I have discussed music directors in Binaca geetmala finals and then I discussed lyricists in Binaca geetmala finals. To complete the discussion, Now I present the analysis of various singers who have figured in Binaca geetmala finals. As in case of Music directors and Lyricists, I have considered the period when Binaca geetmala was a one hour countdown programme on Radio Ceylon, viz the period from 1954 to 1987.
Just as my analysis on music directors and lyricists gave some surprising and some not so surprising facts, this analysis of singers in Binaca geetmala also reveals some interesting facts.
I was under the preconceived notion that the number of singers should be much less as compared to the number of music directors or lyricists whose songs appeared in Binaca geetmala finals.But I discovered that there have been as many as 71 singers who have appeared in Binaca geetmala finals.
In contrast, there were only 48 music directors and 48 lyricists appearing in Binaca geetmala finals during the same period. As a result of this unexpectedly big list of singers, my task of discussing them has taken me much longer than I earlier expected. But the effort has been worth it, and I hope it will throw some much needed light on this subject. Considering the sheer number of singers, I will discuss them in two parts. "Major singers" will be covered first. "Minor singers" viz those with less than 10 songs in Binaca geetmala finals will appear in the next part.
Major Singers ( those who sang 10 or more songs in Binaca geetmala finals)
Lata Mangeshkar- A whopping 322 songs sung by her have figured in Binaca geetmala finals. She appeared in all finals right from 1954. Her most prolific year was 1973 in which an incredible 20 songs sung by Lata appeared in the Binaca geetmala final countdown. Songs sung by her topped the annual countdown list of Binaca geetmaala in as many as 17 finals. The years when Lata songs were adjusted the most popular being- 1954,1957,1960,1962,1963,1965,1967,1968,1969,1970,1976,1977,1980,1982,1983,1985 and 1986.
Md Rafi- Rafi songs appeared in Binaca geetmala right from 1954.He sang 220 songs in Binaca geetmala finals. He suffered a setback for a few years in the 1970s as a result of Kishore Kumar hurricane, but he looked set for regaining much of his lost ground when he died in 1980. During his heydays in 1950s and 1960s, he was untouchable. His most prolific year was 1964 when as many as 19 songs in the Binaca geetmala finals were sung by Rafi. Rafi's songs topped the binaca geetmala finals lists as many as 8 times, viz in 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1980.
Kishore Kumar- Despite his great talent, Kishore Kumar's career as a playback singer was going no where till 1968. In the first 14 years of Binaca geetmala, Kishore Kumar had just 26 Binaca geetmala finals songs to his credit. But his playback singing career skyrocketed from the next year onward. So much so that Kishore Kumar's dominance in Binaca geetmala finals in 1970s appears almost surreal. He had as many as 23 songs in the Binaca geetmala final of 1972, 20 in 1971 and 19 in 1973. Such consistent dominance over three straight years in Binaca geetmala was quite unprecedented. Songs sung by Kishore Kumar topped the annual lists of Binaca geetmala in 1959, 1971, 1974, 1979, 1982 and 1983. He ended up with 217 of his songs appearing in Binaca geetmala finals.
Asha Bhosle- Despite her talent and her association, first with O P Nayyar and then with R D Burman, she had less than half the number of songs in Binaca geetmala finals compared to her elder sister. Still, 144 is a very respectable number considering that the next most successful female singer in Binaca geetmala finals only managed 11 songs. Her most prolific year was 1984 whe she had as many as 16 songs in that year's final list. Songs sung by her topped the Binaca geetmala annual lists in 1959,1971,1972 and 1979.
Mukesh- Mukesh, who only sang around 700 songs in his career had 59 of his songs appearing in Binaca geetmala finals. 1960 and 1961 were the two most fruitful years for him when 8 songs sung by him made it to the final list in each of these two years. Mukesh, despite so few songs in Binaca geetmala finals managed to hit the jackpot as many as five times. Songs sung by him topped the Binaca geetmala finals in 1955, 1964, 1965, 1967 and 1976.
Mahendra Kapoor- Mahendra Kapoor, who mostly sang for music director Ravi and for movies under B R Chopra banner, had 24 of his songs appearing in Binaca geetmala finals, beginning from 1960 onwards. His most prolific Binaca geetmala final was 1970 when as many as 4 of his songs appeared in the final. His best result was in 1983 when a song sung by him finished second in Binaca geetmala final.
Shabbir Kumar- Shabbir Kumar, one of the Rafi clones proved quite succeesful in 1980s. 20 of his songs appeared in Binaca geetmala finals. His most prolific year was 1985 when 8 of his songs appeared in the Binaca geetmala finals.His best finish was the second position in that final.
Manna Dey- Manna Dey, who was badly typecast as a classical singer, got to sing very few songs which were not very popular with the masses because of their classical base. Only 15 songs sungs by Manna Dey appeared in the Binaca geetmala finals. 1973 was the best finish for him when the song "Yari hai imaan mera"sung by him ( for who else but the character artist Pran) turned out to be the number one song of the year.
Geeta Dutt- At 11 songs, she is the third most successful female playback singer in Binaca geetmala. This shows the stranglehold of Lata Mangeshkar on the female playback singer scenarion in Bollywood. Of course, Geeta Dutt's career went into a tailspin because of her personal problems too. But as long as her career was on track, she was an influential singer. She may have sung just 11 songs in Binaca geetmala finals, but she tasted the podium finish too. Her song "Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan" from CID was number one in the 1956 Binaca geetmala final.
Md Aziz- Another Rafi clone from 1980s, Md Aziz sang 11 songs towards the fag end of Binaca geetmala. As many as 9 songs sung by him appeared in the Binac ageetmala final of 1987. one of his songs-"har karam apna karenge" (Karma) was ranked number 2 in the binaca geetmala final of 1986.
Hemant Kumar- Hemant Kumar was a successful music director as well as a singer who sang for other music directors too. He sang only 10 songs in Binaca geetmala finals, but he tasted the ultimate success as a singer when a song sung by him, "Hai apna dil hai aawara, na jaane kispe aayega" (Solva saal) finished number 1 in Binaca geetmala final of 1958.
Suresh Wadkar- He made his Binaca debut in 1979 and his 10 Binaca geetmala finals songs include fifth place finishes in 1979 and 1982 in the finals. The songs were "Jeejaji jeejaji, honewale jeejaji"( saajan Bina Suhagan) and "Main hoon prem rogi" (Prem Rog) respectively.
"Minor" singers, viz those who sang less than 10 songs in binaca geetmala finals constitute majority of Binaca geetmala singers. There are as many as 41 of them. I will discuss them next.