People say that good music is not being created nowadays but that's not correct, every now and then a good song pop up but these songs have no shelf life. These songs are without soul. Today's composers and lyricists shun the silences that needed for the original thought. Today's music makers believe in creating Hit songs rather creating great art.
In the Golden Era, there was a desire to make tunes of lasting values. To achieve that they were always played with the fresh idea and experimenting with new instruments and sounds. Singers were also putting great effort to cultivate original expressions.
If we look back and see that in the first four decades of cinema and its music (1931-1970), some 4,400 Hindi films were released with about 36,000 songs in them, giving us an average of over 8 songs per film. All this just highlights the importance we have attached to our film music.
For your information, Indrasabha released in1932 remains a film with the highest number of songs in a film with no less than 69 tracks.
Here is a representation of a few films and the number of songs that were embedded into them in the first decade of Indian filmdom:
This mood spilt over somewhat into the 1950s, with Jogan(1950/15 songs), Albela (1951/12 songs), Sansaar(1951/14 songs), Baiju Bawra (1952/13 songs), Anarkali (1953/12 songs), Nagin (1954/13 songs), and so on, with ten songs being quite a common occurrence. This number has been going progressively down over the decades. In recent years it was in Hum Apke Hain Kaun released in 1994 had 14 songs.
Over the centuries, we have had bhajans and kirtans in homes and in mohallas, qawwalis in dargahs, and plays based on epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata in full measure. All these have involved music, as well as folk songs, theatre, puppetry, bidaayi geet, and a wide variety of region-centric street performances. The music is in our blood. Indian films cannot be liked without music.
Since cinema is a very powerful audio-visual medium, we must consider the film song in its visual context too. It is here that beautiful and talented people can elevate the melody, as so many did. Meena Kumari, Nutan, Nargis, Vyjayantimala, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Dharmendra, Suchitra Sen, Shashi Kapoor.etc.
Hindi film songs became so popular among the cine-goers, it attracted more and more audience to cinema theatres. The filmmaker took the talented music directors and lyricists to create songs to attract more public to the cinema. Film song which is packaged as products that not only promote the sale of the film but stand alone as commercial products.
The songs of the Golden era are so expressive and passionate that they refresh the mood and tired senses. Some of the songs are heart touching, some of them are witty, some are amusing you name the mood and you will find a good old song.
The time is called golden era where style and subtleness ruled, and when the renowned music directors legends like S.D Burman, Naushad, Salil Chowdhary, Shankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Madan Mohan, O.P.Nayyar, Chitragupt, R D Burman composed magical numbers. Every significant composer from Hindi cinema of that era has left behind a remarkable footprint of tunes based on classical ragas, songs that just refuse to perish, for they have no expiry date.
Singers such as Saigal, Mohammad Rafi, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum, Suraiya, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Suman Kalyanpur, Manna Dey, Talat Mehmood and many more ruled. The fact is that listening to old Hindi songs in which the lyrics are so wonderful, they are the best medicine for the listeners.
The lyrics of these old songs also played an important role. The lyrics were penned with the simplicity of words and expression, speaking about the deep spiritual truths about our existence and surroundings. There was pleasure in songs – whether a patriotic song, romantic song or devotional songs, they all celebrated life. Solos expressed the transience of love and life. Lyricists such as Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Neeraj, Anand Bakshi, Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Shakeel Badayuni, Pradeep, Kaifi Azami and Gulzar penned remarkable, soul-stirring poetries some of which were replete with clichés and metaphors contributing to the golden era.
Have you ever thought, why these songs were so popular?. Why hasn’t their popularity collapsed? Young contestants often sing old songs in competitions, even if the judges too are young people, and many of these contests are shown on television. At parties, many young people love the work of Madan Mohan, SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Sahir, Shakeel, Mukesh, Shamshad, Rafi, Lata, Asha, Geeta and Talat, even though they were born decades after many of these giants passed on. Get into a taxi in Delhi or in Mumbai, chances are the driver is listening to a radio program of retro Hindi film songs.
Here are some of these Immortal songs of the Golden Era