Ten of my favourite Bharat Bhushan songs

Over the years this blog has been in existence, several people have asked me to compile a list of songs that are beautiful to listen to, but which are terribly picturized—songs which I don’t like to watch, only listen to. Every time I’ve started to compile a list, I’ve given up quickly, because I’ve found myself listing almost all of Bharat Bhushan’s songs.

Bharat Bhushan, while he lip-synced to some truly memorable songs, has never been one of my favourite actors. But one thing is undeniable: this man was at one time hugely successful, working opposite some of Hindi cinema’s leading ladies—from Madhubala to Meena Kumari, Nimmi to Mala Sinha—and commanding among the highest fees of his time. Bharat Bhushan, in his heyday, was not to be scoffed at (it’s a different—and very sad—story that he went from rags to riches, being reduced to acting as an extra, and being spotted by Amitabh Bachchan waiting in line at a bus stop).

Today, to commemorate Bharat Bhushan’s birth centenary (he was born on June 14, 1920, in Meerut), I decided I would celebrate with a list of ten of my favourite Bharat Bhushan songs. As always, these are all from pre-70s films that I’ve seen, and are in no particular order.

1. Ketaki gulab juhi champak ban phoole (Basant Bahar, 1956): When I was initially thinking of the songs I’d include in this post, I briefly toyed with the idea of making it a solos-only list. But a closer look at my favourite Bharat Bhushan songs revealed the fact that some of his best songs are the ones which are duets. This one, for example, from one of the many films in which Bharat Bhushan acted as a poet/musician. In this stunning display of classical vocals, his character (with Manna Dey singing playback) goes into a battle of voices with a character for whom none other than Pandit Bhimsen Joshi sings playback. Ketaki gulab is a song that gives me gooseflesh, I find it so good—and this from someone who knows nothing of classical Hindustani music.

2. Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon (Jahanara, 1964): Jahanara was yet another film where Bharat Bhushan acted as a poet—as Mirza Changezi, a shaayar who makes the mistake of falling in love with a Mughal princess, the eponymous Jahanara, daughter of Shahjahan. A mistake, because Jahanara, as a princess, was not allowed to marry. This tale of a doomed love was as tragic as most of the period films Bharat Bhushan acted in, and it had some lovely songs. Of the ones Bharat Bhushan lip-syncs to, my favourites are Phir wohi shaam wohi gham and this one. This one a wee bit more, its poignancy made even more touching by the emotion in Talat’s voice and the pain in Rajinder Krishan’s lyrics—plus, of course, Madan Mohan’s beautiful music. The epitome of a sad love song.

3. Dil-e-naadaan tujhe hua kya hai (Mirza Ghalib, 1954): Yet another film in which Bharat Bhushan played a poet—but in this, unlike in Jahanara, the man he played was none other than the poet who is arguably Urdu literature’s most popular shaayar. Mirza Asadullah Begh ‘Ghalib’, who was for some time ustad to Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ himself, and who composed a huge corpus of work in both Persian as well as Urdu. Of course, the film, being after all a Hindi film, took liberties galore with the events and life of Ghalib, including creating a lady love for him, played by Suraiya.

Mirza Ghalib had some superb songs, several of them beautiful renditions of Ghalib’s ghazals by Suraiya. This ghazal, addressed to the singer’s heart, which refuses to stop thinking of and loving the beloved, is one of my favourite songs from the film.

4. Yeh ishq ishq hai (Barsaat ki Raat, 1960): If Bharat Bhushan hadn’t had a Baiju Bawra, a Mirza Ghalib, Shabaab, Basant Bahaar or a Sangeet Samrat Tansen in his filmography, he would still have ranked for me as one of the actors to have lip-synced to my favourite songs: because he was the one who lip-synced to what is, in my opinion, the very best qawwali ever in Hindi cinema. Barsaat ki Raat was one great song after another (and many people, I think, would have likely chosen the title song for this list), but for me there is no equalling Yeh ishq ishq hai. Bharat Bhushan’s character, a poet (what else!) is sitting in the audience and looking on as family friends—played by Shyama and Ratna (who later went on to marry Bharat Bhushan)—compete in a qawwali face-off with a very reputed qawwal. The women’s team does very well in the beginning but then falters, and finally unable to see them lose, our shaayar steps up.

Not only does he spout some great poetry (and sung beautifully too, by the inimitable Mohammad Rafi), he also succeeds in energizing them again. And, more importantly for his own love life, he is able to spur his lady love into showing a bit of spirit and leaving her home to come to him.

A fabulous song.

5. Mann tadpat hari darshan ko aaj (Baiju Bawra, 1952): Bharat Bhushan had made his debut in Kidar Nath Sharma’s Chitralekha in 1941, but it took another decade for him to hit the jackpot with Baiju Bawra, the tale of the legendary musician/singer of medieval India. In this film, with music by Naushad and lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, Bharat Bhushan got to lip-sync to such gems as Tu Ganga ki mauj, Jhoole mein pawan ki aayi bahaar, and O duniya ke rakhwaale. Of all the songs of Baiju Bawra, my favourite sung by Bharat Bhushan’s Baiju is this song, which could be construed both as a hymn as well as a paean to a much-loved and highly respected guru.  The very controlled start of Mann tadpat hari darshan ko aaj, building up into a crescendo as it nears the end: a virtuoso performance by Rafi, and combined with the music and the lyrics through it all—unforgettable.

6. Chandan ka palna resham ki dori (Shabaab, 1954): An insomniac princess’s lack of sleep is not merely driving her to ill-health, it’s also driving everybody around her—the king, her ladies-in-waiting, everybody—batty. Nothing works, not the best physicians, not the lullabies sung by dozens of acclaimed singers from far and wide. Until a singer (Bharat Bhushan, of course) arrives and sings a gentle lullaby: of a cradle made of sandalwood, of the cool breezes rocking a beauty to sleep… and sure enough, his voice is so soothing and his words so evocative, the sleepless princess does indeed fall asleep.

Hemant is not a voice I generally associate with singing playback for Bharat Bhushan, but his voice really suits Bharat Bhushan in Chandan ka palna: mellifluous, gentle, quiet.

7. Do ghadi woh jo paas aa baithe (Gateway of India, 1957): Bharat Bhushan was so stereotyped as the poet/musician that even in the (relatively infrequent) film which had a modern setting—as opposed to period films like most of his most well-known ones—he ended up playing a poet anyway. As in Gateway of India. In this very unusual heroine-centric film, Madhubala was the undoubted focus of the story, a heroine on a night-long adventure which brought her in contact with a series of men, each seemingly more unscrupulous than the last. Bharat Bhushan, as the only one who is a ‘good man’, is the one with whom she sings this romantic song: not really yet an expression of love, since they’ve only just met, but rather an exchange of a love for poetry.

8. Tum bin jaaoon kahaan (Pyaar ka Mausam, 1969): Bharat Bhushan acted in some of Hindi cinema’s biggest musical hits, from Baiju Bawra to Barsaat ki Raat: but in the span of just one decade, he went from being a hero to being relegated to the sidelines. By the last couple of years of the 60s, though he did act in the lead role in films like Taqdeer (from which the song Jab jab bahaar aayi aur phool muskuraaye proved a big hit), he was also reduced to taking on the part of Shashi Kapoor’s character’s father in Pyaar ka Mausam. A father, yes, but also one who sings beautifully. Tum bin jaaoon kahaan appears in various avatars throughout Pyaar ka Mausam, but the first time it’s featured—playback by Kishore Kumar—is when it’s lip-synced by Bharat Bhushan, a man singing a love song to the wife he loves so much.

9. Jhannan-jhannan baaje paayaliya (Rani Rupmati, 1957): One of those rare period films in which Bharat Bhushan didn’t play a poet or musician—but Baaz Bahadur was (at least according to this film) more acclaimed for his love for music than for any prowess as a general and/or ruler. In fact, his love for Rani Rupmati is also seemingly founded on their mutual love for music—possibly even the only reason for them to be kindred souls. While Aa lautke aaja mere meet is probably the first song from this film that comes to mind when one talks of songs Bharat Bhushan lip-synced to, I love Jhannan-jhannan just a wee bit more (perhaps because it’s not been done to death the way Aa lautke has been?) A fine bit of singing, and lovely music too.

10. O ashaadh ke pehle baadal (Kavi Kalidas, 1959): Given Bharat Bhushan’s track record as the portrayer of various musicians, singers and poets from history, it’s appropriate that I should end this list with yet another of those films in which he played one of these characters. Here, he plays the famous Sanskrit poet, Kalidas. Lyricist Bharat Vyas excelled in creating songs inspired by Kalidas’s own works, and in O ashaadh ke pehle baadal, he uses Kalidas’s famous lyric poem, Meghdootam as the basis of this song. Kalidas (Bharat Bhushan) sings some of the verses as the narrator, telling the ‘cloud messenger’, the ‘meghdoot’, what sights he will see on the way to Alkapuri, where the narrator’s wife lives. Along the way, at Kurukshetra, Mt Kailash, and more, there are dancers who sing verses, but the action shifts again and again to Kalidas.

A long song, and changing track (and even tune) now and then. Manna Dey is superb as the voice of Bharat Bhushan—and the song itself is an interesting snapshot of Meghdootam.

And, because I love this song, a bonus one.

Jhoomti chali hawa yaad aa gaya koi (Sangeet Samrat Tansen, 1962): I haven’t watched Sangeet Samrat Tansen (there seem to be conflicting opinions in the realm of cine-blogging and microblogging about this film: some assert that it was never even released commercially). If this period piece—another film featuring Bharat Bhushan as yet another musician, this time the famous Tansen, one of the nau ratna of Akbar’s court—went unreleased, I fail to understand why. With music so good, in an era when good music often made big hits of films that were otherwise unexceptional, Sangeet Samrat Tansen could have probably done well.

Anyhow, my favourite song from this film. Sung by Mukesh, lip-synced by Bharat Bhushan, and a beautiful one.

Which songs of Bharat Bhushan’s do you like best? Please share!

40 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Bharat Bhushan songs

  1. Great List. Basant Bahar happens to be my favorite album of his.
    No disrespect but he is on the opposite side of spectrum as Shammi Kapoor. I would rather listen and see him on screen. But he can claim to be the face for some of the great songs of Hindi Cinema. Dont know enough about his personal story but wonder how he could fritter away his wealth and die in poverty. In my mind, this sad aspect sticks even more strongly.

    • Yes, the tragedy of it all – from such success to such poverty – is really distressing.

      Agree with you about the him being on the opposite side of the spectrum as Shammi Kapoor. :-)

      • Did a bit of googling. Understand he was born in a good family, made wealth by acting and frittered away when he became a producer. However he had to sell prime property. But his daughter clarifies in a news item that he still had his flat in Malad West where he died as a commoner and fortunately not a pauper or destitute. Big fall but hopefully dignity not lost.

  2. ‘ Sangeet Samrat Tansen ‘ was very much released commercially and I have seen it in the early 60’s.
    As for my favourite songs picturized on Bharat Bhushan, my favorites are ‘ Dil ki tamanna thi masti me ‘ from ‘ Gyarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan ‘ and ‘ Mehfil se ooth jaane waalon tum logon par kya ilzaam ‘ from ‘ Dooj ka chand ‘ .

    • Ah, okay. I wish that some video production company would release Sangeet Samrat Tansen digitally too. So many obscure films have been released, why not something which had such hit music too?

      I like Mehfil se uth jaanewaalon. Nice song.

  3. At the moment, I can’t think of any songs – or at least not songs from other films – to add to this really nice list. (And I don’t know all of these, though I am very fond of some. I still have to check out the others.)

    I did not know that Bharat Bhushan’s birthday was June 14 – the day right before Suraiya’s! Well, that is a very good excuse to spend the next two days delving back into all those great songs in Mirza Ghalib. :)

    • I had forgotten that it was Suraiya’s birthday today! That’s a nice coincidence. Incidentally, it’s Hemant’s birth centenary tomorrow – Bharat Bhushan was two days older than him. :-)

  4. Madhu,
    Bharat Bhushan had the privilege of lip-synching some of the best Hindi film songs. It is sad how he went from riches to rags. I think there were many such cases due to excesses in life-style and lack of any planning for future. You have nicely highlighted his poet-shayar-singer roles. It would be interesting to compare who did the most typed roles, such as Rajendra Kumar as a doctor etc.
    AK

    • “It would be interesting to compare who did the most typed roles, such as Rajendra Kumar as a doctor etc.

      Yes, interesting, indeed! I think Pradeep Kumar would come a close second to Bharat Bhushan in the period film roles. Of course, other actors – possibly not as famous – who also were pretty typecast in period films were P Jairaj and Mahipal, both usually seen only in period films.

  5. Great list. Bharat Bhushan was one of the few actors who had memorable songs in almost all of his fims. Regarding his career downfall, I feel it stemmed from the fact that he was unwilling to step out from his comfort zone…..his films were largely successful due to great music rather than his acting capabilities..(not hating)

    • Agree, I’m not hating him either, it’s just that he’s not one of my favourite actors. I wonder if after a while his unwillingness to step out of his comfort zone also led to people typecasting him. And, all said and done, unless a period film (which covers most of Bharat Bhushan’s filmography) has major stars and good production values (like Mughal-e-Azam), it’s not amongst the most popular genres in India.

  6. Very good list of melodious songs.
    Really he had so many wonderful and popular songs picturised on him.
    You’ve covered most of the popular songs already, I would add,
    Nain Dwar Se Man Mein
    And
    Bheega Bheega Pyar Ka Sama
    from Sawan, where he pkayed the title role of Sawan.

    I also remember a fun song from Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh, where he acts like a tapori,
    Auraton Ke dabbe mein mard

    Phagun, Naya Kanoon, Kavi, Meenar also had good songs,
    If I remember correctly, he also won best actor Filmfare Award for the movie, ‘Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’.
    It was the movie where Lata Mangeshkar sang for RC Boral.

    :-)

    • Thank you, Anupji! Glad you liked this post. You’ve mentioned several films I’ve heard of but never watched. I remember watching a bit of Phagun long ago on DD, but the electricity went after a while, and I couldn’t see the rest. Never even felt like watching the rest!

      I have seen Mud-Mud ke Na Dekh. A very different Bharat Bhushan film, and if I remember correctly, it was Prem Chopra’s debut film.

  7. This song from “Taqdeer” is always in my top favourite songs list, though bit disappointed that you have not included in your list,

    • Yes, Jab-jab bahaar aayi aur phool muskuraaye is a nice one. It was on my shortlist, but I decided I liked the other songs more. Good to see you mentioning it, though.

  8. You’re a kind soul, Madhu. I love all the songs in your list but I don’t think I’m generous enough to give Bharat Bhushan any credit for them. :-) Re: Sangeet Samrat Tansen, I’ve watched the movie on VHS sometime in the 90s, so it was definitely released.

    Here’s a nice Rafi song from another movie featuring Bharat Bhushan as a poet, but this time a modern one. If you haven’t seen the film, give it a try. Apart from Vyjanthimala and BB the movie co-stars the always great Ashok Kumar and has an interesting somewhat progressive plot.

    Kuch aisi pyaari shakl mere dilrbua – Naya Kanoon/Madan Mohan/Mohd. Rafi/Hasrat

    • You’re a kind soul, Madhu. I love all the songs in your list but I don’t think I’m generous enough to give Bharat Bhushan any credit for them. :-)

      LOL! No, I don’t think he deserves any credit for them – it’s certainly not BB who makes the song what it is. But an excuse for a post, I guess!

      Thank you for this song (which I liked a lot) and for the movie recommendation. I’ve been watching some pretty awful movies lately, so I was looking for a recommendation.

  9. Melodious songs sung by great voices. Bharath Bhusan, Pradeep Kumar and Balraj Sahni were all in similar movies and sometimes difficult to differentiate the songs!! Nice list and made for some good memories!!!
    Girish Vaidya

  10. So glad you picked Bharat Bhushan songs, he had some superb songs filmed on him, after acting in well over 230-240 films, he is unfortunately almost forgotten!!! Being a movie buff of b/w era, I have seen almost all films available. This one comes to the mind:

    this one beautifully sung by Talat Saheb

    Memorable song
    Cheers

  11. Sorry pls edit out Rafi Saheb from above post… I had also picked Jab Jab bahar aaye, this is already mentioned by a viewer, thanks

      • No Madhu was trying to link this one:
        This heart-touching ghazal/song “Phir Wahi Shaam Wahi Gham” (based on Baageshree and set in Dadra) from the film, “Jahan Ara (1964)”
        Singer:Talat Mahmood Music:Madan Mohan Lyricist:Rajender Krishan
        Unfort link would just not come up, cheers

  12. WHY NOT WOH DUNIYA KE RAKH WALE AND ZINDAGI BHAR BHOOLENGI NAHI BARASAAAT KI RAAT WHICH ARE POPULAR EVEN TODAY ? WHENEVER RAFI SAAB WENT FOR A MUSICAL PROGRAMME THE DEMAND FROM AUDIENCE WAS FOR SINGING WOH DUNIYAKE RAKHWALE

    • Please don’t shout.

      Why not Duniya ke rakhwaale? Because I don’t like the song and this is a list of my favourites; nobody else can dictate to me which songs I should like and which I shouldn’t.

  13. I often used to complain that Mohammed Rafi had a lot to answer for (and the various music directors too, of course) – he made stars out of very wooden actors – Bharat Bhushan, Pradeep Kumar (who could at least be a very impressive clothes horse in period films), Rajendra Kumar, Biswajeet…

    I must confess that I don’t really mind Bharat Bhushan on screen – he’s like that garden ornament that you don’t really notice, but are quite fond of when you do.
    He did have a number of great songs picturised on him, didn’t he? Loved the songs in your list, and seconding Shalini here – Sangeet Samrat Tansen was definitely released.

    Also, seconding the commenter who wrote that he did not die of penury as was commonly reported. His daughter clarified that her father lived and died in his flat in Malad, among the books he loved. (Another reason for liking him!)
    https://www.filmibeat.com/television/news/2020/ramayan-s-mandodari-aparajita-bhushan-speaks-about-her-role-298045.html

    May I offer:
    (Since you haven’t said no to duets): Chaahe paas ho chaahe door ho – a Lata Mangeshkar-Mohammed Rafi from Samrat Chandragupt

    Duniya na bhaaye from Basant Bahar (though Ketki gulab juhi is possibly the best song in the film)

    Main soya akhiyaan neechefrom Phagun

    A happy Bharat Bhushan. :)
    Dil ki tamanna thi masti mein from Gyaarah Hazaar Ladkiyaan

    • “he’s like that garden ornament that you don’t really notice, but are quite fond of when you do.

      LOL! Now I will constantly be reminded of a garden gnome every time I see Bharat Bhushan onscreen. :-D

      Nice songs, Anu. I especially like Main soya akhiyaan meeche. Thank you for these.

  14. I have trouble with these actors like Bharat Bushan and Pradeep Kumar who like to ‘under-act’ a little too much. In the background Mohd. Rafi would be traversing 3 or more octaves and nearly touching the ends of the human decibel range, but on screen Bharat Bushan would not even be furrowing an eyebrow.
    But I am grateful that we got to listen to these gems that you have picked out, no matter the picturization.

    • “but on screen Bharat Bushan would not even be furrowing an eyebrow.

      What a brilliant way of putting it! Yes, indeed. Too under-emotive, that way.

      Glad you liked my selection of songs. Thank you!

  15. A really nice collection!
    I personally like all the songs from Baiju Bawra but yes, Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj and o duniya ke rakhawale really showcase Rafi’s range…
    Even Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi is melodious.
    After watching many of his movies I did not mind Bharat Bhushan on screen,- I may be the only one, but soon I realized that I liked his movies because of the songs in them and not because of his acting— it’s as if he doesn’t act at all. :-)
    I only find his acting acceptable in Baiju Bawra for that matter…

    • “I liked his movies because of the songs in them and not because of his acting— it’s as if he doesn’t act at all. :-)

      LOL! I completely agree. He does come across as not acting at all. But the songs in his movies were invariably fabulous.

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