RMIM Archive Article "368".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Talat: melody your name
# Posted by: Preeti Ranjan Panda (email@example.com)
# Source: Indian Express
# Author: Ambarish Mishra
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
Found this article on Talat Mahmood that I had saved some years ago -
a newspaper clipping from maybe 1992. My guess is that it's from the
INDIAN EXPRESS, judging from the fonts used.
Melody Your Name...
- Ambarish Mishra
Usmanbhai, the cabbie from Mahim, Bombay, loves to chat with
his clients, switching topics as effortlessly as he changes
gears. Hindi film music of yesteryear strikes a friendly
chord. So, when the taxi screeches to a halt near a
high-rise apartment in Bandra, his face lights up:
"Bhaijaan, Talat Mahmoodsaab lives somehwere here." Upon
learning that you are going to meet the famous playback
singer, the cabbie is only too willing to forego a
rupee. "Koi baat nahin. But you must give my salaams to
Talatsaab and tell him I still hum his songs."
Usmanbhai is one of countless admirers of Talat
Mahmood. Though the aficionados of Hindi films have always
held him in high esteem, official recognition, however, came
a little late. The long overdue Padma Bhushan was bestowed
upon the singer only this year. But, true to character,
Talat is not resentful. "One feels happy when recognition
comes from ones motherland," he muses.
Talat is not unaccustomed to accolades. Praise came to him
at a very early age from his aunt, Mahalqabegum Kidwai, his
lone supporter in a conservative Muslim family of
Lucknow. Though his father, Manzoor Mahmood, had a liking
for music - the patriarch had a stentorian tone and would be
only too willing to display his talent occasionally at
public meetings in Lucknow - he wanted young Talat to finish
his studies and join the family business - a shop full of
glittering lamps and lampshades.
A reluctant Talat joined the prestigious Aligarh Muslim
University, obviously to please the family head. However, he
soon realised that music and not microbiology was his
forte. Eager to hone his talents, he joined briefly the
famed Morris College of Music in Lucknow. "I did not go
beyond raag Yaman-Kalyaan," he remembers. But Talat's
teachers had a high opinion about him. "Maybe, I had a good
Moreover, hometown Lucknow, reputed for its tehzeeb and
thumris, provided a perfect setting for his pursuit. "Saigal
was my favourite. I don't know how many hours I have spent
humming his songs," he says with pride. Saigal's 'kahoon kya
aas niraas bhai' being his favourite.
However, Talat did not ape his idol for too long, thanks to
the gentle prodding fro aunt Mahalqabegum and Kamal
Dasgupta, and extremely talented music director from
Calcutta. How he reached Calcutta is interesting to
know. Private mehfils in Lucknow and several radio
programmes had brought a bit of fame to Talat in the early
1940s. A talent-scouting team from Calcutta's His Master's
voice (HMV), led by the irrepressible P. K. Sen, came to
Lucknow and on hearing Talat at a private concert, made him
sign a contract with HMV.
Talat fondly remembers his early days in Calcutta where he
came in close contact with legendary figures like Saigal and
P. C. Barua. He joined New Theatres when it was passing
through a bad patch with stalwarts like Saigal, Barua and
Kanan Devi leaving its fold. The company was in need of a
young actor-singer and Talat promptly filled the bill. "But
New Theatres could not find a suitable heroine for me,"
chuckles Talat. The much-awaited break for him came in
RAAJLAKSHMI. Later, he graduated to play the lead role
opposite Bharati Devi in SAMAPTI, "a super-flop".
However, under Kamal Dasgupta, private records like 'soye
hue hain chaand aur taare', 'panchhi preet ki reet nibha',
'nigaahon ko churaakar rah gayen hain', and 'sab din ek
samaan nahin thaa' announced the arrival of a new singing
sensation. Nearly a lakh copies of the chart-bursting record
'tasveer teri dil mera bahala na sakegi' were sold in a
fortnight. "I became famous," the singer coos softly with
his characteristic smile.
Soon, Talat's fame reached Bombay. Veteran music director
Anil Biswas encouraged him to join tinseltown, and, in March
1948, he landed in Bombay. Meena Mangeshkar fondly remembers
the singer's first private mehfil at the residence of
Biswas. "Talatji sang a ghazal, and, believe me, I and
Latadidi were simply thrilled."
So were the countless aficionados of Hindi film music when
Talat sang for Dilip Kumar's ARZOO under Anil's baton. The
song 'ae dil, mujhe aisi jagah le chal' became an instant
hit. The soft, mellifluous voice took the Bombay film world
by storm and soon he established a reputation as a top
singer, honing his talents under ace composers like Anil
Biswas, Sajjad Hussain, Vinod, Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Salil
Chowdhury, S. D. Burman, Roshan, Madan Mohan,
Shankar-Jaikishan, Khayyam and O. P. Nayar, to name a few.
Says noted comnposer Naushad Ali, "It was a privilege to
work with Talat. He lent grace and izzat to my songs. But
his forte is ghazal. He and Begum Akhtar brought an element
of tarannum in ghazal singing. Also, in his choice of
ghazals, Talat shows his refined sensibilities as an
artist." Agrees well-known music director, Salil Chowdhury:
"The quality of Talat's voice is excellent. He also took
great pains and would not be prepared for the second best."
True. The best example of his passion for perfection is
'jalte hain jiske liye', his famous number from SUJATA,
which S. D. Burman recorded only after over 50 rehearsals.
Little wonder that music directors set aside their treasured
compositions for Talat. For over two decoades, he sang a
variety of film songs ranging from melancholic ('phir wohi
shaam, wohi gham, wohi tanhaaee hai,' or 'raat ne kya kya
khwaab dikhaaye') and pure romantic ('jalte hain jiske
liye', 'tasveer banaata hoon') to light, foot-tapping
numbers ('aha, rimjhim ke ye pyaare pyaare' and 'itna na
mujhse tu pyaar').
Talat's gentle, soft voice set the tone of the Hindi films
of the 1950s: tales of star-crossed lovers, embellished with
rich lyrics and captivating music. The melancholic and
romantic Dilip Kumar of the 1950s, cast in the mould of
Barua, in incomplete without Talat. From ARZOO to DEVDAS, he
crooned some of the best numbers for the actor. "And Dilip
Kumar too gave full justice to my songs," says Talat.
However, the teamship did not last too long. After DEVDAS,
the matinee idol opted for a drastic change in screen
persona to keep pace with changing times. He was soon
replaced by Mohammad Rafi. Meanwhile, producer-director
A. R. Kardar encouraged him to try his luck as an
actor. However, the transition from the recording studio to
the arc-lights was not fruitful. Talat's films bombed at the
box-office and, on the other hand, his singing career too
took a nosedive, despite his loud protestations that he had
not given up the microphone.
Worse, the 1960s began hip-swinging to 'Yaaaaahooooo...' and
Talat decided to bow out. "Because the melody was gone from
Hindi film music," he says, thumbing through the dog-eared
pages of his diary, a sheaf of memories and melodies.