Shankar Jaikishan is a duo musical composer in Bollywood who dominated the film industry for three decades. It is an unusual story of two classical musical composers who got united together as they had a personal liking for each other. Although Shankar Singh was born in Telangana and Jaikishan in Gujarat, they met each other in Mumbai in Prithvi Theaters ( then run by
Prithviraj Kapoor). Both were working as music composer for the plays that were staged in the drama company Prithvi Theaters. While Shankar learnt to play Tabla, Jaikishan was expert in Harmonium,
Before joining Prithvi Theaters Shankar learnt Tabla from the nuances of Baba Nasir Khansahib and Jaikishan learnt harmonium from Visharad Wadilalji. They became experts in musical training. While they were part of the drama company, they came across
Raj Kapoor and thus Raj-Shankar-Jaikishen duo became popular in Bollywood. Raj Kapoor gave a chance to Shankar Jaikishan as an assistant music composer for his film ‘Aag’ (1958). The original musical score for this movie was composed by Ram Ganguly. Later when Raj Kapoor made ‘Barsaat’ the duo was given a chance as an independent music director. Their association with Raj Kapoor continued till Mera Naam Joker(1970). The duo worked as ‘house composers’ for RK (Raj Kapoor) Films and were on their payroll until the end.
Shankar Jaikishan has a good pairing with Shailendra and
Hasrat Jaipuri, who featured in every film of R.K. Banner. It was Raj Kapoor who made the duo claim an unrivaled position in the industry. The composers not only infused classical music but brought a new style in composing sad songs on a fast tempo. They retained classical music for films like “Amrapali’ and ‘Basant Bahar’. Although the composers used a variety of ragas in their compositions ‘Raga Bhairavi’ was the most preferred note in every best musical score. Besides Raj Kapoor, they also composed music for
Sunil Dutt, Dharmendra,
Dev Anand, etc.
Semi-classical music is notable in the duo’s songs including `Jhanak-Jhanak Tori Baje Payaliya' (Mere Huzoor), `Koi Matwala Aya mere Dware' (Love in Tokyo) and `Chham Chham Baje Re Payaliya' (Jane-Anjane), (which are popular even today). It was after film ‘
Sangam’ there was a split in the duo. However,
Mohammed Rafi settled their ego and had brought them together in many films. While Jaikishen breathed his last on 12 September, 1971 Shankar had passed away on 26 April 1987.
The duo has worked with singers like Mohammed Rafi,
Manna Dey, Mukesh, Talat Mehmood and
Asha Bhosle but had given maximum melodious hit duets with the duo of Lata-Rafi, Lata-Mukesh, and Lata-Manna for music lovers. Even Manna Dey felt that he could sing for Raj Kapoor only because of Shankar Jaikishen. The duo was honoured with Padma Shri by Government of India in 1968.