I love Hindi film music. Ameen Sayani's Binaca Geetmala was my favourite programme. We had no radio at our home. I would sneak in to one of my neighbours home every Wednesday at 8 pm to listen to Geetmala. I would keep a record of the songs. One day, I was in Class Ten, Didima called me and my elder brother, and gave us money to buy a record player. It was totally unexpected. There was no end to our happiness. Without wasting any time we headed for the Mall Road. Those days we used to have only one HMV dealer at Kanpur. Only one model was available and so it did not take us much time to have it. Some money still remained. We thought of buying a few records with that money. We bought 2 LP’s. We had not heard the songs before but we bought them. Rabindranath on the cover, perhaps, made us to buy the records Shyama and Shapmochan. Perhps, we wanted to impress Didima, though Didima was not much interested in any kind of music. But she noticed that we love music. Some money still remained. From that we bought one 78 rpm of Mukesh bhajan. On the one side was Pitu matu sahayak swami sakha and on the other Sur ki gati main kya janoo. I can't recall whom we wanted to impress with these Mukesh bhajans. We came home. Our brothers and sisters were astonished and disappointed at our choice of records. I still don’t know why we chose those records. And I also can’t tell you how many times we heard those songs. Listening them became our favourite past time. Overnight, we became singers. My elder brother really sang well, particularly Hemant Kumar songs. I wanted to sing like Mukesh.

When I think of Hindi film music, I think of Vijay Anand, Guru Dutt, and Nasir Hussein. I loved the way they picturised a song. All major actors of the time used to have their favourite music directors; like Dev Anand-SD Burman, Raj Kapoor-Shankar Jaikishan, Dilip Kumar-Naushad. I always wondered who was better as a playback singer – Kishore or Rafi or Hemant – for Dev Anand. Who is better – SD Burman or Salil Choudhury? Who is my favourite – Geeta Dutt or Asha Bhonsle? Among Shailendra and Sahir whose songs were more sensitive?

Hindi cinema got sound in 1931. With the introduction of sound, songs and dances became integral part of Indian cinema. Alam Ara, the first Hindi film with sound had 7 songs. In the initial years, actors/actresses sang their own songs. Due to the lack of technology, this was causing lot of problems to film makers. In 1935, lip synching was introduced in Nitin Bose’s Dhoop Chaon. The music directors were RC Boral and Pankaj Mullick. The song was Main Khush Hona Chahoon sung by Parul Ghosh, Suprabha Sarkar, and Harimati. The lyricist was Pandit Sudarshan. The song was filmed on Parul Ghosh and Suprabha Sarkar. The trend of actors/actresses lip-synching on screen their own recorded songs continued for many years. Then the industry felt that there are many good actors/actresses, but among them many are not good singers. The film Achut Kanya, made in 1936, faced this problem. Its music director Saraswati Devi (the first woman to compose music for a Hindi film) used music to cover up weaker parts of singing. In 1939 began an era of combining a singing star's voice with lip-synching on screen by an acting star. Rajkumari was both, a singer as well as an actress. But she decided to stop acting and lend her voice to other non-singing actresses. Shamshad Begum started singing for others from 1941 onwards. Suraiya came on the scene in 1942 as acting-singing star. Noorjahan was acting and singing from 1942 onwards. Geeta Dutt came in 1946. In the 40’s, Mohd Rafi and Manna Dey came on the scene. In 1947, besides India gaining independence, two other things happened. KL Saigal died early that year and Noorjehan left for Pakistan to continue her acting and singing career there. With the coming of Lata Mangeskar the whole scenario of film music changed. Lata Mangeshkar was only 13 years old when she lost her father. She had to work to fend her family. She got bit roles and sang some stray songs in Marathi for a studio run by her father’s friend. Ghulam Haider introduced her to Hindi film world. She got some chorus songs, often two lines in a chorus. She was competing with established names. After a long struggle she got her first solo song in 1947. With the release of Mahal in 1949, she wrote a new chapter of Hindi film music. Aayega aanewala was a big hit, but Lata’s name was nowhere to be found in the credits of the film. The song was credited instead to Kamini, the character played by Madhubala in the film. People began to ask ‘who sang this song’. On popular demand, Lata's name came on the HMV records and AIR announcements. After this song, she and other singers began to get credits for their songs. In 1950s Asha Bhonsle came to the scene. The years of 1950s-60s are the Golden Years of Hindi film music. It was the era when music was supreme, and not technology. It was the time singers were not getting any royalty. Lata demanded that all singers should be paid royalty. For obvious reasons, her plea was opposed from all quarters. Lata defended the rights of the singers; despite most popular singer Rafi not supporting her move. In the process she made a few enemies. Rafi did not sing with Lata for three years; Raj Kapoor did not use Lata songs in a couple of his films. A lonely woman’s courage deserves the highest salutation. Lata was the watch dog of the industry. But an artist is known by her craft only. Lata will be with us forever.

I have a long list of my favourites. I selected a few to remind me of my golden days. Many more I have kept in my heart. This is my way of celebrating my decades with Hindi film music. Take a look:

Aa chal ke tujhe main le ke chalu, Kishore (singer), Kishore (lyrics), Kishore (music director), Door gagan ki chaon me (film)

Aa gup chup gup chup pyar karein, Hemant Kumar and Sandhya Mukherjee, Sahir Ludhianvi, S D Burman, Sazaa

Aaj rona pada to samjhe, Kishore, Sahir, Hemant Kumar, Girl Friend

Aaja re pardeshi, Lata, Shailendra, Salil Choudhury, Madhumati

Aansoo bhari hai yeh jivan ki rahein, Mukesh, Hasrat Jaipuri, N Dutta, Parwarish

Aao Huzoor Tumko, Asha Bhosle, Noor Devasi, OP Nayyar, Kismat

Abhi na jao chhodkar- Rafi and Asha, Sahir, Jaidev, Hum Dono

Ae Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal, Talat and Lata, Shailendra, Shankar Jaikishan, Daag

Ajeeb dastaan hai yeh, Lata, Shailendra, Shankar-Jaikishan, Dil apna aur preet parayi

Apni to har aah ik toofan hai, Rafi, Shailendra, SD Burman, Kala Bazar

Aye dil mujhe bata de, Geeta, Rajendra Krishan, Madan Mohan, Bhai Bhai

Baiyan na dharo, Lata, Majrooh, Madan Mohan, Dastak

Bhuli hui yaadein, Mukesh, Rajinder Krishan, Madan Mohan, Sanjog

Bichde sabhi baari baari, Rafi, Kaifi Azmi, SD Burman, Kagaz ke phool

Chal ri sajni ab kya soche, Mukesh, Majrooh, SD Burman, Bambai ka babu

Chand phir nikla, Lata, Majrooh, SD Burman, Paying Guest

Chhookar Mere Man Ko Kiya Toone Kya Ishaara, Kishore, Anjan, Rajesh Roshan, Yaarana

Chingari Koi Bhadke- Kishore Kumar, Anand Bakshi, SD Burman, Amar Prem

Chota sa ghar hoga badalon ki chaon me, Kishore, Usha, Shailendra, Salil Choudhury, Naukri

Chotti Si Aasha, Minmini, AR Rahman, Mani Rathnam, Roja

Chup hai dharti chup hain chand sitare, Hemant Kumar, Sahir Ludhianvi, S D Burman, House No. 44

Dukhi Mann Mere, Kishore, Sahir, SD Burman, Funtoosh

Gali Gali Mein Chand, Alka Yagnik, Anand Bakshi, M.M Kareem, Zakhm

Hai apna dil to awara, Hemant, Majrooh Sultanpuri, SD Burman, Solva Saal

Hawaon pe likh do hawaon ke naam, Kishore, Gulzar, Hemant Kumar, Do dooni chaar

Hum Bekhudi me tumko pukare chale gaye, Rafi, Majrooh, SD Burman, Kala Paani

Hum tere pyar me saara alam, Lata, Hasrat, Shankar-Jaikishan, Dil ek mandir

Jaane Kya Tune Kahi, Geeta Dutt, Sahir, SD Burman, Pyaas

Jaiye Aap Kahan Jayange- Asha Bhosle, Mahrooh, OP Nayyar, Mere Sanam

Jeevan ke safar me rahi, Kishore, Sahir, SD Burman, Munimji

Jeevan se bhari teri aankhein, Kishore, Indivar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Safar

Jin raaton ke bhor nahi hai, Kishore, Shailendra, Kishore Kumar, Door gagan ki chaon me

Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalaat pe rona aaya, Rafi, Sahir, Jaidev, Hum Dono

Kahin Door Jab, Mukesh, Yogesh, Salil Choudhury, Anand

Kaise din beete kaise beeti ratiyan, Lata, Shailendra, Ravi Shankar, Anuradha

Kashti ka khamosh safar hai, Kishore, Sahir, Hemant Kumar, Girl Friend

Koi chupke se aake sapne jagake bole, Geeta Dutt, Kapil Kumar, Kanu Roy, Anubhav

Koi humdum na raha koi sahara na raha, Kishore, Majrooh, Kishore Kumar, Jhumroo

Koi lauta de mere beete huye din, Kishore Kumar, Shailendra, Kishore Kumar, Door gagan ki chaon me

Kuchh Dil Ne Kaha- Lata Mangeshkar, Kaifi Azmi, Hemant Kumar, Anupama

Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya, Rafi, Sahir, Jaidev, Hum Dono

Mera Kuchh Saamaan, Asha, Gulzar, RD Burman, Ijaazat

Mera sundar sapna beet gaya, Geeta Dutt, Raja Mehendi Ali Khan, Do Bhai

Mere tute huye dil se, Mukesh, Qamar Jalalabadi, Kalyanji Anandji. Chalia

Mohe bhul gaye sawariya, Lata, Shakeel, Naushad, Baiju Bawra

Mujhe jaan na kaho meri jaan, Geeta Dutt, Gulzar, Kanu Roy, Anubhav

Mujhe tumse kuch bhi na chahiye, Mukesh, Shailendra, Shankar Jaikishan, Kanhaiya

Na tum hamein jano, Hemant, Majrooh Sultanpuri, SD Burman, Baat Ek Raat Ki

Naadaan Parindey, Mohit Chauhan and AR Rahman, Irshad Kamil, AR Rahman, Rockstar

O Rey Chhori, Vasundhara Das, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Javed Akhtar, AR Rahman, Lagaan

Panthi Hoon Nain Us Path Ka, Kishore Kumar, A Arshad, Kishore Kumar, Door Ka Raahi

Piya Tose Naina Lage- Lata Mangeshkar, Shailendra, SD Burman, Guide

Piya tu ab to aajaa, Asha, Majrooh, RD Burman, Carvaan

Poochho Na Kaise Maine- Manna Dey, Shailendra, SD Burman, Meri Surat Teri Aankhen

Preetam aan milo, Geeta Dutt, Majrooh, OP Nayyar, Mr & Mrs 55

Ramaiya Vastavaiya, Lata, Rafi, Mukesh, Shailendra, Shankar Jaikishan, Shree 420

Rasik Balma, Lata, Hasrat, Shankar-Jaikishan, Chori Chori

Rimjhim Gire Sawan, Kishore Kumar, Yogesh, RD Burman, Manzil

Roja Janeman, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sujatha Mohan, PK Mishra, AR Rahman, Roja

Saathi na koi manzil, Rafi, Majrooh, SD Burman, Bambai ka Babu

Sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamaar, Mukesh, Shailendra, Shankar Jaikishan, Teesri kasam

Suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen, Mukesh, Shailendra, Salil Choudhury, Madhumati

Tera jaana dil ke armano ka lut jaana, Lata, Shailendra, Shankar-Jaikishan, Anari

Teri duniya mein jeene se to behtar hai ke mar jayen, Hemant, Sahir, S D Burman, House No. 44

Thandi hawa yeh chandni suhani, Kishore,Majrooh, Kishore Kumar, Jhumroo

Toote huye khabon ne, Rafi, Shailendra, Salil Choudhury, Madhumati

Tujhse naaraz nahi zindagi hairaan hun main, Lata Anup Ghoshal, Gulzar, RD Burman, Masoom

Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho, Jagjit Singh, Kaifi Azmi, Jagjit Singh, Arth

Tum na jaane kis jahan me kho gaye, Lata, Sahir, SD Burman, Sazaa

Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam, Geeta Dutt, Kaifi Azmi, SD Burman, Kagaz ke phool,

Woh Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi, Kishore Kumar, Gulzar, Hemant Kumar, Khamoshi

Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum, Hemant-Lata, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shankar Jaikishan, Patita

Yaad na jaaye beete dinon ki, Rafi , Shailendra, Shankar Jaikishan, Dil Ek Mandir

Ye jo des hai tera, AR Rahman, Javed Akhtar, AR Rahman, Swades

Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai, Rafi, Kaifi Azmi, SD Burman, Pyasa

Yeh mera deewanapan hai, Mukesh, Shailendra, Shankar Jaikishan, Yahudi

Yeh raat yeh chandni phir kahaan, Hemant, Sahir, S D Burman, Jaal

Yeh rate ye mausam nadi ka kinara, Kishore-Asha,Shailendra, Ravi, Dilli ka Thug

Zindagi bhar nahi bhulegi barsaat ki raat, Rafi-Lata,Sahir, Roshan, Barsaat ki Raat

Zindagi Ka Safar, Kishore Kumar, Indeevar, Kalyanji Anandji, Safar

I know I have not included so many songs, particularly the songs of the last 50 years. It was a self-imposed restriction. I can’t justify why I did that except that I am biased towards the music of 50-70. The 50’s and 60’s was the golden period of film music. A golden oldie takes me to my good old days. The moment I hear those songs, the sound track of my mental movie starts rolling, and I see my people and places in my mind’s eye. Howsoever sophisticated my taste might have become, my head stays jammed to some songs. Meaningless are songs, unless laced with emotions. Young- age songs sound sweeter. When I hear those songs, joys of yesteryear surge anew. I like to listen some songs, alone, to be with those who are no longer with me.