Devotional melodies Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia

The rarest of collaborations….

Omkar Prasad Nayyar, or O P Nayyar ( OPN) was the first composer to hit the top rungs of Bollywood and single handedly carried many a doomed project that was adrift in choppy waters to calmer waters of success with his musical score. As a result, he was also the first composer in Bollywood history to command ( and demand as well) a lakh of rupees ( and more) per movie, when such amounts represented a lifetime’s earning (or even more) for many Indians. He always had strong likes (& even stronger dislikes : it was his ego and overriding desire to show HE was the sole reason for success, and was probably overawed , and maybe jealous , of Lata Mangeshkar’s stature/success that he never had her sing his compositions.) His oeuvre , unlike say C Ramachandra, never had a strong base or flavour of Hindustani Classical Music. I will be generous to him and attribute this as the reason he didn’t collaborate with Manna Dey in his prolific career studded with numerous unforgettable melodies. The other day, when researching if the two ever collaborated , I came across only five songs- ONLY FIVE– where the two had come together. These are: 1) Moonh se mat lagaa , a duet from Johnny Walker with Rafi, 2) Baahon ko Zara Lehra Dey: a duet with Asha Bhosle from Kabhi Andhera Kabhi Ujala, 3) Tu Hai Mera Prem Devata another duet from Kalpana with Rafi, 4) Kucch Aur Nahi Aas a duet with Rafi from Heera Moti, 5) Zindagi lekar from the same Heera Moti, sung by three: Mohd Rafi, Manna Dey & Dilraj Kaur. An amazing fact that O P Nayyar never gave Mannada a single solo number in the long career he had in Bollywood. And to me, of the list, only one really memorable number from Kalpana. The others sound pretty ordinary.

The song, based on the morning raag Lalit, is a dance number performed by the sisters Ragini and Padmini, and the strong Hindustani Classical Base maybe is the strongest reason for getting in Manna Dey. Another strong reason was perhaps the fact that Ashok Kumar was both the co-producer and the male lead in the movie. He falls in love serially with both Padmini and Ragini (and then Padmini again). The movie has a strong musical score, and out of 10 songs, Asha Bhosle gets 6 solos and 3 duets (Two with Rafisaab and one with , Sudha Malhotra) . No male singer has a single solo number. That makes the score unusual. The movie is also unusual in the sense the great Bimal Roy actually agreed to edit this movie which had R K Rakhan write and direct it. Rakhan also directed one of Ashok Kumar’s most famous movies: Meri Soorat Teri Ankhen . ( In fact 3 out of the 4 movies that Rakhan made had Ashok Kumar in the lead even Raagini had Dada Moni : only Bank Manager had Shekhar with Kamini Kaushal and music by Madan Mohan )

Lalit is a very melodious serene and devotional raag of the early morning/ dawn and belongs to the Poorvi thaat. It is shadav- shadav and is one of my favourite raags. It is best rendered by an equally serene instrument/ voice and I love the flute recital by Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia who has done the most after Pandit Pannalal Ghosh to popularise the difficult instrument.

Stay safe, folks, stay happy and enjoy the weekend. I will disappear from the hullabaloo of the city for a day


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

2 replies on “The rarest of collaborations….”

Great insight into Mannada and OPN🙏🏾
You have taken studied efforts to list all the 5 songs of Mannada with OP…. Luckily I know all of them well being OP ardent fan😅👍👍
This song speaks volumes of OP in his skill to give a classical number… very very soul ful singing by Mannada and a song to remember all the time🙏🏾

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