Ten of my favourite ‘recording studio’ songs

A former reader of my blog—who left in the wake of much rancour—had, as a parting shot, told me that she had got a good laugh out of seeing the completely idiotic themes I thought up for song lists. I know she won’t be reading this, but I thought of her when compiling this list.

Not that I think this theme is idiotic (or that any of the other themes I gave chosen so far are, for that matter), but that it’s an unusual theme. The point is, I see a situation or hear a word or a phrase in a song, and I realize that this is not the only song I’ve seen this in or heard this in. It rings a bell, and I remember all those other songs that have been (for example) picturized in a similar setting.

For example, a recording studio. Considering there are accomplished singers in just about every Hindi film (barring the very occasional songless film like Kanoon or Ittefaq), it’s not utterly surprising to find at least some of those people not merely singing at parties or while dancing in gardens: some of them are accomplished enough to be able to sing professionally. In recording studios, on radio, for albums, and so on.

Ten songs, therefore, in which the ‘singer’ (the actor or actress lip-syncing to the song) is shown singing in a recording studio. As is usual with my lists, this one consists of songs from pre-70s films (with one exception, on the cusp) that I’ve seen. In no particular order:

1. Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo (Khamoshi, 1969): Khamoshi had just a handful of songs, each one a gem. This one, the only song from the film that was sung by a woman, has the most puzzling yet poetic lyrics. When I was a child, I wondered what they meant. How could one possibly see the fragrance of eyes? But if you set that minor quibble aside, the poetry is beautiful. Do not assign a relationship to love; merely feel it, let it touch your spirit.

Lovely lyrics (Gulzar’s), composed (in the film) by the poet played by Rajesh Khanna, who has lost his mental balance after being jilted by his girlfriend Sulekha (Snehlata), who has added insult to injury by also stealing this particular composition of his. As she stands in the studio singing it, Radha (Waheeda Rehman), the sad nurse who is trying to restore the poet’s sanity, hears it on the radio. And realizes that this is not just the song that her patient wrote, but also a song—perhaps—that reflects the story of her own doomed love.

2. Jeevan ke doraahe pe khade (Chhoti Si Mulaqat, 1967): Chhoti SI Mulaqat may have bombed badly enough at the box office to pretty much reduce Uttam Kumar (who, besides starring in it, also produced it) to relative poverty. It supported some pretty regressive ideas and, even for that day and age, was fairly hidebound in its version of what constituted an ‘ideal marriage’ and a ‘good Indian woman’.

But Chhoti Si Mulaqat did have some good songs, and this one—where the beleaguered heroine (Vyjyanthimala) expresses her dilemma—is probably the best of the lot. She is torn between duty and love, between her heart and her mind, between what society demands of her and what she wants for herself. She is not yet self-sacrificing enough to give up her own happiness for what others think is right—but her conscience will not let her rest easy, either. If she chooses her own happiness, it will make others unhappy. Two ways, both with their own pitfalls, their own sorrows and joys. One of Lata’s finest songs.

3. Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat (Barsaat ki Raat, 1960): And, for a change, a song sung by a man. Bharat Bhushan’s character, a poet (and, of course, as all Hindi film shaayars go, also a singer) has encountered the most beautiful girl in the world on a rainy night, when both of them, strangers, have taken shelter in the same blacksmith’s forge. Unaware of who she is, yet unable to forget her, the shaayar puts his anguish and longing into words. When he sings his song on radio, little does he know that the woman he has so precipitately fallen in love with is listening—and growing ever more longing in her sighs, ever deeper in love with him, too. 

This song tends to get overshadowed by the qawwalis of Barsaat ki Raat, but it’s still a good song, its lyrics oozing romance, the music lilting, and Rafi’s rendition soulful and lovely.

4. Dil todne waale tujhe dil dhoond raha hai (Son of India, 1962): Son of India was a very forgettable film, but it boasted of one of the most popular children’s songs ever in Hindi film history: Nanha-munna raahi hoon desh ka sipaahi hoon. And there was this (also popular) song, which differs from the songs earlier in this list in two respects. Firstly, the singer is not recording the song for radio or an album; it’s recorded for television, which in itself was a rarity in India back then. Secondly, it’s a duet (why the female singer should pause in between verses long enough for a passerby far away to sing alternate verses, is beyond my comprehension—but perhaps that’s because they’re twin souls?) Kumkum plays the sad and wealthy wife of a no-good adventurer (played by Kamaljeet) who has now fallen on hard days. She pines for him; he pines for her and repents of his treachery; and their son roams the country on his own.

5. Koi matwaala aaya mere dwaare (Love in Tokyo, 1966): Continuing in the same vein (when it comes to medium) is the very first song of Love in Tokyo. Asha Parekh’s character, like Kumkum’s in Son of India, is singing for a television show—and, she’s going one step further. She’s not just singing, she’s also dancing, for a Japanese TV channel. Joy Mukherjee’s character, an Indian who goes to Tokyo to fetch his recently orphaned half-Japanese nephew, is wandering around a department store and catches a glimpse of this Indian danseuse singing of a beloved who now rules her heart—and he decides she is the one for him.

6. Khul sim-sim khullam-khulla (Biwi aur Makaan, 1966): I didn’t know about this song till a few years back, which was when I finally got around to watching Biwi aur Makaan. Biswajeet in this film plays a singer, and there couldn’t be a better introduction to his character: the film’s opening credits roll to this song, eventually seguing into the scene at the recording studio, where our hero is singing. A singer, an amiable young man who grins and bounces about as he sings, who has no qualms about lending his voice to a song that’s half nonsense and half so much frivolity that it’s close to nonsense anyway. Khul sim-sim khulla-khulla, raani ka kho gaya gulla pretty much sets the tone for the film: this is not to be taken seriously. It’s loads of fun all the way, but don’t expect anything approaching seriousness.

7. Hum thhe jinke sahaare (Safar, 1970): From the outright frivolous and frothy to the deeply emotional, even despairing. The two lead characters—ex-classmates, in love with each other but unable to be together—realize that they have no future. The man (played by Rajesh Khanna) because he literally has no future: he is dying. The woman (Sharmila Tagore) because she has to bow to the pleas of the man she loves: he will not let her tie herself to him because that will make her a widow. They love each other, but it cannot be. And so, along with that love, there is rancour, too, more than a hint of resentment.

… all sentiments that are expressed brilliantly in the song of a singer who’s recording a song where the heroine’s elder brother (IS Johar) works.

8. Ik thha bachpan (Aashirwaad, 1968): Another song that is emotional and poignant—and which sings of a love that is not romantic. Sumita Sanyal’s character stands in a recording studio singing a song of her own childhood: of a childhood that centred round the loving relationship between herself and her doting father. A childhood, too, whose happiness came to an abrupt end. Little does this emotional singer realize that her song, overheard by her father (who is a convict in a jail), affects him deeply and reminds him, too, of the one he loved the most.

9. Apni ada par main hoon fida (Teen Batti Chaar Raasta, 1953): From one of the few V Shantaram films from the 50s that didn’t star him (but, as was expected from the film maker, did star his wife). In Teen Batti Chaar Raasta, Sandhya played a dark-skinned (read: ugly) girl who has a lovely voice that manages to make her somewhat of a star on the radio. Enough, at any rate, for several men (including the man whose house she eventually ends up working in, as a maid) to imagine her to be as lovely of face as her voice is beautiful. Apni ada par main hoon fida is a good song, music-wise, but what makes it even more interesting are the nuanced lyrics. So what if no-one else believes her beautiful, so what if nobody will notice her loveliness? She is convinced of it, she is proud of it. A fine reflection of the character’s refreshing sense of self-esteem.

10. Aankhon aankhon mein ho gaye mast ishaare (Khazanchi, 1958): An example of a song that helps initiate a romance out of what had been no more than a fleeting, unacknowledged attraction. The hero (Rajendra Kumar) and the heroine (Shyama) have, after some initial friction, met again, this time thanks to his having saved her father’s life. Just as they’re getting to know each other, this song—coincidentally sung (in the story) by the hero’s sister—airs on the radio. It echoes their feelings so completely that it ends up amplifying those feelings even more. A convenient song!

Which other songs can you remember that fit this theme?

100 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite ‘recording studio’ songs

        • Hehe! Good idea, though I will need some suggestions on exactly what sort of list that should be. Because I think neither my emotions nor the former blog reader’s would be adequately represented by any of the more common film songs. It was definitely not a fond farewell (for which a Jaanewaale ho sake toh lautke aana would have done), nor a teasingly ‘go if you wish’ (like Jaate ho toh jaao par jaaoge kahaan or Jaaiye aap kahaan jaayenge) nor a – on the part of the one doing the leaving – a ‘you stay well and take care of yourself’ type of song.

          What I’m really looking for here is a ‘Thank goodness you’re going, and good riddance’ song. Can’t, offhand, think of any Hindi film songs that fit the bill. :-)

  1. lol I saw this pop up on my reader and got really excited. I love recording booth songs. They have such interesting things to say about performing emotions and artificiality.

    My favourite is a total cliche, it’s Aap Aaye To Khayaale from Gumrah, but I could just watch it forever, I love it so much.

    Although I am also an especial fan of the recording booth sequence in the Merchant Ivory Bombay Talkie (https://youtu.be/wz069u5aguI?t=4400) and the one in Awaargi, but that last one is very much outside of your timeframe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aymVa684vGM).

    • Several people have been mentioning the Gumraah song, and I have been bashing myself over the head for having forgotten that one! How could I?! :-D

      I’d also forgotten the sequence from Bombay Talkie, perhaps Typewriter tip-tip-tip… puts everything else into the shade for me when it comes to that film.

      Yes, Baali umar ne mera haal is outside of my timeframe, but totally valid in the comments. Readers are welcome to go off on tangents in the comments!

      • lol Typewriter tip tip tip is one of those moments that puts everything in the shade I think. It’s so mannered, but I love the way Bombay Talkie took standard beats from mainstream Bollywood movies and made them arthouse, like in this sequence.

        The Gumrah song is just so good! Everyone looks so beautiful and the framing is like a platonic ideal of a recording booth song.

        What I like about Baali umar is how it’s the moment whatsherface realises she’s into Govinda, I haven’t often seen the recording booth sequence used like that, usually it’s a crescendo moment.

    • Thank you for that! It’s been so long since I watched Lajwanti that I’d completely forgotten that this was actually a ‘recording studio’ song. I was under the impression it was a stage performance.

    • Thank you for these! Maine dekhi jag ki reet was, as a song, familiar to me, but I don’t think I’d ever seen the video of it before. Baharon jise chheda hai was new to me as a song.

  2. Good list with some known and some not so common (atleast on Vividh Bharati) songs. I quickly glanced and did not find the baap or mother of recording studio songs (a tleast in my opinion) – ” Aap Aaye.Tu Khayal-e- Dile Nashad Aya” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUI9pZwQucA . Any reason you left it out? I thought you would include. Thankfully I am not going to storm out in a huff for this exclusion.

  3. I also noted that “Khul Simsim Khullam Khulla” is a song that is part of the opening credits of the movie. May be a theme you should consider for a future post

  4. Madhu,
    Nice compilation. Here is a real singer singing in the recording studio. Saigal has sung several songs at Radio Station, I remember in which he starts with Aawaz ki duniya ke dosto.

    KL Saigal singsJeevan been madhur na baaje

  5. Oh what a lovely topic and there really are so many songs that fit the theme. Hindi cinema really loves its singer-poets! You already picked quite a few of the songs that first came to my mind but I’ll add some more of my favourites, both from within and outside your timeline –
    1. Humne Tujhko Pyaar Kiya Hai Jitna from Dulha Dulhan

    2. All the recording studio songs from Abhimaan but especially Loote Koi Man ka Nagar

    3. This Rajesh Khanna – Kishore Kumar gem from Anurodh (another movie with lovely songs throughout)

    4. Mitwa re Mitwa, which is a personal favourite, from Jawaab

    5. Dushman Na Kare from Aakhir Kyon which, while not inside a recording studio, is being recorded for television

    I’m sure there are many more that I love but have forgotten. Look forward to seeing more songs in the comments!

    • Lovely selection of songs, and several there that I really like a lot. I just have one quibble: Dushman na kare isn’t really a ‘recording studio’ song; Rajesh Khanna’s character is filming the song, but it’s not in a studio, as far as I remember – or can tell.

  6. Got nostalgic. If you remember, I had a similar list, last year in March.
    Loved all the songs.
    And a twist, at least for me, were the songs getting aired on television.
    I’ll add one of my favourites,
    From the 1990s,
    Badal Chandi barsaye from Saaz

    And,

    Layi kahan zindagi from taxi taxi
    Music by Hemant Bhosle
    Picturised on Asha Bhosle.

  7. I laughed at your introductory paragraph. And I am in total agreement with Stuart and the others – please do a ‘storming off in a huff’ list. :) ‘Idiotic’ indeed! Someone needs therapy.

    As to your list – would it surprise you that I’d a list of ‘studio’ songs in mind as well? :) But for a change, only three songs on your list are on mine – Humne dekhi hai in aankhon ki mehekti khushboo, Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi, Ik the . (So, yippee, I can still post my list – sometime!)

    I agree with you about Gulzar’s lyrics – how do you see the fragrance of one’s eyes? He did that in Joothe naina bole saanchi batiyaan from Lekin as well; most people think the line is Jhoothe naina…. And remember Patthar ki haveli ko sheeshe ke gharaondon mein tinkon ke nasheman tak… from Aandhi? I scratched my head over that one.

    • Oh, yes! Please do, do post your list of these songs. :-) Would love to see what you come up with.

      “And remember Patthar ki haveli ko sheeshe ke gharaondon mein tinkon ke nasheman tak… from Aandhi? I scratched my head over that one.

      Hehe. I read that again, and tried a couple of time to figure it out, then gave up. Whenever I listen to that song, I end up switching off from the lyrics when they reach this stage. ;-)

  8. The song that immediately comes to my mind is the immortal ‘ tum jo hamare meet na hote ‘ from AASHIQ picturized on Raj Kapoor.

  9. This song from Roti Kapda aur Makaan, Main na bhoolunga, starts and ends in a recording studio..so will this be a recording studio song or the perennial favourite , ‘imagined’ song..

  10. Also Aate Jaate from Anurodh is posted but this is a song from the same movie.. and a credits song as well… and a song about ‘farmayish’ (anurodh)…very radio
    Aapke Anurodh pe main yeh get sunata hoon

  11. Dear Madhulika,

    I can’t imagine anyone not liking your themes. No theme can be termed “idiotic”.
    If multiple number of songs can be found to match a theme, however unusual it may be, to my mind, it’s a work of a genius. So, take heart, we love the Themes that you create. When it comes to men, we talk about meat and poison. For talented Ladies I suppose one could twist that to say “One woman’s symphony is another woman’s cacophony” :-)

    That “songs when walking off in a huff” was a novel theme. Normal people rarely sing when walking off in a huff (maybe a few swear words under the breath), but in Hindi Films, any situation is good for a song. I am sure there are a few that fit the theme.
    Will let you knew if we find some.

    A small detail about that song from “Teen Batti Char Rasta”(1953), Sandhya (Vijaya Deshmukh) was not his wife then. Shantaram married her in 1956 after divorcing Jayashree.

    Excellent write up, as usual.

    With warm regards

    PARTHA CHANDA

    • You are too kind, Parthaji. Thank you for the encouragement and the support. I think that particular reader had very strong views and didn’t know how to disagree in a civilized way. She was extremely aggressive, to the point of being rude. Thank goodness she left…

      Thank you for the bit of information about Sandhya. I hadn’t known that.

      • The song from Teen Batti Char Rasta is my favorite from this excellent list!

        Something else that came to my mind… Maybe everyone knows this already, but since it wasn’t mentioned…

        I read a while back that V. Shantaram wanted Sandhya to resemble Lata Mangeshkar in this film, at least in style. That’s why she wears the braids the way she does and there’s also the white dress. I can’t think of any other film in which the actress or actor was deliberately made to look like the playback singer. :)

  12. Madhu ji,
    I would say, this is a very unusual and highly creative theme. I have been coolly following your Blogs and always wondered how can anyone think so differently. Of course, some themes have been quite common too, but that has to be there to break the monotony.
    I enjoyed all songs.
    Thanks.
    -AD

  13. Don’t you ever believe anyone who tells you your themes/posts are idiotics!
    Really enjoyable read, and I love the song list posted. For a change, I knew all these songs. But the comments have thrown up some which are new to me.

  14. Excellent theme and song selection. Only wonder why no one mentioned Saari
    Saari raat teri yaad satiate from Aji Bas
    Shukriya (or has anyone and I missed it).
    Geeta Bali is my perennial favourite!
    Nitin

    • No, nobody mentioned that song. While I’m familiar with the song itself, I’d never seen the video and had no idea it was a recording studio song. Thanks for that! Glad you liked the post.

  15. Good Evening Madhuji,

    I am hesitating to put this song here in the list, qualified or not, but very classic and romantic, mellifluous rendition by Great Rafi ji, one rare romantic classic song on Love and also sung by Lataaji.

    Mere Mehboob Tujhe meri mohabbat ki kasam..rafi

    Mere Mehboob Tujhe Meri Mohabbat (Female) – MERE MEHBOOB

    Blessings to you
    Uma

  16. Great theme, Madhu! I wanted to do this theme in my now almost defunct blog. Glad you did it.
    If ever you wanted a model studio recording song which beat the inanimate Bharat Bhushan in “Zindagi bhar” hands down, this is it! The studio appears in patches, the acting-oustanding!! :-)

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard Ek kali naazon ki pali before. Nice! So both the 1940s Khazanchi and the 1950s one had a recording studio song. :-) I love the way the visuals go – she’s so closely surrounded by the musicians, which (I don’t know how true that was) makes sense.

      • In the good old days, the Musicians, the Singer(s) and even the Music Directors had to be in close proximity in the same room as there were too few mikes.

        For those not in the know, the Hero and the Heroine listening to the song were SD NARANG and RAMOLA (real name Rachel Cohen).

        With warm regards

        PARTHA CHANDA

  17. We have numerous pictures, the film-makers thought of numerous situations for different songs, the writers and lyricists were highly talented to write on different situations, so there is bound to be numerous songs, falling in numerous categories. It is in fact a challenge to find out so many different themes and songs to write on. Which challenge you have taken. So why worry. Keep them coming.😊
    As for a recording studio sing. Most of the were mentioned. I remembered there is one from “Kalakaar”, picturised on Kunal Goswami, So I Googled to find out- it’s “Mera pyar mujhse rootha”.

    • Thank you!

      I had completely forgotten Mera pyaar mujhse rootha. Somehow the only song I remember from Kalakaar is Neele-neele ambar par chaand jab aaye – I saw the film because of that song! (And wished I hadn’t seen the film, it was terrible).

  18. Aww, I love your song theme posts, Madhu! I admire your inventiveness and am delighted by the creativity and sheer variety of the themes. May your well of ideas never run dry.

    As always, this was a great theme and I had fun going through all the songs that have been mentioned. Given how integral songs are to Hindi films, it’s nice to see some of them taking the trouble to give us a behind the scenes look at how they are recorded.

    My contribution is a song the lyrics of which foreclose any chance of my liking it, but it does fit the theme, so :-):

    Devta mana aur pooja teri tasveer ko – Albela/Lata Mangeshkar/Shanker-Jaikishen/Hasrat Jaipuri

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence, Shalini! :-)

      This song was new to me. Nice one.

      And, since nobody has posted this song – and it offers a fairly good behind-the-scenes glimpse – here’s Naach meri jaan fatafaat from Main Sundar Hoon:

  19. Jailor from 1938 has this lovely song; the second half of which shows a young Roshan Ara Begum (the phenomenal Kirana Gharana classical singer) singing in front of a mic for the radio, while a spectaculary sideburned Sohrab Modi listens.

      • Dear Madhulika,

        This MUST be the Song.

        Although the Credits are given to Kamal Amrohi, to the best that I know, the original lyrics were by AMIR KHUSRO. Arun Deshmukh ji may throw more light on this. The same words (more or less) have been used in many subsequent films. Witness this song from “SUHAG RAAT” (1948) :

        Warm regards

        PARTHA CHANDA

  20. Please delete my earlier comment. It was incomplete. Here is the complete one.

    When I read the topic for the post, the first song I remembered was “Humne Tuzko pyaar Kiya hai” and then the classic “Humne Dekhi hai”. These are captured in the post & comments as expected. And so are some of my favourites like “Jane Kya baat hai” which are already mentioned by Snigdha and AK in their comments.

    One of my all time favourite is “Ae Ajnabi” from “Dil Se”. Technically no singer is featured in this song but it starts in All India Radio recording studio. Hence worth a mention

    And since theme is not specific to All India Radio recording studio, allow me to digress a little and add a song recorded in Doordarshan studio
    “Bumro Bumro” from Mission Kashmir.

    Following one are not favourites but fit the theme so well
    “Chahoo mein tuzko” from Aashiqui 2

    I will end with “The Dichotomy of Fame” jugalbandi from Rockstar. Again technically not a song and a singer. Madhuji I am sure you will like this.

    • Thank you for these! The Rockstar one, yes, isn’t a song, but it certainly does merit a spot here, thanks for this one. And for reminding me of Bhumbro – I had forgotten that one. :-)

  21. And I remembered this last night … a lovely, frothy song.. and a family enterprise of the Mukherjees , Roop tera aisa from Ik Baar Muskura do .. the faux recording studio and all :)

  22. I think I found the earliest instance of a “recording studio” song, from the first Indian film to feature playback. 1935’s Dhoop Chhaon. Pahari Sanyal sings in front of a lovely mic for the radio.

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