Anniversary Milestone: Indian Filmi Songs


In this instalment of the Washerman’s Dog Anniversary Edition we pay tribute to the Indian film music industry. When I was in high school and was about to launch upon writing my first ‘research paper’, as instructed by our teacher, I chose a subject of interest. It was something like ‘The Nazis”.

My teacher called me aside and counseled me that perhaps I should reflect on the subject and in particular, the aspect of it sheer vastness. ‘Is there any particular angle you want to take? Could you narrow it down to a more manageable piece of work?’ I returned to my desk, chastened but forever indebted to that mentoring.

When I, with my limited knowledge of the subject “Bollywood Music”, prepare myself to put together a playlist of outstanding or representative or characteristic songs from the film studios of India I am overwhelmed. Simply and completely. Does one go with the evergreens, the classically based ones, the modern fast dance numbers, the oddities or what? And then how does represent all of India, and not just Hindi speaking listeners? From what I can tell Tamil films and Telegu films and Bengali films are equally blessed with wonderful musicians, composers and singers.

By this time I’m fidgety and want to walk away from this bloody Anniversary idea.

Calmer, after a cup of tea, I plough ahead. And for better or worse with no pretensions of any overarching themes, herewith is my choice, which I hope you’ll dig too. I’ve tried to stay away from the usual well known hits (but have not avoided them completely), and given a preference for some of the lesser known singers and artists. I’ve chucked in a few Dravidian hits (which I love but don’t understand), a couple of English-based retreads and find I’ve got quite a few duets in the mix too.

I end up with some more upbeat contemporary sounds.   With love but not necessarily any cohesion, I pesh karo to you, this playlist.


Track Listing:

01 Theme Music (Karz:1980)

02 Tum Tum Tumba (Karate: 1983)

03 Kahin Door Jab Din Dhale (Anand: 1971)

04 Anbe Vaa (Anbe Vaa: 1966)

05 Puthu Villai (Roja:1992)

06 Aaj ki Raat (Aman: 1966)

07 Jane na Nazar (Aah: 1953)

08 Hello Hello Sun Sun Sun (Pyar Mohabbat: 1966)

09 Saathi na Koi Manzil (Bombay ka Babu:1960)

10 Waqt Ne Kiya Koi Haseen Sitam (Kaghaz ke Phool: 1959)

11 Main To Kuchh Bhi Nahin (Daag: 1973)

12 Athey Athey (Ramudu Bheemudu:1964)

13 Yeh Nai Nai Preet Hai (Pocket Maar: 1956)

14 Ye Duniya (Lakhon Mein Ek: 1971)

15 Music Theme (Kashish: 1980)

16 Each Time I Remember Your Pretty Face (Qurbani: 1980)

17 Come Closer (Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki: 1984)

18 Ek Ladki ko Dekha (1942 A Love Story: 1994)

19 Sharaab Hai Shabaab Hai (Aatish: 1979)

20 Chaman Mein Rah Ke Virana (Deedar: 1951)

21 Ravoyee Chandamama (Missamma: 1955)

22 Maan Mera Ehsaan (Aan: 1952)

23 Naan Yaar Theriyuma (Naa Yaar Theryuma: 1967)

24 Jis Gali Mein Tera Ghar (Safar: 1970)

25 Sapna Mera Toot Gaya (Khel Khel Mein: 1975)

26 Hamen Tumse Pyar Kitna (Kudrat: 1981)

27 Nahin Chahiye Rang Mahal (College Girl: 1981)

28 Phir Mujhe Deeda-e-tar-Yaad Aaya (Mirza Ghalib: 1954)

29 Aao Twist Karen (Bhoot Bungla: 1965)

30 Kuchi Kuchi Twist (Quick Gun Murugan: 2009)

31 When I Say Come (Inspector Vikram: 1989)

32 Aboorva Sakthi 369 (Puthiyaulagille:1991)

33 Rocking Shocking Family (Love Express: 2011)

34 Tere Bin (Delhi Heights: 2007)


Magical Initials: MGR


MGR are magical letters in Tamil Nadu.  They are spoken with the same sort of respect as the letters JFK, in other parts of the world. They belong to a hero of the people and one who, no matter how controversial his latter day followers and acolytes prove to be, is revered as a giant.

Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran (MGR) was born in the highlands of Sri Lanka but moved at a young age to southern India  (first to Pallakad District in Kerala and then to the big smoke of Chennai). After his father, who was expelled from his caste community for an adulterous affair, passed away MGR and his brother joined a travelling drama troupe with the delightful name of Madurai Original Boys Company!  In 1936, at the age of 20, he scored a small part in a Tamil film (directed interestingly by an American!) and found he loved being in front of the camera and a large stage. He did well. Over the next several decades MGR’s name became synonymous with ‘hero’ for his enthralling portrayals of religious figures and gods as well as smartly dressed, moustachioed business men.  He won the National Best Actor Award in 1972 and began to get a name beyond the conservative Tamil film world.

MGR, Chief Minister

MGR had been a member of the anti-Brahmanical, rationalist party, DMK, from the early days of his career so politics was something that always interested him.  But in a fashion as predictable as most Indian movie endings, MGR found himself in trouble with his party seniors.  With a huge ego, a large charismatic presence (always hidden off screen topped with a white karakul cap and hidden behind dark glasses) and a sense of self righteousness he accused the leaders of DMK of corruption. They expelled him from the community in a similar pattern to that of his father.  But unlike this father, MGR, went on to much greater things.  He founded his own party (AIDMK) all the while continuing his acting career.  In 1977 he was elected as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu a post he held and was repeatedly elected to until his death 10 years later.


When I lived in Chennai between 1977-78 MGR was at the very peak of his political charisma. He’d moved from being the hero to being a demi god. His picture was everywhere and it really seemed as if a new day had dawned in Indian politics. A film actor! The first of several that would follow, and three years before Ronald Reagan. Once elected he stopped his film career to focus on implementing a string of populist policies, especially introducing free noon meals for school age children.

After his death, his wife, herself a former film starlet, Jayalaitha, took over the AIDMK and today rules Tamil Nadu.

To read more about MGR and his fabled life and career, and the famous assassination attempt of 1967 follow the links.


In the meantime, enjoy this collection of ‘sad songs’ from his films!

MGR front

MGR back

Track Listing:

01 Tharamil Pirakka

02 Thanthaiyaipol Ulagile

03 Ponalai

04 Anbe Vaa

05 Naallu Perukku Nandri

06 Oruvan Manthu

07 Avanukkenna

08 Kadavul en Kalanar

09 Dhairyamaka Chol Nee

10 Thayin Madiyil

11 Naan Yaar Theriyuma

12 Pallakku Vangaponnen



Tohfa-e-shab-e-Sunday: Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassan

The weekend is coming to a close.  The working week will be full once more and in all likelihood, I will not be able to pay much attention to this humble blog until next weekend.


As I type, I’m smiling with sublime pleasure to the Persian poem of Amir Khusrau, Mara Dosh Goyi. Mehdi Hassan is a treasure I’ve been slow to truly appreciate. Only in recent years have I begun to understand (and love) his artistry.  I wish had words to commend him to you who don’t yet know him (very few readers I’m sure).


So, as a special Sunday evening treat, I post the remaining 4 volumes of his Urdu film songs, which I hope you will prize as much as I do.

mehdi cinema 2

Track Listing (vol 2)

02 Shikwa Na Kare

03 Zindagi Jaa Chor De

04 Tumhe Dekhon Tumhare

05 Dil Veeran Hai

06 Ulfat ka Sila

08 Nazaron Bhare Aahein

09 Apnoon ne Gham Diya

10 Jo Bazahir Ajnabi

11 Duniya ko Hum Kya

12 Kaise Jiyenge Dard Ko

13 Ab ke hum Bichray

14 Ek Baar Chale Aao

15 Kabhi Meri Mohabbat

17 Dil Bahut Udaas Hai

18 Mujhko Awaaz Do


mehdi cinema 3

Track Listing (vol 3)

01 Mujhe Tum Nazar Se

02 Saamne Aake Tujhko

03 Jisne Mere Dil

04 Ishq Sacha Hai To Phir

05 Tumhara Aakri Karloon

06 Dil Main Toofan Chupai

07 Ishq Mera Diwana

08 Mohabbat Zindagi Hai

09 Aaj To Ghair Sahi

10 Tu Hussun hi Devi

11 Mere Humdum Tujhe

12 Naina re Naina

13 Ranjish Hi Sahi

14 Kyun Hum se Khafa

15 Jo Dard Mila

17 Mere Pyar Tere


Mehdi Hassan cinema 4

Track Listing (vol 4)

01 Teri Mehfil Se

02 Ga Mere Diwaane Dil

03 Jaan-e-Jaan Tu Jo

04 Jo Mila Usne

05 Bewafa Kaun Hai

06 Sulag Raha Hoon Badlon

07 Hamare Dil Se Mat Khelo

08 Khuda Kare Mohabbat

09 Yeh Jhuke Jhuke Nigha Hai

10 Naam Aaye Na

11 Mera Imaan Mohabbat

12 Duniya Kisi ke Pyar

13 Ek Sitam Aur Meri Jaan

14 Gar Tum Haseen Na Hote

15 Kaha Jo Marne

16 Na Koi Gila

17 Ek Nai Mord

18 Tere Mere Pyar


mehdi cinema 5

Track Listing (vol 5)

01 Ek Husn ki Devi

02 Hamare Sanson Mein

03 Tere Beeghe Badan Ki

04 Pyar Bhare Do Sharmelee

05 Thera Hai Samaa

06 Kabhi Main Sochta Hun

07 Yeh Duniya Rahe Na Rahe

08 Yeh Tera Aana

09 Mere Sawne Mehbooba

10 Tere Siwa Duniya Mein

11 Main Jis Dil Bhula Doon

12 Tujhe Pyar Karte Karte

13 Bahut Khubsurat Mera Sanam

14 Kehne ko Yeh Ek

15 Rafta Rafta Woh Mere


Filmi Naghme: Mehdi Hassan





















Darkness is come.

Lights flicker along the highway and from the skyline.

My body is numb; tired of the long slog.

My soul is flat. But Mehdi, singing old film songs lifts my spirits.

Without undue tardiness, neither without too swift haste,

We commend to you the zauq and sharifana of some older

Sounds of Lahore film studios

Artist. Mehdi Hassan.

Mazaa luto!

 Legends_ Urdu Films Vol. 1

Track listing:

01 Kissa-e-gham Main

03 Yeh Kaghaz-e-Phool

04 Jab Koi Pyar Se

05 Jab Bhi Chahai

06 Main Jo Shayr Kabhi

07 Aaj Tak Yaad Hai Woh

08 Tume Mubarak Naee

09 Bahut Yaad Aayenge

10 Yeh Wafa ka Diya

11 Cheer Na Hum

12 Hume koi Gham

14 Kaise Kasie Log

15 Tanha Thi Aur Tamasha

16 Mere Dil Ka Taar

17 Dil Diya Dard Liya

18 Aa Roshenon Ke


The Greatest of them all: Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassa


In the same way that jazz is considered America’s greatest musical creation, the singers of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent, have given to the world the musical ghazal.  The poetic genre was actually born in Persia but it was the light classical singers of northern India, who grabbed the ghazal and breathed an unexpected vibrancy into its lines.


Among the many wonderful ghazal singers India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have produced, the artistry of Mehdi Hassan is universally acknowledged as simply the Best. He not only set the benchmark against which all subsequent ghazal singers would be judged, he shaped the very character of the genre. There are many different ways to sing a ghazal. Jagjit Singh’s approach is different from that of Ghulam Ali. Iqbal Bano’s style is nothing like that of Farida Khanum’s.  But all of these very accomplished artists would without any hesitation agree that Khan sahib Mehdi Hassan ji is the greatest ever.


Lata Mangeshkar, no slouch herself, has been reported to have said, ‘God lives in the voice of Mehdi Hassan.’


Mehdi Hassan died two years ago.  Born into a traditional family of Rajasthani singers, his family moved to the new country of Pakistan in August 1947. Although forever revered for his mastery of the ghazal, Mehdi Hassan’s voice adorned dozens of Pakistani films between the 1950s and 1980s.  Tonight, I am very very excited to share 5 volumes of some of the best and most loved of his film songs.  As with the rest of his mighty oeuvre these songs are marked by a graceful spirit, perfect annunciation and endless melodic imagination.


Here is a bit of his story in his own words.


I understood that though my training and practice was exclusively in classical singing that my voice was suited best for light classical, thumri, dadra, geet and filmi songs. Each of these has its own ‘line’ and ghazals in particular have a very particular line indeed.  My aim is to experience no obstacle to my singing, whatever the style.


In 1953 I sang for the film Shikar. Radio Pakistan Karachi asked me to sing for them. I went at 1000 am and sang classical, dhrupad, dhamar, khayal, ghazals, thumri, dadra and some Punjabi folk songs. By 500 pm they were still unable to categorise me! In the end they felt I was a classical singer and for six months I had a classical program in Karachi.


But I felt compelled and really wanted to sing light classical styles as well. Even though Begum Akhtar and Barkat Ali Khan had taken these styles to great heights, and no one has been able to equal them, I started really focussing on ghazals in particular. This was 53, 54 ,55…in those years.


But because my training was in classical and I sang mostly classical, I framed the ghazals within particular ragas.  Jhinjhoti and Pahadi and others. I wanted to make sure that whatever raga the ghazal was composed in, it would retain its integrity. I didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh he sings well but he’s messed up that raga’. So I paid special attention to both the ghazal and the raga. I wanted people to enjoy both. Or if they wanted one or the other they would be satisfied. And slowly my style became popular.


I was fortunate to have good mentors and guides when I started singing in Karachi, who really helped me to understand the ghazals and what they meant.  As a boy, though my family sang for maharajas, in Nepal and UP, I never got a good education.  I learned to read and speak Hindi and Sanskrit. When I came to Pakistan I picked up a bit of Urdu. But I had to really put my mind to understanding what each ghazal was about and then finding a raga whose mood would match its meaning.


I never thought of fame when I started out. I only felt I should be as successful as I can be in whatever I do. I have experience as a diesel mechanic and a degree in agriculture too! So, in singing it’s the same. I’m the first to really sing ghazals in a classical way and my purpose has been to do that the best. Each style of singing has its own demands. Even film songs, I have to know what the situation is on screen and in the story to get the right mood and feel for the song.


I love music. I don’t have many other hobbies. I love singing and music and like to spend time alone.


My elders really taught me how to sing. Of course there is God’s gift (talent) but then you have to work hard. As singing is all about breathing I would be put through the paces. I would have to do hundreds of sit ups and run 3-4 miles a day. In the evenings I would wrestle and my teachers would tell the wrestlers to not let me breathe!


My father and uncle, especially my uncle, were dhrupad singers. And wrestlers. To sing dhrupad you need lots of physical strength and stamina, so they used to wrestle too. Your voice, its sound, comes from God. But your breath and its control, your lungs, your chest, your mouth and nose, these are so important. I barely slept 4 hours a night. The rest of the time I was practicing singing or exercising in the wrestling pit.


The ragas, Malkauns, Bhairav/i, Megh etc, have been passed down through centuries…they haven’t changed. And that’s the basis of my singing. I’ve been able to sing ghazals so well for so long because of this foundation.


I don’t give ‘pure’ classical concerts because I’ve taken the essence of classical ragas and put them into the ghazals I sing.  My father taught me, when I was beginning to sing on the Radio,  ‘Prepare three of four raga based dhuns (tunes). When they gave you the poem to sing, see which of those ragas suit the words and start singing.’


I protested, ‘I’ll get kicked off the radio.’


‘No,’ he said.  ‘You have to feel the raga and sing it confidently and with an open heart and as you sing the music will come.’


Phrasing is so important. You cannot just breathe anywhere in a ghazal. You have to know where to break the line and where to start the next phrase.


Mehdi Hassan is the Frank Sinatra of the ghazal. His attention to phrasing, pristine annunciation and tasteful interpretation are unparalleled in the genre.  These many songs are ek se barh ke (each better than the last). It is hard to say, this one is special, compared to any other.  The collection is something to love and cherish and explore over many years.  I hope you do.


Track Listing:











Disc. 1.

aa roshneon ke

aaj tak yaad hai woh

buhut yaad aengay

cheer na hum

dil diya dard lia

hume koi gham

jab bhi chahai

jab koi pyaar se

kaise kaise loog

main jo shayar kabhi

mere dil ka taar

qeesa-e-gham main

tume mubarak naee

tunha thi aur tamasha

ye kaghaze phool

yeh wafa ka diya











Disc. 2

ab ke hum bichray

apnoon ne gham diye

dil buhut udaas hai

dil veeran hai teri yaad

duniya ko hum kya

ek bar chale aao

jo bazahir ajnabi

kabhi meri muhabbat

kaise jiyenge dard ke

mujhko awaaz do

nazaron bhari aahain

shikwa na kar

tumhe dekhon tumhare

ulfat ka sila

zindagi jaa chor de

zindagi main tu










Disc 3

aaj tu gair sahi

dil mian toofan chupai

ishq mera deewana

ishq sacha hai to phir

jisne mere dil ko

jo dard mila

kyoun humse khafa

kyoun poochte ho kya

mere humdum tujhe

mere pyar tere

muhabbat zindagi hai

mujhe tum nazar se

naina re naina

ranjish hi sahi

samne aake tujhko

tu hussan hi devi

tumhara aakhri karloon











Disc 4

bewafa kaun hai

duniya kisi ki pyar

ek naee moor

ek sitam aur meri jaan

ga mere deewane

ghar tum hassen

hamare dil se mat

jaan-e-jaan tu jo

jo mila usne

kaha jo marne

khuda kare muhabbat

mera imaan muhabbat

na koi gula hai

naam aye na

sulag raha hoon badlon

tere mere pyar ka

teri mehfil se yeh

yeh jhuke jhuke neegha













Disc 5

buhut khubsurat hai

ek hussan ki devi

hamare sansoon main

kabhi main sochta hoon

khene ko ye ek

main jis din bhula doon

mere sawne mehbooba

pyar bhare do sharmelee

rafta rafta woh mere

tere beghe badan ki

tere siwa duniya main

thera hai samaa

tujhe pyar karte karte

yeh duniya rahe na rahe

yeh tera aana