Ten of my favourite Madan Mohan songs

I have never—in all the years this blog has been in existence—compiled a list of my favourite Madan Mohan songs. An oversight, and one for which I have no explanation to offer: just reparation.

Born Madan Mohan Kohli in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) on June 25, 1924, the young Madan Mohan returned with his family to their home town of Chakwal (in Punjab) when he was 8 years old. His parents went on to Bombay, where his father, Rai Bahadur Chunilal, entered the cinema industry: as a partner at Bombay Talkies Studio, and then at Filmistan Studio. Madan Mohan too moved to Bombay, where he finished school and eventually joined the army—only to finally leave soldiering to become a music director. The first film for which he provided the score, at the age of 26, was Aankhen (1950).

Madan Mohan, 1925-75

Madan Mohan was to go on to compose songs for dozens of films over the next 25 years, when he died in 1975 at the far-too-young age of 51. While he was nominated for the Filmfare Best Music Director Award several times, he never won it (the only award he won was at the fag end of his career, the National Award for the score of Dastak, 1970). Yet, this was the man whom Lata Mangeshkar named ‘Ghazalon ka Shahzaada’. This was the man whose compositions were used in a film made almost 30 years after his death (Veer-Zaara, 2004). This was the man who gave Hindi cinema some of its finest and most enduring songs, both ghazals and not. This was a man vastly underrated during his lifetime, a man with a talent few possessed.

In memory of Madan Mohan, therefore, and to commemorate what would have been his 90th birthday had he lived: a list of ten of my favourite Madan Mohan songs. These are, as always, from pre-70s films that I’ve seen, and no two songs are from the same film. In no particular order:

1. Lag jaa gale ke phir yeh (Woh Kaun Thi?, 1964): Woh Kaun Thi? was one of the films (the others were Anpadh and Mausam) for which Madan Mohan was nominated for the Filmfare Best Music Director Award—and, at least as far as Woh Kaun Thi? is concerned, in my opinion, he should have won. The film had one fabulous song after another, and I dithered for a long time between this one, Shokh nazar ki bijliyaan, and Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim. Naina barse, by virtue of the anecdote attached to it (Lata was unable to record the song before shooting began, so Sadhana had to lip-synch to a version sung by Madan Mohan), was attractive; but I eventually settled on Lag jaa gale.

The beauty of Lag jaa gale, for me lies in the fact that while it is a come-hither song, it’s not at all playful or overtly seductive. There’s none of that breathiness and very Western orchestration one comes across in songs such as Jaan-e-chaman shola badan or Aaiye aapka thha humein intezaar: just Lata’s voice, clear and melodious, with little flourishes of humming, and of music here and there to act as a contrast. And the interludes, so very different in tune from the verses, making the entire piece one of my favourite songs from 1960s Hindi cinema. A classic.

Lag jaa gale, from Woh Kaun Thi?
2. Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon (Jahanara, 1964): 1964 was an unfortunate year for Madan Mohan—he created the score for Woh Kaun Thi? and was nominated for a Filmfare Award—but lost out to Roshan, who won the award for his music for Taj Mahal. Interestingly, in that same year, Madan Mohan had also scored the music for a classic Mughal-themed historical film, very similar to Taj Mahal: Jahanara.

Madan Mohan has been hailed by many as the best composer of ghazals (this generally from people who don’t realise that a ghazal is defined by its lyrics and not by its music). If proof of that is needed, its lies in this achingly beautiful ghazal from Jahanara, sung by Talat Mahmood. The music has layers to it—the main tune, but also lovely little ripples here and there, barely-audible hints of instrumentation complementing Talat’s voice. Sublime.

Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon, from Jahanara
3. Unko yeh shikaayat hai (Adalat, 1958): Adalat is often cited, by virtue of songs like Yoon hasraton ke daag (one of my favourite ghazals,) as a stellar example of Madan Mohan’s skill with setting ghazals to music. Another great ghazal from Adalat is Unko yeh shikaayat hai, which occurs repeatedly through the film: a poignant and heartbreaking song in which Madan Mohan allows his ‘sister’ Lata Mangeshkar to hold centrestage with her voice: the instruments are there, but the onus of carrying the tune is on Lata’s voice. Right from the impressive aalaap, to the sorrowful, almost tired, last note, this is an unforgettable song.

Unko yeh shikaayat hai, from Adalat
4. Ek haseen shaam ko dil mera (Dulhan Ek Raat Ki, 1967): Despite starring three of my favourite actors—Dharmendra, Nutan and Rehman—Dulhan Ek Raat Ki was a film I didn’t much care for. It, however, did have this song, one of Madan Mohan’s loveliest. Ek haseen shaam ko is a beautifully lilting love song, the notes (and Rafi’s voice—oh, so good!) going the range from gentle and romantic to mildly teasing, playful. I also like the faint drawl, the hint of an echo that enters Rafi’s voice in the verses—it adds to the feel of a love that is equal parts affection, passion, and just sheer exhilaration.

Ek haseen shaam ko, from Dulhan Ek Raat Ki
5. Thodi der ke liye mere ho jaao (Akeli Mat Jaiyo, 1963): An example of ‘Madan Mohan-composes-a-club song’. It says a lot for this song that I watched Akeli Mat Jaiyo mainly because of this song; I’d seen it ages back on Chitrahaar, and loved the song so much that I decided I had to watch the film (which, sadly, isn’t a patch on the song).

In Thodi der ke liye mere ho jaao, Madan Mohan uses an interesting blend of musical styles—the castanets lend a Spanish flavour to the music, and there’s also a definite Middle Eastern lilt to the tune. Plus, the rise and fall of the pace—fast to begin with, then falling into a slow, seductive start to the vocals, then speeding up again, with triumphant flourishes of music alternating with slower, more lingering sections… all superb.

Thodi der ke liye mere ho jaao, from Akeli Mat Jaiyo
6. Main toh tum sang nain milaake (Manmauji, 1962): Back again to the sort of song Madan Mohan was better known for: gentle and melodious (do note, however, that in Manmauji itself, Madan Mohan also composed the tune for the madcap, rollicking Zaroorat hai zaroorat hai, further proof of this man’s underrated versatility). Main toh tum sang nain milaake is rather more ‘typical’ Madan Mohan, the voice perfectly complemented by the music—the latter, in the interludes, rather more fast-paced and light than one would have expected in a song that’s so anguished, but still managing to fit in perfectly.

Main toh tum sang nain milaake, from Manmauji
7. Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare (Dekh Kabira Roya, 1957): In an interview some years back, Manna Dey recounted an anecdote from the 50s. One day, Madan Mohan phoned him, with an invitation to lunch. “I’ll cook bhindi-meat curry for you,” the composer said (a blog reader, commenting on this, had told me that Madan Mohan was a very good cook, and the secret to his superb bhindi-meat was a good dose of whisky in the masala!) Manna Dey accepted, had a sumptuous meal, and when he was sated and mellow, was told by his host: “Now let me demonstrate a tune I’ve composed. I want you to sing it, whenever we record it.”

Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare was that tune. Dekh Kabira Roya had some lovely songs (including the peppy Hum panchhi mastaane and the soulful, romantic Humse aaya na gaya), but for me Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare is the best: the tune, the way Manna Dey’s voice and the music fits together—all of it makes for a lovely song about anticipation and love.

Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare, from Dekh Kabira Roya
8. Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein (Chiraagh, 1969): This song is one of my favourites because it’s such a brilliant example of Madan Mohan’s virtuosity as a composer. Some of the other songs I’ve listed in this post (Main toh tum sang nain milaake is one) are beautiful tunes, but fairly straightforward: after a while, it’s not terribly difficult to predict the tune, since it repeats itself.

Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein is somewhat different: while there is (obviously) a common thread to the tune, there is a lot more intricate variation, with unexpected turns in the interludes, crescendos, and sudden bursts of unexpected—yet perfectly placed—music, making it a more complex, far more enjoyable song than it might have been otherwise. And the single line sung towards the end of the song by Lata is the ultimate unexpected twist.

Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein, from Chiraagh
9. Saba se yeh keh do (Bank Manager, 1959): This is one song I never fail to be impressed by. Not because it’s exceptionally intricate, not because it is flamboyant—but because it shows how a good music director can allow a song to be carried forward, not by an overwhelming array of musical instruments, but by the voice of a singer. In Saba se yeh keh do, the instruments are very subdued (except in the interludes, when they come in, though still gentle and soothingly romantic): it is Asha’s voice that is the song.

It takes restraint and a certain sort of musical genius, I think, to be able to compose a tune like this: simply exquisite.

Saba se yeh keh do, from Bank Manager
10. Hoke majboor mujhe usne bhulaaya hoga (Haqeeqat, 1964): The Indian Army’s loss was the Hindi film industry’s gain, when Madan Mohan quit the military and became a composer. With his score for Haqeeqat (a film I consider the best Hindi war film), Madan Mohan paid back any debt he may have owed to the army. The most famous song from Haqeeqat—one of India’s most popular patriotic songs, as well as the quintessential army song—was, of course, Kar chale hum fida; but with his music for Hoke majboor mujhe, Madan Mohan created a heart-rending song about the soldier’s memories of his love back home.

Sung by four singers—Bhupinder, Rafi, Talat and Manna Dey—one after the other and with a chorus in places, Hoke majboor mujhe makes the most of each of these singers, all the way from the young but unmistakable talent in Bhupinder’s voice, to the trademark tadap in Talat’s: a song as immortal, actually, as Kar chale hum fida. Most composers confine themselves to composing solos or duets; how many would have the guts to take on four of the biggest names in Hindi film music in one song?

Hoke majboor mujhe, from Haqeeqat
Which are your favourite Madan Mohan songs?

114 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Madan Mohan songs

  1. A very nice list, as usual, and I like the way you always take time to write so much about every song. But it doesn’t include the Madan Mohan soundtrack that I love, Madhosh (1951).

    It’s difficult to pick a favorite out of this one, but if I have to, well, I think this is it:

    • Thank you, Richard! Madhosh has been on my to-watch list for a while now (if I’m not mistaken, you’d written about it on your blog), but I’ve somehow never got around to watching it. If only for Madan Mohan’s music – I think I should. This song is really nice.

  2. Hats off to you for accomplishing this difficult task.
    Choosing 10 fav Madan Mohan songs is an ardous task indeed, but also a beautiful one, I think, since one gets to listen to all MM gems!
    I think it is easier to choose MM music scores rather than individual songs.
    One of my favourites (and not mentioned above) is surely
    chand madham hai from Railway Platform
    hai unki woh nigaahen from Aakhri Dao [1958]
    wo jo milte the kabhi from Akeli Mat Jaiyo
    tum se bhichad ke from Maharaja [1970]
    all his Dastak songs
    betaab dil ki tamanna yehi hai
    Okay, I’ll leave some for other readers as well.
    Thanks for this well-written, detailed post!

    • Thank you, Harvey! Both for the appreciation, as well as for those great songs you picked. I simply love Haai unki woh nigaahein – such a lovely, playful, delightful song. If I’d seen the film, this one would’ve been on my list for certain.

      That’s an interesting point you make about it being easier to pick Madan Mohan’s top scores rather than his top songs. If I had to pick top scores by him, Woh Kaun Thi?, Jahanara, Adalat and Dekh Kabira Roya would be at the top of the list. One great song after another.

      • Thanks for linking the songs!
        I went through his imdb list and I think the following ten would feature in my ten favourite Madan Mohan scores.
        1975 Mausam
        1973 Hanste Zakhm
        1970 Dastak
        1967 Dulhan Ek Raat Ki
        1966 Mera Saaya
        1964 Haqeeqat
        1964 Jahan Ara
        1964 Woh Kaun Thi?
        1958 Adalat
        1957 Dekh Kabira Roya
        Bless him for giving us such ear-worms!
        Since now one has mentioned woh bhooli daastan from Sanjog as yet, here it is:

        • Ah, I do like Woh bhooli daastaan a lot. Such a beautiful song. From the same film, and also about memories, is another song that I like: Bhooli hui yaadon mujhe itna na sataao:

          I like your list of great MM scores – I agree with Haqeeqat and also to some extent with Mera Saaya and Hanste Zakhm. And Dastak… and, oh, everything. :-)

      • Madan Mohan is my absolute favourite music director (followed by O.P. Nayyar & Salil Choudhary), mainly because so many of his compositions featured my favourite actress, Sadhana. She did full justice to his songs & added her own charm to them,as Lataji said in an interview. As I’ve said before “Lag ja gale” has to be the most sublimely beautiful song in the world. Madanji’s son (I’m so glad to see him featured in your post) has said that with the honourable exception of Sadhana & Nutan most of his father’s songs were wasted on second rung actresses. Please do a post on Sadhana too !

        • “Lag ja gale” has achieved 16 million hits on You -tube !! I wonder how many other songs have reached that figure ? Lataji lists it as her no. one favourite, along with “Tu jahan jahan chalega, Mera Sayaa saath hoga.” Both Madan Mohan compositions, both featuring Sadhana.

              • Youtube, yes. But Youtube has many channels, many subscribers. Several people have separately uploaded different videos of the same song. Each video has its own stats. I don’t think Youtube compiles overall data to that extent…

                  • Um, no. There are several uploads of the original song, actually. Here’s the ‘official’ one by Ultra India (which, I think, is the one you’re alluding to):

                    Then there’s this, by some user who’s added English subtitles:

                    This by another user:

                    This by a Lata special channel:

                    This on another channel:

                    And many more. So that ’16 million’ number is actually incorrect – the correct figure should be the sum of the figures for each of these as well.

  3. Arrey Yaar! How can I choose between Madan Mohan songs? Very very hard. Your wonderful post skims some of the cream at the top.

    He is so dear to me as a composer. I am crazy about his songs.

    I will post some favorites from home this evening.

  4. His singing voice really moves me, like in “Mai ree” from Dastak. Hoke majboor is a song that always moves me to tears.
    Lata’s twitter account says today that she & MM first met in 1947 when they sang a duet for the film Shaheed/music: Ghulam Haider

    • “Lata’s twitter account says today that she & MM first met in 1947 when they sang a duet for the film Shaheed/music: Ghulam Haider

      That’s interesting. I hadn’t known that!
      And yes, I agree: he had a beautiful singing voice. I wish – like C Ramachandra, SD Burman, or Hemant – Madan Mohan too had sung more for Hindi cinema. Do you know if he actually did sing (and not just renditions of songs he composed for singers), other than Mai ree or the Shaheed song?

  5. How, but HOW did you leave out songs from “Mera saaya”. Its the first movie that comes to my mind when i think of Madan Mohan.
    “Nainon Mein Badra Chhaye” & “Aap Ke Pehloo Mein Aakar Roh Diye” are quintessential Madan Mohan.
    Lovely list otherwise. Love the seductive but haunting music of “Lag jaa gale…”

    • I must admit I’ve never been very fond of Nainon mein badraa chhaaye, though Aapke pehloo mein aakar ro diye is lovely – that, however, featured in my last list (Sunil Dutt songs) so I didn’t want to repeat it here. To be fair, one song from Mera Saaya that was on my shortlist was the title song, though I ended up dropping it. There were songs I like more. :-)

      But am glad we agree on Lag jaa gale. ‘Haunting’ is right!

  6. Madhu,
    Suffice it to say that Lag ja gale would have been my top song too. Its eternal appeal is evident from its use in a number of TV serials and commercials (that is not to say that its use has been apt, but so what!). And Main to tumse nain milake haar gayi sajnaa would have also figured in my list. Rest is a matter of taste, but let me mention some of my favourites.

    3-4. A Lata song each from Adaa and Aashiyana (there are a number of them, and it is difficult to choose, each surpassing the other in beauty)
    5. Sapne mein sajan se do baatein from Gateway of India
    6. Tum ho saath raat bhi haseen hain from Mohar (Haunting melody that became AIR’s signature tune)
    7. Main nigaahein tere chehare se hataaun kaise from Aap Ki Parchhaaiyaan
    8. Tujhe kya sunaaun main dilruba from Aakhari Daa (in spite of being inspired from Sajjad Husain’s Ye hawa ye raat ye chaandni)

    A couple of songs from the movies you have taken but some other songs.


    • AK, thank you so much! You’ve just introduced me to a bunch of songs I’d never heard before, or had forgotten about (the latter includes Tum ho saath raat bhi haseen hai – it had slipped my mind that that had been AIR’s signature tune, and I’d never even known it was a Madan Mohan composition.

    • Thank you! I like your list too, especially Aapki nazron ne samjhaa – that song had been on my shortlist too, but I finally dropped it, mainly because the lyrics put me off (no fault of Madan Mohan’s at all, but still). Along the same lines, from the same film, is another song with similar, rather subservient, self-sacrificing lyrics but excellent music. Hai isi mein pyaar ki aabroo:

  7. I couldnt agree with you more. The lyrics of Aapki Nazron Ne are quite a put-off. Since quite a few songs from that movie have similar subservient mood, would like to believe that that was the requirement of the movie. I like Hai Isi Mein too. It’s a v good song. Both these songs’ tunes easily make up for the lyrics for me.

    • You are right about the lyrics being in the mood of the movie – Mala Sinha plays this illiterate and rather ignorant woman who ends up having to stand on her own two feet in order to survive, and the trials she goes through. The songs, therefore, reflect her approach to life and love in keeping with her character, but still, they turn me off a bit.

      But the music is superb, whatever the lyrics.

  8. Madhu, Der aaye par durust aaye. :) It’s a post worth waiting for, and I agree with everyone who said it is difficult to choose just ten Madan Mohan songs. Lag jaa gale would have been on my list as well. As would Teri aankhon ke siva, Main toh tum sang nain milake, Kaun aaya, and Hoke majboor chala.

    As AK mentions, the rest is a matter of personal choice. Some of my favourites which have not been mentioned so far in the comments:

    1. Ae dil mujhe bata de from Bhai Bhai
    2. Do ghadi woh jo paas aa baithe from Gateway of India
    3Dil Doondhta hai phir wohi from Mausam
    4.Hum pyaar mein jalnewalon ko Jailor
    5. Khelo na mere dil se from Haqeeqat
    6. Main paagal mera manva paagalHome from Ashiana
    7.Preetam daras dikhao from Chacha Zindabad
    8. Phir wohi shaam wohi gham from Jahan Ara
    9. Tumhari zulf ke saaye mein from Naunihal
    10. Tum jo mil gaye ho from Hanste Zakhm
    11. Woh bhooli dastaan from Sanjog
    12. Ye nayi nayi preet hai from Pocketmaar

    There. A round dozen. And I’d better stop before I end up listing another set. :) :)

    • Anu, is it a surprise that barring the songs from the 70s (which I would have loved to include, actually!) and the songs from films I haven’t watched (like Sanjog and Gateway of India), most of the other songs were on my shortlist? :-) Ae dil mujhe bata de I dropped because I’d included it in too many lists already, and Phir wohi shaam wohi gham – that was a close one indeed. Right till the end, I was dithering between this song and the one I eventually posted from Jahanara.

      • Not a problem! You linked to the songs, which is what matters. And good songs, too. Mera naam Abdur Rehman is a fun song, isn’t it? Good proof of how versatile Madan Mohan was. Talking of his versatility, there’s this other good song, Yeh zaalim nigaahon ki ghaat, from Khota Paisa. Just the sort of song I’d expect from an OP Nayyar or a C Ramachandra, but Madan Mohan proves his skill even with club songs:

  9. Great list of Madan Mohan songs. Very interesting factoid that he was born in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. I want to mention two breezy, very un-Madan Mohan like songs composed by him – “Saawan ke mahine mein …” from Sharabi and “Yeh nayi nayi preet hai …” from Pocket Maar. Incidentally, both Dev Anand movies – an unusual combination, Madan Mohan and Dev Anand.

    • Someone on my Facebook friends list – Sidharth Bhatia, who wrote the superb Cinema Modern: The Navketan Story also suggested Saawan ke mahine mein. Yes, I agree totally. Great song. Might as well post it here. (I’m not posting Yeh nayi-nayi preet hai, since Anu has already linked to it in her comment).

        • Ah, yes. I’ve heard Tu mere saamne hai but had forgotten about it (didn’t know it was a Madan Mohan song), plus have never seen the film. Wonderful song, nevertheless.

  10. Absolutely wonderful list. It is a bit difficult to choose a favourite from Madan Mohan’s gems but back in my childhood I remember my favourite was jhumka gira re

    As I was wading through You Tube (I am working on my next post on my favourite songs from my father’s films) I stumbled upon an unreleased Kishore- Kumar Madan Mohan, it is nowhere near what Madan Mohan was known for I wouldn’t call it a good song but all the same here is the link

    • Jhumka gira re was one of favourites as a child! It is quite a catchy tune, actually, even if it isn’t one of Madan Mohan’s best.

      Thank you for posting Ladkiyon ko Chaahiye; I hadn’t heard of it, or even of Aaj Mujhe Jal Jaane Bhi Do. These unreleased films always make me a little wistful, wondering why they weren’t released. Were they even completed? Or left midway? Or was there no money left to release? No will to release? What? I keep wondering what possible gems we may have missed because we haven’t got to see a movie that hasn’t been released…

      Am looking forward to your post, ShilpI!

      • You know what amuses me? Quite a few of my father’s films were left incomplete, the producers did not even have the money to complete the film, surprisingly now I see those films on You Tube. I haven’t had the time to watch these films but I am sure the films would appear odd considering that the makers or whoever somehow managed to bring out DVDs without completing the films.

        • That is really odd. Though I suppose it might differ from one film to another… could it be that some films had the basic storyline in place, and filmed, with only minor ‘touching up’ or editing to be done? I might be willing to give one of these films a try, just to see what an incomplete film that has been released on DVD could be like. Just as a matter of curiosity…. any suggestions on what such films there are on Youtube, Shilpi?

          • You see there are two films that are there on You Tube that were definitely not completed during my father’s lifetime, these are
            Toofan Mein Pyaar Kahaan and
            Oos Raat Ke Baad
            I remember seeing the incomplete “Toofan.. ” way back in my childhood at a trial show. Much later, a few months before my father passed away, my father bumped into Nalini Jaywant- the film’s heroine- at a film studio, she told my father, “hamara kuch din ka kaam to oos film mein abhi bhi baaki hai
            As for the other film, I remember the producer would pop up suddenly after a long gap and ask for dates. I remember him once telling my father that this time the the scene to be shot was going to be the eighth night. My father laughingly told him,tumhara film mein kaunsi raat hai abhi main sabh bhool gaya.
            I haven’t had the time to see either film, I only saw some of my father’s portions, so I am not sure what touching up they have done. Maybe if you have the patience and time.you could give one of these film’s a try

            • Thanks a ton, Shilpi! Now that you mention them, I remember you talking about these films – or at least Oos Raat ke Baad – on your blog, I think. Toofaan Mein Pyaar Kahaan also sounds familiar. I’ll certainly go check them out whenever I have the time!

  11. A lovely list of songs and a beautiful write up.
    To me, his music had a soulful quality. My top 5 songs would be :
    1) Lag ja gale and 2) Naina barse (Woh Kaun thi). The first for the heart tugging lyrics and great singing. And Naina barse for lovely and wavy ebb and flow of the song.
    3 Baiyya na dharo and 4) Kaun Aaya from Dastak and Dekh kabira roya. Both are a treat for the years with a strong classical base with the Dastak song featuring lovely variations. And finally, Rang aur noor from Ghazal for the soulful composition sung beautifully by Rafi. I have included these among my top 25 songs in my post at http://rsbaab.wordpress.com. I featured him among the top 3 composers of the golden era.

    His association with Lata was memorable. Notice how he stretches Lata’s voice in myriad ways in a number of songs. No wonder Lata said that his songs were the most difficult to sing. If you listen carefully, you will notice Lata struggling to control her breath in Aap ki nazron ne or Chaayi barkha bhar. She just about makes it to the end of some of the lines.
    It does not matter whether he won Filmfare awards. His music was a connoisseurs delight. His music lives in the hearts of music lovers like us. I believe this is more than any award. Veteran composer Khayyam also said that everyone respected Madan Mohan and it did not matter whether he got any awards. I remember reading a long time ago, that Naushad hugged Madan Mohan when he heard Heer Raanjha songs. This sort of respect is worth more than any award.

    • Thank you for that very insightful comment (and I agree about the praise for Madan Mohan being more than any award – why I did mention it was that there have been people, directors, stars, etc, who’ve been immensely popular but haven’t been ever given any awards, and have been very embittered as a result. It does matter to some). I’d like to think that Madan Mohan’s late-in-life award did not mean as much to him as the respect and love of his colleagues and fans. He was truly a very gifted man.

      Interesting observation, that, about the way he makes Lata stretch in Aap ki nazron ne samjhaa. I hadn’t noticed that before, but you’re very right. I also think the way he does away with (or minimises) instrumentation in songs like Saba se yeh keh do challenges the singer: in this case, Asha’s voice is so undisguised, it is in its purest form. She doesn’t seem to struggle, but that purity is one thing that really makes the song for me.

  12. I know my comment won’t be published because for some reason, WordPress is blocking me again, but another Madan Mohan composition that I really, really love is Rasm-e-ulfat ko nibhaye kaise from Dil ki Raahein.

    There is no video for this song, but some bright soul has edited a wonderful dance video for it:

    • I came across that synched-with-a-Hollywood-video version of Rasm-e-ulfat nibhaayein kaise while searching for some of the other songs that people have mentioned in their comments! I don’t remember having heard the song before, but really liked it. Lovely.

      P.S. WordPress has a far too hardworking spam blocker, which ends up blocking any comment that has too many links. Your earlier comment, with its 12 links, qualified, I think. ;-) Silly WordPress!

  13. To praise madan mohan once legendry musician Naushad had said to him…take my all music and give me your two songs from Anpadh…

      • You didn’t include “Aaap ki Nazron ne samjha”, but Naushad offered all his compositions in lieu of this single track! Correction Shameeem no two tracks…just this single one. Don’t know why there is a fuss over the lyrics of this song. I love the song (& lyrics as well).

  14. As I read, I wondered if you’ve missed Teri Aankhon ke Siva…. but you didn’t. Such complex melodies, so soothing. As you said, his music had multiple layers. He was a genius.

  15. Dustedoff.
    MM 10 songs? Bahut na insaafi even 10 scores would be difficult.
    Still you have done a commendable job.
    Who would not agree with lag ja gala ke?
    Adalat along with great ghazals we have romantic Zamin se hamen aasman tak
    Haqeeqat has Mai yeh soch kar uske dar se
    Mera Saaya has beautiful nainon wali ne.
    I will add 3 more songs to the long list.
    This one is a comedy song had MM singing with Rafi and Kishore.

    One more beautiful Lata song from Dhun

    And one of the most sensous song: from Heer Ranjha


    • I’ll confess: none of the songs you’ve linked to were familiar to me, but they’re all nice.

      Talking about Zameen se humein aasmaan pe, that was on my shortlist – in fact, I even wrote up the section about it and took a screenshot – then decided I would do Unko yeh shikaayat hai instead, just because I think it’s a rather more restrained, difficult-to-sing song.

      And, talking about Haqeeqat, one song which is infrequently heard but is also lovely from that movie is Zara si aahat hoti hai:

      • “Tum jo mil gaye ho” is arguably the best song of Rafi. The song starts in a soothing manner, grips you as it picks up tempo & by the end shifts gear to reveal sweet emotions all with a haunting effect. Listen this song on a rainy evening & you will be mesemerized. Music leaves you spellbound. At few places it is enchanting ,especially after line “ye jahan mil gaya”. There is one story about this song. One day when MM was in a studio & Rafi was recording for another Music Director, MM didn’t lie his singing. Later he told (in fact scolded) Rafi over this. Rafi broke down & amid tears he said he was not happy from inside those days & he was feeling his singing & offers for good songs were on a low. Then MM said don’t worry I have composed a song only for you. And we got “Tum jo mil gaye ho”. Another song from the same movie (Hanste Zakham) is magical too & deserves a place in my list “Betaab dil ki tamanna yahi hai”. I get very emotional after listening this, as song, music, singing & feeling all are very pure. I shall come up with my full list very soon.

  16. Very nice list Madhu!
    Difficult to choose 10 songs of Madan ji. But two that would have made my list any day would have been

    1. Great music, brilliant Majrooh

    2.great music, brilliant Kaifi Saab

    Indeed, woh nahin hai, Unka pyar unke gaanon ke zariye zinda hai.

    • “woh nahin hai, Unka pyar unke gaanon ke zariye zinda hai.

      Very well said, Karthik! And both Hamaare baad ab mehfil mein and Hai tere saath meri wafa are lovely. Thank you for those. :-)

  17. HA! I guess I’m the only one on the blog who dislikes “lag ja gale se!”:-) Ah well, dissent makes the world interesting. That said I do love Madan Mohan and some favorites that haven’t been mentioned include:

    *Meri yaad mein tum na – Madhosh
    *Jiya le gayo ji mora – Anpadh
    *Shokh nazar ki bijliyan – Woh Kaun Thi
    Dil unko utha ke de diya – Baap Beta
    Jaane kya haal ho – Maa Ka Aanchal
    Badi barbadiyan lekar – Dhun
    Chain nahi aaye kahan dil jaye – Samundar
    Har Koi chahata hai – Ek Muthi Aasman

    Mushkil hai jeena – Saheb Bahadur

    • Yes, dissent certainly makes the world a more interesting place, as long as we keep it civil – which is one thing I’m grateful to most of my readers for! That, and for the fact that people who frequent this blog often introduce me to films and songs I’d never even heard about… which is the case with most of the songs on your list, Shalini. Of these, the only two I recognised without having to listen to them were Shokh nazar ki bijliyaan, and Meri yaad mein tum na (the former, I like a lot; the latter, I’m fairly indifferent to, leaning towards dislike). Of the others, most were very new to me.

  18. When I was growing up I considered Madan Mohan to be a very boring composer – until I heard Zara Si Aahat Ho. Then I started a listening to his songs again and discovered an immense trove of riches. Zara Si Aahat is trademark Madan Mohan – soft, melodious and subtle. It has a special corner in my heart.
    But your list is superb too, dustedoff. Except for Saba Se Ye Keh Do all of the songs on your list struck a chord,
    Another song that never fails to stir me up is Meri Awaaz Suno. The song is a tad too long but Rafi wrings the last drops of pathos from it.

    • Yes, Meri aawaaz suno is far too long a song – I think I’d have liked it if it were a little shorter. Still, not a bad song. And Zara si aahat hoti hai is very lovely – a beautiful expression of love.

  19. Another song just jumped out of my memory and poked me – Jiya Le Gayo Ji Mora Sanwariya. Superb composition in Yaman Kalyan.

  20. In my younger days, not being over fond of Lata ( felt our P Susila deserved as much if not more of the adulation that LM got), I had bracketed Madan bhayya to be not so great. Childish perhaps but there it was.
    But with age comes wisdom and now I appreciate Madan Mohan far more.
    His composition style was is distinct .

    For me his calling card will always be ” Tum jho milgaye ho” from Hanste Zakhm . The interludes are mind blowing.– swinging this way, lashing the other just like Mumbai monsoon which forms the backdrop. And of course Rafi. All in all a wonderful song ( Like Morarji desai once famously commented :It is not in Indian culture to talk ill of the dead so I will not talk about Priya Rajvansh!)
    A close second would be the ultimate Love ballad
    ” Teri aankhon ke siva” . Of couse the Md rafi one. LM’s version is not a patch on Raji ( Oh you seem to like her version more :-( )
    Mera saaya and Woh kon thi had excellent songs as well.
    But had MM composed only “Tum jho milgaye ” still his place in history would be safe!

    • “Of couse the Md rafi one. LM’s version is not a patch on Raji ( Oh you seem to like her version more :-( )

      What gave you that impression? I don’t like the Lata version at all – it’s too screechy and melodramatic as far as I’m concerned.

      Agree wholeheartedly about Tum jo mil gaye ho. Despite the fact that I can’t bear Priya Rajvansh, that’s one song I like a lot.

      • “And the single line sung towards the end of the song by Lata is the ultimate unexpected twist.”
        This gave the impression. It seems you are talking – on a second read- about the tune and the complexities therein . In which case “my bad”.
        Yes I used to go on and on about Priya R but the tragic circumstance in which she died has put a stop to that, Poor thing:-(

        • The tragic end also applies to another actress whom I didn’t like one bit – Vimmi. Terribly wooden, and completely useless as an actress… but nobody should end up in such a bad way.

  21. Nice selection DO. MM is up there among my top three composers in HFM, he perhaps I think composed to the lyrics, my other two favourites did not always pay that much heed though they had arguably more complex tunes.
    There are many lovely songs that others have mentioned, perhaps these have not.

    1) Tum chaand ke sath chale aao — Ashiana… You will hear the same piano trill that is there in “Ae dil mujhe bata de” which itself was inspired by the Portuguese fado song “Coimbra”.
    2) Un Ankhon mein Neend Kahan –Minister..
    3) Kadar jaane na — Bhai Bhai.
    4) Ja re badra bairi ja — Bahana, he used this yaman piece again in Jiya le gayo ji more saanwariya years later in Anpadh.
    5) Tumse Kahoon ek baat — This song is very similar to “Meri duniya mein tum aaye” from Heer Ranjha..

    MM worked with a very good arranger Master Sonik. I think some of the credit for arranging the songs should go to him notably in films like Hanste Zakhm where the arrangement for “Tum jo mil gaye ho” lifts the song from the very good to great.

    There is an interesting arrangment of this song with Sonu Nigam in England though Mr.Nigam starts squeakily and is largely just okay . But the song is very well arranged, lovely strings , flute , harp, brass only the percussion section in the Indian version is more varied and had more snap and crackle. than here.

      • Salilda and Sajjad. Incidentally the scores for the Sonu Nigam concert were arranged by Tim Pottier and in the sad thing is that the state of recording industry in India in those days up till the late 80s was not very sophisticated. So we really don’t do justice those so old songs. We’ve lost the real fidelity in all those original recordings

        • Ah. I did have a sneaking suspicion that one of your favourites was Salilda; I think Anu may have mentioned it in one of her blog posts. I have to admit it took a net search for me to find which movies Sajjad composed for – but I realise that he was the man behind Phir tumhaari yaad aayi ae sanam and Yeh hawa yeh raat yeh chaandni, both of which (along with various other songs of his) are favourites of mine.

          “We’ve lost the real fidelity in all those original recordings

          Sadly, so very true.

    • “my other two favourites did not always pay that much heed though they had arguably more complex tunes.

      Who, please?

      Thank you for the songs you suggest, Sadu! I hadn’t heard most of these before (Kadar jaane na was an exception), but they’re all good – very good.

      I hadn’t known about Master Sonik; thanks for telling me about him. I suppose a lot of what we tend to credit to music directors should actually be credited to their arrangers, shouldn’t it? I often wish – especially when I’m listening to a piece with really good orchestration, like Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh or O babu o lala – how much was the brainchild of the MD and how much the arranger’s.

      Thanks for the Sonum Nigam performance link. I agree his rendition starts off a bit weak (actually, since I end up comparing him – even unconsciously – to Rafi all the time, he comes off as not quite as fabulous throughout) – but the orchestration is really good.

    • Didn’t like…
      Sonu is a great singer but he kills this song brutally.
      His mukhdaa, shaking voice, haste & few breaks in antara with
      new experiments here & there didn’t go down well with me.
      In one word “Sukoon” is missing.

  22. Madhuji,
    Sorry I am extremely late.
    A wonderful post. Madanmohan was a class composer. He had composed so many good songs and yet many of the films for which he had composed music were successful. Choosing 10 good compositions of Madanmohan is indeed a difficult task Kudos for doing a good job. His compositions in all must be over 600, I believe. Enjoyed listening to the songs.

    Lag ja gale was indeed a classic. It is one of the best Madanmohan-Lata songs.

    Writing about the song Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon (Jahanara, 1964), you wrote
    “The music has layers to it—the main tune, but also lovely little ripples here and there, barely-audible hints of instrumentation complementing Talat’s voice.”

    Madanmohan was supported in this song by Ustad Rais Khan on the Sitar and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma on the santoor. Actually Omprakash, one of the producers, wanted Md.Rafi for this film, but Madanmohan wanted Talat Mahmood. Madanmohan decided to pay for the artist, the musicians and the recording; It was decided that if the producer liked the song then they would settle for Talat. The song was Phir wohi sham and incidentally Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia was part of the musicians.

    Unko yeh shikaayat hai (Adalat, 1958, another wonderful song through which Madanmohan established himself as the king of filmy Ghazals, Lata doing full justice in articulating the dilemma of the leading lady.

    Madanmohan was awarded the Swami Haridas Trophy for his composition in Piloo, Maine rang li aaj chunariya, from the Dulhan ek raat ki. Here is the song beautifully rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. Pleasing orchestration and once again Ustad Rais Khan on the Sitar. I believe Ustad Rais Khan never played for any other composer.

    At this rate I would end up writing another post. Sorry Madhuji. I would wind up with the song Aaj Sochha toh aansu bhar aaye as my tribute to the great composer. Madanmohan had a fascination for Sitar. Listen to the wonderful accompaniment on Sitar by Ustad Rais Khan.

    Thank you once again.

    • Venkataramanji, thank you so much! For the appreciation, of course, as well as for the songs you’ve suggested (I like both of them; very beautiful) – but also, very specially, for the anecdote about Phir wohi shaam. I hadn’t known at all about that. Very interesting.

  23. The following could be my suggestions if not discussed above :
    1).Naino me pyar dole – Lata – Sheroo.
    2).Mujhe le chalo aaj us gali mein – Rafi – Sharabi.
    3).Kadam behke behke jiya dhadak dhadak jaye – Lata – Bank Manager ( On Beatiful Meenu Mumtaz !)
    4).Dil unko utha ke de diya – Lata – Baap Bete.
    5).Bairan neend na aaye – Lata – Chacha Zindabad.

  24. Madhulika

    This is a great post and look at the number of comments. I am amazed.This shows the number of people who still have that fondness for the inimitable Madan Mohan. He is also good looking isn’t it? He could have played a hero. Too bad that because Lata Mangeshkar was his raakhi sister, she ended up getting all his best songs.

    The moment you talk about Madan Mohan’s music, you recollect “Dastak” [ a memorable award winning role by Rehana Sultan and a splendid performance by Sanjeev Kumar]. For a long time, i did not know that Mausam was his swan song.
    I am fond of Mera Saya, Nainon Mein Bhadra Chahe, Zara Si Ahat Hothi Hai, Hoke Majboor Mujhe, Dil Dhoondta Hai Phir Wahi, Mair re main kase kahoon, Lag Ja Gale, Shokh Nazar Ki Bijliyan.

    Recently I heard a program on Vividh Bharati where his sons [one of them is with Yash Raj called Sanjeev Kohli] spoke about their dad. He also has a daughter, I think.
    Isn’t it sad that such great composers like him, O P Nayyar, Khayyam never got their due from Bollywood? Forget these awards, the love and affection that the fans have for them are the most precious.

    One of the comments was about – “Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho” – a great song and wonderful picturisation. People in Mumbai will always remember this song whenever it rains in Mumbai and they happen to walk past Chowpati. Chetan Anand was another film maker – an unsung hero who never got the due. Contrary to what someone has written, it seems that Priya Rajvansh aka Veera had a major contribution to screen plays of Chetan Anand’s movies but she never took any credit for it.

    Why don’t you watch her last movie with Jackie Shroff and Zeenat Aman where she played mother of an adopted child who fights a court case with the child’s legal parents ? It was a brilliant movie, directed by Chetan Anand [as usual, he was different]. Sorry can’t recollect the name of this movie. In this movie, Priya’s acting was terrific [it was also her last Bollywood outing].

    All said and done, in Bollywood, there is far too much politics which is why the talent of such jewels never get highlighted. Why can’t we name the road that he lived after him?

    Can someone tell me if music of “Laila Majnu” starring Rishi Kapoor and Ranjeeta was composed by him?

    Before I forget, I did read that Vimi was a great radio compere before she walked into B R Chopra’s Humraz and the road to nowhere!

    • Thank you! Your comment had lots of interesting information (I didn’t know, for instance, that Priya Rajvansh’s last movie was with Jackie Shroff). Or that she contributed to the screenplays of Chetan Anand’s films. Probably my favourite of his films – Neecha Nagar – is of course from well before her time.

      And yes, I agree completely about Madan Mohan being very good-looking! I was just thinking that the other day, and wondering why he never appeared in any films, considering other people from the music world – Talat, Mukesh, etc – managed to do so, though of course with differing degrees of success.

      • Perhaps you already know by now – since this is a relatively old post – but Madan Mohan did appear in a decently important role (as the heroine Nalini Jaywant’s brother) in Munimji (1955) and some other roles earlier. In fact, his attempt to break in to the film industry was actually to become an ACTOR (against his father’s wishes – or else it would have been a cake-walk, considering that his father Rai Bahadur Chunilal was one of the founders of Filmistan Studios). Thank God (for all of us who adore his music), that he failed and turned to music-direction :)
        P.S. My first post on your lovely website, Madhulika !

        • Thank you for the appreciation, Sri! And thank you for commenting. :-)

          I did know about Madan Mohan’s attempts to become an actor, but I hadn’t realized he’d played the part of Nalini Jaywant’s brother in Munimji – unforgiveable, considering I’ve watched that film so many times and have even reviewed it! I must go and check it out again.

  25. We were on a holiday recently and a friend who is a very good musician pointed out this video. You may have seen it. My first instinct was to say that it wasn’t Lata and I did. Then I heard it again, and I like this version too. It doesn’t have the complexity of Lata’s rendition but it is sung with feeling which of course is the most important part of any song. A song needs soul above everything else, technical perfection is a distant second. Sanam is a Bombay based band.

    • No, I hadn’t heard this version of Lag jaa gale. Yes, it isn’t Lata, but I do think it’s beautiful, nevertheless. I like the fact that it’s not been meddled with (that’s my main grouse with remixes) too much – and it’s been sung with a lot of feeling, as you point out. Lovely. Thank you!

  26. The unreleased song, Khelo na mere dil se, from Haqeekat is my favorite. Very unlike other Madam Mohan songs. The song has a feel of Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s songs. Wonder if he assisted in this composition.

  27. A very nice list. I specially like that you included the song ‘Main To Tum Sang’. Like any other discussion on Madan Mohan the emphasis is on his combination with Lataji which is perfectly fine but people sometimes overlook how much wonderful work he did with Rafi Saab. Presenting just five songs of this immense combination.

    Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil (Heer Ranjha) – said to be Madan Mohan’s personal favorite
    Aap Ke Pahloo Mein (Mera Saaya)
    Main Nigahen Tere Chehre (Aap Ki Parchhaiyan)
    Tumhari Zulf Ke Saaye (Naunihal)
    Basti Basti Parbat Parbat (Railway Platform)

    • The emphasis on his collaboration with Lata is purely coincidental, let me assure you. :-) I just listed down my favourite Madan Mohan songs – that many of them happened to be sung by Lata is by the way! (Though of course it might mean that he reserved some of his best tunes for his ‘sister’).

      Of the songs you’ve mentioned, the ones I particularly like are Aapke pehloo mein aakar ro diye and Basti-basti parbat-parbat.

      • Thanks for the reply. I don’t disagree with anything you have said here. What surprises and pleases me is you like ‘Basti Basti Parbat Parbat’ so much. Another gem that has been somewhat lost in the sands of time. One line that keeps coming back to me is ‘Is Jeevan Ki Raah Mein Jaane Kaun Kahaan Rahe Jaaye’.

  28. Madanmohan ji is brilliant.. There can be no other way about it. That said i don’t think of him as a very versatile composer Ala C.Ramchandra, Salilda, Burmans or SJ. But of course when it comes to gazals, he is unparalled. Add to that all those great romantic songs of Rafi saab and gems like Manna dey’s Kaun aya mere mann ke dware, and you have a great composer right there. And before i forget, some of Lataji’s greatest numbers are written by him, making MM’s place secure right among the greatest composers of all time in the Indian Film Industry.

    P.s: Thodi der ke liye was inspired from an english song called ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’. Here below are its two links- the first one from the film Pajama Game and the second one an audio version.

  29. naino mai badra chaaye, mera sayaa saath hoga, lagg ja galey, ek hasin shaam ko dil mera kho guya, rasmey ulfatt nibhaye toh nibhaye kaisey, dastan jo humeny sunaai and all. manoj kumar saved the song lagg jaa galey. thank god I was playing it on very low sound. I slept and when I woke up i realised it is still playing and was pleasantly surprise. I think only lata ji can sing this song perfectly. its a challenge for all to sing it.

  30. when madan ji son visited ustaad Bismillah khan in Benares. Ustaad saheb first line was Har traf bajney lagi saikdo shehnaaiya. what a tribute ! Madan Mohan the maestro !

  31. Dear Me … !!!
    Hardly there has been a debate about “what is good” … Yet, ‘who’, ‘which’ or ‘what’ is “THE BEST” … has always been disputed !!!
    Your choices are all great … still, … I do believe … that you do enjoy enormously … ‘the other’ compositions of Madan Mohanji !!!
    Just as … those of the “the other” composers of that era … an era of “Innocence of a New Born Nation!”
    Even before that, New Theatres of Kolkotta and Prabhat in Pune had created memorable compositions !!!


    PS: Please … still … do post your “favourites” of various others as well !!!
    And do listen to Punkaj Malik’s “Mere Hathile Shyaam …!!!


  33. wanted to share something about madan mohan which shocked me too. Rajender krishan was asked by madan mohan he said marney k baad aadmi ki kuch baaton ko kehna nahi chahiye. i sensed he wanted to say that madan ji was of very strict nature.


  35. Your wonderful list and comments pretty much cover most memorable songs by Madan Mohan. However, I discovered some unreleased songs of Madan Mohan about two years ago (perhaps when this post originally came out:) and was amazed to discover particularly two those songs that I think they are absolute classics. Both are sung by Rafi. I almost instantly fell in love with these two but it may take two or three listens to get hooked on to these beautiful pieces. This album was released in 2009 and you can feel it has been digitally mastered and modern instrumentation makes it more charming. Lyrics are also very beautiful. I hope you like these:

    1. Kaise Kategi Zindagi Tere Bagair – Lyrics by Raja Mehadi Ali Khan

    2. Kadamon Main Tere Aey Sanam – Lyrics by Prem Dhawan

    There two versions of this song (Kadamon Main Tere aey Sanam) but this one has the additional lines in stanzas one and two that make it all the more romantic.

    • Thank you for this! I discovered that I had heard Kadmon mein tere before, so it was good to hear it again; lovely song. The other one was new to me, but also good. Madan Mohan was a genius.

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