His Music

The Lata / Madan Mohan combination is one of the most appreciated in film music. However, Lataji did not sing for Madan Mohan in his debut film Aankhen. But therafter she was the muse for the composer an d their hits are legendary. In all Lataji concerts the loudest applause was invariably for Madan Mohan songs.

When Lataji was to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the prestigious Wren orchestra, she selected various songs and sent them for the scores to be written. Two songs of Madan Mohan became the favourites of the foreign orchestra... Lagja gale se and Khelo na mere dilse. The conductor, Ed Welch, said he was fascinated by the compositions and the modern treatment of these two songs.

Madan Mohan completed the remaining music of the film "Shabistan" in the year 1951 when the Music Director of this film C. Ramchandra quit after some dispute with the producers.

During Madan Mohan's short stint as assistant to S. D. Burman the latter used a tune originally composed by Madan Mohan. This was the song 'Mera sundar sapna beet gaya' (Do Bhai). It is also suggested that the song 'Jeevan ke safar mein rahi' (Munimji) was a Madan Mohan composition as he was assistant for Munimji as well (Munimji was delayed in release and the music was recorded well before 1955). However this has not been substantiated.

Madan Mohan completed the music of film "Alif Laila" in the year 1953 when the Music Director of this film Shyamsunder passed away. He however did not take credit for his work for this film.

In the year 1956, film "Bhai Bhai" turned out to be Madan Mohan's first box office hit (after his debut in 1950). During its run for the 24th consecutive weeks, a dispute arose between the producer and distributor, as a result of which the film was immediately withdrawn from screening. Result: No silver jubilee hit for Madan Mohan inspite of excellent music and a highly successful movie. His first silver jubilee hit came 8 years later with "Woh Kaun Thi" in 1964.

Famous ghazal singer Begum Akhtar was a great admirer of Madan Mohan's tunes.After hearing the song "Qadar Jaane Na" from "Bhai Bhai" on Radio Ceylonshe immediately rang up Madan Mohan from Lucknow and urged him to sing this song for her and he did it repeatedly for eighteen minutes on telephone.

In the film "Bhai Bhai", three actresses have played key roles but of quite different characters. Each actress has got a very popular song to sing in the film.

1. 'Qadar Jaane na, O Mora Baalam Bedardi' is picurised on Nimmi.
2. 'Mera Chhotasa Dekho Ye Sansar Hai' on Nirupa Roy and
3. 'Ai Dil Mujhe Bataa De Tu Kispe Aa Gaya Hai' on Shyama

As a composer, Madan Mohan did full justice to each actress.

In the film "Dekh Kabira Roya", three very popular songs come in a back to back sequence

1. 'Meri Veena Tum bin Roye' (Lata Mangeshkar)
2. 'Ashkonse Teri Hamne Tasveer Banayi Hai' (Asha Bhosle) and
3. 'Tu Pyar Kare Ya Thukaraye' (Lata Mangeshkar)

All three songs are raga based, composed in Ahir Bhairav, Pahadi and Bhairavi respectively. On the screen, these songs have been picturised on Ameeta, Anita Guha and Shubha Khote respectively.

Often Madanji composed different tunes for antras in the same song, which was a testimony of his creativity. Some examples of this are 'Ek haseem shaam ko', 'Sapnon mein agar mere', 'Aapne apna banaya', and 'Kai dinse jee hai bekal' (Dulhan Ek Raat Ki), 'Tum jo mil gaye ho' and 'Betaab dil ki tamanna' (Hanste Zakhm), 'Har koi chahta hai ek mutthi aasmaan', 'Chand madham hai' (Railway Platform), 'Hamare baad ab mehfil mein' (Baaghi), 'Beraham aasman' (Bahaana), 'Tumse kahoon ek baat' and 'Mai ri main kaase kahoon'(Dastak). 'Koi pathar se na maare' and 'Barbaad mohabbat ki dua' (Laila Majnu), Mushkil hai jeena (Sahib Bahadur) and almost all songs from Heer Ranjha... 'Do dil toote', 'Tere kooche mein', 'Doli chadhte hi', 'Milo na tum to' and 'Yeh duniya yeh mehfil'. This indeed proved that he was able to conjure so many melodies within the same song!

In the film "Chandan", the song "Ye Khule Khule Se Gesoo, Ye Udee Udee Si Rangat... Log Kahe Mere Nain Baaware", has all the three stanzas composed in different tunes. There are three heroines in this film viz. Nutan, Shyama and Mala Sinha. Possibly, each stanza is picturised on a different actress.

In the film Ghazal, three ghazals have the same behar and radeef.

1. 'Nagma-o- Sher Ki Saugaat Kise Pesh Karoon' (Lata Mangeshkar)
2. 'Rang Aur Noor Ki Baarat Kise Pesh Karoon' (Mohammed Rafi) and
3. 'Ishq Ki Garmiye Jazbaat Kise Pesh Karoon' (Mohammed Rafi)

However, the tunes of these three songs are entirely different and are based on different ragas.

In the late 50's, Madanji formed a part of the judges panel, for a live singing competition... the Metro Murphy contest. Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Vasant Desai and Madan Mohan were the judges for the nationwide contest. Each of the composers was to give a film song to one of the winners. Aarti Mukherjee and Mahendra Kapoor were the winners. Madanji gave a song in to Mahendra Kapoor in Jailor, followed by Anpadh, Woh Kaun thi and other later films.

Young and budding singers prefer to sing Madan Mohan's song in singing competition programmes like "Meri Awaz Suno", "Sa Re Ga Ma" and others. Madan Mohan's compositions, known to be complex and difficult to sing are always a challenge for singers.

The period 1950-1970 for Hindi films was dominated by three leading male actors viz. Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. Madan Mohan composed music for two movies of Raj Kapoor viz. Aashiaana and Dhun and three for Dev Anand viz. Pocketmaar, Sharaabi and Saahib Bahadur. However, none of these films succeeded and he did not compose any song for Dilip Kumar, despite being his close family friend.

Madan Mohan was a composer who was highly original and rarely copied tunes from the West or otherwise. However on the rare occasion, he did get influenced. A glaring example of this was one of his early songs 'Dil dilse milakar dekho' (Memsahib) which was inspired by the English song 'Isle of Capri'.

Composer Sajjad Hussain was upset that Madanji's song 'Tujhe kya sunaaoon main dilruba' (Aakhri Dao) sounded so similar to his own 'Yeh hawa yeh raat yeh chandni'. It is not clear how or why this happened.

For the film "Pooja Ke Phool" a song was recorded by Lataji for Nimmi who played a blind girl. The song was 'Mujhe apni ankhiyaan dede o pyare panchi'. However on the directors insistence , Madanji rerecoreded the song basing it on the original tune of the same situation as in the Tamil version of the film, of which Pooja ke Phool was a remake. This original tune was not Madanjis and the song is 'Miaoon miaoon meri sakhi'. Of course he imparted his own style to the antras and the music. The originally recorded Madan Mohan song will be made available on the website for reference.

Various Madan Mohan inspired songs have also been heard in films. The song 'Saagar Kinare' (Saagar) was inspired by 'Yehi hai tammanna' (Aap ki Parchaiyan), and R. D. Burman called up Madanji to inform him of this. The meter of the song was similar to 'Thandi Hawayen' (Naujawan) and 'Rahen na rahen hum' (Mamta).

Two songs recorded around the same time have similar tunes... 'Bhor hote kaaga' (Chirag) a Madan Mohan song, and 'Main to pyar se tere' (Saathi), a Naushad song. It is not clear who inspired whom!

One of Madanji's first successful films was "Bhai Bhai", starring Kishore Kumar. Among other popular songs it had the Lata-Kishore unusual hit, 'Mera naam Abdul Rahman'. When Madan Mohan and Kishore Kumar worked together again in ManMauji , 6 years later, they decided to recreate a similar song, once again by Kishoreda and Lataji.. the song was ' Ek tha Abdul Rahman', but the film did not do well and the song went unnoticed.

Madanji's popular Kishoreda hit 'Zaroorat hai zaroorat hai' from "Manmauji" was one of the first remix songs in the market... which became 'kya soorat hai', a big hit with the youngsters, but there was no credit to the original composer.

In the film "Chacha Zindabad", there was a situation of a girl learning classical music from a Guru. Madan Mohan composed 'Preetam daras dikhao' in raag Lalit and intended to record it with Ustad AmirKhan and Lataji. When Lataji heard this she requested Madanji and producer Om Prakash to excuse her as she would not be able to sing with the Ustad whom she revered and was too nervous to sing with. The song was later recorded by Manna Dey and Lataji.

"Chacha Zindabad" was an unusual music score, with classical songs on the one hand (including Bairan neend na aaye', and some rock and roll fun numbers by Kishoreda and Lataji as well which were potential hits. The film however flopped, and some songs went unnoticed!

Madan Mohan sang as a playback singer for four of his own films. These songs are:

1. 'Humse Na Dil Ko Lagaana' with Shamshaad Begum for "Aankhen" (1950)
2. 'Chinchpokli' with Shamsad Begum for "Shabistan" (1951)
3. 'Koi Ek Ana' with Mohammed Rafi for "Dhun" (1953)
4. 'Mere Jaisa Nahi Milega' with Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar in "Fifty Fifty" (1956)

Two additional songs have been heard in his voice, but these were never intended for commercial release. These 2 songs were sung by him as dummy tracks for Lataji to sing later as she was not well at the time of recording. These songs were later given to HMV by his family for release on albums after Madanji's demise. These songs were 'Mai ri main kaase kahoon' (Dastak) and 'Naina barse rim jhim rim jhim' (Woh Kaun Thi).

'Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim' was a tune Madan Mohan had composed in 1952. For want of an appropriate situation as well as being rejected by filmmakers, it remained unused. When Raj Khosla, a close friend of Madanji, needed a haunting melody for "Woh Kaun Thi", the composer remembered his forgotten melody, and Raj Khosla jumped at it. 'Naina barse' became a major hit.

The unforgettable song Lag Ja Gale Se also from Woh Kaun Thi, as told by Manoj Kumar, was almost never recorded. Madanji had composed the song with great care for a haunting romantic situation in the film. Director Raj Khosla cursorily rejected it. Madanji was very upset as he was confident that this could be a memorable song. He called Manoj Kumar and requested him to hear the song and convince the director. Manojji was bowled over by the composition. He requested Raj Khosla if he could join in the next sitting. At that sitting, the very same tune was sung again for the director, who immediately approved it. When told later that it was the same tune he rejected a few days ago, he was very embarrassed and said, "either I was just not concentrating or I have gone mad if I could ever reject this wonderful tune". Lag Ja Gale was thus recorded and till today remains one of Madanji's most loved songs.

When the Shimla shooting schedule of "Woh Kaun Thi" was on, the haunting theme song, 'Naina barse' was still to be recorded as Lataji was unwell. Finally, it had to be sung by Madanji for the shoot purposes, and people in Shimla were astounded to see Sadhana lipsynching to a male voice for the song, and wondered what kind of ghost story was in the making! Later it was resung by Lataji. An excerpt of the version by Madanji was included in the Legends, 5 CD set.

Similarly, the song 'Mai ri' from "Dastak", was earlier sung by Madanji only for shooting purposes. His version remained on the master tape in his personal collection. When he passed away and HMV wished to make a tribute album, they approached his family for any song in his voice. 'Mai ri' in Madanji's voice thus featured on the LP, MADAN MOHAN A TRIBUTE and became a much appreciated song by his fans, thereafter.

In the year 1964, Madan Mohan was nominated for the Filmfare Award for the best music direction for the film "Woh Kaun Thi". The award however, went to Laxmikant-Pyarelal for their score for "Dosti". In 1966, "Mera Saaya", was originally nominated, (along with "Guide" and "Suraj") and then was removed from final nominations, owing to a disagreement with the magazine and the award policy. It was replaced in nominations by another Raj Khosla directed film, DO BADAN. Of course , the award finally went to SURAJ. Madanji was very upset at the time.

In all Madanji was officially nominated for the filmfare award 4 times, for Anpadh, Woh Kaun Thi, Mausam and then posthumously for Veer-Zaara, but never won the award.

Not getting the popular award over so many years, despite appreciation and success of his music, did disappoint him. He lost interest in awards. Thus, when he heard that he had got the National Award for "Dastak", he, initially, refused to go to Delhi for the function. Sanjeev Kumar, who also won the award for Best Actor for the same film, cajoled him to attend, and only then Madanji accompanied him to Delhi.

Madanji won the Cine Music Directors Award often. This was an award whose winner was selected only by the music directors themselves. Of course, appreciation from his own peers and colleagues pleased him. When he won the award for 'Nainon mein badra chhaye', he invited the entire music director fraternity to his residence for dinner, which was entirely cooked by himself... that was his way of expressing appreciation for the recognition.

Madan Mohan was fascinated with the ghazal singing of Talat Mahmood, and the bond they shared ever since their early days in Lucknow, culminated in some memorable hits till "Jahanara". In fact, when Talat Mahmood was singing less and Rafi was the most sought after singer, the director of "Jahanara" insisted that Rafi sing all the male songs. Madanji was adamant that Talat would sing at least 3 songs in the film, while Rafi would sing the rest, as he had composed accordingly. He volunteered to give up the film on this issue. It was the producer, Om Prakash, who let Madanji have his way and thus 'Phir wohi shaam', 'Teri aankh ke aansoo' and 'Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon' became landmarks in Talat Mahmood's career.

A similar situation arose with Laila Majnu in 1974. Kishore Kumar was the most popular singer in mid 70's and the producer of this love legend wanted Kishore Kumar to be the voice of the young star Rishi Kapoor, who already had Kishore Kumar singing for him in other films. Madanji was adamant that this film needed Rafi's voice, and once again volunteered to quit the film. The director H. S. Rawail let Madanji have his way and the songs of Laila Majnu became blockbusters, with Rafi then becoming the voice for Rishi Kapoor in many films thereafter including Amar Akbar Anthony, Hum Kisise Kam Nahin, Sargam etc.

Another challenging project was "Ghazal"... where the ghazal King was in his element. He was working with Sahir Ludhianvi after a long gap. The famous nazm by Sahir on Taj Mahal, 'Mere mehboob kahin aur milakar mujhse' was recorded in Rafi saab's voice and much appreciated by the few who heard it. However later, due to some misunderstanding with the makers, Sahir demanded that his nazm be dropped from the film and not issued on records. Thus the song remained unheard. Many years later it was issued as a rare song in a compilation and also appeared in the video release of the film. The film however met the same fate as most Madanji films!

Raj Khosla was making a film "Saaya" after "Woh Kaun Thi"... this film also needed a haunting song, like 'Naina barse'. When the song was recorded, it was much appreciated by all the musicians and the unit, and on repeated hearing the haunting refrain 'Mera saaya' was on everybody's lips. It was then decided to title the film "Mera Saaya" instead!

Director Mohan Kumar shared the information of how 'Aapki nazron ne samjha' came to be recorded. Apparently a song had been rehearsed and ready to record, with all musicians in place and Lataji in studio. Just then Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, the lyricist of the song, arrived and casually mentioned that he had just written a new song and read out the lyrics to Mohan Kumar, who exclaimed that these lyrics were even more suited to the situation than the one about to be recorded. When Madanji heard this, he took up the challenge, and went into another room with the poet, and in a few minutes a new tune of a new ghazal was ready... and Lataji sang 'Aaapki nazron ne samjha' instead of the originally rehearsed song. The tune, the music arrangements were all done on the spot, in no time.

Madan Mohan was very finicky about his musicians and was indeed feared by them for his quest for perfection. Top musicians of India have played for him in his songs, including Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Pt. Ramnarain, Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia. In fact Hariji made his debut in a film recording with the song Phir Wohi Shaam, from Jahanara. Well known composer Pyarelal played the violin often for him, including in the song KAISE KATEGI ZINDAGI TERE BAGAIR.

So strict was he about discipline with his musicians that he would cancel their piece if they reported late for a recording. During the recording of 'Naino mein badra chhaaye', when the musicians were making many errors resulting in continuous retakes with Lataji having to resing the song repeatedly, he lost his temper and banged his hand against the studio control room glass. He was bleeding profusely, but refused any medical attention till the song was perfectly recorded.

Ustad Rais Khan was one of his favourite musicians as the sitar was his favourite instrument. Rais Khan has embellished many songs with his outstanding contribution and the sitar pieces were an integral part of Madanji's songs. However, in the early 70's, after a minor misunderstanding between the two, Madanji decided not to use the sitar again... such was his emotional intensity. Thus we do not hear the sitar in songs after 1973... "Dil ki Rahen" and "Hanste Zakhm" were the last films in which we heard Rais Khan's sitar. The sitar was conspicuous by its absence in "Mausam", "Hindustan ki Kasam", "Laila Majnu" and other later films.

For the song 'Meri aankhon se' from "Pooja ke Phool", Madanji had recorded with various instruments as interludes, with a limited use of sitar. However, later he decided that if the pieces were entirely sitar based the song would be further heightened, so the entire song was rerecorded by Lataji and musicians a few weeks later. The earlier recorded version, as found on his master tapes, will be available for reference on this website.

Well known singer Bhupinder made his debut under the baton of Madan Mohan in the film "Haqeeqat" in 1964 for which he sang 'Ho Ke Majboor Mujhe Usne Bhulaya Hoga' with Mohammed Rafi, Talat Mahmood and Manna Dey. At the same time, he sang 2 songs for the background score of "Dulhan Ek Raat Ki". Bhupinder, later, worked with Madan Mohan as a guitarist in various songs and of course sang for him in "Mausam" as well.

During the period of 3/4 years when Rafi sahib and Lataji did not sing with each other, Madanji was in a dilemma... they were his favourite singers!! He was forced then to have all his duets in mid 60's recorded by other singers. If Lataji was crucial to the song, he got Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood and Mahendra Kapoor to join her (Suhagan, Jahanara, Woh KaunThi, Dulhan Ek Raat Ki). When Rafi Saab was crucial to the song, Suman Kalyanpur (Ghazal, Jahanara), and Ashaji (Neela Aakash, Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare) joined him. Thus we find very few Lata / Rafi duets in Madanji's repertoire

A lot of his favourite compositions were either cut from the film after being filmed or just dropped after recording. These included 'Khelo na mere dil se' (Haqeeqat), 'Duniya bananewale' (Hindustan Ki Kasam), 'Mast pawan dole re' (Bawarchi), 'Chirag dilka jalao' (Chirag) and many others. Consequently, the songs did not get the chance to become popular. 'Meri duniya mein tum aayi' (Heer Ranjha) was not in the film originally. A few weeks later, it was added, but 'Tere kooche mein' was deleted. 'Aaj socha to aansoo' (Hanste Zakhm), was added to the film many weeks later.

A song from "Manmauji", sung by Kishoreda, 'Bura lagta hai lage duniya ko, apni marzi se jioonga main to', was banned by the Administration, and records were cancelled just as released... radio banned it and thus it was never heard... it was considered anti social!

Similarly a song 'Do ghont maine pee' from "Sanjog", was considered as encouraging alcohol and was allowed only after the words had to be changed, thus marring the song!

Madan Mohan was very proud of the soundtrack of Jahanara... he felt it was a complete score, as it had ghazals, nazms, mujras, classical songs as well as love duets, and his compositions were of very high caliber. However the film ran only for a week... this disappointed him deeply. Apparently, for Jahanara a qawalli had been recorded, in the voices of Lataji, Ashaji, and Usha and Meena Mangeshkar, probably the only song sung by all 4 sisters... but for some unknown reason this song was neither filmed, nor is it available at all.

Master Sonik was Madanji's arranger for most of the 60's, and they tuned very well together. While Sonik also arranged for others, Madanji and he created magic together, as Madanji knew exactly what he wanted and also composed most interludes himself. When Sonik became an independent composer (along with his nephew Omi) with "Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya", Madanji worked with various other arrangers like Gyan Verma and Kersi Lord thereafter and maintained the Madan Mohan style through "Dastak", "Dil Ki Rahen", "Hanste Zakhm" and other films.

Madan Mohan had completed the songs of Gulzar's "Mausam" before his untimely demise. The film was dedicated to him. The background music was done by Salil Chaudhry.

For "Laila Majnu", Madan Mohan had recorded 6 songs during his lifetime, including the superhit 'Koi pathar se na mare mere deewane ko'. He passed away during the making of the film and thus 3 songs were composed and recorded by Jaidev thereafter. The music of "Laila Majnu" became a blockbuster and all 6 Madan Mohan tunes were at the forefront. However, for some strange reason, HMV chose to credit the music as by Madan Mohan and Jaidev for each song, thus not specifying which were the Madan Mohan tunes. "Laila Majnu" won the Gold Disc on release, and finally a Madan Mohan song topped the Binaca Geetmala for many weeks. Even the film was a Golden Jubilee hit, but Madan Mohan did not see the success of this film or "Mausam".

Two of Madan Mohan's favourite projects failed to take off... projects that would have given him a great opportunity to excel. Ghalib was a film being made by Sawan Kumar Tak after "Naunihal", based on the life of the legendary Urdu poet. The film was first to star Amitabh Bachchan, as one of his earliest films, and then Sanjeev Kumar. Madan Mohan had composed some ghazals for the film. These remained unrecorded and the tunes cannot be found.

Similarly, Chetan Anand was to make "Salim Anarkali" with Amitabh Bachchan in mid 70's. Madan Mohan was working extensively on the music for this challenging film. In fact he was working on this at Chetan Anand's house the night before he expired. The composed tunes remained with the filmmaker, who later approached the Madan Mohan family to allow the usage of his name and tunes when he revived the project. However this was not to be and there is no trace of the tunes.

It is learnt that when Chetan Anand made "Kudrat", he did ask R.D.Burman to base a couple of songs on Madanji's tunes left behind with him, and in fact one of the lead popular songs from the film sounds very much like a Madanji composition.

Madanji had started moving with the times by experimenting with arrangements in films like "Parwana", "Hanste Zakhm", "Mausam", "Dil Ki Rahen", as he realized that western instruments were being increasingly used by younger composers and appreciated by audiences.

Kishore Kumar and Madanji were good friends. In fact Madanji scored music for many Kishoreda starrers including "Memsahib", "Bhai Bhai", "Ilzaam", "Chandan", "Chacha Zindabad", "Manmauji", "Ladka Ladki" and others.

The song, 'Rahi tha main awara' ("Sahib Bahadur" - a Dev Anand starrer, that released in 1977) was composed by Madanji a month or so before his death. He was hoping to have a rehearsal with Kishoreda before recording, but Kishoreda was very busy for rehearsal and even for the recording, which kept getting delayed and Madanji and director Chetan Anand, were getting impatient. Madanji, a little irritated at the delay, sang the song on a cassette for Kishoreda and sent it to him. At end of the song he added a comment, teasingly... 'Aye Bangali... mera gaana dhyaan se sunna, aur rehearse karke aana, aur kharab nahin karna'... And he passed away a few days later. This anecdote was told to all by Kishoreda himself, when he recorded the song a month or so later.

The mukhda of this song in Madanji's voice can be heard in the "Golden Moments" sections' Audio Gallery, under "Madan Mohan sings..."

One of Madanji's most popular songs Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho, was initially not liked much by listeners, who claimed it was too complicated. This was so, because of the situation demanding changing moods and thus different antras, tempos and arrangements in the song. Also some Madanji fans found the treatment too modern, and away from his traditional style. It was Madanji's endeavour to present a melodious romantic tune in a modern style, as the times were changing. Over the years, it has become even more popular, and is acclaimed as a song well before its time, and remains a favorite in stage concerts. Recently Coca Cola used it as the theme for one of its ad campaigns. The song is popular till today.

Many tunes composed by him remained unused... many songs remained unreleased... some recorded but unreleased songs have now been released on the album TERE BAGAIR... while others have just been lost! Some unused tunes were used in Veer-Zaara, while various others remain well preserved with his family.