RMIM Archive Article "56".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Lata & Noorjehan - Parallel Lines Meet
# Part 3 - Mehboob and Beyond
# Posted by: email@example.com (Vish Krishnan)
# Author: firstname.lastname@example.org (Vish Krishnan)
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
Lata and Noor Jehan - Parallel Lines Meet
Part 3 - Mehboob and Beyond
Another phenomenon was now in the works. Ramjankhan Mehboob
Khan, the little man from the Cutch area of Gujarat, was riding
high with his own personal banner of Mehboob Studios. Already,
his NAJMA, TAQDEER, and above all, the grand epic HUMAYUN were
the talk of the industry. He had been watching the two singing-
acting talents of Noorjehan and Suraiyya Jamal Sheikh. And after
a little break, he was ready to recall Surendra, his own
discovery from his Sagar Movietone days.
Mehboob had been experimenting with music directors like Rafique
Ghaznavi and Ghulam Haider, but he missed the stability of an
Anil Biswas, his permanent musical companion from Sagar and Na-
tional Studios. A new partnership was to be forged. This one
would stay until Mehboob's dying day - May 28 1964.
As great as her successes had been so far, Noorjehan herself
could not predict her own next conquest. Unparalled to this day
in her movie world stands ANMOL GHADI, a 1946 Mehboob Khan clas-
sic. It marked the beginning of his A-movies (ANMOL GHADI,
AILAAN, ANOKHI ADA, ANDAAZ, AAN, AMAR) - I do take some liberty
with spelling AILAAN in my own way.
Of all of Noorjehan's hits, not just in Bombay cinema but
overall, ANMOL GHADI was the biggest name. It started and per-
petuated the Mehboob-Naushad partnership. With a couple of under-
standable exceptions, all Mehboob movies would now feature
Naushad Ali. ANMOL GHADI also rejuvenated the languishing
career of actor-singer Surendranath B.A. LL.B. This was NOT his
first movie with Noorjehan. They had starred together in Mir
Saheb's LAL HAVELI. He would go on to make AILAAN and ANOKHI ADA,
both with Mehboob Khan, his Bombay godfather. But for Noorjehan,
this would be the first and last Mehboob movie.
ANMOL GHADI was also a great hit for Suraiyya Jamal Sheikh. We
forget but Suraiyya has 3 good songs including "Main Dil Mein
Dard Basaa Laayee". But they were surrounded by the overpowering
Noorjehan aura. There really was no match for "Kya Mil Gya
Bhagwan", "Mere Bachpan Ke Saathi", "Jawaan Hai Mohabbat" and
above all, "Aawaaz De Kahaan Hai" - all of them among the best
remembered Noorjehan creations.
Above all, the runaway success of ANMOL GHADI got the Shauqat
Hussain-Noorjehan team convinced of one thing. They could do it
on their own. This was really just their fourth year in Bombay,
and just about every Noorjehan movie had been a gold mine.
The idea of a Shauqat Hussain movie banner had been brewing for a
while. It was really after ANMOL GHADI that they gained the kind
of confidence and financial capital they needed for the
jumpstart. Noorjehan was still on contract to finish S. F.
Hasnain's DIL and Ismail Memon's HUMJOLI.
The time was 1946.
Things were slowing down a bit for Master Vinayak. He had just
turned 40. It had been a busy life. From Prabhat to Huns to Nav-
yug to the present financial mess of Prafulla Pictures, he had
seen a lot of the good and bad times. In parallel, he was play-
ing family man, and almost single-handedly managed the upbringing
of the Mangeshkar siblings. His biggest achievement, as history
would bear out, was not Lata Mangeshkar the teenage actress, but
Lata, the upcoming master singer whose first recording had al-
ready been released under the auspices of Prafulla Pictures.
And now he was tired.
BADI MAA had kicked off the Hindi production sequence for
Vinayak. In 1946, he would direct his second Hindi movie.
SUBHADRA is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it intro-
duced Lata Mangeshkar to Vasant Desai, a mainstream MD already on
the payroll of Shantaram's Rajkamal Kalamandir. And more in-
terestingly, singer-actress Shanta Apte sings a beautiful duet
with Lata. I am still trying hard to locate "Main Khili Khili
In the same year, Master Vinayak finished the last movie of his
life. It was only appropriate for him to end his career with V.
Shantaram, the man who gave Vinayak his first break in the 1932
Marathi production AYODHYECHA RAJA. But our movie here is JEEVAN
YATRA, a Rajkamal production directed by Master Vinayak, set to
music by Vasant Desai, and enacted by an ensemble of big names
like Nayantara, Yakub, Pratima Devi and of course, one small name
- Lata Mangeshkar. Her solo "Chidiya Bole Choo Choo" is now an
antique - a rare gem that would make any collector proud.
The big war in Europe was now over. The Firangi had announced
their intent. They would leave soon. But somewhere in the hal-
lowed government buildings of Whitehall and Downing Street, Rt.
Honourable Sir Cyril Radcliffe was at work with his scalpel over
a drawing that looked roughly like the map of 1946 India. He
looked for easy boundaries like rivers and mountains, but nature
was not helpful. It would force him to use his judgment. Noor-
jehan had seen both sides of the new border, Lata had had just
the Bombay view of it, and Judge Radcliffe had never set foot on
So as Noorjehan was savouring her success with ANMOL GHADI and
Lata was not quite over the euphoria of her first recording, In-
dia was being split in two.
Master Ghulam Haider had left Panchholi Arts in 1943 after some
great box- office successes like KHAZANCHI, ZAMINDAR and POONJI.
His Noorjehan movies were also done for Panchholi. Starting with
the Punjabi creations GUL-E-BAKAVLI, YAMLA JAAT and CHOUDHURY, he
takes the credit for KHAANDAAN, Noorjehan's first Hindi movie in
a lead role, and a great one.
In 1944, Master Haider left Lahore and came to Bombay. It was
only a year after Noorjehan and Shauqat Hussain had made their
move. In Master Haider's case, the sponsor was the newly formed
Filmistan - a breakaway enterprise from the parent Bombay Talkie.
The break was engineered by heavyweights like Ashok Kumar, direc-
tor Gyan Mukherji, producer-director Sashadhar (S) Mukherjee and
the money-man Rai Bahadur Chunnilal Kohli, whose 20-year old son
Madan Mohan was still at war somewhere in Europe. The first Fil-
mistan movie CHAL CHAL RE NAUJAWAAN was set to music by veteran
Ghulam Haider, and perhaps its most memorable contribution is
the patriotic Ashok Kumar song "Bolo Har Har Mahadev Allah-O-
Master Haider would stay on in the hope of finding his place in
Bombay cinema. Mehboob's last pre-Naushad movie HUMAYUN was a
big hit, but not so much because of Ghulam Haider's music. He was
looking for that something that would make him stay. And we can
be sure he longed for that one movie that would partner him again
with that voice - one that caused him to leave Lahore in the
It was not to be. Noorjehan and husband Shauqat Hussain had al-
ready started Shauqat Art Productions in Bombay, and rumour had
it that they had started work on their first film. It was also
discovered that they had recruited the little-known 24-year old
Yusuf Khan to play the lead role opposite Noorjehan. Maestro
Feroze Nizami was recruited to score the music. The movie was
JUGNU, and looking back now, it was almost as big a hit as ANMOL
GHADI. While the Rafi-Noorjehan duet "Yahan Badla Wafaa Ka" be-
came synonymous with JUGNU's success, Noorjehan's 3 solos de-
fined its very soul. The song "Umangen Dil Ki Machlin,
Muskurayee Zindagi Apni" comes from vintage stock. And as for
the other two ("Aaj Ki Raat Saaz-E-Dil-E-Purdard Na Chhed" and
"Tum Bhi Bhula Do, Hum Bhi Bhula Dein"), together, they consti-
tute the hard-hitting realization that Lata Mangeshkar's early
influence was rooted in Noorjehan's voice. This is especially
true for "Tum Bhi Bhula Do...". Close your eyes and listen
carefully. This could be Lata Mangeshkar singing for Feroze
JUGNU was released in 1947. But already, the Lahore immigrants
(Master Haider and Noorjehan) were starting to have second
thoughts. The British plans for India's future were no big
Dalsukh M. Panchholi, the grand film distributor of Lahore was
seeing the writing on the wall. He had given both Noorjehan and
Ghulam Haider their first major break in Lahore cinema. In 1946-
47, he too packed his bags and came to Bombay, leaving the gi-
ant Panchholi Art Pictures to its Lahore fate. It must have hurt
to just walk away from an Empire, possibly the most modernized
studio in all of South Asia. Panchholi never got over the depres-
India was free. The key Noorjehan protagonists, Panchholi, Ghulam
Haider, Shauqat Hussain, and Noorjehan herself, were now all in
Master Vinayak was no more. His last project was conceived as the
movie MANDIR. Lata would act in it and sing as well. Vasant
Desai would score the music for it, but Master Vinayak would not
be part of it. Long term Navyug associate D.D. Patil completed
the movie. What would be Vinayak's last turned out to be Patil's
first. The new guard had arrived.
Dinkar Dattajirao Patil, an 80-year old grand master today, wrote
Master Vinayak's biography in the early '70s. A well-deserved
tribute that is. Vinayak was a great man. Amidst controversy, he
kept all his family promises without compromising his profession-
al zeal and output. Through his life, there was innuendo to the
effect that he had secretly married Lata's mother after friend
Dinanath passed on. We will never really know. All that mat-
tered in 1947-48 was that with a handful of bit parts and less
than a dozen songs in her resume, 18-year old Lata Mangeshkar was
an orphan all over again.
Life was also in a state of turmoil for Noorjehan and Shauqat
Hussain, although their battle was on a different front. Even
with her raging successes of the last 5 years, Bombay seemed
liked a strange land. With Shauqat Arts still in its infancy
(albeit with one success), they decided to move again, this time
back to Lahore. There was one more movie to finish. Offering yet
another musical treat from Pandit Amarnath and Husnlal-Bhagatram,
MIRZA SAHEBAAN marked the end of what V.M. Vyas's DUHAAI had
started - Noorjehan's glorious Bombay years.
Once again, MIRZA SAHEBAAN was a popular hit. Noorjehan's solos
like "Kya Yehi Tera Pyaar Tha, Mujhko To Intezaar Tha" and "Aa Ja
Tujhe Afsaana Judaai Ka Sunnayen, Jo Dil Pe Guzarti Hai, Woh Aan-
khon Se Bataayen" were sweet. But for a change, the most popular
songs of the movie were sung by the happy trio of Noorjehan,
Shamshad Begum and Zohrabai Ambalewali.
It was now 1947-48. At the musical helm of Bombay cinema were
stalwarts Datta Koregaonkar, Sajjad Husain, Naushad Ali, Anil
Biswas, Khemchand Prakash, and the Lahori Filmistan recruit Mas-
ter Ghulam Haider. And not far away, a 29-year old Ramchandra
Narhar Chitalkar was already creating trouble with his quest for
the new swing sound. The classicists would frown first, and then
give in. But for now, they were all united in the quest for the
next generation female voice.
Lata's Vasant Desai movies, her K. Datta connection and her expo-
sure to Rajkamal Kalamandir had all collectively made an impact.
She was known in some circles as the little girl with some prom-
ise, but none were willing to take a chance, EXCEPT Ghulam Haid-
er. It was in 1948 when Master Haider, perhaps with a nostagia
for Noorjehan's voice, worked hard to get Lata her first few
breaks in the post-Partition, post-Vinayak age. Three movies are
notable in this range - MAJBOOR, PADMINI and for the record,
Filmistan's SHAHEED. I believe that MAJBOOR ranks as Lata's
first breakaway from the Master Vinayak cocoon. The song "Dil
Mere Todaa, Hai Mujhe Kisi Ka Na Chhoda" is clearly a take-off on
the Noorjehan style. It was also Lata's first choice in her 1985
MY FAVOURITES release a 4-cassette collection with songs span-
ning the 1948-1981 period. Also in 1948, the Padmini song "Bedard
Tere Dard Ko Seene Se Lagaa Ke" became popular.
And the Noorjehan-soundalike package started to become known.
Ghulam Haider was elated at the result. It was part of his nos-
talgia. It was also the last straw. He would some day go back
to the real thing. But for now, he was infatuated with this new
Ghulam Haider had a few new projects. One was PATJHAD, a movie
that Panchholi, his old benefactor, had salvaged while essential-
ly on the run from Lahore. Together, they finished it in the same
year (1948). The other movie was Filmistan's SHAHEED. The studio
had already employed Kumar Sachin Varman (as the titles of those
movies used to state) as their music director starting with AATH
DIN, but had not forgotten the pioneering start they had received
from Master Haider. After a brief hiatus, they recalled him, this
time to do the music for SHAHEED.
In an interesting incident that Lata herself narrates in her "I
remember Madanmohan release" (1993), Master Haider insisted on
recording a SHAHEED song featuring Lata's voice. It was to be a
brother-sister song that went "Pinjre Mein Bulbul Bole, Mere
Chhota Sa Dil Dole". To the utter rage of Filmistan's boss-man
Rai Bahadur Chunnilal Kohli, the brother's voice was to be sup-
plied by his own 24-year old son Madan whose good-for-nothing
playboyish ways around the studio were getting on daddy's nerves.
Both parties had it their way. Master Haider completed the
recording of the Lata-Madan duet, and Rai Bahadur dropped it from
the movie and from the album. The question is: who won?
I know I did. But for that meeting, my growing days would have
been without the wonderful gift of ADAALAT songs, among a host of
On balance, the Lata-Ghulam Haider partnership did not produce
too many songs. That was not its purpose anyway. Strongmen Anil
Biswas, Khemchand Prakash, and soon after, Naushad and Chitalkar
picked up on this voice. And she had already met her future
brother Madanmohan. Lata needed no more help. Ghulam Haider's
job was done. He had picked up where Master Vinayak left. He
would do a few more movies for Bombay cinema. Notable among them
was KANEEZ, a Munawwar Sultana hit with songs mainly by Shamshad
and Geeta Roy. But the background music for the movie was com-
posed and conducted by a new Panchholi associate - Omkar Prasad
Nayyar. That was OP's first musical opportunity for Hindi
For now, Master Haider must have felt a great sense of achieve-
ment. With that, he quietly began folding up his belongings and
by 1950, he was back in Lahore.
For Lata Mangeshkar, the rest of history is on record. For the
most part, anyway.
Back in 1947-48, Noorjehan and Shauqat Hussain finished MIRZA
SAHEBAAN, their last Bombay project, and left for what was now
Pakistan. For the next 4 years, there was nothing for her to do.
Big fans like K. Datta were Sajjad H. were languishing on this
side of the border waiting for a miracle about to happen. Other
MDs like Ghulam Ahmed Chishti, Khurshid Anwar, Rashid Attre,
Firoz Nizami and Master Haider were all somewhere in transit.
In 1951, she co-produced and acted in CHANWAY, a Punjabi movie
under the Shauqat Arts banner. But the music was just not there.
In retrospect, the Lata years took a long time to shape up. When
they did, they stayed. For Noorjehan, the Partition was a big
blow. It would be a couple of years before she would get back in
the groove. In 1952, the new Lahore studio Film Asia produced
DUPATTA, and once again, Feroze Nizami delighted the world with
Noorjehan songs like
Saanwariya Tohe Koi Pukaare
Aa Ja Re Soye Chaand Sitaare
This one makes my top-10 list for Noorjehan.
By this time, Master Haider was back in the swing of things. He
started his own production company along with some friends, and
made one movie there. I lose track of Ghulam Haider's work at
this point, but the story has a good ending. He was finally
reunited with his GUL-E-BAKAVLI. It had been 10 years since
KHANDAAN, Noorjehan's first Hindi movie in a lead role, and her
last Ghulam Haider movie of the '40s. In 1953, Noorjehan would
star in GULENAR and LAILA. The script and direction for GULENAR
was undertaken by intellectual movie-man Imtiaz Ali Taj who,
along with Sadat Hasan Manto and a host of others had also moved
to Lahore after the Partition. The other movie (LAILA) was
scripted and directed by husband Shauqat Hussain.
Both movies were scored by Master Haider. They were also his
last. The 45-year old master music composer died in 1953.
With everything in the world going her way starting 1948, there
was no stopping Lata Mangeshkar. And with all the job offers
coming in from the most unpredictable sources, she found the time
for a couple of new activities. In 1950, she would team up again
with Dinkar Patil and actually score the music for his movie RAM
RAM PAHUNE. She would team up again with Dinkar Patil to found
Surel Productions in 1952.
So, a couple of years after Noorjehan's production CHANWAY, Lata
produced WADAL (1953). And as Ghulam Haider was preparing
deliver his last few Noorjehan movies in the 51-53 period, Datta
Koregaonkar, the old Noorjehan fanatic was creating 3 musical
gifts (DAAMAN, GUMASTA and RISHTA), all to be sung largely by his
new love - the voice of Lata Mangeshkar.
And again, just as Noorjehan's DUPATTA was hitting the scene in
Pakistan, Lata would do her last acting role in the Hindi-Marathi
dual release, the C.Ramchandra-scored CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI. She
would never act again, or score music under her original name.
Noorjehan, to the best of my knowledge, never took credit for any