Tagore’s tune in Hindi film songs

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By Abhijit Roy
Noted litterateur Rabindranath Tagore’s own composed song popularly known as Rabindra Sangeet has been an inspiration for many popular Hindi film songs.

India’s first Nobel laureate for his Bengali song compilation Geetanjali in 1913, Tagore’s composition was first introduced to Hindi cinema in 1941 by Pankaj Kumar Mullick for the film titled Doctor.

Pankaj Mullick also tutored Kundan Lal Saigal on how to control his pitch and modulate his voice, speak and sing Bengali songs and Rabindra Sangeet. Saigal was the first non-Bengali singer to sing Rabindra Sangeet. Mullick later used the tune of Kharo vayu vayu meghe in the film Zalzala popular song Pawan Chale Zor.

The far reaching influences of the Rabindra Sangeet were apparent on several music directors of that era and interestingly few of them were not Bengali.

Rabindranath composed the song, Mone robe kina robe amare, in March 1927. “It is said that the song Bachpan ke din bhula na dena (Deedar, 1951, Naushad / Shakeel / Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum) was based on the tune Mone robe kina robe amare. If one listens carefully, one may find similarities.

Simultaneously, music director Anil Biswas’s Raahi Matwale sung by Suraiya, Talat Mahmood in Waris (1954) draws heavily from Ore grihobashi. Later in the film Angulimal, Biswas used the tune of Madhu Gandhey Bhora for Mere Chanchal Naina song. Also in another movie Hamdard, Biswas based the tune of the song mere man ki dhadkan on a popular Rabindra Sangeet Momo Chitte Nriti Gitte ke je nache.

Sachin Dev Burman, whose compositions tend to draw upon inspiration from Bengali folk traditions (e.g. bhatiaalii, saari, etc.), have composed several tunes derived from Rabindra Sangeet. Mera sundar sapna beet gaya (Do Bhai, 1947) draws a faint inspiration from O je maane na maana.

Nain deewane by Suraiya in Afsar (1950) takes off from Shedin dujone dulechhinu bone. In this song S.D. Burman literally did a copy-paste job, as the melody of the entire Hindi song is identical to the Bengali original. Jayen to Jayen Kahan (Taxi Driver, 1954), for which S.D. Burman won his first Filmfare Award for Best Music Director is based on Hey Khoniker Otithi.

The male version of the song (sung by Talat Mehmood) is more popular than the female version (sung by Lata Mangeshkar). Jatley hain jiske liye (Sujata, 1959) is also based on Tagore’s composition ekodaa tumi priye. In the song Megha Chaye Adhi Raat (Sharmilee, 1971) Burman Dada, rather than taking the mukhda, have inserted a small segment of laho laho tule laho in the antara. Burman Dada’s Tere mere milan ki yeh raina (Abhimaan, 1973) by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar) has shades of Jodi tare nayi chini go sheki.

The influences of the Rabindra Sangeet too ran deep in RD Burman’s music. The proverbial Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam, woh phir nahin aate (Aap Ki Kasam, 1974) draws an inspiration from Tagore’s Jaagorone jai bibhaabori. The song Chhoti Si Ek Kali Khili Thi (Jurmana) is highly inspired from Tagore’s Basante Phul Ganthlo.

Pancham also used Tagore’s Gram chara oi ranga matir path’s tune instrumentally in the cross line of the song Jab bhi koi kangana bole (Shaukeen). RD Burman’s last movie 1942 A Love Story (1994) had heavy Bengali influences in Kuch na kaho and Yeh safar bahut hai kathin magar. And the Kavita Krishnamurthy solo Pyar hua chupke se is also influenced by Rabindra Sangeet.

Singer, Composer Hemant Kumar Mukherjee’s composition Man mera udta jaye’ sung by Lata Mangeshkar in Maa Beta, 1962 was based on ‘Mon mor megher sanghi’. Hemant Kumar also used the tune of Tomar Khola Hawa in his own production film Rahgir’s song Aa do do pankh laga.

Roshan clan, music director Rajesh Roshan’s Chhookar mere man ko (Kishore in Yaarana, 1981) is said to be influenced by Tomar holo shuru, amar holo shara. Later in Yug Purush Roshan used the tune of Pagla Hawa Badol dines in Bandhan khula panchi uda. Recent day’s music composer Shantanu Moitra used Tagore’s Phoole phoole dhole dhole literally in Piyu bole piya bole Parineeta, 2005.

The tunes of Rabindra Sangeet were also used by Salil Choudhury in Biraj Bahu, Kanu Roy in Anubhav and Bappi Lahiri in Tootey Khilone.

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