Playback singer is the ghost voice of the leading actor of Bollywood. He plays a significant role in the success of him, to place him as a singer, romantic young man or emotional person. It’s true, though actors have excellent acting skills, it is not possible to give the best onscreen as singers. That’s where playback singers do their job. As it is almost impossible to imagine Indian cinema and Bollywood without songs and dances, playback singers enjoy an unparallel status among celebrities. That may be the reason why they get more admiration that those who give to the song – lyricist and music composer. Most recently I have published an article on top 5 female voices of Bollywood. Now let me try to find the best male voices. I have presented them on the basis of their popularity as well as their contributions to Bollywood. So, here goes my list.

5. Sonu Nigam

sonuNigamUndoubtedly Sonu Nigam is one among the top voices of Bollywood. He is regarded as the best male voice of Bollywood at present. So, in my list I place Sonu Nigam among the great 5 male playback voices of Bollywood all time. Sonu Nigam’s name comes first among those playback singers of present times who struggled a lot to give his own signature to singing field and able to reach the stardom everyone dreams about. He entered Bollywood during early 90’s giving a few hit numbers like ‘Acha sila diya’ of Bewafa sanam. Yet he struggled a lot in music field at a time when Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and Abhijeet were at top. He used to recreate Mohd.Rafi’s voice and has released a few albums under T-series consisting of Mohd.Rafi’s golden hit songs. People accepted him as he renovated Rafi’s voice in present times. But it became a curse too, as he was often regarded as the clone of Rafi in the present times. Sonu was a lot inspired by Rafi’s voice and singing style too.Sonu Nigam understood his mistake at the right time and corrected it during the second half of 90’s. He was good looking and when he appeared in his own Album, Keemat singing the song ‘E dilruba’ for Bipasha Basu in 1997, people began to notice him. Exactly in the same year, he got the opportunity to sing along with Roop Kumar Rathod for the top songs of the year, ‘Sandese Aate hain’ of Border and ‘Yeh dil deewana’ of Pardes. Song of Border was noticed, yet he had to share the credit along with Rathod. Though Sonu sung energetically for ‘Yeh dil’ and delivered a hit, songs sung by Kumar Sanu were noticed most. Both these movies were released in association with 50th Independence Day celebration of India. ‘Hum se rahoge kya hamesa hafa’ and ‘Ek din kahi’ of Aur pyar hoga, composed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan were also gone without noticed. In 1998, he sang the song ‘Sath rangeela’ along with Kavitha Krishnamurthy. A.R.Rehman used his voice nicely and in each stanza, his voice was experimented with high notes and low notes as well as sudden drift from one mood to another. According to Sonu Nigam, he had to take a lot of effort and sing in high pitch to deliver the song. Yet, he didn’t receive any awards for this movie. Similar to Pardes, his work went unnoticed in the hit numbers of Sukhwinder Singh and Udit Narayan.

In 1999, his pop album Deewana was released. This album was just opposite of his previous pop number ‘Bijuriya’. Romantic songs were so fresh and people loved the new singing style of Sonu. Songs were composed beautifully too. Deewana was the top album of 1999 and very soon, he came to limelight. Following the success of Deewana, next year ‘Jaan’ was released. He was seen in its music video along with his first heroine of album, Bipasha Basu. Jaan was just a sequel of Deewana, yet became more successful than Deewana. In 2001, his third romantic album ‘Yaad’ was released in a row. These three albums played a significant role in establishing as an established name of Indian pop music. Along with it, he became busy in playback singing too. In 2004, he released his album ‘Chanda ki doli’.

A.R.Rehman gave a few hit songs to Sonu Nigam andhe was the music composer who played a significant role in placing this singer as the most wanted singer of Bollywood. After Dil se, he gave the song ‘Ishq bina’ – the top song of Ishq and ‘Bol sajni’ of Doli sajake rakhna to him. In between, he sang a few top hit songs like ‘Tere rang balle’ and ‘Mere saasom’ of Soldier, ‘Mujhe raat din’ of Sangursh, ‘Suraj hua maddham’ of Kabhi khushi kabhi ghum, ‘Tu fiza hai’ of Fiza and ‘Panchi pawan’ of Refugee for other music directors and placed himself among the group of playback singers with distinct style and unique voice. Again, it was A.R.Rehman who placed him as the no.1 singer of Bollywood. When Mani Ratnam’s Alayppayuthey was remade to Hindi, all tunes were kept as such and he gave the most romantic song to Sonu Nigam, keeping full belief in him. The original ‘Pachai nirame’ was sung by Hari Haran. When the title song of Saathiya was shown in music channels during November 2002, it was something like a treat to those who love melodies and good songs. This song remained at top in many music channels for weeks. Not only that, he accumulated almost all musical awards including Filmfare for the first time, telling the whole world that no one can defeat him in playback singing in male voice. He repeated his success the following year with the title track of Kal ho na ho composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, thus cementing his position as no.1 in Bollywood, once again. Har ghadi badal rahe, not only accumulate all music awards of television channels and magazines, it won him the first national awards in the best playback singer category too. This song is regarded as the best song, Sonu has sung till now.

Success was at his foot step and he began to deliver hits one after the other, singing all the top romantic songs of Bollywood. A few best songs during 2000’s include – Kis ka hai yeh tumko and Tum se milke of Mein hoon naa, Meri neend jaane lafi hai of Chal mere bhai, title track of Kabhi alvida na kehna, Kismat se tum of Pukar, Mere haat mein of Fanaa, In lamhom ki daaman mein of Jodha Akbar, Pehli pehli baar yeh and O mahi ve of Kya yehi pyar hai, Abhi mujhmein kahein of Agnipath, Mein agar kahoo of Om Shanthi Om, Shukr alla of Kurbaan, Rabba mere rabba of Mujhe kuch kehna hai, Title song of Hum to deewana kar gaye, Waada raha of Kakee, Do pal ka khabom ka karwa of Veer Zaara, Khamoshiyan gun guna of 1 2 ka 4, Chori kiya re jiya of Debaangg, Pal pal of Lage raho Munna bhai, Gusthak dil tere liye of Dil maange more, Chiggy wiggy of Blue, Zubi zubi of All is well of 3 Idiots, Tu meri adoori pyaas and Kaise tum mujhe mil gaye of Gajani, Suraj hua maddham, Le jaa and You are my Soniya of Kabhi khushi kabhi gum, Thanhai of Dil Chatha hai, Choti choti rathein of Tum bin, Nagada nagada of Jab we met, Piya bole of Pareenitha and Soniyo oh soniyo of Raaz-The mystery continues. He has been the top sought voice in the past one decade or so, for all the leading actors of Bollywood including Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan. Though he tried his luck as a hero in Bollywood, it didn’t click and soon he identified his destination as ‘singing only’.

His plus points: His voice is so sweet and magical and no one can sing romantic songs as perfect as Sonu Nigam. He has good knowledge of Indian classical music and ragas and shows this versatility in the songs he sang till now. Despite had to wait for about 7-8 years in Bollywood, his hard work and mentality to understand and work on his negative points helped him to reach a position that’s not at all easy for all. 

My favourite 5 songs of Sonu Nigam: Saathiya of Saathiya, Har ghadi badal rahi of Kal ho na ho, Kismat se tum of Pukar, Mein agar kahoo of Om Shanthi Om and Rabba mere rabba of Mujhe kuch kehna hai.

4. Kumar Sanu

kumarsanuNo doubt, he was the most popular singer of Bollywood during 1990’s. He, along with Alka Yagnik has delivered numerous melodious duets during this decade and his most popular compositions belong to music duo Nadeem Shravan. If we want the name of a single playback singer who brought great reforms to music industry when it was drifted towards deep dough during 1980’s, Kumar Sanu’s name is taken first. Though he started his singing career in Bollywood during late 80’s, it was the trend settling music of Aashique in 1990 that gave immense success to Kumar Sanu as playback singer. Music lovers loved his songs most and accepted his voice as golden voice, with both hands. Most recently, after 23 years Aashique 2 is released. Though he has not become a part of this revived musical journey, it was with Kumar Sanu’s songs that Ashique 2’s music was most compared with. A lot of playback singers have come to Bollywood greatly inspired from Kishore Kumar – Kumar Sanu,  Shaan, Amit Kumar, Abhijeet Bhatacharya, Vinod Rathod and a few more. Most of them have adopted singing style of Kishore Kumar and we can see slight shades of this great singer in them. Yet, of all these singers, the playback singer who became most successful was none other than Kumar Sanu.

He can be regarded as ‘Kishore Kumar of new generation cinema’ and he has popularized Bollywood music a lot. The contributions given by him are very significant at a time when Bollywood faced a down fall in music during 1980’s. He has strived a lot to bring back Bollywood music back to its original track and has become successful too. His powerful voice was most used for Shah Rukh Khan and Sanjay Dutt during 1990’s as they both carried hard-hearted roles during that time. Apart from Nadeem Shravan, Anu Malik and Jatin Lalit used his voice most.‘Saasom ki zaroot’, ‘Tu meri zindagi’, ‘Mein duniya bhula doonga’ and ‘Ab tere bin’ were top chartbusters of 1990’s and it’s not at all easy to point out the best. Yet, ab tere bin won him the first Filmfare awards. After the success of Aashique in 1990, Kumar Sanu’s career graph noted a straight move upwards. Very soon, his successful association was created with Alka Yagnik and maximum of their hit songs till 1997 were given by music duo Nadeem-Shravan.

Following the success of Aashique, songs of Saajan were released in 1991. It repeated the same history of Aashique giving him Filmfare awards straight for the second time, song was ‘Mera dil bhi’. Duets like ‘Mera dil bhi’ and ‘Dekha hai pehli baar’ were sold in records and this initiated the success association of this amazing pair of Bollywood music. In 1992, Deewana was released. ‘Aisi deewangi’, ‘Teri ummeed’ and ‘Sochenge tumhe pyar’ repeated the same magic of Saajan, winning him his third Filmfare for the song ‘Sochenge tumhe pyar’ pictured on Rishi Kapoor. Again music was given by Nadeem-Shravan. It created an illusion in the market that Nadeem-Shravan Kumar Sanu combination has a magical touch to change everything to gold. It was true too! In 1993, songs of Baazigar and in 1994, songs of 1942 – A love story presented him Filmfare awards once again, thus breaking the record of Kishore Kumar for winning Filmfare successfully for 5 years. Ironically he didn’t win Filmfare after that at least once, though has been nominated many times including Pardes, Humraaz, Kuch kuch hota hai and Hum dil de chuke sanam. Songs of Baazigar like Baazigar oh baazigar and Yeh kaali kaali aakhein and songs of 1942 A love story like Ek ladki ko dekha to and Kuch na kaho are still considered treasures of songs of 90’s. Indispensably, he was the top voice of Bollywood during first phase of 90’s. He continued his successful journey during its second half too, though became busy in politics during 2000’s. He virtually left Bollywood during early 2000’s at the peak of his singing career and giving his place to Sonu Nigam.Kumar Sanu has been the top choice of Shah Rukh Khan during 1990’s since his first hit song ‘Aisi deewangi’. Other hit songs include ‘Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam’ of DDLJ, ‘Ek din aap yoon’ of Yes Boss, ‘Do dil’ and ‘Mehbooba’ of Pardes and ‘Ladki badi anjaan’ of Kuch kuch hota hai. Though it is not an easy task to list his best songs, let me try a little bit.

I am not mentioning those songs that I have already told about. I am sure I may miss a lot of gems among them. ‘Aakhon se’ and ‘Jaadu hai’ of Ghulam, ‘Suno zara’ of Bada din, ‘Yeh bequdi si’ of Hum ho gaye aapke, ‘Aankhon ki gusthakiyan’ and ‘Chand chupa baadal mein’ of Hum dil de chuke sanam’, ‘Pehli pehli baar mohabbat’ of Sirf Tum, ‘Haan judai se dartha hai dil’ and ‘Dil mera churalo’ of Kareeb, ‘Tip tip barsa’ and ‘Churake dil’ of Mein khiladi tu anari, ‘Ghunghat ki’, ‘Nahin yeh ho nahi saktha’ and ‘Hum ko sirf’ of Barsaat, ‘Odli chunariya’ of Pyar kiya to darna kya, ‘Jeeta hoon jis ke liye’ of Diljale, ‘Dheere dheere pyar ko’ of Phool aur kaante, ‘Mera ik sapna hai’ of Khubsurat, ‘Kaho to zara mein’ of Albela, ‘Pyar ke liye’ and title track of Dil kya kare, ‘Raah mein unse’ of Vijay Path, ‘Jab kise ki taraf’ of Pyar to hona hi tha, ‘Gawa hai’ and ‘Jab se tumko’ of Damini, Title song of Yeh dil aashiqana, ‘Dil kehta hai’ and ‘Dil mera churaya kyon’ of Akele hum akele tum, ‘Mujhe pyar se dekhne wala’ of Ek Rishta, Title track of Silsila hai pyar ka, Soldier soldier, Mere dil jigar se and Mehfil mein baar of Soldier, Dekha tujhe to of Koyla, Title track of Kahi pyar na ho jaye, ‘Dil mera akela’ of Mela, ‘palkein ho khuli ya bandh sanam’ of Takkar, ‘Ladki badi anjaan’ of Kuch kuch hota hai, ‘Yu hi kat jaayega’ and ‘Mujhse mohabbat ka’ of Hum hai rahi pyaar ka, ‘Dekha jo tumko’ of Kasoor, ‘Jo haal dil ka’ of Sarfarosh and Tum dil ki dhadkan and Dil ne yeh kaha hai of Dhadkan.His plus points: He has only plus points! It’s futile to search his negative marks. After the great three singers have one, Kuman Sanu is one such big name of Bollywood who carried forward the foot prints given by the music legends of yesterday. He has been one among the most powerful voices India has ever witnessed. His voice contained that magic, enough to bind even the music hating people towards him. His voice has that flexibility enough to afford the real characteristics of the actor as well as the role he is playing in the movie. Also, his voice carries that intensity most suited for playback singing.My favourite 5 songs of Kumar Sanu (It has been a very difficult choice to me): Mohabbat ho na jaaye of Kasoor, Aankhon ki gusthakiyan of Hum dil de chuke sanam, Dil mera churaya kyon’ of Akele hum akele tum, Tum dil ki dhadkan/Dil ne yeh kaha hai of Dhadkan and Churake dil mera of Mein khiladi tu anari. 

3. Mukesh

mukeshThis playback singer finishes third in my list. If I say, he is the voice of Showman Raj Kapoor, you people will surely agree with me. Yes, he was the hot favourite of Shankar Jaikishen whenever he has created something new for Raj Kapoor. His contributions to 1950’s and Black and white movies are really significant. He was the real master of tunes and melodies and has rendered his beautiful voice for almost all leading actors from Raj Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan. Among all his songs, I feel that ‘Kabhi kabhi’ is one such memorable song that has attracted the youth of all times since its release in 1977. Mukesh was a great fan of Kundan Lal Saigal and his songs of first phase of his career show a deep influence of his songs. It was Naushad who helped Mukesh to come out of ‘KL Tag’ and develop a singing style of his own. Though in many early films of Dilip Kumar, Mukesh’s voice was most sought most, gradually Mukesh became the voice of Raj Kapoor and together, along with Shankar Jaikishan, they have given many hit songs for movies like Jis desh mein ganga behthi hai, Shree 420, Chalia, Teesri Kasam, Sangham, Awara and Anari. Earlier Manna Dey’s voice was used most for his films including Boot polish and Shree 420. In certain movies, voices of both these singers were used parallel in RK movies. He has sung many hit songs for Manoj Kumar too.

In fact after Raj kapoor, his voice was most used for Manoj Kumar. Roti Kapada aur makan, Be-Iman, Shor, Purab aur paschim, Himalay ki gode mein and Anita are few such memorable movies.  Mukesh magic slowly faded with the rise of Mohd.Rafi as a star during 1960’s. Majority of songs were sung by Mohd. Rafi during this time. During 1970’s, his career faced a deterioration post Kishore Kumar – Aradhana magic. Yet he was able to deliver major hits during 1970’s like Kabhi Kabhi and Kahi door jab. Though Kishore Kumar’s voice was used most for Rajesh Khanna, post his super stardom status, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Salil Chawdry used Mukesh’s voice for songs of Anand. Kahi door jab din and Meine tere liye are still considered classics of Bollywood music. A few other hits of 1970’s include his National award song of Rajni gantha – Kahi baar yuhi dekha hai and Filmfare winning songs Sabse bada naam of Pehchaan, Kabhi kabhi and title song of Manoj Kumar starrer ‘Be-Imaan’. It’s really surprising to note that, though Mukesh’s songs were most popular during 50’s and his career has witnessed a disintegration afterwards, he won 3 out of his 4 Filmfare awards during 1970’s, the time when Kishore magic was spread all over the country! Really a remarkable achievement of this great singer. Earlier, he has won Filmfare once for the song, ‘Sab kuch seekha hum ne’.

Mukesh has sung less than 1200 songs in his life time. Really a small number if we compare it with number of songs sung with his contemporary singers. But most significant fact is that, instead of giving first preference to the number of songs, he concentrated on the quality of songs. That’s the reason why those few songs always come above the songs of singers, who give preference to quality also. Yes, it’s hard to believe that Mukesh has sung only 1200 songs!!! His best songs are Suhana safar of Madhumati, Mujhe is raat ki tanhayi mein of Dil bhi tere hum bhi tere, Sab kuch seekha humne of Anari, Bol radha bol and Dost dost na raha of Sangham, Sawan ka mahina of Milan, Chalia mera naam, Mera dootte hue and Dum dum diga diga of Chalia, Waqt karta jo wafa of Dil ne pukara, Mere joothe hai japani of Shree 420, Kabhi kabhi and Main pal do pal ka of Kabhi kabhi, Aawara hoon of Awara, Jeena yaha and Jaane kaha gaye woh din of Mera naam joker, Kahi deep and oh meine tere liye of Anand, Oo janewale of Bandini,  Ik pyar ka nagma hai of Shor, Haa tum bilkul vaisi ho of Himalay ki gode mein, Mera pyar bhi tu hai of Saathi, Title song of Aas ka panchi, Title song and Aa ab laut chalein of Jis desh mein Ganga behthi hai, Jinhe hum bhoolna chahe of Aabroo, Dheere dheere bol of Gora aur Kala, Zubaan pe dard bhari of Maryada, Deewano se mat pooch of Upkaar, Jo tumko ho pasand of Safar, Ek din bikh jayega of Dharam Karam, Jis gali mein tera ghar na of Kati patang, Koi jab tumhara hriday of Purab aur paschim, Mein na bhoolunga of Roti Kapada aur makan, Tum bin jeevan kaise beeta of Anita and Sajan re jhoot mat bolo of Teesri Kasam.

His plus points: What should I say more about the innocence hidden in Mukesh voice? It’s nothing short than magic and the story of his soul! His voice is so distinct and hides a lot of pain and sorrows too and very often, that pain serves as the best ailment of our mental agonies. If you are distress, play a few Mukesh songs and just close your eyes and sit somewhere; your pain is gone! His songs have the deepness of life and blue seas!

My favourite 5 Mukesh songs: Kabhi Kabhi title song, Jis gali mein tera ghar of Katti patang, Kahi door jab of Anand, Aa ab laut chalein of Jis desh mein ganga behthi hai and Dost dost na raha of Sangham.

2. Kishore Kumar

kishoreNow we have reached position 2.  I know it well many Kishore Kumar fans won't agree with me, that I have given no.2 to this versatile singer. In fact, always no.1 position has hot debate. Top person should have a strong opponent. Isn't it? Let me say, Kishore Kumar is not too short than Rafi Saab. He lost the throne by merely 5 or 10 points according to me. If it is about the discussion of Rafi and Kishore, we need to check through all angles. Mohd rafi climbed top of him just due to his immense knowledge in classical music. Yet, I need to say Kishore Kumar has been the most popular singer for a few decades and it is Kishore Kumar’s voice which every singer tries to imitate most. What does it mean? It shows the magic with which he conquered millions with his style of singing and unique voice. ‘Line starts from where I stand’ – it simply suits this singer most, because most of the popular playback singers and pop singers say, ‘Kishore Kumar and his singing style is my inspiration and positive energy’. It’s true too! That’s the reason why songs of R.D – Kishore combination are remixed and played at disco stations most.  

Kishore Kumar is one among the most versatile artists of Bollywood – Fine actor, comedian, singer, film director and a producer also. He was a great entertainer also. That’s the reason why the term ‘Versatility’ suits this person most. Kishore Kumar is a phenomenon or an institution who has been a great inspiration to many artists to follow. He is fondly called Kishore da by his fans and he fully dominated musical world from the start of 1970’s till middle 80’s when music faced a sudden down fall. During 50’s and 60’s, he did a few movies also, of which his role as a comedian in Padosan and Chalti ka naam gaadi was noted most. Kishore Kumar is not a trained classical singer. Yet the way he sings, it’s hard to believe that he has no formal training! I often wonder, if he has learnt music, could he have delivered his songs more perfectly? I really doubt so. His each and every song is something like a cherry on the top of a cake – just perfect! Everyone is familiar with the story of movie ‘Aradhana’ and how he got opportunity to sing the top two songs of the movie that were already reserved for Mohd.Rafi.

Kishore Kumar was a good singer earlier also. He has delivered many hit songs like Mein hoon jumru of Jumru, Kehna hai and Mere samne wali of Padosan, Gaatha rahe of Guide, Haal kaisa hai and Ik ladki bheegi of Chalti ka naam gaadi and Eena meena deeka of Asha. But Aradhana brought him a special gift that was not given to him earlier though he has spent more than one decade in the industry. It’s often told, it needs the right thing to meet at the right time and right occassion to make us lucky. That happened in Kishore Kumar’s life too. Songs of Aradhana placed him at the top of the stars in a day, the position that appears in everyone’s dream only and he stayed there till death took him away. When S.D.Burman fell ill, his son R.D.Burman completed the assignment of Aradhana. I often think, if those two songs were given to Rafi itself, would Aradhana have become such a big hit? Like a Tsunami, would Rajesh Khanna become the first super star of Bollywood? Would Kishore’s talent remain there without anyone’s notice waiting for the knock of luck? What Bollywood world and music would have looked like if those songs were not given to Kishore?  No idea! But one thing is quite sure. Biggest reformation that has ever come in Bollywood is the waves of Aradhana and its songs, no doubt! Also, when 1960’s paved way to 70’s, it was not like the change of a decade, but something like change of a century or millennium. Such a massive change was witnessed by Indian film industry after the release of Aradhana. Career of Mohd.Rafi and Mukesh faded forever. Also, this single movie changed the fate of many leading heroes of Bollywood like Manoj Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Joy Mukherjee, Viswajeet, Shammi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Jeetendra and even Jubilee Kumar Rajendra Kumar! The magic of Mere sapnom ki raani and Roop tere masthana have not lost its black magic power yet! 

Now let me mention the association of Kishore Kumar with R.D which brought great reformation to Bollywood music. Many critics even blamed that R.D. killed Indian music and classical tunes by westernizing them. But the truth is that music given by this duo stand above times! Also, it’s accepted even by the modern generation! Their association was something like change of time, that was most needed. Even if everyone complain about westernizing Indian tunes, if you hear Kishore Kumar songs of R.D compositions like ‘Chingari koi’, it’s a clear proof that this song is purely based on Indian tunes. Now a few hit songs of this wonderful combination. Yeh kya hua and Chingari of Amar Prem, Musafir hoon yaaro and Saare se saare of Parichay, Pyar deewana and Yeh jo mohabbat hai of Katti patang, Mere samne wale and Kehna hai of Padosan, Meri bheegi bheegi si of Anamika, Tum bin jao kaha of Pyar ka mausam, Hum to hai rahi dil ke of Caravan, Agar tum na hote title song, Hume tumse pyar kitne of Khudrat, Mere dil mein aaj kya hai of Daag, O mere dil ka chain and Chala jaata hoon of Mere jeevan saathi, Hum dono, do premi, Ek ajnabi haseena se and Bheegi bheegi of Ajnabi, Hum bewafaa of Shalimar, Aap ki aakhom mein and Aaj kal pao of Ghar, Diya jalthe hain of Namak Haram, Raat kali of Budha mil gaya, Dil mera kise ne of Amanush, Koi haseena jab of Sholay, Jaanu meri jaan of Shaan, O maaji re of Khushboo, Zindagi ek safar of Andaaz, Soni soni meri tamanna of Yadom ki barat, Kitne bhi tu karle sitam of Sanam teri kasam, Yeh wada raha title song, Bachna e haseeno and Humko to yaari of Hum kise se kum nahi, Jaane jaa, Nahi nahi and E jawani hai diwani of Jawani Diwani, Ek mein aur ek tu and Sapna mera of Khel khle mein, Aanewala pal of Golmaal, Dilbar mere of Satte pe satta, Karvatein badalthi rahe and Zindagi ke safar mein of Aap ki kasam, Mere nayana of Mehbooba, Phoolon ka taron ka and Saanchi re of Hare Rama Hara Krishna, Tum aagaye ho and Tere bina zindagi se of Aandhi, Title song of Kasme vaade, Kya yehi pyar hai of Rocky, Panna ki tamanna of Heera Panna, Chehra hai ya and Sagar kinare of Saagar and Suniye kahiye of Baton Baton mein – Uf! I am exhausted collecting the amazing gems of this combination. They contain all type of flavours. It seems it’s a hasty job to collect Kishore Kumar songs without picking R.D.Burman. Kishore Kumar’s son, Amit Kumar was given all songs of super hit movie Love story in the year 1981.

Though S.D.Burman liked Rafi most, he has given a few songs to Kishore Kumar. I would say, songs of Sharmilee are the best. Khilte hai gul yahan is one beautiful song sung by Kishore Kumar in S.D.Burman’s composition. Other hit songs include Yeh dil na hota bechara and Pal bhar ke liye of Jewel thief, Phoolon ki rang se of Prem Pujari, Meet na mila de of Abhimaan and Badi sooni hai of Mili. All these songs have happened after Aradhana’s success. Yet he has sung for SD during 50’s and 60’s too. Though Kishore Kumar is most famous for his funny songs and fast numbers, I feel that depth I felt with Kishore Kumar’s philosophical songs related to life – I have found nowhere else! It is really surprising to find that Kishore has proved his versatility in every type of songs he has given us.

Now let me list other top songs of Kishore Kumar. Neele neele ambar pe of Kalaakar, Kaate nahi katthe of Mr.India, Yeh jeevan hai of Piya ka ghar, Mein solah baras ka of Karz, Title song and Sun jaa of Haathi mere saathi, Title song of Kora Kaagaz, Mein pyasa tum savan of Faraar, Tum se badkar of Kamchor, Mere naseeb mein e dost of Do raasthe, Acha to hum and title song of Aan milo sajna, Waada to nifaya of Johny mera naam, Pal pal dil ke paas of Blackmail, Thoda hai thode ki jarurat hai of Khatta meeta, title song of Ulchan, Kaike paan and title song of Don, Ki pad gumguroo of Namak halal, Imthihaan ho gayi of Sharabi, Chookkar mere man ko, Chalte chalte title song, Tere jaisa yaar and Saara zamana of Yarana,  Pardesiya of Mr.Natwarlal, Ghunguru ki tarah and Le jayenge of Chor machaya shor, Rote hue aate hai sab, Salam e Ishq and Oh saathi re of Muquaddar ka sikander and Gore rang pe of Roti.

His plus points: Versatility, self experimenting and the sixth sense to connect with tastes of listeners. Nothing in this world can replace his powerful voice and unique style. I am no one to tell about the positives of this genius, whole India knows what Kishore da has given to us, just magic!

My favourite 10 songs of Kishoreda: It’s ridiculous to choose 5 best songs of Kishore da. It’s an impossible task to me. So, I am choosing my 10 favourite songs. Now also I need to think a lot. Pal pal dil ke pas of Black mail, Mere sapnon ki rani and Roop tera masthana of Aradhana, Title track of Agar tum na hote, Yeh jo mohabbat hai of Katti patang, Mere dil mein aaj of Daag, O mere dil ke chein of Mere jeevan saathi, Dilbar mere of Satte pe satha, Aanewala pal of Golmal, O saathi re of Muquaddar ka sikander and Kehna hai of Padosan. 

1. Mohammed Rafi

mohdRafiNow we have reached position no.1. Mohammed Rafi, fondly known as Rafi Saab is my most favourite male playback singer. I know well, a lot of people will also agree with me. But let me tell you, it doesn’t mean Kishore Kumar’s talent was not perfect. Just when I compared these two, though it’s foolishness for a person like me to compare the great two pillars that support the whole roof of Bollywood music I dared to attempt it. Both two singers are very close to my heart and Bollywood music is nothing without these two. For the knowledge of classical music only I placed Mohammed Rafi ahead of Kishore Kumar. Mohammed Rafi is often regarded as the most talented male playback singer of India and his contributions to Indian cinema is amazing!

He started his music journey during 1940’s in the black and white of Hindi cinema. Naushad played a significant role in nourishing the career of Rafi. Songs of Baiju Bawra given by Naushad was the turning point of Rafi Saab’s career. Later he became the favourite of every leading music director including Shankar Jaikishen, Roshan, S.D.Burman and O.P.Nayyar. Anonymously he was no.1 male playback singer of late 50’s and 60’s, followed by Mukesh. His downfall was witnessed in 1970 with the release of musical hit ‘Aradhana’ and was not able to reach the previous position though delivered many hit songs.

‘O duniya ke rakhwale’, ‘Tu ganga ki mauj mein’ and ‘Man tarpat’ of Baiju Bawra were fully based on Indian classical music and Rafi gave life to these three songs perfectly. Very soon he attained stardom and singer of top slot. Though Shankar Jaikishan used Mukesh and Manna Dey for singing Raj Kapoor’s songs, songs of other heroes were given to Mohd.Rafi. S.D.Burman’s favourite singer was Rafi only. That is the reason why he reserved all songs of Aradhana for Rafi! All the major hits of S.D.Burman were sung by none other than Mohd.Rafi.

Special mention is needed for songs sung by Rafi for Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Kumar. No doubt, Rafi’s voice suited these two actors most and both used to insist on Rafi’s voice for their playback singing. Association of Shankar Jaikishen and Mohd Rafi for Shammi Kapoor songs has given as a golden chapter of memorable songs that music lovers always wish to hear repeatedly. Now let me begin with memorable songs of Rajendra Kapoor sung by Mohd.rafi. Majority of its music is given by Shankar Jaikishen himself. E nargees e masthana, Ajee humse bachkar and Phoolon ki rani of Arzoo, Baharon phool barsao of Suraj, Yaad na aaye of Dil ek mandir, Jeevan mein piya tere saat rahe of Goonj utti Shehnai, Tum kamsim ho and O sanam tere ho gaye hum of Aayi Milan ki bela, Kaun hai jo sapnom mein aaya of Jhuk gaya aasman, Yeh mera prem pathr of Sangham, Tere pyare pyare of Sasural and title song of Mere Mehboob are the top memorable songs of Jubilee Kumar. In fact, Mohd Rafi gave his voice to all these songs.

Shammi Kapoor-Mohd Rafi combination needs special mention. Except a few movies, majority of Shammi’s movies belong to SJ compositions. Their success association began with Yahoo song of Junglee. But let me begin with O.P.Nayyar first. All songs of Kashmir Kali are just beautiful - songs like Chand ka roshan, Isharom, Haure hai, Subanalla, Kise na kise se, Kisko pyar, Deewana hua and Yeh Duniya belong to Rafi. In Ravi’s composition, Baar baar dekho of China town is a very special song. In Usha Khanna’s composition, title song and Yun to humne of Tumsa nahi dekha and In Kalyanji-Anandji composition, Govinda aala re of Bluff master belong to Mohd.Rafi. In R.D.Burman’s music, all songs of Teesri Manzil are just amazing – Tum ne mujhe, Oh mere sona re and Oh haseena.

But the grand list goes to Shankar Jaikishen only. From Junglee to Andaz, SJ has always chosen the best songs for both Shammi Kapoor and Mohd.Rafi. Let me mention a few. Chahe mujhe and Ehsaan hoga of Junglee, Batameez kaho of Batameez, E gulbadan and Laal chadi of Professor, Badan pe sitare of Prince, Aaj kal tere mere, Dil ke jaroke and Mein jao tum so of Brahmachari, Tumne pukara and Woh dekho mujhse rootkar of Raj Kumar, Tumse acha kaun hai and Meri mohabbat of Janwar, Tum mujhe yu of Pagla kahi ka, Title song, Deewane ka and Raat ke humsafar of An evening in Paris, kabhi humne nahi socha tha of Tumse acha kaun hai, Nazar bachake, Mujhe kitna pyar and Title track of Dil tera diwana and Hai na bolo of Andaz are the best.

He was the voice of Dev Anand too, particularly in the 60’s. Let me mention a few hit songs of this combination – Dil ke bhavar and title track of Tere ghar ke samne, Dil pukare of Jewel thief, Khoya khoya chand of Kaala Baazar, Acha jee mein of Kaala pani, Abhi na jao and Mein zindagi of Hum Dono and Tere mere sapne, Ka se kya ho gaya and Din dhal jaaye of Guide.

Apart from these songs, let me mention a few hit songs of Rafi belonging to other actors.  Let me include the songs before Aaradhana magic – Chaudwin ka chand title track, Choo lene do of Kajal, Tujhko pukare of Neel Kamal, Sau baar janam of Ustaadom ke ustaad, Aa gale lag jaa of April Fool, Aa ja re aa zara of Love in Tokyo, Chura liya hai of Yaadom ki baarat, Kar chale hum fida of Haqueeqat, Woh hai zara of Shagird, Aap ke pehloo mein aakar of Mera Saaya, Gar tum to yakein, Title song of Mere humdum mere dost, Mast baharom of Farz, Aaj purani of Aadmi, Salaamath rahe of Parasmany and Chahoonga mein tujhe of Dosthi. During 70’s and 80’s also, he has sung a few memorable songs like Kya hua tera wada of Hum kise se kum nahi, Kitna pyara wada of Caravan, Chura liya hai of Yaadom ki baarat, Meine poocha chand se of Abdulla, Tum jo mil gaye ho of Hasthe Zakhm, Dard e dil of Karz, Parda and title song of Amar Akbar Antony and Khilona title song.

His plus points: God gifted pleasant voice is his biggest plus point. Though he looks silent and a great classical singer who sings only slow songs, he proved it wrong with highly energetic songs of Shammi Kapoor. He has sung every type of song with perfectness and any word to define his versatility is something like foolishness. So, I leave it to reader’s choice.

My list of 10 favourites: I am really confused with the choice. Yet I have tried my level best to add my most favourites. Aa ja re aa zara of Love in Tokyo, Sau baar janam of Ustaadom ke ustaad, Tum jo mil gaye ho of Hasthe Zakhm, Tum ne mujhe dekha of Teesri Manzil, Dil ke jaroke mein of Brahmachari, Ehsaan tera of Junglee, Ajee humse bachkar of Arzoo, Woh hai zara of Shagird, Dil pukare of Jewel thief and Badan pe sitare of Prince.

These singers missed the list

I am extremely sorry that I couldn’t include these names in the list. Among the singers of golden era of music, I missed three great names – K.J. Saigal, Manna Dey and Mahendra Kapoor. In the medieval period, names of Yesudas and S.P.Bala Subramaniyam need special mention. Both these legends have won maximum awards in National singing category. As they have concentrated on South most, they have given fewer number of songs to Bollywood, yet so precious. Among the present generation singers two names I missed most are Udit Narayan and Rahet Fateh Ali Khan. Suresh Wadkar, Hariharan and Abhijeet are also great names. Hoping I haven’t missed any other big names to mention.

Read best female voices of Bollywood: http://www.boddunan.com/articles/entertainment/10-music/22544-top-5-female-voices-of-bollywood-all-time-%E2%80%93-my-countdown.html

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