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Introspective melodies Salil Chowdhury

Test of character

Mukesh, the singer of soul, came (aided and supported by his relation Motilal, who was a leading man of the time) to Mumbai from Delhi with dreams of wanting to be a singer- actor. He was much more handsome than many of the leading men of the time and did make a debut as a leading man while not yet 20, thanks to Motilal’s connections, but found his place in the pantheon of stars as a singer with unique tonal quality. His first hit song clearly shows the influence the Superstar of the time, Kundanlal Saigal had on all the singers (gender insensitive statement, even Latadidi publicly acknowledged it and said she tried to copy his singing style) and amazingly the great KLS said of Dil Jalta Hai to jalne de, “I don’t remember having sung this song”, an honour and acknowledgement of quality that cannot be bettered.

Mukesh became great friends with the RK Films clique: Raj Kapoor, Shailendra, Hasrat, Shankar Jaikishan. Together they gave lots of great melodies to Bollywood. Raj Kapoor always considered Mukesh to be his soulmate and vocal doppelganger.

However, I do feel some of Mukesh’s most outstanding and unforgettable songs came in conjunction with the great Salilda: my favourite composer who will definitely be the one if I’ve to choose only one to take along on a desert island and would be the composer whose songs I would like to hear in my last moments .

Rajnigandha, Anand, Annadata. Just 3 films I would cite to illustrate this point. Annadata was a movie made by L B Lachchman and directed by Asit Sen (the director and the fat jolly actor in movies like Anand shared the same name) and had Anil Dhawan and Jaya Bhaduri in the lead. Salil Chowdhury wrote a divine score that is a glittering jewel in his crown. Easily one of the best scores by the genius. Listen to this song sung by Mukesh, with lyrics by Yogesh Gaur. https://youtu.be/bblHYBckf8g

The way Mukesh turns the voice up a couple of notches at the end of Hamare, is goosebumps time. The interludes are typically stamped with Salilda’s signature. Salilda had once said “I want to create a style that will transcend borders, a genre that will be emphatic and polished but never predictable.” In achieving that objective, he certainly succeeded marvellously. Raj Kapoor described him as a genius who could play everything from tabla to sarod and piano to piccolo. Latadidi has said “Over the course of my life, I have worked with more than a hundred music directors. Of these, perhaps only ten understood both music and the cinema. And of these ten, Salil was the foremost. Salil Chowdhury’s melodies were different from those of the others. Sometimes, he would spend days on end without food or sleep in critical examination of one of his compositions, before deciding for himself how the tune should be developed. His songs were always the most difficult to sing.”

Annadata is a movie where the wealthy Om Prakash (one of my favourite actors in Bollywood), disillusioned by his rich relatives, who are only after his wealth and don’t care for him, goes away from the life of riches incognito and is given shelter by a poor family. (Jaya Bhaduri). He even fakes his own death to find out about their true feelings and happily discovers They Care and stays with them ever after.

Annadata has this amazing song sung by Kishore Kumar (Guzar Jaye Din) that uses Scale Progression as a method. A totally out of the box composition, that Salilda insisted Kishoreda sing, because he was convinced only Kishoreda could do at least 90% justice and credibility. Kishoreda was foxed and actually took 18 retakes to deliver the final cut. Kishoreda envisaged the scene by sitting on a bench as if riding a bicycle to get into the mood and sang the song after knowing how it was to be filmed. He told Salilda “I am passing through nightmares where your tunes are running after me”

Of this song, Salilda thought the world of Mukesh and said of the singer “Almost each song I composed to capitalise on this timbre was an instant draw- each word from his lips was a pearl.”

Yogesh (Gaur)’s lyrics are touching and earthy.

नैन हमारे साँझ सकारे
देखे लाखो सपने
सच यह कही
होंगे या नहीं
कोई जाने न
कोई जाने न यहाँ

चलते रहे डगर पे
ग़म की जिनके वास्ते
चलते रहे दिलो को
अजनबी से रास्ते
सदियों से छाये
यह जो सपनो के साये
सच यह कही
होंगे या नहीं
कोई जाने न
कोई जाने न यहाँ

मैं यह काहे दुखी
ना हो दुखों से हार के
मैं यह काहे दुखी
ना हो दुखों से हार के

लिखते रहे जो आँसुओ
से गीत प्यार के
गीत वह चाहे रोये कोई
हंस के गए
सच यह कही
होंगे या नहीं
कोई जाने न
कोई जाने न यहाँ

सुनते रहे बहरो की
जो रोज आहाते
सुनते रहे बहरो की
जो रोज आहाते
चुनते रहे लबों पे हम
तोह मुस्कुराहट
दिल में दबाये लाखो
अरमान जो हाय
सच यह कही
होंगे या नहीं
कोई जाने न
कोई जाने न यहाँ.

Stay safe, folks, as the overcast skies and humidity point to possible rains later today. Mentally I am already into my weekend.

By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

12 replies on “Test of character”

What a tribute to salilda 👌👌👌🙏🏾🙏🏾👆🏼I wish all world reads your post and gets enlightened 👌👌👌👌👌👍👍👍👍👆🏼
How beautifully and correctly you said that..!
I am sure your statement on Salilda.. can be taken for PhD in Bollywood study ✅👍( I am aware that his huge Bangla work.. is another world!!!!)….
From today for me too… SALILDA will b a unique personality 🙏🏾

Liked by 1 person

Since the same combination of yogesh with Salilda was in Anand ,Hrishida had requested kahin door jab din dhal for his film and got what was an Annadata song. Though all songs are good. Kahin door by Mukesh is haunting .Most Salilda songs do not go away. They seem to work their way through. In this Lataji songs and Mukesh come tops.

Liked by 1 person

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