As we transit from the 12th to the 13th year of the new millennium, here are twelve songs worthy of recall from our films of yesteryear. These are just one dozen of the hundreds of melodies we have repeatedly enjoyed over the decades. To make such a shortlist easier, we only consider songs that were filmed on forgotten actress Mala Sinha, who becomes 80 years old next year.
- Hum aap ki aankhon mein is dil ko basa den to (with Guru Dutt in Pyaasa, 1957). Sahir’s ghazal treated uncommonly by Dada Burman, with the actors performing a ballroom dance on it!).
- Taaron ki zubaan par hai muhabbat ki nishaani (with Raj Kumar in Nausherwan-e-Adil, 1957). An amazing Rafi-Lata love track composed by C. Ramchandra. The poetry was made by one Parvez Shamsi, and no one quite knows what he wrote before or after this film.
- Wo subah kabhi to aayegi (with Raj Kapoor in Phir Subah Hogi, 1958). An extraordinary Mukesh-Asha optimistic note composed by Khayyam, and sensitively directed by Ramesh Sehgal.
- Tere pyaar ka aasra chaahta hoon (with Rajendra Kumar in Dhool Ka Phool, 1959). Sahir’s exceptional nazm is taken into the upper registers by Mahendra Kapoor when he goes Rivaajon ki parwah na rasmon ka dar hai…
- Hum jaan gaye sarkaar (to Dev Anand in Love Marriage, 1959). An impish Mala Sinha smartly fishes for compliments when she goes Tum laakh karo inkaar—Chehre se paseena pochiye ho gaya hai tum ko pyaar!
- Jhoomta mausam mast maheena (with Shammi Kapoor in Ujala, 1959), and its catchy Ya-Allah ya Allah dil le gayi!
- Rang-birangi raakhi le kar (to Balraj Sahni in Anpadh, 1962). This was a title role scripted around her character.
- Mujhe kitna pyaar hai tumse (with Shammi Kapoor in Dil Tera Deewana, 1962)
- O Radha poochhen teri sakhiyaan (as Raj Kumar watches in Phool Bane Angaare, 1963. This is a mishr Gujari Todi tune, and it delighted its makers Kalyanji-Anandji so much, they offered a similar feel in Rafi’s patriotic number in the same film, Watan pe jo fida hoga)
- Haal-e-dil yoon unhen sunaaya gaya (for Bharat Bhushan in Jahan Ara, 1964)
- Ghairon pe karam, apnon pe sitam (to Dharmendra in Aankhen, 1968). A popular party song
- Tumhaari nazar kyoon khafa ho gayi (with Biswajit in Do Kaliyan, 1968)
Clearly, the lady was in top gear for decades, sharing acting credits with some of the best names in the business of the times. It is for her persona, cinematic appeal, and emoting with her eyes that brought her so many meaty roles. Consistent with that, exceptional songs were even filmed background on her, because directors knew that her expression, especially her eyes could connect with us in the cinema halls. One of these was the awesome Rafi song from Dhool Ka Phool (1959), Daaman mein daag laga baitthe, filmed largely on her, as her ex Rajendra Kumar is doing the marriage pheras with Nanda. The point to note also is that this song reflects the feelings of an innocent girl who has been dumped, the director deciding to give the song a male voice, while the camera persists in remaining trained on her. Such shots, when someone else is feeling for the actor being spotlighted, are called Point of View shots.
Another wonder of a song filmed background on her was from Dharamputra (1961): Main jab bhi akeli hoti hoon, tum chup ke se aa jaate ho.
No harm then in taking a cursory look at a dozen more featuring this lady:
- Mujh ko tum jo mile, ye jahaan mil gaya (with Pradeep Kumar in Detective, 1958). They don’t make better waltz songs, wrapped in a pacific duet
- Jo tum muskura do (with Rajendra Kumar in Dhool Ka Phool, 1959). Mesmerizing rhythm changes characterize this beauty!
- Ja re ja re udja re panchhi (with Dev Anand around, in Maya, 1961). With Salil Chowdhury asking Manohari Singh to wear two hats in the recording studio: as Key Flautist in the intro, and Saxophonist in the interludes
- Hai isi mein pyaar aabroo (about Dharmendra in Anpadh, 1962)
- Dil ki tamanna thi masti mein (with Bharat Bhushan in Gyarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan, 1962)
- Ek tha raja ek thi rani (about Manoj Kumar in Hariyali Aur Rasta, 1962)
- In hawaaon mein, in fizaaon mein (with Sunil Dutt in Gumrah, 1963)
- Dil todna kisi ka, ye zindagi naheen hai (to Dharmendra in Pooja Ke Phool, 1964)
- Kankariya maar ke jagaaya (for Manoj Kumar in Himalaya Ki God Mein, 1965)
- Wo has ke mile hum se, hum pyaar samajh baitthe (about Dharmendra in Baharen Phir Bhi Ayengi, 1966). Asha is backed up ever so minimally in this lethal ghazal…mainly a tabla, sax, and flute
- Wo haseen dard de do (to Joy Mukherjee in Humsaya, 1968)
- Chup ke se dil de de naheen te shor mach jaayega (with Rajesh Khanna in Maryada, 1970)
Our bread maker’s 13th loaf (one free for every dozen) is for listening in 2013 and beyond too; it’s a bonus that emerges when the recipe is just perfect. In this case, a raag Tilang work of class—Lata at her best, Shankar-Jaikishan with full creative juices flowing, Hasrat with his pearly lyrics, and the on-screen attraction of Mala Sinha and guests waiting for Raj Kapoor, who is drunk, thank you, and partying elsewhere. Don’t pass up the trumpets, the sitar, and the pause-resume effect of the tabla in the stanzas. Sheer divinity envelops this memorable song from Main Nashe Mein Hoon (1959): Sajan sang kaahe neha lagaaye!
Originally published: 30th december, 2012