1948 Part A: ASHA and KISHOR
To get information about these two giants of the Hindi
movie playback scene, get article numbers 11 and 12 for Asha
and article numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10 for Kishor. The articles
can be read on the RMIM archive [Check!].
Asha has sung the largest number of songs (about 7595
until 1994) for Hindi movies, and, she has said in
interviews that she also sang the largest number of songs
for Marathi movies. The definitive reference book
"svaraashaa" on Asha may be obtained from
Mrs. Vasanti Nerurkar,
2/15 Kailash Parwat, Gilbert Hill
Andheri, Bombay, 400058 India.
Phone number is 022-624-3587.
This 400 page book, has the first lines, music
directors, lyricists, other singers, movie, year of release
of all her Hindi movie songs, and also has about 40 pages
of pictures. In addition, it has many valuable lists. I have
not received my copy yet [I have it now].
She sang her first line in a chorus, "saavan aaya
(3) re", from chunariyaa (1948), MD Hans Raj Bahal and
lyricist Mulk Raj Bhakhari. She sang only the words,
"bahanaa khush ho ke sagan manaaye". The other singers
were Zohraa and Giitaa. Her first solo was, "hai.n mauj
me.n apane begaane" in the movie raat kii raanii (1949), MD
bahal and lyrics aarzuu lakhahnavii. The first song of
Asha that I have heard is from baavare nayan (1950), a duet
with rafii written by Kedar Sharma, MD Roshan. The duet is,
"muhabbat ke maaro.n kaa haal ye duniyaa me.n hota hai".
In this Platinum Decade (1941-50), she sang just 51
songs. Some other female singers and their numbers for this
Asha will surpass all female singers in the next Golden
Decade and in every decade after that.
Kishor started his playback singing career with the
solo, "marane kii duaaye.n kyo.n maa.nguu.N" and a duet with
Lata, "ye kaun aayaa re" for Dev in the movie ziddii (1948),
MD Khemchandra Prakash and lyricist Professor Jazbii for the
solo and prem dhavan for the duet. The movie was directed by
shaahid latiif, also well-known as a story and a
dialog writer. Latiif was born on June 11, 1913 in
Chandausi, UP; graduated from Aligarh Muslim University;
joined Bombay Talkies in 1940. He collaborated on the
scripts of jhuulaa (1941), basant (1942) and, qismat
(1943). He directed movies like aarzuu (1950), buzdil
(1951), sone ki chi.Diyaa (1958), bahaare.n phir bhii
aaye.ngii (1966). His wife was the noted Urdu writer Ismat
The ziddi duet was Kishor's first duet with Lata, they
will sing 320 more duets. Kishor was not mentioned in the
credits, but he played a gardener, who made several witty
remarks to the audience. Once he helps Dev get out of a
ditch and speaks to him. The ziddi songs are the only two
songs he sang in 1948. In 1949, he sang 3, in 1950, 10,
for a total of 15 songs in Platinum Decade.
Asha and Kishor sang their first duet, "ek, do,
tiin, chaar, baaGo.n me.n aayii bahaar", from the movie
muqaddar (1950), MD James Singh, lyricist bharat
vyaas. I "downloaded" it from Radio Ceylon in 1976 or so.
It is quite good and reminds one of their mastii - bhare
duets in the Golden Decade.
Here are excerpts from my favorite interview of Kishor
that appeared in India Today of May 15, 1985. It was given
to Sumit Mitra and happened when he announced his retirement
from show-biz. At that time, he was 56, had had two heart
attacks, four marriages, an unending string of playback
hits, charging about Rs. 35,000 for one movie song.
IT: Which of the following are you first - director,
KK: Actor. I am an actor who sings off the screen for
another actor. ...
IT: But if you'are constantly acting as a singer, don't
you think that you run the risk of losing a consistent
KK: Who cares for singing styles in films really. K. L.
Saigal had the best style, but today's audiences will not
accept the unreality of a ceremomnial piece of music every
now and then. We playback singers develop a lot of vanity.
We tend to think of ourselves as singers independent of
IT: Aren't you handicapped by not being a trained
KK: Very little. I have a good memory, and that helps. ...
IT: Is it not abhorrent that songs should be an integral
part of Indian commercial cinema ... ?
KK: Who am I to object to songs? It is my livelyhood. But
its responsibility lies with the filmmakers who, after 50
years of sound film, have not been able to give cinema an
identity of its own. ...they'll put the blame on the
audience. But the film-goers have been conditined to expect
a boy and a girl to burst into song when they meet. When a
man and a woman roll over each other on velvet grass in
Kashmir valley, you expect them to make love - not sing in
the voices of Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.
IT: People here talk of your aloofness towards other
- like the late Rafi, and Lata Mangeshkar.
KK: That is utterly baseless. I had great regard for Rafi, a
singer of rare calibre. Lata is the goddess of singing;
she fully knows about my admiration for her. I think what is
more frequently criticised is not my attitude to colleagues
but my attitude to singing for films. Playback singing is
fun and good money. But it's not a big art really; only the
film and record people glorify it with all those gold and
silver discs given to singers. I wish I could take all of
them to the goldsmith and draw the metal out.
IT: Has Indian playback singing any future?
KK: Commercially, yes. Artistically, no. You don't expect
music to be brilliant when the films are so bad. Actually,
the B-grade movies that are doing good business now cater to
an audience which wants a lot of noise to fill the
soundtrack and a lot of feminine flesh to fill the optical
track. Jeetendra, Sridevi ... what kind of music do you
expect with these ingredients? The industry is full
of shopkeepers who'are out to make money - nor art.
IT: Who is the best music director you worked with?
KK: S. D. Burman. I owe everything to him.
IT: And the worst?
KK: I'll tell you after I reach Khandwa (his hometown where
he wants to retire.)
The second part of 1948 - A Year in Hindi Movies will
Posted by Surjit Singh, a diehard movie fan(atic),
to the Index of Articles by Surjit Singh
to Surjit Singh's Home Page