30th December, 2014 marks the 27th death anniversary of the unfairly under-rated and lesser known composer, Datta Naik, also credited as N. Dutta. (The above pic has him at the harmonium in a rehearsal with Rafi.)
Datta Naik was born in a small village, Oroba, in the then Portuguese colony of Goa in 1930. At the age of 12, he ran away to Bombay where he learnt classical music and participated in street music programs. Sachin Dev Burman spotted him in one such program and took him on as his assistant. Datta Naik assisted S.D.Burman in films such as Saaz (1951), Baazi (1951), Jaal (1952) and Angaray (1952). Soon he made his debut as an independent composer in 1955 with the movies Milaap and Marine Drive.
What surprises me is that despite composing some memorable music in approximately 30 movies and being known for his close association with Sahir Ludhianvi, N.Dutta is not well known. As a composer, Dutta demonstrated an admirable versatility. He was as at ease with Western inspired tunes as with Indian ones. Melody and an effective orchestration were the main characteristics of most of his music.
Here is a list of my favourite N. Dutta numbers in no order…Do share yours.
1) Chand Bhi Koi Diwana Hai (Apna Ghar Apni Kahani, 1968, Singers: Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle): A rare but a superb romantic number sung extremely well by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle, picturised on Mumtaz and Sudhir (the man who is more known for playing a villain in the seventies.) What a lovely song – romantic lyrics by Qamar Jalalabadi, soothing music and wonderful passionate singing.
2) Sambhal Aye Dil (Sadhna, 1958, Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhosle): Another duet from a pathbreaking B.R Chopra movie this time. Sadhna is a classic – a progressive woman centric movie of its times where the lead plays a prostitute. Vyjayantimala plays a prostitute whom Sunil Dutt (in yet another progressive role in a woman-oriented movie) hires to play his fiancee to make his dying mother happy. Vyjayantimala won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for this movie, in an year when she had been nominated for the biggest hit of her career Bimal Roy’s Madhumati. A big highlight of the movie, besides the good acting, story and direction is the lovely music and Sahir’s unforgettable hard-hitting lyrics. Sample this Lata masterpiece – slightly hackneyed yes, but a harsh look at the way women are oppressed – Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko. And do listen to this sweet duet sung by Rafi and Asha. The music is minimal allowing their singing to be more prominent.
3) Aye Dil Zuban Na Khol (Naach Ghar, 1959, Lata Mangeshkar): Moving on to a rare but a very melodious number by Lata – her voice is absolutely silken. The song is apparently a club number, but the lyrics – biting, sarcastic, typically Sahir. (Maan le jahan ki baat ko, din samajh le kali raat ko; chalne de yun hi yeh silsila, yeh na bol kisko kya mila, tarazuon ka jhol sirf dekh le…) Brilliant! The video is not available. But do listen.
4) Tang Aa Chuke Hain Kashmakash-e-zindagi (Light House, 1958, Asha Bhosle): Another gem by the N.Dutta-Sahir duo from the Nutan-Ashok Kumar film, Light House. This ghazal is one of Sahir’s finest and was first published in his collection of verses, Talkhiyan. It featured first more as a flawless recitation with no music (by the inimitable Rafi) in the timeless classic Pyaasa. The very next year, it was put to tune by N.Dutta and sung brilliantly by Asha Bhosle. The song is bitter, filled with despair and defeat. Only two couplets (Lo Aaj Humne Tod Diya Rishta-e-Umeed… and the main refrain Tang Aa Chuke Hain) are used in both the versions. It is interesting that the same song features so differently in two movies released one after the other and have withstood the test of time. Listen to this heart-rending song with excellent music and beautiful poetry.
5) Jhukti Ghata Gaati Hawa (Dhool Ka Phool, 1959, Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhosle): The next song is a wonderful, romantic duet from Yash Chopra’s directorial debut that dealt with illegitimacy, Dhool Ka Phool. The movie was fairly interesting and fairly progressive for the times. I remember not minding it much despite the fact that Rajendra Kumar was the hero. This was because the heroine moves on in life and does not keep pining for her love even after he has left her holding the baby! And she also finds love again and marries a man who does not hold her past against her. The music by N. Dutta was superlative with some brilliant numbers like the romantic but ironic Tere Pyar Ka Aasra Chahta Hoon, Wafa Kar Raha Hoon, the beautiful Rafi number that captures the theme of the movie, Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalman banega and the amazing classical number sung by Sudha Malhotra, Kaase Kahoon Man Ki Baat. I was a bit torn between Kaase Kahoon Man ki Baat and the lovely duet picturised on Rajendra Kumar and Nanda, but chose the latter for this post.
6) Tum Mujhe Bhool Bhi Jao Toh Yeh Haq Hai tumko (Didi, 1959, Mukesh and Sudha Malhotra): This is a beautiful number from the film Didi picturised on Sunil Dutt and Shubha Khote. It captures the pain and the anguish associated with unrequited love. To know that someone you love does not love you in return and still you cannot stop loving. (Maine Kyun Pyar Kiya, Tumne kyun pyar na Kiya….Meri Baat Aur hai maine toh mohabbat ki hai) And worse, he does not even believe in love and says that there is more to life than just love (Zindagi Sirf Mohabbat Nahin Kuch Aur Bhi Hai…Bhookh Aur Pyas Ki Maari Hui Is Duniya Mein, Ishq Hi Nahin Ek Haqeeqat…). Brilliantly sung by Sudha Malhotra and Mukesh, this is a classic.
7) Main Tumhi Se Poochti Hoon (Black Cat, 1959, Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar): This not so known movie starred Balraj Sahni and Minoo Mumtaz and had some lovely songs. There is the sweet Rafi-Suman duet picturised on Johnny Walker, Nashe Mein Hum Nashe Mein Tum. But here is the most popular song from the film. Minoo Mumtaz looks very pretty in this sweet song penned by Jan Nisar Akhtar. Rafi has a couple of lines in the beginning of the song. The rest of the song is sung by Lata.
8) Main Jab Bhi Akeli Hoti Hoon (Dharmputra, 1961, Asha Bhosle): This one is from a hard-hitting movie from the Chopra stable, one that dealt with the horrors of partition. This featured Shashi Kapoor in his first adult role as Hindu hardliner who did not know that his biological parents were Muslims! The movie had excellent music and the lyrics by the inimitable were particularly hard-hitting, given the context of the movie. Sample the Mahendra Kapoor solo, Yeh kiska Lahu Hai or the emotional Naina Kyun Bhar Aaye (sung soul-stirringly by Asha Bhosle). Here is my favourite song from this film, a soft song picturised on Mala Sinha and a charming, superb Rehman, sung splendidly by Ashaji.
9) Laage Tose Nain (Chandi Ki Deewar, 1964, Talat Mahmood and Asha Bhosle): This is a rare classical composition from the 1964 Chandi Ki Deewar that supposedly starred Bharat Bhushan and Nutan. This bandish is based on Raga Shuddha Sarang and is one of Talat-Asha’s best duets. The video is missing but do listen to it.
10) Laal Laal Gaal. Jaan Ke Hai Laagu (Mr X, 1957, Mohd Rafi): Ending the list with a popular Rafi song (that showcases his versatility) from the film Mr X. This is a fast paced and an inspired ‘Western’ song in its tune and orchestration and was extremely popular in its times. Was debating between this and one of my husband’s favourite Rafi songs, the heart-touching Sahir song from Chandrakanta, Maine Chand Aur Sitaron ki Tamanna Ki thi. But decided to end the list with a rocking, happy number. As with most N. Dutta’s songs, no video is available.
It is unfair that someone as talented as N.Dutta did not get his due as a composer. He may be not very well known but his songs have stood the test of time!