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Madan Mohan: The king of melodies who gave Indian cinema some of its most loved songs

Music composer Madan Mohan with playback singer Lata Mangeshkar.

Music composer Madan Mohan with playback singer Lata Mangeshkar. , Photo Credit: @FilmHistoryPic/X

In the stillness of the night, play on your speaker, Looks like a mistakeNothing will soothe your senses more and make you feel serene.

Looks like a mistake is one of India’s most popular songs. Look at the astounding number of views it has had on YouTube. One video of the song has around 30 crore views. There are several other versions, including the cover versions, some enjoyable and some not quite.

Looks like a mistake is one of those perfect works of art. It has superb lyrics (by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan), immaculate singing (by Lata Mangeshkar), and it is well shot too (by director Raj Khosla), featuring the good-looking couple Sadhana and Manoj Kumar for the film Who was she?

The music composer with singer Mohammed Rafi.

The music composer with singer Mohammed Rafi. , Photo Credit: @FilmHistoryPic/X

But, the biggest credit goes to the man who composed it – Madan Mohan. Today, June 25, marks his birth centenary. He is one of India’s greatest composers of all time. But sadly, he isn’t among the most successful ones as he didn’t get his due in his lifetime.

He, however, was respected by his contemporaries. Naushad, who achieved more success as a composer in popular films, once went to Madan Mohan’s home, moved by the Lata song There is a ray of love in this. He told him he could give away all his songs for that one composition by Madan Mohan. That song, however, wasn’t the most popular one from the film Anpadh. it was Your eyes made me understand.

Only a few composers have been loved and admired by fans and musicians as much as Madan Mohan. He wasn’t the most versatile of composers like SD Burman, his son RD Burman, and Shankar-Jaikishan, but he stood his own.

He created an incredible number of sweet melodies – mostly in the voice of Lata – in the ghazal or semi-classical mold. In that space he had no peer.

Looks like a mistake may be the biggest hit of that collaboration, but it was just one of their many immortal melodies. I remember trying to pick the best from Anuradha Paudwal’s cover version of Madan-Lata songs on cassette released by T-Series. After considering each song – including It seems like a mistake – I thought maybe it was He should keep quiet.

But the film featured that song, Jahan Arahad a few other brilliant creations, like Whenever I forgot youfor which Lata joined hands with her sister Asha Bhosle, and After some time this moment camewhich didn’t feature Lata but Suman Kalyanpur and Mohammed Rafi, and Phirwohi and Shaam. That says a lot about the genius of Madan Mohan.

ALSO READ:Lata Mangeshkar, a window to India, mourned by fans in China

He was fortunate that he had an all-time singing great like Lata was his muse in her prime. It was the good fortune of Hindi film music that two immensely gifted individuals came together to bring out a large volume of stunning melodies, such as Nagame o lion’s, cloud in the eyes, except your eyes, that innocent story, nine rains, a little sigh, wherever you go, that story we have told and If you love me.

If I were to pick the best Madan Mohan song not rendered by Lata, I would not think twice. it will be my heart is searching for yousung by Bhupinder Singh and written by Gulzar for Aandhi,

It is one of those songs that will never tire you. The lines are sheer poetry, and Bhupinder’s voice and expressions do full justice to them.

A few years ago, in my interview with the singer, I had asked him about the song. Bhupinder told me that Madan Mohan had considered eight tunes before deciding on the mesmerizing one he finally settled on.

ALSO READ:Lata Mangeshkar: A voice for every emotion

I remember him vividly singing the my heart is searching for you to the tune of for you from Veer Zaara. Bhupinder also told me how excited Madan Mohan was when they heard the song your glance made me understand on the radiowhile they travelled to Ladakh. Madan Mohan said, “Look, they are playing my song!”

Madan’saab, we continue to play your songs.

David Dass
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