi in which he has highlighted that he was singularly unlucky on health front – he suffered heart attack at the age of about 30. This instilled a fear of death in him and he could never regain his position commensurate with his talents. A music director’s multifaceted talent can be gauged by his felicity in composing great songs for a variety of singers. To complete our tribute to N Datta I present here his songs for ‘other’ singers.
1. Tere pyar ka aasra chaahta hun by Mahendra Kapoor and Lata Mangeshkar from Dhool Ka Phool (1959), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
This is an iconic duet at a college mushaira. We have seen male solos at such college functions where student-poets recite and sing. N Datta chooses his ‘other’ female singer to create this magic with Mahendra Kapoor. As they sing you, see the first shoots of romance on the faces of the stars, Rajendra Kumar and Mala Sinha.
2. Dhadakane lage dil ke taaron ki duniya by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle from Dhool Ka Phool (1959), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
When the romance has fully blossomed, N Datta now pairs his principal female playback singer with Mahendra Kapoor to create this superb romantic duet, set in sylvan surroundings. When Ravi replaces N Datta in BR camp with Gumrah (1963), he uses the same template for In hawwaon mein in fizaaon mein tujhko mera pyar pukare. And if you are analytical-minded, you can’t fail to notice N Datta’s much wider range in this one film with Rafi’s Daaman mein aag laga baithe, Tu Hindu banega na Musalman banega; Lata Mangeshkar’s Tu mere pyar ka phool hai ki meri bhool hai; and Sudha Malhotra’s Kaase kahun man ke baat, bairi balamawa dukhiya kar gaye – all memorable songs.
3. Bhool sakta hai bhala kaun ye pyari aankhen by Mahendra Kapoor from Dharmaputra (1961), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
No list of the best songs of Mahendra Kapoor is complete without this soft solo, sung in recital style.
4. Aaj ki raat nahin shikwa shikayat ke liye by Mahendra Kapoor from Dharmaputra (1961), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
We have had enough of Mahendra Kapoor to give us an idea of N Datta’s importance in creating some of his best songs in the early stages of Mahendra Kapoor’s career. Yet I can’t resist to post this unforgettable recital-style first-night song.
5. Ye bahaaron ka saman chaand taaro ka samaan from Milaap (1955), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
I can’t think of N Datta without thinking of Ravi. I had written on Ravi’s songs for ‘other’ singers as the concluding piece of my tribute to him. Being assistant to Hemant Kumar, Ravi had composed several excellent songs for his mentor. N Datta composes an everlasting song for Hemant Kumar in his debut film. It also has a twin version in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice, and no surprises, it conforms to my general theory of a front-runner and a laggard in twin songs. This link has both the versions – Lata Mangeshkar version comes first, probably it came first in the film, followed by Hemant Kumar. The Lata song is absolutely melodious by itself, therefore, if you disagree with my general theory I would be more than happy. That would mean N Datta composed two superb songs for ‘other’ singers in his debut film.
6. Pyar ka jahan ho chhota sa makaan ho by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle from Jaalsaaz (1959), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri
The SOY readers are aware my Kishore Kumar favourites are his songs in his 1.0 version when he sang many absolutely moving songs. Here is one of his best duets in that mould with Asha Bhosle. If just this song is mentioned to you, you may not be able to place it to N Datta or the film. A perfectly Hans Akela song, a theme elaborated by Rahul Bhagwanrao Muli in the last post.
7. Doosron ka dukhadaa door karnewaale tere dukh door karenge Ram from Dashahara (1956), lyrics Pradeep
Pradeep created a niche for himself as a singer for his unique full-throated voice, eminently suitable for devotional, inspirational, message-songs. Doosron ka dukhada is my perennial favourite, but if you ask me its music director after a few months, I may not be able to connect it to N Datta. I might guess between Avinash Vyas or C Ramchandra. This is another perfect Hans Akela song.
8. Meri tasveer lekar kya karoge tum meri tasveer lekar by Rafi, Balbir and Asha Bhosle from Kala Samandar (1962), lyrics Anand Bakshi
Balbir was the added spice in many iconic qawwalis. Hans has included Rafi-Balbir qawwali Aaj kyun humse parda hai from Saadhana (1958) in his N Datta-Rafi post. Fortunately for me, he had left another even more memorable qawwali from a strange-sounding B-grade film, Kala Samandar. I am extremely happy to post this absolute Hans Akela song here.
9. Kahoji tum kya kya kharidoge by Lata Mangeshkar from Sadhana (1958), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
This film had the iconic Sambhal ae dil tadapane aur tadapaane se kya hoga by his principal singers Asha Bhosle and Rafi, and a great Qawwali Aaj kyun humse parda hai by Rafi and S Balbir. And to add to his diversity he gave a superb Geeta Dutt bhajan Tora manwa kyun ghabaraye re, and two great songs by his ‘other’ singer Lata Mangeshkar, one being Aurat ne janam diya mardo ko, a hard hitting nazm by Sahir on the women being banished to the brothels by men who are ‘born form the womb of a woman’. But he relieves the seriousness by this fast-paced mujra.
10. Main tumhin se poochhti hun mujhe tuse pyar kyun hai by Lata Mangeshkar (& Rafi) from Black Cat (1959), lyrics Jan Nisar Akhtar
Black Cat did not have N Datta’s principal singer, Asha Bhosle. The lead voice is shared by Lata Mangeshkar (3 songs, including two-version Main tumhin se poochhati hun) and two duets sung by Rafi and Suman Kalyanpur. Here is the famous song by Lata Mangeshkar. This version has small recital-style poetic dialogue between Minoo Mumtaz, lip-synched by Lata Mangeshkar, and Blaraj Sahni by Rafi.
(Lata): कोई इक़रार करे या कोई इंकार करे
तुमसे इक बार निगाहें तो ज़रा चार करे
(Rafi): तुम हसीन हो तुम्हें सब दिल में जगह देते हैं
हममें क्या बात है ऐसी जो कोई प्यार करे
11. Mere bhaiya ko sandesa pahunchana ki chanda teri jot badhe by Lata Mangeshkar from Didi (1959), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
One of the sweetest Lata Mangeshkar songs about sister’s love for her brother.
Suman Kalyanpur, Usha Mangeshkar
12. Suno suno re kahani ik bahut purani from Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke (1957), lyrics P L Santoshi
This is a 3-part song – part 1 sung by Asha Bhosle and Shamshad Begum. Part 2 is an Asha Bhosle solo, and Part 3 is the duet between Suman Kalyanpur and Usha Mangeshkar. As both Suman Kalyanpur and Usha Mangeshkar are in Lata Mangeshkar mould, they bring a different flavour to the song. N Datta has tried all the flavours in the same song.
13. Sadke teri chaal ke kajra wajara daal ke, jaanewali aana by Geeta Dutt and Rafi from Mr. X (1957), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri
In his debut film Milaap, N Datta had hit a sixer for Geeta Dutt in her duet with Rafi – Bachana zara ye zamana hai bura. Hans included this song in his post on Rafi. In Mr. X N Datta had a blast with the famous Rock n’ Roll Rafi solo Laal laal gaal, jaan ke hain laagu. He has the same light-hearted touch in this Punjabi-style duet.
14. Tora manwa kyun ghabaraye re by Geeta Dutt from Sadhana (1958), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
And to showcase his variety he composes a serious devotional song for Geeta Dutt.
15. Mujhko laga hai saal solvan haye nahin chhedana by Shamshad Begum from Chandrakanta (1956), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
Chandrakanta has become synonymous with Rafi’s towering song Maine chaand aur sitaaron ki tamanna ki thi. This Shamshad Begum solo has left a permanent imprint in my heart, thanks to Vividh Bharati often playing it in its morning programme on Bhoole Bisre Geet.
16. Kahan chale ho ji pyar mein deewana kar ke, main to neem tale aa gayi bahana kar ke from Mohini (1957), lyrics Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
This is the second Ace with Shamshad Begum created by the genius.
17. Mere nadeem mere hamsafar udas na ho by Sudha Malhotra from Bhai Bahan (1959), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
N Datta composed some everlasting songs for Sudha Malhotra, who was not among the prominent female singers.
18. Kaase kahun man ki baat by Sudha Malhotra from Dhool Ka Phool (1959), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi
I end this pot with Sudha Malhotra’s one of the career best songs composed by the Unlucky Genius N Datta. Its special charm lies in the fact that N Datta has composed it in Kafi, one of the most accessible and sweet ragas.
Acknowledgement and Disclaimer:
The song videos have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of the music lovers. This blog does not claim any copyright over these songs which vests in the respective owners, such as Saregama India Limited and others.
The post The Unlucky Genius N Datta: His songs for ‘other’ singers first appeared on Songs Of Yore.