Originated in the Central Alps, yodeling is a form of singing marked by rapid alternation between the normal voice and high pitched falsetto. For the populace of the Indian subcontinent, yodeling is a synonym of Kishore Kumar’s outlandish joyful capers.
Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi made their debut almost simultaneously i.e. 1945 and 1946 respectively. From 1949 to 1969 Mohammed Rafi with his classical music prowess had the undisputed claim over the throne as the most preferred male singer of the Bollywood. In spite of good voice and talent, success eluded Kishore Kumar. However, Kishore Kumar with a single song by an extensive use of yodeling turned the table.
Pyaar Ka Mausam (1969) was otherwise an average film, but for the fact that the film proved to be Mohammed Rafi’s Waterloo. Tum bin jaoon kahan was the song sung by both Rafi and Kishore. Rafi sang the same song twice for the protagonist Shashi Kapoor, once with mandolin and once on piano. Not that Rafi sang too badly or Kishore was any superior to speak of, but the yodeling that Kishore rendered as the interlude captivated the audience. The actor Bharat Bhushan, once again proved lucky in bagging a hit song.
Though Pancham’s composition was brilliant, the song was recorded at a bit too faster a tempo disallowing much allowance to Rafi to give expressions with his signature glissandos and the details, and the finishes, which were Rafi’s forte. Kishore Kumar yodeled the interludes that in Rafi’s version were played on Mandolin by Kishore Desai. It seemed that contrary to his reputation, Pancham was in haste. I personally think that the music director is to be blamed for not being able to curb the haste, which has done a disservice to the song.
Initially, when the film was released, Rafi’s versions were more popular than Kishore’s version; but now the stars were favoring Kishore Kumar. Coupled with Rajesh Khanna’s superstardom, it was Kishore Kumar wave, which eventually popularized the Kishore’s version of the song, especially because of the Yodeling part. Here you can listen to all the three versions:
Pyaar Ka Mausam
It is noteworthy that Rafi’s versions were recorded much earlier and Kishore’s version was recorded much later, giving a definite advantage to Kishore Kumar of listening and thoroughly rehearsing on Rafi’s versions.
Imitating the Swiss yodeler Robert Tex Norton and Austrian Jimmy Rogers, Kishore Kumar had developed his yodeling. Kishore Kumar’s music directorial debut was with the film Jhumroo (1961). The title song is a brazen blend of Robert Tex Norton’s song Big Rock Candy Mountain and Jimmie Rodger’s Blue Yodel).
Mein hun jhum jhum jhumroo – Jhumroo
Main Hoon Jhoom Jhoom Jhumroo – Jhumroo Songs – Kishore Kumar – Madhubala
Big Rock Candy Mountain – Robert Tex Norton
robert tex norton – big rock candy mountain
Not that Rafi as a singer was unable to yodel. Back in 1962, in the film Raju Reporter, the song Gussa fuzool hai, Rafi yodelled beautifully.
Gussa Fuzool Hai Humein Kabul Hai – Mohd Rafi – Reporter Raju Song
Prior to this, in 1959 in the film Doctor Z, in a duet with Asha Bhosle you can hear Rafi’s yodeling:
Even before that in 1957 in the film Agra Road, in a duet with Geeta Dutt Rafi yodeled:
1953 in film Mashooka with Roshan as the music director, Kishore rendered wonderful yodeling:
However, the first ever song I remember where yodeling was used, was by Kishore Kumar in Ek Do Teen Char Baagon Mein Aayi Hai Bahar in the film Muqaddar (1950). In those days, Bombay Talkies used to keep salary paid employees. Music credit given for the film was not to one but to three in order of Khemchand Prakash, Bhola Shrestha, and James Singh. However, James Singh had composed this particular song.
1969 was the year of Apollo 11. The year was significant for Bollywood too. Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore S.D Burman with Kishore Kumar broke all the box office records with Aradhana. The story written by Sachin Bhowmick was based on the 1946 Hollywood film To Each His Own.
In spite of the great success of SJ in An Evening In Paris, perhaps because of the budget constraints Shaktida opted for SD Burman for this project. After recording two songs, Rafi went on a six month long World Tour. Burmanda wanted to wait for Rafi’s return but since the Producer Director Shakti Samanta was in hurry, Kishore Kumar substituted Rafi. By the time Rafi came back to India he found Kishore Kumar occupying his throne.
The song Kora kaagaz thaa was rejected by one and all, but Burmanda insisted on keeping it.
Kora Kaagaz Tha Yeh Mann Mera
Roop Tera Mastana:
At the same time, Laxmikant Pyarelal too opted to substitute Rafi with Kishore Kumar to record a song in Do Raaste (1969). Rafi had already sung two songs, and the renditions were very good, but as luck would have it, Kishore’s song became more popular.
Yeh reshmi zulfe – Do Raaste
Khiza Ke Phool Pe – Do Raaste
Tides were ebbing for the all time greatest Indian Male Playback Singer Mohammed Rafi, and the goddess of destiny was finally smiling on Kishore Kumar who was thus far rather unlucky in all his attempts in the fields of acting, singing, film production, and matrimony.
Was it fair that the mighty Mohammed Rafi lost to Kishore Kumar? The goddess of rewards rides on randomness and not on logic and rationality. Listen to this song:
Man mora bawara – Raagini (1958)
The sources say that it used to be a practice for Rafi to give playback for Kishore Kumar, and after rehearsing from Rafi’s track, Kishore Kumar would dub and thus replace Rafi’s track with his own voice. This went on smoothly but for two songs. Kishore because of his busy shooting schedule or for whatever lack of proficiency, for quite a few months couldn’t manage to record the typical classical song Man mora bawara. O.P. Nayyar, the strict disciplinarian, lost patience and went ahead with Rafi’s playback for Kishore Kumar. The story was reported once again in Sharaarat (1959) song ajab hai dastan teri composed by Shankar Jaikishan:
In 1969, almighty was in the mood of reshuffling Bollywood fortunes. Lekh Tondon’s Prince was not a flop, but it was time to ‘pack up’ for Shammi Kapoor, whose obesity had crossed tolerable limits. Vyjayanthimala was efficient, but somehow her magic was missing. More significantly Mohammed Rafi gave mediocre renditions as Shankar Jaikishan too by then were suffering from burnout and over exploitation of their winning formulas, hence losing their market share to Burmans, Laximikant Pyarelal and Kalyanji Anandji.
Badan Pe Sitare Lapete Hue:
Another film of Vyjaynthimala Pyar Hi Pyar too was below par. Post Amrapali debacle, Vyjayanthimala was already disillusioned. After yet another debacle with Ganwaar, she bade goodbye to the film industry, giving an abrupt end to her stunningly brilliant career.
Truly, the year ’69 was as the number 69 symbolized made things ‘ultaa sultaa’.
[Excerpts from the E-Novella ‘Cinemaghar’ written by Atul S. Merchant ‘Jataayu’]