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Raah Bani Khud Manzil – The Lingering Effect of Hemant Kumar Part 2

October 2, 2019 | By

Part 1 of this essay explored the talent and work of Hemant Kumar, the singer, in the Hindi film industry. Today, the author explores some of his compositions of merit and his opus as a music director in Hindi films.

Continued from Part 1

Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt and RD Burman

Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt rehearse with Rahul Dev Burman, then the youngest music director in 1961 (Pic: SMM Ausaja)


Anand Math (1952)

Impressed by Hemant Mukherjee’s music score for a Bengali film, the owner of Filmistan, Sashadhar Mukherjee called him over to Bombay (through Hemen Gupta, the film director) to compose music for his upcoming film Anand Math which was based on a novel of the same name by Bankim Chandra. S Mukherjee also gave Hemant Mukherjee the name Hemant Kumar and a position as a music director in his Famous Studios which had earned a reputation for quality and success at the box-office.

Hemant Kumar was quite successful as the music director for his first Hindi film. The two compositions, Jai Jagadish Hare and Vande Mataram highlighting the theme of the film, were splendid compositions.

Vande Mataram sung by Lata Mangeshkar in her high-pitched voice made the song emotionally charged and invokes the spirit of patriotism in the listener.

Vande Mataram Lata Mangeshkar with chorus/ Bankim Chandra Chatterjee

The song Jai Jagadish Hare is a recitation of verses from the Dasavtaram Strota by Jaidev, sung by Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt. Unlike a duet, the voices of Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt overlap each other for this devotional song. Listening to the song is a divine experience.

Jai Jagdish Hare with Geeta Dutt/ Mahakavi Jayadeva

Nagin (1954)

After Anand Math, a couple of films of Hemant Kumar were not as successful, so he decided to go back to Calcutta. Again, it was S Mukherjee who encouraged him to give Bombay another chance. He told him if he really wanted to go back, he should produce hit music for a film and then go. Then the film Nagin came his way. The music score with its touch of folk music was not only a hit, it also fetched him the Filmfare Award for Best Music in 1956.

The film also became famous for its been music. Hemant Kumar gave due credit to his assistants Ravi who played the harmonium and Kalyanji who played the clavioline for synthesizing the been music for the film. Kalyanji popularized his been music in the many stage shows he used to organize.

Hemant Kumar did a brilliant job by composing the main melody similar to been music where adjacent notes were woven smoothly into one another without incurring breaks. The result of the smooth merging of notes of the song with seamless music of been, was a graceful melody in Lata’s sweet voice.

The other songs from the film were composed with a classical base: Jadugar saiyan, chhodo mori baiyan based on Raag Vrindavani Sarang, Mera dil ye pukare aaja  in Raag Kirwani , Sun ri sakhi more sajna bulaye in Raag Pahadi, and Sun rasiya, sun rasiya in Raag Todi. All the songs in this album were outstanding with respect to sweetness, melody, rhythm and simplicity, the four basic elements of Hemant’s music.

The song Tere dwar khada ik jogi sounds melodious for its rhythm and the  mellifluous voice of Hemant Kumar. The other Hemant Kumar solo in the film was memorable too, owing its attraction to a brilliant use of chorus and the way Hemant Kumar sang it to evoke the pain through his solemn voice.

O zindagi ke denewale, zindagi ke lenewale with chorus/ Rajinder Krishan

Shart (1954)

Shart was another Filmistan movie remembered for its melodious music. The compassionate person that he was, Hemant Kumar always wanted his music to be subtle, unless the scenes demanded otherwise.

Na ye chand hoga, na taare rahenge was recorded separately in the voices of Geeta Dutt and Hemant Mukherjee. This was a serious love song in Raag Asavari which spoke of enduring love in separation.

Na ye chand hoga/ SH Bihari

The duet, Dekho vo chand chhupke karta hai kya ishare by Lata and Hemant,  Meri taqdeer ke maalik mera kuchh faisala kar de by Lata and O na na na jana na chhod ke by Asha Bhosle were all hit songs penned by SH Bihari.

Chand ghatne laga raat dhalne lagi sung by Geeta Dutt, and a solo song in Asha Bhosle’s voice, Raat aayee hai muhabbat ki kahani lekar were written by Rajinder Krishan.

A human heart, the symbol of love and the seat of emotions, is governed by the moon. The moon is associated with romance, and when the moon is full and glittering, romance is at its peak. The moon is also a loyal companion and a silent witness for lovers. These romantic thoughts were beautifully captured by SH Bihari in his lyrics. The words came eloquently alive in this romantic composition in Raag Dhani sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar in their enthralling voices. 

Dekho vo chand chhupke with Lata Mangeshkar/ SH Bihari

Jagriti (1954)

Hemant Kumar’s acumen for composing patriotic songs was once again evident in this film directed by Satyen Bose. The rendition by Asha Bhosle for Sabarmati ke sant tune, Mohammed Rafi for Hum laayein hain toofan se and Kavi Pradeep (with chorus) for Aao bachchon tumhein dikhayein were as brilliant as were the lyrics by Kavi Pradeep.

Aao bachhon tumhein dikhayein/ Kavi Pradeep

Arab Ka Saudagar (1955)

Ye mehfil sitaron ki is a romantic duet from the film. The poignant music coupled with Asha Bhosle’s intense singing and Hemant Kumar’s resonant voice captivate you from the very beginning and then kind of make you float on the waves of tranquillity. The lyrics were written by Ravi.

Ye mehfil sitaron ki with Asha Bhosle/ Ravi

Ek Hi Rasta (1956)

This playful song was picturised on Meena Kumari, Sunil Dutt and Daisy Irani riding on a bicycle. With a hummable tune and a catchy rhythm, it had Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar singing together for a stanza perfectly in sync with each other. Lata’s sweet melodious voice was a perfect match for Hemant’s soft blissful voice. Use of the mouth organ enhanced the joyful mood of the song.

Sanwale salone aaye with Lata Mangeshkar/ Majrooh

Chali gori pi se milan ko chali a dance number from the film composed in Raag Bhairavi captures your heart with its flute and Hemant Kumar’s gentle and jubilant voice. The lyrics for the film were written by Majrooh Sultanpuri.

Inspector (1956), Ek Jhalak (1957), Hill Station (1957) 

Dil chhed koi aisa nagma (Inspector), Nayee manzil nayi raahein (Hill Station), and Chal baadlon se aage (Ek Jhalak) are some more examples of subtle and sublime compositions by Hemant Kumar that touch your heart to the core. For all the above films, the lyrics were written by SH Bihari.

Dil chhed koi aisa naghma, a pain-evoking ghazal recorded in both Lata and Hemant’s voices, and composed in Raag Jaunpuri, used no other instrument except the harmonium and the tabla.

Dil chhed koi aisa naghma/ SH Bihari

Nayi manzil nayi raahein in the voices of Hemant and Lata is a mellifluous song, the beauty of which lies in its simplicity. Chal baadlon se aage, a duet, starts with fast music symbolising a journey in this world. Then the music, in very slow tempo, transcends you to a different world filled with peace, serenity and bliss. First it is Hemant Kumar’s voice which reverberates in your mind then Asha picks it up through her sombre rendering of the second stanza followed by Hemant Kumar. A must experience song!

Nayi manzil nayi raahein/ with Lata Mangeshkar/ SH Bihari

Fashion (1957) 

Hur aur tum bhool ke gham, a lively, joyful duet for which Hemant Kumar paired with Geeta Dutt used a fast tempo. Geeta Dutt’s cheery singing and Hemant Kumar’s exuberantly romantic voice captured all the excitement of a couple in love. The lyrics were a good match too.

Bahaaron se poochho nazaaron se poochho, a mesmerizing romantic duet by Hemant and Lata where the mood is built by intelligent use of instruments – an earlier song in Hemant Kumar’s repertoire haunting melodies.

Bahaaron se poochho with Lata Mangeshkar/ Bharat Vyas

Miss Mary (1957), Champakali (1957)

O raat ke musafir chanda zara bata de  from Miss Mary (a light comedy film) was a sweet, simple, and melodious duet in the voice of Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar, a hummable song for its easy flowing tune and catchy music.

Another popular song from this movie was Brindavan ka Krishna Kanhaiya set in Raag Pahadi, a raag which has been used by most composers for romantic songs in mountain settings. However, it has been used differently for this song in the voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi.

Chhup gaya koi re door se pukar ke from Champakali is a solo, sad song in Lata’s voice. The poignant music from the flute makes the pain of separation more intense. Rajinder Krishan is the lyricist for both the films.

Chhup gaya koi re door se pukar ke Lata Mangeshkar/ Rajinder Krishan

Girl Friend (1960)

Kashti ka khamosh safar hai, shaam bhi hai tanhai bhi

Door kinare par bajti hai, lehron ki shehnai bhi

Aaj mujhe kuchh kehna hai

The above song is one of the finest compositions of Hemant Kumar where he makes minimal use of instruments to let the words and voice communicate the emotions. Being the genius he is, Sahir Ludhianvi has penned perfect words: though there is a little fear, there is much hope. And in the end it is the hope that wins. The song opens with the strings of the violin, uses no percussion, but just guitar chords to set the rhythm. A song to remember!

Kishore Kumar’s voice here resembles Hemant Kumar in its depth and resonance. It is one of the best songs of Kishore Kumar; Sudha Malhotra’s sweet rendering suits the situation well.

Pyaase Panchi (1961), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962)

Tumhi mere meet ho  from Pyase Panchi and Na tum hummein jaano from Baat Ek Raat Ki are super-hit duets voiced by Hemant Kumar and Suman Kalyanpur. Both these songs are heart-touching haunting melodies.

Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962)

The music of the film Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam is the brightest gem in Hemant Kumar’s wide range of compositions. For Guru Dutt, Burmanda was an obvious choice for this film, but since he was not well, the film came to Hemant Kumar.

In an interview to Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha, a broadcast journalist for The Quint, Hemant Kumar had said, “That was Guru Dutt’s film. For his films, he used to pick the best. He was ruthless about choosing music and songs for his own films. When Guru asked me for Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, I said you have a reputation of discarding music directors if you don’t like their music. I told Guru, ‘Gadbad mat karna… tum ek gaana record karoge, phir bologe, no.’ But Guru told me, ‘This won’t happen. Only you can do justice to Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Since the background of the film is set in Bengal, only you can do best music because you understand the culture of Bengal.’ ”

And, as expected, Hemant Kumar produced an outstanding music score which has no parallel in Hindi cinema. The tunes, the songs written by Shakeel Badayuni, coupled with soulful rendering by Geeta Dutt helped a great deal in enhancing Meena Kumari’s portrayal of the character of Chhoti Bahu in the film. Her desires, her anguish, her hope, and her helplessness— everything was so beautifully woven into its songs. Koi door se awaaz de, Piya aiso jiya mein, and Na jao saiyan chhuda ke baiyan, the pattern for which was provided by Hemant Kumar’s music. My salute to these compositions!

Piya aiso jiya mein Geeta Dutt/ Shakeel Badayuni

Asha Bhosle’s crooning for Bhanwara bada naadan re, Meri baat rahi mere mann mein and the two outstanding mujra numbers Saaqia aaj mujhe neend nahi aayegi and Meri jaan, O meri jaan has also been superb under Hemant Kumar’s craftsmanship. I want to specially mention here the song composed in Raag Khamaj. Hemant Kumar was a great admirer of SD Burman whom he wanted to emulate. Another music director for whom he had great respect was C Ramachandra. C Ramachandra, in Navrang, with Aa dil se dil mila le and SD Burman with Najar laagi raja tore bangle par in Kala Pani have both composed a mujra in Raag Khamaj, both sung by Asha Bhosle. And the one tuned by Hemant Kumar is excellent for its rhythm and scintillating notes, a perfect mujra number.

Meri jaan, O meri jaan Asha Bhosle/ Shakeel Badayuni

Bees Saal Baad (1962)

Bees Saal Baad was the first film to be released under Hemant Kumar’s Geetanjali Productions as an experimental horror film. The film became the highest grosser at the box office and also earned four Filmfare Awards. All the songs from this movie became super-hit songs. Lyrics were written by Shakeel Badayuni who, along with Lata Mangeshkar, won the Filmfare Award for the song Kahin deep jale kahin dil. Incidentally, this was the first song that Lata sang after recovering from a very long illness.

The breezy song Beqarar kar ke hummein yun na jaiye was picturised near Solapur in Maharashtra. Hemant Kumar has sung it in a playful and joyous manner. Excellent use of whistling and accordion makes you surrender to its charms completely. The impish Zara nazron se kehdo ji too is a brilliant composition. The use of chords and dialogues as interludes in the song adds to the flirtatious character of the song.

Beqarar kar ke hummein yun na jaiye/ Shakeel Badayuni

Kahin deep jaley kahin dil is the movie’s most celebrated song for its fabulous picturisation and music, a splendid composition in Raag Shivranjani which evokes suspense and builds the atmosphere of the film; ethereal music to suit the situation.

Lata Mangeshkar’s euphonious crooning for Sapne suhaane ladakpan ke matches very well with the innocence and beauty exuded by Waheeda Rehmam.

Sapne suhaane ladakpan ke Lata Mangeshkar/ Shakeel Badayuni

Bin Badal Barsaat (1963)

Ek baar zara tum keh do is a sweet romantic song as sugary as the voices of Hemant Kumar and Lata in it.

Zindagi Kitni Khoobsurat Hai is a ghazal which was recorded in the voices of Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar separately. Lata Mangeshkar’s rendering for this ghazal is quite beautiful, especially for her thehrav (poise). The song has been composed in Raag Chhayanat.

Zindagi Kitni Khoobsurat Hai Lata Mangeshkar/ Shakeel Badayuni

Kohraa (1964)

Kohraa, a suspense thriller, produced by Hemant Kumar was not as successful as Bees Saal Baad. Its biggest strength, however, was its music which included such gems like Ye nayan dare dare and Raah bani khud manzil sung by Hemant Kumar himself and Jhoom Jhoom dhalti raat and O beqarar dil by Lata. For all these beautiful songs the lyrics were penned by Kaifi Azmi.

The song Ye nayan dare dare is a perfect example of the genius of Hemant’s music arrangement and singing, whether it’s his baritone voice, his humming or his singing style. Everything is just mesmerizing!

Ye nayan dare dare/ Kaifi Azmi

For the song O beqarar dil Lata pours her heart out to sing the feelings so powerfully expressed by Kaifi Azmi. Tuned in Raag Bhimpalasi, the song touches a chord with you.

Jhoom Jhoom dhalti raat conveys the suspense, mystery and the mist or blurring as required by the theme of the film.

Raah bani khud manzil is a joyful, playful, heart capturing romantic song in Hemant Kumar’s euphonious voice. Listening to the song is a blissful experience also due to its connect to nature.

Raah bani khud manzil/ Kaifi Azmi

Do Dil (1965)

Film Do Dil directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, had provided him a wider canvas for his music score, the tribal settings, nature, kingdom etc.

Pyasi hirni ban-ban dhaye koi shikari aaye re, a cheery song, besides the lilting voice of Lata Mangeshkar, also has a catchy rhythm that captures your heart easily. As the song was set in the hills, echo sounds were included as interludes making the song interesting and magical too!

Pyasi hirni ban ban dhaye koi shikari aaye re Lata Mangehskar/ Kaifi Azmi

Man mora naache, tan mora naache was a super hit song voiced by Lata Mangeshkar. It is an exhilarating dance number: eye-catching picturisation coupled with good music arrangement.

Saara mora kajra chhudaya tune is a melodious song in the voices of Mohammad Rafi and Aarti Mukherjee, a typical romantic song, dancing around the trees, but popular due to its catchy tune.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee had wanted Hemant Kumar to sing this next song. However, Hemant Kumar chose Mohammad Rafi because he thought he was more suitable for this kind of romantic song.

Tera husn rahe mera ishq rahe Rafi/ Kaifi Azmi

Sannata (1966)

Gulzar and Hemant Kumar shared a special bonding; both were ardent admirers of each other. There is another thing which I think is common. Hemant’s music is simple, yet great; similarly, Gulzar expresses profound thoughts through simple words, like here:

Bas ek chup-si lagi hai, nahin udaas nahin
Kahin pe saans ruki hai, nahin udaas nahin

Its last stanza says:

Wo daastaan jo, hum ne kahi bhi, hum ne likhi. . .
Aaj wo khud se suni hai, nahin udaas nahin
Bas ek chup-si lagi hai

Though this song has been written to highlight the theme of the movie, come to think of it, it is a song of self-discovery! Hemant Kumar sings this song without any extra instrument, only harmonium and tabla; as its music is not meant for exhilarating you, but to take you inwards which can happen only when you are silent!

Bas ek chup-si lagi hai/ Gulzar

This song is there in Lata’s voice also, but here the use of instruments is made. 

Anupama (1966)

Besides a good story line, good direction by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the movie is also remembered for its iconic compositions – the music of soul, the music of silence! Lyricist Kaifi Azmi also has his share for the music of silence to be heard, the silence becoming the song.

Most melodies of Hemant Kumar have a lingering effect. The serene melody Kuchh dil ne kaha fits perfectly into this category; obvious also is the ‘connect to nature’. A shy, introverted lady, so happy in the vicinity of nature! The song opens with the chirping of birds and then the poignant voice of Lataji follows. The lady is a changed character now, unmindful of everything else! Yet the music conveys an underlying sadness. When you hear the song you feel as if its notes are getting dissolved into the infinity thriving to attain oneness with it!

Kuchh dil ne kaha Lata Mangeshkar/ Kaifi Azmi

Another song that celebrates nature is Bheegi bheegi faza through its lyrics, surroundings and music. Asha Bhosle sings it in her vivacious voice and each and every pore in you is enlivened. The film has great picturization. Incidentally, this film had brought the Filmfare Award to Jaywant Pathare for Best Cinematographer.

Bheegi bheegi faza Asha Bhosle/ Kaifi Azmi

Dheere dheere machal, a popular song composed in Raag Khamaj, a late evening raag known for its light romantic nature has been used quite suitably for the situation.

Khamoshi (1969)

If the film Anupama was a journey from silence to song, Khamoshi was an overturn. The music of Khamoshi can be termed as the song of the melancholy.

Gulzar’s touching poetry in Tum pukaar lo, Woh shaam kuchh ajeeb thi, Humne dekhi hai and Aaj ki raat charagon and Hemant Kumar’s haunting music has offered the singers—Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Aarti Mukherjee and Hemantda himself—some of the best songs of their careers.

It is a landmark song from a talented artist who was not given his due! Actually this very dual singer-composer identity came in his way of attaining higher stature on the national scene. Nevertheless, the song is a testimony to his genius, both as a singer and composer.

Honth pe liye huye dil ki baat hum 

Jaagte rahenge aur kitni raat hum

Mukhtasar si baat hai tumse pyar hai, 

Tumhara intezar hai…tum pukar lo…

The song which opens with the music of piano bars is followed by a mellow whistle, Hemant’s resonant humming and his empathetic singing in the lower notes, creating an atmosphere charged with emotion! The music arrangement— minimum orchestration, subtle interludes created with delicate mingling of strings and piano notes. The overall impact of all this is a haunting composition, the memories of which will never fade away!

Tum pukar lo/ Gulzar

Vo sham kuchh ajeeb thi, ye sham bhi ajeeb hai

Vo kal bhi pass-pass thi, vo aaj bhi kareeb hai

This song has best picturization, like the singing by Kishore Kumar. The sounds coming from far away, the boat passing under the bridge, and the lyrics, all symbolize transition from past to present. Because of this transition, there is also a conflict so sensitively captured through various elements, the main melody, music arrangement and, of course, the vocals. A salute to this song and its creator!

Vo sham kuchh ajeeb thi Kishore Kumar/ Gulzar

An attractive thing about the melodious song below voiced by Lataji is its poetry. The song talks about the emotion ‘love’ in a very profound way. That love is not to be possessed, but cherished through selfless surrender. A ghazal rendered in a somewhat fast tempo provides its message more credence without affecting its charm.

Hamne dekhi hai Lata Mangeshkar/ Gulzar

Very few people know that Hemant Kumar was to become an engineer but left his education halfway to train himself in music. Singing Rabindra Sangeet, singing and composing non-film music and film music for Bangla and Hindi, and then film production all for his love for music. The films produced by him had excellent music. Music was his beloved; his journey and his destination too! Hope you too enjoyed this journey.


    1. Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman, HQ Chowdhury, Blue Pencil, 2018
    2. Wikipedia
    3. The haunting music of Hemant Kumar
    5. “The World’s Top Ten”BBC World Service. Retrieved 5 November 2008
    6. Rewind: In Which Hemant Kumar Describes Guru Dutt as “Ruthless”
    7. Yesterday’s Melodies, Today’s Memories, Manek Premchand, Notion Press, 2018

Don’t miss reading Raah Bani Khud Manzil – The Lingering Effect of Hemant Kumar Part 1

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Vasanti Limaye is a freelance content writer based in Pune. She had been a part of content team of Orient Infosolutions in 2006-2007 in Delhi. The author has a keen interest in Indian Classical Music and is a member of Music club for Senior Citizens at Bhusari Colony, Pune.
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