Some of our readers have requested me to write about the memorable musical score by Naushad in Kardar Productions’ ‘Dil Lagi’ which starred Suraiya, late Shyam, villain Shyam Kumar( also a singer), Shyama, Anwari Bai and hero-turned villain Amar. So I am again recalling those good old days when DilLagi was released in the Moti Mahal (now defunct) cinema hall of Allahabad. People had gone crazy over it.
All roads led to Moti Mahal for over 20 weeks that the film ran in Allahabad. It was Suraiya, Suraiya everywhere in every nook and corner of the city as well as in the rural areas.
In those days, people would wait for a social function where loudspeakers would play gramophone records. There were no cassettes, no spools, no CDs then. Radios were few as the local station of AIR had just been established.. Every one could not afford a gramophone.
So youngsters would throng around the loudspeaker man. As soon as Suraiya’s voice was heard, people from neighbouring localities would rush and just get lost in the ‘Dil Lagi’ songs, including ‘Tu mera chand main teri chandni’ and ‘Murli wale murli baja’. In fact both these popular songs were on two sides of a common disc.
Before I come to the film, I must tell you something about two names mentioned – Amar and Shyam Kumar. Amar was chosen by Kardar as hero opposite Shamim in film ‘Sanyasi’ which was also rich in music. Amar was a singer as well. His song, ‘Hamari gali aana achcha ji hamen na bhulana achchaji’ in film ‘Shukriya’ was a big hit. His co-singer was Naseem Akhtar. Kardar again gave a chance to Amar as hero opposite Suraiya in film ‘Natak’, The film was a moderate hit but Amar got the privilege of singing two solos under Naushad’s music direction and one duet with Suraiya, ‘Na ho koi jahan chalen hum tum wahan’. After that Kardar abandoned him as a hero but took him in ‘Dil Lagi’ as the villain – the one-eyed villain who ruins the life of his niece Suraiya. And Shyam Kumar was essentially a playback singer whom Naushad had used in several films to sing duets with Suraiya such as ‘Aye jawani jaae jawani ja kar phir na aye, chirriyon ne chug liya khet to jaat kharra pachtae’ with Suraiya. The two also sang, ‘Toot gaya ik taara man ka’ (film Kanoon). He also sang ‘Aja kahin dur chalken’ with Zohra Bai in ‘Pehle Aap’.
In ‘Dil Lagi’ Naushad assigned two duets to him. And because on the screen they were sung by hero Shyam, people thought that Shyam and Shyam Kumar were one and the same person. Shyam Kumar enacted the role of Suraiya’s husband in Dil Lagi.
There were 11 songs in this movie out of which in eight Suraiya lent her voice, two of these being duets and six solos.I recently chanced to see the movie again. Songs keep on floating back in my memory in quick succession. But the beauty lay in the fact that their duration was small so that the urge to listen to them again and again did not diminish unlike today when a song lingers on for so long that it becomes boring even when we listen to it for the first time. The three- minute restriction that was imposed by technological difficulties was a blessing in disguise. In films the length of the songs could be increased but that was rarely done as they wanted to match the sound-track with the version that would appear on the 78 RPM discs which could not record beyond three minutes per side. In case a song was long then both sides of the record were used.
It was rare to find any film song going on beyond two sides into three or four sides. But there were exceptions. The song, ‘Hai kahin par shadmane aur kahin nashadiyan’ by Lata and tuned by Ali Akbar Khan for film ‘Andhiyan’ was on three sides of 78 RPM records; and Rafi’s title song from film ,Bapu ki amar kahani’ appeared on two discs (four sides).
The opening song of film ‘Dil Lagi’ was ofcourse, ‘Murli wale murli baja sun sun murli ko naache jiya’. This song became a rage in every city of the north and its popularity reached the villages of India too. Suraiya became a household name. There was no other actress then to challenge her supremacy. However, this period lasted for two or three years only because with the arrival of Lata every heroine got a sweet voice to sing. Nevertheless the era in which Suraiya enjoyed total monopoly could never be repeated by any singing actress or actor subsequently,. The other solos that Suraiya sang in this film were, ‘Duniya kya jaane mera afsana, dil gaye hai ulfat ka tarana’. There was another fast number: ‘Leke dil chupke se, kiya majboor hae, Kya muhabbat ka hai yehi dustoor hae;’The lyrics were by Shakeel. But the way Suraiya sang, so appealingly, it would seem that the words were flowing not from the pen of the poet but from the heart of the singer. Sometimes, when ‘Dillagi’ songs would bombard us from all sides, my neighbour and friend James A Dawson woul say, ‘Oh enough..too much’
Then there were her memorable sad numbers. One of these was, ‘Nirala muhabbat ka dustoor dekha, wafa karne walon ko majboor dekha’. And how can we forget Suraiya singing, ‘Char din ki chandni thi phir andheri raat hai, hum idhar hain voh udhar hain bekasi ka saath hai’. But of the sad numbers rendered by her in this film, I cannot forget the haunting number, ‘Tera khyal dil se bhulayana jaye ga, ulfat ki zindagi ko mitaya na jaye ga’.
She rendered two duets with Shyam Kumar. The more popular between the two was, ‘Tu mera chand mein teri chandni, nahin dil ka lagana koi dil lagi’. Incidentally this song is repeated in the film when actress Shyama sings it. For Shyama Naushad used Geeta Roy’s voice which was distinctly recognizable when she sang, ‘Tu mera chand main teri chandni’.The second duet with Shyam Kumar came towards the end of the movie, ‘Zalim zamana mujh ko tum se churra raha hai, anjaam zindagi ka nazdeek aa raha hai’.
Another highlight of this film’s music was the chance that Naushad gave to Rafi to sing for the hero. Till then, whatever be the reasons, Naushad was giving Rafi such songs as were filmed on extras. In ‘Anmol Ghadi’ it was ‘Tera khilona toota balak’. In ‘Shah Jehan’ he sang the last line of the Saigal-led chorus, ‘Mere sapnon ki rani Ruhi Ruhi Ruhi’. After ‘Pehele Aap’ in which Naushad gave Rafi a chance in a chorus, ‘Hindustan ke hum hain’, he side-tracked him. His singers were G.M.Durani, Shyam Kumar, Amar and others. But hero Shyam was from Lahore and had therefore a soft corner for Rafi, also from Lahore or the regions close by. It was probably the assertion of the Punjabi lobby in favour of Rafi that goaded Naushad to give Rafi the hero’s songs in film ‘Dil Lagi’. And the songs were fantastic. One of these was, “Tere kooche mein armanon ki duniya leke aya hoon, tujhi par jaan dene ki tamanna le ke aya hoon’. The lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni and tune by Naushad were simply superb. The other song that Rafi sang for hero Shyam was, ‘Is duniya mein ai dil walo dil ka lagana khel nahin, Ulfdat karna khel hai lekin kar ke nibhana khel nahin’.
Apart from these songs, Naushad inserted a chorus in this film too which was rendered by Shamshad Begum and Uma Devi. But Shamshad’s superiority was evident. The song was ,’Meri pyari patang chali badal ke sang zara dheere dheere’. The crowds would go mad on watching this kite-flying melody with som among the audience passing lewd remarks.
‘Dil Lagi’ was first released in the north. When its music had become a rage, some people , who arrived in Allahabad from Bombay, were surprised to hear about the success of the movie. But when they heard the songs they realized the beauty of the melodies and were convinced that the film would be a super hit in Mumbai as well.
In the pre-Lata era, ‘Dil Lagi’ was one of the finest musical hits which made Suraiya a rage in this region and in other parts of the country as well. Today when we listen to the same songs we just wonder: Is it humanly possible to create such heavenly tunes without some rare inspiration from above ?