Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My ten favourite Geeta Dutt songs

geeta-dutt_1Yaad karoge yaad karoge, ek din humko yaad karoge (you will remember, one day you will remember me). I wonder if Geeta Dutt ever realised how prophetic these words from her first big hit album (Do Bhai, 1947) would prove to be. She’s left such a wealth of lovely songs, sung in that rich, fluid, and incredibly beautiful voice of hers, that it is hard not to remember her, every time you think of songs of yore. She started her playback career at the age of sixteen when she sang two lines in a song for the movie Bhakta Prahlad (1946). Success came just a year later, with Mera sundar sapna beet gaya (Do Bhai, 1947). The rest, as they say, is history. Geeta Dutt was soon one of Hindi film’s leading singers, and ruled the Hindi song-waves through the 40s and 50s. She lent her lovely voice to an incredibly wide range of songs and sang everything from ballads to bhajans, club songs to ghazals, sad songs to frothy, fun numbers…

My childhood memories of Geeta Dutt songs are mostly of her serious and/or soulful numbers like Waqt ne kiya, Piya aiso jiya mein and Mera sundar sapna – songs that struck me as incredibly weepy and oppressive, then. Naturally, as a grown up, I recognise that they are deservedly famous, and in fact Waqt ne kiya is a big favourite of mine. But when it comes to drawing up a favourites list, I try to apply the Desert Island Rule, i.e., would I want to be marooned on a desert island with just one kind of Geeta Dutt songs when I could have a wide variety of her songs instead? The answer is a resounding NAHIIIN!!! That decided, I just had to pick ten songs out of her vast repertoire of several hundred songs. A very easy task, if I could spend a few decades making my choices. Since I’ve already had a couple of decades to decide, and come no closer to a final list, some limiting factors clearly needed to be introduced. Enter random rule #1 – sadness was out and the list would only include happy duets. When that did not help to narrow down the selection, out came random rule #2 – only one song per singing partner. After that, it was first come first serve – the first duet with each singer that I felt I could not do without on a desert island. Since I started last week, I’ve changed my mind several times already! Before I change it yet again, here’s my current list of 10 favourite Geeta Dutt songs, on the occasion of her 81st birth anniversary…

10. Na main dhan chahoon (Kala Bazaar, 1960) with Sudha Malhotra Music Director: S D Burman, Lyricist: Shailendra

Geeta Dutt is in a devotional mood, and Sudha Malhotra seems equally affected by divine love. Leela Chitnis and Nanda are singing of their devotion to the Almighty and how they are content to serve Him and need no jewels or riches. The sentiments make Dev Anand very thoughtful. Is he thinking about the pink Cadillac he could’ve bought with all the money these ladies do not want? Dev Saab, with those voices, the ladies will be rich enough to buy you several Cadillacs in all the colors of the rainbow!

9. Ankhiyaan bhool gayi hain sona (Goonj Uthi Shehnai, 1959) with Lata Mangeshkar
Music Director : Vasant Desai, Lyricist: Bharat Vyas

Geeta Dutt in a teasing, playful mood is a joy to hear. A shehnai player seems to be responsible for mass-scale insomnia in this delightful number. His playing has led the bashful heroine (Ameeta)’s eyes to forget sleep, or so avers her friend! The afflicted insomniac counters (in Lata’s voice) that her friends do not understand since they haven’t met their true loves, yet. Naturally, her friends are rather sceptical. I wonder if they suspect her insomnia is caused more by the prospect of living with the mournful shehnai music, than the charms of her shehnai player.

8. O bedardi kyon tadpaye (Godaan, 1963) with Mahendra Kapoor
Music Director : Ravi Shankar, Lyricist: Anjaan

Geeta Dutt once again in a playful mood, this time with an equally playful Mahendra Kapoor. “O cruel one, why torture me thus after capturing my heart?” asks the clearly happy dancer (Ragini). Instead of answering her accusation, her companion counters with another question, "Why captivate me with your beautiful song and lovely eyes?" 'Torture', 'captivity'? Worry not. They’re speaking of LOVE, not about being carted off to the Bastille! While the lyrics are unusual enough (they are in pure Hindi, with nary a hint of Urdu), what makes this song even more remarkable is that it was composed by sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar – one of the few Hindi films he ever scored music for!

7. Keh rahi hain dhadkane pukar kar (Lal Pari, 1954) with Talat Mahmood
Music Director : Hansraj Bahl, Lyricist: Asad Bhopali

I heard this for the first time in a compilation of lesser known Talat Mahmood songs, and it was an instant favourite. When Geeta Dutt’s smoky rich voice glides along with Talat’s velvety smooth tones, you can be forgiven for not noticing either the lyrics or the music! It took several replays before I paid any attention to what they were singing. Her heartbeats are calling out for them to love, and he is anxious that she may disappear with his heart! Listen you two, you are here in these sound bytes, and my heartbeats are calling for you to never stop singing!

6. Woh dekho udhar chand (Roop Kumari, 1956) with Manna Dey
Music Director : S N Tripathi, Lyricist: B D Mishra

Another soft romantic number, this time with Manna Dey, now the grand old man of playback singing. They’ve just discovered that the moon has risen in the sky, and that has brought great joy in their lives. I’d hardly call a moon-rise a Eureka! moment, but perhaps tonight the moonlight is brighter after they cleaned their windows? Whatever the reason, I’m just thankful that they’re singing out their joy in these smooth-as-satin and rich-as-chocolate-cream-liqueur voices. May the moon rise every day!

5. Tumse hi meri zindagi (Apna Ghar, 1960) with Mukesh
Music Director: Ravi, Lyricist: Prem Dhawan

Mukesh has always struck me as something of a rough diamond in the voice department – his voice lacks the polished smoothness of a Rafi or the well-cut edges of a Lata. So when Geeta Dutt sings with him, you’d expect some discord between her rich silky voice and his more craggy tones. But Geetaji just ups the smokiness and ruggedness in her voice, and lets it blend right in! The result is a half playful, half earnest, and completely delightful romantic number. She (Shyama) is his (Prem Nath) life, his spring, while she thinks he must ask his heart whose love he is. I wonder why Prem Nath looks drunk - is it love, or alcohol?

4. Ankhon mein tum (Half Ticket, 1962) with Kishore Kumar
Music Director: Salil Chowdhury, Lyricist: Shailendra

A wacky, foot-tapping romantic number, this time with the King Of Wack himself – Kishore Kumar. When Kishore da is one half of a romantic duo, anything may happen. A normally sedate Madhubala may decide to lasso her beau, just to tell him how much she loves him "You are in my eyes, my heart, believe it or not". I believe you, Madhubala. Kishore Kumar has a strange effect on everybody around him. Just listen to Geeta Dutt – she sounds like she is having the time of her life, singing with him. It’s like she never had to watch Pyaasa or Kaagaz Ke Phool!

3. Jaanu jaanu ri (Insaan Jaag Utha, 1959) with Asha Bhosle
Music Director: S D Burman, Lyricist: Shailendra

Madhubala has obtained highly classified information about Meenu Mumtaz – she’s found out why Meenu’s bangles jingle so. Meenu is unfazed. Madhubala isn’t the only one with secret information. She (Meenu) knows who came to meet Madhubala secretly. And so it goes on, both revealing secrets with a gusto that would give even the humblest of secret agents a massive coronary. But are these women worried about revealing all? Nope, they’re too busy having fun to worry about who knows what! As a kid, I often had trouble telling Geeta and Asha apart in their peppy numbers, which is amazing considering how different their voices really are. Can you tell who is singing for whom in this number?

2. Mujhko tum jo mile (Detective, 1958) with Hemant Kumar
Music Director: Mukul Roy, Lyricist: Shailendra

Back to soft romantic numbers, this one with Hemant Kumar, he of the soulful, haunting, smooth-as-aged-Brandy voice. He (Pradeep Kumar) has won her (Mala Sinha) and feels like he has the world. She thinks that his smile brings out the flowers in her heart. Ma’am, I hate to interrupt the romantic séance, but flowers growing in your heart can only mean one thing – that a massive heart attack caused by clogged arteries is on it’s way. Just make sure you finish this lovely duet before it strikes. 

1. Ankhon hi ankhon mein (CID, 1958) with Mohammad Rafi
Music Director: O P Nayyar, Lyricist: Majrooh

He (Dev Anand) explains how two pairs of eyes signalled each other and one heart found a life-line for life. She (Shakila) is puzzled why he sings with his hand on his heart! Lady, don’t you understand, his muscular dystrophy has affected his heart muscles? Every time he hears Geeta Dutt sing, his heart muscles go haywire and he must put his hand over his heart to keep it in place. By the way, I am very impressed by Shakila/Geeta Dutt’s ability to hold out against Rafi’s intoxicating voice and Dev Saab’s beauty for almost an entire song!

So these are my favourite Geeta Dutt songs (at the moment). What are yours?

26 comments:

  1. May I say how glad I am that you have returned to blogging? I have been spewing coffee all over my keyboard reading your write-up to each song! Truly wonderful.

    And the songs, themselves! Oh, what wonderful numbers - she had such kashish such dard in her voice that I'm glad to see that you vetoed her 'sad' numbers. I needed the chirpiness today.

    My personal favourites: Sun le sun le from 'Naujawan'.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G66bQTRO590

    and this one from a 1958 film 'Police' with Pradeep Kumar and Madhubala.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6pShNuSXP0&feature=related

    One minor quibble. You wrote: what makes this song even more remarkable is that it was composed by sitar maestro Pt. Ravi Shankar – the only Hindi film he ever scored music for!

    Ah bollyviewer, that is not true. Remember 'Anuradha'? He also composed for Dharti ke Lal, Neecha Nagar, and Meera that I can remember.

    Can you tell who is singing for whom in this number?

    Easy peasy (with hindsight) - Asha for Madhubala and Geeta for Meenu Mumtaz. But you are not far wrong in mistaking their voices - the younger Asha imitated Geeta remarkably (or the music directors made her do it. Lata imitated Noor Jehan too.) My husband, who usually does not make such mistakes once spent an eight-hour train ride arguing with me that Sach hue sapne tere was Geeta Dutt. Oooh, how I loved watching him eat humble pie at the end. :))

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  2. Anu, thanks for the correction. I can't believe I forgot about Anuradha. *off to edit the post right away* Dharti Ke Laal, Neecha Nagar and Meera too? Gulzar had him compose for Hema Malini?! I need to pay more attention to cast and credits - I have watched the first 30 minutes of that film!

    Love your favorite Geeta Dutt picks. This is the first time I've heard Zara jhoom le jawani ka and it's already marked for my next Geeta Dutt list!

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  3. I used to think I am a four-bladed fan of Geeta Dutt, but after eading your list I realised I am just a hand-pankha. I know only no. 10, 4, 3, 2 and 1. This post will need a better scrutiny then I can provide at 12:30 am. Good night
    my favs? Off hand: all the songs sung for Guru Dutt Films!
    But especially Kahin doo se awaaz de from SBaG

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  4. Yes, he composed for Meera - it had been offered to Hridaynath Mangeshkar first, but he had already set the Meera Bhajans to music and didn't feel quite right doing it again - the first had been a labour of love, and bhakti, I think. That is also why Vani Jairam was playback - Latadi recused herself on grounds that she had sung the Meera bhajans for her brother already, and didn't want to repeat it for any other music director.

    And to hear Vani Jairam (quite a decent singer)mangle Hindi in those bhajans hurt even my quite-tone-deaf ears. Of course, with Maami as Meera, we got a south-Indian Meera anyway!

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  5. Glad to see you blogging again.

    My fav Geeta Dutt song is "waqt ne kiya kya haseen seetham, tum rahe na xxx"

    About your commenton Ananda Ashram, agreed inter caste marriages were not common in the 70s (infact more common from mid 90s onwards as well as inter state marriages) as traditional arranged marriages were the norm. Ashok Kumar objecting to an intercaste marraige in Satyakam (1969/70) made sense vis a vis in AA. Other than this aspect, something was missing in AA.

    I am glad inter state marriages have become more common in India.

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  6. Anu, regarding music for Gulzar's Meera - the story i have heard/read is that Lata Mangeskhar was upset that Hridyanath was not given the opportunity as she felt that he was the only one who could do it and hence refused to sing in the movie.

    I like one song from Hema/VK meera - mein hoon prem ki diwani mera dard na jane koi. Hema was not very good at acting but good eye candy. Are you referring to her as mami coz of her size? (plump). VK was not only handsome but also did well as the husband in angst. BTW, both VK and Hema made an awesome pair in Kudrat - i wish VK was the hero and not Rajesh Khanna. Have you seen Kudrat and reviewed it on your blog?

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  7. What a fun read this was, Bollyviewer, apart from a fabulous list anyway. I always tear up at 'Na main dhan chahoon, .." But now I'm just going to grin at the thought of the Pink Cadillac. You are wicked!

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  8. Filmbuff, your version is equally plausible. :) Latadi had a habit of being miffed with people who didn't sign her little brother.

    And 'maami' because she was! She is an Iyengar. :) And plump or not, she was stunningly beautiful.

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  9. @Filmbuff: No, I haven't reviewed Kudrat, though I've seen it. I'm not a great fan of Kaka's though I did like him in individual films. If that question was directed to me, that is. If it was directed at bollyviewer, then I apologise. (I'll take myself off in embarassment.)

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  10. Anu, the question was for you ie review of Kudrat. Do give it a chance ie in writing a review coz RK is only one of the actors in the movie - it is a multi star cast. Of course you will have to bear with Priya Rajvansh (filmbuff would like to run a mile!)

    Yeah I know about Hema being an Iyengar since I too am from the same community. Not all tamilians are mamis tho! Hema is still stunningly beautiful at her age. I have been catching up on a lot of old Dharam Hema movies of late - Tum Haseen Mein Jawan, Raja Jani, Aas Pas, Do Dishayen etc. I want to see Seeta aur Geeta - haven't found the DVD yet

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  11. Anu, I have been reading your blog too but never sent a comment before. Visited ur blog via memsaabstory. my apologies to OIG. I should really be posting comments on Anu's blog.

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  12. Bollyviewer, amazing list. I'd been toying with the idea of creating a Geeta Dutt list for her birthday, but just couldn't manage it in time - partly because I couldn't think of a logical way to restrict myself to only ten songs of hers! She is probably the only female singer I can identify easily just by her voice - I tend to get confused with most of the others. Oh, and she was SO good!

    Here's one of my favourite Geeta duets, this time with Asha; Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho, from Nau do gyarah:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHkSTd-QNVs

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  13. harvey, you are clearly not spending enough time on youtube. Please remember that while work and life are important, youtube searches for Geeta Dutt songs are even more so! ;D I spent my childhood and adolescence listening to Vividh Bharti in the days when their idea of old songs was still 'anything before 70s'. So I have heard everything from Master Madan and KL Saigal to Mukesh's non-filmi devotional songs and the most obscure of 50s and 60s songs! And it helps that I now spend every waking hour scouring youtube for songs I have not already heard. :D

    I love Koi door se awaaz de. It is such a haunting song. And she did do so many great songs in Guru Dutt films.

    Anu, I just checked out the songs from Meera and realised why I do not remember them much. Vani Jayram's voice sounds unusually shrill! But what I really disliked was the music - it sounded like the kind of music that played on AIR and DD for days on end when the powers-that-be wanted us all to mourn Indira Gandhi (and then, Rajeev Gandhi). It makes me want to change channels to something a lot less funereal!

    By the way, I do not understand the 'Maami' reference - does being an Iyengar classify her as an Aunty, or is that just a way to address a lady from that community? Agree that Hema is gorgeous - even more so now than before!

    Filmbuff, Waqt ne kiya is a big favorite of mine, too.

    Am I right in assuming that you just did not like Anand Ashram? Not even for Sharmila's dimples and Moushumi-Rakesh's cute romance? :D

    Hema and VK would make a cute couple, but I do not ever recall them being paired opposite each other, apart from Meera which does not really count because Hema spends all her time not loving VK! They were together in Haath Ki Safayi but Hema was paired with Randheer there.

    And hey, you are welcome to chat with Anu (or anyone else here) on OiG - as long as you don't mind my joining in! :D

    Banno, pink Cadillacs are the panacea to so many pains! :D

    dustedoff, Geeta Dutt was one of the best. It's too bad that apart from Mera naam chin chin chu, her peppy numbers are not so well known any more. Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho is absolutely gorgeous, in more ways than one! I found it very hard not to replay this song several times, in the midst of watching the film - and you've set me off on several replays again!

    "I couldn't think of a logical way to restrict myself to only ten songs of hers!" The only way round it is to make several lists, as I fully intend to!

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  14. @Filmbuff, phew! Now I can stop hiding under a stone. And you read my blog? Thank you! As for Kudrat, Kaka in those days didn't appeal to me at all. But I'll take a look at it again some time. Years have passed since I saw it, so maybe it has also increased my tolerance. Priya Rajvansh was beautiful, intelligent, articulate, an alumni of the London School of Dramatics - and couldn't act for toffee.

    As for 'maami' that's the way we usually referred to Iyengar women. Is it wrong? If so, I shall cease and desist from now on. {Imagine my shock (and pained surprise) when I got married and came to Bombay and was called 'Anumaami' by the building kids! (They are all Iyengars / Iyers there. I was all of 23 and somehow 'maami' conjured up the nine-yard-sari-clad corpulent old-ish woman. :( )}

    Bollyviewer, yes, the music of Meera was bad! And Vani Jairam sounded awful. Her pronunciation, or lack thereof, didn't help much either.

    Hema and Vinod Khanna were paired together in Rihaaee that I know of. He wasn't around for much of the time that she was the ruling heroine, no?

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  15. Anu, I find Kaka hard to take on any day! He was all STAR and no actor (except when he was being a really bad actor) in all the films I've ever seen him in! The only one where I came close to liking him was in Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein - there were actually parts of the film where he forgot that he was a "superstar" (or maybe the director tried to get him to ACT in those places and gave up rest of the time?)!

    Re Vinod and Hema, they were together in a couple of films that I know of - Haath Ki Safayi and Patthar Aur Payal apart from Meera. Their times did co-incide - he did not leave Bollywood till the late 70s and Hema's rule began early in the 70s. I wonder why they never did films together. Maybe Dharam vetoed her signing films with VK? ;)

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  16. Anu & OIG, both of you are forgetting Kudrat where VK and Hema were paired together in a good portion of the film. They are both absolutely gorgeous and make a great jodi.

    Anu, there is a tendency to call all Tam Bram ladies as mamis (whether they are iyer or iyengar). It usually connotes a plump middle aged lady! Kids in India out of respect would call any body mami - lol at ur being called a mami at 23!

    Oig, Anand Ashram was chalta hai. I still prefer Amanush for Sharmila-Uttam jodi. This is not to raise your expectations of thie film. I heard that the bengali version of Amanush was much better. I can't say coz i have only seen the hindi version.

    OIG, Rajesh Khanna did very well in his old films like Aradhna, Kati Patang, Namak Haram etc. I haven't seen Aap ki Kasam, I believe he has done well in that too. Pls do give him a chance and see his old films.

    Lastly thanks for your generosity in allowing me to chat with others on your blog.

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  17. I do know a lot of Geeta Dutt songs, but there are a couple (or more)on your list that I didn't recognize. One is constantly learning. The duet with Talat Mehmood is lovely.

    A few songs that I also like;

    This is my *all time* favourite, because we had a bengali friend in college with a beautiful voice, who sang this beautifully.
    I don't even know if it's a film song.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5vK-9b33tg&feature=related

    Another on is from the 1956 film Bhai Bhai - 'ae dil mujhe bata de'

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKcaNydkNMg


    pacifist

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  18. Filmbuff, the only thing I know about Kudrat is that there is a rebirth story and it has a Kishore Kumar song that I love to hate (Humen tumse pyaar kitna). Didn't realise there was a Vinod Khanna angle to it too, untill I saw your comments.

    As to Rajesh Khanna, I've seen most of his big hits and even enjoyed them as a kid. Grown up me, however, finds his mannerism exceedingly irritating and his film's not interesting enough for me to put up with them!

    pacifist, thanks for reminding me of Haule haule hawayen dole. It's such a lovely song. I remember hearing it on Vividh Bharti quite a few times. Ae dil mujhe bata de is the first song that comes to my mind when I hear "Geeta Dutt" probably because it was the first song on a Geeta Dutt cassette we had at home, and it was the most cheerful of the lot. :D

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  19. Where have you been? Haven't seen you for such a long time!! So glad you are back with a melodious and rocking post!!

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  20. Have you heard the parveen sultana version of Humey Tumse Pyaar Kitna from the same movie? It is melodious with a classical base.

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  21. Sharmi, I have been too busy watching films to have time to write about them! :D

    Filmbuff, I love the Parveen Sultana version of Humen tumse pyar kitna but this is the first time I've seen the video. I wonder if Vinod K refused to star with Hema anymore, after she ignored his considerable charms movie after movie! ;D

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  22. LoL! Good one about VK and Hema

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  23. Ooh! I love your list unequivocally. And I full understand "favorites as of this moment" disclaimer. The only way I could do a ten favorites list for Geeta would be do it as a timed test! :-)

    I'm glad you chose the parameters that you did for your list...they provide an excellent showcase for what a fabulous duet partner Geeta was. IMHO, creating a synergy with you singing partner requires a special skill for adaptation and as your list illustrates, Geeta had it in spades.

    As if this comment wasn’t long enough, here’s another example of Geeta’s duet mastery with yet another partner:
    Phulva band mehke w/Suman Kalyanpur

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmtqr4Lk0rc

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  24. Echoing Harvey on the need to do more research, I knew I only knew her famous songs, but this list is impressive and an education. And one of the many reasons why I read these blogs. To add, I carefully went over the rules; and I commend you on their complexity and for actually finding songs that comply.
    Although not compliant with your rules, my favorite Geeta Dutt song would be her more famous one
    Tadbeer se bigdi hui takdeer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgwfvDh7cPc
    LOL @ Pink Cadillac, Dev is my favorite hero because half the time you like him, and the rest of the time he is eminently spoofable.

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  25. Shalini, she did know how to create synergy with all her duet partners - she had chemistry even with Mukesh and Lata!

    Thanks for introducing me to Phulwa band mehke - it's a lovely song. And hey, I love your comments - the longer the better! :D

    samir, Tadbeer se bigdi hui used to be one of my favorites too, but I've heard it so often that I thought a desert island merited newer songs. ;D

    Dev is one of my favorites from the golden age too - his characters are the kind of people I like, and he is eminently spoofable but completely unselfconscious about it! His passing away truly feels like the end of an era...

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  26. I'm only beginning to discover her immense talent, although, my father always spoke very effusively about her... like you, as a child, I found her sad, soulful numbers too oppressive. I'm beginning to realize what I missed all this while. You have prepared a great list here. Thanks.

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