Hindi Filmdom’s Dubious Distinction Songs

Last week in this column, we looked at Happy Birthday To You, the world’s most recognized song, defined as such by Guinness World Records. While researching that story, I was wondering if it was possible for Guinness to do a dubious distinction mention for the other side of the spectrum: the world’s least recognized song. That would be really hard to do. Not that Guinness hadn’t featured dubious distinctions at all. From them, we had learned that the country with the dubious distinction for the most coups—numbering 188 between 1825 and 1982—was Bolivia. And the dubious distinction mention for the longest uninterrupted fart was achieved by an Englishman named Bernard Clemmens. His timing? 2 minutes and 42 seconds. Someone please pass the smelling salts.

Thoughts about the least recognized song visited me again when I was anchoring an event to celebrate yesteryear’s singer Sudha Malhotra and legendary broadcaster Ameen Sayani on the stage this month, on 9 December 2017. They had known each other for some six decades. I conceptualized a video performance that featured many of the lady’s songs, followed by the two legends in a Q and A on the same stage. The special takeaway from the absorbing show was many songs that even music specialists in the audience couldn’t recall as being part of their films. Classic case: Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958) had a mujra sung by Sudha and Asha, filmed on Helen and Cuckoo, Hum tumhaare hain zara ghar se nikal kar dekho. Now we know that this film was a musical hit, and don’t we all sing its songs, and hear them all around us. But hello, what was this song? Was it actually there in the film? The song had many hard-core music buffs reacting in delighted disbelief.

I began asking music lovers if there were more such popular old musical films that had songs as if forgotten even by reasonably informed aficionados. It turns out that there were a few of this kind. But even more, a linked idea was staring at us in the face. There were many musical films that featured songs—many even nice ones—which were seriously dwarfed by highly popular songs, resulting in reduced recognition for the former. Perhaps these were not forgotten, but nor were they recognized easily. After all, we all have our favorites from an album, even if they number more than one. By logical extension, there must be other songs that are not on our personal hit parade. So maybe we could choose if not the least recognized song, at least the least popular one, and if not from the entire world, at least from Hindi musical films. For instance, composer Usha Khanna’s maiden venture Dil Deke Dekho (1959) was a musical super-hit, with 10 songs, but what chance of popularity did Do ekam do or Pyaar ki qasam hai have against the likes of Raahi mil gaye raahon mein, Hum aur tum aur ye sama, or Bade hain dil ke kaale, to name a few?

So we made a survey among strong Hindi film music buffs of the vintage era. A list of 17 old musical films was made, with just one film per composer. All the songs from these films were listed out for these judges who numbered 24. These judges were asked to choose which song in their opinion was the public’s most popular song from that film, and which had the dubious distinction of being the least popular.

Before we proceed, let’s remember that in fact the same Ameen Sayani we toasted on December 9 has been compiling CDs of songs that were good but just missed being chart toppers in his own hit parades. Appropriately too, the CDs are named Geetmala Ki Chhaon Mein, suggesting missing the limelight. My question, scraping the bottom of the barrel, went further. Which songs did music lovers consider were the general music lovers’ most and least favourite from specific films, irrespective of what these judges themselves liked?

Here are the collated results:

Film: Arzoo (1950)

Composer: Anil Biswas

Most popular song: Aye dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal (this song was the unanimous choice)

Least popular song: Humen maar chala ye khayaal ye gham

Film: Albela (1951)

Composer: C Ramchandra

Most popular song: Shola jo bhadke

Least popular song: Haseenon se muhabbat ka bura anjaam hota hai


Film: Bhabhi (1957)

Composer: Chitragupt

Most popular song: Chal udja re panchhi (unanimous choice)

Least popular song: Jawaan ho ya budhiya


Film: Miss Mary (1957)

Composer: Hemant Kumar

Most popular song: O raat ke musafir

Least popular song: Aayi re ghir ghir pehli pehli baadariya


Film: Mother India (1957)

Composer: Naushad

Most popular song: Tie between Dukh bhare din beete re bhaiya and Duniya mein hum aaye hain to

Least popular song: O mere laal aaja


Film: Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Composer: SD Burman

Most popular song: Hum hain raahi pyaar ke

Least popular song: Tie between Jaan-e-jigar haaye haaye and See le zubaan


Film: Madhumati (1958)

Composer: Salil Chowdhury

Most popular song: Aaja re pardesi

Least popular song: Hum haal-e-dil sunaayenge


Film: Phir Subha Hogi (1958):

Composer: Khayyam

Most popular song: Wo subah kabhi to aayegi (the duet)

Least popular song: Do boonden saawan ki

Film: Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959)

Composer: Vasant Desai

Most popular song: Tere sur aur mere geet

Least popular song: Teri shehnai bole


Film: Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Composer: Roshan

Most popular song: Na to caarvaan ki and Ye ishq ishq hai

Least popular song: Na khanjar utthega…pehchaanta hoon khoob


Film: Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960)

Composer: Ravi

Most popular song: Chaudhvin ka chaand ho (unanimous choice)

Least popular song: Baalam se milan hoga


Film: Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960)

Composers: Shankar-Jaikishan

Most popular song: Tie between Honthon pe sachchai rehti hai and Aa ab laut chalen

Least popular song: Pyaar kar le


Film: Jahan Ara (1964)

Composer: Madan Mohan

Most popular song: Phir wohi shaam

Least popular song: Kisi ki yaad mein duniya ko hain bhulaaye hue


Film: Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)

Composer: OP Nayyar

Most popular song: Tie between Ye chaand sa roshan chehra and Deewaana hua baadal

Least popular song: Haaye re haaye ye mere haath mein tera haath


Film: Jab Jab Phool Khile (1965)

Composers: Kalyanji-Anandji

Most popular song: Pardesiyon se na akhiyaan milaana (Rafi, happy version)

Least popular song: Afoo Khuda


Film: Milan (1967)

Composers: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Most popular song: Saawan ka maheena (unanimous choice)

Least popular song: Tohe saanwariya, naahi khabariya


Film: Kati Patang (1970)

Composer: RD Burman

Most popular song: Tie between Ye jo muhabbat hai and Ye shaam mastaani

Least popular song: Mera naam hai Shabnam

Returning to Guinness, I am considering writing to them to suggest Helen’s name for two records. Firstly, for appearing as a vamp in a record number of films, in excess of 300. And secondly, for the most artistic use of eyebrows, especially one at a time. From the point of view of raising one eyebrow while pinning down the other, the Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi mujra Hum tumhaare hain will certainly be on my suggested-watching list to them. Even if they treat it as a dubious distinction entry.


Featured image above: Helen with one eyebrow raised in Hum tumhaare hain zara ghar se nikal kar dekho

Originally published in DNA Jaipur page 13 on 24 December 2017



4 thoughts on “Hindi Filmdom’s Dubious Distinction Songs

  1. This is certainly an interesting theme. It will also give us an idea of all round compositions by the Music Directors. In my view Shankar Jaikishan’s lesser hit/heard songs will be very few against his hit songs. There might be music directors whose ace songs must be better than SJ’s but in terms of consistency and volume of quality music produced, SJ will be at top.
    It’s like Wisden’s top 30 or 50 centuries. It will surely have VVS 281 or Lara’s 153 at Barbados but may not have either of Tendulkar’s 51 test centuries but he is still a great.
    Madhumati’s each song was a pearl but tan jale man jalta rahe or hum haale Dil sunayenge are lesser heard in comparison to aaja re pardesi or suhana safar.
    ALL Nagin songs are popular but I feel Lara’s sonorous tere pyar mein jalkar dekh liya is less popular than the likes of tan dole mera man dole.
    Sujata’s andhe ne bhi sapna dekha…goonga bhi and gaane baitha is less popular than likes of jalte hain jiske liye/ tum jeeyo hazaaro saal.

    Great theme. Thanks.

  2. Hahahaha… what a delight of an essay this is, Manek! From the “longest, uninterrupted fart” to “Helen’s eyebrows” it’s full of appeal!
    Btw, you need to be on one of these long-haul flights (13 hours and above) to know that 2 mins and 42 seconds may really not be such a record for that fart! 🙂
    Fabulous Sunday morning, again – thanks a ton!

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