Ten of my favourite ‘not-quite-duet’ songs

Sometime back, blog reader Anup remarked that some songs had a major singer not really doing much singing. Duets, he pointed out, where one singer does almost all the singing, while the other one just does a supportive ‘la-la-la-la’, or something along those lines. Anup suggested I compile a song list of duets like that. Of what I call ‘technically duets’: not songs in which both singers play an equal part in making the song what it is, but in which the ratio is somewhat skewed.

Then, only about a week after Anup made this suggestion, yet another blog reader, Bhagwan Thavrani, sent me an e-mail with pretty much the same suggestion. He was rather more precise: songs in which one singer only hummed, while the other did the singing.

Two readers, both requesting songs of the same basic type? I decided I had to take up the challenge. Especially as, offhand, I couldn’t think of many songs that would fit the bill. This would require a good deal of research, and a lot of listening to songs. I decided, however, to make this a little more wide-ranging: not necessarily one singer humming, but definitely one singer dominating the song.

And here it is (and, interestingly, I realized later that a lot of these songs are favourites of mine, anyway). Ten songs that are, technically speaking, duets (and, in a couple of instances, with a chorus), but not quite. These are songs in which one person does most of the singing, while the other is around just to provide some sort of relief. Rather like a human voice taking the place of an instrument in an orchestra. As always, all are from pre-70s films that I’ve seen. In no particular order:

1. Pyaar par bas toh nahin (Sone ki Chidiya, 1958): This one, I will admit, is the song that Bhagwan Thavrani gave me as an example while explaining what he meant—and since this is both an excellent example of the ‘technically duet’ song as well as one of my very favourite songs, I figured this needed to be right at the top.

Pyaar pas bas toh nahin is in two versions: one, sung by Asha alone, does not feature in the film (or at least did not feature in the VCD version that I watched). The other, a better-known version, is the one that’s sung primarily by Talat. A lovely, lilting love song in which a man addresses the woman he loves and asks her if he dare love her or not. She doesn’t give him the answer to his question, but she hums sweetly along.

2. Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein (Chirag, 1969): Like Pyaar par bas toh nahin, this song from Chirag also appears in two versions (though both are retained in the film): a female solo, and what seems—until the very last verse—like a male solo. Rafi sings this song playback for Sunil Dutt, as Dutt’s character sings the praises of the woman he loves. Of her eyes, specifically, which mean the world to him: eyes that enchant, eyes that offer love and support and companionship. At the very end, in response to him and affirming all that he sings, she replies. Lata has only ‘Yeh hon kahin inka saaya mera dil se jaata nahin, inke siva ab toh kuchh bhi mujhko nazar aata nahin’ to sing here, but it helps round out the song beautifully.

3. Na tum humein jaano (Baat ek Raat ki, 1962): Yet another song which appears in two versions in a film. Suman Kalyanpur sang the female solo of Na tum humein jaano. Hemant sang the bulk of this version, the better-known one that has Dev Anand, a lawyer trying to discover the truth behind a murder his client is supposed to have committed, singing to her a song that was once her signature song. Suman Kalyanpur’s voice features here, too, as Waheeda Rehman’s character, her mind gone halfway for a toss, begins to come to a consciousness of her surroundings. A glimmering of a memory arouses her to join the song a little beyond halfway through the song. She only begins singing the words right at the end, though, joining the male voice for just that one line.

4. Phir aane lagaa yaad wohi (Yeh Dil Kisko Doon, 1963): Interestingly, Yeh Dil Kisko Doon featured not one, but two, songs that were sung primarily by a man but had a woman pitching in occasionally to add another dimension to the song. In Kitni haseen ho tum, Asha Bhonsle sings half a line here, half a line there while Rafi sings the rest of the song. In Phir aane lagaa yaad wohi, however, the female singer (in this case, Usha Khanna) has even less to sing: all she sings is three words, repeated at intervals through the song: Pyaar ka aalam, while Rafi sings the rest of the song. It works very well in this dreamy dream sequence.

5. O nigaah-e-mastaana (Paying Guest, 1957): A song which, like Pyaar par bas toh nahin (and, coincidentally, also picturized on Nutan, with Asha Bhonsle ‘singing’ playback for her), has the female mostly just humming (and breaking into a little ‘Aaaa’) while the male sings. O nigaah-e-mastaana has been a favourite of mine ever since I first watched it, at about twelve years of age. It’s beautifully picturized, very romantic and playful, and it’s sung brilliantly by Kishore. I also especially like the care with which Asha’s humming has been inserted—at just the right places, where it complements Kishore’s singing perfectly.

6. Thandi hawa yeh chaandni suhaani (Jhumroo, 1961): This song is probably the one which best exemplifies the theme of this post, because one singer has only a few seconds of singing to do, consisting of very little humming and a note or two, before the song is taken over by someone else. I have no idea who the woman singer is (Lata? Asha?), but Kishore, who also composed the music for this (based, very obviously, on Domani), sings this beautifully, making it one of the most soothing of his songs that I’ve heard from the 1960s.

7. Ae dil kahaan teri manzil (Maya, 1961): Dev Anand seems to have been a part of several songs that fit the theme of this post (and I’ve not even counted Aankhon hi aankhon mein ishaara ho gaya, where Rafi only gets to sing the refrain while Geeta Dutt sings the rest of the song). Here he is, again, this time with a relatively little-known singer, Dwijen Mukherjee, singing playback for him. Ae dil kahaan teri manzil is a beautifully poignant song of heartbreak and loneliness, and Mukherjee renders it soulfully—and Lata, who leads the chorus with perfectly-timed ‘Aaa’s (not a single word sung)—is wonderful. So high, but never shrill.

8. Vande mataram (Anand Math, 1952): A song with a difference. All the songs which I’ve listed earlier in this post (and the overwhelming majority of those which I came across during the course of researching this list) have a male singer dominating the song while a female singer provides support, whether it’s only one line sung here, or a few notes hummed there. Vande mataram, however, is sung by Lata, and though there’s a very strong choir component (some of whom were, on the sly, singing One day Bombay one day Goregaon instead of the actual words), there is also Hemant. Hemant’s voice comes in every now and then, echoing in the distance—never singing words, but just carrying the song forward. Stirring, fervent, and a classic.

9. Bachpan ke din bhi kya din thhe (Sujata, 1959): Another unusual song in this genre, because it has two women singing—even though only one of them (Geeta Dutt, singing playback for Shashikala)—sings the words. The privileged daughter of the household sits at her piano and sings nostalgically about the childhood she has left behind. Outside, her foster sister, the eponymous Sujata (Nutan) joins in the song (with Asha Bhonsle ‘singing’ playback for her), humming along and adding a few ‘Aaas’ here and there. It is Geeta Dutt’s song, but Asha adds that extra something to it.

10. Aa ab laut chalein (Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, 1960): I must admit I didn’t particularly like Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, and the climax of the film was even more irritating than the rest of it. But the music of the film was good, and this song is a fine example of one which, while a duet, has one person (Mukesh, singing playback for Raj Kapoor) doing most of the singing, while the second singer (Lata, singing for Padmini) only joins in now and then. She sings only a few words—Aaja re—but still forms an integral part of the song. Lata’s voice rises really high in this, but is beautifully controlled.

Which songs can you think of that conform to this theme?

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203 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite ‘not-quite-duet’ songs

  1. A beautifully written post, Madhu. You can see the advantages of using a well known voice to hum along, it adds so much to the song.

    All these songs are my favorite as well. Can’t think of any song to add here right now, but will watch the space to see what your usually alert readers say.

    • Thank you, Ava! Glad you liked it. And yes, I agree completely that using a well-known voice does make a huge difference – even if that voice is used very sparingly.

  2. ‘Pyar par bas to nahin hai’ was the first song that came to my mind, but this one followed pretty closely. Yet another song where the woman dominates; all poor Mukesh gets to sing is one tiddly little phrase early on in the song. Fits in with your timeline too.

    Woh Chaand Khila – Anari (1959):

  3. 2 songs come to my mind

    1. Aankhon hi aankhon me ishara ho gaya from CID, Rafi sang only opening lines or mukhda and all antaras are sung by Geeta Dutt.
    2. One version of the song Main Pyasa tum Saawan from Faraar sung by Kishore Kumar where Lata only sings 2 words “hoon to”.

    • I have mentioned (even though I’ve not listed) Aankhon hi aankhon mein.

      Thank you for reminding me of Main pyaasa tum saawan – I had forgotten about that song. It’s a lovely one; the version I was familiar with was the more usual duet. This is the one you meant, I think?

  4. Madhulika, “Pal Bhar Ke Liye Koi Humein Pyar Kar Le Jhootha Hi Sahi” from “Johny Mera Name”, with Kishore Kumar singing the starring part and Usha Khanna doing a cameo with “Lalalalala…” And “Johny Mera Naam” having been released in 1970, this song qualifies for your blog.

  5. In song ‘raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi’ from Mujhe Jeene Do, all that Asha gets to say is ‘cham cham- cham cham-cham cham-cham cham ‘…the song has been caricatured in Sai Paranjpye’s Saaz, the semi biopic on the sisters

      • Ya it’s a great song..this topic you broached I find very rich in possibilities, with interesting, quirky ramifications. I can’t recall the exact songs, but number of them where same singer renders playback to 2 faces…

        • Yes, there are some like that. Like you, I can’t recall the exact songs, but I do know there are several that fit that theme. I should try and set that as a challenge for myself!

          P.S. Just realized, Harvey – in his comment below – has mentioned a song of this type: Ab jo mile hain from Caravan.

  6. Another brilliant compilation. There is one song from Seema, jab bhi ye dil udas hota hai, Simi singing along with the radio, so not sure if it counts as an almost duet (also 1971).

    • This is a very interesting take on this topic, because I can’t figure out whether the two singers actually sang together or the woman’s voice is recorded on top of Rafi’s. If the latter, then I’d not call it a duet – perhaps. Thanks for this, Nishi. Really made me think!

  7. Love all the songs, which you have mentioned. As I started reading the post, the first song, that came to my mind was “bachpan ke din bhi kya din the” and thus was haapy as well as sad to see it on the list.

    Would you classify the following songs as ‘not-quite-duet’ songs. I am asking this, since the secondary singer has only a few lines to sing, at times not even words but just certain noises. Coincidentally they are all Pancham songs.
    mera naam hai shabnam from Kati Patang

    piyaa tu ab to aajaa from Caravan

    do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahani from The Great Gambler

    ae sakhi radhike banwari ho gayi from Jurmana

    aa mere saathi aa from Chhalia (1973), the prelude is particulary beautiful here and also particularly border-line case for the list.

    Anirudhha Bhattacharjee can surely add more songs to this list.

    The following song does not belong to your category of ‘not-quite-duet’ songs, since only one singer (Asha Bhonsle) is singing, but in the movie the song is filmed on two different characters (Aruna Irani and Asha Parekh) making it a duet of sorts, but not really. There are many such songs, but I could remember only this one. Maybe you could make a list of such ‘not-quite-duet’ songs. A ‘not-quite-duet’ song list II.
    ab jo mile hain to from Caravan

    The last song I’m mentioning, since I don’t want to hog the space here, is a duet technically (singers: Lata and Asha), but it is filmed on a single character (Ameeta) making it one of its kind.
    jaaneman ik nazar idhar dekh le from

    Maybe it was conceived as a Sadhana-Ameeta duet and the director opted at the last moment to give Ameeta a bit more limelight, since she loses the hero in the film.
    Mere Mehboob must also be the only film to have two Lata-Asha duets.

    Thank you for the beautiful songs and the well-written post, dear Madhu.

    • Harvey, one can always depend upon you to come up with some really interesting and relevant comments! I had never even thought of these songs you’ve mentioned, but yes, they’re all great examples – provided, of course, that the ‘noises’ being made are being made by a major singer (that was the criterion that I mention at the start of the post). If I’m not mistaken – and Anirudha Bhattacharjee should be able to help on this – a lot of the time, RD Burman was the one doing the secondary ‘singing’. I wouldn’t call RDB a singer, really – not in the league of Rafi, Kishore, Lata, etc.

      On the other hand, RDB did sing some pretty iconic songs, so maybe I am totally off on this…

      Jaaneman ek nazar dekh le is an interesting song, isn’t it? But since the two singers (even if lip-syncing only for one person) have approximately an equal amount to sing, I wouldn’t make it part of this theme. :-)

      • Pancham was not primarily a singer, but a singer alright, according to my conventions, but of course you can have a different look at it. :)

        In ae sakhi radhike, it is Manna Dey, who gets to sing the prelude, so that should fit in your theme.

        As for Jaaneman ek nazar dekh le, I posted it here not as a part of your theme, but that it was a duet on the singer level and not on the film level. :)

  8. First song which comes into mind is from “Gharana” and another from “Hanste Zakham” where Rafi has major part of sing and female singer may be Lata has very little part to play.

  9. What a lovely post! The first song that came to my mind when I saw the post title as O nigaah-e-mastana; the second was Woh chaand khila and the third was Pyaar bar bas toh nahin. In a strange coincidence, they are all picturised on Nutan. : )

    Harvey and the others have come up with some of the other songs, and I can’t seem to recollect any more. So I’ll just enjoy the songs, and your notes on them.

    • Nutan and Dev Anand seem to have had more than their fair share of songs that fit this theme, don’t they? :-) And Ashish has suggested yet another one which is picturised on Dev Anand – and is also lovely!

  10. Song list is interesting. ‘Aakhon hi mein ishaara ho gaya ‘ from CID could find a place in this category. It has Md Rafi only repeating a one liner.
    ‘Gazal of Jagjit Singh ‘ Tumko dekha to yeh khayal aaya’ could also qualify.

    • Yes, I’ve mentioned Aankhon hi aankhon mein, even though I’ve not listed it.

      Thanks for reminding me of Tumko dekha toh yeh khayaal aaya – I’d forgotten that that was a similar type. Lovely song. :-)

  11. This is such a great idea! Thanks Anup and Bhagwan! Madhu, your song selections are fantastic. I was going to mention Jab Bhi Yeh Dil, but I see it got added already by Nishi. I think the singer in that song is Sharda?

    I have a few others to add..

    1. Teri Duniya Main Jeene Se (House #44 – Hemant Kumar/SD Burman) – You can hear humming by Asha Bhonsle(I think) before the song actually takes off. Somewhat similar to the one you have with Kishore and Madhubala (I absolutely love that song – Thandi Hawa)

    2. Husn Wale Tera Jawab Nahi (Gharana – Rafi/Ravi) – If you notice at the very end of the song you hear humming by a female voice for Asha Parekh (I think it is Asha Bhonsle’s voice) talking to the painting she just finished…

    3. NeendnChurake Raton Main (1972 movie Shareef Badmash – Asha Bhonsle-Kishore/RD Burman) – Technically this is a duet but Kishore has only 3 lines that he keeps repeating – Hum Phir Baat Badal Denge, Aaj Nahi Dil Kal Denge Bhai Aisi Bhi kya jaldi hai) – May be a borderline case?

    • Yes, Ashish – Anup and Bhagwan made a really good suggestion here, because this is not a theme that’s a sitter – it’s not so very easy to find dozens of good songs that fit this. So it was challenging, and it was very satisfying to compile this. Plus, all the songs posted by readers have been, almost without exception, very good too!

      Arrrghhh. I had forgotten about Teri duniya mein jeene se. How could I? Such a lovely song. But maybe it was just as well I forgot, otherwise there would have been just too much Dev Anand in the post. ;-)

      Husnwaale tera jawaab nahin and Neend churaake raaton mein are also lovely. Had forgotten about these too.

  12. I love this ‘not quite a duet’ topic and the songs. The first song that came to my mind was obviously Pyar par bas to nahin hai …, and there it was, first on your list too! I just love it when you and Anu make your lists, because I get to sing as I go down the list. I will have to listen to Thandi hawa yeh chandni suhaani … to see where the woman joins in. I did think of Woh chand khila … but I see that someone has already posted it. Here’s another song, which is probably not on your list of favorites, because it has Raj Kapoor in it (!), but I think it fits the bill:

    Vyjayantimala does the Nahin, kabhi nahin part while Raj Kapoor, dressed in shorts and an absurd feather stuck in his hat, plays the bagpipes and sings!
    There is one more song which is eluding me at the moment, but I will post it when I remember it.
    Until then, thanks for the song list. I do enjoy song lists more than movie reviews!

    • I know most people prefer the song lists over the movie reviews. :-) Not so much to read, I guess!

      Yes, I don’t like Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ke nahin. But one of the criteria for this post (mentioned at the beginning) is that the ‘secondary singer’ should be a major singer. Vyjyanthimala isn’t a singer,
      and she doesn’t even really sing – she just talks (Aasmaan se aaya farishta has a similar situation – Sharmila Tagore does the same sort of simpering, down to the Jaa-jaa). So I wouldn’t say this fits.

  13. Honṭhoṅ Meiṅ Aisi Baat- Jewel Thief. Bhupendra gets to sing just “o Shalu” and “ho ho”.
    Oye Buddho Lambo Lambo- Buddha Mil Gaya- Manna De sings just “Oye” on the record version and just one line at the end in the film.

    • I am wishing I’d remembered Hothon mein aisi baat – a very good example of this theme! Thanks for that.

      Had forgotten about the Buddha Mil Gaya song, let alone that it was an example of this type of ‘duet’.

  14. Beautiful list. You continue to surprise me with your innovative ideas.

    I have a song from Mohabbat isko kehte hai, starring Shashi Kapoor and Amanda, wherein Md. Rafi sings ” Thehriye hosh mein aa lu, to chale jaiyega…” while Suman Kalyanpur mostly hums along and at the last line, sings with Md Rafi.

    Here is the link:

    • Thank you so much! Glad you liked this post – though the credit for the idea must go to the two people who suggested it: Anup and Bhagwan. I merely executed a request. :-)

      Thehariye hosh mein aa loon is a lovely, lovely song. I wish I’d remembered this one!

  15. Great List, as always. Watched Sujata Yesterday and I found Asha’s Humming in Bachpan ke din, absolutely magical. And today I see this post from you as well as the song in your list. An addition I can think of is – Aasman se aaya farishta from An Evening in Paris.

    Regards
    Ravi Kumar

    • As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the post, I meant duets where a major singer sings only very little – or just hums – in a song. Sharmila Tagore isn’t a major singer, so I wouldn’t include Aasmaan se aaya farishta here.

  16. I must say, two friends telling you to blog about this, separately, was remarkably coincidental- but what makes it more interesting is how yesterday I was listening to ‘Pal bhar ki liye koi humme pyaar kar le…’ and boom- I thought of the same thing! As I hummed and thought, kitna stalker-ish type song hai, ‘Humne bahut tujhko chupp chupp ke dekha…’, I realised that the girl only hmmms a little. And then to add to the coincidence, sometime later YouTube played ‘Naa tum humein jaano…’ and I wondered what exactly counts as a duet.
    It is almost like some duet- dust is there in the air, making people wonder the same thing at the same time.
    Needless to say your post has given me today’s work- play list :-) :-)

  17. hi,
    first of all, thank you, for this list!
    oh, u made my day!
    oh, i am so late to reply.
    i am so excited, i cant really think of any song qualifying for this post!
    but,
    i will post the song, that started all this conversation
    from taxi 555
    ho gaye gentleman by asha rafi

    and one more from musafir khana
    thoda sa dil lagake dekh, by shamshad rafi

    i hope, all will enjoy the songs!

    • Thank you, Anup, for suggesting this theme! As you can see, lots of people have appreciated it. :-)

      By the way, the first screenshot in the post is from the Musafirkhana song. I haven’t seen the film, so didn’t include the song, but I thought it fitting to start the post with a glimpse of it.

  18. one more song,
    mere khwabon mein from honeymoon 1960 by mukesh lata

    this song probably has a bengoli version by lata hemant kumar,
    but i’m not sure!

    • I love this song – such a lovely one. I’ve been wanting to watch the film just for this song. Here, by the way, is a link that includes both Hindi and Bengali versions of the song. I must admit that the combination of Hemant and Salil Choudhary is my favourite – better than Mukesh. :-)

  19. jigar mein dard kaisa from pyas by mahendra kapoor kamal barot

    is anyone can post this song, with good audio quality?
    all the available have poor!

  20. hi,
    a few more songs fitting in the theme

    Mere ae dil bata

    major part by lata, last stanza by manna dey

    Woh subah kabhi to aayegi

    papiha re from kismat by parul ghosh, the song is opened by a male singer, whom i couldnt identify, some mention it as kavi predeep, others as arun kumar

    hope all like these songs!
    :-)

    • Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi is one of my absolute favourites. It was on the shortlist here too, but I eventually dropped it because – in comparison to the other songs – it has the woman singing along quite a bit. Not different stanzas, but she’s quite clearly present, at any rate.

  21. Madam I have been reading your blog for four years. But this is the first time I am writing here. It attracts me the way you categorize the songs in some unique categories. Anyway, regarding this post I can say 4 songs come to my mind and they are : 1) “Aasmaan se aaya farista” from “An evening in Paris”. Md.Rafi sang the entire song and Sharmila Tagore delivered some vocal expressions like “jaah jaah”, “humm”, “kaha na” in interludes. 2) “Zindagi ek safar hai suhana” from “andaaz”. It is a KK’s solo accompanied with Hema Malini’s laughter. 3) “Tere bina jiya jaye na” from “Ghar”. Lata sang the entire song & and KK enters at the end to finish it by playing only 4 lines. 4) “Jaane jaan o meri jaane jaan” from “Sanam teri kasam”. Here RD started the song, sang two lines, then Asha Bhonsle took the lead and continued. But I think the RD’s part was cut off from the movie. This version is only available in LP.

    • Thank you so much for reading this blog and for commenting.

      I like the songs you’ve suggested, but if you look at the introduction to the post, I’ve mentioned that the ‘secondary singer’ should be a ‘major singer’. Neither Sharmila Tagore nor Hema Malini (nor, for that matter, Vyjyanthimala in Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ke nahin) fit that criterion. If it was not them, but a Lata or a Geeta Dutt or an Asha, it would fit…

      The Ghar and Sanam Teri Kasam songs fit perfectly, though. :-)

  22. Another beautiful song I remember a perfect fit for this category is “Kahan se laye ho janeman” from “Dil aur mohabbat”(1968), sang by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhonsle gave only humming in interlude.

  23. Nice idea but it was quite difficult to me to think of such songs but after wonderful list.Thanks for introducing new songs to me.I could recall just one song which suited the list was Chalo dildar chalo.
    What about a post on ‘My favourite ‘sur ,taal,Sargam and hum’ songs..

  24. Madhu,
    This is a nice theme and you have picked up some real gems. On my blog the thread discussion once veered towards such songs and readers posted a large number of songs. I also coined a Duet Balance Index (DBI) to measure ‘duetness’:). Two very nice songs I recall that are not yet mentioned here: ‘Panchhi bani udati phirun’. Lata Mangeshkar mainly sings, Manna Dey only says “Hillori”. And ‘Ye hansta hua kaarwan zindagi ka’. which is sung mainly by Hemant Kumar with Asha Bhosle simply saying a couple of words at the end of each line, such as wah wah/ han han/ kya baat hai.

    Another type fits in where there is a male playback singer, and the leading lady interjects with a few words: ‘Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahi’; ‘Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul’.
    AK

    • ” Duet Balance Index (DBI)

      I like that idea! Good naming, AK. :-)

      Arrgh. How could I forget Panchhi banoon udti phiroon?! I am not as fond of Yeh hansta hua kaarvaan, but I should’ve remembered the Chori-Chori song.

      Yes, that song type where the lady (actress, not singer) interjects is another category all by itself. Several songs there, some already suggested by readers here.

  25. What a great idea for a post, and an excellent choice of songs too! But it’s a difficult theme to recollect examples of.

    Here is a Lata song which has some nice humming (Ho Ho, Aa Ha) by Hemant Kumar:

    “Peeche peeche aakar” from House No. 44

    This one has Rafi singing a small piece in a song dominated by Asha:

    “Dekh ke teri nazar” from Howrah Bridge

    Not sure whether this one qualifies – though the song starts with Rafi, he just repeats the one line “Chalo dildar chalo, chand ke paar chalo”, while the bulk of the singing is done by Lata (somewhat similar to “Aankhon hi aankhon mein” from CID):

    “Chalo dilaar chalo” from Pakeezah

    One thing must be said – the top singers of that time like Asha, Rafi and Hemant had no ego problems about just humming in or singing a small part of a song dominated by another singer

    • “One thing must be said – the top singers of that time like Asha, Rafi and Hemant had no ego problems about just humming in or singing a small part of a song dominated by another singer

      Yes, that was one thing which really struck me. Very commendable, really. I would have thought people who were such ‘huge’ singers in their own rights might have balked at playing such a brief supporting role… but perhaps they realized that their contribution (minor though it may seem), did make a big difference to the song. Actually, in a way, I think it’s also a compliment – that a song cannot be complete and perfect without that little bit of humming, those few words, from one person.

      Thank you for the songs you’ve mentioned. I do think, though, that Dekhke teri nazar doesn’t qualify – he sings one entire stanza, and then does go on to sing more ohs and ahs.

  26. hi,
    i just want to add one song
    from mangu, which happens to be the first ever recorded song of suman kalyanpur
    Koi Pukare Dheere se Tujhe M D- Mohd Shafi
    i have heard or rather read that the Aalap taken during opening of the song are by hemant kumar an bela bose.
    i dont know, if its really so or not!

  27. i also remember the song from sangharsh (Akshay kumar & prety zinta)
    mujhe raat din bas mujhe chahti ho
    not pre 70s but on same lines

    as the name of female singer was never mentioned, if she was a major singer or not, remains………………

    and also from yeh zindagi ka safar
    ahista ahista milate hai dil sanam

    here female singer is shraddha pandit, i think!

  28. few more,
    main tum hi se puchhatii hoon

    aaja aaja re – sad version

    haan maine bhi pyar kiya by mukesh suman

    tum meri zindagi mein toofan ban ke from shagoofa

    this song also appears to have a solo version by lata

    also ja ri ja nindiya by lata & madhubala jhaveri from jhanjhar, but they both share a few lines, so not posting it!

    Jhooke jo tere naina by mahendra kapoor and usha khanna

    mere jeevan sathi pyar kiye ja by S P Balsubramanium and anuradha paudwal

    badal chandi barsaye from saaz

    by devaki pandit and jyotsna hardikar

    bholi si surat from dil to pagal hain

    i hope u wont mind my crossing the 70s timeline,

    ,

  29. Can the song ” janoo meri Jaan” from Shaan be included? It is originally a duet by Kishore Kumar and and Rafi but the last lines were sung by Asha Bhonsle and Usha Mangeskar and except for a naughty giggle, they remained silent thereafter.

  30. hi,
    one more song i remembered last night,
    but, it was too late , so posting it today!
    maine jeena sikh liya from gunj uthi shahnai

    the initial few lines are by lata, then by rafi

  31. one more, zindagi ek safar hai suhana

    asha just laughing in the song, but what a support to the song, we cant think of the happy version without it!

  32. i have heard that the laughter is by asha bhosle…….

    and i was expecting ur comments on the song Main tumhi se yeh poochhati hoon,

    as besides being a good song, it also has ur favourites balraj sahani and minu mumtaz

  33. Another 2 inclusions :
    1) ” Tum saath ho jab apne ” from ” Kaalia “. Its above 90% Kishore. Asha contributed some ” La La La ” in interlude and sang only two sentences at the end.
    2)” Gustakh nazar ” from ” Jaali note “. The song was completely carried by Asha and Rafi delivered 4 lines i.e. ” jaati hai kidhar….baatein na bana…yeh karti hai kya…lahaul villa ” repetitively.

    Yes, I got your point. Sharmila & Hema are not “major singers” and therefore the songs should be ignored.

    • “Gustakh Nazar” is a good example, though the “Lahaul Villa” by Rafi is one of the key memory hooks of the song

    • Two good songs! I have to admit to a special fondness for Tum saath ho jab apne – there’s something so memorable about that. And, as Vinay Hegde points out, Rafi’s Lahaul vila is definitely a key point of Gustakh nazar.

  34. How come there is not even one Shammi Kapoor song. First thing that came to my mind was “Aasman se aaya faristha ” But that would be kayoed on a technicality that Sharmila is not a singer.
    But surely, there should be at least one or two Rafi-Shammi combos that would meet the criteria.

    • Yes, it is odd that no Shammi songs are there, neither in my list, nor in the comments… I should take another look through Shammi’s filmography and see if I can find anything.

      • can we say, Ayyaya suku suku and chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe?

        but i think, the other voice is not of any major singer, its prayag raj himself, i think in Yahoo song

        • Yes, the Yahoo in Chaahe koi mujhe junglee kahe was Prayag Raj – not a ‘major singer’. I don’t know whom you mean as the secondary ‘major singer’ in Suku Suku – except for that repeated yell (which sounds like Shammi himself), there doesn’t seem to be another singer. And remember what this post is about – a ‘major singer’ singing just a few words. Even if that is Shammi, or Prayag Raj, it wouldn’t count, because they’re not major league singers.

  35. Another one:
    “Dilbar mere kab tak mujhe” from “Satte pe satta”.
    Everyone remembers this song as a KK’s solo but Annette Pintoo sang beautiful “La La La” in this one.
    In fact Annette Pintoo sang many songs under RDB & Bappi Lahiri as a secondary singer.
    She specialized in this category which we discuss now.

  36. Generally, all the songs mentioned here till now are of male-female combination.
    I mean either the major singer is male and the secondary one is female or vice versa.
    But I remember a song where both of the singers are male.
    And the song is “Parda hai parda” from “Amar Akbar Antony” sang by Md.Rafi and Kishore rendered only a single line “Akbar tera naam nahi hai”.

  37. All these three songs are blockbusters, dominated by female singer and male singer has very little part to sing.

    Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko (Yaadon ki Baaraat)

    O mere sona re (Teesri Manzil)

    Dafli waale dafli baja (Sargam)

    • Sorry, I had to edit your comment to insert the names of the songs and movies – always a good tactic to follow because videos disappear very quickly off Youtube, so others may not know what song you’re referring to if you don’t specify.

      I wouldn’t put either Chura liya hai tumne or Mere Sona re in this category, because the ‘secondary singer’ sings one entire stanza in each song. It’s a little better with Dafli waale, but he still does a fair bit of singing…

  38. hello,
    a few more songs…………
    neend hamari khwab tumhare from nai kahani by G M Durrani, other singer has very small part, and i think its not an actor

    Mausam aaya hai rangeen, from dholak,
    i think, this should have been on ur list, as u have sen the movie!
    :-)

    satish batra has sung a little with sulochana kadam, and after wards, he leads the chorus

    Tu ganga ki mouj from baiju banwra, it has only one line,towards the end by lata

    yashomati maiyya se from satyam shivan sundaram

    initial small part by manna dey

  39. and I’m not sure whether this will qualify,
    but its my favourite and a large part of it is sung by kishore kumar, and comparatively a small part by sudha malhotra
    kashti ka khamosh safar from girl friend

    i like this romantic song very much, such beautiful lyrics by sahir
    sahir has very less such soft romantic duets on his name

  40. Wonderful post, Madhu! I love lop-sided duets because, as you note, very often the “minor” contributions are what take the song to the next level and make it memorable/special.

    Here are a couple more that I don’t think have been mentioned:

    Mera akele jiya kaise lage piya – Inspector/Lata w/Hemant Kumar

    Chand sitare karte ishare – Adl-e-Jahangir/Talat w/Lata

    • Thank you, Shalini – glad you liked this post! And thank you for the songs, neither of which I’d heard before. Lovely, especially Chaand sitaare karte ishaare.

  41. I think it’s nice to come up with an obvious sitter that’s eluded everyone so far. Do I hear someone go “Aaaargh! Why didn’t I think of this one before?”

    Ae Dil Hai Mushkil – CID (1956)

    • This had occurred to me very fleetingly, but I dropped the idea almost as soon as it popped into my head, because Geeta does sing an entire stanza in it – far too much, at least for me, to qualify for this list.

      • Chhodo sanam kaahe ka gham is I think a borderline example – Annette is fairly ‘audible’ a part of the song. But yes, I’d say this is definitely closer to a lopsided duet than some of the others that have been suggested in the comments.

    • O meri jaan maine kaha, I think, falls into that category (mostly composed by RDB) that someone has earlier mentioned in the comments. I don’t think of RDB as a ‘major singer’ (though of course he has several songs, including fairly big hits, to his credit)… I’m undecided about this one. :-)

  42. oh god,
    how I forgot this one!
    i remembered it so late!
    one more song fitting the theme,
    chhota sa ghar hoga from naukari 1954.
    by kishore kumar and shaila bele

    another good song, my favorite
    such full of innocence, and hope, and full of dreams!

  43. This fabulous song from “Taqdeer” has various versions, male solo, female solo, duet. In this particular version there is humming by a female singer in the beginning, not sure may be Lata or any other singer. Rest of the song is sung by Rafi.

  44. The song ” Main tumhi se poochhti hoon” from Black Cat, with prelude by Mohammad Rafi & then entirely sung by Lata Mangeskar, was hovering over my mind since ages, much before the theme in this blog.This nice song has surprisingly been overlooked & has escaped your comments.

  45. There is a beautiful song from the film Ákali mat jaio ‘sung by Lata Mangeshkar and filmed on Meena Kumari and Rajendra Kumar, where Mohammad Rafi only sings yes my darling. Great song. Nice collection of songs on this thread and at the begining. Enjoyed all of them.

  46. Was watching TV last night and this song came up – Rahi matwale from Waris with Talat singing the whole song and Suraiya joining in the end. (There are other versions as well, though.)

    • Oh, yes. Raahi matwaale had been on my shortlist, too. I love this song, but realized that there were others which had even less singing by the ‘secondary lead’, so dropped this one. Glad you posted it.

  47. oh! how many not-so-duet songs. I want to add one more to this list.” Chandani raatein pyaar ki baatein” or the duet version of “ye raat ye Chaandani” from Jaal. Another one featuring Dev Anand.

  48. i want to know whether
    duniya mein hum aaye to jeena hi padega, qualifies for the post,
    I’ve heard that the chorus is actually sung by meena and usha mangeshkar, as the original chorus was sounding too harsh and was not matching with lata’s voice. Then it will turn into a trio actually !

    the same thing i have heard for Mohe panghat pe nandlal chhed gayo from mughal e azam, though we can hear the chorus as such and not two voices.

  49. Wonderful post. I am late here; (though I’ve commented earlier but it wasn’t reagarding the post) many people have already suggested beautiful songs. Here are a few songs that would fall under this cateogry
    (1) Aan aan milo Shyam Sanware – Major portion by Geeta, Manna has rendered a few lines
    (2) Sajan tere pyar me -(https://youtu.be/GjqdjtQPjDE) Major portion by Asha, Rafi has just called out “Oo Mahua” (don’t know the name of the dancer but eagarly want to know, her dance is very funny)
    (3) Lara Lappa – Apart from the last part whole song dominated by Lata.
    (4) Piya bawri – Though beyond the scope of this post, a beautiful song. Asha has major part, Ashok Kumar sings some lines.
    (5) Sheesha E dil itna uchhalo (https://youtu.be/xBE_TpV1sFw) – Major part is by Lata the minor part, I guess is by Asha.
    (6) Tum jiyo hazron saal – Another song from Sujata.

    • Some nice songs there, though personally I think Manna Dey has a fairly important and relatively extensive part in Aan milo shyam saanwre.

      I had never come across the Mahua song before. No idea who the dancer is. She looks a bit like Bela Bose, but I don’t think it’s her – especially as Bela Bose was a good dancer. This one is really pretty funny. ;-)

      One more song I must especially comment on, since it’s a big favourite of mine: Tum jiyo hazaaron saal. Why would you list this as a duet? Because, as far as I’m aware, this is Asha + a chorus. Asha’s singing playback for both Shashikala as well as Meena Fernandes.

      • tum jiyo hazaron saal has a geeta dutt version also, or so i’ve heard.
        i think, u and anu ji had a discussion on this, during geeta dutt post,
        of course, this has nothing to do with the current theme,
        i just remembered it!
        i havent heard this version at all.
        i have to check on you tube

        • i got two links from you tube, tum jiyo hazaron saal by geeta dutt

          both the songs sound exactly, as asha’s song!
          or the song which we are hearing for years is by geeta only?

          the one which we hear usually as asha’s and the above two songs sound exactly similar

          can anyone notice at least subtle difference between the two?

          let me post asha song as well

          • The version of ‘Tum jiyo hazaron saal’ sung by Geeta Dutt is actually a duet; the other singer being Asha Bhosle, however after listening carefully it is clear that Asha has a major part in it and not Geeta. From the lines ‘pal chhin kaliyan bin bin’ (around 1min 15 sec) Asha has carried the song.

              • To be honest, I really can’t tell the difference between the two voices. This song has confused me a lot over the past few years. Till a couple of years back, I was under the impression that only Geeta Dutt sang this (this, because this song featured in a ‘Best of Geeta Dutt’ solos LP my parents owned). Then, a couple of years back, someone corrected me and said it was Asha, not Geeta, and that even the Geeta Dutt website doesn’t list this – it was suggested that she recorded it but for the film Asha’s version was used. Someone even said that the song which appears on the Geeta Dutt LP (and now CDs) is actually Asha singing and not Geeta.

                So I really don’t know.

  50. Just thought of this one … hope it qualifies … Manna Dey sings a small part of it, not really a stanza .. apart from all the other chorus voices …
    “Chadh hayo paapi bichua” from Madhumati

  51. Are baap re ! Never seen such a sea of comments in any of the lists so far ! Had a few songs in my mind, but on closely scrutinising all the comments, I find that all these have been mentioned by readers. Thanks Madhulika jee !

  52. “Door Koi Gaye” from “Baiju Bawra”, sung by Lata and Shamshad Begum and Rafi only singing “Ho Gi Ho”.Sweet and very popular song of its era.

  53. Excellent post and quite a rich set of postings.
    I may suggest Aaj ki Raat- Sad – Rafi & Asha – Nayi Umar Ki Nayi Fasal.
    In this version three stanzas are by Asha Bhosle and Rafi comes in at the very end. Of course, he gets to song a full stanza.

    In another version of the song, it is Rafi all the way…

    However, Hum Dil Ka Kanwal – Vyjayantimala, Lata Mangeshkar, Zindagi should fit the bill, as Manna Dey sings only one line, and that too on the film track.

  54. hi,
    i found two new songs fitting the theme!
    kaun ye aay amehfil mein……….. from dil deke dekho

    Chup Chup kahde ho by lata and premlata
    premlata has no separate existence in the song, all the line she sings with lata

    does anyone know any of premlata’s solo?
    she married a music director, i think and went to pakistan after separation.
    i’m not sure

    similar thing is with seeta agrawal, who sang Hum Panchhi mastane with lata and geeta dutt!
    we never heard her name after that song.

    • Meri Neeta is a good example of this song! I wish I’d thought of this.

      Talking of Hum panchhi mastaane, this is another song that’s puzzled me. Because the only version I recall right now is a duet – in fact, my recollection of it had been of a trio (from when I first saw the film as a child). Then, a few years back, I rewatched it, and saw that the picturization is on two women (Shubha Khote and Anita Guha) rather than three. So does that mean three singers sang it, but it was picturised on two? Or is there a second version that I’m missing?

      • here again, i have read about the singer Seeta agarwal, in a old film song related marathi book.
        this reminds me janeman ek nazar dekh le
        the same thing might have happened here!
        it might have been a saheli song, to start with and recorded like that.
        afterwards third heroine (Amita) was dropped at the last moment and that turned the song into a duet,
        anyway seeta agarwal had no separate lines, but was part of chorus, so they might not have thought about it seriously!

        can anyone throw some light on this topic?

  55. That is a lovely compilation. There are two top of the recall songs that I can suggest – not entirely sure if they qualify. ‘Kabhi kabhi mere dil me’ – the version by Lata M, has just one line sung by Mukesh. Another is ‘Kya hua tera vaada’, one line sung by Sushma Shrestha. Another of my favourite songs –‘tum mujhe bhool bhi jao’ – has one stanza by Mukesh(and that is my favourite part of the song!) while the rest is by Sudha M.

      • Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein
        wonder why nobody else thought of that!

        really!
        why we didnt think of it!
        oh!
        sometimes we tend to think in one particular line and forget any other direction.
        :-D

  56. i suddenly remembered that Dil Vil Pyar Vyar has a few lines by rafi, at start
    i could not get them in any vdo, but r surely there in audio version

    also,
    as a shradhhanjali to vinod khanna,i want to post this song from chandani, that fits this theme too………
    Lagi Aaj Sawan Ki

    a beautiful song by suresh wadkar and anupama deshpande
    Vinodji
    RIP

  57. hi,
    one more song,
    I dont know if anyone has posted this song or not, i cant remember!
    Devta tum ho mera sahara from daira
    one version has mubaraq begum as main singer and rafi sings in the chorus
    other version has both the singers singing equally

  58. few more songs!
    i am still finding such songs!
    Raat gayi phir din aata hai from boot polish
    this song has only few lines by asha bhosle- John chacha tum kitane achhe

    chanda ki sundar nagari mein from dholak
    this has initial few lines by umadevi, afterwards rafi takes over

    pyase nain- 1954- mere jeevan mein aaya hai kaun
    only aalap by asha, rest all by talat

    and from post 70s………….
    main koi aisa geet from yes boss
    alka yagnik doing lalala la la la…………

    :-)

  59. hi,
    i am back after a long time,(or so it seems to me! must b just a week)
    finally i got time to post some songs, that were crowded in my mind about the theme!
    Jaag dare e ishq jaag from anarkali

    the record version doesnt contain the first stanza by hemant kumar, so this version can b included in this theme!
    but the original song from the movie, is bigger than what we usually hear!
    it has hemant kumar singing equally as lata’s part!

    i am posting both the songs

    fisrly the full version

    and now the usual version

  60. hi,
    one more song suddenly i remembered,
    mohhobat chume jinake haath from AAN.
    at least in record version, shamshad sings mukhda just once, and sings nothing more..

  61. The picturized version of ‘Ye mera prem patra padhkar’ may also be considered. The entire song is in Rafi’s voice. Lata joins at the end of song with aalap and a line.

    As Rafi and Lata were not singing together in the sixties ( ~1963-66), the picturized song seems to be recorded by both of them separately and then patched together.

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