Shankar Jaikishan, an Indian musical composer duo in the Hindi film industry, were very popular in 1950s and 1960s. They were the premier composers of their period which is also considered the golden era of Hindi film music. They are generally regarded as the greatest composers in the Hindi film industry..
Shankar and Jaikishan met in Bombay and formed a friendship that was to last until the death of Jaikishan in 1971. Shankar started his career with a theater group run by Satyanarayan and Hemawati, before shifting to Prithvi Theater where he played tabla and performed some minor roles in plays. He also introduced Jaikishan to his employers as a harmonium player. The two of them later played significant roles in the play “Pathan”.
They worked as assistants for the leading composer duo of Husnlal Bhagatram and continued to remain in touch with Raj Kapoor, who was working as an assistant to the famous director Kidar Sharma.
The success of Barsaat opened many doors for Shankar Jaikishan, popularly known by the acronym S-J. Never the ones to rest on their laurels, they continued to improve upon their ever lofty standards and their association with any film generally was one of the most important factors in its success.
Among their early hits, Aawara, Aah, Shree 420, Basant Bahar, Halaku, Patita, Kathputli, Anari, Chori Chori, Daag, Baadshah, Boot Polish, and Ujala are barely a few of the prominent ones.
S-J formed a core team with lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri and with singers Mohd. Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. They also patronized the immensely talented singer Manna Dey, who sang his best songs with them, and used Mukesh’s silken voice as playback for Raj Kapoor. Among the directors, they worked most closely with Raj Kapoor and were considered the kingpins of his legendary banner RK Films.
S-J won nine Filmfare awards for the best music composer for Chori Chori (1956), Anari (1959), Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayee (1960), Professor (1963), Suraj (1966), Brahmachari (1968), Mera Naam Joker (1970), Pehchaan (1971), and Be-Imaan (1972).
After Jaikishan’s death, Shankar carried on with the banner of Shankar Jaikishan, but he was clearly hampered by the absence of his alter ego. His was unable to negotiate effectively with the film producers and struggled with the background score of his films. He gave his last big hit with the 1976 film Sanyasi.
Jaikishan died in 1971 and Shankar died in 1987 leaving behind some great work and lovely music.