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.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to find separate, isolated videos for all the dance scenes that i thought about, and that is why this list gets a little strange at the end. But I didn’t want to omit anything, because all of these are so good! So, here we go (in no particular order except, mostly, when they came to mind)…
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. The festival group dance from Dulari and 8. Geeta Bali’s gypsy dance in the same film – Here’s where I had to sort of cheat a little, because I could not find a separate clip for Geeta Bali’s dance, but I did find a longer clip that included it with the group dance. The group dance is at the beginning and Geeta Bali’s instrumental dance is at the end (starting at about 11;05). There are also two songs in between, one of which stars Madhubala, whose face we see before the video starts. For the purposes of this post, those songs don’t count, though, of course, everyone is free to enjoy them, too.
I had hoped to include another instrumental dance video, but I guess it’s been taken down. I did have a nice still from it, though, so let’s close with that: a pic from Suraiya’s lovely little semi-classical dance at the miserable wedding in Anmol Ghadi: