Ten of my favourite female duets

Hindi cinema has seesawed wildly when it comes to the depiction of women: on the one hand we’ve had films that glorify womanhood (even if it’s long-suffering, almost-always patient womanhood, as in Mother India); on the other, we’ve had appalling stuff like Suhaagan, which made no bones about telling women exactly where their loyalties lie.

But let’s lay aside the filmi angst and sacrifice for the time being, and celebrate International Women’s Day—with a list of female duets. While bromances have been so very popular with film makers, it seems rather surprising that the number of songs in which two men get together are relatively few. But put two (or, even better, more) women together, and—hey, presto—they burst into song.

Sai and Subbluaxmi in Aplam chaplam chaplai re

However, I’ve already done—in the past—a post on saheli songs. So, to differentiate this post from that one, I decided this list of duets will feature only songs where the women in question are not sahelis—they may be colleagues, relatives, strangers to each other, whatever. But not sahelis (they may be friends, of course, but there must be another relationship too). So, here goes; ten female duets from pre-70s Hindi cinema, all from films I’ve seen. Most importantly, they are all duets—it’s not as if one female singer sings playback for two different characters.

These are in no particular order, except for the first song, which is my favourite.

1. Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho (Nau Do Gyarah, 1957): From a film that had one stunner of a song after another, a brilliantly sultry club song, picturised on Shashikala (lip-synching to Geeta Dutt) and Helen (for whom Asha sings). Of the two dancers who dominate the song, Shashikala, with her cigarette holder and her ringlets falling over one shoulder, is the more sophisticated femme fatale.

Kya ho phir, from Nau Do Gyarah

Helen is the more energetic dancer, the one who leaps and pirouettes and dances with a male companion towards the end.

Kya ho phir, from Nau do Gyarah

I love everything about this song: the change in pace and rhythm between Geeta’s and Asha’s sections, the picturisation, the vocals, Helen, Shashikala: all perfect.

2. Humre gaon koi aayega (Professor, 1962): Two sisters—Lata and Asha—sing for two onscreen sisters, played by Kalpana and Praveen Chaudhary. Neena and Rita, ensconced in Darjeeling and bossed over by a harridan of an aunt, take time off while said aunt is away—to dance about in the hills and sing about the lovers they hope will soon be entering their lives. Cheery, infectious, and with some lovely views of the Darjeeling hills.

Humre gaaon koi aayega, from Professor

3. Ghoonghat hataaike nazrein milaaike (Rangeen Raatein, 1956): Another song from a Shammi Kapoor film. Sung by Sudha Malhotra and Mubarak Begum, this catchy little tune is picturised on a trio of dancers who are part of a travelling ‘entertainment company’ in Rangeen Raatein. The presence of the audience—and their cheering, clapping and general appreciation during the course of the song—gives this a realistic touch.

Ghoonghat hataaike, from Rangeen Raatein

4. Garjat barsat saawan aayo re (Barsaat ki Raat, 1960): The voices of Suman Kalyanpur and Kamal Barot render the ultimate tribute to the monsoon, in one of my favourite Roshan compositions.   Like Humre gaon koi aayega, this song is picturised on two women who are supposed to be sisters: Shyama and Ratna. No dancing and jumping around are involved here, though: since they are professional singers, the girls are sitting at home and practicing when the film’s credits roll.

Garjat barsat saawan aayo re, from Barsaat ki raat

5. Reshmi salwaar kurta jaali ka (Naya Daur, 1957): Professional dancers at work seem to be the basis for some of the best female duets. In this one, Minoo Mumtaz and Kumkum get together to—as in the Rangeen Raatein song—entertain a bunch of villagers. In what seems to have been a popular theme, one woman pretends to be male (here, Minoo Mumtaz is the Punjabi ‘man’ wooing a superficially reluctant village belle). Unusually (since Shamshad Begum’s voice was more nasal and considered ‘deeper’ than those of her peers), it is she who sings playback for Kumkum, while Asha sings for Minoo Mumtaz.

Reshmi salwar kurta jaali ka, from Naya Daur

Note: A similar duet—sung by Asha and Sudha Malhotra—is As-salaam-aalekum babu kaho kaisa haal hai, from Kalpana, coincidentally also composed by OP Nayyar, who was the music director for Naya Daur. The reason it doesn’t feature in this list is because the ‘two’ dancers in the song are actually only one: Ragini.

6. Na na na re na na haath na lagaana (Taj Mahal, 1963): Almost a mirror song to Reshmi salwar kurta jaali ka, this one features Helen as the girl who’s trying to fend off the unwelcome attentions of a passing Romeo (Madhumati). Sung by Meenu Purushottam and Suman Kalyanpur, this duet, while it bears a strong resemblance in spirit to the Naya Daur song, is not a boisterous folksy song liable to appeal to villagers, but a more sophisticated one (even though it is playful) tailored for the elegant palace in which it’s being performed.

Na na na re na na haath na lagaana, from Taj Mahal

7. Jab-jab tumhe bhulaaya tum aur yaad aaye (Jahanara, 1964): Another dance performance, and another Asha-Lata duet. This time, though, the two dancers (Minoo Mumtaz and a very young Aruna Irani) aren’t merely dance partners; they also happen to be sisters.
I love the way Madan Mohan and Rajinder Krishan build this song: it begins with the same lyrics (and more than a hint of the same music) as of the beautiful Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon, then changes into something completely different—yet echoing the poignancy of bittersweet memories that will not be erased.

Jab-jab tumhe bhulaaya, from Jahanara

8. Na main dhan chaahoon (Kala Bazaar, 1960): For a change, a song where the two women onscreen—Nanda and Leela Chitnis—share a relationship not covered in any of the songs so far: they’re mother and daughter. Geeta Dutt sings for Leela Chitnis, Sudha Malhotra for Nanda. The lyrics of this song, the music, and the vocals (especially Geeta Dutt, who is one of my absolute favourites) are sublime. As is the picturisation—and how appropriate, for Women’s Day, that a song sung by two women should have such an effect on a man! (well, perhaps it’s got more to do with the fact that it’s a devotional song, but still).

Na main dhan chaahoon, from Kala Bazaar

9. Manbhaavan ke ghar jaaye gori (Chori Chori, 1956): This was one of the first songs that came to my mind when I began compiling the songs for this post. I love the melody, the singing (Asha and Lata, who despite their much-talked about rivalry, did sing some fabulous songs together, as you can see from this list), and the scenario: a wedding, with a bride sitting waiting to be wed to a man she no longer cares for—but with a happy end just round the corner.
And Sai and Subbulaxmi, as the professional dancers who bid the bride farewell on behalf of all her family and friends, are great.

Manbhaavan ke ghar jaaye gori, from Chori Chori

10. Teri mehfil mein kismat aazmaakar (Mughal-e-Azam, 1960): The only one of its kind in my list, a song in which the two women are—not relatives, colleagues or even strangers—but rivals for the love of the same man, and that too a prince. Anarkali (Madhubala) is the outsider, the beautiful court dancer whose status is too low for her to even hope for the fulfillment of her love.

Teri mehfil mein kismat, from Mughal-e-Azam

Bahaar (Nighar Sultana) is the lady in waiting who is manipulative enough, and better-placed, to make a more successful bid for the prince’s heart.

Teri mehfil mein kismat, from Mughal-e-Azam

Their rivalry is expressed in this superb song, a fine battle of lyrics, music and vocals (Lata and Shamshad). One of the best qawwalis there is.

Which are your favourite non-saheli female duets? Tell us. And here’s wishing all of you women out there a Happy Women’s Day!

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195 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite female duets

    • Ah, yes. I see you have Jab jab tumhe bhulaaya in that post; I’d forgotten you’d done an Asha-Lata post! Fortunately, I can safely say that most of those songs wouldn’t have been possible for me to include in my list, because I haven’t seen a lot of those films. :-D

  1. Always a delight to read posts like this one. Not only for seeing some of my favourites make the list, like Reshmi salwar and teri mehfil mein kismat, but also for learning more about others. As-salaam-aalekum babu kaho kaisa haal hai has lnog been a favourite and I listen to it a lot, but knew nothing about it. Thanks for educating me, once more!

    • Even though I’d seen As-salaam-aaleikum babu before, it wasn’t until Richard pointed out the fact that ‘both’ women were actually Ragini, that I realised it. Of course, when I saw the film, it’s obvious – but confusing, since she’s supposed to be performing all by herself on stage – so how can there be two of her? Still, a fun song.

  2. Lovely, Madhu. Wonderful songs in there.

    Not sure this one qualifies but when I saw the title of this post, the first song that came to mind was the lovely “hum panchhi mastaane” from Dekh Kabira Roya.

    And is “tumko piya dil diya” from Shikari allowed? That’s in the super-awesome category for me.

    And of course, “akhiyan bhool gayi hain sona”. :-)

    • Thank you, Raja. :-)

      Well, if you read the first couple of paragraphs of the post, you’ll see that I’ve specifically excluded songs picturised on women who are supposed to be just sahelis – so, by that standard, both Hum panchhi mastaane (which I had included in my saheli songs post) and Akhiyaan bhool gayi hain sona would not qualify – the women in both songs are supposed to be sahelis. But they’re great female duets, regardless!

      • Haan, I read that. Indeed those are saheli songs.
        So at least “tumko piya dil diya” makes it?

        What about “aaye haaye dilruba” from Dr. Vidya? Also, saheli song?

        • I have to admit it’s been very, very long since I watched Shikari, so I’ve forgotten most of it. But from what I recall, yes, Tumko piya dil diya does qualify. Lovely song, too; hadn’t heard it for years. :-)

          Helen’s and Vyjyantimala’s characters in Dr Vidya are sahelis to start off with in Dr Vidya; the bad blood develops only later in the film, after Helen’s character is disdainful of Vyjyantimala’s character’s husband. So I probably wouldn’t include Aaye haaye dilruba.

    • Awesome, awesome, awesome. If I’d watched Baharon ke Sapne (yes, yes, I know!), this would’ve been right up there. Classic female duet. :-)

      Thank you, harvey!

  3. The icing on the cake is that all this songs are very beautiful as well. This is a fabulous idea for a women’s day post, Madhu.

    Women have a knack of bonding with each other even in strange situations. They could be travelling together and soon find themselves chatting like long lost sisters.

    I see my neighbours popping in and out of each others house, sitting in the sun and talking, helping each other out, and most importantly (for them), getting together to form a bhajan mandali.

    I am very glad to see the lovely song from Jahanara here – Jab jab tumhe bhulaya. It is particular favorite of mine, I like everything about it. The simple yet deep lyrics, Madan Mohan’s music, Mangeshkar sisters’ singing, a very young looking Aruna Irani and best of all, Minoo Mumtaz dancing like a kathak pro!

    • Thanks, Ava!

      Yes, I guess most women do have a knack of bonding quickly and easily with each other, don’t they? Just a week ago, I was at the Indian Women’s Press Corps for a function. Didn’t know anybody there, but was befriended almost as soon as I sat down. Have already been invited to be part of a reading group consisting of some of its members. :-)

      I love Jab jab tumhe bhulaaya – there’s something really lovely about the fact that it seems, at first sight (and if you’re not listening closely to the lyrics), the usual dance song, about love etc. But the lyrics are much more than that, much sadder and deeper.

      (And yes, Minoo Mumtaz dances really well in it! She’s so good. I wonder if she had any training. She’s also very good in Saaqiya aaj mujhe neend nahin aayegi).

    • You caught me out there, Hansda – yes, that’s a lovely song, and totally fits the bill. :-)

      Here it is, for everybody else to enjoy too.

      Not a valid excuse, but I guess the general forgettableness of Parasmani makes me even forget its songs. Which is a pity, because it had fabulous music.

  4. YAY, I’m first and get to post favourites, unlimited. :-D… but I’ll restrict to one, to start with.

    What an interesting assortment of songs DO. There’s dance (both Indian and western styles), qawaali, bhajan, folk, classical, light.

    Garjat barsat saawan aayo re and of course the qawaali from Mughal e azam would be in my top category, the second level would contain the reast. Love them all.

    My choice is this song by relatives – bhabi and nand (they say it in the song). From Heera Moti (Munshi Prem Chand’s ‘Do Bailon ki katha), so of course it’s all rural.

    • Ah, yes! Nice one. :-) Just looking at Waheeda smiling like that makes my heart swell. She’s so lovely.

      Isn’t this a saheli song? Long time since I’ve seen the film, so I’ve forgotten the relationships between people…

  5. Aaye Haye Dilruba from Dr. Vidya is a dance off between Vyjayanti Mala and Helen.

    Then there is that fabulous dance off between Vyjayantimala and Padmini from the movie Raj Tilak. I don’t remember the words of the songs and can’t google it from the office.

    There was surely a song in Price about a super dance off between Helen and Vyju again. Was it Muqabala hamse na karo?

    • Yes, Muqabla humse na karna was the dance-off in Prince:

      …but I didn’t include it, mainly because it’s not a duet, since Rafi is also there. And, anyway, even if he weren’t, the two women were sahelis in the film.

      Is the song from Raj Tilak this one, Aaja tu raja mausam-e-bahaar hai?

  6. I can’t resist posting this song, even though it has one voice – excellently differentiated between the voices and character of two sisters who also happen to be the same woman really :-/

    I’ve highlighted ‘two sisters’ two show one qualification, at least.

  7. DO, good idea for women’s day! I have a few duets, which may be by sahelis too , but I wanted to mention them here
    One of my favourite duets is by Suman and Meena Purushottam

    Asha and Parveen Sultana (the dancing is very swift)-Madan Mohan

    The following are by OP Nayyar, we have different combinations
    An all female duet by lovers(a male and female to clarify :-)) – Asha and Shamshad Begum

    Asha and Minoo Purushottam-

    Roshan-Lata and Asha

    Of course, Kahe Tarsaye is also by two unrelated ladies, Suman and Kamal Barot

    • Some good songs there, though I’d not heard the first two, and the last one, before. The one from Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi, I’d been reminded of when I was doing the write-up for Na na na re na na haath na lagaana, since it features the same two dancers, Helen and Madhumati.

      And why I didn’t include Kajra mohabbatwala, I’ve already explained. :-D

  8. Thank you, Madhulika. :-) In fact, when I saw you mention ‘female duets’, the first song that came to my mind was “Hansta hua noorani chehra”. I had forgotten even the popular ones like “Hamre gaon koi aayega” and “Teri mehfil mein kismat aazma ke hum bhi dekhenge”. By the way, talking of female duets, I would like to mention a female duet which is an absolute favourite of mine. It is from the 90’s though. “Dil na kisi ka jaaye re jaan jaaye toh jaaye” from J. P. Dutta’s film ‘Kshatriya’. This was filmed on Raveena Tandon and Divya Bharti.

        • There should be a completely separate post for ‘three women songs’! :-) I love Khile hain sakhi aaj – such a lovely song, and the girls look so cheery and pretty.

        • Ah, this is a film I haven’t seen. I’ve been trying to remember if Teen Batti Chaar Raasta has any of these multiple-women-singers (or even a duet) songs, since that too was about a household with three daughters-in-law. Must look through its songs…

      • I doubt there’ll be enough songs with 3 women for a full fledged post …and comments.
        This song from Teen Batti… has a whole bunch of women singing in different languages. :-)

        • Thank you, pacifist! I like this song; it’s a sweet one (not that I can understand very much, but at least it sounds nice). :-)

          Another song (or rather a medley of songs) by three women is this set from Dekh Kabira Roya: Meri veena tum bin roye/Ashqon se teri humne tasveer banaayi hai/Tu pyaar kare ya thukraaye:

  9. There was another charming one, phulwa ban mehke (Hum bhi insaan hai) of which there is no video online. That one is a favorite of mine. Another, jaanu jaanu re from Insaan jaag utha and a third, a fantastic one from Chori Chori is this charming and energetic number:

    • Aplam chaplam chaplai re is the one from which I’ve taken the first screen cap of this post – I didn’t include the song in my list (though it was in the long list), but I couldn’t resist that much. Glad you included it in your comment, Sidharth.

      I haven’t come across Phulwa ban mehke, but have been listening to it; sounds lovely:

      Jaanu jaanu re is a wonderful song – but Minoo Mumtaz’s and Madhubala’s characters are friends in that, so that disqualified it from this list (it is on my saheli songs list, though). :-)

  10. I was thrilled to see “Reshmi salwaar kurta jaali ka” here – I only learned of that relatively recently and had a “where have you been all my life” feeling about it. You said that songs in which one woman dresses as a man and seduces another woman are popular – I’d love to know of any other examples you have collected as this is a rather beloved trope for me.

    I would like to give honorable mention to “Hum Tumhaare” from Chalti ka naam gaadi – it’s not as much a duet as some of these others, because the two women in it aren’t particularly addressing one another. What I love about this song is that it features an unbelievably young Helen and her mentor, Cuckoo, and you can already see proto-Helen outshining her mentor in this one.

    carla (filmi geek)
    http://filmigeek.net

    • Ah, this fits the bill fabulously, Carla! What a lovely song, and I must admit I’d completely forgotten about it. :-) Such a pleasure to come across it again. Thanks so much.

      I’ll have to think about that ‘woman pretending to be man romancing a woman’ bit that I mentioned. I am sure I’ve seen it in other songs as well, but will need to do some research and some thinking. Will let you know what I can come up with!

    • No, my notion of oldies stops at about 1970 (I make exceptions for films from 1971 or 72, like Sharmilee or Pakeezah, simply because they’re so 60s in feel. But I’m more than happy to have readers suggest songs from whichever period they want to!

      Smart, sassy, socialistic song. :-) I like it. How are Shabana’s and Neetu’s characters connected?

    • Lovely song, But it doesn’t fit the bill, you see, because from what I remember, Asha Parekh’s character and Nazima’s character are friends – and, as I specified in my post, that’s part of the saheli songs post, not this one.

      • LOL! Can you believe it that my brain completely blanked out the part where Randhir sings? Only the singing of the two sisters registered, and the fact that there was a jijaji being teased by the saali. Perhaps I’ve been overlong on the computer today :-/

  11. Great idea for a post with a very good collection of songs. I can think of three more – ‘Kaun rang mungwa’ from Hira Moti, ‘Sakhi ri sun bole papiha us paar’ from Miss Mary and ‘Janu Janu ri’ from Insaan jaag utha. Here are the links:

    Hazur-e wala has found mention in the comments. I recall with amusement that the lyrics of this song had me, my sister and brother completely mystified as children. I was old enough to at least hide my ignorance of Urdu, but my younger brother had no problem singing ‘Khajure wala….’.

    • Thanks! Yes, pacifist also posted that song from Heera Moti – it’s a sweet one. I haven’t seen Miss Mary, but what is the relationship (if any) between the two singers in that song?

      Jaanu jaanu re doesn’t qualify, since the two characters are supposed to be friends – and, as I’ve mentioned in my post, that’s a separate post altogether, of saheli songs.

      Love that anecdote about khajoorewaala! I just discovered, a few days back, the ‘technical’ term for it. It’s called a mondegreen:

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mondegreen

          • Yes you MUST watch Miss Mary :-) From your reviews you seem to like Meena Kumari in chirpy roles and she is utterly brilliant in this. Gemini is decent too actually and suits the character well.

      • Thanks Madhu for Mondegreen. Another interesting one from childhood. Heard the elders make fun of this being sung by a cousin, without realising what was so funny about it – ‘Pyar parbat to nahin hai mera…’

        • Heh! That’s a good one. I remember a lady (an NRI) asking a friend of mine some years back, “What is this new song that Aamir Khan sang in that film, Ghulam? “Haathi ka anda laa? What do they mean? Elephants don’t lay eggs!”

  12. Lovely songs! Here are a couple more from ‘Namak Haraam’ with Asha B. and Usha M. and two very dishy men ;-) ‘Suni re sajaria sajan bin tere’ And the second one is a 3-women deal sung by Asha B, Usha Khanna and Rekha Jayker, ‘Deep jale dekho’ and again a handsome, handsome Kaka from ‘Dil, Daulat, Duniya’.

  13. A five female song, probably the only one, from Sargam

    And a two girl song, a very early mujra from Mahal. Mahal is one of those films where one great song completely submerged the others, but each one was fantastic. Khemchand Prakash at his best. Here is one memorable one:

    • Sidharth, do you know who the other singers in Jab dil ko sataawe gham are? The information for the song lists only Saraswati Rane and Lata – who are the others? Or is it basically just the two of them singing for all five?

      • Madhulika, I don’t know about the other singers. The same combination was used in the other Sargam song:

        • It seems to me as if the rest are probably just a chorus, supporting the two lead singers – Lata and Saraswati Rane seem (at least to my ears) the only ones who get to sing solo sections.

  14. Nice way of distinguishing the post from your saheli post, Madhu! And what better way to celebrate Women’s Day. I love all the songs from your list.

    I’m coming late to this and I see that between pacifist and other commenters, they have left me little to add. :(

    But I think this one should count – professional dancers together in Yahudi

    A stage performance this time, Lata and Amirbai Karnataki singing for Nalni Jaywant and Kuldeep Kaur.

    I hope no one has posted these songs. (fingers crossed!)

    • Thank you, Anu! Not just for the appreciation, but for those songs. Especially Gore-gore o baanke chhore (I’m hitting myself over the head for having forgotten about that one. How could I?! Awesome song).

      Bechain dil khoi si nazar seems to have completely been wiped off my memory, even though I’ve seen Yahudi – I have no recollection of this song. :-( Though there’s always a possibility that the song had been edited out of the VCD – with Friends, Shemaroo and the lot, that’s not impossible.

    • My goodness. It has been years since I heard this song. Used to love it (and sing it a lot!) when I was a little girl. :-D Thank you for reminding me of this! First time I’ve actually watched it.

    • ‘Why should anybody who is not friends sing together’ is the first question that came to my mind as I read the introductory conditions to this post. Then I realized that there are professions – roadshow artists, muzraas – or relationships – sisters- in-laws or sisters – who can set up a situation of a Hindi Film song.
      Even then, getting to make list of 10 songs did appear to be a difficult task, but the songs collected are simply outstanding – I was able to count around 4 or 5 on my own too.
      But, then there is an avalanche of songs from the co-readers as well! And these are also beauties (pun though not intended, but can be useful here) in their own right.
      O Chand Jahan Who Jaaye – two ladies in love to the same person, ‘lost’ in very typical circumstances. – is one of ma all time favorites.

      • Yes, there are a lot of songs out there in which people who aren’t friends sing songs together – I think the ‘two dancers’ theme is probably the most common example. I’m glad you liked this post, Ashokji – and I agree that there are a lot of beauties amongst the songs other commenters have posted too!

  15. Lovely post !!!
    I shall start with a 70’s, Bindu & Tanuja are not sahelis by any stretch of imagination —

    Usually I do not go beyond the 70’s, even I have some standards :)
    However, this has got be one of the most iconic songs in recent years; these two leading women once again are NOT sahelis —

    • Dekho idhar bhi is from Imtihaan, isn’t it, Samir? The video doesn’t say, but the combination of Vinod Khanna, Tanuja and Bindu brings to my mind Imtihaan. Too long since I watched it, so I can’t be sure.

      Well done with Dola re dola! Yes, definitely not sahelis. :-D

      • Yes it is from Imtihaan, a reasonably decent adaptation of “To Sir with Love”. Vinod may not be in the same league as Sidney Poitier, but he comes pretty close :)

        I found another that should belong in here for many reasons —
        1) Again not sahelis, at best acquaintances.
        2) An English/Hindi duet
        3) Has Desi/Pardesi women.
        4) On a “phoren locale” :)
        5) Perhaps not outwardly in sync with the spirit of “Intl Women’s Day”; but has powerful undercurrents.

  16. Amazing that one can find another song fitting the theme after so many comments. The two Nargises are lost sisters and certainly not friends. A longer clip shows one of them threatening the other with a gun. Zindagi badli from Anhonee:

    • I’ve seen Anhonee, but had forgotten about this one! It seems there are enough ‘sister’ songs out there to be able to make up a post consisting only of duets centred around sisters. (In this case, they’re actually half-sisters, sharing a common father but with different mothers – but that’s immaterial).

  17. Another splendid post… And I recognized most of the songs this time, in the post and the comments. It could be that I pay special attention when I encounter a female duet. :)

    But, Madhu, I couldn’t think of a female duet in Kalpana on Padmini and Ragini. I can think of a male duet with them as dancers, but I assume that doesn’t count. And there was that duet that you already mentioned, sung for Ragini and Ragini. Have I forgotten something?

    Anyway, I can remember quite a few female duets from other films. Some of my favorites are from Pakistan – but I can think of enough good ones in Hindi “Bollywood” films too…

    BTW, does it matter if one of the characters being sung for is male?

    Shamshad Begum with Zohrabai:

    And I really like this one of Lata singing with Sandhya Mukherjee – for Madhubala and Shyama:

    And I love the combination of Lata with Suraiya:

    And Suraiya with Uma Devi:

    I think I’ll stop there…

    • “But, Madhu, I couldn’t think of a female duet in Kalpana on Padmini and Ragini

      Mea cupla, Richard. I don’t know what happened to my brain (too many hours sitting at my laptop?). Let’s just say that my abiding memory of Tu hai mera prem devta is of Ragini and Padmini dancing. They’re so good that every other thought – even of the fact that the voices are male – was driven out of my head. A lame excuse, but still. :-)

      I simply love the songs you’ve linked to, even though I haven’t seen the films (so have no idea what the relationships between the characters are). Especially, I like Betaab hai dil – so very good.

      I had toyed with posting Bachpan ke din bhula na dena (with Shamshad and Lata) in my list:

      …but dropped the idea, because Shamshad after all sings playback for Parikshit Sahni, a male. The same goes for Kajra mohabbatwala. So, much as I adore Udan khatole pe ud jaaoon, I’d not include that. Maybe we need a separate post for great songs sung by females for males onscreen!

      • Madhu, I am glad that you love the songs, too. Regarding the relationship between the women characters in these films, in both Dard and Tarana, I think we’re looking at two sides of a triangle. In Tarana, Madhubala and Shyama don’t even know each other, so they pass your no-saheli standard. In Dard, I don’t think they were such sahelis, either, at least not at first – but I’m not sure. (I can’t remember the plot too well – I did watch that one but couldn’t pay attention too closely because there were no English subtitles. All I remember clearly is that there were great songs and Munawar Sultana’s character took a long, long time to die. And I don’t think it’s much of a “spoiler” to reveal that, either.) I looked back at your Saheli post, by the way, and I noticed that Anu had suggested that song from Sanam in the comments there, so I guess that it is too much of a saheli song for this list.

        It would be fun to have a list of women singing for male characters. Though you could make it a more general list of people singing for characters of the other gender – and then you could include the Padmini-Ragini scene from Kalpana, too. :)

        • “Munawar Sultana’s character took a long, long time to die.

          No, not much of a spoiler, but that comment certainly made me laugh! :-)

          Yes, it might be fun to do a post where female singers sing playback for males (some of those men-in-drag songs could be included there, plus lots of songs where a woman has sung for a little boy – Daisy Irani’s films could probably yield an entire post by themselves).

      • Well, what would you say to this song, that introduces a further twist – the two singers are female, the two actors are girls, but one of them is playing a male character! From Devdas O albele panchhi tera door thikana hai:

        • Lovely song! As I mentioned in another comment, one could probably create an entire post out of songs by female singers singing playback for children.

          By the way, who is the actor with Baby Naaz?

          • The child actor playing the young Devdas is Baby Chand who grew up to be Nazima – a bubbly character usually seen as the heroine’s friend. I remember her grown up role from Abhinetri starring Hema Malini.

            • And in Manchali, and Dillagi. And Aaye Din Bahaar Ke, where she is Asha Parekh’s friend and falls in love with Dharmendra’s character! I had no idea this was the same person. Thank you so much. I have to watch her more closely – she looks so different.

              • Perhaps the most memorable song picturized on NAZIMA is:

                Phirkiwali Tu Kal Phir Aana / Rafi

                (from RAJA AUR RANK) though lip-synched by Sanjeev Kumar

                Sudhir
                Aug 21, 2015

    • Richard, all the songs are so melodious, and beautiful.

      The one from ‘sanam’ is intriguing. Birds being set free, and Dev, a prisoner escaping. And above all, a young Meena Kumari :-)

      Now, only if I could find this film.

      Would anyone know who the other woman is with Suraiya in the song betaab hai dil?

      • Thank you, Pacifist. I am glad you liked them. I wish I could find Sanam too – it’s the one film out of the four I posted from in my comment that I hadn’t actually seen (just the songs).

        BTW, in answer to your question, the other woman in “Betaab Hai Dil” is Munawar Sultana.

  18. I have a broad smile on my face, why? Well first I finally managed to update my own blog, then this post is absolutely great. I love all the songs but my favourite is Teri Mehfil Mein and finally, I scrolled down the comments with bated breath and hoped your readers would leave something for me and sure they did. This song is from Pyaar Mohabbat and no it is not a saheli song. We had visited the sets while this song was being shot, we were in the vicinity so dad decided to drop by so that we could just see the sets. I love this song because nowadays you neither see nor hear dances and songs based on classical music

    • Lovely, Shilpi! I’ve seen Pyaar Mohabbat (and I like this song, anyway), but I’d forgotten which film it was from – somehow my only memories of Pyaar Mohabbat are restricted to Dev Anand in some crazy disguises and Saira Banu in a terrible wig. :-)

  19. “Let’s see when and if Richard or Tom come across this post and add a song I can think of from Kalpana – with P A D M I N I and R A G I N I! :-D”

    No Padmini or Ragini, but how about Laxmi Chhaya (and Jeevan Kala) voiced by Asha and Usha?

    • Anything with Laxmi Chhaya is right up my street! I think I’ve heard this song before, but I could be mistaken. A really good one.

      By the way, Tom, have you seen CID 909? One of my favourite songs – featuring the inimitable Mumtaz, no less – is from that film, but because I’ve not seen it, I’ve no idea if the two girls are supposed to be friends or are merely dancing together.

      It wouldn’t have made it to this list, of course, since it isn’t a duet – Mahendra Kapoor sings here too.

      • Yes, I have the DVD and have seen the movie. The only time the other dancer (Meenaxi, I think) is in the movie is during that song so it would qualify, were it not for the presence of Feroz Khan voiced by Mahendra Kapoor. I’m very fond of that song too and have already penciled it in for a second Mumtaz DVD compilation if and when…

  20. Last night I was tired after completing my own post and by the time I came to your blog I was totally zapped, it was nearly 12 midnight and I could not stay awake so I just posted one song here. There is another song, this one is from Sujata- Bachpan ke din. It fits your post two female singers Asha Bhonsle and Geeta Dutt giving playback for two characters who are not sahelis, Shashikala and Nutan are foster sisters in this one. What I like about this song picturisation is the fact that Sujata, the quieter of the two is just humming along with her sister. As I go deep into Bimal Roy while doing my series on him I feel I should do a post on Roy’s song picturisations, I really love the way he picturised the songs- Shilpi.

    • Yes, Bachpan ke din is a very sweet song too, and Sujata is one film where I thought the relationship between the two sisters was very well presented. Despite the fact that they’re not blood relatives (and Sulochana Latkar’s character is often downright dismissive of Sujata), Shashikala’s character actually treats Nutan as if she were her own sister.

      Do please do a post on Roy’s song picturisations! I think he was wonderful in that area too – look at something like Mere saajan hain us paar, as just one example.

  21. ‘Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho’ is fab! As already said this list does miss ‘gore gore o banke chhore’
    I’m late but do have some additions
    from ‘Suhaag Raat’

    from ‘Dulhan ek raat ki’ (Singers – Asha and Usha)

    from ‘Naujawan’

    from ‘Samson’

    • Aji chale aao is one street-performance song that I like a lot. :-)

      I’d forgotten about the song from Anita, even though I have seen the film. And I wouldn’t include the Patrani song, since it’s not a duet, but a trio of women singing…

  22. contd.
    from ‘Rajkumar’

    2 later songs
    from ‘Alibaba aur chalis chor’ (is it me or does Zeenat Aman look way better than Hema Malini here?)

    from ‘Aaina’ – (the ‘vamp’ sounds much better than the ‘heroine’)

    I’ll be controversial and say that Lata ‘spoiled’ a lot of decent songs (duets) in that era, specially the ones she ‘sang’ for Kajol. Weirdly, I don’t mind her songs for Ms.Dixit . Asha thankfully sung fewer ‘romantic duets’.

    • I must admit that I’m not very fond of Naach re mann badkamma – I prefer the other songs of Rajkumar; but this one certainly fits the bill.

      I agree with you re: Zeenat looking better than Hema in that song – but then, isn’t Zeenat also younger than Hema? (not that that makes it essential that she would look better, but it could be a factor).

      I may be in a minority, but I think Lata should have retired gracefully before the 90s set in – a lot of her songs from that period really make me cringe, she sounds so shrill and just so unsuited to a young actress.

  23. I know it doesn’t qualify but, Isn’t there a female duet song which goes ‘Bombay se Baroda tak’ with Rishi Kapoor in drag? Or maybe there’s another song with him in drag with Neetu Singh on stage?
    In reply to one of the above comments, Shabana Azmi and Neetu Singh play sisters in ‘Parvarish’.

    • Yes, Chhuk-chhuk Bombay se Baroda tak does have Rishi Kapoor and Paintal in drag. But no, it doesn’t qualify – I only accept songs where the people onscreen are women.

  24. All right, I am going to offer a Padmini/Travancore Sisters duet after all. But I’m cheating a little, because it’s not Hindi cinema. And the other Travancore Sister here is not Ragini. But I just stumbled upon this tonight after not seeing it for some time, and it is great! P. Leela and M.L.Vasanthakumari singing for Padmini and Lalitha in Manamagal (1951):

  25. What an awesome collection of songs! Will take me days to enjoy everything posted here! Lemme add one more (unless I missed seeing it above):

    P.S I replied on two of your reviews for Teen Deviyaan and Tumsa Nahin Dekha (Haha i’m not requesting responses but just thought maybe you didn’t seem them cos I’d asked a few questions there).

    Okay, bedtime here!

    • Yes, I can see it’s bedtime for you. :-) This song is part of my list!

      Thanks for telling me about the comments on the other posts – will go check them out. This post has been inundated with so many comments, my ‘recent comments’ section doesn’t show any of the comments from other posts.

            • Oh, I think I went too far ahead the first time, and went off into a second slide show. Mala Sinha, Seema Deo, Ramesh Deo… so good to see them all! And I’m so happy Mala Sinha got a Lifetime Achievement award. Must review one of her films soon.

              • And Sulochana! Such a pleasure to see her out and about. She must be very, very old now. I remember my grandma used to like her a lot :-)

                Yes, more Mala reviews are always appreciated. I was happy when i first read that you like her a lot, because she is often derided these days. Have you seen 36 Ghante? I never watched it yet. My favourite performances of her’s are of course Pyaasa and Gumraah but i liked her in so many of her other films. I’ve always wanted to see Lal Batti – it was directed by Balraj Sahni! But seems hard to find… Sanjog was interesting to see her opposite but she amazingly still looked very good!

                I have her Hamlet too which I will watch soon. Apparently Meena Kumari was the first choice for Jahanara but she herself thought she was too old so recommended Mala. Meena was more interested in playing Noorjahan, which she got to do a few years later (as was being discussed elsewhere where I recommended the song Raat ki Mehfil). Here is another from the same film – Meena in my very biased opinion looks beautiful, inspite of her changed looks.

  26. ok so perhaps last but not the least by ant standards… resisted putting it earlier even though it has two women , that too in an unusual relationship…that of a guru -shishya …but unfortunately (for this post) it also has a male singer (yesudas ) …but the song is way too beautiful and sublime to be ignored, also in the light of women’s day :-) so here goes…

    • Lovely song. I have to confess (with much sheepishness) that I don’t remember having heard this, though I have seen the film – but as a little kid, so I suppose I can be forgiven for forgetting that. ;-)

  27. Salim: I am so envious that you have Hamlet! I want to see that, but haven’t been able to lay my hands on it. But then, I guess I should first set about watching all the films I do possess, then go looking for more. Haven’t seen Lal Batti either. And not even 36 Ghante. :-(

  28. Excellent selection, as always. The bhajan from kala Bazar is unusual, but very nice.

    I have a request – can you do one of your ‘Ten” series on ‘philosophical’ songs from Hindi movies? Many songs, particularly from the 50s and 60s, had philosophical themes, in that they expressed thoughts about how to live a good life or metaphysical issues such as the meaning of life, the nature of the universe etc. One such song which immediately comes to mind is “Main zindagi ka saath nibhata …..” from Hum Dono, which to me reperesents the core Stoic principle of indifference to pleasure and pain, and also talks about making the most of the present moment. Some other songs I can think of:
    ” Wahan kaun hai tera musafir” from Guide
    ” Duniya banane wale …” and “Sajan re jhoot mat bolo..” from Teesri Kasam
    ” Zindagi kaisi hai paheli …” from Anand
    ” Johny, jeene mein kya hai ….” from Funtoosh

    A bit serious … but there are many classic songs in this vein.

    • Thank you!

      I am not a fan of bhajans, but Na main dhan chaahoon is one of the very rare ones for which I make an exception – I simply love that song. The lyrics, the music, the voices, the picturisation – all are excellent.

      Hmm. I like your suggestion on philosophical songs, but I think I might be spoilt for choice here – there are just too many of them (some have been covered in my posts on ‘songs to myself’, and the tributes to Sahir and Shailendra). There are just too many of them out there… can you think of a way to reduce the scope? Because philosophical songs can range all the way from cynicism to optimism to coping with reality, to exhorting people to be good (even if I just look at the songs you’ve mentioned).

      • You are right, there are just too many ‘philosophical’ songs and the scope can be very wide indeed. Also as you say, there would be a lot of overlap with some of the other categories of songs you have covered. Can you do a review of ten ‘cynical’ songs? Though I mean ‘cynical’ more in the sense of someone who was idealistic to begin with but turned cynical when the harsh realities of the world around him clashed with his idealism (as depicted in “Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai …” from Pyaasa), rather than the kind of manipulative cynicism about human nature and human motives associated with Machiavelli’s Prince (the kind which today’s politicians readily exhibit).

        Talking about the picturisation of “Na main dhan chahoon ..”, Vijay Anand was a master of song picturisation. Ten Well Picturised (creatively or impactfully) Songs would be an interesting compilation …

        • Sorry, your comment got lost in the sudden flurry of comments on the Sharmeelee post. Just saw this.

          Hmm. A list of ten cynical songs might be interesting. The first song that came to my mind even as I was reading your comment was – of course – Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai. Which I’ve already covered in my ten favourite lists for SD Burman, Rafi and Sahir, besides listing it as one of the ten most memorable scenes in Hindi cinema. :-) But no harm in putting it into another list, it’s such a stupendous song.

          Also like the idea of well picturised songs… I already have some floating around in my head.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Ashokji! I hadn’t heard this song before. It’s a very nice one, and I agree completely – it sounds very OP Nayyarish. If I had heard it without knowing who the MD was, I’d hae certainly guessed it was OP Nayyar.

  29. Madhu, I am having a latecomer advantage. Thoroughly enjoyed the post and additions by readers. Five from your list are my top favorites. Two were new for me – Kya ho phir jo and Ghunghat hatai ke nazrein milai ke. I especially liked the latter.

    This is a theme in which no matter when you come, you can always add some more. Without intending to inundate you, let me add just two, which have perhaps not been mentioned so far – one from the 1940s and the other from the 60s. I do not know whether these meet your two filters – having watched the movie, and the girls not being sahelis.

    Hamare anganaa baje shehnai by Amirbai Karnataki and Shamshad Begum from Shehnai (1947), music CR

    Mera chhaila babu aya by Suman Kalyanpur and Usha Khanna from Faisla (1965), music Usha Khanna

    • If you hadn’t heard two of the songs from my list, you’ve returned the favour! ;-) I wasn’t familiar with either of the two songs you’ve posted, either, AK.

      When it comes to two women performing together, that would probably form the bulk of female duets. I came across another one yesterday in Neend Hamaari Khwaab Tumhaare, which I don’t think anyone has posted yet. It’s Saaqiya ek jaam bhi toh de:

    • Kabhi aaj kabhi kal kabhi parson is in Lata and Suman Kalyanpur’s voice:

      And seems to fit this list. I haven’t seen the film, though, so can’t be certain they aren’t sahelis.

      I always have problems differentiating between the voices of Lata, Asha, and Suman Kalyanpur – unlike Geeta Dutt or Shamshad Begum (or even Sharda), whom I can recognise fairly easily.

  30. Okay I love Humre Gaon koi aayega (it shows Shammi also approaching his destination, and how awesome he looks!), Na main Dhan chahu (there is a sequence where Dev anand is bringing home spoils from his black marketing and trips on the stairs while the song is being sung. Awesome picturisation) and Reshmi Salwar kurta jaali ka… Lovely compositions. A lovely theme for a post Madhu :)

    • I haven’t seen Basant Bahaar, so can’t comment on that (though it looks as if it would qualify). The Aarzoo one certainly doesn’t, because Sadhana and the others are all friends – and this post excludes ‘saheli’ songs.

    • Daadi amma daadi amma would have qualified, though from what I remember (and what I can see) the children are boys, not girls – and that was the reason I didn’t include songs like Kajra mohabbatwala or Bachpan ke din bhula na dena: the people singing onscreen had to be female, too.

      It’s been a long time since I watched Around the World. What is the relationship between Ameeta’s and Rajshree’s characters? I’ve forgotten.

  31. Here are a few more female duets…I don’t know if any of them are “saheli” songs, however, because watching films is not my forte.
    ni mai.n yaar manaana nii (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxfPMgWQia8 Daag, 1972) fabulous rhythms.
    chhap tilak sab chhini re mose (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdhMnAveVhY Main Tulasi tere angan ki – 1978)
    piital kii merii gaagari (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG_9MKYZye8 Do Boond Paani, 1971) The sad turn in the second half of the song is heart-rending.
    niilam pe nabh chhayi (Utsav, 1984) Can’t find it on YouTube.
    aanke chalii, baanke chalii (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebeaY8pE0AY Namkeen, 1982), although the Shabana Azmi character only has taans (I am quite sure that is not Asha), and Asha sings for both Sharmila and Krittika Desai
    milaa le haath, le ban gaii baat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm9NlSDFt-Y Chhabili, 1960) Nutan sings for herself, with Sudha Malhotra. Sorry no video. I also discovered on YouTube that Chhabili has another Nutan-Geeta duet.- yaaro kisi se na kehna (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNhZ6DBORlg). Again, no video.

    Others have already mentioned piyaa kii galii (Parwana, 1971) and phulava band mahake (Hum Bhi Insan hain, 1959)

    • Unfortunately, except for Namkeen, Daag and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki, I haven’t seen any of the other films you’ve mentioned (and I’ve even forgotten Namkeen, which I saw when I was a child)… so I don’t know whether these would qualify. The one from Daag seems to be picturised on performers, so that would certainly qualify. The same goes for the one from Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki.

  32. It seems poor ‘Antar Mantar Jantar’ has no fan. The video link is listed
    below. However, I suggest listening this song from an audio source. The
    picturization, involving lot of scene changes distracts one from appreciating
    the melody and rhythm.

    The song is from film: RAJHATH, Music: Shankar Jaikishan
    and singers: Lata + Usha Mangeshkars
    On-Screen: Madhubala + ???

    Sudhir

    Aug 21, 2015

    • I hadn’t even heard of Paanch Ratna before (looks rather like one of those many B-grade movies Dara Singh and Randhawa acted in)… let alone Kya ho. Nice song. Thanks!

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