Ten of my Favourite Meena Kumari Songs

31st March marks the death anniversary of  Mahjabeen Bano aka Meena Kumari aka the Tragedy Queen of Hindi Film Industry, who not only portrayed tragic roles in movies, but led a tragic life in real as well. With very fond memories, here is a list of songs through which she flirts, romances and cries—just, generally, keeps me glued to the screen admiring her but wondering about her fate at the same time.

1. Ajeeb daastaan hai yeh (Dil Apna Preet Parai, 1960) : This must be one of the most popular songs even till this day.  The picture of Meena Kumari singing this lovely number when she realizes that the man she loves is committed to someone else, is forever etched into my memory. And it has gorgeous Nadira in it too :-)

2. Koi pyaar ki dekhe jaadugari  (Kohinoor, 1960) : A romantic duet filled with excitement, thrill and magic of being in love where she lip-syncs with her Knight in Shining armour after he rescues her from the clutch of wicked Jeevan.

3. O raat ke musafir (Miss Mary, 1957) :  I saw her in a light-hearted role for the first time ever in this movie. For a change she’s showing attitude and not crying her heart out…and I personally feel that she’s enchanting in this avataar. Wish she had done more roles like this.

4. Koi bata de dil hai jahan (Main Chup Rahungi, 1962) : This is such a sweet, innocent and romantic song. As the name of the movie suggests, it’s weepy Meena again, but it had some wonderful songs – Koi bata de, Chaand jaane kahan kho gaya, Ae dil kabhi toh koi aayega. Apart from the story, which gets highly melo-dramatic at one point of time – but thankfully doesn’t get boring because of the child, this movie had such a strikingly good looking couple, amazing performance and like I said before, very melodious songs.

5. Chalte chalte yunhi koi (Pakeezah, 1972) : Though I like Yeh mausam hai aashiquana better, this song finds its place in this list because this is one of Meena’s signature songs. And apart from the songs and Meena’s performance in this movie, there’s one more thing that became very popular with this movie- Aap ke paon dekhe, bahut haseen hai. Inhe zameen par mat utariyega maile ho jayenge

In 1952, on the sets of one of her films, Meena Kumari fell in love with and married film director, Kamal Amrohi. Soon after marriage, Kamal Amrohi and Meena Kumari produced a film called Daera (1953), which was based on their love story. They also planned another film, Pakeezah. However, it took sixteen years (1956 to 1972) before Pakeezah reached the silver screen. (The scenes in Pakeezah’s popular song, Inhi logon ne, were originally filmed in black and white, and were later reshot in color.)
Initially, after its release in February 1972, Pakeezah opened to a lukewarm response from the public; however, after Meena Kumari’s death less than two months later, people flocked to see it, making it a major box-office success.

6. Na jao saiyaan (Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, 1962) : This is another signature song of hers. There’s actually a tie between this and Piya aiso jiya mein. The role of Chhoti Bahu, an alcoholic wife, is one of her best performances ever.

Upperstall wrote about her performance in Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam :

While each of the performances are spot on, if there is one person who is the heart and soul of the film, it is Meena Kumari. Her portrayal of Chhoti Bahu is perhaps the greatest performance ever seen on the Indian Screen. The sequence where Chhoti Bahu dresses for her husband singing Piya Aiso Jiya Main is a poignant exploration of a woman’s expectations and sexual desire. And later on when she has become a desperate alcoholic, you cannot help but cry with her in the sequence where she pleads with her husband to stay with her and then angrily turns on him to tell him how she has prostituted her basic values and morals to please him. However the common factors between the actress’s life and Chhoti Bahu are too dramatic to be merely coincidental – The estranged marital relationship, the taking of alcohol, turning towards younger male company, the craving to be understood and loved – all elements evident in Meena Kumari’s own life

7. Kabhi toh milegi (Aarti, 1962) : Its such a haunting melody! Lovely composition, inspiring lyrics, great voice and Meena’s screen presence – it has such a lingering effect, it just keeps playing in my mind over and over again long after I listen to it.

This song always reminds me of Rahe na rahe hum from Mamta and vice versa…saw somebody else’s comment on youtube stating the same. I’m feeling good to know that I have a company here.

8. O chaand jahan woh jaye (Sharada, 1957) : One of my favourite Lata-Aasha duets picturized on serious Meena and playful Shyama. Love their expressions…I find Shyama more dominating here, her lines and expressions are better. But since this also features Meena, I just needed an excuse to put this song here :-)

9. Tu ganga ki mauj main jamna ka dhara (Baiju Bawra, 1952) : Though she had done few movies as a child artist followed by some mythological movies, it was this film that gained her fame and established her as an actor.  When I had first seen this song during my school days, I almost couldn’t recognize her, she looked so young!

10. Rang aur noor ki baaraat (Gazal, 1964) : I couldn’t possibly end this post with everything happy and romantic and sweet…I had to include a number that had the sorrow factor and this tops my list! Though the song is in a male voice, Meena remains the primary focus throughout…one look at her – those eyes brimming with tears, all my heart goes out to her.

When Meena Kumari was born her family was going through a financial crisis. She was forced to act in movies at the age of 7 to support the family due to which she lost out on her carefree childhood days. Later in life she fell in love and got married to Kamal Amrohi, but that didn’t last for long and they got divorced which led her into a depression. She craved for love and care all her life and this is very evident in her poetry. She found solace in heavy drinking. Her health began deteriorating and at the age of 40 she died of liver cirrhosis.

May her soul rest in peace!!!!

I just realized that I have 2 songs referring to Chaand (O raat ke musafir, O chaand jahan woh jaaye) in my list already….and the other two with Meena-Chaand combo that come to my mind are : Chaand jaane kahan kho gaya, Ruk jaa raat theher jaa re chanda….any other songs you can think of?

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33 Responses to “Ten of my Favourite Meena Kumari Songs”

  1. Nasir Says:

    I was stunned! Stunned by your selection. It seemed that I was being introduced to those songs for the first time, though they had been in my head for all the time. The beauty of selection is that some very popular songs have been off-set with now forgotten ones but which dont deserve to be forgotten for their sheer melody, picturisation and drama. For example the Sharda song: O Chaand Jahaan voh jaayen…. beautifully composed by C.Ramchandra (I think). Then the later impact when Meena Kumari is fated to marry the father of her beau who also loves her and is forced to call her mother. Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh is undoubtedly the most popular and the music is so lively that one just wants to dance to the tune. A crowd puller when sung in a programme!

    Now what remains? The song that you mentioned Mere Dil Kabhi Toh Koi Aayegaa is lip-synched by Helen and this song mesmerises me for the dancing steps of Helen. The steps that she takes backwards and then forward. Not an apt description by me!

    Alternative favourites: 1. Radha Na Bole from Azad.
    2. Meri Jaa.n Meri Jaa.n from Yahudi.
    3. Mohe Bhool Gaye Sanwariyya from Baiju Bawra.
    4. Saanware Salone Aaye din bahaar ke – Ek Hi Raasta (duet).
    5. Aajaa ke intezaar mein from Halaku (duet)
    6. Doh Sitaaron Ka Milan – Kohinoor (duet)
    7. Mujhe Pyaar Ki Zindagi Dene Waale from Pyar Ka Sagar (duet)
    8. Krishna O Kaale Krishna – Main bhi ladki hoon.
    9. Ruk Jaa Raat Teher Jaa re chanda – Dil ek Mandir.
    10. Tera Khat leke sanam – Ardhangini.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thanks a lot! I had first heard O chaand jahan woh jaye on Vividh Bharathi in Chhaya Geet, didn’t even know which movie it was from or who it was picturized on. It was after almost two years that I heard it again and this time I learnt the name of the movie. I wanted to review the film this week but was busy at work…will try it over the weekend.
      Helen’s moves are truly awesome. I adore her soooooooooo much!!!
      I love your list but haven’t seen all these movies yet (except for Baiju Bawra, Kohinoor, Pyaar Ka Saagar and Dil Ek Mandir). Hopefully I get to watch them before 1st Aug, that way I’ll get to include all these songs in her birth anniversary list :-)

      • Nasir Says:

        Pleasure is mine!

        Meena Kumar has donned the makeup of a Mongolian in Halaku. So that’s a different Meena Kumari there. Of course, the main role belongs to Pran, just as the main role in Changez Khan belonged to Shaikh Mukhtar. I loved her in Mere Apne, probably her last movie.

        I wished I had seen her Foothpath with Dilip Kumar. I have seen her Memsaab but don’t remember a thing except for a KK song Dil Dil Se Milaa Kar Dekho.

      • sunheriyaadein Says:

        I have seen her look in the songs from Halaku. She looks cute as a Mangolian. Mere Apne is a nice movie, one of its kind.

        I haven’t seen both Footpath and Memsahib yet but have ordered for them.

  2. bollyviewer Says:

    I second everything Nasir has said – love your list and love that you’ve included some less than famous songs of hers too. She lip-synced to a ton of lovely songs, but for me, her own shaayri recitals are even better. I first heard her recite in the film Benazir and loved it so much that I went looking for more. There’s a wonderful series of her recordings released as I write I recite – she recites her own poems to Khayyam’s music.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thanks :-) It was a pleasure doing this post and felt so good to realize once again that she has lots of fun-filled romantic numbers to her credit (we usually think of the likes of Pakeezah and Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam the moment we hear Meena Kumari’s name).
      I love her shaayri too…had first heard them on radio. Thanks so much for that link. I haven’t seen Benazir yet but if she has recited in it, then I’m buying the film for sure.

  3. dustedoff Says:

    Oh, I love both lists – yours and Nasir’s! Lovely songs, each one of them. And Saanwre salone aaye din bahaar ke is an all-time favourite of mine! Other Meena Kumari songs I really, really like are the haunting Koi door se aawaaz de chale aao from Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam, and Thaare rahiyo o baanke yaar from Pakeezah. Come to think of it, just about any song from Pakeezah – that film had superb music.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      I’m glad you liked them. And I’m happy that I did this post now, I’ll get to include the songs that Nasir and you have listed above for her Birth Anniversary post.
      True…Pakeezah had superb music and even Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam had nice songs – be it Na jao sainyaan, Koi door se aawaaz de, Bhanwara bada nadaan hai or Piya aiso jiya mein

      • Nasir Says:

        Yes, Pakeezah has excellent music sunheriyaadein. However, the pity is that Ghulam Mohammed did not get his rightful dues.

        I remember my friend telling me that when RDB and AB were discussing Umrao Jaan’s music at breakfast and he overhead the praising of music. Not that the music is not good, but my friend couldn’t restrain himself by telling them that Pakeezah had better musical compositions, especially the rhythm. They couldn’t contradict him!

  4. Richard S. Says:

    I also love just about everything on your list, and also at least a few from Nasir’s list (though I’ll have to check out some others, which I don’t quite recognize).

    I could really go along with listing just about every song Meena was in from Baiju Bawra, Kohinoor, Pakeezah, and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.

    But I think my own favorites list would also have to include “Gore Gore Haathon Mein Mehandi” from Parineeta and “Tunhe Preet Na Nibhai” from Madhosh.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      I totally agree to you on – I could really go along with listing just about every song Meena was in from Baiju Bawra, Kohinoor, Pakeezah, and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.
      I haven’t seen Parineeta and Madhosh but yes those songs are lovely.

  5. Nasir Says:

    Richard, I don’t recollect Tuune Preet na nibhai from Madhosh which had some excellent Talat Mehmood numbers.

    I don’t know why, but I never liked Parineeta though that movie was a Golden Jubilee Hit. Maybe I was too young to understand it then.

    By the discussions here and elsewhere, it’s so heartening to know that memories of those old movies, the actors, the music, and the era have not faded -thanks to the younger generations of movie buffs.

  6. harvey Says:

    Beautiful list!

  7. Ava Says:

    I think Inhi logon ne from Pakeezah is just amazing. In fact, anything from Pakeezah, just like Dustedoff says. I would like to add Dil Jo na Keh saka from Bheegi Raat to this list.

    Lovely list Sunehriyaadein.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thanks for dropping by Ava. Yes, all the songs from Pakeezah are lovely. I haven’t seen Bheegi Raat yet but had heard the story on Bioscope Ki Baatein on Vividh Bharati almost a decade ago. Hopefully I will get to watch more movies of hers by her Birth Anniversary.

  8. bollywoodeewana Says:

    Wonderful List SunehriYaadein you have a great knack of compiling songs, like Ava i can never get tired of ‘Inhi Logon ne’ from Pakeezah i find those dance moves amazing and i’ve very often tried to recreate them, if you watch closely there’s elements of Kung fu in that dance. Your list reminds me how i need to get my hands on lots of Meena’s old movies, Moserbaer have a great collector’s set

    http://www.moserbaerhomevideo.com/title-view.htm?titleid=6202

    but i promised myself not to by anymore till i finish watching all the ones i own. Lastl;y one of my favourite Meena songs is ‘Hum Intezar Karenge’ from Bahu Begum

  9. Nasir Says:

    @sunheriyaadein: Memsahib should be interesting at least for the reason that Shammi Kapoor acts as a villain if I remember correctly. KK’s song Dil Dil Se Milaakar Dekho was, I believe, a take on the English number: Let’s Play the Game of Love.

    Footpath was sort of a different type of movie, maybe where Dilip Kumar has a shade of grey. It’s now more known for Khayyam’s music since he had for the first time come out with this name by giving up the name of Sharmaji-Varmaji that he used in the begining.

    Halaku, as you know, had lively SJ’S compositions such as Dil Ka Na Karna Aitbaar Koi, Aajaa Ke Intizaar Mein, etc.

  10. Anvar Says:

    One song, whose words reflect everyone’s conscious and will live forever in our mind is from the movie Kaajal *ing Meena Kumar, Raj Kumar and Dharmender.
    The song is broadcast at the beginning of the movie with the credit titles and at the end, when Raj Kumar tries to run away from a crime scene.
    The wordings are as follows:-

    `Tora Man Darpan KehlayeToraa mann darpan kehalaye
    bhale, bure saare, karamon ko dekhe aaur dikhaaye

    man hee dewataa, man hee eeshwar
    man se badaa naa koee
    man ujiyaaraa, jab jab faile
    jag ujiyaaraa hoye
    is ujale darpan par praanee, dhool naa jamane paaye

    sukh kee kaliyaan, dukh ke kaante
    man sab kaa aadhaar
    man se koee, baat chhoope naa
    man ke nain hajaar
    jag se chaahe bhaag le koee, man se bhaag naa paaye.’

    It will be relevent forever.

  11. Sharmi Says:

    Hi again,
    You know I just love Meena Kumari. She is such an intense performer (in all kinds of roles). In Kohinoor, I just love her dance song, Dil mein baji pyaar ki shehnayiya. In Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam I loooove Piya Aiso jiya. I think she had the most beautiful eyes (Gawd how stunning she looked in Chaltey chaltey andf Thare rahiyo)!! Alas, her’s was a sad ending!! Great post!!!

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      I love Meena too….though most of her movies are tragic, I like her as an actress and find her very beautiful. And she looked amazing in Kohinoor. Pakeezah is another movie with such lovely songs. She has lots of beautiful songs picturized on her.

  12. tanu Says:

    i loved ur collection.U did a gud job these r my favourite songs thanx for providing this list of melodius sngs

  13. Al Gorton Says:

    I first herd Meena Kumari when I was posted to Malaya (Malaysia) 1961 as a young soldier, British. A friend and I went to see a film, I was so enchanted with her singing I asked him’ who was that singing? it has stayed with me all my life, from time to time I go to Youtube and re live the wonderful voice I fell in love with all those years ago. I cannot understand anything’ but, I don’t need to the voice tells me all I want to know.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      That’s so sweet! Do you remember which movie it was that you had gone for? She was a great actress. Very beautiful and very talented. It’s very sad that she had a tragic life in real.

      • Al Gorton Says:

        Hi Sunheriyaadein, So long since Iv’e been here, Sadly no its so long ago I remember her opposite was Dev Annan, may have got that spelling wrong sorry.

  14. ajay Says:

    I just happened to step on to this page while I was searching for one of her songs’ details …
    But I would agree that if I had not come in here I would have missed something BIG…
    It is indeed a fantastic page oh the great actress and also the collection of songs is fabulous… almost 90% of the songs are my favorite, too.
    Well, the song I was searching for is – ‘hum tere pyar mein saara alam kho baithe hain’ from the movie ‘Dil Ek Mandir.
    I would like to thank you for your efforts …
    Old is seriously Gold :-)
    cheers!

  15. sarah Says:

    Thanks for such beautiful job and beautiful songs on Meenaji
    Hope this year on 31 March 2012 you will present another sunheriyaadein on my favourite and talented actress

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      Thanks, Sarah! March went even before I eralized it. I’ve been ignoring my blog for a very long time. Lots of other things keeping me engaged the whole time. I intend to get back here regularly but dont know how long I’ll be able to do that. Will still try my best. Hopefully, I”ll have something in August for her Birth Anniversary

      • sarah Says:

        Tks for your reply. So nice of you to think about Meenaji’s Birth Anniversary which is 1 August. Will wait for the day.

    • sunheriyaadein Says:

      That’s very encouraging, thanks! I will get back to blogging soon now.

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