Happy birthday, Naushad!
While I have gotten to like other music directors from the ’40s more and more, I would still say that Naushad was the greatest from the ’40s as well as the ’50s. A large part of the reason that I love his music so much is that he brought out the best vocal performances from several of my favorite singers, including Noor Jehan, Suraiya, Surendra, Mohammed Rafi, and Shanshad Begum. But Naushad also composed music for some instrumental dance numbers, and they are positively delightful, even though they might not be as well known as his vocal songs. So, this time around, for Naushad’s birthday, I thought I’d do something a little different and bring a bunch of these together. (By the way, the post that you are seeing now is a slightly revised version of the one that originally appeared here. Some clips were replaced and I changed a couple of introductions too. I’ve made a note in the places where I made those changes. I was told that this post was pretty good before; I like to think that now – after I have revised it several years later – it is even better. :) )
1. Cuckoo in Anokhi Ada — Actually, I am very glad to start with Cuckoo, because I could not take my mind off her after the last post. And this dance here is quite a treat. In fact, I am pretty sure that someone mentioned this as being one of her better-known, breakthrough dances, but if I am wrong about that, let’s say that it definitely deserves to be.
2. The snake dance from Dastan — I actually posted this to my own YouTube channel about five years ago, although it, like every other video that I posted there, was originally prepared by Tom Daniel and posted to one of his sites at some time or other. But back when Tom sent me this video, neither of us could identify the dancers. I figured out at some point that the male dancer was probably Krishna Kumar, who also choreographed the dance. This was confirmed in a comment to my post very recently. But neither Tom nor I nor anyone else seemed to think at first that the other dancer might be Cuckoo, which is what the recent comment poster also said. And that makes sense… I still find it difficult to recognize her face here in this lighting, etc., but if that’s not Cuckoo, then who else could it be? And if it is, then why wasn’t she billed for this film in any of the listings that I saw? Anyway, it is a terrific dance.
3. The festival dance in Mela — Naushad composed music for a few group festival dances, and this is one of the very best. It also makes for one of the few cheery moments in a relentlessly depressing film.
4. Cuckoo in Aan – There she is again! Since it is Aan, though, everything seems a bit sillier here than in the other films that I have mentioned. But it is good, of course. (By the way, I have had to edit this description because of more things received from Mel. In the comments, you’ll see Mel pointing out that, contrary to what I had said before, this was not Cuckoo’s only dance in color. Also, as with some other clips, I had complained about the quality of the one I had up – but now I can’t do that, because he posted a better version!)
5. The “Blind Man’s Bluff” dance in Dillagi – They are playing Blind Man’s Bluff, but most of them are also dancing. The village girl gang did some other, very nice dancing elsewhere in this movie, but I think that this was the only instrumental dance number. Of course, this film was also full of wonderful songs sung by the star of this scene, Suraiya.
6. Sitara Devi’s dance in Mother India – This is a very short dance and it leads into the first song, but I definitely would consider it a separate dance, and I also might consider it the most important part of the movie, given the great performance by Sitara Devi. Unfortunately, I think the video is also cut off a moment early, and it is not of the best quality, either. But it is still soo great to watch!
7. Geeta Bali’s gypsy dance in Dulari – In my original version of this post, I combined this with a “festival dance” from this film as well – because I had found them together. But now (as I revise this post several years later – because the clip that was here before disappeared), I see that the solo dance by Geeta Bali is available separately (while the festival dance is nowhere to be found!). So here it is! It is quite lively, especially with the snippets of action interspersed within it.
8. And for the final number here, I am able to include a dance that I could not find to embed in the original version of this post. Originally, I had merely included a screen cap as a bonus. But now I can supply the whole dance – that is, Suraiya’s lovely little semi-classical dance at the miserable wedding in Anmol Ghadi. You might say that this is last but far from least. I am very happy to be able to end the post in this way!