The long forgotten horse-tapping film music

Sudhirendar Sharma

Need it be said that everything in nature pulsates with a rhythm. Be it swirling sea waves; swinging green branches; or chirping bush crickets, there is rhythm all across. In fact, the evolution of music has much to do with these organic rhythms. Music based on natural rhythms is full of much-needed elixir of life.

Much before the modern-day experimentation with instruments, composers drew inspiration from natural sounds. ‘Horse tapping’ – tik-tak – was commonly used to back up musical scores, creating some kind of lived experience. Not sure who introduced it first but there are any number of ‘horse tapping’ songs – from Sahir Ludhianvi’s माँग के साथ तुम्हारा मैंने, मांग लिया संसार (Film: Naya Daur, 1957) to Qamar Jalabadi’s चल मेरे घोड़े (Film: Nishchaiy, 1991). What is common across these near four decades of horse-tapping musical experience is that O.P. Nayyar excelled in using the natural rhythm to perfection in film music. 

So popular were such tik-tak songs that there were as many as 38 of these in the 1950s, 24 in the 1960s, and then a steady decline. I think it had to do with how we related to horses or horse-cart or tonga in real life. While कोई हसीना जब रूठ जाती है (Film: Sholay, 1975) gained popularity, एलो जी सनम हम आ गए  (Film: Andaz Apna Apna, 1994) did not appeal as much though it had Nayyar effect in the composition. 

Nayyar and Sahir teamed up to create यूँ तो हमने लाख हंसीं देखे हैं (Film: Tumsa Nahi Dekha, 1957) for a hummable composition. I am also reminded of two other tik-tak compositions – ज़रा हौले-हौले चलो मोरे साजना (Film: Sawan Ki Ghata, 1966), and बन्दा परवर थाम लो जिगर बन के प्यार फिर आया हूँ (Film: Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon, 1963). Incidentally, both of these are Nayyar’s compositions. His tik-tak footprints to too many to recount.

However, I bring to your notice a memorable tik-tak tonga song composed by Usha Khanna, an exception to the male dominated world of film music. The song चाँद को क्या मालूम चाहता हैं उसे कोई चकोर (Film: Lal Bangla, 1966) may not be familiar to many, but I carry a nostalgic memory of it. It was shot in and around Palampur (Himachal) where I spent a decade of my formative years) by a little known filmmaker Jugal Kishore (who sings the song on screen) who toiled hard to make a mark in Bollywood. Tonga songs were in vogue then, and this one is a memorable one by Mukesh…..Sudhirendar.

Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
7 Triveni, A6 Paschim Vihar
New Delhi 110063, India 
09868384744 : 91-11-47070392


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