An Indian Morning celebrates not only the music of India but equally its various arts and artisans, poets and potters, kings and patriots. The ethos of the program is summarized by its signature closing line, "Seeking the spirit of India, Jai Hind". हार्दिक अभिनंदन आप सबका, शुक्रिया, धन्यवाद और Thank You इस प्रोग्राम को सुनने के लिए। A rather circuitous train of thought led to this week’s shrunkhla. Google restructured itself recently. One of the objectives of this restructure was to allow the internet giant to focus on new initiatives, like their self-driving car. This got me thinking of an era gone by that had Hindi film heroes and heroines singing songs to the rhythm of tongas, the anti-thesis of self-driving cars. Like I said— circuitous. The key feature of the tonga song was a rhythm that evoked the clip-clop of a horse pulling a carriage. Although he didn’t invent the tonga rhythm, OP Nayyar was probably the most skilled at it. He dominated a crowdsourced tonga song playlist I put together some time ago (the most comprehensive list I’ve seen), with 14 out of the total of 83 songs. Surprisingly, Naushad and Roshan also appear a lot in this list, with 10 and 6 songs respectively. Most of these songs showed the hero and heroine romancing each other but there were some exceptions. One had sons singing to their mother, "Usko Nahin Dekha Humne Kabhi" from Daadi Maa (1966), while there was another dedicated to Kolkata, "Sunoji Yeh Kalkatta Hai" from the 1958 film Howrah Bridge. Many of these songs actually involved a tonga on-screen, but some had a horse without a carriage, like "Mere Sang Sang Aaya" from Rajput (1982) and there were others that had no horse at all, "Bach Gaye Hum Dono Phanste Phanste" from Chacha Zindabad (1959). It appears that the 1950s were the golden era of tonga songs. After a sputtering start in the 1940s (3 songs), we saw 38 tonga songs in the 1950s. Each subsequent decade saw progressively fewer tonga songs— 24 in the 1960s, 12 in the 1970s, 6 in the 1980s, two in the 1990s and none since then. Art does indeed imitate life. In this episode I have picked 10 tonga songs, some because they are my favourites and others because they tell a story. "Chale Pawan Ki Chaal Jag Mein" — Doctor (1941) It can safely be said that the inventor of the tonga rhythm in Hindi films was Pankaj Mullick. The tonga beats were apparently created using coconut shells. Pankaj Mullick not only composed and sang this tonga song, he also appeared onscreen riding the tonga. Doctor was one of the few films in which he acted. Incidentally, the film had another path-breaking use of rhythm—"Aayi Bahaar Aaj"—only this time it was Pankaj Mullick simulating the rhythm of a train. 01-Chale Pawan Ki Chaal Jag Mein CD MISC-20170430 Track#01 3:10 DOCTOR-1941; Pankaj Mullick; Pankaj Mullick; Pradeep https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btaDPDdwhLc "Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Na Dena" — Deedar (1951) This is my favourite tonga song by Naushad. There are two versions of the songs. The first one is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum and represents the love and hope of Dilip Kumar and Nargis’ characters in their childhood. The second is a Mohd. Rafi solo which represents the angst of unfulfilled love. I picked the Rafi solo because, leaving aside the excessive melodrama of the song’s climax, Dilip Kumar and Nargis are a sight to behold. 02-Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Na Dena CD MISC-20170430 Track#02 2:04 DEEDAR-1951; Mohammad Rafi; Naushad; Shakeel Badayuni https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMjshfGPuxA "Piya Piya Piya Mera Jiya Pukare" — Baap Re Baap (1955) This OP Nayyar duet is one of my most favourite tonga songs and has some excellent yodelling by Kishore Kumar. I also love it for the story behind it and what it tells us about Kishore Kumar. In the second antara after Kishore Kumar's line, Asha Bhosle started to sing out of turn and then stopped after she realised her mistake but Kishore Kumar carried on. Distressed by the mistake, Asha Bhosle wanted to redo the song but Kishore Kumar asked her not to worry. He said that he was the hero in the movie and that he would cover the heroine's mouth in the scene where she sings out of turn to hide the blooper (at 2:20 in the song). 03-Piya Piya Mera Jiya Pukare CD MISC-20170430 Track#03 3:14 BAAP RE BAAP-1955; Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle; O.P.Nayyar; Jan Nisar Akhtar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07q2mMBZMAg "Tumsa Nahin Dekha" — Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) Tumsa Nahin Dekha was a big hit and its success—a big part of which can be attributed directly to OP Nayyar’s vibrant, youthful music—transformed two careers. Nasir Hussain struck gold in his debut as director and went on to enjoy a long, fruitful career as a producer and director. Shammi Kapoor, who got the role after Dev Anand rejected it, got his first hit film and became a star almost overnight. The film’s title song was the only song in film written by Sahir Ludhianvi, who walked out of the film after he developed differences with Nasir Hussain. It’s a wonder how the effervescence of OP Nayyar’s music in this tonga song contains and strengthens so many possible points of failure— a director's debut, a struggling actor and a mercurial lyricist who would walk out from the film. 04-Tumsa Nahin Dekha CD MISC-20170430 Track#04 3:19 TUMSA NAHIN DEKHA-1957; Mohammad Rafi; O.P.Nayyar; Sahir Ludhianavi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezpvc3lNLK0 "Maang Ke Saath Tumhara" — Naya Daur (1957) While OP Nayyar did the heavy lifting in Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Naya Daur was a solid project with the competent BR Chopra at the helm, Dilip Kumar at his peak and some great writing. OP Nayyar’s music and Sahir’s lyrics were the delicious icing on the cake. “Maang Ke Saath Tumhara” is the quintessential tonga song, a light, frothy duet by Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhosle, that works especially well in the film because Dilip Kumar’s character is a tongawala. 05-Maang Ke Saath Tumhara CD MISC-20170430 Track#05 3:38 NAYA DAUR-1957; Mohammad Rafi, Asha Bhosle; O.P.Nayyar; Sahir Ludhianavi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBUBPElquj4 "Banda Parvar Thaam Lo Jigar" — Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963) There were two crucial enablers in Joy Mukherjee’s career. The first enabler was his father, producer S Mukherjee, who launched him in Love In Simla (1960), under his banner, Filmalaya, and produced many of his films. The second enabler was the fantastic music his films seemed to be blessed with. His debut film Love In Simla had some decent songs by Iqbal Qureshi but his career was elevated to a completely different level with his next two films, Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) and Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), thanks to OP Nayyar’s blockbuster music. "Banda Parwar" might have been a standard OP Nayyar tonga song—upbeat and eminently hummable—but it has an additional ingredient that puts it in a class of its own, the subtle strains of a sarangi. 06-Banda Parwar Tham Lo Jigar CD MISC-20170430 Track#06 4:21 PHIR WOHI DIL LAYA HOON-1963; Mohammad Rafi; O.P.Nayyar; Iqbal Qureshi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ilq_l0qDzs8 "Zara Haule Haule Chalo More Saajna" — Sawan Ki Ghata (1966) This tonga song, featuring the unlikely pair of Manoj Kumar and Sharmila Tagore, appears on this list simply because I absolutely adore how Asha Bhosle sounds in it. OP Nayyar does that trick again where he contrasts an upbeat rhythm with a haunting violin solo to devastating effect. 07-Zara Haule Haule Chalo More Saajna CD MISC-20170430 Track#07 3:17 SAWAN KI GHATA-1966; Asha Bhosle; O.P.Nayyar; S.H.Bihari https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=832PCXbQ37g "Usko Nahin Dekha Humne Kabhi" — Daadi Maa (1966) This is an uncharacteristic tonga song— a male duet sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Manna Dey, with a theme that is not romance and one in which the element of melody is just as prominent as the rhythm. This is the only Roshan song in this list but, as I mentioned earlier, not the only tonga song he had composed. 08-Usko Nahin Dekha Humne Kabhi CD MISC-20170430 Track#08 4:17 DAADI MAA-1966; Mahendra Kapoor, Manna Dey; Roshan; Majrooh Sultanpuri https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HbmbO0b-Sc "Koi Haseena Jab Rooth Jaati Hai To" — Sholay (1975) This crackling Kishore Kumar solo is RD Burman’s only entry in this list. Given how good he was with rhythm, I wonder why he didn’t compose more tonga songs. What may be considered as a creepy, stalker song today was playfully charming when it came out. Mercifully, Veeru wins over Basanti’s affections by the end of the song. This is a rare tonga song in which we know the name of the mare - Dhanno. For a film that recently completed 40 years, it’s amazing how fresh Sholay is in the minds of people. 09-Koi Haseena Jab Rooth Jaati Hai To CD MISC-20170430 Track#09 4:06 SHOLAY-1975; Kishore Kumar, Hema Malini; R.D.Burman; Anand Bakshi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTOvx1o8Xn0 "Ello Ji Sanam Hum Aa Gaye" — Andaz Apna Apna (1994) Andaz Apna Apna had some decent retro music before it became cool to feature retro music in films. We don’t know if the film’s music was a result of director Raj Kumar Santoshi’s vision but we do know that the film’s music director, Tushar Bhatia, was an inveterate OP Nayyar fan. “Ello Ji Sanam” was his tribute to OP Nayyar’s famed tonga music. Andaz Apna Apna went on to become a cult classic but it remained Tushar Bhatia’s only film as composer as he went on to pursue a career in media. 10-Ello Ello Ji Sanam Hum Aa Gaye CD MISC-20170430 Track#10 4:06 ANDAZ APNA APNA-1994; Vicky Mehta, Behroze Chatterjee; Tushar Bhatia; Majrooh Sultanpuri https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuQMdLveulc The era of tonga songs may have passed but they still serve as a reminder of a slower, gentler time. THE END समाप्त
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