Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Kaali jo ghataa chhaayi hai

Posted on: March 24, 2021


This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in other sites without the knowledge and consent of the web administrator of atulsongaday.me, then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day :

4632 Post No. : 16286

With the advent of sound films in India in 1931, many actors faced difficulties in on-screen performances with their voices. Only few actors of silent films who could, fluently or otherwise, speak Urdu and Hindi made a transition from silent to talkies. Master Vitthal, Master Nissar, Mazhar Khan, Prithviraj Kapoor, Baburao Pendharkar, Raja Sandow, Hiralal, Patience Cooper, Zubeida, Sulochana (Ruby Mayers), Gohar Mamajiwala, Madhuri (Beryl Claessen), Sabita Devi (Irin Gasper), Gulab, Jillo Bai, Lalita Pawar, Durga Khote etc were some of the actors who switched over from silent to talkies without much of difficulties. A few of them even learnt speaking Hindi and Urdu during the transition.

The makers of talkies faced another difficulty. They realised that most of the actors did not have a good voice for singing on-screen. While some actors could get away with their less than average singing ability due to their popularity with the film audience, the film-makers felt the need for new actors who could sing better and/or the trained singers who could also act. So, in early 1930s, a new category of actors who could also sing with good voices emerged in Hindi film industry. In this category, K L Saigal, Kanan Devi, Asit Baran, Ratan Bai, Uma Shashi, Pahadi Sanyal, Rajkumari Dubey, Shanta Apte, Surendra, Bibbo, Sitara Devi, Shahu Modak, Sardar Akhtar, Vatsala Kumthekar among many others emerged. Barring few exceptions, most of actor-singer (and singer-actor) lasted in the Hindi film industry as singers until system of playback singing was firmly established by early 1940s. Some of them continued to act in the films, their on-screen songs being lip synced by the playback singers.

In the early 1930s, there was one more category of singers in which film-makers were interested in taking them as singer-actor because of their popularity as Hindustani classical singers on All India Radio and in private concerts. Apart from filling up the void in singers for Hindi films, these trained singers were regarded ‘icing in the cake’ in the films for their box office success.

While most of the ‘hard-core’ Hindustani classical vocalists kept distance from the Hindi films, some of the popular singers of the semi-classical genres such as thumri, dadra and ghazal got attracted to work in Hindi films as singer-actor. Thus, the popular Hindustani semi-classical singers like Mukhtar Begum, Jahanara Kajjan, Akhtari Faizabadi (Begum Akhtar), Jaddan Bai, Indubala, Kamala Jharia among others entered the Hindi film industry during the early 1930s. Some of their large repertoire of semi-classical singing was replicated on the screen albeit in shorter forms. One can judge the importance of these songstresses for attracting the film audience when posters of a few Hindi films of early 1930s had their names in the bold letters of the same size as that of the films’ titles.

It is worthwhile to note that mostly female Hindustani semi-classical singers got associated with Hindi films as singer-actor in the early phase of sound films. Most of them were having their background as tawaifs or private concert singers. They mostly sang thumri, dadra, ghazals and other semi-classical genres. The male Hindustani classical singers felt it below their dignity to sing or record songs in these genres especially up to the beginning of early 20th century. It was only when Hindustani classical singing maestros like Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan etc started singing thumri and dadra in their concerts in early 1930s with their respective gharana style, these sub-genres of Hindustani semi-classical music attained respectability.

In this context, I recall that even in post independent period, Ustad Amir Khan who was an exponent of Khayal singing, never sang thumri, dadra and ghazals in the concerts nor did he record songs in these genres. The only exceptions he made was that he sang a Ghalib ghazal, rahiye ab aisi jagah chalkar jahaan koi na ho, composed by Pandit Amarnath Chawla, his senior-most disciple, for a documentary film ‘Mirza Ghalib’ (1969). And he rendered this ghazal in Khayal style. (Ref: ‘Indore Ke Maseeha’, 2008 by Bindu Chawla). The second exception was for a Bengali film ‘Kshudito Pashan’ (1960) in which he sang a dadra under the music direction of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

Among the Hindustani semi-classical singers, Wahidan Bai of Agra was one of the late entrants in Hindi films. Although she was trained as Hindustani classical vocalist and was an occasional singr on All-India Radio, she did not like to pursue the career as a professional singer due to stigma attached to this profession. So, she got married to a businessman and settled as a housewife in Agra. However, the business went in doldrum and they shifted to Calcutta (Kolkata) in early 1930s to start a fresh business. Even the new business incurred losses and the couple were in dire financial condition. At this point of time, she approached A R Kardar who was her neighbour in Kolkata, for a role in the film. She got a song to sing in a small role and everyone was impressed with her voice.

Chandulal Shah, the owner of Ranjit Movietone offered Wahidan Bai to join his company as actor-singer. In Ranjit Movietone, she worked in ‘Toofaani Toli’ (1937), ‘Ban Ki Chidiya’ (1938), ‘Prithvi Putra’ (1938), ‘Professor Waman, M Sc’ (1938), ‘Rickshawala’ (1938), ‘The Secretary’ (1938) and ‘Thokar’ (1939). In all these films, she sang semi-classical genres of songs most of which became popular.

Wahidan Bai switched over to Sagar Movietone and played a lead role opposite Surendra in ‘Alibaba’ (1940), made in Hindi and Punjabi. In this film, she rendered for the first time a waltz music-based song, ham aur tum aur ye khushi with Surendra which became very popular. With the merger of Sagar Movietone with National Studios in 1940, Wahidan Bai worked in ‘Sanskaar’ (1940) as actor-singer which was her last film. Thereafter, she was mostly bed-ridden as she suffered from tuberculosis from which she did not recovered and died sometime in 1942. During her short filmy career, Wahidan Bai was associated with 11 films and rendered 26 songs.

[Note: Information on Wahidan Bai is mainly based on a chapter, ‘Jewels of Sagar’ in the Book ‘Sagar Movietone’ by Biren Kothari (2014), translated in English by Parth Pandya].

‘Thokar/The Kick’ (1939) was Wahidan Bai’s last film with Ranjit Movietone. The film was directed by A R Kardar. The star cast included M Kumar, Madhuri, Yakub, Noor Mohammed Charlie, Ishwarlal, Wahidan Bai, Wasti, Ram Marathe, Suresh, K N Singh, Dixit etc.

A short synopsis of the film’s story as given in http://www.indiancine.ma is reproduced below:

This is story about wealth not bringing happiness. The blind Mohan (Kumar) lives in a village with his ward Radha (Madhuri). He wins a fortune with a sweepstake ticket sold to him by the tramp Ramesh (Charlie), who claims his due and begins to take over Mohan’s life, making him move to the city and getting him married to Chinta (Wahidan Bai), a prostitute. When Mohan’s eyesight is restored, he finds that his wife is having an affair with Ramesh. Mohan takes revenge and eventually lands up in his old village, a poor man, but with Radha still unchanged, waiting for him.

There were 10 songs in the film – all written by P L Santoshi which were set to music by Gyan Dutt. One song from the film has been covered in the Blog. I present the second song from the film ‘kaali jo ghata chhaayi hai’ rendered by Wahidan Bai in the semi-classical singing style.

Audio Clip:

Song-Kaali jo ghata chhaayi hai (Thokar)(1939) Singer-Wahidan Bai, Lyrics-P L Santoshi, MD-Gyan Dutt

Lyrics

aa aa aaa
aankhon aankhon mein
pila di mere saaqi ne mujhe
ab na sheeshe ki zuroorat hai na paimaane ki
kaali..eee
kaali….eeee ee ee
kaali jo ghata chhaayi hai
haan haan jee ghata chhaayi
zulfen saaqi..ee.ee.ee ee
saaqi mujhe yaad aayi hai
haan haan mujhe yaad aayi

gudguda…aa deti hai
ae ae
deti hai dil ko zaalim
deti hai dil ko
shokh a a kitneeeee…ee ee ee
kitni teri angadaayi hai ae ae
haan teri angadaayi hai….ai
haan teri angadaayi

hum hain beemaa…..r e
beemaar-e-mohabbat
jab se…ae ae ae
na maseeha ho aa aaa aaa
maseeha na maseehaaayi hai…..ai
maseeha na maseeha aaye hain
haan na maseeha aaye
kaali ghata chhaaye hai…ai

4 Responses to "Kaali jo ghataa chhaayi hai"

Sadanand Ji,
Thanks for the informative post on the developments that unfolded in respect of artistes ,when silent era ended and talkies began to be made

Like

Satish ji,
Thanks for your appreciation.

Like

Dear Sadanand ji,

It is always such great pleasure to read your very informative Posts – it is almost like revisiting History.

Pl keep them coming.

With warm. regards

PARTHA CHANDA

Like

Partha Chanda ji.
Thanks for your appreciation.

Like

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