And the award for the Best Male Singer goes to?
KL Saigal in most of his active years was a colossus and, thus, the answer to this rhetorical question was a foregone conclusion. In 1942, Saigal had just one film, Bhakt Surdas, but that was enough to make his songs etched in the memories of music lovers forever. To be sure, there were many other male singers as well, such as KC Dey, Surendra, GM Durrani, Khan Mastana, Rafiq Ghaznavi etc. Out of a total of 84/85 songs in my list of MEMORABLE SONGS in the overview post, there are 23 male solos, distributed among 15 singers as in the table below.
|Serial #||Singer||No. of songs|
|15.||Master Vitthal of Sholapur||1|
|Total male solos||23|
Except the songs of KL Saigal, KC Dey and some others, several songs of the other singers are unknown. They figure here because some of them are very melodious and deserve to be in the Main List of the best ten. Some deserve to be in the Special Songs to give full flavour of the male solos of the year. I find that GM Durrani’s Utho utho hey Bharat tumhare Ram abhi hain aate; Sardar Mansoor’s Agar insaan mein himmat ho to kya kar nahin sakta (Jungle Princess); and Anil Biswas’s Nindiya khoye diyo nainan mein aaye ke (Lalaji) – because this is the only film in which he sang for another composer, Vasant Kumar – have already figured in ‘Special Songs’ in the overview post. Let us have some more special songs in the year.
1. Jaago, jaago ayi usha by Manna Dey from Tamanna (1942), lyrics SK Kalla, music KC Dey
It is difficult to believe that Manna Dey sang his first Hindi film song in 1942. He took at least 8 years to have a song that became a superhit and is remembered till date – Upar gagan vishal (Mashal, 1950). When KC Dey was about to move to Bombay, he asked his talented nephew Prabodh Chandra Dey to tag along with him. His daak naam, Manna, became his identity and his bhaalo naam forever.
2. Aankhon mein paani kis liye ye zindagani kis liye by Master Vitthal of Sholapur from Iqraar aka Tyag (1942), lyrics Unknown, music Khemchand Prakash
The singer is different from our earliest star, Master Vitthal, who starred in the first talkies Alam Ara. To distinguish from the Master Vitthal, the singer of this song has been described as Master Vitthal from Sholapur. The song is in typical KL Saigal style who was a rage those days and idol of every singer. The song grows on you on repeated listening.
3. Garibon par daya karke bada aahsan karte ho by Ashraf Khan from Roti (1942), lyrics Dr. Safdar ‘Aah’, music Anil Biswas
This song, sung and picturised on a fakir, Ashraf Khan, is a stinging satire on god’s and society’s attitude to the poor. By showing some mercy on them you think you have done them a great favour, but you make them cowards; you rob them and then give them some crumbs. A reader Raunak Joy is impressed by Ashraf Khan’s another song from the film: Raham na khana, hai makkar zamana.
4. Mann aisa geet na gana by Prem Adib from Chudiyan (1942), music SN Tripathi
Prem Adib was an important star in the 1940s. He became famous for his roles as Ram in mythologicals. We are not much aware of his singing prowess. Here he sings a nice melodious song.
5. Balaayein main lun us dil ki jo duniya ke liye ro de by PC Barua from Jawab (1942), lyrics Bekal, music Kamal Dasgupta
Now we come across another interesting song from an unlikely singer. We know PC Barua as an actor-director of Devdas in its Bengali version (1935). He directed KL Saigal-Jamuna starrer Hindi version. I was not aware of him as a singer. In Jawab, in which he was the lead actor, he gets to sing this nice ghazal.
6. Tu kaisa hai bhagwan, teri kya hai jaan pehchan by Gyan Dutt from Dheeraj (1942), lyrics Pt. Indra, music Gyan Dutt
Talking of unlikely singers, here is another one in the line of music director-singers. I did not know that Gyan Dutt also sang songs. This one is quite melodious and is courtesy Raunak Joy.
7. Ram naam mukh bol by Jagmohan from Bhakt Kabir (1942), lyrics Pt. Shivkumar Sharma (?), music Himangshu Dutt
I had mentioned Jagmohan’s debut with this film, but it was left to the reader Raunak Joy to mention this song in his comments: “When one Sursagar meets another Sursagar, magic is bound to happen.” And this song indeed creates magic.
8. Tu gaye ja, koi tera geet sune na sune, tu apna geet sunaye ja by KC Dey from Meenakshi (1942), lyrics Pt. Bhushan, music Pankaj Mullick
I must include it in the list as it is exceptionally enchanting. I have included KC Dey’s Man moorakh kahna maan from the film in the best ten list. This is Raunak Jot’s top favourite of the year, even above Saigal’s well-known songs from Bhakt Surdas.
Many active participants in these discussions have been silent for a while. In some cases, the reasons are personal, family issues. But those who have participated have all agreed on KL Saigal as the best singer, whether for one or the other song. One reader has mentioned his name but not the song; the reason is obvious – he is not able to choose between two or more of his songs.
I have to make a special mention of Raunak Joy. He very obviously lives and breathes the vintage era movies and music. So, when he says something, one has to listen and take note – there is such a certitude and conviction in what he says. In his five detailed comments to the post, he has done a thorough survey of the music scene in 1942. In his final summing up, he regards KL Saigal as the male singer of the year, for his excellence in solos and suets, but his top male solo song of the year is Tu gaye ja by KC Dey from Meenakshi. I find KC Dey’s voice mesmerising, and I have included his another song from the film – Man moorakh kahna maan – in the best ten. But I could not convince myself that this should be superseded by Raunak’s favourite Tu gaye ja. I have placed Tu gaye ja in Special Songs.
So the best song of the year has to be by Saigal from Bhakt Surdas. Other slots I am filling from my many favourites which also match to a great extent with the readers’.
1. Nain heen ko raah dikha prabhu pag pag thokar khaaun main by KL Saigal from Bhakt Surdas (1942), lyrics DN Madhok, music Gyan Dutt
It was a difficult choice between this song and Madhukar Shyam hamaare chor. But while the latter song describes a well-known childhood leela of Krishna, Nain heen ko raah dikha prabhu is a song of pleading to the Almighty by a hapless person to show him the right path. It touches a deep chord within. Lata Mangeshkar regarded him as her idol, and has sung several of his songs as her tribute. There are combined videos on the YT having both the original and her tribute. While I appreciate her sentiments, a classic remains a classic forever. I am posting only the original version.
2. Madhukar Shyam hamaare chor by KL Saigal from Bhakt Surdas (1942), lyrics Surdas/ DN Madhok, music Gyan Dutt
Madhukar Shyam hamaare chor is a famous verse of Surdas. The film song has taken some lines from the traditional Surdas verse, and changed some lines. Yet I find only DN Madhok’s name mentioned in the HFGK and on different sites. I think Surdas/ DN Madhok is a fairer way to credit this song.
3. Mann moorakh kahna maan by KC Dey from Meenakshi (1942), lyrics Pt. Bhushan, music Pankaj Mullick
The best of the New Theatres’ stalwarts – Saigal, Pankaj Mullick and KC Dey – are incomparable to any and even to each other. Man moorakh kahna maan is one of KC Dey’s best. He was a natural for philosophical songs. Listen to me! Try not to differentiate between one person and another. Cope with both joy and sorrow differently with equanimity. My favourite and undisputed #3.
4. Maiya mori main nahin maakhan khaayo by KL Saigal from Bhakt Surdas (1942), lyrics Surdas, music Gyan Dutt
This well-known Surdas’s verse has been used in the film without any change in lyrics. Yet, DN Madhok is credited as the lyricist for all the songs. There is no reason why Surdas should not be acknowledged. A favourite of all singers and classical dancers, KL Saigal gives his own interpretation.
5. Nis din barsat nain hamaare, sada rahat paavas ritu hum par jabse Shyam sidhaare by KL Saigal (& Maninder Saigal) from Bhakt Surdas (1942), lyrics Surdas/ DN Madhok, music Gyan Dutt
I was always intrigued by one aspect of Krishna mythology – once he left Braj for Mathura he never came back. Braj was the place where he had his Jasoda Maiya, his friends with whom he played games, grazed cattle, planned his mischiefs and pranks, slayed some demons too, and had his Radha and other gopis with who he had his raas leela. I don’t think any source explains this parting forever, but it has given superb songs of virah. For his dear ones left behind, it has been continuous paavas ritu since he left (rainy season, a metaphor for tears flowing incessantly). Saigal was the best to bring out this pathos. I had included this song in the ‘Special Songs’ in the overview post as I always treated it as a Saigal solo and was not aware of his younger brother, Maninder’s voice in it. This song is so good that it has to figure in the best list somewhere. It would be a travesty to include it as a duet for a technical reason.
6. Mujrim hun mohabbat ka jo chaahe saza dena by Khan Mastana from Muqabala (1942), lyrics A Karim, music Khan Mastana
Khan Mastana was one of the famous male playback singers before Mohammad Rafi. He also gave music to several films. Mujrim hun mohabat ka jo chaahe saza dena is a superb ghazal picturised on Yaqub, who is a dashing hero singing it to the photo of her lady love. Sadanand Kamath has written an excellent account of Khan Mastana’s great lineage in classical music, his straying into film music under a pseudonym, ups and downs in his life, and his sad end.
7. Dost hua hai dushman-e-jaani haye mohabbat haye jawani by Rafiq Ghazanvi from Society (1942), lyrics Hasrat Lakhnavi, music Rafiq Ghaznavi
Rafiq Ghaznavi was an important music director and singer in the 1940s. A highly talented person, Dost hua hai is an excellent song sung by him.
8. Kabhi jalwe dikhaye jaate hain by Surendra from Gharib (1942), lyrics Dr Safdar ‘Aah’, music Anil Biswas
Surendra performs his role as the Bombay-Saigal as well as he could. In Gharib he had 8 solos; that must be more than Saigal’s solos in any film, but Saigal would remain Saigal. This one is quite melodious and worth including as one of the best in the year.
9. Ban chale Ram Raghuvir by GM Durrani from Bharat Milap (1942), lyrics Pt. Indra, music Shankar Rao Vyas
A poignant song from Ram story when he along with Sita and Lakshman sets off for forest.
10. Ab ayi basant bahaar ujade se is jeevan mein by Asit Baran from Saugandh (1942), lyrics Pt. Natwar, music RC Boral
Asit Baran was an excellent actor-singer in the New Theatres stable. When their stalwarts were leaving for Bombay he got some nice roles and songs. Here he is singing a happy romantic song on the piano as his lady love (Chandravati?) looks at him fondly.
The SOY Award for the Best Male Singer of 1942 goes to KL Saigal for his songs in the film Bhakt Surdas.
Acknowledgements and Disclaimer
1. Arunkumar Deshmukh for sharing his notes generously.
3. Atul Song A Day
5. The song links have been embedded only for the listening pleasure of music lovers. This blog claims no copyright over them, which vests with the respective owners of these rights.