Ten of my favourite Shakila songs

When Shakila’s niece Tasneem Khan graciously agreed to write a guest post to mark Shakila’s birthday yesterday, I decided I ought to show my personal appreciation for Shakila by making a double bill of it—with ten of my favourite Shakila songs. Shakila, whether she was acting the vamp (in films like Aar Paar) or the heroine, had some wonderful songs picturised on her: romantic songs, funny songs, cheeky songs, melancholic songs. Car songs, train songs. Even songs in praise of Shakila’s loveliness. Plenty to choose from.

For this post, though, I’ve stuck to songs in which Shakila has actually lip-synched, irrespective of whether the song in question is a duet or a solo. That’s why you won’t find the very popular Leke pehla-pehla pyaar here, or even the hauntingly lovely Sau baar janam lenge.


All the songs are from films that I’ve seen. Here we go, in no particular order:

1. Aankhon hi aankhon mein ishaara ho gaya (CID, 1956): This song is listed first because it is the first song I remember having watched Shakila in. CID was the first Hindi film I recall watching, in a dingy cinema hall in Gwalior, when I was about 9 years old. I didn’t understand too much of what was going on in the film, but I loved the chemistry between the hero and heroine. They were wonderful—especially in this song. A duet, though Shakila (lip-synching to the voice of the inimitable Geeta Dutt) ‘sings’ the verses, with Dev Anand having to be content with the chorus. A playfully romantic song.

Aankhon hi aankhon mein, from CID

2. Hoon abhi main jawaan (Aar Paar, 1954): Aar Paar featured one classic club dance and song: the superb Babuji dheere chalna, where a sultry Shakila plays the femme fatale, luring men on, yet telling them that love is ephemeral. This song, while not as popular as Babuji dheere chalna, is a fine example of a great daaru song: the dancer, drunk, worn out, and weary (of life itself?) tries to tell herself that she hasn’t given up yet. That she is still young, still desirable. An excellent song, well rendered by Geeta Dutt—and it gives Shakila the opportunity to show off her acting ability.

Hoon abhi main jawaan, from Aar Paar

3. Ae mere dil-e-naadaan tu gham se na ghabraana (Tower House, 1962): Not one of my favourite works from Shakila’s filmography, though that has nothing to do with Shakila’s performance. This song, however, elevates Tower House from being just another run-of-the-mill suspense film. Its lyrics are touching and sweet, the music beautiful—and Shakila as lovely as ever.

Ae mere dil-e-naadaan, from Tower House

4. Zulfon ki ghata lekar saawan ki pari aayi (Reshmi Roomaal, 1961): Even though I didn’t care for the film itself when I watched it, Reshmi Roomaal had some good songs—of which this is my favourite. It’s a simple, romantic song, and very sweet. And it showcases Shakila’s acting excellently, I think: the affection in her eyes, loving but shy, as she looks up into Manoj Kumar’s face. Plus, this is one of those songs that really highlight Shakila’s fragile beauty: the ‘surkhi hai mohabbat ki in phool-se gaalon mein’ (‘the blush of love colours these flower-like cheeks’, literally) is so apt.

Zulfon ki ghata lekar, from Reshmi Roomaal

5. O mister o mister (Agra Road, 1957): I have to admit that I fell in love, the very first time I heard them, with two songs from Agra Road: O mister O mister, and Unse rippy-tippy ho gayi, both utterly delightful. O mister O mister is a waltz (by Roshan) that starts off being a rather elegant battle-of-the-sexes song, though it’s obvious throughout that this “men are unfaithful”-“women are illogical” to-and-fro is all on the surface: in reality, the two people in question are pretty much in love with each other.
That is what makes it more lovable for me: Shakila’s and Vijay Anand’s characters are so comfortable with each other, such good friends, that they can pull each other’s legs without fear of being dumped.

O mister o mister, from Agra Road

6. Mere dil mein hai ik baat (Postbox 999, 1958): Neend na mujhko aaye is probably the more popular of the songs from Postbox 999, but this one is just as tuneful. And it showcases Shakila perfectly: shy, demure, the sort of girl a young man in the 50s would take home to meet his Ma, and Ma would instantly approve of. (It’s a different matter that Shakila’s character in the film is also an adventure-loving sort, who has no qualms about donning disguises or participating in a farce in order to spy on crooks. One spunky girl, this).

Mere dil mein hai ik baat, from Postbox 999

7. Humein haal-e-dil tumse kehna hai (Chaubees Ghante, 1958): Like Mere dil mein hai ik baat, this one is also a song in a garden. The hero (Premnath) and the heroine have gone on a picnic (the accoutrements of which—thermos, rug, wicker basket, etc—appear in the course of the song), and burst into a romantic song. While Premnath isn’t quite at his peak, Shakila is gorgeous as ever, and the tune is very likeable.

Humein haal-e-dil tumse kehna hai, from Chaubees Ghante

8. Kyon udaa jaata hai aanchal (Shriman Satyawadi, 1960): Shakila plays a rather hard-headed career woman in this film, a woman who (through much of the story) ridicules Raj Kapoor’s relatively simple soul. But, as is inevitable in most classic Hindi cinema, love conquers all—and we have even the shrew transformed into a dreamy-eyed romantic who, even when she’s on her own, is thinking of the man she loves, and singing of the effect the very thought of him has on her… one of my favourite Shakila solos.

Kyon udaa jaata hai aanchal, from Shriman Satyawadi

9. Mast aankhen hain ke paimaane do (Nakli Nawab, 1962): Shakila at her graceful best, as she flits lightly through a small walled garden, a pavilion with fluttering curtains, a pool—and flirts sweetly with the man she loves. Another romantic song, with the intoxication of love brimming over on both sides, and both agreeing that (even if it isn’t exactly discreet), it will be so fulfilling to finally give in to this intoxication.

Mast aankhen hain ke paimaane, from Nakli Nawab

10. Ae saba unse keh zara (Ali Baba aur Chaalees Chor, 1954): Long experience has taught me not to expect too much of the fantasy-faux historical genre in old Hindi cinema; too many of the films have only good music or a pretty heroine to recommend them. Ali Baba aur Chaalees Chor is a pleasant change from the norm; the script is good and coherent, the songs mostly good, and the heroine not just lovely, but also a spunky and intelligent woman who outdoes the hero more than once. And this song—a relatively little-known romantic one addressed to the breeze, but actually meant for the beloved—is beautifully melodious.

Ae saba unse keh zara, from Ali Baba aur Chaalees Chor

Which are your favourite Shakila songs?

95 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Shakila songs

  1. A lovely post and he last three songs were new for me. When I think of Shakila, the songs you have posted from Guru Dutt films and Tower house and Post Box come to my mind. So all expectations fulfilled! :-)

    One song which is my favourite and not feautring in your list, most probably because you haven’t seen the film is dil ko lakh sambhala ji from Guest House, which I often confuse with Tower House.

    • Mmm, this is such a nice song. I haven’t seen Guest House, that’s right – but even otherwise, I hadn’t seen this song before, so had no idea it was a Shakila one.

  2. The search for Shakila songs, which I might have forgotten on youtube is turning out to be quite embarassing. My father is thinking I’m searching for “hot mallu sexy actress Shakila videos”!

  3. Great collection of songs. I didn’t know ‘Mere dil mein hai it baat’ and ‘zulfon ki ghata le kar’ were her songs. Thanks for the post.

    I am happy that one of the two songs from my comment in the last post has found mention in the list. I would personally, however, rate ‘Raat chup hai chandni madhosh hai’ higher. Personal preference!

    • Raat chup hai chaandni madhosh wouldn’t have made it to my list, because I haven’t watched Ustaadon ke Ustaad. But I agree with you, it’s a beautiful song. Very gentle and melodious.

  4. Harvey related one confusion; I must confess another. When I saw the title about best Shakila songs, I was going to mention my early favorites from Zeenat and Jugnu. But then I caught myself in time… Oops… Thanks to this confusion, sometime soon I might do a list of favorite Shashikala songs. But anyway this is a good list with nice writeups; I couldn’t think of anything else to add to what’s already here.

    • Thank you, Richard! Glad you liked the list – and I’m actually glad for the confusion too, in a selfish sort of way, because now we can look forward to a Shashikala songs post. Lovely. :-)

    • I have a particular fondness for that song. It’s simply lovely – the music, the way it’s been sung, and (of course) Shakila herself. I just wish the actor had been someone I liked more than Mahipal!

  5. The songs are all absolutely gorgeous, and your write up accompanying each song adds to it.
    You’ve mentioned most of the songs I love, and some which I had forgotten.
    I’ll come up with some more though :-)

    • Thank you so much, pacifist! Glad you liked this post. And now I’m going to start watching the songs you’ve come up with – several, as I can see from your comments below. :-)

  6. A 1963 film called Kahin Pyar na Ho jaye had lovely songs composed by Kalyanji Anandji.
    There are 3 which I really really like. This first one doesn’t have Shakeela singing, but I love it the best, :-)

    • I have heard this one before, but hadn’t seen it. A nice song, and I agree that this one’s better than Humko tumse pyaar hai, though the latter (as you so aptly describe it), is a ‘pretty one’. Very pretty.

  7. I may have posted this song in the ‘roothna – manana’ post.
    It’s a good one, so I guess no harm in posting it again.

    • Cute song! And I love the way their roothna-manaana progresses – he ‘maan jaao-es’ fairly easily. The audience looking on is kinda sweet too.

      Shakila seems to have worked in a fair number of films with Ajit, it seems. This one, Guest House, and Tower House are among the ones I know of.

      • >he ‘maan jaao-es’ fairly easily.

        Yes he does, doesn’t he? Instead of waiting for the last verse

        I think that’s the reason I didn’t post it in that ’10 favourites’ post.

        I also realised that Shakeela is there in more than one song where she doesn’t really sing – aankhon hi aankhon mein, thumak thumak mat chalo but it’s all about her. I seem to remember another such.

        • Is there another Aankhon hi aankhon mein, other than the one in CID? Because in the CID song, she is the one who’s doing most of the singing – Dev Anand only sings the chorus.

          Baar-baar dekho is another song which features her quite prominently, but where she doesn’t sing at all.

  8. Madhu, two posts in two days! That’s the proverbial icing on the cake. :) Great post as always, and you have listed all my favourites – if I had to choose, I think I would pick Hoon abhi main jawan ae dil as my absolute favourite – she was fantastic in that song. Aankhon hi aankhon mein comes a close second.

    I really like this duet from Shriman Satyavadi:

    There is so much joy in her eyes.

    • Thank you, Anu! I’m glad you liked this. When Tasneem agreed to write the post for Shakila’s birthday, I decided I had to do my bit to show my appreciation for Shakila too. :-)

      Bheegi hawaaon mein is nice – Shakila looks so unaffected and sincere.

      Shriman Satyawadi had good music; here’s another song, Ek baat kahoon, that I like quite a bit. Very lively beat:

  9. Thanks Madhu ,through the list of your favourite songs ,you gave a melodious glimpse of Shakila Aunty’s career.While reading your article ,I was also humming some of the songs .What a treat!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Tasneem! Your aunt worked in films with some really good songs – if I’d expanded my repertoire to include songs where she appears but doesn’t sing (like Baar-baar dekho), I’d never have been able to restrict myself to just ten songs.

  10. I was just listening to “Hoon Abhi Main Jawan” yesterday! Dangit, Dustedoff, you can read my mind! I also snorted and laughed out loud at the Agra Road song. I still can’t digest that Goldie and Shakila actually acted together! Man, I really want that film now. I try to see all the films that Goldie actually acted in before the 70’s. :D

    • Oh, yes. O mister o mister is a fun song (as is Unse rippy-tippy ho gayi). The best thing about Agra Road is the chemistry between Shakila and Vijay Anand – their characters are already sweethearts when the film begins, so there’s this level of chummy comfort between them. Very cute.

      • Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! Dustedoff!

        Have you heard of the band One Direction? (I swear, they’re the most irritating thing to happen to the world after SRK and Indian MTV.) They. Are. Flipping. Ripping. Off. Elvis. Presley.

        AGH! JUST LIKE THE REMIX THING ALL OVER AGAIN! And my blood’s boiling for some reason. Elvis is just special. I don’t care much for American songs, but Elvis is SPECIAL. I’m not just saying that ’cause Shammi’s like Elvis, but better, but I just feel that this lousy little boy band has no right to rip him off!

        Now I’m waging World War Three on the idiotic fangirls.

        • No, I’ve never heard on One Direction. Thank you for warning me off them. I think Elvis is special (and why not – we share the same birthday! – though in different years), so I wouldn’t want to see his songs mangled.

          • Oh, GOD, I am coming to live in Delhi right now. In Singapore there were idiotic fangirls. In the US, there are blind idiotic fangirls. (Okay, you might say I’m a blind, well, Dev fan. AT LEAST HE DOESN’T MANGLE OTHER PEOPLES’ WORK!)

            And their squealing gets to a point of irritation where I want to snap their necks. Okay, I don’t quite know which is worse – me wanting to snap peoples’ necks or me daydreaming about idly putting on lipstick like a GIRL and then meeting Dev, well, you do get my drift, right?

            I also went wandering around on fanfiction.net because I’m an idiot, and found the Bollywood section. EXCEPT everything had to do with new films. There were so many SRK Don fanfictions which made me want to use all sorts of foul language. So, to remedy that, I’m just editing my drabbles about Dev and going to spam up that place. :D

            • Ah, well, from little I’ve seen of some American fangirls, I guess I’d want to snap their necks too. So you’re not alone. ;-)

              Go on and spam fanfiction.net with Dev Anand musings! Hopefully, you’ll convert some.

              • …Yeah. If only I could live in 1961 Bombay. :) -dreamy sigh-

                I did, well, a little. :DD I had fun writing it. I do, however, want to stick to solid plots for my fanfiction.net stories. I don’t want to be known as the sappy plotline-less girl who writes random stories in the Bollywood section. Neither do I want to become a Dev x OC clone of me writer, even though I’m TEMPTED.

            • Wow, so much hate for SRK? You clearly have never seen his films before Don. Anyone who calls him ‘irritating’ and ‘rubbish’ (I saw that somewhere) after watching CHAK DE INDIA and more specially SWADES has ‘questionable tastes’.
              Chak De won’t have been the big hit it was without him. and Swades was a flop. (as was Lakshya – Hrithik Roshan’s best film) things are changing it seems, good films are getting their due , though trashy films do become big hits.
              p.s. I also find most of the top stars- heroes- irritating in the last 5 odd years except Saif Ali Khan even in his bad films.
              I don’t find Aamir Khan likable at all partly due to his mannerisms post Lagaan but he has done some very good films.
              DO, sorry for the long unrelated post.

              • Oh yeah, I have. I mean, he was okay in those 90’s films. But then he started ripping off Amitabh and that did not go well with me. Even at age 6 I was an old Hindi film fan – God I remember seeing those Don trailers on TV. I am glad that that channel’s GONE and DEAD.

                I haven’t seen Chak De India – I really don’t care much for sports films. Don’t like sports in real life, not on the screen. Give me a fun, light-hearted romance with Shammi anytime! I haven’t seen Swades either, but I must rather admit, he was good in Veer Zaara.

                I basically just steer clear of all new films. My grandma wanted to go see The Dirty Picture but being me, I put on my best Dev-style voice and talked her into a fun little rewatch of Solva Saal instead. Hee! But seriously though… call something The Dirty Picture… no. Just no. I’m 14, I don’t want to know.

                I don’t like Aamir Khan one bit after that idiotic Delhi Belly or WHATEVER it’s called. Mocking the 70’s. And the songs were just rubbish. So yeah, that’s why I just hole up with YouTube and have fun watching old films.

              • I agree with you completely, Chris, re: Chak De India! and Swades (though I must admit to a special liking for Chak De India! – SRK is simply superb in that). I don’t care for stuff like RaOne and My Name Is Khan, but I can’t dispute the sheer likeability of some of his other films. I actually also liked Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. And I also agree about Lakshya – along with Jodhaa Akbar, that’s my favourite Hrithik film too.

  11. One can never tire of listening to Shakila songs. I got so lost in checking out all the songs that I had not heard that I actually forgot to comment. :)

    Thanks Madhu for the double bill on Shakila. It was enjoyable and I got a nice new list of songs to listen to :)

    • Thank you, Ava! Quite a few relatively little-known but lovely songs here, aren’t there?

      I just remembered another one. Very well-known, though most people tend to forget this version of Leke pehla-pehla pyaar, where Shakila’s character does sing.

  12. Great selection, Madhu. You’ve picked all my favorite Shakila songs. Some others that I like:

    Yeh nasheeli hawa – Neeli Aankhen

    Nasseb hoga mera meherban – 40 Days

    Tarse jiya barse piya – Veer Rajputani

    • Thank you for those songs, Shalini! All three are lovely, though I have a particular fondness for Naseeb hoga meherbaan. I remember having seen both Chaalees Din and Chaubees Ghante on Doordarshan when I was a kid, but keep getting them mixed up.

  13. My favourite Shakila songs are from her better known films like CiD and China Town . Also ‘Sau baar janam lenge’ from Ustadon Ke Ustad , even though it is a male solo.
    Is this song mentioned? (I thought it was a Rafi solo for some reason before I watched it.)

    a song from ‘Mulzim’

    • Yes, someone did mention Laagi chhoote na in the comments. Sang-sang rahenge is a song I seem to recall having heard, though this is the first time I’m watching it. Pradeep Kumar isn’t a favourite with me, but Shakila more than makes up for him!

  14. @bombaynoir: Till some years back, I used to mostly watch only old films – except for the occasional big hit like Lagaan. But I’ve begun to realise that, as time passes, there are an increasing number of film makers who are making the type of films I like watching. Chak De India!, for example (and no, I don’t like sports films, but this one is much, much more than a sports film). Or Jodhaa Akbar, Maalaamaal Weekly, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Kahaani, A Wednesday, Being Cyrus, Parineeta. If the only films you’re willing to watch are romances, then the field’s a little restricted, because some of the best films aren’t romances, but still. You’re probably missing out on a lot of very good cinema by giving all new films a wide berth.

    • Yeah, I watch some of them which are good and nice, like Jodhaa Akbar, and Paa (That was such a sweet movie!), but honestly I can’t stand those Akshay Kumar comedies or the movies where all Salman Khan does is take off his shirt and dance. I am, NOT, NOT, NOT EVER going to watch Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi because I told you it had that horrible song that basically had the singer spouting random old song names that made me cry and rage and… be a 14-year-old immature girl, I guess.

      Romances… well, I don’t like the new romances, like Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Yash Chopra’s generally very good, I don’t know what happened! (And I also watched Daag and raged at the ending.) I do prefer light-hearted films, or maybe even some mystery films, like, you know, Teesri Manzil style, but they don’t do that much anymore. Horror films… no… just no. I don’t like horror.

      • Lunch Box! Did you see Lunch Box? New movie, and perhaps classifiable as romance, though much more … I’m not a movie watcher at all; I watch maybe 2 films a year (but I see song videos :-)), but films like Lunch Box, Chak De, Jodha Akbar, are in that small list of films I see.

        • Are you talking about The Lunchbox that starred Irfan Khan? (I’m woefully behind the times, so don’t know if there’s another movie by the same name floating around. Yes, I watched that, and loved it.

  15. Agree with Chris and DO. CDI and Swades are among my favourite films. The films were so sincere, and SRK acted so well.
    In addition I also love Ashoka and Paheli for their wonderful atmosphere. Of course one has to ignore a lot of Bollywoodish attitude in these two, but otherwise they satisfied my period film longings. :-)
    A small good film I liked, OMG.

    • I haven’t seen OMG, but I just recalled another recent one I liked: Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Much fun, and the romance was really sweet in a non-mushy way. :-) Long time since I saw Ashoka and Paheli, but I remember liking both.

      • My grandma hated Paheli. I mean, she absolutely hated it, and I was just 5 when I saw that, or around that age, so I just thought, meh, I don’t really care. I mean, if I want to watch a nice little film in an Indian village… well, I’m going to watch Guide. (But then I’m going to end up crying my eyes out at “Din Dhal Jaye”, so never mind.)

        OMG? What in the world can that be about? I also saw the trailer for Mujhse Fraandship Karoge or something, and seriously… learn to spell FRIENDSHIP, people. -.-

    • I didn’t actually think the 90s while posting that comment, that’s when SRK got his ‘stardom + huge fanbase’ , many of his early films then were better than any of his contemporaries.
      Anyway, his ripping off Bachchan was more ON TV, and Amitabh himself copied Al Pacino and Marlon Brando and got applauds for that!!
      and yes, some trivia for those who have seen ‘Taare Zameen Par’,
      this old tv film has similarities to it.
      The film is there on YT.

      • I agree, films like Yes Boss or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai were far better than most of what SRK’s contemporaries were doing back in the 90s. Now they might look a little off, but they do have a certain charm…

  16. I’d forgotten about this lovely duet from Towerhouse, but Edwina posted a link to this on Facebook, so I thought I’d put it in here as well. Main khushnaseed hoon mujhko kisi ka pyaar mila. Such a beautiful song.

    • This is a lovely song, spoilt by my brother by always pointing out his piano playing :-)
      Watch from :13 onwards

      Though I must say it doesn’t ‘really’ bother me. :-D

  17. Talking of Reshmi Rumal your choice of song from this film is excellent. There’s another one which I find very lively and very musical.

  18. There is 1 song from the film “40 Days” Baithe Hain Rehguzar Par Dil Ka Diya .But since the song is not accompanied by a video, not sure whether the song is filmed on Shakila, even though she played the lead role in the movie.

    • It’s been such a long time since I saw the film, I don’t recall Baithe hain rehguzar par. I really love Naseeb hoga mera meherbaan, though. Someone else has already posted a link to the video, so I’ll just post a link to Main deewaana mastaana:

      Long time since I watched this one, though I’ve heard it often enough.

  19. The movie 40 days also had 2 other famous songs- Main diwana mastana mushkil bhed mera paa jaana (picturised on Premnath), and Naseeb hoga mera meherban kabhi na kabhi (picturised on Shakila &Maruti).

  20. A great post on Shakila, I found several new songs. There is not much I can add, except that I was fortunate to see her classic film CID in a single-screen cinema theater in Bombay in the 70’s. Watching a movie in a theater is a much more enjoyable ex[perience; Tessri Manzil is another such cherished experience.

    • I am so envious! I did see CID in a cinema hall, back in about 1982 or so, but was too young to appreciate it. Since then, the only old film I’ve had a chance to watch in a theatre was Hum Dono, when the colourised version was released a couple of years back. I wished, at the end of it, that it hadn’t been colourised.

  21. I was so elated to come across this post. SHAKILA is one actress I’ve always admired , especially for her fragile looks and figure… So different from other actresses of her era. Thank you so much for this post.!!

    • You’re welcome. Yes, Shakila was refreshingly different from the others of her era. And I liked that she also acted in some roles that required her to be far more feisty than the average heroine.

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