Shankar Jaikishan – Perspective of a Music Lover

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Shankar Jaikishan – the name itself is so lyrical and motivating, that we feel an aura of fresh fragrance around us . My first brush with SJs’ music was, when I hardly 3-4 years old & I would continiously hum the lines “chal jahan gham ke maarey na ho jhoothi asha ke taare na ho” & my parents would proudly tell others
of my humming from the song “aye mere dil kahi aur chal” (film Daag).Those days (in the mid 50’s), my elder brothers used to play many SJ ‘slate’ material records on our manual winding gramophone record player & I used to attentively listen to them trying to grasp the mesmerising music,it’s then, that I became their (SJs’) die hard fan.

Shankar” named after the Hindu Deity of Dance & “Jaikishan” the name itself spells the very visible form of God of Music.So it was not surprising that their musical juggernaut rolled from their first film “Barsaat”(1949) for more than two decades,till Jaikishanji’s untimely death upto 1971, giving music till then for 122 films (about 1100 songs) with most of the films celebrating Silver Jubilee run all over India & with 9 Filmfare awards under their belt & being nominated 20 times(kindly note FF award ceremony was started in 1954, otherwise their tally would increase).SJ also most of the time, topped the legendary Binaca Geetmala radio show, where in the year 1959, seven of their songs out of ten, were in the hit parade.

SJs primitive years in Prithvi theatre helped them understand, as to how music could be used to heighten the dramatic situation and as to how various musical sounds could assist to convey suitable emotion. This factor helped them in creating fabulous background score too ! No doubt Sangam & Mera Naam Joker’s background score are a treat to music lovers like us. First time in the annal’s of Hindi music,a LP was released with only background score of MNJ …

SJ were masters of prelude music & this introductory music set the mood & tone of the song & many audience then (from the prelude music) knew as to which song was going to be screened, such that foot tapping, finger snapping & clapping would start from the prelude music itself (I myself experienced this in a theatre in 1959-60, during Ujala dance songs like “tera jalwa jisne dekha” or “duniya walo se door”). A few more examples where a variety of instruments were used to create a prelude music atmosphere are, the accordion in “har dil jo pyar karega”, the bagpipes in “bol radha bol” and the piano in “dost dost na raha” (all from film Sangam), Mandolin pieces in “ghar aaya mera”(Awaara), prelude of violins & Lataji’s aalap in “mujhe kisise se pyar” (Barsaat) plus prelude of mandolin and a flute in “Jau kahan bataye dil” (Chhoti Bahen), SJ were at their best in the famous “Dattu theka” and prelude of violins & mandolin during song “din sara guzara tore angna” (Junglee).The are umpteen other examples which I cannot give here due to space restraint. Other MDs did try to copy them in prelude music but nobody could match their stature !

This music duo created some of the hugely popular evergreen songs ever in the Hindi film music history ! Their lethal combination of blessed talent captivated the music lovers imagination hearts and that too with mesmerising array of melodies . SJ exhibited different colours of the season with their music canvass. Their songs varied from masterpiece symphonies to rural ballads and from classical song or a romantic song to a fast beat sad song ( which they innovated) . Their versatility ranged from “Basant Bahar”, “Amrapali” to “An Evening In Paris” ,”Sangam” OR from “Rajhath” ” Yahudi” to “Anadi, “Teesri Kasam” …

Their film Barsaat had Lataji singing for three heroines which was a novel concept then. A few years later in film Mayur Pankh, Lataji sang for five actresses. Films like Poonam, Aurat, Patrani had Lataji in all the songs(no male singers in it). Diwana film had officially all songs sung by Mukeshji only and “Mera Vachan Geeta Ki Kasam” had all songs sung by Asha Bhosleji only. Vyjayantimala, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore, Raj Kapoor & Mehmood accompanied the lead singer in their respective films.

Title background music concept was introduced by them total 114 songs are there, which have the title music! Regarding Title background music Jaikishanji was expert in it. Still remember in 1964, I went to see “Rajkumar”film, was a little late and gloomy because of the housefull rush & being late for the show,but as soon as I entered the theatre, the titles started & my sadness was automatically turned into joy I thought, if title music is so fantastic, the movie is surely not going to disappoint me ! What a fabulous score it had…

SJ conducted huge orchestra (sometimes 100 piece orchestra in films like Sangam ), but never ever we felt any instrument played was out of place or it was loud or screeching ! Example is “aa ab laut chale” (Film Jis Desh
Mein Ganga Behti Hain),the interlude huge orchestra with Lataji’s aalap was fabulous, the aalaap was felt like a huge lightning crossing the mountain & beckoning the distant dacoits to come forth & surrender.In Sangam song “yeh mera prem patra padhkar”, during the prelude, listen to sitar, violins or piano pieces,they all are well chiselled within the humming of chorus before Rafisaab starts ! Also listen to the harmonium pieces as a prelude in “yaad na jaye ” (Dil Ek Mandir), we never feel it is out of place . Likewise the interlude music too is a treat to our ears, as they set to enhance the concerned actors image on the screen, notice that in film Asli Naqli Sadhana’s beauty is more appealing when the violins meander around accordion notes, so does the saxophone enhances the romantic aura in “aye sanam jisne tujhe” (film Diwana) .. In contrast the saxophone creates a melancholic effect in “Bedardi Balma ” (Arzoo) . Just remembered “dil ke jharoke mein (Brahmachari) hear the chorus waves,piano slides,group violins, cellos, counter melody etc & add to it Rafisaab’s superb rendition. Only SJ could have created such songs !



Now Raj Kapoor did play an important part in establishing SJ, but it would be a misconception to credit him with all their success. Leaving aside RK films ,SJ gave fantastic popular music in films like Nagina, Halaku, Badal, Patita , Seema, Basant Bahar, Kathputli, Ujala, Choti Bahen, Love Marraige, Dil Ek Mandir, Professor, Sasural, Humrahi, Aayi Milan Ki Bela, Love In Tokyo, Arzoo, An Evening in Paris , Brahmachari & many many more !!

SJ must be credited to have established Shammi Kapoor & Rajendra Kumar, because many many films of theirs have celebrated Silver Jubilee just because of SJ’s enchanting music !

We cannot forget SJ’s assets, lyricists Shailendra & Hasrat Jaipuri, whose name shall be etched forever, because it was for their lyrics, that put life in many SJ songs. Whilst Shailendraji wrote philosophical gems in simple words, it was Hasratsaab’s lyrics which created a romantic aura, but sometimes it was vice versa also ! It was this lethal combination of the foursome which helped their music and songs to connect with the huge music loving masses …

We can easily predict that decades later, when most of the composers would be forgotten, SJ would be eulogised & remembered for their remarkable life infusing music, as their music still gives us immense joy & helps to rejuvinate us !!



  1. डॉ सुभाष तिवारी

    November 16, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    जबरदस्त, कैलाश जी, आपने इस विषय को एकदम नए कोण से छुआ है. जानकारी तो हम सबको है पर नयी पीढ़ी को इस अंदाज से इस महागाथा को प्रस्तुत करना आपकी सफलता है

    • Kailash Mundra

      November 17, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks Dr Subhash Tiwariji


    July 30, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Your narrations about SJ really very exhaustive. But then it is like
    ”GAGAR MEIN SAGAR”. Their talents and works remain unparalled.

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