Top Ten Songs Sung by Actors Themselves (or by Singers Appearing Onscreen) – Guest Post by Abhik

Some weeks back, fellow blogger and reader Abhik Majumdar suggested an idea for a song list: songs actually sung by (not merely lip-synched by) actors. Not singer-cum-actors, but people who were known only for their acting. I couldn’t think of too many songs that would fit my criteria (and those I could think of, were more often than not, from films I hadn’t seen). It did sound like an interesting topic, though (and wouldn’t it be fun to hear the singing voices of people we invariably ‘heard’ only in the voices of playback singers?). So I took the easy way out: I asked Abhik to do a guest post. And here it is. Since this one’s a guest post (and atithi devo bhava and all that…), I allowed Abhik a bit of a free hand. No need to stick completely to my blog’s time lines, for example.

Over to Abhik:

Madhulika’s blog is what a friend calls a ‘time black-hole’ – you get completely immersed randomly browsing through, and then you’re left wondering just where all that time went. Some time I had suggested to her a ‘top-ten’ post on actors singing their own songs or singers appearing onscreen. Most generously, she responded by asking me to do a guest-post instead.

And like Madhu usually does, I have also set some rules for myself here. First off, only one track per artiste. Secondly, there’s no point including songs by people known equally for their singing and acting. So no Kishore Kumar, no Suraiya, no Rajkumar (the Kannada actor), no Talat Mehmood even. Thirdly, the singing must conform to certain minimum standards of excellence. (A certain Mr Bachchhan stands excluded on this count.) Fourthly, in the early days of talkies when playback singing was unknown actors, even the most atrociously off-key ones, were compelled to sing their own songs. Since such examples are a penny a dozen, no point adding them I thought.

Lastly, I have included several post-’60s songs, and for a good reason. The ’50s and ’60s were decades where established playback singers in the Hindi film industry enjoyed stranglehold over the industry (in the case of woman singers it approximated a near-total duopoly). So it was very rare that non-established singers, including actors who could carry a tune, were given a chance to sing. This began to relax around the ’70s or so. Correspondingly, we see several interesting examples of people voicing their own soundtracks, and it would be such a shame not to include them.

My selections, now:

1. Raj Kapoor – ‘Duniya ke Rehne Walon‘ (Dil ki Rani, 1947): This is what got me so interested in the topic. RK was known to be deeply interested in music, and it shows so, so clearly here. They say he even fell in love with Krishna, later his wife, when he chanced upon her singing. His voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Mukesh. Reminds me how similar Hemanta’s (Hemant Kumar) voice was to the Bengali actor Uttam Kumar’s.

RajKapoor

2. Dilip Kumar, Lata MangeshkarLagi Nahi Chhutey‘ (Musafir, 1957): Dilip Kumar goes one better than RK, and partners Lata in a light classical-inspired number. That takes guts, now! Salil Choudhury based it in Raga Mishra Pilu (with occasional deviations), and Dilip Kumar does ample justice to it.

The movie also marked Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s directorial debut. I guess the director had a knack for getting actors to sing. Ashok Kumar’s Rail Gadi (Ashirwad, 1968) and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya’s little bit in Bhor Aayi (Bawarchi, 1972) come readily to mind. And then again, but no, not now, I’ll leave it for later.

DilipKumar

The movie also marked Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s directorial debut. I guess the director had a knack for getting actors to sing. Ashok Kumar’s Rail Gadi (Ashirwad, 1968) and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya’s little bit in Bhor Aayi (Bawarchi, 1972) come readily to mind. And then again, but no, not now, I’ll leave it for later.

We switch gears now, with a few onscreen appearances by singers.

3. Mohd Rafi and othersWoh Apni Yaad Dilaane Ko‘ (Jugnu, 1947): A boisterous, high-spirited, male-bonding song which, remarkably, keeps to the ghazal format. Rafi can be seen in bits, particularly at 1.05 onwards. He voices for himself and also for the protagonist Dilip Kumar.

Rafi

4. MukeshChhoti Si Yeh Zindagani‘ (Aah, 1953): Another cameo appearance by a legendary singer. Mukesh plays, of all things, a Tonga driver. I believe he subsequently starred in a few films (including Anurag), all of which flopped heavily. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate on youtube any clips from the film, though there were a few extracts from its soundtrack. So Chhoti Si Yeh Zindagani it’ll have to be.

Mukesh

Actors, once again.

5. TuntunMurali Bairan Bhayi‘ (Solva Saal, 1958): Tuntun (aka Uma Devi) scaled great heights as a playback singer even though she was not a trained vocalist. Faced with the rise of much more technically proficient rivals, she switched over to a second career as character actor and comedienne. The two paths barely if ever intersected, though, and I found it hard to come across instances of her singing for herself. Then I remembered her reprisal of Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Murali Bairan Bhayi‘ from Solva Saal. I couldn’t find the song online anywhere, and so ended up extracting it from my copy of the film, and then uploading it. It offers a glimpse of her rough-hewn and yet remarkably sensitive vocalism. As also the ghastly buffoonery, leaning heavily on regional and linguistic stereotypes, that tended to pass for comedy back then. (Want a few laughs? Get a fat Madraasan to dance.)

Tuntun

6. Vyjayanthimala, Mrinal ChakrabortyCheye Thaki‘ (Hate Bajare, 1964): A Tamil actress well-known for her Hindi film roles singing in Bangla for a Bengali film. And what a fantastic job she does!

Vyjyanthimala

Two slightly more recent clips, now.

7. Mala Sinha, Manhar UdhasMere Mehboob‘ (Lalkar, 1972): Mala Sinha was an accomplished singer and regularly broadcast over All India Radio. For most of her active years she was denied the opportunity to sing her own songs, thanks to (surprise!) the near-duopoly prevailing in the women playback singers’ market. Only when her acting career was on the wane did she get a chance to voice herself.

MalaSinha

8. Shatrughan Sinha, Sushma Shreshtha  –Ek Baat Suni Hai‘ (Naram Garam, 1981): Right, the other Hrishikesh Mukherjee film I zeroed in on. I confess this one blew me away too. Shotgun’s about the last person I’d expect to have a good singing voice. But he does, and how! A bit too inflexible for professional standards, but a most creditable job nonetheless.

ShatrughanSinha

Finally, two examples from the world of classical music:

9. Kumar GandharvaAaj Achanak‘ (Zakol, 1979): The maverick Hindustani vocalist makes a brief appearance in the Marathi film Zakol, presenting a song set to Raga Bhimpalasi (Abheri is a close Carnatic equivalent). He is accompanied onscreen by his regular team, including wife Vasundhara on the Tanpura, and Vasant Achrekar providing superb Tabla accompaniment. And don’t miss little Urmila Matondkar in the audience.

KumarGandharva

10. MS SubbulakshmiBaso More Nainan Mein‘ (Meera, 1947): MS had acted in a few films early in her career, and to the best of my knowledge this was one of her her last onscreen appearances: she quit films for good soon after and focused exclusively on music instead. The 1945 Tamil original was a box-office smash, and remains one of the most important films made in that language. It was remade in Hindi in 1947, featuring an introduction by Sarojini Naidu (no less). I had initially thought to post something from the Tamil version. But then I changed my mind, for the excellent reason that this song moved me to tears, literally. MS is at any time a treat for the gods, but here she surpasses herself (and looks ethereally beautiful too!). For those interested, the bhajan is set to Raga Hameer; similarities with ‘Madhuban Mein Radhika‘ (Kohinoor 1960) are discernible.

MSSubbulakshmi

Those that missed the cut:

The Hrishikesh Mukherjee songs I mentioned earlier. They got left out mainly for lack of space.

Ashok Kumar – Rail Gadi (Aashirwad, 1968) – more of a recitative, really.

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya and Several Others – Bhor Aayi Gaya Andhiyaara (Bawarchi, 1972). HC’s segment starts at about 2.25

Some of the others:

Nalini Jaywant, Harish – ‘Hawa Basant Ki‘ (Bahen, 1941): While Nalini Jaiwant was a very talented singer and had voiced several of her songs, I could not locate any video clip online finally locate (courtesy of Harveypam’s blog) a clip from her debut film Bahen only after I had finished writing the post. By that time it was too late, and I had run out of top-ten space.

NaliniJaywant

Mehmood, Asha BhosaleMuthu Kodi Kawari Hada‘ (Do Phool, 1973): I was most reluctant to “include this one out” (as Sam Goldwyn would have put it). It was a choice between this one and Tuntun’s ‘Murali Bairan Bhayi‘. Tuntun won out for two reasons: one, it fitted within the blog’s timeframe; and two ‘Muthu Kodi‘ is pretty well known.

Mehmood

At the same time it’s a gorgeous song, Mehmood’s singing and dancing are hysterical, and I came across a couple of lovely anecdotes in Hanif Zaveri’s bio of the man (a must-read, by the way).

The first one is from p. 47: In his earliest days, when he had to struggle desperately, he also tried his hand at chorus singing. When recording for ‘O zindagi ke dene waale‘ (Nagin, 1954) he was so terribly out of tune that they nearly threw him out. MD Hemant Kumar ultimately took pity on him and let him remain in the chorus, provided he only moved his lips and didn’t actually sing.

The second (p. 157-58) is from a first-person narrative by Mehmood himself. I reproduce it in full here: “Kishore (Kumar) worked with me in several films. He and I always argued with each other. He always said that I am a greater comedian of hindi [sic] cinema and I used to say that he was the better one. For me Kishore Kumar was the greatest comedian of Hindi Cinema. The hit song “Muttu kodi kawwadi hada” in my film “Do Phool” was to be sung by him. But on the day of the recording, he got stuck in another recording and couldn’t make it. Asha Bhosle persuaded me to sing the song myself and I agreed, thinking that I would dub the song later with Kishore. But after listening to the song, Kishore and all the others insisted that I let the song remain as it was.”

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68 thoughts on “Top Ten Songs Sung by Actors Themselves (or by Singers Appearing Onscreen) – Guest Post by Abhik

  1. The good thing about a guest post is that I get to see it even before it’s published (and I just might be the first to comment). I’ve been giving this some thought, and actually remembered several songs I could add to the list. The ‘singers appearing onscreen’ thing widens the scope a good bit, so using that (and leaving plenty of songs for other readers to add), I’ll bung in two I particularly like.

    The first is Rut jawan-jawan from Aakhri Khat, with Bhupinder not just singing the song but appearing onscreen as well (he also appears in Hoke majboor mujhe, from Haqeeqat):

    And, though the film Jalsaghar itself is in Bangla, this song, Bhar-bhar aayeen mori akhiyaan, with Begum Akhtar singing onscreen, is in Hindi. Not that Begum Akhtar was completely a non-actress (after all, she played a major part in Roti), but I do think she doesn’t quite fit in the same slot as Suraiya or Noorjehan.

    Great idea for a post, Abhik! And a good selection. I especially liked Dilip Kumar’s rendition – I recalled, when I heard it, that I’ve come across this one before. Wouldn’t you class Uma Devi/Tuntun as one of the singer-actors? True, she sang very few songs as Uma Devi before going into acting more or less full-time, but the songs she sang were pretty big hits in their time.

    • Damn, I ought to have stated something about Jalsaghar. Had initially thought of it (I am a classical music aficionado after all), but then rejected it because it would have made things too easy. MD Vilayat Khan had gleefully incorporated onscreen performances by a plethora of stars, including not only Begum Akhtar but also danseuse Roshan Kumari, and instrumentalists Wahid Khan (VK’s uncle and grandfather to present-day maestro Shahid Pervez) and Bismillah Khan. I could not manage to confirm it, but I seem to recall Salamat Ali Khan’s Mian Malhar (just before the storm hits) was picturised on Salamat Ali himself. Most likely I encountered it in Chidananda Dasgupta’s book.

      I had no idea about Bhupinder’s onscreen appearance! What a find! And about Tuntun, I plan to discuss it in detail in my response to Milind Phanse’s comment.

      Once again a big thank you for getting me to guest-post :)

      • You’re welcome, Abhik! This was great fun for me, because someone else did all the work, and I get to enjoy it. :-)

        Yes, Bhupinder’s onscreen appearances in both Rut jawan-jawan and Hoke majboor are interesting. This one more than the Haqeeqat one, of course, since here he’s the sole singer, and he gets to play the guitar too.

        And I do know about the various musicians who appear in Jalsaghar – had mentioned them (including Roshan Kumari) in my review of the film.

        • You should also add Narendra Chanchal singing “Main Benaam” in Benaam (1974) appearing as himself. And Shailendra Singh acting and singing in “Do Jasoos” (1975), “Ajosryo Dhanyabad” (Bengali – 1976) and “Agreement” (1981). Lastly Nutan singing “Baje Payal cham cham” in “Kanhayia”.

      • Sorry I vanished, Shilpi – was away for a couple of days at the Chandigarh Lit Fest, and came back so exhausted, I’m still recovering! Am looking forward to reading your anecdote.

        • Many decades ago, around 1969, some film people were flying back to Bombay from Hyderabad after a shooting stint and Tuntun was one of them. Back then airline food was terrible, once while we were flying to Kashmir my brother ended up with food poisining after eating the food served in the aircraft. Back to Tuntun, once seat belts were off and air hostesses started serving some tea and I guess some measly biscuits, Tuntun was furious she insisted that they be served proper snacks and guess what out came some slices of cakes and other snacks, thanks to her one of the film crew later recalled we got some decent food.

  2. Having MS, Tuntun, Rafi and Mukesh doesn’t really fit the theme, no? They are all accomplished singers, and in the case of Rafi, Mukesh and MS, well-established ones as well.

    And you excluded AB? Fie on you! :) (But since you said such nice things about Raj Kapoor, you’re forgiven.)

    I really like the Dilip Kumar duet from Musafir.

    The first song that came to mind (after the RK one) when I saw the title of this post was this one: Nutan singing for herself.(She sings very well, indeed.)

    This is Raj Kapoor singing in a live show.

    And his granddaughter, singing in a new(er) movie: (Jab nahin aaye the tum from Dev) This is Kareena’s version; there’s one by Vijayeta Pundit.

    • Having MS, Tuntun, Rafi and Mukesh doesn’t really fit the theme, no? They are all accomplished singers

      That’s precisely why I added a second half to the theme, i.e. “Singers Appearing Onscreen” :)

      I had encountered the Raj Kapoor clip earlier, loved every bit of it! But the Nutan song is entirely new for me, thanks! Is a video clip available of it? Unfortunately the only Nutan video clip I could locate on Youtube is from this stage show in Sri Lanka, where she doesn’t exactly excel herself (in fact, noticeably off-key in parts):

    • I had never heard the Kareena Kapoor song before; thanks for that, Anu! Nice. :-) And I;m glad you put in the Nutan song – that was the first one that had occurred to me, because I remembered being very impressed with Nutan’s singing the first time I heard it.

  3. Wonderful debut post on Madhu’s blog, dear Abhik!
    Many of the songs were new for me, like woh apni yaad dilane ko, cheye thaki, aaj achanak and mere mehboob.
    Thank you for that!

    Amitabh might not be a good candidate for the list, since he sang many songs, which were shot on him.
    Here is one, tu maike mat jaiyo from Pukar

    Aamir Khan’s aati kya Khandala or s as someone said, haathi ka andaa la

    Shah Rukh Khan’ apun bola tu meri Laila from Josh

    Nutan also sang for herself in Chabili

    Didn’t Rekha sing a song as well? But can’t remember now.

    • Wonderful debut post on Madhu’s blog, dear Abhik!

      And thank you so much for your good wishes! I feel compelled to say this: the easy camaraderie that marks interchanges on this blog testifies as much to Madhu’s editorial skills (as respondent) as to the high nice-levels of Dustedoff regulars.

      I had thought of AB, but ultimately decided against him. Not a very inspiring singer, if you know what I mean. And credit for Jodi Tor Dak Shune in Kahaani goes as much to Autotune as to him.

  4. Including Uma Devi (Tun Tun) in the list violates your second rule.
    >>Secondly, there’s no point including songs by people known equally for their singing and acting.>>
    While her career as an actress followed that as a playback singer, she was a reasonably well-known singer in her time.

    Here’s another one from Nutan, who had learnt singing formally.

    And here’s Danny Denzongpa singing “Sun sun kasam se” with Asha Bhosle:

    • Including Uma Devi (Tun Tun) in the list violates your second rule.

      Heh, this is where the lawyer in me kicks in. Agreed, she was known for both acting and singing, but at altogether different points of time. As you yourself said, her acting career followed her stint as a singer. I’d say ‘followed’ is an understatement. By the time she had established herself as an actor, she had more or less completely withdrawn from the playback market. She was at best a reasonably well-known former singer.

      Which is why I thought her case was so interesting: two separate careers, in both of which she achieved considerable success, but yet the two remained almost entirely unconnected across one another. That is also why I chose her song over Mehmood’s ‘Muthu Kodi’.

      Danny is a revelation. That man can sing! In fact initially I thought the youtube clip was mislabelled, and it was played back by some Kishore wannabe singer. Thanks so much for posting the clip.

      • :) Well, if we’re going to get all lawyerly and split hairs, you haven’t made it a condition that the artiste has to be well known as a singer and an actor/actress at the same period in time! So the fact that her career as an actress succeeded that as a singer is irrelevant.

        • Hee hee, I’m enjoying this!!

          So let me invoke what is called the context rule of statutory interpretation. The purpose of the post is to showcase people (either regular actors or regular singers) singing for themselves. The rule must also be construed in this context, i.e. to mean people (a) known equally to sing and act; and (b) singing for themselves onscreen. True, she’s known for both singing and acting. But does this get her to voice her own songs? So those aspects of her careers hit by the rule lie outside the ambit of the post :P

          More seriously, the reason I included the rule is that the others I mentioned (Kishore, Suraiya etc) did regularly get to sing for themselves. Including them would make the post somewhat commonplace. And that’s what makes Tuntun’s case so strange: she was a prominent actor, an established singer, and yet instances of her voicing her own songs are so rare! To my mind, this incongruity makes it all the more necessary to showcase the solitary example I could find.

      • I’m glad Milind added the Danny song – he’s really good, and I like the song. Incidentally, Danny’s recorded several Nepali songs too. Here’s one of them, Raato raani phoole jhain saanjhaama:

  5. A nice idea for a blog – and one that I have been tracking for a long time. I completely agree that actor-singers like Suraiyya, Kishore, Devika Rani, etc are a different category. The best for me in modern times is Kamalahasan who has sung several songs in Tamil and is actually a very good singer. The feel that he is able to bring into the songs while being a good singer is amazing. In his case, it is not a one-off situation like it is for several below.

    Personally, the category of singers doing cameos on screen is also a separate category (even Asha and Lata have appeared on-screen – Asha in Taxi Taxi and Lata early on in her career – so the Mukesh, Rafi, Talat songs to me fall in that category in my mind). Even Shailendra Singh acted as a hero in one film (that I know of) with Rekha – film was called “Agreement” with music by Bappi Lahiri. Nice songs.

    I love all the other ones that Abhik has posted above and I see Nutan show up in the comments. Here are a couple more:
    a) Shabana singing in “Anjuman” under the music of Khayyam. She is an average singer, sounding quite nasal, but not terrible.

    b) This was a nice find for me – Premnath singing decently well in “Raaja Kaaka” under the music of Kalyanji Anandji. The first song “Dagar chalat” was apparently not in the film – I don’t know.

    But there was a short bandish that was left in the film: “Hey re badarwa”

    c) Biswajeet singing in “Do shikaari” – I could not find a youtube clip of this. It is not a bad song – tune is a rip off from I think “The Good The Bad The Ugly” (not sure). music by Chitragupta. This film was also Rekha’s debut film.

    d) Which brings us to Rekha. She has sung in a few films such as Khubsoorat, Ek naya rishta, Agar tum na hote. But the one that is interesting to me is from a 2006 film called “KuDiyoN ka hai zamaana” where she renders a slow version of “Din Dhal jaaye haay raat na jaaye”

    e) Here is an interesting one. This is the other brother now – Shammi Kapoor. A cute song with music by S D Burman. The youtube clip is not a good recording. Go to the last 10 seconds to hear Shammi’s voice.

    f) Another actor who sang a few songs in Hindi cinema – Danny Denzongpa. Here is on-screen in “Kaala sona”, music by R D Burman with one of my favorite second heroines – Farida Jalal. The song is “Sun sun kasam se”.

    g) There is of course “Senorita”, the extremely recent Hritik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol combination from “Zindagi na milegi dobara” with music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. A fantastic song and not bad singing (possibly thanks to auto-tuning – who’s to tell)

    This has become a long response. But I wanted to end with somebody that is in a separate category – Sulakshana Pandit. I think she may have come to films a singer and then transitioned into acting – not entirely sure. But despite being an actress, her best songs are not picturized on her at all but where she provided playback. Here is the most famous of the lot (that may have won her awards as well).

    I think it is time to stop now. But there are several more – mainly people who should never have tried to sing in the first place :-)

    • A nice idea for a blog

      Thanks :)

      The best for me in modern times is Kamalahasan who has sung several songs in Tamil and is actually a very good singer.

      Any examples? I’m sure both Kamalhasan and Tamil films generally can throw up plenty of instances, my unfamiliarity with the language and the film genre gets in the way here.

      Shabana’s not bad at all. I think her nasal tone, as you put it (metallic, maybe) is most likely due to the poor recording quality. I’m sure we all remember her segment in the ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’ spot.

      Prem Nath’s pretty decent too, and all the more so for attempting classical compositions. Badarwa barasan ko is a well known bandish-ki-thumri (also known as bol-baant ki or khayalnuma thumri) in Raga Sur Malhar (he does seem to have modded the lyrics, though). It is attributed to the composer Goswami Shrilal, whose colophone (takhallus) “Kunwar Shyam” appears prominently in the clip. I couldn’t ID the first track. Do the lyrics, at least the initial bits, borrow from Jayadeva’s Geet Govinda?

      I wish Shammi sang a bit more. This ten-second bit just doesn’t feel like enough. The Rekha clip seems to have been yanked off youtube.

      Sulakshana and Pandit are yet more victims of the near-duopoly I had mentioned. They come from a well-known musical family – their father Pt Pratap Narayan was the elder brother of Jasraj (whom, incidentally, I don’t like much), and their brothers are the composer duo Jatin Lalit. I believe SP had once commented on how humiliating it was for her to be voiced by an established playback artiste even though she was an excellent singer herself. Thanks for posting the clip, it is really good. And Ashok Kumar does a commendable job miming the actions of a pianist.

    • Sangeetbhakt, two songs, in particular, I would like to thank you for: the Premnath one (I really liked that), and Senorita, which is one of my favourite songs from recent years. I remember being taken aback when I first discovered that the three actors had actually sung for themselves. There was, on Youtube, an interview with the music directors in which they talked about the recording of the song – quite interesting, though of course with all the technology available these days, a lot more easily done than it would have been some decades back.

    • Aaah, this is one of the songs I grew up with. Back in the mid-’80s film music had taken a disastrous turn, and pop-Ghazal ruled the charts. Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz, Anup Jalota’s bhajans (he had even cut a few Ghazal albums) were what everyone listened to. So Udhas’s song and cameo appearance in the film made for a sensational hit back then. Many thanks :)

      • Somehow Chitthi aayi hai (and Pankaj Udhas, in general) has never appealed to me. Perhaps because of the overkill – at one time he was all over the place.

        I could have sworn Hoshwaalon ko khabar kya from Sarfarosh was actually picturised on Jagjit Singh, but not so. :-(

    • Hell, he can more than hold a note, he’s seriously good! And all the more so because (a) as you pointed out, he’s quite old here; and (b) he’s singing entirely a cappella, with not even a Tanpura for accompaniment. Hats off to a man I have always admired! And yes, the story was very cute too :)

    • Thank you for this, Anu! Yes, he is good. Actually, though I don’t remember him singing a full-fledged song onscreen, there are several instances of him singing a line or two here and there. For instance, in Junglee, he sings a version of Sugar in the morning when he’s dancing about in the office with the manager and the secretary after his ‘transformation’.

      And there’s just one line – a whacky one – shortly before the start of Ae gulbadan ae gulbadan phoolon ki mehak kaanton ki chubhan.

  6. Vyjayantimala is trained in karnatic music. She is a desciple of Smt..D.K.Pattammal, one of the famous (female) trinity of karnatic musicians (MS and MLV being others)

    • Really? I know of her eminence as a Bharatanatyam exponent of course, but her training in vocal music (and that too under D K Pattammal, no less) is a revelation. But maybe it’s not so surprising. I have not encountered a danseuse who is not at least a competent singer. I recall some TV interview of Kuchipudi exponent Swapanasundari, where she gave a beautiful rendition of ‘Paan khaye saiyaan hamaro’. Then recently I came across a rendition of ‘Krishna ni begane baro’ by Balasaraswathi, accompanied by flute, violin, and a mridangam playing the Hindustani Roopak Tala, clearly not Mishra Chapu (!). An absolutely top-notch rendition, to my untutored ears certainly up to professional standards and much more.

  7. Manmohan Krishna sang a few songs.

    “Ye zindagi hai yo yo” from ‘Aaram’ (1951) with Anil Biswas drawing ‘inspiration’ freely from “For he’s a jolly good fellow”. A dapper Manmohan Krishna in a suit and hat is a refreshing change from his later, usual hangdog persona.

    “Pyaar ko aaj nayi tarah nibhana hoga” from ‘Shehar Aur Sapna’

    “Jhat khol de kiwad pat khol de” (1950) from ‘Afsar’, music by S.D. Burman. I couldn’t find a proper film clip of this one, but couldn’t resist posting it anyway. If “Tan rang lo, ji aaj man rang lo” from Kohinoor (1960, Naushad), &, even more so, “Teri rab ne bana di jodi” from ‘Suhaag’, (LP) sound similar, it must be a coincidence. Really. Such suspicious minds you lot have. ;)

    • Nice! He sounds a bit like Mukesh in Pyaar ko aaj nayi tarah, or is that just my imagination?

      Talking of character actors singing, here’s Yaqub singing Inhi logon ne in Aabroo:

      • This is amazing! ‘Yo yo’ is an intricate composition (what else can you expect from Anil Biswas), and all the more so as it is so fast-paced. ‘“Pyaar ko aaj’ is just as tough and, for good measure, sung a cappella. And this non-singer deals with them both so effortlessly! Remains sur ka pakka throughout. It is a pity this side to his persona also remained obscured by his ‘hangdog persona’, as Milind so aptly puts it.

        Yakub’s horseplay is a scream, but there’s nothing frivolous about approach to singing. He’s technically very proficient, and his understanding of the composition is immaculate. I am reasonably sure he had some training in music.

        I wish I had known about these songs earlier, would certainly have included them. Many thanks, Milind and Madhu :)

    • I had looked for his songs on Youtube, couldn’t find any. I believe Uttam Kumar’s also sung a few of his own songs. A long time ago I had come across one (it’s based on the Kirtan form, and titled ‘Kanu bole Rai’). But I’ve not been able to dig it out since then.

  8. Abhik, Kamal had some wonderful songs to his credit. He really is a jack of all trades and a master of most. Some of his most famous ones:
    1. Sundari neeyum sundaran naanum from Michael Madana Kamarajan

    2. Raja kaiyye vacha from Aboorva Sagotharargal

    Not quite as famous, but one of his earliest ones:
    3. Gnayiru ozhi mazhayil from Andharangam

    4. A Hindi one this time, Ek dafa ek jungal tha from Sadma – he sang the original in Moondram Pirai as well.

    I must say I prefer the original.

    And so many, many more. He’s been singing since the 70s, I think. (Not sure.)

  9. Since Abhik mentions rail gaadi, I the trivia lover would love to share this info. Rail gaadi was written by Harindranath Chattopadhya and he used to also recite it on stage, therefore Hrishikesh Mukherjee who wanted to use it for Ashirwaad wanted him to render playback for Ashok Kumar but Ashok Kumar said that he wanted to sing the song himself and that’s how the song is now associated with Ashok Kumar.
    Here is a nice musical jungalbandi between Harindranath Chattopadhya and Ashok Kumar from the same film

    and while on Ashok Kumar, here is Ashok Kumar singing the original version of koi humdum na raha

    • Thank you for that anecdote, Shlipi (I seem to have heard that somewhere before – perhaps you’ve mentioned it elsewhere?)

      And thank you very especially for Koi humdum na raha from Jeevan naiyya – that was a revelation for me! I’d never even heard of it before. Thank you!

  10. That’s a very nice post Abhik bhaiyya! Its amazing how you come up with these ideas. I was also very impressed and grateful for your choice of songs for a previous post on credits songs. :)

    Naseem Bano the famous actress of the 30’s and 40’s and also Saira Banu’s mother sang a few songs in the 1939 film Pukar. A personal favourite is Zindagi ka saaz bhi kya saaz hain.

    I also liked Dheere Dheere aa re from the 1943 film Kismet sung by Ashok Kumar. Anil Biswas was a great music director.
    But I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Thanks a lot…
    I tried so many times but I couldn’t attach the YouTube link only.

  11. Talat Mahmood appeared as actor-singer in many songs. Here are two of them – vintage OP Nayyar numbers from “Sone ki Chidiya” in which Talat acted opposite Nutan:

  12. I think fans of Geeta Dutt may object to your use of the phrase “near-total duopoly” in the case of female playback singers in the 50s and 60s (assuming you are referring to Lata and Asha as the duo)

    • i was looking actually for Tabu singing Roshe Valla (again a very famous kashmiri song ) in Haider but couldn’t find that online..

      • Okay, I have to admit to being completely clueless. I assume Shraddha Kapoor is an actress?

        And, oh: do you mean Roshe valla myaane dilbaro poshan bahaara yoorvallo (or something like that)? I remember learning it in school, when we lived in Srinagar. :-) I’d like to hear Tabu’s rendition of that!

        • Shraddha KApoor is Shakti Kapoor’s daughter and currently a part of the Hindi Film Industry :)
          And yes the Roshe walla is the same Roshe valla … :) Tabu hums it on screen in a scene in Haider and Shaddha hums the Baal Maryo in a haunting scene ..
          Attaching versions of these two for you here ..
          Roshe walla a contemorary interpretation…interesting

          Baal Maryo ( a haunting song of Rasul Mir) by Smt. Kailash Mehra Sadhu, a much loved Kashmiri artiste

          • Oh, lovely! Listening to Roshe valla gave me gooseflesh and took me right back to Srinagar. :-) Thank you so much for that!

            Bal maryo sounded familiar, though I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard this before or not.

  13. Interesting topic and discussion. I’ve really enjoyed going through the post and the comments. Who knew that Premnath or Manmohan Krishen had sung in films! I love it when I can be entertained and educated at the same time. I’ve nothing surprising to add, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of RDB and Mehmood’s rendition of the “Bhoot Bangla” title song:

  14. Interesting post and good song selections Abhik. I enjoyed it.

    Here’s a different twist on the theme; A famous singer singing for an equally famous singer who was also an actor (and more). Rafi singing for Kishore in 1958 Raagini. Man Mora Bawra

    • That’s an interesting twist on the theme, Ashish! Let me add to that with another favourite song of mine, which features Kishore lip-synching to Rafi’s voice: From Sharaarat, Ajab hai daastaan teri ae zindagi:

        • Yes, it does! Ever since I first realized the interesting twist here, I’ve wondered: who suggested this? Why did Kishore agree and not put his foot down? Why did Rafi agree?

          So many questions. :-)

          • We can only speculate but one plausible theory is that both songs had some things that were not suitable to Kishore’s style. OP song Man mora banwra was fairly classically oriented and SJ song ajab hai dastan had quite a high pitch. From what I have heard, Kishore was very friendly with Rafi and may be didn’t mind lip-synching to Rafi’s voice. End result – a win win for all!

  15. And, on behalf of Neeru, who’s been having a lot of trouble posting comments on this blog post, here’s something she sent to me through e-mail:

    “Such a lovely post – had never heard RK singing, though his musical abilities are well known.
    Another surprise was Vijayanthimala ! What a singer. Wish she had sung some more.

    Here is one.. Juhi Chawla singing on stage ( not on screen so it does not fit ) and one by Danny Denzongpa with Asha Bhosle.

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