By Sharada Iyer
This post is a walk down memory lane to visit some songs belonging to a unique category in our films, which can be referred to as- ‘Twin Dances’. The dance sequences usually involved two or more female dancers performing more or less the same dance-movements side-by-side in unison.
This trend not only gave us some very melodious numbers but visually also it was a treat to watch the perfectly synchronized dance steps of the artistes involved. One cannot help but salute the makers who came up with such an idea, the lyricists who wrote those lovely lyrics, the music composers who gave us priceless compositions, the dance directors for the enjoyable choreography and finally the dancers themselves for putting so much life into their dances…
It was in the fifties and sixties that ‘Twin Dancing’ numbers became very popular. Apart from bringing together the singing giants Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle in many of these priceless numbers we also had the good fortune of listening to some unique combinations like Lata -Minoo Purushottam, Lata-Geeta Dutt, Asha-Usha, Asha-Shamshad Begum,etc.
It is not possible to list all such dances in one blog. However, I have tried to include many of the important ones and some for their unique aspects.
In 1955 came a film Azaad starring Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari. It was a remake of the 1954 Tamil film Malaikallan. The Tamil version had a synchronised dance number by two sisters, Sai and Subbulakshmi which became very popular and the makers may have decided to retain the dancing sisters in the Hindi version also. They were very popular for their sheer exuberance, expression, speed, precision, body control, grace and effortlessness. They danced in perfect synchronization and seemed to merge effortlessly with the song and were referred to as ‘pambara sahodarigal’ or ‘spinning-top’ sisters.
Though they started in Tamil films, they have a string of hit songs in Hindi films as well. The famous songs ‘Aplam Chaplam …’ and ‘Balliye Ni Balliye…’, both from Azaad featured the dancing duo for the first time in Hindi films. While the first song has them dressed similarly, in the second song, one of them is dressed as a male and the other a female. As far as melody is concerned, these songs composed by maestro C Ramchandra and sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle remain unbeatable till date in this genre. Enjoy both these numbers:
In 1956, the duo were back again, this time dancing to a classic Lata-Asha number from Chori-Chori -‘Man Bhavan Ke Sang Jaaye Gori…’. The song is picturised during the wedding sequence of Nargis when she is thinking of Raj Kapoor but getting ready to marry Pran.
The 1956 film Halaaku starring Ajit, Pran and Meena Kumari had a lovely number again by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle, ‘Aji Chale Aao…’, this time picturised on Helen and Minoo Mumtaz. Lyrics by Shailendra are set to tune by Shankar Jaikishen.
In the 1958 costume drama Yahudi directed by Bimal Roy, Geeta Dutt joins Lata Mangeshkar to sing the lovely number ‘Bechain Dil Khoi Si Nazar…’ picturized on the two dancing divas of our film industry – Cuckoo and Helen. The two of them look great together and dance with perfect understanding to make this Shailendra-Shankar Jaikishen song a memorable one.
The two dancing divas get together again in the 1958 laugh-riot Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. This time they dance to a lovely mujra ‘Hum Tumhare Hain…’ displaying their prowess in Kathak . The song is written by Majrooh Sultanpuri, composed by S D Burman and sung by a unique combination of AshaBhonsle and Sudha Malhotra.
Here is a song in this category shot outdoors for a change and this beautiful number sung by Lata and Asha is from Shammi Kapoor’s hit film in 1962-Professor. Shot in the picturesque backdrop of Kashmir, it has the heroine Kalpana and a starlet Praveen Chaudhary dancing joyfully to the song, ‘Koi Aayega Aayega Aayega…’, composed by Shankar Jaikishen and written by Hasrat Jaipuri.
If the 1963 costume drama Shikari is still remembered today it is because of the immortal music and memorable songs composed by G S Kohli, an unsung composer of our industry. The scintillating choreography and the energetic and effortless dancing by Helen and Ragini in the number ‘Tumko Piya , Dil Diya…’ makes it one of the all-time best dance songs of Hindi Cinema.
The same film Shikari had another beautiful composition by G S Kohli sung by Asha Bhonsle and Usha Mangeshkar and picturized on Madhumati and an unknown dancer. Though the dance is not as energetic as the more popular Helen-Ragini number, this song has a charm of its own.
Another film in 1963 which had a popular ‘twin dance’ number was the super-hit Parasmani. Written by Asad Bhopali, the musical duo of Laxmikant Pyarelal came up with a fast-paced and catchy number ‘Hansta Hua Noorani Chehra…’ sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kamal Barot. Picturized on two unknown dancers, the song remains a veritable treat to watch even today . Incidentally, “Parasmani” was the first released movie for music directors Laxmikant Pyarelal and proved to be very lucky for them.
In 1963, Sai-Subbulakshmi had another fabulous dance number in Bharosa, ‘Dhadka O Dil Dhadka…’set to a superb composition by Ravi and sung once again by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle
Chitralekha in 1964 had a unique number. While the heroine Meena Kumari is sitting in her special quarters and playfully singing to her lover Pradeep Kumar sitting next to her, there are four dancers-two sets of ‘Twin Dancers’- who are dancing in the background and the effect is beautiful The lilting composition ‘Ae Ri Jaane Na Doongi…’ penned by Sahir Ludhyanavi and set to music by Roshan is sung by Lataji.
In 1964 we had another superb musical film Jahanara which had a ‘Twin Damce’ number- ‘Jab Jab Tumhe Bhulaya Tum Aur Yaad Aaye…’. Penned by Rajendra Kishen the music was by Madan Mohan. Sung by Lata and Asha this was picturized on a grand scale in the court of Empress Jahanara played by Mala Sinha. The dancers were Minoo Mumtaz and a very young Aruna Irani.
Here is a unique dance in this category. This song ‘Jab do dil ho bechain natija pyar nikalta hai…’ is from the 1966 film Akalmand directed by Roop Shorey and has Kishore Kumar and I S Johar dressed up as women and actually doing a synchronized dance number!!! The song composed by O P Nayyar is sung by Asha Bhonsle and Shamshad Begum. Only Kishore Kumar is capable of pulling off a stunt like this and actually have Ashaji sing for him. Though the video quality is not very good, it is a must-watch for all Kishore Kumar fans…
1966 had another Lata- Asha gem this time from the film Dulhan Ek Raat Ki and picturised on Helen and Lakshmi Chaya- ‘Hamaar Kaha Maano,Rajaji…’ . Written by Raja Mehndi Ali Khan the music here is by Madan Mohan.
‘Huzurewaala, jo ho ijaazat, toh hum yeh saare jahan se keh de…’ is another brilliant song composed by O P Nayyar in 1967 for the film Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi . Here Helen is joined by her look-alike Madhumati and for a change the song is set in a club that gives a chance for the dancers to wear western outfit and the viewers get to enjoy a completely different kind of dance. The beginning tune of this song is superb and Asha Bhonsle’ s vocals have a haunting quality in this song…
O P Nayyar created magic again in the 1967 film CID 909 for a song penned by Aziz Kashmiri. The song ‘Dhadka Toh Hoga Dil Zaroor…’ is sung by Asha Bhonsle and Kamal Barot and picturized on Mumtaz and a dancer Meenaxi. They are joined for a stanza by Feroz Khan. Here the ‘Twin’dancers are joined by a third dancer for a while.
This is a song from the 1972 Rajesh Khanna-Sadhna starrer Dil Daulat Duniya which had Sadhna, Helen and Bela Bose teaming together to give us this catchy number ‘Deep Jale Dekho…’.Written by Verma Malik and composed by Shankar Jaikishen the song is sung by Asha Bhonsle, Usha Mangeshkar and Rekha Jaikar.
In 1973, came a gem of a song form the film Daag, the first film under the Yash-Raj banner. Written by Sahir and set to tune by ever dependable duo of Laxmikant-Pyarelal the song is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Minoo Purushottam. This ‘twin dance’ like the one in Professor, is a rare number as it is shot outdoors. Some energetic dancing by Padma Khanna and an unknown dancer make this song unique and memorable.
After a long gap, in 1989 came the super-hit film Tridev which had a scintillating number – ‘Gajar ne kiya hai Ishaara…’ and was picturized on all three heroines- Madhuri Dixit, Sonam and Sangeeta Bijlani. The song was a big hit and the fast-paced choreography remains a treat to watch even today. The music is by Kalyanji-Anandji –Viju Shah and sung by Sadhna Sargam, Sapna Muukherjee and Alka Yagnik. This is again a rare instance of a synchronized dance number in a climax sequence…
In 2002, director Sanjay Leela Bansali got Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai for a fabulous dance number in Devdas. Written by Nusrat Badr and composed by Ismail Durbar the song-‘Dola Re, Dola Re…’ picturised on a lavish scale and having lots of background dancers as well, formed a major highlight of the film.
If rumours are to be believed, Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) has done it again after 13 years. In his upcoming magnum opus Bajirao Mastani expected to be released on 18th December 2015, a special ‘Lavani’ dance number with a mix of folk and classical dance is being picturized on both the heroines Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. Both the actresses are putting in tremendous hard work and long hours of practice to come up with perfect synchronisation.
SLB needs to be lauded for this effort and knowing the director’s penchant for majestic song sequences involving grandiose sets, colourful costumes and foot-tapping music this song is sure to be a winner.
Today’s films do not offer much scope for different genres of music like ‘Lori’ (lullaby), ‘Bhajan’ (prayer), qawwaali (a special type of group number), etc. But we do have ‘Item Number’. At least once in a while our film-makers can think of including a ‘Twin Dancing’ ‘Item Number’ with well-choreographed dances instead of the vulgar ones in vogue and have them picturized on top actresses. Not only would this be a novel idea, it would also bring together some of current lot of top singers and top stars.
At least this way this genre could be kept alive otherwise it seems to be on the brink of extinction…