In this centenary year of Indian cinema, have often wondered as to what makes a song great, that people want to hear it again and again, even after decades. Is it the lyrics or the singer's voice or the music? I would vote for the lyrics, because it is the soul of the song. The singer's voice and music are like the body. As we say the soul is immortal and it keeps changing bodies , in the same way a song with a soul will become immortal and be sung by different voices to different music. It is the choice of words that make a song meaningful and touch one's heart and succeed in conveying the meaning in a harmonious manner.

However when all three components are well matched the song becomes divine and one wants to hear it,feel it again and again. This was the quality of a vast number of Hindi film songs between the golden period from the late nineteen forties till the early nineteen seventies. The lyrics were literature, the singers had golden voices and the musicians were rhythmically simply superb. The results were song after divine song. These are loved by every generation and will continue to be equally loved and hummed by coming generations. A large number of songs af this period have become legendary.

It is going to be very difficult to choose the top ten songs which I have grown up listening and are my favourites. Readers can and will have their own choices which is perfectly alright. Following are my top ten presented without ranking  because I like all of them equally:

"Tu Pyaar Ka Sagar Hai -----"

Film : Seema    Year: 1955     Lyrics : Shailendra     Singer : Manna Dey      Music Directors : Shankar - Jaikishen 

It is a spiritual song picturised on Balraj Sahni, one of the Bollywood's finest actors. Nutan is the heroine of the film and won the Filmfare Best Actress Award while Amiya Chowdhry the director of the movie went on to win the Filmfare  Best Story Award in 1957.

The touching words of thre song are addressing the conflict so many of us face many times in life when we  have gone away into a shell and are either afraid or unable to come back and face the reality of life. The writer puts it beautifully " Idhar jhoom ke gaaye zindagi udhar hai maut khadi" and then goes on to add 'koyi kya jaane kahaan hai seema uljhan aan padi". Can the conflict between life and death have a border and when one realises it it is a problem. The poet then makes the mentor/ well wisher say 'kanoon mein zara keh de ki aayen kaun disha se  hum". What choice of words. Tell me in my ears from where should I come back into the real world. The mesmerizing music of Shankar-Jaikishen and the soulful voice of Manna Dey go to lift this Shailendra written song to a different plane altogether where one realises the love of the  for his astray subjects. The song is picturised on Balraj Sahni sitting on a chair and does not have action to divert attention from the meaningful words. 

It truly is a song which touches the heart every time one listens to it.

"Jaane Woh log The Kaise Jinke Pyaar Ko Pyaar Mila--- "

Film : Pyaasa    Year : 1957        Lyrics : Sahir Ludhianvi       Singer : Hemant Kumar        Music Director :  S.D.Burman

The song is picturised on Guru Dutt playing the role of a defeated and crestfallen writer whose poems are rejected by every publisher. No one understands him except a prostitute played by Waheeda Rehman.Till he meets his college flame played by Mala Sinha, who has married a publisher played by Rehman only for money and comfort. "Jaane woh log the kaise jin ke pyaar ko pyaar mila, Humne to jab kaliyan mangi thi kantoo ka haar mila--". Loosely tanslated it means that who are the persons whose love begets love, whenever I have desired buds in return I have only get a garland of thorns. The defeated poet then goes on to conclude "Issko hi ghar jeena kahte hain to yoon hi jee lenge, uff na karenge, labh si lenge, aansoo pee lenge---". The choice of words by Sahir the lyracist is simply so apt that the listener sympathises with the hapless poet. In keeping with the mood of the pessimsitic mood of the film the song has been put to matching music by the great composer S.D. Burman. However I feel in this  song it is  the voice of Hemant Kumar that lends the right touch of agony and despair so necessary to convey the ethos of Sahir's words. Pyaasa has gone to become an iconic picture and this song has also become famous for its musical composition, Hemanda's voice and the melancholy words.

There are many occasions when one is in a downcast mood and wants to listen to this song for the matching mood it generates.


"Pyaar Hua Iqrar Hua --------"

Film : Shree 420       Year : 1955   Lyrics : Shailendra        Singers : Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey             Music : Shankar -Jaikishen

This song has now become almost an iconic song associated with loveand romance. It is picturised on the hit pair of Raj Kapoor and Nargis during evening atmosphere on wet road with a road side chaiwallah very apprciatingly staring at them. It does not have may lines but it is the music which is the real soul of this song. The harmonium is used very effectively to alter the tune when needed. The fine romantic pair of Raj and Nargis live the song rather than act in it and this lifts the song to very high level. Especially the lines " Mai na rahoongi, tum na rahoge, Phir bhi rahengi nishaniya --" and the camera pans to show two small boy and girl walking togetherin a drizzle of rain. It shows the committment for eternal love between the lead pair. Once it was Manna Dey turning out a romantic songs for Raj Kapoor and along with Lata it has now become an recognition of love and romance. Its tune is used as a signature in many programmes. It is very uplifting to listen the song.

If you are somewhat down just listen to this song to lift your mood.


"Aayega aanewala aayega -------"

Film : Mahal         Year : 1949              Lyrics : Kamal Amrohi         Singer : Lata Mangeshkar                       Music : Khemchand Prakash

This 1949 film has given one of the most popular and hummed songs of bollywood. Wheni the song was released, as per custom then the song was credited tom the character Kamini played by Madhubala and not to Lata. The haunting but melodius song became so popular that radio stations where flooded with requests to name the actual singer. Lata has sung this perenially famous song in a superb style which conveys to you that someone is going to come after a long time to a particular place. The movie was the first movie on the theme of reincarnation in Bollywood and had the evergreen Ashok Kumar and the fresh sixteen year old Madhubala in the lead roles. The song keeps appearing frequently in the movie and it went on to make Lata into a household name. The song continues to be popular today also.

For going into a wistful mood this nothing to beat the listening experience of this song.

"O Duniya Ke rakhwale -----"

Film : Baiju Bawara         Year : 1952            Lyrics : Shakeel Badayuni             Singer : Mohammed Rafi       Music : Naushad

This is Rafi at his best. Under the music maestro Naushad Rafi brings out the pathos of the lyrics describing the state of a dejected and heart broken lover addressing God about his sad state. The words are simply fantastic and every line has a contrasting comparison like " Mandir ghirthaa phir ban jhatha, dhil ko kaun sambhale' or "Chaand ko doonde paagal sooraj,shaam ko doonde savera" or "Nayya sung toofan bhanaya ,milan sung judaai". Naushad set it on the classical Darbari raga  and Rafi sang it to perfection. Rafi was to become a sensation after this and other songs sung by him in this movie were released. This song was also sung in college competitions by aspiring singers trying to show their mettle. Baiju Bawra was a musician in King Akbar's time and wanted  to avenge his father's death on the orhers of the great simger Tansen, by outclassing him in a competition. It is a great musical movie and ironically  the great Naushad went on to win his first and only Filmfare Award for Best Music in this movie.

A very soothing and mood uplifting song which can be heard anytime one likes.


"Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya---"

Film : Mughal-e-Azam          Year : 1960                 Lyrics : Shakeel badayuni                Singer : Lata Mangeshkar            Music : Naushad

This evergreen song by Lata Mangeshkar under the direction of Naushsd and set in Raga Durga wentv on tombecome a song of the young in a world where love was still not accepted. It was almost the song of defiance. Picturised on the most beautiful Madhubala in a specially erected Sheesh Mahal set both the tone of the music and the voice of Lata along with thec words together go to create a environment of challenging the authority of the mighty King Akbar. The line like"Chup na sakega ishqa humaaaraa,charo taraf hai iska nazara" and the subsequent shot of hundreds of Anarkalis in each small mirror of the Sheesh Mahal are etched in the minds of the viewer. In order to get the feel of echo Lata was made to sing the song in a bathroom during the recording. The more than six minutes in length song continues to be popular today also for its words and quality of music.

A song worthy of listening to anytime anywhere.


"Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui Taqdeer Bana Le ------"

Film : Baazi                    Year; 1951                        Lyrics : Sahir Ludhianvi                Singer : Geeta Bali                        Music : S. D. Burman

The tantalising and teasing voice oF Geeta Dutt has given this song a timeless flavour. The  picturisation is equally wonderful in a club.  The words are taunting the players  to take a gambling risk if  they have confidence in themselves. The song is sung in the movie by an equally inviting Geeta Bali. It was produced by Navketan films and directed by Guru Dutt. Its overall music by dada Burman was and is today also very popular. The husky voice of Geeta Dutt is a treat to listen and it was unfortunate that she died in tragic circmstances at a young age.

The song and its tune makes the listener light at heart and peps the mood.


"Dil Jalta Hai To Jalne De Aansoo Na Baha;;;;"

Film : Pehli Nazar         Year : 1945                Lyricist : Aah Sitapuri                      Singer : Mukesh             Music : Anil Biswas

This sad song was the first song sung by Mukesh in Hindi films. It is sung by him on the voice pattern of the legendary singer K L Saigal. It is said that after the song became famous Saigal asked when had he recorded this song. Mukesh got recognition in the industry with this song. However he later developed his own style which has also made him a legend of Hindi film singers.  The words of the song are best appreciated when heard alone  preferably in a dark room. The pain of the lover at the  unsure betrayal by the loved is the theme of the song. Anil Biswas was a famous music director of the forties. I once heard this song being played in a multiplex theatre and the whole effect was mesemerising. When the song ended there were a few claps  in an otherwise predomnantly young audience. Such is the timelessness of these old songs

This song is a good song to hear when someone does not respond the way you want especially from  the opposite sex.


"Yahoo, Chahe Koyi Mujhe Junglee Kahe ---"

Film : Junglee                    Year :1961                  Lyrics : Hasrat Jaipuri                             Singer : Rafi                      Music : Shanker- Jaikishen

This Shammi Kapoor song set the whole nation on fire. Rafi sang it with gay abandon. The catchword Yahoo caught the imagination of one and all. Picturised on Shammi Kapoor on a snowy mountain along with the beautiful Saira Banu (her first film) the fast paced and loud music along with the liberating and pleading of love words made the song an immidiate hit and it continues to be liked today also. It is one of Rafi's top selling and heard songs. It also helped Shammi to get a boisterous image. It is a song every youngster when he realises he is in love wants to sing and telll the whole world about it.

The song lifts your mood and wants you to jump and dance.


"Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana--- "

Film : Andaz                         Year : 1971                 Lyricist : Hasrat Jaipuri                       Singer : Kishore Kumar            Music : Shankar-Jaishen

This song picturised on the first super star of Bollywood, Rajesh Khanna driving a motor bike with the beautiful Hema Malini on the pillion became an instant hit with the masses. The light song tells about the philosophy of life. The rising singing star Kishore Kumar sang the song and yoodeled also in his unique style. Its music was as usual fitting the lyrics and the situation. India was changing and was becoming a nation of the young. It was therefore appropriate that such songs would capture the mood of the nation. The movie also was a hit. Hasrat Jaipuri won the Best Lyricist Award for the song and Kishore Kumar was nominated for the Best Singer Award category at the 19th Filmfare Awards in 1971.

A pepsy song worth listening whenever one is in a good mood.

Why don't they make such songs anymore ? Any answers.

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