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Lilting crooner Talat Mahmood
By T.M. Anantharaman
BANGALORE, June 13: Ever since I heard Talat Mahmood for the first time in the song “Ye hawa ye raat ye chandini, teri ek nigahpe nissar hai” from film Sangdil way back in 1950s, I have become a diehard fan of his lilting, crooning, silky and chimerical ghazals, nazms, and other filmy romantic or sad songs. Talat had such a sweet voice, one that gave wings to your flight of fancy and one that had just enough tremblers (brighas or fluent flourishes) to give you the goose pimples.

Over the years, every time I heard Talat it made me wonder how he managed to get so much of lilting melody into his music, and I discovered another wonderful trait in his popular numbers viz no matter how many times you heard the song, time after time you discovered something fresh, something melodiously musical. In sum, Talat had a rare voice quality, which retained liveliness even though you might have listened to the song innumerable times.

I have, over the years, listened to him many times, and I must say that Talat fulfils to me in ample measure the criteria of good singing. I recently tried listing some of my favourite Talat songs but soon got lost in a maze. There is one too many songs that I had learnt to croon and imitate like Talat since my school and college days but some are special, and I will share my reasons for the same.

When we were young I once heard the song “Jayen to jayen kahan” and was hooked by its lilting cadence and melody. It was later I discovered that Talat had sung this for the 1954 film “Taxi Driver”, music for which was given by the inimitable S.D. Burman, lyrics by Sahir Ludianvi. I saw the film too some time later and liked the story and acting of Dev Anand, especially the song “Jayen to Jayen kahan” singing in front of the beach and depicting despondency and desolation in being lonely and away from his loved one.

I have a special reason to like the song as well. And since 1965 it tops the list of my (and I suppose my wife’s) Talat songs. That was the year I got married and since my wife belonged to a musical family I was asked the inevitable question whether I liked music, and whether I could sing a song. I don’t even now know what made me select the Talat song “Jayen to jayen kahan”, and I could notice that although they didn’t understand a single word of Hindi then, they liked the tune, and I think, over time, my wife and her family developed a liking for Talat’s music even if they did not fully appreciate the lyrical beauty in his melody. Oh by the way I am a fairly good singer and is endowed with a voice which can impart the right timbre of Talat’s vibrancy and silky soft smoothness and inflection to the words. In fact, my friends used to brand me as a mini Talat and asked me to sing his songs whenever occasions came up for us to display our talent.

So, there are many unforgettable numbers and I would dare to list them for your benefit but before that I must share one more interesting anecdote about a Talat Mahmood song, one which was again composed by maestro S.D. Burman and which Talat rendered so poignantly for Dilip Kumar for the 1955 film Devdas (lyrics by Sahir Ludianvi).

The song “Mitwa laage re ye kaisi anu bhuj aag” is hauntingly tuned by S.D. Burman saab and sung impressively by Talat and enacted with usual aplomb by Dilip Kumar, ably conveying the tragedy of unrequited love and desolation. It is based on a classical raga and I am eternally grateful to Pancham da (R.D. Burman) when I met him in Doha in 1980s where I was working as a journalist and where R.D. Burman was hosting a music show by Asha Bhonsle and other singers. Pancham da told me when I mentioned the Talat song “Mitwa laage re” that it was based on the raag Hemant and that it was his favourite one too from the film. It was years later that I discovered that Pancham da in his own right was one of the finest musicians capable of composing in rare ragas and making a memorable impact through ditties like “Rehna beeti jaaye” (Lata Mangeshkar) and “Yaad aa rahi hai” ( Lata &Amit Kumar) or “Pal do pal ka sath hamara”(Rafi & Aasha). Be that as it may, Pancham da I am ever grateful to you for introducing me to raag Hemant and Talat for singing so soulfully that raag.

With which song do I begin listing my favourite Talat songs? It is a tough call but I would begin with:
1) “Meri yaad me ansoo bahana” from the 1952 film Madosh, music by Madan Mohan, lyrics Raja Mehdi ali Khan;
2) “Mai pagal mera manwa pagal “ from 1952 film Aashiana, music by Madan Mohan and lyrics by Raj Kishen;
3) “Chaldiya Karavan” from 1953 film “Laila Majnu” music by Ghulam Mohamed, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni;
4) “Aye dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal” from 1950 film Arzoo, music by Anil Biswas lyrics by Majrooj Sultanpuri;
5) “Sab kuch lutake hoshume aaye to kya kiya” from 1957 film Ek Saal, music by Ravi, lyrics Prem Dhawan;
6) “Aansoon samaj ke kyoon mujhe ankhse tumne gira diya” from 1961 film “Chaaya” music by Salil Chowdhury, lyrics by Rajinder Kishen;
7) “Dekh li teri khudayi bas mera dil bargaya” from 1964 film Kinare Kinare, music by Jaidev, lyrics Nyaya Sharma;
8) “Mohabat hi na samje woh zalim pyar kya jaane” from 1952 film Parchayian,
9) “Zindagi denewale sun” from1953 film Dil-E-Nadan, music by Ghulam Mohamed, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni;
10) “Mai dil hoon ek arman bara hua”, from 1952 film Anhonee, music by Roshan and lyrics by Satyendra;
11) “Koi nahi mera isu duniya mein” from 1952 film Daag, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri;
12) “Aye meri dil kahin aur chal, gamki duniyase dil bargaya”, also from film Daag, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics by Shailendra;
13) “Hai sab se madhur who geet” from 1953 film Patita, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics by Shailendra;
14) “Jali toh shake chaman” from 1951 film Tarana, music by Anil Biswas, lyrics Shailendra;
15) ‘Pyar bar bas to nahin hain” from 1958 film Sone ki Chidiya, music by O.P.Nayyar, lyrics Sahir Ludianvi;
16) “Sapnon ki suhani duniyan mein” from 1953 film Shikast, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics Shailendra;
17) “Zindagi denewale sun”, from 1953 film Dil-E-Nadan, music by Ghulam Mohamed, lyrics Shakeel Badayuni;
18) “Ro ro beeta jeevan sara”, non-film, music by Khayyam, lyrics Khawar Zaman;
19) “Raat ne kya kya khwab dikhaya”, from 1957 film Ek Gaon ki Kahani, music by Salil Chowdhury, lyrics Shailendra;
20) “Shukria aye pyar tera” from 1951 film Aaraam, music by Anil Biswas, lyrics Rajinder Kishen.

It is incredible that Talat Mahmood has sung for many of the top-notch Bollywood music composers such as Naushad, S.D. Burman, Shanker-Jaikishen, Madan Mohan, Salil Chowdhary, Anil Biswas, and Khayyam. But even more remarkable that Talat Mahmood has never stinted from crooning his best for lesser known composers such as Sajjad Hussain or C.Arjun or Roshan or Ravi or Shaukat Dehlvi Nashad or Husnlal Bagatram or Kamal Das Gupta, to name some. Of these composers, I particularly like the Talat number “ Gham ki andheri raat mein” from 1966 film Sushila for which music was composed by C.Arjun and with excellent lyrics by Jaan Nissar Akhtar and “Tasveer Banata hoon, tasveer nahin banthi” from 1955 film Baradari, music by Shaukat Dehlvi Nashad and lyrics by Kunwar Baraukvi and the eternally beautifully composed ditty with exhilarating background score in the piano, for “Main dil hoon ek armaan bara” for 1952 film Anhonee, music by Roshan and lyrics by Satyendra). For me, these songs, too, epitomized Talat the crooner at his best and the songs are ever green and memorable even today despite having been composed in different decades. So if you like soft, bubbly, lilting music, you can always trust Talat Mahmood to provide you with a rich fare of musical joy.

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