The happening pair of Nargis-Raj Kapoor fetched Messrs Shanker-Jaikishan their first-and-last genuinely earned Filmfare Best Music Award - for Chori Chori in 1956. A Chori Chori.. seeing SJ compulsively having to go without Mukesh on Raj.
This opened a lifetime's opportunity for Manna Dey. Whether it be Shanker's Yeh raat bheegee bheegee or Jaikishan's Aa jaa sanam, Manna never sounded so fluidly romantic on Raj - opposite Lata on Nargis.
Winner takes all
The Binaca Geetmala competition, as Shanker then emphatically told Ameen Sayani, was euphoniously between his own Yeh raat and Jai's Aa jaa sanam. Not so much between Shanker's Jahaan main jaatee hoon and Jai's Panchchee banoon udtee phiroon.
But Ameen played Geetmala favourites here by according pride of place to Jai's Raag Pahadi-based Panchchee banoon on Nargis – a duet in which Manna intriguingly chipped in with just Gilloree! This is what set the tone for Shanker, ultimately, to challenge Binaca Geetmala's credentials.
Clearly Shanker's pathbreaking Jahaan main jaatee hoon, as compared to Jai's Panchchee banoon, was the superior duet with its Czech-puppeteering folk-motif. But Shanker identified Jahaan main as Punjabi folk!
Likewise Punjabi folk in spirit was Jai's O tamkaa timbaa timbaa, so well-crafted for Lata in Raag Gaara.
Staying with Chori Chori, which lighter number do you prefer - Lata-Rafi's Tum arabon kaa her fer (on Raja Sulochana and Bhagwan), as tuned by Shanker, or Rafi's All line clear on Johnny Walker - as composed by Jai?
If it's for Jai you always go, Chori Chori plump, straightaway, for this composer's Rasik balamaa, in all-time Shudhdh Kalyan, as it unfolded on Nargis. This was the Chori Chori classic that Jaikishan so wanted his heart-throb Lata personally to render at the Filmfare Awards ceremony.
When Lata refused, on the ground that there was no Filmfare Best Singer award forthcoming yet, some lovers' tiff there was! It was Shanker who smoothed ruffled feathers by noting that Lata had an award point to press.
In Chori Chori, the same Shanker had Lata and Asha collaborating, tellingly, on Manbhaavan ke ghar jaaye goree, going on the Apalam chapalam pair of Sai-Subbulaxmi.
Yet Shanker's Manbhaavan ke ghar couldn't make even a fraction of the impression C Ramchandra had left, on the electric-heeled Sai-Subbulaxmi, with Lata-Usha Mangeshkar's Apalam chapalam and O baliye o baliye in Sriramulu Naidu's Azaad.
For all that, O P Nayyar's C.I.D. (Shakila, Dev Anand) lost out to SJ's Chori Chori (Nargis-Raj Kapoor) in the 1956 Filmfare Awards.
Chori Chori is the film with which SJ's musical sway began. Or so we felt – until OP Nayyar robustly materialised to lift the 1957 Filmfare Best Music Award for heralding, with the good old Punjabi beat, a Naya Daur in Hindustani cinema.