Lata Mangeshkar Romantic Duets Talat Mahmood

The heart is aflame with desire

I’ve always believed that the extreme longevity of good musical creations stems from three essential ingredients: a) great, meaningful poetry, b) a truly melodious composition, and c) outstanding vocals. If the song is picturized on good actors/actresses and/or if the movie is a commercial success, it definitely adds to the shelf life but aren’t essential. There are countless songs that are easily recalled without any difficulty and are as fresh in my mind as the day when they were made when I have either forgotten everything about the movie or not seen it at all. I’ve seen scores of movies because I was intrigued by the song I heard or loved. I have done this in the past and undoubtedly will do so in the future as well.

Look at this amazing duet from the early 50s. The movie, Tarana had Dilip Kumar and Madhubala as the lead pair, and had an outstanding musical score by the one man responsible for Bollywood music, more than any other, the true Bhishmapitamah of Bollywood music, Anil Biswas.

Talat Mahmood owes his entire existence as the singer with the unique voice to Anil Biswas da. In his earliest days, he auditioned with Anilda who found the vibrato interesting and intriguing. When called for the recording, Talat sang sans the one feature which sets him apart from the rest, Anilda was furious and gave him a piece of his mind, asking him to sing like himself, not try to sing like anyone else. That sterling advice stayed in Talat ji’s DNA forever and I for one am eternally grateful for that. The sharpness in Latadidi’s voice is like a finely honed scimitar and cuts through to the soul, with a tonal quality that is truly unmatched. She was 21 or 22 when the song was recorded and the voice is sublimely enchanting and enthralling, and entrapped me into a lifelong addiction of a very healthy kind. After her attempted poisoning by the cook and the enforced months long voice rest she was forced to take, she thankfully returned but this cutting edge, this ability to effortlessly cut like a hot knife through butter was gone. How I wish that had never happened. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…..

Prem Dhawan wrote the lyrics for this immortal song, born way before I was initiated into films and film music and which will undoubtedly outlast and outlive my mortal existence. The movie also marked the highly publicized affair that lasted a few years between the lead pair. Like Raj Kapoor-Nargis and Dev Anand-Suraiyya, it was blighted too. Perhaps Dr Yusuf came to know of the medical condition before her physicians and beat a retreat. Madhubala had been mercilessly panned by Baburao Patel (of Mother India) earlier for perceived flaws, but he was profuse in his praise for her in this movie: “Ram Daryani has directed the picture very well and shows plenty of imagination in love sequences. Both [Dilip Kumar and Madhubala] have lived their roles and their romantic sequences seem to take hues from the real canvas of life.” Patel labelled Madhubala’s performance as her finest, in October 1951.

Doing a cover of such an iconic song that too as a solo is a near-impossible task, but it takes a genius to pull it off successfully. Jagjit Singh was just the one to do it for his “Close to my heart” album.

This is from a live concert and different from the link above, which is similar to the album

An immortal song, full of burning desire that stood the test of time and sounds just as sweet despite the passage of three quarters of a century.

And that truly epitomizes why good Bollywood music is different from music used in Hollywood films.

Stay happy and healthy, folks. Enjoy the weekend. I will, as usual, oxygenate myself

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

12 replies on “The heart is aflame with desire”

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