1. Kanha bole na puchoo baar baar kanha bole na(Sangat): In her illustrious career Lata Mangeshkar has sung numerous Krishna bhajans of impeccable quality. This one remains the most underrated, the most neglected and the most unworthy candidate for anonymity among all the Krishna bhajans that have ever been composed for Hindi cinema . The composer was the great Salil Chowdhary and the film was an unreleased Sangat featuring a lifeless newcomer who lip-synced Lataji’s luminous voice as if humming in the bathroom. Kanha bole na is one of Salil Chowdhary greatest compositions with Lataji soaring to heights of expressiveness as she describes Radha’s stolen moments with her precious Kanha. The inimitable Manna Dey accompanies Lataji. He clearly know this is Radha’s day out.This criminally neglected masterpiece deserved a better place.
2. Kanha re kanha tu ne laakhon raas rachaye(Truck Driver): How on earth could a Krishna bhajan as beautiful as this be a part of a film titled Truck Driver?! During those days(the 1970s) of musical harvesting even the sleaziest of film would reap the benefits of immortal melodies. And this one is a beauty, a jewel in the croon for Lataji’s Krishna bhajans which I place much higher than her far more popular Yashomati maiyaa se bole nandlala(Satyam Shivum Sunderam) and Bada natkhat hai re Krishna kanhaiya(Amar Prem). Composers Sonik-Omi never got their due.Listen into this peerless Bhajana and you will wonder why they were so neglected.
3. Madhuban mein radhika naache re(Kohinoor): Every time I hear the great Mohd Rafi sing this ode to Radha as she dances to her Girdhar’s flute my heart dances. And to think the lyricist(Shakeel Badayuni), the composer(Naushad), the singer(Rafi) and actor on screen singing the song(Dilip Kumar) were all Muslim. No truer and more melodious emblem of India’s secularism!
4. Badi der bhaye nandlala teri raah take brijwala(Khandaan): The divine euphoria of Janma Asthami as Krishna Bhakts sing chant and dance waiting for the birth of Krishna… captured with captivating grace in Mohd Rafi’s voice in this evergreen ode to the Murli Manohar composed by Ravi Sharma. Sunil Dutt who lip-synced this Krishna favourite on screen, counted it among the most favourite songs of his career.
5. Mujhko bhi radha banale nandalal(Ankahee): Asha Bhosle touches sublime chords in this exquisite Krishna Bhajan composed by the great Jaidev. There is an aching longing for completeness as the woman in the song pines to be the Radha in her Krishna’s life. The articulate erotic words by the legendary poet Balkavi Bairagi amply punctuate the sense of longing. Ms Bhosle’s voice has seldom been in a better form.She had another extraordinary Krishna Bhajan Kauno thagva nagariya lutal ho in Ankahee.Choosing between the two is like choosing between Radha and Meera. Let the sound of the flute float.