Saturday, December 14, 2013

Music To My Ears

Many, many old  gems come up while talking music with dad. Like the other day, we were discussing late 40s and early 50s music, and we remembered a beautiful song from Andaz (1949):

Music is by Naushad. Dad says that in the biography, Daastaan-e-Naushad, the writer Shashikant Kinikar writes that Naushad was a versatile cinephile who didn't just touch music, but also assisted filmmaker friends on story, screenplay, dialogues, direction and editing! And he must be good at it since people used to invite him quite often to do non-music affairs in their films. Some of these credits include the behemoths such as Kohinoor (1960), Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Pakeezah (1972) among others!!!

Jaane Kya Dhundhti Rehti Hain (Shola Aur Shabnam, 1961)

Music by Khayyam. Lyrics by Kaifi Azmi. The song is in the Ghazal, Shayari genre which I don't like much (except select few by Mehndi Ali, Farida Khanum and Begum Akhtar), but I liked this song. A lot. Khayyam spearheaded the Ghazal genre in Hindi film music, and this is a good example of his forte. Raag Pahadi, but I think not a pure Pahadi. He has put some closeby notes in the song, which probably makes it a mishra-Pahadi, but that if anything makes the song even more beautiful and haunting.

Jeet Hi Lenge Baazi Hum Tum (Shola Aur Shabnam, 1961)

An outstanding song. The music..beautiful. Rafi rocks...what a tender, soothing voice. Very melodious.

Kabhi To Milegi, Kahin To Milegi (Aarti, 1962)

Lata's voice in this song is at its pristine best. आवाज़ जैसे खरे चांदी का कोई खनखनाता रुपहला सिक्का हो...Such perfect notes. And what an unconventional tune! It's in Raag Pahaadi. This song exudes vulnerable positivity. Meena can someone look so sensual even when fully clad? She just tilts her head, or lowers her gaze, and the effect is electrifying. And here I was, only today, telling a friend vehemently that I don't have a type. Who am I kidding? Every time I fall for the same kind of woman...Mysterious, vulnerable, expressive eyes, hint of a smile  - these are a few of my favourite things..

Aaj Se Pehle (Chitchor, 1976)

Kya Hua Tera Vaada (Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, 1977)

Adore this song. The picturisation is tapid, but the song touches the heartstrings of every guy who has some understanding of unrequited love. Remember Poornima from 90s? She gave backing vocals to Rafi here. What a raw, sweet voice. And Rafi...he was a surprise choice indeed by RD, because this movie came at a time when Rafi was an outcast, adrift in the flood of Kishore Kumar's idolisation. That's the reason why I feel Rafi must have picturised not a woman while singing this song but the audience who were once his ardent fans...The forgotten promises and the changing times...Trivia: This is the only song for which Rafi won a national award. In time too, coz Rafi would expire only 3 years later.

Dad is completely appalled by music of this era. He hates almost 90% if not more, of the music made from the day RD burst on the scene with Teesri Manzil in 1966. He becomes visibly disgusted with the western influence that RD brought into Hindi film music. My brother is the polar opposite, whose musical awakening started with the covenant of RD's ochestra. He worships RD and laughs at much of the music of 50-60s. I don't have any such qualms and embrace everything. They become incredulous regarding my choice, because just moments ago we would be discussing something where our choices are in complete unison. As we say in Ecology, they are specialists who are much specific in their musical palate, whereas me much less so, and hence a generalist (not to be confused with populist).

Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se (Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se, 1978)

Beautiful, gentle, refreshingly different song. The rhythm is unique. With many songs you can guess what came first, the lyrics or the music. With some the fit is so tight that it's difficult to imagine what preceded what. Music by Ravindra Jain. From Raag Brindavani Sarang. Some other songs from this raag are Humein To Loot Liya Milke Husnwaalon Ne (Al Hilal, by the lesser known Bulo C. Rani), Tere Pyaar Ka Aasra Chaahta Hoon (Dhool Ka Phool, by the Goan Dutta Naik, or popularly known as N. Dutta), Mere Mehboob Mein Kya Nahin (Mere Mehboob, 1963..Lata-Asha combo!), Chhadi Re Chhadi Kaise Gale Mein Padi (Mausam, 1975..the only Madan Mohan-Gulzar combo I am aware of).

Suniye, Kahiye (Baton Baton Mein, 1979)

Hothon Se Chhoo Lo Tum (Prem Geet, 1981)

This was an oft-sung, oft-heard song to the extent that it had become boring. And then it disappeared all of a sudden. No one ever talks about it anymore.

Mera Kuchh Saamaan (Ijaazat, 1987)

This is the famous song which when Gulzar took to RD, RD exclaimed, 'why have you brought this news cutting?!' Raju Bharatan says, that no one could imagine that such a song could be put to music, and that if anyone could, it was to be RD.

Whenever people talk about this song, you get to hear about Asha. But some songs belong to music directors over and above everyone else, and this is one such song. A gem..


You usually find that a hit director and music director team comes together again and again, to a level when soundtracks of successive films sound similar. Case in point: RK - Shankar Jaikishan. Navketan - SD. Burman. Chetan Anand - Madan Mohan. Nasir Hussain - RD. But if you look at Yash Chopra's filmography and the music in his films, you will notice a strikingly lateral choice of music directors. Out of 22 movies he directed, his choice of music directors included N. Dutta (twice), Ravi (twice), Salil Choudhury, Laxmikant Pyarelal, RD (twice), Khayyam (twice), Rajesh Roshan, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Uttam Singh, Madan Mohan and A. R. Rahman. The only music directors he repeated more than twice were Shiv-Hari - a staggering seven times, which comprises of 1/3rd of his career as a director. Many of these were not popular names at all. But the music they gave was top notch!


Kisi Shaayar Ki Ghazal - Dream Girl (1977)

Liking for this song is enough to be expelled from any music aficionado club. I find it easy, nothing more, nothing less. It looks a tad tacky in colour, but in Black n White, this song was no less than a fairy tale. In those times I used to spend much of my time on figuring out questions my brain couldn't fathom. Such as how do actors change into new clothes so quickly! I tried it many times at home, sometimes changing the whole wardrobe, sometimes wearing three-four shirts and trousers over one another, just to check how much time I require to get into a complete new set of clothes, but to my chagrin it was always more than the split second they took on screen. I knew that it had to be a trick, but couldn't figure it out. I asked mom and dad a lot about how they do that, and they sincerely tried to answer about the shots and cuts and other technicalities, but I didn't understand it, because for me, each movie was taken as a single shot, from start to finish.

Coming from that mindset, this song was an utter mystery because the song is filled with weird special effects. Dharmendra walking on Hema Malini's flowing upper body clothing. It was crazy. I just went mad with curiosity and later with frustration at my inability to crack the filming technique.

But the reason why I think this song is set so resolutely in my memory is coz this is the the first song I remember watching on TV. We didn't have a television while growing up, so my friend Shashank's place was a godsend. I had a pet place in their TV room, just close to the door leading to the kitchen. There was a tall, thin bed prepared by putting a few bedsheets and duvets over three metallic grain containers.

The movie would start on Saturday and Sunday in the early evenings. Sushama kaku would be in the kitchen. Pappu mama would be in the front yard. Aaji would be doing puja. And Shashank, Mithila and I would be in the TV room.


Dad's love for music was much subdued and deep, my brother's more forceful and strong, and both left quite an impression. I believe I learnt to love music from dad, and to perform it from Aks. There are so many songs I heard dad sing at home and play on mandolin...and so many I saw Aks perform in his college orchestra.

I followed Aks to all his orchestras and heard him sing, and later on sung some of these songs myself in my college dos, and we tend to bond a lot over them:

Jaan-e-Jaan - Jawani Diwani (1972)

Neele Neele Ambar Par - Kalakaar (1982)

Ai Kaash Ke Hum - Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994)

Dad is a much-in-demand singer among family and friends. Everyone is stuck on their own favourites of his which he must have sung a lot when he was younger:

Ye Raat Ye Chaandni Phir Kahaan (Jaal, 1952)


Kisiki Muskuraahaton Pe Ho Nisaar (Anari, 1959)


Time to introduce you to the song that had become a family anthem of sorts, especially during and around our yearly Kerala visits. From a movie called Darshan (1967), made in then East Pakistan. I don't know how someone got hold of this song, but my hunch is that some Malayali family friend who travelled to mid-East in late 70s-early 80s must have got hold of it, brought it back with him, and then someone in Danagram must have heard it, and then that's how we got to hear it. It's one of the earliest memories I have of Kerala, and is still reminiscent of mango and coconut trees, the old house,the old wooden treasure full of Amar Chitra Katha, the cultural programmes in the evening, the dinner by the lanterns, the careless abandon, love and trust with which all four of us spent time with each other and with other brothers, sisters, aunts and grandpa. There was so much love and joy...


I had a peculiar habit throughout my adolescence. I would put on music in full volume while having lunch before leaving for school and college. That was one time when no one used to be at home, and hence my music time. The home in Gopuri was such that I didn't have to worry about noise levels since the green fence insulated everything. The music chosen was decided completely randomly. So some days it was the 90s Hindi film music which I really liked, but most of the time it would be old music or Indian classical music since that's what we had most in our collection, and sometimes it was even Malayalam and Tamil music. Mom had brought a sizeable collection to Wardha from Danagram. The odd times when mom and dad would be at home at this time of the day, it was perplexing for them to see and hear me listening to something that I am not really expected to listen to. I did not especially liked this music or sometimes didn't even understand it, owing to the era, style or language, but I couldn't really change my own rules. There was in fact just one rule. Listen to all the cassettes one by one. The reason was very childish but logical :) I knew that some cassettes are heard more often than other. So the cassettes that are not heard had to feel left out and ignored and that when all of us slept in the night, and when all the 'non-living' objects came to life, the ones that are ignored must be feeling shitty when they heard the popular ones bragging. So my project and responsibility in life at that point was to make all music cassettes feel wanted. This began as early as middle school I think. This sounds funny, but that's how listening to everything, even things you didn't understand and appreciate, began. Later of course, the emotional and equality part of the reasoning disappeared, but by that time I was already hooked onto these different styles of music. This democratic style of listening to music helped me to not just broaden my taste and ear for different styles of music, but also made me more open to listen to anything without pre-conceived notion.


rathchakra said...

This was a stellar post! Savored all the songs, but most specifically all the personal history/events associated with music. You were exposed to such a variety in music while growing up, and it clearly shows in your musical inclinations today. I had a good laugh with the multiple costume changes bit. Hilarious and absolutely in tune (pun intended) with your persona.
I will have to revisit this post a couple of times to reach to different sections/themes you have going on. There is way too much packed in one post. Some of the subjects and events deserve an independent post of their own, but I already know the response to that. :)

rathchakra said...

reach = react

Akash Bang said...

Loved the write up, dude. You inspire me to write! @ Kya hua tera vada- RD did repeat Rafi a lot- Many iconic RD songs are actually Rafi ones eg. All of Karavan, Many Nasir Husain movies like Yadon ki Barat, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin etc. Many movies in that era had a specific singer dedicated to a particular actor of that movie. eg. In Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, RD gave Rafi to Tariq and Kishore to Rishi so you have Chand Mera Dil, Kya hua tera vada but then surprisingly you also have Hai agar dushman where Rafi sings for Rishi. Other RD-Rafi ones I like-
Puchho na yaar kya hua (Zamane ko Dikhana Hai)
Chura liya hai tumne jo (Yadon ki Barat)
Pal do pal ka (The Burning Train)
All of Teesri Manzil
Jaanu Meri Jaan (Shaan)

A said...

You're bang on! RD kept giving songs to Rafi. When I say Kya Hua Tera Vaada, I mean not just that one song, but all that RD gave to Rafi. Which was quite surprising in the 70s, coz no one else did.

A said...

@ Rathchakra: TY. Always stop when people still want more of you rather than the other way ;)
More posts than the frequency with which I am posting? I should take up writing as my job than postdoc (which sometimes I think seriously about).

Rathchakra said...

"jeet hee lenge baazi hum tum".....I was listening to it late last night. Both Lata and Rafi sound so so young. It's one of my fav Khaiyaam songs. On the poetry of this song, one small word "hee" adds the bravado/optimism of their youth - jeet "hee" lenge baazi hum tum...
and not - jeetenge yeh baazi hum tum....

The "hee" is saying "of course we will overcome/conquer everything/ there is no doubt about our victory..." One little word is saying so much. (I might be over analyzing it :) )