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For 22 years, this music director duo occupied the apex slot in the Hindi film industry, breezing through the golden era of the ‘50s and ‘60s with an enviable collection of evergreen hits. Beginning in 1949, Shankar Singh and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, popularly known as Shankar-Jaikishan and also SJ were a terrific combo.

More notably, Shankar Singh (1922-1987) hailed from Hyderabad, while Jaikishan was from Bansda, Gujarat. They were the highest paid music directors of course, but what was notable was that their remuneration even exceeded that of the leading actors of that time. They used to receive top billing in the publicity and posters too. It was difficult to identify who was the composer as both of them had such a close interface in their work.

It was this Dakhani connect that made Shankar come up with the all-time hit “Ramaiya Vastavaiya” in the film ‘Shree 420’, which was a blockbuster all across the world wherever it got released. Although the song “Mera Joota Hai Japani” was the more famous one, this song with a smattering of Telugu in the opening paragraph attracted attention and had singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh and Mohammed Rafi doing the rendering together, a unique team to say the least…

While Jaikishan died young, with an addiction to liquor considered the cause for his early demise, Shankar Singh went on to stay active after 1971 too. His “Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana” picturised on Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini in the 1972 hit ‘Andaz’ came at a time when his perch at the top was usurped by RD Burman effectively.

Four years down the line his songs were hummed for a long time in the 1976 hit ‘Sanyasi’ starring Manoj Kumar and Hema Malini. However, two years down the line, their position was taken over by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, who were handpicked by Raj Kapoor for his ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’.

In what has always been the time-serving kind of a nature that the film industry was identified for, despite being such a much-admired celebrity during his living years, it is said that his death in 1987 hardly received any coverage in the media and Raj Kapoor, who was their mentor during the heydays of the duo, did not attend the funeral of Shankar Singh, who was born on October 15, 95 years ago.