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Jamal Sen and His Music Legacy

October 17, 2015 | By

In a career spanning 28 years Jamal Sen provided music direction for only 14 Hindi language films. But the songs of Shokhiyan and Daaera are still remembered for their outstanding compositions.

Lesser Known Luminaries of Hindi Film Music


Jamal Sen (Pic courtesy: Hamara Forums)

Jamal Sen
(Pic courtesy: Hamara Forums)

In this series on lesser known music personalities of Hindi films, we intend to discuss and bring to remembrance some such film and music personalities who did not get the recognition and are forgotten for various reasons. One such talented music director was Jamal Sen.

In a career spanning 28 years Jamal Sen provided music direction for only 14 Hindi language films. He hailed from Rajasthan and his music bore the pure impressions from his land.

In August, 2006,  I met one Anwar Hussain who was part of a performing troupe that was from Rajasthan with their leader Bilal Khan. Anwar informed me that Jamal Sen was his maternal grandfather’s brother, Chachera Nana as he addressed. There is this tradition in Rajasthan where families are dedicated to music, folk and classical, and this particular family had a 500 plus years’ history in music. Jamal Sen’s father and grandfather were court musicians. Bilal Khan’s troupe were high class performers and I ended up sponsoring two of their shows around Greater Toronto Area in that year.

Shokhiyan, the spectacular debut

Suraiya in Shokhiyan

Suraiya in Shokhiyan

Jamal Sen landed in Bombay in search of livelihood and became part of orchestra with one Jhande Khan and then a few others. He got noticed by Kidar Sharma who always had an eye to spot talent. This was in the year 1951. Three years before this, Kidar Sharma had introduced Roshan to the music world and registered a huge hit in the form of Bawre Nain. Now was Jamal’s turn.

The film Shokhiyan, starring the reigning queen of that era, Suraiya with Premnath was loosely based on a tribal uprising and knowing Jamal’s knowledge of Rajasthan folk, Kidar decided to give Jamal the reins. In turn, Jamal did wonders with Shokhiyan. Each and every composition was appreciated and the music was a hit. One may get tired watching that film, but not of listening to those songs.

Raaton ki neend chheen li, ankhon ke intezar ne (Shokhiyan, 1951) – Jamal Sen / Kidar Sharma / Suraiya

Let us recall these songs:

Suraiya sang two exquisitely beautiful solos Raaton ki neend chheen li, ankhon ke intezar ne and Ran me garje aji thar thar kaanpe aasman. Suraiya and Lata teamed up for the exquisite O dur desh se aa ja re.

In Raaton ki neend chheen lee, ankhon ke intezar ne (Suraiya) listen to the use of Sarangi, so very typical Rajasthani. With Suriaya’s honey dew voice it sounds fresh and sweet even today.

One of Lata’s all time loved numbers, Sapna ban saajan aaye, is again a beautiful mix of classical and folk with excellent singing by the diva. She also sang Aai barkha bahar pade boondan fuhar (with Pramodini). Lyrics of these songs were by Kidar Sharma while Himmat Rai Sharma penned Ran me garje aji thar thar kaanpe aasman. 

Sapna ban saajan aaye (Shokhiyan, 1951) – Jamal Sen / Kidar Sharma / Lata Mangeshkar

The beauties of Daaera

Jamal Sen got noticed by Kamal Amrohi and was signed for Daaera (1953). It is one of those films that poses a challenge to sit all the way through. Starring a fresh and stunningly beautiful, Meena Kumari and handsome Nasir Khan (Dilip Kumar’s brother) the film again had good and hit musical score. During the making of Daaera, Meena Kumari fell in love with the much married Kamal Amrohi and the gentleman perhaps lost his focus in making the film.

Using the voices of Talat Mahmod, Mohd Rafi and a new entrant, Mubarak Begum, Jamal Sen gave beauties like Ae chand sitaron khamosh nazaro; Aas to nahin hai ankhon mein pehlu mein magar dil jalta hai and Aa bhi jaa meri duniya mein (all by Majrooh Sultanpuri) are the ones that gained popularity for Talat Mahmud.

Mubarak Begum was appreciated for Jali jo shama zamane ko ho gaya maloom and Suno more naina (both Majrooh), and her all-time hit duet with Rafi, Devta tum ho mera sahara, maine thama hai daman tumhara (lyrics by Kaif Bhopali).   If you chance to listen to some Meera Bhajans sung by locals in a Rajasthan town they have the shades and mix of all these tunes.

Devta tum ho mera sahara, maine thama hai daman tumhara (Daaera, 1953) – Jamal Sen / Majrooh Sultanpuri / Mohd Rafi and Mubarak Begum

Losing ground to others

Dharam Patni was another Jamal Sen release this year. Mubarak Begum’s Raat kaisi kati bata na sake (Shevan Rizvi) was the popular number here.

Rangeela by Bhagwan was also his release in 1953, a bumper year for Jamal Sen. Three duets by Asha and Rafi were popular, Diya jale chamke tara, Dil mein basa le apna bana le; Dil aaj mera gaane laga. Rangeela had good music with lyrics by Ehsaan Rizvi and Shamsul Huda Bihari, but it could not register a hit as public expected another Albela from Bhagwan, which it was not.

Patit Paavan, Amar Shaheed, Kasturi were other releases with Jamal Sen’s music during this decade, but he had already paid the price of not matching his own standard in the later two 1953 releases and lost the ground to other music directors.

In Kasturi (1954) he gave music to only three songs while other were scored by Pankaj Mullick. Murli wale se naina lage and Mujhe apna banaya door door se, both by Asha (both lyrics by Vrajendra Gaur) were noticed among Jamal Sen’s compositions.

Amar Shaheed (1960) was a dubbed film from original Tamil. It was produced by Padmini and had her starring against Shvaji Ganeshan and Gemini Ganeshan. A color version of one popular duet by Lata and Manna Dey can be seen courtesy YouTube, where Padmini is romancing Gemini Ganeshan (later top star Rekha’s father). Lyrics by Arjun, it goes Jhoome meri beliya preet re, aaye aaye mere man meet re. Nice and attractive tune, but could not make Jamal Sen gain much grounds.

Jhoome meri beliya preet re, aaye aaye mere man meet re (Amar Shaheed, 1960) – Jamal Sen / Arjun Joshi / Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey

During this decade there was a 1954 recording of some Asha songs for a film titled Ritu Vihaar, which never got completed and released. (Source: Humraaz’s Hindi Film Geet Kosh).

Baghdaad was another Tamil film dubbed in Hindi released in 1961, had a couple of songs noticed, Rafi/Suman duet Tumpe hum kurbaan, and Suman’s solo, Kaise dil mein gham yahan chhode Allah. (Lyrics by Pundit Indra).

Aalha Udal (1962) was a subject close to his Rajasthani heart, but the film flopped and the music sank with it. Rafi’s Pehla pehla pyar hua from the film Manchali, 1962, (dubbed from Telugu) starring NT Rama Rao and Anjali Devi became popular. Lyrics were by A R Saaz.

The Bhojpuri film, Naag Panchami in 1964 was locally popular. Jamal Sen had a release after 1970 in Ghardwar and there was a Sankalp which never got completed. None of the songs from these later films made any ripples. Jamal Sen passed away on 12th April, 1979.

Beeta hua ek saawan (Shokhiyan, 1951) – Jamal Sen / Kidar Sharma / Lata Mangeshkar. This song initially recorded for Shokhiyan was eventually used in Pehla Kadam (1980) – (Source: Har Mandir Singh Humraaz of Hindi Film Geet Kosh

The legacy lives on

Anwar Hussain informed that Jamal Sen had four sons – Shambhu Sen, Dilip Sen, Madan Sen and Nihal Sen all of whom were active in music. Shambhu Sen became a renowned dance exponent with a galaxy of students like Hema Malini, Yogeeta Bali, Aruna Irani, Laxmi Chhaya among many others. He published a book titled Sangeet Ved. He also gave music for two films in Hindi. Mrigtrishna in 1975 and Banno in 1987. Mrigtrishna had some very popular songs, particularly, Sun man ke meet, piya aaja by Lata and Rafi’s classic with excellent  dance by Hema Malini, Nav kalpana nav roop se rachna rachi jab naar ki.

Nav kalpana nav roop se rachna rachi jab naar ki (Mrigtrishna, 1975) – Shambhu Sen / Mohd Rafi

Shambhu Sen passed away on 13th Jan, 1998 and his three sons, Sameer Sen, Dilip Sen and Lalit Sen carried on the family tradition. Sameer was trained as a percussionist and worked with Usha Khanna, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Rajesh Roshan among others. He later formed a team with his uncle Dilip (not with brother Dilip) to become music directors for films such as Aaina, Soorma Bhopali, Yeh Dillagi, Arjun Pundit,  among others. Sameer Sen’s son Sohail Sen has given music for films like What’s your Rashee, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Ek Tha Tiger among others. The Sen Brothers who provided music for Sheesha in 2005 were Sameer, Lalit and Sanjiv Sen. The two sons of Madan Sen, Firoze and Sagar are also active in music.

The five centuries old tradition in music is continuing and living. If Rajasthan has got influenced by Mumbai, it is only a transition. But their characteristic music will continue to enchant generations.

More to read on Music Makers

Bade Achchhe Din Thhe, Bade Pyare Saathi, Aur Guni Bhi’ – In Conversation with Majrooh Sultanpuri

Shailendra: The Spirit with a Mass Connect

Madan Mohan: The Composer of the Classes

‘The Music Director Knows which Voice would do Full Justice to his Composition’ – In Conversation with Hemant Kumar

The Pathbreaking Non-conformist – The Music of RD Burman

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Consulting Editor Learning and Creativity and Silhouette Magazine. To talk of a few passions of Peeyush, one must start with music. He is known to be a collector of music and information pertaining to Indian cinema (majorly Hindi) spanning a period from early 1930s to 1980s. He has a large collection of Bengali and Punjabi music and material as well. He also boasts of a huge library of related material. Peeyush has delivered talks and lectures on music appreciation, contributed write ups in numerous news papers and magazines. He has co-authored a tribute publication on Anil Biswas. He has co-hosted radio talk shows on music and met and interviewed a number of personalities. Occasionally, he delivers talks even now. Peeyush has been the founder secretary of the prestigious, Vintage Hindi Music Lovers Association in Bangalore that honored Anil Biswas in 1985. He is known as a storehouse of old Hindi music and information regarding music and movies. Peeyush is well read in Vedic culture and literature and is invited in various centers to deliver enlightening lectures on Vedic values. His range spans from four Vedas to Upanishads and Darshans as well as Bhagvad Gita. He has delivered talks on Yog Darshan in Yoga schools and large gatherings. He currently lives in Oshawa, Ontario in Canada.
All Posts of Peeyush Sharma

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7 thoughts on “Jamal Sen and His Music Legacy

  • Nutsure

    I was totally clueless about Jamal Sen except whenever anybody would post a song from either Daaera and or Shokhiyan. His name too was misleading which gave his demography in eastern parts of the country. Some one like Kidar Sharma who gave him the break should have reached much greater heights. But the criteria of survival and success in the bollywood was are still unknown.

    Very informative. Didn’t know that his sons are carrying forward the tradition. Keep it up…

  • Antara

    Dr Satwik ji, I was more than clueless. I had never even heard of him. The name struck a chord when two very readable features on Lata Mangeshkar’s rare gems by Sri Ganti and Pavan Jha mentioned the film Shokhiyan. My curiosity whetted I had a slew of questions on this little heard of music director. Peeyush ji obliged with this informative write up! Many thanks to him for this.

    There are several such lesser known music makers who came and went but left an indelible mark. Many music fans know the songs but do not know the people behind those songs.
    I agree with you – the criteria of survival and success in Bollywood is hugely ambiguous.

  • Sushil Sharma


    Your deep knowledge of the inside pages of the saga “Bollywood” always has intrigued me. You are a dinosaur, the breed of which is vanishing fast. I think you should write a book in which you should pen down all you know about the dark (and bright) secrets of what I think is the largest single industry in the world. It would sell like hot cakes, will become a classic and make you immortal in the minds of thousands of fans of “Nostalgic era” in the history of Bollywood.

    Sushil Sharma MD.

  • Moti Lalwani

    Peeyush bhai,

    I agree with others. You should take up pen and paper and start writing as the second profession, which should slowly become your first one. When one combines one’s passion and profession, one does wonders in that profession. More power to your pen.

  • Peeyush Sharma

    Thanks Moti Bhai.

    I am already writing a lot now. It is always a question of bread and butter. Lets see when can it become my main profession. Your blessings are always with me I know.

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