After last week’s post of multiple version songs featuring one male voice and one female voice singing the same song, I decided I should do another post of ‘multiple version’ songs. Also solos, and also (as in the previous post), songs which appear within the same film.
Usually, when one singer (invariably singing for one character) ends up singing two versions of the same song, it’s because the story has changed circumstances for the character. It could be—in most cases—that happy days have given way to sad; or ennui has made room for a sense of purpose. In some (relatively rare) cases, the same singer sings two different versions of the same song for two different characters.
So. The songs. As always, these are all from pre-1970s films that I’ve seen. Also, these are the other criteria I set for myself while choosing the songs on this list:
- Both versions of the song must have basically the same tune and the playback should be sung by the same singer.
- There should be some difference in the songs: either the mood should be different (one happy/one sad, for example, which often translates into a difference in tempo), or the lyrics should be different. This is why two of my favourite songs of this type—Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare and Ek dharti hai ek hai gagan—do not feature in this list because, apart from the picturization, there is no discernible difference in the two ‘versions’ of the song. Both, if only heard and not seen, would be the same song.
- Both versions should be full-fledged songs; at least one stanza plus the refrain.
- The songs must be ‘pure solos’; even one line sung by another playback singer (I’m not including chorus here) makes it technically a duet.
Here, then, are my ten favourites of this type, in no particular order (though my favourite songs are at the top of the list):
1. Awaara ae mere dil (Raat aur Din, 1967): Two very different songs, two very different situations and moods, even picturized on two different characters—but sung by the same playback singer, Lata Mangeshkar. (Some spoilers follow).
First to appear in Raat aur Din (an unusual story of a woman who suffers from a split personality, brought on by long-ago trauma) is the slow version of Awaara ae mere dil. Nargis, as Baruna, demure, ‘nice’, traditional bahu and wife, suddenly starts showing signs of imagining she’s someone else. A very disturbing someone else, too, or disturbing to the hidebound and regressive society she lives in. She calls herself Peggy, she discards her saris for sheath dresses and frocks, she goes to Firpo’s on her own, where she dances with strangers, smokes and drinks. And, when she’s out on the streets by herself, she sings a song to her conscience, her own heart, questioning her own being: is she night? Is she day? Is she a dream, is she reality?
And then, right near the end of the film, we see the real Peggy (Lakshmi Chhaya), effervescent and peppy, the life of the Christmas party at which she sings the same song. The same words, the same tune, though with more joie de vivre than Baruna infuses in her voice. This is Peggy, the day to Baruna’s night. Or vice-versa, who knows.
2. Ae mere dil kahin aur chal (Daag, 1952): This song could rightly have featured in my list of songs that appear—at least—as a male solo and a female solo, since Lata Mangeshkar too sang a version of Ae mere dil kahin aur chal for Nimmi. But I’ll feature this song here instead, because Talat Mahmood sang two beautiful versions of this song for Dilip Kumar in Daag.
The perpetually drunk Shankar (Dilip Kumar), heedless of the warnings of his friends and well-wishers, refuses to change his ways: in his cynical, drunk way, he sings a song, telling himself to go, to move to greener pastures. Much later in the story, a somewhat reformed Shankar sets out purposefully to try and change things. His song is the same, the words unchanged, but the tempo is faster, the mood upbeat.
3. Jhoom-jhoom dhalti raat (Kohraa, 1964): A naïve young woman, all alone in the world, marries a man she’s only recently met. When she arrives at his palatial home in the countryside, it’s to find that the place—and, seemingly, her husband—is haunted by the memories of his late wife. The young bride is driven nearly out of her mind by the monogram, the clothes, the pet dog, the song, of the dead woman whom her husband seems to have loved so deeply.
The first time Lata sings Jhoom-jhoom dhalti raat, it’s not even ten minutes into the film. In a sort of prologue to the film, the ‘woman’ (the first wife of the character Biswajeet plays) goes off on a rendezvous. She’s drunk, she’s lonely, her words slur, and though we know she’s the ‘bad woman’ (any woman in Hindi cinema of that age who drinks and meets her lovers is bad), I can’t help but feel for her, at least a bit.
Much later in the film, Waheeda Rehman’s character, the distressed second wife, fearing for her sanity, tries to confront her own terror. The song then appears again, with a different stanza at the end, and with the intoxicated slurring of the first song replaced by a sad loneliness.
4. Dekhi zamaane ki yaari (Kaagaz ke Phool, 1959): Mohammad Rafi, SD Burman, Kaifi Azmi: three greats. One song, spread across two versions. Between them, both songs offer a gist of the film, the riches-to-rags story of its protagonist, Sinha (played by Guru Dutt).
In its first iteration, Dekhi zamaane ki yaari shows the heyday of the film director, Sinha. He is wildly successful, surrounded by crowds of adoring fans, everybody vying to get close to him. Daur yeh chalta rahe, goes the refrain: let these times keep rolling.
In its second iteration, Dekhi zamaane ki yaari may sound at the beginning like a completely different song, beginning with the melancholic ‘Ud jaa ud jaa pyaase bhanwre’, but it segues perfectly into the refrain of the earlier version. By this time, Sinha is not even a shadow of his former self. He is failed, so poor that he has to seek work as an extra on the very same film sets where he once ruled—and, in the tragic twist of irony that is life, where he fails. A stunningly beautiful song in so many ways.
5. Chali Radhe Rani akhiyon mein paani (Parineeta, 1953): It doesn’t happen too often in Hindi cinema that a minor character—one, even, who has very little screen time—gets to sing two songs. Here, a wandering minstrel (? I can’t figure out who the actor is) comes by at two important points in the story, and both times sings a song that is a commentary on what’s happening in the lives of the two protagonists.
The first time this man comes around, Lalita (Meena Kumari) and Shekhar (Ashok Kumar) are best of friends, and are beginning to realize their feelings for each other. The minstrel’s song, about the love between Radha and Krishna, is all symbolic: Radha is mock-annoyed with Krishna, but she loves him. He will woo her back. It is all joy, all coquetry and romance. The minstrel’s voice (Manna Dey, such a perfect fit) is full of verve and pep, joyful and teasing. He even dances as he sings.
The second version comes later in the story. Shekhar and Lalita have been torn apart by what seems betrayal, but turns out to be something else. They are miserable apart from each other, and the minstrel’s song reflects that: it is about Vrindavan now desolate. Radha and Krishna are separated, both heartbroken. The song is slow, sad: the minstrel too, instead of dancing about, sits in one place while he sings.
6. Saawan ke mahine mein (Sharaabi, 1964): As in Ae mere dil kahin aur chal, in Saawan ke mahine mein too Lalita Pawar plays mother to a man who’s a drunk. In this case, the tippler is played by Dev Anand, the eponymous sharaabi. Of the two versions of the song, the longer one, which leaves more of an impact in terms of sound—lots of interesting little ripples of music, etc—is the happy version. Dev Anand, as the cheery drunk, goes tripping about, playing with his bottle of liquor, a passing dog, and various friends at the dive he frequents. This is light-hearted stuff.
The ‘sad version’, in contrast, is not really sunk in gloom: it’s more a case of a drunk who seems to have passed the stage of happy drunkenness and is now over the edge and into a state of melancholy intoxication. His song—words and all—are the same; what has changed is the pace at which he sings it. His words now linger, slowly and softly, as if he’s having difficulty moving from one note to the next, one word to the next.
What a genius Mohammad Rafi was. For a man who was a strict teetotaler, to have pulled off such convincing ‘drunk’ songs was quite a feat.
7. Saiyyaan pyaara hai apna milan (Do Behnen, 1959): As the name of this film suggests, it’s about two sisters. And, given Hindi cinema’s penchant for assuming that twins are always carbon copies of each other, the two women (played by Shyama) don’t merely look alike, their voices are exactly the same too.
The first version of Saiyyaan pyaara hai apna milan is sung by the ‘good sister’, the traditional one who doesn’t go gallivanting with men but sits demurely at home, doing pooja and housework until a suitable groom is found for her. On her wedding night, she sings this song to her new husband as a promise of love, a confirmation of the bond between them.
Unfortunately, their married life is short-lived. Unknown to the husband, his wife is killed in an accident, and her twin sister—feisty, wild, nothing like her twin—ends up having to impersonate his wife. When called upon by the man to sing that song again, she does (how she knows the tune or the words, some of which she repeats, is beyond me). Though, where her sister’s song was full of romance, this one, even in the stanzas which are the same, manages to convey her distress at the deceit she’s practicing. Lata, singing for both characters, is lovely.
8. Kaisi laagi karajwa kataar (Ferry, 1954): When I was researching the songs for this post, I kept running into the same names again and again: Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar seem to have sung an inordinately large proportion of the multiple version songs (I noticed this even in the case of the male singer/female singer songs). Therefore, when I found songs I liked which fitted my criteria but were not sung by these two, I decided I had to include those if I could.
Therefore, this one, from an unusual film about a tawaif who befriends a little boy and through him his father. Geeta Bali, playing the unwilling naachnewaali with a heart of gold, recounts her days at the kotha where her mother was the tawaif. Even though she had a little daughter, the woman (Chand Burke) devoted her energies to her trade, a trade she was intent on passing on to the child she had neglected to be a mother to.
These two versions of the same song feature, respectively, the mother and the daughter, both lip-syncing to the song sung by Lakshmi Shankar (as identified by Parthaji, one of our blog readers). For Chand Burke’s character, the one whose trade is her sex appeal, the song is a seductive one, sung in a definitely flirtatious way, the words too all about the push-and-pull of love (or lust, whatever). For the daughter, unwillingly pushed into a trade she hates, the version of the same song is sad and heavy: the singer’s voice aches, her words are despairing.
9. Tujhe apne paas bulaati hai (Patita, 1953): Patita was an unusual film in several ways. For one, the heroine (Usha Kiran) is raped—and has a baby as a result. Then, she is rescued, cheered up and generally given shelter by a man, with whom she does not subsequently have a romantic relationship. And, to top it all, the man she falls in love with, and whom she marries, knows full well of her past and accepts her, not (in the usual Indian style) blaming her for being raped. A refreshingly different film, and one which also had some lovely music.
Agha, as the man who saves Usha Kiran’s character, lip-syncs to two wonderful songs in Patita: Andhe jahaan ke andhe raaste, and Tujhe apne paas bulaati hai, which features in two versions sung by Talat. The difference between the two versions is subtle. In the first, ‘happy’ version, Agha’s character is upbeat and bent on cheering up the woman he’s rescued; though his song is addressed to her baby (whom he carries), it’s actually the mother he addresses, giving her solace, telling her that all is not lost; that the world is a better place than she’s known it to be so far.
The second version occurs much later: the woman, whom he calls Behan, is now comfortably settled, the wife of a man who loves her. Wealthy, comfortable, happy. The ‘brother’, therefore, takes his leave of her. It is a sad, touching moment, and the song he sings reflects that sadness. It’s slower, his voice is less energetic, there is a loneliness that seems to hang over him and his song.
10. Apne liye jeeye toh kya jeeye (Baadal, 1966): And, to end the list, a song in the voice of Mahendra Kapoor, singing playback for Sanjeev Kumar in one of several swashbuckling films in which he starred in the early years of his career. Apne liye jeeye toh kya jeeye is featured twice in Baadal, and both times in the context of an imprisonment. The first time, Baadal (Sanjeev Kumar) and his companions break into a prison to free the innocent inmates who’ve been held captive there by a tyrannical ruler. Of course, what better place to sing songs and dance about than a prison? Instead of hurrying up and getting everybody out fast, our hero sings, even cooing musically to someone strapped to a wheel, encouraging the tortured man to keep his chin up.
The second time—nearer the end of the film—is when the hero is taken prisoner. Baadal is being dragged off in chains to meet his nemesis, but he is not cowed down. He sings. And the guards who are supposed to be dragging him along wait patiently for him to finish before they continue.
The two songs have the same music and the same never-say-die, cheerful tone about them, but the lyrics (by Javed Anwar) are different—and both times inspiring. In the first version, it’s all about not letting adversity get you down; in the second, it’s about revolution: about being fearless in the teeth of opposition and going on towards one’s goal.
That, then, is my list. Which songs would you like to share that meet these criteria?