The origin of Hindi film songs can be traced to 194Os, when the playback singing was introduced. While earlier the singing artists acted and sang their songs on their own, it was only in this decade the playback singing came into picture when artists who did not sing were introduced.
Interestingly, one of earliest singer was Suraiya, who sang at the age of 13 years for Mehtaab in Sharda(1943). Other notable female singers who emerged after this were Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle etc. These singers became legends in their lifetime due to their magical voice and immortal melodies. Here is a tribute to divas of Hindi Cinema in yesteryear.
Shamshad was born in Amritsar and made her debut at AIR Lahore in 1937. Her enchanting depth of voice always haunted the listeners. Ghulam Haider, the famous musician of Lahore used her voice artfully in his hits like Khandan(1942) and Khazanchi(1941). As she stepped into the Hindi film music, contemporary composers almost fell over each other to book her for their songs. It led to her extremely prolific career till late 50s. Most of her songs such as ‘Mere Piya gaye Rangoon (Patanga)’, Sayyan Dil Mein Aana Re’ (Bahar), ‘Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re’ (C.I.D.), ‘Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar’ (Aar Paar) etc became instant hits.
At the age of 12 years, Geeta Roy came to Mumbai from East Bengal with her parents. Famous music director offered her a solo in Do bhai when she was only 15. It became an instant hit. Her collaboration with the composer SD Burman came out to be very fruitful for her. They gave hits after hits such as Bhai, Kagaz ke phool, Munimji etc. The jazzy tracks of Baazi gave a new avenue to Geeta’s singing. Both OP Nayyar and Geeta Dutt scaled new heights with Aar Paar. The songs like ‘‘Babuji Dheere Chalna’ and ‘Yeh Lo Mein Hari Piya’ became immortal hits.
Lata Mangeshkar, the most preferred name in the world of Hindi music is a combination of god-gifted high pitched voice and an inherent ability to pick up whatever was taught to her. The true colours of Lata’s voice emerged when she gave super hit songs back to back in three blockbusters namely, Naushad’s Andaaz, Khemchand Prakash’s Mahal and Shankar Jaikishan’s Barsaat. By 1950, Lata wave had swept the industry and the heavy base nasal voice became obsolete. Though Lata sang under guardianship of top composers, it was Madan Mohan who exploited her voice to come up with beautiful ghazals.
Asha Bhonsle can be called as most versatile singer of Hindi film industry. She has worked extensively with trendsetting composers of three generations. It can be from breezy songs of O.P Nayyar in 1950s, to foot-tapping tracks of RD Burman in 1970s and finally to contemporary rhythms of A.R Rehman. The first rock and roll number ‘Eina Meena Deeka’ was sung by her in 1950s. 1957 was her most significant year when O.P Nayyar used her voice for Naya Daur and Tumsa Nahi Dekha. The 1970s brought her close with music composer R.D Burman and she married him. They gave memorable hits in movies such as Hare Raam Hare Krishna, Teesri Manzil, Caravan and many more. In later years of her career, she has given many memorable live singing performances at various award functions and concerts.
The Path to Becoming a Legend
Nothing can replace hard work, sincerity and dedication. Singers, who are giving playbacks in movies, have the popularity but not the same level of respect which professional singers from yesteryear enjoy.
Reasons are quite simple to understand. With the help of technology, it has become comparatively easier, even for out-of-tune singers, to render a song, which can be made popular with extensive marketing gimmicks and splashing it all over social media platforms.
But such songs often lack soul and they fade away rapidly with the passing time. Artists, who want to reach the same level of admiration, should try to make an honest start by learning basics of singing skills, under the able guidance of an experience teacher. With hard work, perseverance and constant honing of skills, one can earn the respect of the audience.