With ‘Sonata‘ coming up for release in a few days that explores a rare genre of female bonding in Hindi cinema, it got me excited to explore how has this genre shaped up in the past years through cinema.. Come to think of it, forget cinema centered around female bonding, even good and impactful female duets have been few and far in between, although Bollywood is blessed with the two of the most enchanting voices ever in the two legendary sisters!
So given that it is a relatively rare genre, here are my favorite picks of the best female duets and in no particular order… (And I did not want the space to get crowded with the likes of relatively mediocre ‘Hastaa huya noorani chehra’, ‘Mere mehboob me kya nahi’, ‘Humre gaon koi aayega’, ‘Reshmi shalwar’ or the more recent ‘Dola re’ and their likes, which may be popular but not impactful to my musical sensibilities!)
1. MAN KYON BEHEKA (Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Utsav, 1984) – What a gem of a song and how beautifully rendered by the fantastic sisters! An amazing example of how music can bring in so much serenity and peace to fairly sensuous intonations.. Some great leverage of different voice textures between the sisters.. And yes, Asha clearly scores significantly over Lata on this one by adding so much more feel and emotions to her parts of the song, although rendering the voice for the second fiddle.. One song that has played in loop for hours on my playlist so many times..
2. JAANU JAANU RI (Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhosle, S D Burman, Insaan Jaag Utha, 1959) – A very ‘happy’ duet with all elements of classic SD Burman composition, with an awesome capture of friendly emotions and free spirit through the evocative tonal quality of both the voices, helping to further build the chemistry and tinkering between two friends.. How I wish this pair was leveraged far more heavily to create such refreshing evergreen duets..
3. NA MAIN DHAN CHAHOON (Geeta Dutt and Sudha Malhotra, S D Burman, Kaala Bazaar, 1960) – Another SD Burman classic, but with a completely different mood and feel that indeed evokes the intended divinity.. And Sudha Malhotra does a brilliant job matching up note by note to the impeccable Geeta Dutt.. Just love the song! Another one of the play in loop songs!
4. HUM TO AISE HAIN BHAIYYA (Sunidhi Chauhan and Shreya Ghoshal, Shantanu Moitra, Laga Chunri me Daag, 2007) – I know this selection may not have the approval of many, but somehow this song has stayed with me from the first time I heard it! Its spunky nature just brightens me up even from the worst of my moods! Here again, the composer brilliantly uses the different voice textures of Sunidhi and Shreya to create a vibrant canvas.. Refreshing!
5. DULHAN MAIKE CHALI (Sisters Lata, Asha, Usha and chorus, R D Burman, Manoranjan, 1974) – A brilliant song from a disastrous movie! And one of those rare ones that has not two but three of the Mangeshkar sisters coming together and creating a blast of harmony! This is vintage Pancham at his western best with a composition that brings in surprise with every twist and turn! What brilliant use of the gifted voices to create that happy go lucky camaraderie on screen! And yet again the brilliance of Asha Bhosle stands distinctively tall and well differentiated in this one too… This one’s really got a zing to it!
Would you want to share your favorites from this genre of female duets? Or have a thought on the above list? Musically looking forward….