The Tragedienne

04 Apr

My ten favourite Meena Kumari songs

Meena kumari1
Meena Kumari, a face, which launched thousand tragic films. A thousand might be a bit of exaggeration, but she alone on her star-power helped tragic films to great success. In the 50s and even in the frolicking, colourful 60s, people would flock the cinema halls (to different degrees) to see her suffer. She was also an adept comedienne, in which she also excelled and was quite successful as seen in Magroor [1950], Miss Mary [1957], Azaad [1955] and Kohinoor [1960].
Pakeezah Meena Kumari
Meena Kumari at a certain time in my childhood played a big role in shaping the image of women in my psyche. Exposed to a slew of films, where she played a neglected wife, a suffering daughter-in-law, a sacrificing daughter, a caring sister-in-law, a protective sister or ‘simply’ a tormented woman between two men, she moulded an image of women being forever doomed to suffer at the hands of men in life. It is true that even other leading ladies like Mala Sinha (Anpadh) or Nutan (Khandan, Chhota Bhai) played such roles but it was as if they were impersonating Meena Kumari in these films. Meena Kumari remained always the original and the one to which others had to match to.
The presence of strong, independent and liberal women in my family and surroundings though would rectify the image in my mind; Meena Kumari would nevertheless always remain special.
Meena kumari3
On 31st March it was her 41st death anniversary. To commemorate it here are ten of my favourite songs filmed on her.

1. mohe bhool gaye sanwariyaBaiju Bawra [1952]
MD: Naushad; Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Baiju Bawra mohe bhool gaye Meena Kumari
With this film she finally came into the big league. Till then she was relegated to playing supporting roles or main leads in mythological and fantasy films. Playing Gauri the tragic (though at the beginning feisty) lover of the famous singer Baiju (played by Bharat Bhushan), she goes for more than half of the film pining for her lover. This song thus sums up her role and feeling in this film and gives a premonition of the Liebestod at the end. The way Lata renders the song to Naushad’s melancholy music, makes one realise why she was such a sought after singer in her prime. This one would surely figure in my ten favourite Lata songs.

2. kitni jawan hai raa tkoi yaad aa gayaAzaad [1955]
MD: C. Ramchandra; Lyrics: Rajendra Krishna; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Azaad kitni jawaan hai raat Meen Kumari
In contrast to the deep melancholic song above, here is a gay and frolic song just brimming with happiness. The tragic hero Dilip Kumar gets a chance to play Zorro in this swash-buckler movie. Meena Kumari plays the adopted daughter of a rich landlord, who falls in love with this cross between Robin Hood and Zorro, Azaad. A funny movie!

3. ajeeb dastan hai yehDil Apna Aur Preet Parai [1960]
MD: Shanker-Jaikishan; Lyrics: Shailendra; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Dil Apna aur Preet Parai ajeeb dastaan Meena Kumari
Karuna (compassion) is the character of the character Meena Kumari plays here. And she does her name all honours. She plays the compassionate nurse, the compassionate pseudo-daughter, the compassionate pseudo-sister, the compassionate friend, and also the compassionate rival to the wife (Nadira) of the man (Raaj Kumar), she adores. Yes, this indeed is a strange story!
You can catch Edwina sitting behind Raaj Kumar and Nadira. And just watch the different feelings fleeting on Meena Kumari’s face. Alone this array of emotions is enough to put her in the hall of fame of actresses.

4. piya aiso jiya me samay gayo reSahib Bibi Aur Ghulam [1962]
MD: Hemant Kumar; Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Singer: Geeta Dutt
Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam piya aiso jiya me Meena Kumari
If Meena Kumari symbolised the ever-suffering Indian woman, then Chhoti Bahu symbolised Meena Kumari’s life or at least the way we perceive it. Chhoti Bahu, like many of the Bengali heroines of her times questions the status of women in the society. She accepts her duties readily but also demands the rights due to her. She is not ready to accept anything less than her fair share. Her struggle for rights may not reflect those that of the modern woman but a rebel in her own way, for which she would pay dearly with her life.

5. ham tere pyar me saara aalam – Dil Ek Mandir [1963]
MD: Shanker-Jaikishan; Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Dil Ek Mandir ham tere pyar me Meena Kumari
Playing Sita married to Ram (Raaj Kumar), who is a terminally-ill patient, she brings her husband to be treated by her ex-lover, who is now a doctor, ‘but’ still pining away for her. Her husband realising that he is going to die soon and knowing doctor and his wife were lovers before his marriage, ‘magnanimously’ asks her to marry her former lover after his death. In her role as the traditional bharatiya naari, she is shocked at his ‘generous’ offer and sings this song to assert her loyalty towards him. A through and through melodramatic film but chock full of good songs

6. woh jo milte the kabhiAkeli Mat Jaiyo [1963]
MD: Madan Mohan; Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Akeli Mat Jaiyo wo jo milte the Meena Kumari
When I first heard this song in my teenage years, I had thought that this is surely one of those songs, where the heroine after being separated from her lover, lands up at a kotha and ‘accidentally’ he turns up over there. Something on the lines of rehte the kabhi jinke dil me from Mamta [1966]. I was then pleasantly surprised to see that it has Meena Kumari singing this hardly with much tragic expressions. Listening to this song, makes one understand why Madan Mohan was called the ghazal king.

7. sansar se bhaage phirte hoChitralekha [1964]
MD: Roshan; Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Chitralekha sansar se bhaage phirte Meena Kumari
Chitralekha, the famous courtesan of Pataliputra during the Mauryan reign, mocks the Buddhist monk (Ashok Kumar), accusing him of running away from the worldly affairs. She tells him if he can’t find peace here, he won’t find it anywhere else. Little does she know at this point of the story that she will soon be following his steps and he (nearly) hers. Deeply philosophical! An interesting interpretation of the song can be found here.

8. tora man darpan kehlayeKaajal [1965]
MD: Ravi; Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi; Singer: Asha Bhosle
Kaajal Tora man darpan
She plays it all here, the doting sister, the misunderstood lover and the tormented wife. But before she can get her hand dirty with this huge mound of work she gets to sing this sublime bhajan full of deep philosophy and thought. How it can be any other way, when the poet of these lines is Sahir Ludhianvi.

9. duniya kare sawaal to ham kya jawab deBahu Begum [1967]
MD: Roshan; Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Bahu Begum duniya kare sawal Meena Kumari
Zeenat, a woman, who in the eyes of the society is married to a Nawab, but not truly so (she wasn’t present at the marriage ceremony) and in love with another man. This song can be seen as a personification of her role in this film. duniya kare sawaal to ham kya jawab de…, what shall I answer if the world asks me…? Yes, what shall she answer? Is she married or not? If yes how come she is loving another man and if not why do people think she is married? Is in such case her pining for another man an act of committing adultery? On the face of it, it may seem to be a far-fetched plot. It is nevertheless possible that the author wanted of the story wanted to give a woman forced into marriage against her will the right to desire another man. Maybe!

10. mausam hai aashiqana – Pakeezah [1972]
MD: Ghulam Mohammad; Lyrics: Kamal Amrohi; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Pakeezah mausam hai aashiqana
To choose one favourite song from this memorable score by Ghulam Mohammad (in the 50s) is indeed a very hard task. I left out chalo dildaar chalo… because it’s a duet, inhi logon ne… and chalte chalte… were for my taste too over-exposed. I thought, I’d to leave out aaj ham apni duaon ka asar dekhenge…, because it was at least partly filmed on Padma Khanna. At the end it was a tie between thade rahiyon and mausam hai aashiqaana. I love the picturisation of both the songs, in fact all the songs of the film. Particularly I love the contrast between the cool rendering of the mujra and the tense power game between the two admirers. Mausam hai aashiqaana though made the place, maybe because of my love for nature, though parts of the interlude are not at all to my taste.
Meena Kumari, who had won four Filmfare awards in the best actress section, would go empty for Pakeezah. And who won the best actress award for that year? Hema Malini for Seeta Aur Geeta!
Though thought by many as her swan-song, Pakeezah was not her last. This honour would fall on Sawan Kumar Tak’s Gomti Ke Kinare [1972], where she would also play a courtesan.
Gomti ke Kinare meena Kumari
Meena Kumari passed away on 31st March 1972, at the young age of 39. At the end of her career she had taken up mother roles, which were not the usual ones but central to the plot. I wonder if she had lived longer, there would have been more women-centric films in the 70s? A phenomenon like her will never happen, a phrase widely used, is in every sense true for her. We can only feel deep gratitude for having so many films of her at our disposal. Thank you dear Meena, thank you for your legacy!Meena kumari2
The play list.


Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Bollywood, Lists


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80 responses to “The Tragedienne

  1. dustedoff

    April 4, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Great post, Harvey! I usually reserve my blog-surfing for the mornings before I get down to writing, but when i got an alert that you’d done a post on Meena Kumari songs, I couldn’t resist coming and reading this. And I’m so glad I did – some lovely songs here, including some of my favourites (Ajeeb dastaan hai yeh, Piya aiso jiya mein samaaye gayo re, Hum tere pyaar mein saara aalam and Mausam hai aashiqana – the last-named, by the way, is also, along with Thare rahiyo, my favourite song from Pakeezah).

    Among my other favourites are Kabhi toh milegi kahin toh milegi from Aarti:

    And this very sweet lullaby, Aa ja ri aa, from Do Bigha Zameen:

    • harveypam

      April 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      That’s real nice of oyu to break up your writing to come and visit my blog! If Muzaffar complains, tell him to ring me up. 😉
      Good to know that you also would have voted for mausam hai aashiqana and thade rahiyo.
      kabhi to milegi is so nice song, isn’t it? So inspirational, particularly the line baharon ki manzil raahein. When I was small I just didn’t understand what it could mean, but then I was used to not understanding or misunderstanding lyrics. 😀

      aa jaa ri aa was right in bang in the middle of the list, but then I thought it just a special appearance, so I removed it, thus love it that you have added the song here.

      Thanks Madhu!

  2. chitrapatsangeet

    April 4, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Absolutely brilliant song selection!! Well done Harvey! Superb selection.

    • harveypam

      April 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks for your contribution, Karthik!

  3. chitrapatsangeet

    April 4, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I wanted to do a post on Meena Kumari next, and you beat me :(.
    My favourite would be “Jyoti Kalash Chalke” and “Raat Ki Mehfil” from Noorjahan.

    • harveypam

      April 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      Oh, I’m sorry about that. couldn’t you post it all the same? Your list is bound to be different than mine. Or maybe you could modify it a bit like Meena in a happy mood list or a sad mood list or duets. Would that be a possibility?

      raat ki mehfil is such a soothing song. A pity that there is no video for it. Or was it not filmed? Lovely song!

      jyoti kalash chalke is also a nice one. It is one of pacifist’s favourites.

      Thanks for your contribution, Karthik!

  4. thandapani

    April 4, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Lovely. I got goosebumps at every song. Ek ek gana sawa lakh ka.

    If you watch Bahu Begam it makes sense, all that drama and romance! A woman who is not married but is. The circumstances that take her away at the very moment of her Nikaah, to bring her back to his door later as a ‘bought’ woman. She could be just as happy married to Ashok Kumar as with Pradeep Kumar. But then, remember, she sings – Ham intezaar karenge – so this was all ‘necessary’ drama to prove that she would put up with anything if she could meet her lover at the end.

    Pakeezah. Yes, it is very hard to pick ONE favorite song of the lot. Mera mann chanchal hai, I like which ever song of Pakeezah that is presented to me. As Lata/Meena sings here “Suraj kahin bhi jaye, tum par na dhoop aaye”

    May you live long and turn out many such lovely blog posts.

    • harveypam

      April 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks Ava! That is nice of you! You can use the playlist to go through them again and again!
      The way you explain the plot of Bahu Begum, it all sounds really very plausible. Thanks for your blessings Ava! Very heartfelt! *hugs*

  5. coolone160

    April 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

    My favorite song is #8.She was indeed the female face of tragedy in Indian cinema as compared to Rajendra Kumar(Male). Although she also proved her prowess with a variety of roles.
    I suggest her film Mem Sahib (1956) is worth a watch;she plays a clever town girl who cons a simpleton Kishore Kumar on behest of his lover Shammi Kapoor (who plays a villain here).
    BTW,one of my favorite song from her film is from Kohinoor [1960] “Do Sitaron Ka Zameen

    • harveypam

      April 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      So you like tora man darpan kehlaye as well. I also absolutely love it coolone!
      Yes, I’ve heard of Memsahib. Memsaabstory has written a review of it. The third pic on this post is in fact from that film.
      do sitaron ka zameen pe is indeed lovely, isn’t it? I didn’t add it to my list, because it is a duet!
      Thanks coolone!

      • coolone160

        April 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm


      • chitrapatsangeet

        April 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

        Tora Man Darpan is a gem! It is a Sahir-Ravi song than a Meena Kumari song :). Have you heard “Cham Cham Ghungroo” from the same movie, where she plays the Sitar?

        • harveypam

          April 5, 2013 at 12:26 am

          No, Meena Kumari doesn’t have much to show in the way of expressions in tora man darpan, that’s right, but a Meena Kumari solo song it still is. And don’t forget Asha’s contribution to it! 🙂

          Thanks for introducing me to chum chum ghunghroo bole, Karthik! Lovely song!

  6. Anu Warrier

    April 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I think I will wait for pacifist to join in to bolster my contention that she was not as much of a weeping willow as Nargis or Nutan. In fact, she did far less lachrymose roles than the others. 😦 But you are right about her star power. Because she was probably the only actress of the time whose major successes were fuelled by her box-office draw; she did very few films with the ruling troika; mostly, her films were with people like Ashok Kumar and Pradeep Kumar.

    You have listed some of my favourite songs here, Harvey – Ajeeb dastan hai ye, Piya aiso jiya and Sansar se bhaage phirte ho will always be among my list of favourite songs. Other than these, Madhu posted the lori from Do Bigha Zameen; I also like this song from Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan>

    and from Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, a song that I like even better than Piya aiso jiya:

    Finally, two clips of her reciting her own poetry…

    (This is a tear-soaked voice.)

    and this:

    Thanks for posting about my favourite actress, Harvey.

    • harveypam

      April 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      That is quite possible Anu, that others did more lachrymose roles than her. Nargis and Nutan, do you really think? Maybe. But what I wanted to say was that she is the face of Indian woman suffering on Indian screen, particularly her later roles.
      You are right about her featuring in films with lesser known perrsonas. Just like Nanda, who by the way was often called poor man’s Meena Kumari, she worked a lot with male newcomers or whose career hadn’t really started properly as yet. Rajendra Kumar, Raaj Kumar and Dharmendra come to my mind and then she also helped Gulzar and Sawan Kumar Tak start their careers.

      chal mere ghode tik tik tik is so cute, isn’t it? Like it a lot! White suits her! And what I liked about the film was that widow remarriage wasn’t such a big topic in the film. It was treated like the most normal thing on earth.

      You must forgive me, na jaao saiyan is so much of an over-exposed song for my ears, that I mostly fast-forward it when I come across it somewhere.

      The two recitals are so beautiful! To tell you the truth, I didn’t understand much of what she was reciting, but just the sound of her voice makes it sound so sweetly melancholic.

      Thanks for that Anu!

    • Tashmi vyas

      May 12, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Meenaji did work with the top actors but but it was a film or two during her peak all the top actor like dilip, dev anand, shammi refused to work with her because she got all the POWERFUL roles.

  7. pacifist

    April 4, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Thank you for remembering Meena Kumari harvey. I just love her. And I agree with Anu. Her roles were not so much weepy as they were tragic – so you have it absolutely right calling her a tragey queen – which is different from ‘weepy queen’. For instance, in Sahib Bibi… she doesn’t weep, and yet it is so heavily dark and tragic. In Dil Apna… she weeps just once – at an appropriate occasion. Yes, there were a few films where the director made her shed tears all through the film.

    And suffering exists. As simple as that. I’ve never felt irritated by her suffering roles.
    So sweet of you to remember that jyoti kalash chalke is one of my favourite songs, but since it has been taken I’ll opt for the other equally beautifully classical song from the same film bhabi ki chudiyan

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 12:36 am

      Wow, pacifist that is a really nice differentiation between weepy and tragic! Well said!
      In Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam she did get a big canvas to paint. Larger than life it was! We can’t just imagine anybody else doing that role now. If I say Meena Kumari it is Chhoti Bahu, who appears before my eyes. I can imagine Pakeezah being acted by a better dancer, but surely not by another actress. Her voice modulation, her control over the facial muscles while going through different emotions was phenomenal. I think ajeeb dastan hai yeh is a good example of this!
      A pity that many of her films, particularly late 60s films were so lousily made. I would have liked to see her in a role with shades of grey. Something like Hema had in Lal Patthar!

      lau lagati is also a very touching moving song! Thanks for that pacifist!
      How could I forget that jyoti kalash is one of your fav songs. After all I know you for so long now! 🙂

  8. pacifist

    April 4, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    A 1959 film called Chand has Meena Kumari in a very different role. This song is a lively one.

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 12:41 am

      Indeed quite a different song for Meena there. Something one which would expect from Asha Parekh. Heard this for the first time!
      It reminds me a bit of kateli kateli nashili nashili ruth yeh aaye from Zindagi Aur Khwab [1961]

      • pacifist

        April 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

        That’s a very pretty song. Very nice.

        • harveypam

          April 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

          I was sure you would like it.

        • pacifist

          April 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

          PS: Which reminds me, you expressed a desire to see a film in which Meena plays a Hema kind of character in Lal Patthar. Well this particular film ‘Chand’ has Meena plaing something of the sort. She’s not completely white 🙂 She’s the second wife of Ashok Kumar whose wife had advised him to marry again to have a child, so while she is sweet and getle and nice with Meena , she’s jealous and ready to believe the worst of her. I couldn’t complete the film because the sound isn’t good and I couldn’t understand a large part of the dialogues. One day I’ll definitely watch the rest in spite of the sound.
          Before her marriage to Ashok Kumar she was like – as you have guessed from the song – like Asha Parekh. She used to tease Manoj Kumar a lot who couldn’t come forward and offer marriage so the relationship just faded away, and she did what her father thought best.

          • harveypam

            April 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

            Now that sounds interesting!
            imdb says it has Balraj Sahni in it. Does it star Ashok Kumar as well?
            So Manoj and Meena are in love, but since nobody has the courage to say anything it fizzles out and then her marriage is arranged to Balraj Sahni?
            I would have sworn, that she never acted with Manoj Kumar! Interesting, interesting!
            Thank you for the tip.
            If anybody wants to watch the film here it is:

            • pacifist

              April 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm

              Yes, of course it’s Balraj Sahni. LOL I was watching Bandish where she’s with Ashok KUmar and got confused. And yes, this is the youtube version where the sound is atrocious 😦

              • harveypam

                April 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

                I started watching it in between work. The film doesn’t sound to be so regressive. At least in the beginning it has many feminist dialogues. But I must have watched at the most the first half an hour or so.
                How is Bandish?

                • pacifist

                  April 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm

                  I liked Bandish a lot. DO has given you a link to her review 🙂 It’s different in many respects.

                  • harveypam

                    April 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm

                    I saw it after I replied to your comment.
                    I had completely forgotten about it!

  9. pacifist

    April 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Oh dear, while I was philosophising about Meena rothi hai ya nahin I forgot to mention that I love the list. Each and every song you have selected is a gem.

    The sentiments you expressed for Lata’s voice in the song mohe bhhol gaye saawariya are so apt and I’d like to borrow your words to describe this lovely song from Chandini Chawk

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

      Thanks for your kind words pacifist. I’m really happy you liked the post!

      Such a sad birhan song! I didn’t know it before! The tune is so novel, particularly the first part!
      Thanks for introducing me to it, pacifist!

  10. Richard S.

    April 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Thank you for this post, Harvey. I am sure it would not surprise you to hear that I loved it, and my list would have included most of those same songs!

    But there are a few other songs I would put on my list – which haven’t been listed in comments yet, either.

    I love this song from Shree Ganesh Mahima (1950) (doesn’t Geeta Roy sound wonderful here?):

    And this from Footpath (1953):

    And from Parineeta (1953):

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 1:00 am

      Oh Richard, how nice to see you here!
      You won’t believe it, but as I was collecting the songs for the list, I was thinking of you introducing me to the song of Ganesh Mahima or was it Veer Ghatatkoch?. I would never have ever thought of it looking it for myself!
      Very nice that you posted it. It is indeed nice!

      I don’t know why I forgot kaisa jaadoo daala re from Footpath! A really sweet song! Should remember to put it in my bathing beauties song list.

      I’m relieved that at least the song from Parineeta wouldn’t have made the list, since it is not filmed on her! Very cute! Wasn’t it at your blog that we discussed about the Geeta and Asha version of this song?

      Thank you Richard!

      • World of Cinema

        April 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm

        May I- the eternal latecomer- add a bit of trivial info here. Amongst the kids in the song ‘Gore gore haathon pe mehendi lagake’ are two of Bimal Roy’s daughters. I am not able to locate them in the crowd and besides I never saw them as kids so it is a little difficult for me to recognize them- Shilpi

        • harveypam

          April 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm

          That is an interesting bit of trivia Shilpi!
          Thanks! Wonder who it could be!

  11. Richard S.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Oh, but wait, the Parineeta song wouldn’t count for a couple of reasons, right? (It’s not actually a song on Meena, is it?) So, how about this one from Madhosh (1951) instead?

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Very sad, isn’t it? Nothing madhosh about this song!
      Thanks Richard!

  12. Richard S.

    April 5, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Ha, crossed comment posts!

  13. Lalitha

    April 5, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Wonderful post with beautiful songs! Meena Kumari usually got some really good songs, and Chal mere ghode tik tik tik … is a personal favorite of mine. I used to sing it to my children when they were young, and now my granddaughter also knows and loves that song. Two other songs that I really like are Na bole na bole re … from Azaad:

    and juhi ki kali meri laadli … from Dil ek Mandir (and you guessed right! I sing this to my granddaughter!)

    I think that last screenshot of yours is from another of my favorite songs, Tera khat leke sanam … from Ardhangini: (and ask me how I knew it – my mother had a similar sari which we called the Ardhangini sari!)

    Thanks for the melodious tribute, Harvey!

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Thank you dear Lalitha!
      I also have fond memories of chal mere ghode tik tik tik. My aunt used to sing it to me when I was small as well. She was a BIG Meena Kumari fan. And I love it myself as well.

      An aunt of mine used to sing juhi ki kali meri ladli to her daughter, to her darling one particularly! We used to tease her about it later on!
      A beautiful song nevertheless!

      You recognised it right, lalitha. It is indeed tera khat leke sanam paanv kahin rakhte hai ham from Ardhangani from which the last screen shot has been taken. It just about missed the list. Thanks for putting it in!
      Cute anecdote that of Ardhangini sari. I can imagine women flocking to buy saris, which their fav heroine wore in the last film. It is so simple, I liked it.

      I’m happy that you liked the post, Lalitha!

  14. dustedoff

    April 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I’m glad Richard added that song from Footpath! I’d remembered that, but didn’t want to flood my very first comment on this post with too many songs. 🙂

    I know this song won’t meet your criteria (it’s a duet, not a solo), but I love it, so here I go: Chhupa-chhupi o chhupi, from Savera:

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

      That Footpath song is lovely isn’t it? Just love it!
      You know my readers can put in any song that is related to Meena Kumari!

      Love chhupa chhupi o chhupi – Savera, it is so peppy, childish all together!

      • dustedoff

        April 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        And I love the fact that though it’s a children’s song, it’s not like the more common children’s songs – not a lullaby, and not one of those ‘this is how you should behave’ sort of songs. But a really bachcha song. I used to love this one when I was a kid. 🙂

        Meena Kumari seems to have featured in a number of kiddie songs. Here’s another sweet one that I like, Raat hai suhaani o nindiya raani from Bandish – such an unusual film; I wish it were better known.

        • harveypam

          April 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm

          You are absolutely right about chhupa chhupi o chhupi.You have described it really aptly. Really good children songs are so rare in Hindi films. Another one which I can recall is lakdi ki katthi.

          raat hai suhani was totally new for me. That’s a beautiful one. I knew about the film Bandish, but didn’t know the plot or the song. The story is indeed interesting. Can we expect a review from you, if you catch hold of the film? That would be great! 🙂

          • Lalitha

            April 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm

            Another good children’s song from one of Meena Kumari’s weepy films is Aaye na balam … from Main Chup Rahungi (or Main Roati rahungi!). Meena Kumari’s son is acting in the dance program, she is watching from the wings, and Sunil Dutt (the father, but he doesn’t know it!) is appreciating from the audience.

            My granddaughter loves this song, especially the part where the lion roars!

            • harveypam

              April 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm

              Very funny parody that, dear Lalitha!
              Enjoyed going through it! I had thought main Chup Rahungi is from the late 50s and that is why was a bit surprised to hear yahoo. The music director has used contemporary songs for the parody!

          • dustedoff

            April 6, 2013 at 6:35 am

            • harveypam

              April 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

              (looking very sheepish) Oh!
              First Agra Road and now this!
              My atrocious memory!
              Thanks Madhu, for reminding!

  15. Arunkumar Deshmukh

    April 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    harvey ji,
    A good post indeed.And the kind of entries by readers are simply great. here is my contribution and it is a special one-Hat ke- specially for you.
    A song sung by Meena Kumari herself in film Bichhade Balam-1948 ” aata hai dil pe pyar kyun”
    Lyrics-narendra Sharma and MD-Bulo C Rani…………….

    • harveypam

      April 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      that is a rare treat indeed!
      Where did you unerth this song!
      Wow, very hatke!
      Thank you!

  16. raja

    April 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful post, Harvey. A brilliant selection of songs – each one a gem. It was only when i went through the full post, I realised there were SO many good songs picturised on her.

    And your intro to each song is also superb, as usual. I really like the way you build up a song. Reminds me of Ameen Sayani, the famous Binaca Geetmala presenter of yesteryear and popular to this day. His buildups were also lovely, as we used to wait with bated breath.

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Harvey. Thanks a lot! And a fitting tribute to Meena Kumari too.

    • harveypam

      April 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you Raja for your kind words!
      You compare me with Ameen Sayani that is too much of an honour for me! I wish though to be able to put my thoughts in words the way you do it. Every word is in its place, not a word much nor less. Simply great! Same with Madhu as well. Admire these qualities in you! And more!
      As for the intro, I just write what comes first to my mind. I wrote this post in fact on paper while returning from Germany on Monday. I didn’t have my laptop with me there.
      Thanks once again! *hugs*

  17. World of Cinema

    April 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    A lovely selection of songs. Going through the songs, I was thinking don’t these songs strike chord in one’s heart. Often thelyrics of old songs really draw your attention and set you thinking. Well as I am late almost the songs are taken. I guess Pakeezah would definitely feature in my list too. particularly’Mausam hai aashiqana’ and ‘Thade rahiyo’. Incidentally once in radio interview Meena Kumari had mentioned that after recording ‘Thade Rahiyo’ Kamaal Amrohi was worried that people would understand the meaning of Thade and so he re-recorded the song as ‘Thehre rahiyo’ but then he was not satisfied with the sound of it and went back to the original.
    I think I will post two forgotten songs from Benazir

    and this beautiful song— Shilpi

    • World of Cinema

      April 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      This what happens when you do things late in the night, haif asleep, I missed a word above what I meant was that Kamaal Amrohi was worried that people would not understand the meaning of ‘Thade’.- Shilpi

      • harveypam

        April 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm

        You did mention it Shilpi! Everything in ship shape!

    • harveypam

      April 6, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      Thank for both the songs, dear Shilpi!
      Benazir had S D Burman give music for a Bimal Roy film again. The way the film was directed, I always ahd the feeling that Bimalda directed it and had the official director as a consultant for muslim social matters.
      The music for Benazir, in my opinion, is its weak point. None of the sweetness from Bandini can be seen here. Wonder why? Maybe because Bimalda was already in a bad health condition?
      Very interesting anecdote there about thade rahiyo and thehre rahiyo. thehre rahiyo does sound odd! Even if one doesn’t know the word, one understands it in its context.
      Thank you!

      • World of Cinema

        April 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm

        I was thinking of doing a post on Benazir and putting this bit of info there but all the same let me put it here too. Benazir was completely Khalil’s baby, Bimal Roy was just the producer. By the way I personally like two songs from Benazir,one is the one I posted above,baharon ke mehfil and the other is dil ne ek jaane tammana, I am not posting it here because it wouldn’t fit in here.— Shilpi.

        • harveypam

          April 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

          It is quite possible that Benazir was Khalil’s baby, but I just couldn’t overlook many touches, which were typical of Bimal Roy in the film. Particularly how the misunderstanding gets resolved in the film and the subtlety of the whole story.
          I’m looking forward to your post on Benazir and which anecdotes, you are going to recount from that film!

  18. Songs Of Yore

    April 7, 2013 at 7:22 am

    A very nice post and great selection of songs. With comments, the best of Meena Kumari I could think of is already there. When I think of her, I cannot help thinking that her real life became an extension of her reel tragedienne persona. i often wonder how should we view the tragic life stories of some of the top personalities in the show world, who went on a self-destuctive path – sympathy, pity or anger?

    As for Gore gore hathon mein Asha Bhosle-Geeta Dutt versions, perhaps you are referring to this discussion:

    • harveypam

      April 7, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Thank you AK!
      Thanks for reminding me of that post. I’m becoming forgetful day by day.! Awful! Sorry for not remembering it!

      You are right about her screen persona taking over her real-life, and might be also the other way round. Maybe both fed on each other. Yes, we do feel all these emotions at the same time don’t we, when we see such talented actors and actresses taking up this self-destructive path. And one does see many such examples! Maybe they would not have been such a legend, if their real-life wouldn’t have been so tragic. I can imagine that the life of an actor/actress is not easy. To recieve so much adulation and success must go to one’s head. At sometime one can tend to forget what is real and what is unreal. And moreover many of the actresses at that time had a deprived (and also maybe an abused) childhood. The sudden adulation and the simultaneous insecurity could drive the strongest in the spiral of drugs, alcohol and self-abuse. I think they all need more compassion from us. Just to think that the entertainment we derive from the art of these artists comes at such an heavy price!
      Bless them!

  19. coolone160

    April 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Reblogged this on coolone160 and commented:
    must read…………….

  20. Shalini

    April 9, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Dev Anand named Meena Kumari as the most beautiful of all the actresses he worked with and seeing her in some of her earlier films one can see why he thought so. She really was breathtakingly beautiful.

    I love some of your picks Harvey, but a few (sadly the ones from my favorite Roshan) are too morose for my taste since I tend to prefer happy/romantic songs. As Anu & Pacifist have pointed out Meena certainly had plenty of roles on the mild side. Some of my favorites:

    Raat raat bhar jag jag kar (Pyar Ka Saagar)

    Yeh chand yeh sitaare (Halaku)

    Raat mohe meetha meetha sapna aaya (Tamasha)

    Sharabi sharabi yeh sawan ka mausam (Noor Jahan)

    • harveypam

      April 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      That is interesting! Did Dev really say that? When one think sof Dev’s heroines, it is not Meena who comes first into your mind. She was indeed very beautiful! And such a voice!
      You don’t like the Roshan songs? How tastes differ! Thank God for that!

      Meena’s fun songs! Wow!
      raat raat bhar jaag jaag kar was filmed on Meena? I’d no idea about that! A lovely song!

      Thanks for that clip from Halaku! Pran’s “Niloofer ne hamare muqaable me Mark ko pasand kiya” makes me want to watch that film. ye chaand yeh sitaare was completely new song for me. First time I’m listening to it. Meena looks very happy here, though quite out of place with Ajit.

      She looks so cute in Tamasha! Is this the film with Dev Anand? Geeta Dutt’s voice and the music is so uncharcteristic of what one otherwise one (msot probably I) associates with Meena.

      Got you there! Noor-Jehan has music by Roshan! Love sharaabi sharaabi ye sawan ka mausam! So beautiful! See Roshan can be so enrapturing!
      BTW Bougainvillea came with the British to India, so Noorjahan most probably didn’t know them.

      Thanks for these beautiful songs Shalini! Enjoyed them!


    April 9, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Here is my tribute to Meena Kumari,
    Meena Kumari : I write , I recite (Composed by Khayyam)
    (1 of 8 )
    (2 of 8)
    (3 of 8)
    (4 of 8)
    (5 of 8)
    (6 of 8)
    (7 of 8)
    (8 of 8)
    And , here are three songs from the music directors (if I am right enough) probably not covered here above:
    Yeh Daman Na Chhutega – Yaadon Ki Manzil – LaxmiKant Pyarelal –
    Radha Tore Kanha Ne Murli Baja- Purnima – Kalyanji Anandji –
    Sakhi Ri Sun Bole Papiha Us Paar- Miss Mary – Hemant Kumar-
    Incidentally, if we place Ravi in between KA And Hemant Kumar-, we see one of the probably longest line up music directors who did well and have worked under one umbrella .( In this case, HK is the umbrella.)

    • harveypam

      April 9, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you Ashok for the whole series of “I write, I recite” Very beautiful! Such a velvety voice!

      I was thinking of including ye daaman ab na chutega kabhi, but since it is a background song, I didn’t inlcude it. Love it since Prakashchandra introduced it to me 1-2 years back.

      It is so funny to see Dharmendra as Krishna in radha tore kaanha ne. Very unusual also Mukesh playback for Dharmendra.

      sakhi ri sun bole is a very beautiful song.

      So do you mean to say that Ravi, L-P and K-A were assistants to Hemant Kumar? I didn’t know that!
      Thanks for the beautiful songs and the interesting info.


        April 10, 2013 at 5:27 am

        Ravi was assistant to Hemant Kumar and Kalyanji had played ‘taar-shehani’ for Hemant Kumar’s Nagin’s famous Man Dole . LP were assistant to KA.

        • harveypam

          April 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

          That is new to me. I knew about K-A “apprenticeship” with Hemant Kumar, but the other three as well. A good master Hemant Kumar was!
          Thank you Ashok

  22. Violet

    May 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Harvey, Saw this entry just today.. and you are a woman after my own heart! I totally, absolutely worship Meena Kumari, and glad to see so many people who share my love for her. Usually, I am ridiculed for liking her 😦

    • harveypam

      May 9, 2013 at 11:13 am

      Ridiculed for liking Meena Kumari? Really?
      You have a good taste, Violet! Don’t let other people’s opinion bog you down. They don’t know what they are missing. It is their loss! Just see how unfortunate they are!

      “woman after my own heart”
      A small correction, you can leave out the wo from the woman. 🙂

      Thanks for the appreciation, Violet!

      • Violet

        May 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm

        I am so so ashamed of myself.. I don’t know why, but I always always thought you are a woman. Perhaps because I could so relate to your writing.. I know that sounds like a very poor excuse 😦 I hope nobody ever reads the comments section of this post!

        • harveypam

          May 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm

          Why feel ashamed? You couldn’t know it.
          Feels good to know that you could relate to my writing! That is quite a compliment! Thank you!

  23. Rahisha

    April 1, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Beautiful list. Meena Kumari is my all time favourite actress and I always thought she was the most divine and artisan performer ever to grace the cinema. I loved Halaku and probably the only addition I would add to this great playlist is ‘Bol Mere Maalik…’

    • harveypam

      April 1, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Thank you Rahisha!
      She surely was an outstanding actress and artist.
      heard the song “bol mere malik” today for the first time. Thank you for sending it in. 🙂
      here is the link to it.

  24. Prih

    August 27, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    yeah, really so sweet and heart touching tragedy songs. I say that these are the best collection from tragedy songs. Thanks for sharing the info and videos.


  25. a r modak

    November 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    indeed, a great actress an absolute delight to have watched i enjoyed dil ek mandir and kaajal

  26. Tashmi vyas

    May 12, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    I appreciate all your songs in the post but i would choose thare rahiyo over mausam hai aashiqana because meenaji was at her best in the song not only in twrms of looks but what expressions she gives , each ada , so much grace , playful ,teasing , oblivious to her surroundings she is just performing …i just love each second of thare rahiyo❤


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