Classical music in titles

Titles are a favourite with me. They are much more than listing actors and credits, and if used imaginatively, can add a lot of value to the art of story telling. Titles carry a wealth of information which make viewing pleasure – the fonts, the colour, the content and of course the background score.

Classical music has been used very innovatively in the titles of several memorable musicals, and this post will discuss them.

Garjat Bheegat Sawan Aayilo – Malhar(1951)-Roshan

A traditional bandish by Sadarang in the Gaud Malhar delivered to perfection by Lata. The titles show the monsoon in full swing. Roshan did use several traditional compositions, or created filmy versions of them in this works, which I intend to discuss at length later in a different post. This brilliant rendering by Lata didn’t win the imagination of the listeners much.

Very ordinary fonts, but fully focused on the clouds in keeping with the theme.

Garjat Barsat Sawan AayoBarsat Ki Raat (1960)-Roshan

And hence this version was created, a very popular duet by Suman Kalyanpur and Kamal Barot. Sahir’s lyrics in chaste Hindi and the use of the instruments makes this an immortal rendering which will stand for centuries. It starts with a flash of Gaud Malhar in the Surmandal, followed by the jaltarang, sarod and then the sarangi. I love the fonts used in the names. Superbly rendered by the 2 ladies, the arrangement is outstanding. Throughout the song, the tabla is clearly audible and the rains in the background  and Shyama’s natural gesture at 2:48 is it a fitting tribute to the music

Such is the richness of Indian classical music, that the concept of a raga can be interpreted completely differently by each artiste in line with his/her fertility of imagination. The technicals remaining the same, it is the sheer individuality of each artiste in the exposition of the raga that makes it such a great tradition. Here is a wonderful rendering of the traditional Garjat Barsat by Malbika Kanan

Tansen Riyaaz – Baiju Bawra (1952) – Naushad

An immortal rendering rendered flawlessly and with such grace by Ustad Amir Khan, bringing out the beautiful nuances of Puriya Dhanashree.  It is important to note that Puriya Dhanashree is usually rendered in the evening time, which was when Tansen is known to have performed his riyaaz. This is Ustad Amir Khan’s interpretation of Tansen’s rendering. This makes a grand start to a musical movie.

Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje -(1955)-Vasant Desai

This should rank as one of the altime great title scores. Everything is great– the music, exquisite use of colours, i.e. rangoli, fonts and of course Ustad Amir Khan’s rendering of Adana.  The titles bear ample testimony to Shantaram’s talent and appreciation of art. A grand opening for a lovely musical.

Tora Man Darpan – Kaajal(1965)-Ravi

A lovely score by Ravi in Darbari Kanada, with chaste Hindi by Sahir. An extremely philosophical song to start a movie! Every word true, every phrase so full of wisdom. Asha’s delivery is perfect. The titles use an interesting font and a curious shade of dark orange.

Inssaf Ka Mandir – Amar(1954)-Naushad

The movie is a personal favourite. Naushad composed some great ones in Bhairavi like “Tu Ganga Ki Mauj“, “Do Hanson Ka Joda“, but I find this extremely pleasing, because of some of the higher octave usages, especially in the antara. Simple lyrics by Shakeel.

Chal Ud Ja Re – Bhabhi(1957)-Chitragupta

This is one of the best scores of Chitragupta, a fine Pahadi. The highlight is the meaningful lyrics by Rajinder Krishen. How I wish I could write so well! I wonder how it must have been to watch it at the theaters.

Kaun Apna Kaun Paraya -Kaun Apna Kaun Paraya(1963) – Ravi

A simple, but effective Maulkauns by Ravi. Ravi did produce several gems in this raga like “Jaan-E-Bahaar Husn Tera” The titles are quite pleasant, and Shakeel’s lyrics are simple and ordinary.

Garaj Garaj Ghir Aayi Re – Koel(1959)-Khawaja Khurshid Anwar -(Pakistani)

I am leaving my readers with a special selection from a Pakistani movie, Koel, set to tune by master craftsman Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, in Gaud Malhar.  Rendered beautifully  by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan. I love the way the child eggs her father to continue singing.

(I havent added Toofan Aur Diya, since I have discussed it at length in my post on Bharat Vyas)



  1. Anu Warrier said,

    May 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Karthik, what a great idea for a post. It’s sad that songs that play during the credits are usually ignored while watching the film. Thanks also for the raagas that the songs are based on – I know very little about them, and I’m afraid I would still not be able to recognise one from the other, other than the usual suspects.

    • May 21, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      Glad that you liked the idea :). I will very soon continue with my single raga specials.

  2. dustedoff said,

    May 22, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I’ll second Anu: that was such a good – and unusual – idea for a post! When I think of songs sung during credits, the first one that invariably comes to my mind is Garjat barsat saawan aayo re, which I really love. Such a perfect song. 🙂

    (Beyond that, the two other credits-song combinations that come to my mind are very, very far from classical music: the credits songs of China Town and An Evening in Paris. Oh, and another – Ye Lucknow ki sarzameen:

    • May 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks Madhu, great that you liked the post :). Yeh Lucknow ki Sarzameen is an excellent start to the movie,isnt?.
      The one other non-raga based title songs is this one from Ankhen-Sahir’s lovely lyrics

      • dustedoff said,

        May 23, 2012 at 6:29 am

        I’d completely forgotten about this song – odd, because I like Aankhen a lot when it comes to sheer masala entertainment!:-)

  3. Kritika said,

    June 22, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I’ll add my two cents here (very innovative post, and right up my alley, since title songs tend to be the overlooked ones)..

    This movie had some unusual and melodious music by Vasant Desai..a wonderful laavni, for example. Ashok Kumar and Harindranath Chattopadhyay’s playback adds oodles of character to some delightful songs. Ashok Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar in one movie — what a casting coup!
    Coming to the titles, the use of yellow is something we learn to do with powerpoint 🙂 and it makes the words pop out. The font is unusually ornate, an “olde English” style not seen much in Indian movies. Also the title music is exactly that – just music – with percussion instruments taking the lead. Again, quite unusual choice with a Mridangam. This is also an integral part of the story — Ashok Kumar learns how to play this instrument from his lower caste guru, Harindranath. All in all, excellent stuff 🙂

    • June 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Kritika. Such great analysis! I am sure this movie is close to your heart 🙂 Excellent title music! It is rag is Hemant, known as Hamsavinodini in Carnatic.

      Ashok Kumar was super brilliant. VD was at his usual best, with some great songs.

      • Abhik Majumdar said,

        March 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Are you certain it is Hemant? To me it sounds closer to Bhinna Shajda (which Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and some others refer to as Kausi Dhani). The difference between the two is subtle. Hemant is Audav Sampurna (R and P skipped in the ascent), Bhinna Shadja is canonically treated as Audava in character (R and P omitted in the Arohi and Avarohi both), but many insert the R in the descent through a vakra GMRS phrase. The DPM phrase is characteristic of Hemant, which I didn’t notice in the title track.


    June 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    During the era of Golden Period of Hindi Films, title music was indeed given quite wieghtage by several music directors as well as directors. If SJ were known for orchestration of the title song, music directors like Vasant Desai, Roshan S D Burman were known to create specific compositions.
    By selecting the basis of classical raags, you have identified a very unique charcteristic in this genre.

  5. June 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    In my opinion, the grandest one is -Tori jay jay kartar. in Puriya Dhanashri from film Baiju Bawra. Ustan Ameerkhan Saheb’s greatness comes out in such a small piece too. He brings to your mind’s eyes the picture of the legendary singer Tansen and you think this must be how Tansen sang.

  6. harveypam said,

    June 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Sorry for replying so late, though I came to your post earlier. I thought it needed more time to go through it properly.

    The titles do set the atmosphere for the coming story as well, i.e., if used properly. Sholay or Deewar spring to my mind.
    I knew of the song from Malhar but didn’t know that it was dredits-titles song. It is so much similar to Barsaat Ki Raat. The latter is better done.

    The credits song from Baiju Bawra is superb. Love the way how the credits flow from down to up as if to signify the sound-offerings reaching the gods in the heaven like in a yagna.
    Interesting also the fact that in the credits, though Surendra’s name comes third, it is bigger than that of Bharat Bhushan and Meena Kumari. Obviously Surendra was more a famous and prestigious name than the former two at that time. Now pwople would ask who Surendra?

    In JJPB V. Shantaram was it seeems very much fascinated by the colour he used for the first time in his career. It reminds me of the rangoli competition in the colleges and different mandals in Bombay during Diwali time. Also intersting that the names of the actors and actresses come last and that also not individually but in a bunch. The MD gets the prominent place at the beginning of the credits but after the lyricist.

    The Kaajal credits are totally unusual in their dark orange colour and no indication of Kaajal like curves. Tora man darpan is a splendid bahajan. Love it.

    I didn’t know that insaaf ka mandir hai yeh is a credits song. It sounds very revolutionary in the beginning to become soft afterwards.

    chal ud jaa re panchi from Bhabhi is a sad song. Intersting in the credits is that the actors are grouped together with a child artiste and a dog), while the actresses are grouped separately
    The fonts are indeed beautiful though not ornate.

    This is the first time that I heard of the film Kaun Apna Kaun Paraya.

    The Koel song is fascinating! Pacifist added this as a contribution in a comment to my post on Clouds and Separation, too which you also have contributed generously. Since then I am a big fan of this one. Love the line Khuda bhi wohi hai, malhar bhi wohi hai

    Altogether a great post with lots of info to the songs! Thank you Karthik!

    One of my fav credits-song is wahan kaun hai tera from Guide. Most probably it is not raga-based otherwise you would have included it in your list.

    Another favourite of mine is doli me bithai ke kahaar from Amar Prem. It doesn’t fall into your time range, though it sounds to my years classical-based. Is it based on a raga?

    • S Natraj said,

      November 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Two great creations and renditions by Burman Dada. The Guide song is based on raga pahadi and the Amar Prem song is in Raga Khamaj.Thanks for the superb post and welath of info in the comments.

    • Natraj said,

      November 3, 2012 at 3:03 am

      The Guide song is in Pahadi and the Amar Prem song is based on Khamaj. What creations!

  7. mdgupta said,

    September 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm


  8. Sharad Khataw said,

    September 19, 2012 at 9:03 am

    This is FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!! Someone has taken a lot of effort on internet….CONGRATS


    September 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Incomparable effort. May I request to inlcude Late Md. Rafi songs for Late Shammi Kapoor , Dileep Kumar and Dharmendra?

  10. Hemant shah ( Rajpipla - Gujarat ) said,

    October 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    All classical songs were superb !!!!! We can not axpect such a

    talent in this era. My favourite mail . very good attempt by the sender.

    hemant shah

    • mdgupta said,

      October 9, 2012 at 2:30 am

      Firstly I wish to thanks for nice mails
      This is need of today to enjoy and see the classical items
      very nice
      with best wishes and best regards-mdgupta

  11. mdgupta said,

    October 9, 2012 at 2:31 am

    already comment as best for all

  12. mdgupta said,

    October 9, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Unique and extra-ordinary collection of songs
    thanks with best regards-mdgupta

  13. bala1940 said,

    October 9, 2012 at 2:44 am


  14. Prakashchandra said,

    November 5, 2012 at 5:07 am

    Just simply superb post.Thanks a lot for such a wealth of information.

    Thank you again

    • November 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      thanks Prakash, it is something special that such appreciation comes from a person like you, who is an encyclopedia of Hindi film music.

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