Rahul Dev Burman Sad Film Songs

A haunting aria …

I have always felt the essential ingredients of an unforgettable melody be it in Hindi Film Music, Ghazals or Marathi Bhavgeet to be good poetry, a melodious composition and great vocals. Only when all three are present in good measure. This song shows the immense strengths and beauty of the three who collaborated in the creation of this amazing pensive euphony. This is a sort of a title song for the movie.

Three geniuses: Gulzar, Pancham (Rahul Dev Burman) & Bhupinder Singh came together to create this amazing meaningful narrative. The verse is set to a minimalist composition with a Hindustani Classical Music base with apt, non intrusive instrumentation and vocals that are almost conversational. An immortal creation that seems to have been made with such a lasting, profound influence and impact on my neurons I can’t just forget it. The good night’s sleep after many days led to me being better rested than other days in almost a week and the recall of this song was just the tonic my soul needed. Kinara was a movie written and directed by Gulzar, with two actors who were happy being quite stuck in a rut till  Gulzar made them show off their acting skills. Dharmendra performed in Gulzar’s movies as he had never otherwise performed. Jeetendra was an utter loss as Jumping Jack, till Gulzar got him to actually act

कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं कोई नहीं
कोई नहीं हैं कही
सपनो में क्यों खो गयी
सपनो में क्यों खो
गयी बोलो न बोलो न
कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं हैं कही

हो फिर आँख नम हो गयी
फिर आँख नम हो गयी
फिर कोई यद् आ गया है
रोशनी कम हो गयी

फिर आँख नम हो गयी
फिर कोई यद् आ गया है
रोशनी कम हो गयी
किनारा मिलेगा यही रे
मिलेगा किनारा यही
यही रे यहि रे

कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं हैं कही
बात थी ख्वाब की
बात थी ख्वाब की ख़्वाब
में बीत चुकी है
ख्वाब दोहराते नहीं

बात थी ख्वाब की
बात थी ख्वाब की ख़्वाब
में बीत चुकी है
ख्वाब दोहराते नहीं
ज़िन्दगी सपना नहीं रे
ज़िन्दगी सपना नहीं
नहीं रे नहीं ऋ

कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं कोई नहीं
कोई नहीं हैं कही
कोई नहीं हैं कही.

The on-screen chemistry between Dharmendra and Hema Malini is clearly evident in another song. The plot is quite intriguing and I loved how the maestro handled it.

Almost an intimate conversation between two souls in love, turned into an unforgettable song.

Bhupinder Singh passed away earlier this year and my blog on his demise attracted plenty of visits. I have always loved his singing.  Some had wrong ideas about his debut in Bollywood, hope the clip that follows will clear that part. The clip also gives wonderful insights into the genius that was Bhupinder.

A wonderful melody , two great songs by Bhupinder in the same movie, with entirely different moods and impact.

Have a wonderful day ahead, folks. Stay healthy with downpours in my part of the country over the last few days and more promised over the days to come.

Sad Film Songs Shankar Jaikishan

Yamraaj misses his target

If you ever want to watch a movie with the corniest of stuff put together by Bollywood, you should watch Dil Ek Mandir.

For starters this movie was a Hindi remake of a Tamizh superhit movie made by C V Shridhar, Nenjil Or Aalayam. The movie was made into Hindi and released within a year of the original Tamizh version. For some strange reason, Raj Kumar was given top billing ahead of Rajendra Kumar (between the two at least Jubilee Kumar made an attempt to emote- Jaani was perpetually lost in his own mannerisms and utterly fake dialogue delivery) an even stranger aspect was the posters mentioned Meena Kumari and Mehmood twice. Undoubtedly each of the two (mentioned twice ) had far more acting ability than the two unmentionables put together.

The film’s music (the sole saviour or soul saver) is by Shankar Jaikishan. All the songs of this film were super hits and were uniformly loved by everyone in the country and featured big on the Binaca (later Cibaca) Geet mala on Radio Ceylon. The film was a major hit and collected the moolah by the truckful at the box office collection.

Meena Kumari , the perennial tragedienne is made to shed tears by the bucketful. (if Bollywood ever decided to pay by the amount of lachrymose fluids that emanated, she would definitely have been a big winner, a surefire multibillionaire)

As Bollywood will repetitively create situations, the romantic interest of a wannabe big surgeon (Rajendra “Jubilee” Kumar) who can operate on tumour that are so big that they are stuck to the operation table, or have metastasized to the relatives/neighbours, goes and gets married to Rajkumar (O what a fall!!!). The former cop with an atrocious wig , accent, stylised delivery and a humongous attitude now promptly gets a really malignant tumour that’s spread all over town lands up becoming the patient who can only be saved by Jubilee Kumar. And of course Meena Kumari thinks Rajendra Kumar will choose the easy option and let the गले की हड्डी die of the disease so he can enjoy unhindered access to Meena Kumari.

Watch this song for the most apt words, that you’d ever find in Bollywood musical history.

You can see why Rajkumar looks and acts mortified. Meena Kumari refers to him as मूरत after all.

But of course the director has a joker up his sleeve, he resolves the complex theorem by getting first Rajendra Kumar to successfully operate on the patient (after removing the tumour I wonder if he was left with any guts- pun intended) & then gets Yamraaj to swoop in. The director having decided one of them has to go, there was no choice but for one to exit.

Yamraaj obliges but probably being myopic or tired, misses the mark. The poor doc kicks the bucket and it is now his turn now to become a moorat. The patient merrily carries on with Meena Kumari guaranteeing a fresh batch of tears.

The plot evokes more derision and bathos rather than Pathos, but undoubtedly the sole saviour is the musical score. Shankar Jaikishan at their very best. Hasrat wrote lyrics for 3 songs (including this one ) & Shailendra took care of 4.

Do watch the movie or if you would rather avoid the prequel of The Laughter Challenge, listen to the musical score

Have fun, guys. Enjoy the Sunday

Have a great day ahead

Dev Anand Introspective melodies Jaidev Sad Film Songs

A rare combination

I have always wondered why certain teams never seem to click in Bollywood in popular perception. Quite like the behaviour of the stock market, this sentiment. There may be great merit in the performance but the ill defined ideas of the great Indian movie going public seems to determine what will work and what won’t. As a result, pairings are repeated: Director-Actor, Director-Actress, Director-Music Director, Music Director-Singer(s), Music Director-lyricists, Actor-Actress, Actor-singer and so on and so forth , the list is really very long. Dev Anand is remembered for his movies as much as their content as by their music. One defining aspect of Navketan movies has always been the quality of its music. In this pursuit, Dev Saab teamed up with the Burmans for decades. The Naveketan- S D Burman partnership was truly lasting and Dev saab even showed his commitment and loyalty by even putting his dream project, Guide on hold for months due to Sachinda’s illness. So also was Devsaab’s on-screen partnership with Rafisaab initially and Kishoreda for the latter two thirds of his career. I feel Sachinda played a huge role in Dev Saab switching from one to the other, despite some really all time great songs for Navketan by Rafisaab. In this both seem to have largely overlooked another fabulous singer- Manna Dey. Mannada to me was THE most complete singer in Bollywood with the widest imaginable range of singing an incredibly diverse genres of melodies, and doing it better than many others, and he did so consistently over decades.

I am even more surprised because Manna Dey had actually worked with SachinDev Dev Burman as an assistant for many years, after having started working as an assistant music director first under his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey, and then under Sachinda. He composed music for a few films also, one of these movies was 1948 film Hum Bhi Hain Insaan starring Dev Anand. In this film, he sang for Dev Anand for the first time. Manna Dey sang for him 10 years later in Amardeep. A couple of years later, Sachinda took Manna Dey for Devsaab once again in Manzil which was the least famous (and least successful ) of the Dev Anand-Nutan films. Amazingly Burmanda carried out the unusual experiment of having three different singers for the same hero. Manna Dey sang one solo and one duet with Asha Bhosle. Rafi and Hemant Kumar also sang in this film for Dev Anand. Kala Bazaar had the two team up again, and Manna Dey also sang in Bombai Ka Babu. The last time Devsaab had Manna Dey sing for him was 4 years later, with the unsung genius Jaidev Verma composing the music.

The movie was Kinare Kinare. A movie produced by Nyay Sharma and directed by Chetan Anand (who also had a very important role in the movie). Nyay Sharma also wrote the screenplay, story and lyrics. Kinare Kinare had the unusual romantic pair of Dev Anand and Meena Kumari, who sadly dies at the end, having been shown to suffer from a heart disease and being rescued from the obligatory kidnapping from her wedding by the baddies and the fight where the hero beats up the goons.

See the wonderful quality of the song, I really wonder why Manna Dey never got to sing more for Devsaab. I suppose it is just another of those undecipherable Bollywood things, like Meena Kumari not getting enough light hearted and frothy, upbeat roles, despite shining in the few that did come her way. Poor lady was stuck with the heavy millstone around her neck forever, of being stamped a tragedienne.

C’est la vie, I guess.

Stay happy and healthy, folks. The rains strengthen again as Ganeshotsav is just around the corner.

Naushad Sad Film Songs

A morning lament…

I am always impressed with and amazed by the impeccable chronological classification of raags in the Hindustani Classical Music system. Raags are organized according to the 8 Prahar (each corresponding to 3 hours of our time scale) & are meant to correspond to these time zones. In fact after I paid attention to this, the raag or bandish or song based on the raag just doesn’t seem to have the same effect in any other time zone. The raag for the early morning, the definitive raag of its thaat, is Bhairav.

A sampoorna- sampoorna raag, (it uses all 7 notes in the Aaroha and Avaroha, with rishabh and dhaivat being komal in both aaroha and avaroha the other five (shadja, gandhar, madhyam, pancham, nishad) are shuddha both times. Kalingada is a raag of the same thaat. Here is an example of a melody based on Bhairav which slips into Kalingada at times. Nevertheless one for the ages.

The movie Baiju Bawra was pure fiction based on the times of Abul Fath Jalaluddin Mohammad, a notorious sex addict and mass murderer who has been falsely glorified by our distorians. He frankly was hardly anyone who deserved to be, for any reason. The movie produced and directed by Vijay Bhatt ( a famous producer of movies based on myths) it had the insane pairing of Meena Kumari and Bharat Bhushan in the lead. I strongly believe that such casting misadventures led to Meena Kumari hitting the bottle out of frustration and unhappiness. The movie had a fantastic musical score by Naushad, who monopolized the genre and this song is beautifully rendered by Bharatratna Lata Mangeshkar. Shakeel Badayuni showed tremendous capability by setting aside his usual comfort zone of writing in Urdu , and switching to chaste Hindi without any trace of Urdu, given the necessity of the movie. The songs were all based on Hindustani Classical Raags and this amazing score is truly one of the all time best ones that Bollywood has produced in its century of existence.

A runaround starting at 2 am led to a disrupted schedule and the song of the day appeared a few hours late. I am sure you’ll still love it as much as I do.

Sad Film Songs Shankar Jaikishan

An immortal evening melody

I saw this movie one Saturday afternoon/evening in the MLT of our college in the film show that was the USP of our film club. I had seen Roman Holiday and It happened one night in the preceding weeks and didn’t quite like the movie as much as I might have otherwise. It is a movie that’s also remembered for the last movie that the leading romantic pair of the era ( & one of the most successful ones of all time), Raj Kapoor and Nargis acted in as a lead pair. Nargis did return for a brief cameo ( in an unforgettable song Jaago Mohan Pyaare with extremely suggestive symbolism) in Jaagte Raho.

Chori Chori was a movie made by Anant Thakur and produced by L B Lachman, but distributed by AVM. It was a blockbuster and the first known AVM production to have sequences in Colour. It had a musical score by Shankar Jaikishan who always used the services of either Shailendra or Hasrat Jaipuri for their songs. This one is penned by Hasrat. The song is based on the Raag Shuddha Kalyan. The Raag Shuddha Kalyan belongs to the Kalyan Thaat in Bhatkhande’s system of raags, the most widely accepted form of classification of raags in Hindustani Classical music. The raag is to be sung during the first prahar of the night (6 PM to 9 PM); indeed, that is true for all raagas in the Kalyan Thaat. Characterised by the teevra Madhyam, the raag is frequently performed at the beginning of a concert in the evening to seek blessings. Shuddha Kalyan is one of the many variations of this raag. The jaati of the raaga is Audav – Sampoorna (Vakra).

Latadidi in the 50s was on top of her game and I love this song where her voice soars in the mukhda itself. A song extremely easy to identify with just the opening bars.

Nargis, the runaway pampered darling daughter of an Uber-rich corpulent man (Gope) jumps off his yacht to elope with her paramour Pran, but meets a down-at-the-heel reporter Raj Kapoor and while journeying with him, falls in love. The part of the reporter promising the editor for a scoop with pics on the runaway rich heiress in return for a big amount of money (& then backing out in deference to the lady’s right to privacy) is straight out of Roman Holiday.

A wonderful, meaningful song sung soulfully by Latadidi. An all time personal favourite of all of the thousands of songs sung by the lady.

A fully colourised version of the movie was made recently but doesn’t look better than the monochrome version.

Stay safe, folks. Stay happy and healthy. Have a terrific Tuesday.

Rahul Dev Burman Sad Film Songs Uncategorized

A duel to remember

I remember seeing this movie in Goregaon in Anupam theatre. I had seen the original English movie a few months ago and also watched the Marathi play (which was never credited sadly by Hrishikesh Mukherjee) . It featured a memorable acting duel in every one of its avatars.

It started off as a  1935 play by T S Eliot on the same subject, Murder in the Cathedral, which was intended primarily as a religious treatment. However, there are one or two similarities in the interpretation with the play by Jean Anouilh , Becket which was published and staged nearly a quarter of a century later , a world war apart and in French, but based on the same state vs religion conflict of It is a depiction of the conflict between Thomas Becket and the then King, Henry II of England,  that resulted in Becket’s murder (Contract Killing in today’s parlance) in 1170. The French play contains many historical inaccuracies, which the author acknowledged. But that was a liberty taken by a playwright to improve the dramatic effect of the narrative. Thomas Becket also known as Saint Thomas of CanterburyThomas of London and later called Thomas à Becket was the much respected and venerated Archbishop of Canterburyfrom 1162 until his murder in 1170. He is widely venerated as a Saint and even as a Martyr  by both the Catholic Church as well as the Anglican Church. He engaged in conflict (Church vs State) with the then King of England, Henry II, over the rights and privileges of the Church. The conflict started creating much discomfiture for the King who asked his cronies to bump off the Archbishop, ironically and cynically carried out in the Canterbury Cathedral itself, following which the dead Archbishop was immediately canonised by the then Pope, Alexander III. At that time, the British Monarchy still paid obeisance to the Vatican, the break and establishment of the Anglican Church happened during the reign of the polygamous and sex-crazed King Henry VIII who wanted the pope to solemnise his marriage(s) to a divorcee, which of course the Pope refused. So our man Henry broke away from the Vatican and established his own Church (shades of what is happening on the Political Scene in India?)

The movie based on the late 50s play was called, expectedly, Becket, a must-watch for all serious students of cinema. It has a feast of acting talent: Richard Burton as Thomas Becket, Peter O’Toole as King Henry II and the legendary John Gielgud as King Louis VII. It won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for eleven other awards, including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and twice for Best Actor. Jean Anouilh’s play was adapted by the great Marathi Playwright Vasant Kanetkar as Beimaan. Satish Dubhashi and Prabhakar Panashikar were just terrific in the original Marathi Play and every one of my generation (and one senior) who has seen the play will remember and relish their acting duel. Sparks flew and I was very influenced at the time and used some of the lessons in my own attempts. Hrishikesh Mukherji was a very big fan of Marathi dramas. Theatre, Literature and Music are all shared passions for all Marathi and Bangla speaking people. He adapted Beimaan to make Namak Haram but didn’t credit Vasant Kanetkar properly. This song is from the same movie.

The movie has a fantastic acting duel between Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, the movie was made soon after Anand. It is said that according to the initial script, Bachchan was supposed to die at the end. When Kaka got to know this, he insisted that Hrishikesh Mukherjee to change the ending so he dies in the end instead of Bachchan. It was Khanna’s view that death in the end gets viewers’ sympathy. The same had happened in Anand, and had succeeded in getting a lot of popularity for Khanna. Although Mukherjee did not want this change, Khanna was such a big star, he had to do this. This made Amitabh very angry and he vowed never to work with Khanna again. I personally don’t believe in this version at all on the grapevine. The original story from history has the priest getting killed by the King’s men and so it would be logical for the poor worker being killed by the rich milliner’s henchmen by logical continuity.

Great lyrics by Gulzar, Great composition and singing by R D Burman and Kishore Kumar, respectively.

All in all, a great movie despite the alleged controversy.

Take care, folks, and stay happy and healthy

Romantic songs Sad Film Songs

All about silence….

I saw this movie (rather an edited and shortened version) on a transatlantic flight. I rarely watch movies on planes. The best way to beat (or prevent) jet lag is to sleep on the long flights. But this was an Etihad nonstop flight from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles that was scheduled to land in the evening hours at LAX. That meant that I could reach my niece’s place in an hour or so after landing, freshen up and sleep at the normal sleeping time at Los Angeles, my trusted formula of avoiding jet lag. Etihad has created this unique facility where you do the US Customs and Immigration clearance in Abu Dhabi itself during the layover between the two flights there and you’re then kept in a secluded area of the terminal awaiting the boarding call for the US flight. When you land in US, you are treated as if you’ve taken a local flight within the US, you just walk to the carousel, pick up your bags and walk out in an unimaginably short time. One of the most painful things to happen to you at the end of a long flight is having to wait upwards of an hour in the immigration hall to get out. Heaven help you in this situation if you’re connecting to another flight to your final destination. You’ve to first pick up your bags, do the immigration, then the customs and then recheck in your bags for your onward journey. I’ve known many who missed the onward connection as they didn’t manage to do the first parts quickly enough. This is especially the case on busy airports like JFK. Less than 3 hours and you’re virtually guaranteed to miss the connection. That won’t happen on the Abu Dhabi route as you’ve done your statutory clearance waiting for your US connection and can then actually ask for your bags to be checked in to your final destination.

I will return to the movie, lest this sounds like a spiel to sell Etihad. (To be frank my talks with them haven’t yet begun so have of course not yet concluded). Jokes apart, I had seen a bunch of Ranbir Kapoor movies in that period and loved his ability and preparedness to break the mould all the time. He was so prepared to take risks and even dared to be iconoclastic about his own on-screen persona and image.

Rajneeti is supposed to be Prakash Jha’s (Dipti Naval’s ex) adaptation of Mahabharata. A scion of a politician detests the idea of stepping into a murky, amoral world of politics and is forced to return from US (where he wants to stay with his girlfriend) and enter the dirty world of electoral and caste-ridden politics. In reality I thought it was a little ill constructed mashup of Mahabharata and Godfather. I daresay Mahabharata was better adapted by Shyam Benegal as Kalyug. Prakash Jha who is credited with contributions to the story, script and screenplay,  and is also the producer/director looked less taut and focussed than say Gangajal. I thought there were just too many loose ends created by the numerous subplots and the narrative suffers as a result. The musical score was wonderful. I particularly liked this song, sung and composed by the ill-fated Aadesh Shrivastava, and with lyrics by Sameer Anjan.

I liked the repetitive, haunting introduction to the male version of the song which is the soul, the fulcrum around which the rest of the melody revolves.

I liked Ranbir Kapoor as well as Ajay Devgan (he hadn’t then started mutilating the way his family name is spelt thanks to some stupid pseudoscience called Numerology. If you believe in that, you’ll believe the earth is flat and  the geocentric theory as well) as depictions of Arjun and Karna in the Mahabharata syntax. This was the first movie I ever saw that had Katrina Kaif and I liked her role and acting too. I thought it was interesting the producers/director decided to use as many as 4 composers for the movie.

Wayne Sharp, Pritam, Aadesh Shrivastava and Shantanu Moitra figure in the roll of honours. Between the four, my emotional connect was to Aadesh Shrivastava, as he had married my favourite vocalist’s niece- Sangeetmartand Pandit Jasraj’s niece Vijeta Pandit. I liked this song when I saw the movie. The harmonizing with the back up vocals has been well done and the song is very well constructed.

The female version, sung by Kavita Seth actually has a different overall feel about it and impact, too. The instrumentation is a bit different, too. Please ignore the visuals that come with the original audio clip which unnecessarily convey very negative ideation.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie in bits and pieces. Arjun Rampal and Ajay Devgan were good, as was Ranbir Kapoor. Katrina Kaif was excellent and her role ran into unnecessary controversy thanks to hypersensitive politicians and a judicial system that allows frivolous complaints to be considered ahead of zillions of suits stuck in the largest backlog of cases in the world. Think of the tens of millions of poor folks rotting in some hellhole awaiting trial, and being proven innocent after years and even decades. It happened to a doctor who was crucified by the shameless media for some 23 years, for alleged negligent medical practice before being pronounced innocent by the court.

The movie won a sackful of nominations across the awards circuit and picked up a few too. The lyrics of this song, the composer/singer (Aadesh Shrivastava) were among the long list (& categories) of nominees.

An adaptation of an epic that was a wee bit loose but compensated to a great extent by great acting and some good music. And this served the purpose admirably on the flight, too.

Stay safe, folks. Thankfully the rain Gods have been a bit more generous in the last week or so than in the previous five. See you guys at 1120 hours on AIR Delhi for the 30th of my fortnightly programs on selection of songs by a band that was pretty much mandatory hearing when we were in College.

Mukesh Sad Film Songs

The futility of expectations

Poetry, music and therefore Bollywood film music share a common feature, as much (if not more) has been written when in pain as in happier moments. Some of the most lasting creations directly owe their existence to unrealised expectations and to pain arising from unfulfilled dreams. Moments of poignancy result in eternal creations. I cannot imagine immortal ghazals and thumris like say Babul mora or Lagta nahin hai dil mera becoming half as effective if they had been written in happier moments. Mukesh and Talat Mahmood made capital out of the mood. Look at this song, sung by Mukesh from a Raj Kapoor movie, Kanhaiya.

Kanhaiya was directed by Om Prakash who we know in a different role (or rather varied roles) that he essayed throughout his life. He had one of the longest careers in Bollywood.

Nutan is a great devotee of Lord Krishna, also known as Kanhaiya. She often goofily wanders off alone in the woods dancing and singing to the flute notes that are going on in her mind, as if played by Kanhaiya.

She accidentally meets a guy fortuitously called Kanhaiya (Raj Kapoor), who actually is the village drunk and falls in his arms assuming him to be her “Kanhaiya,” the Lord Krishna. (Rather odd behaviour for a village Belle)

The village starts gossiping now (for lack of anything better to do) that Nutan and Raj Kapoor are in a romantic relationship, and in order to continue to stay in the same village, they have to get married. Nutan, amazingly still under the misconception regarding Kanhaiya (I wonder if the village has lots of Mahua trees planted), is actually thrilled and gives her consent.

This being a Bollywood movie, Nutan now becomes aware of the real id -that the village wastrel, alcoholic and good for nothing has actually taken advantage of her love for Lord Krishna, and now insists on marrying her. Such impossible situations and imbroglios can only be solved by Bollywood story writers and directors. That being accomplished, the movie draws out to an improbable end. In this hare brained plot, the only saving grace is the beautiful Nutan trying to look believable in her ridiculous role. And of course, Shankar Jaikishan were pretty much on top of their game and the movie has three excellent, unforgettable Mukesh melodies: “Ruk Ja O Jane Wali”, “Yad Aayi Adhi Rat Ko” and this one

No one quite like  Mukesh to convey this emotion. For this genre Talat Mahmood and he stand apart. Stay healthy folks as the entire state observes the Ashadhi (Devshayani) Ekadashi vrat.

Anil Biswas Introspective melodies Memories Sad Film Songs

A legend was thus born

I woke up to this song today morning. The rain soaked night had been cool, but not cold and my sleep interrupted once by my mom having some issues at an odd hour. Pune in the rains is an excellent place to be. The area we live in is one of the (sadly) few green patches left in the old part of the city and the luxuriant tree cover is easy to spot from a nearby hill. The pleasure of walking (or driving) through tree-lined avenues is indescribable but we owe this to a previous generation (actually at least 2 before us) & it is incumbent on us to do our bit for the ones to come. It is saddening to see concrete jungles come up in farmland, all vegetation mercilessly hacked to build heat generating, smoke creating, and fossil fuel guzzling complexes and also our utter disregard for the environment is cruelly called development. I can’t think of a greater oxymoron.

Mukesh Chand Mathur was born in a large family in Delhi. His father was an engineer and Mukesh learnt music vicariously from an adjoining room of his home when a teacher would visit to teach his older sister, Sundar Pyari. Surprisingly for a family with that background, Mukesh actually dropped out of school before the Matriculation. He worked briefly in the PWD in Delhi before devoting time to his singing. Motilal , pretty much one of the top stars of the time was related to them, saw and heard the tall, fair, handsome boy sing in his older sister’s wedding, heard of the boy’s disinterest in academic matters and took him under his wing, bringing him along to Mumbai to stay with him. He also organised singing tuitions with Hindustani Classical Music Pandits and even arranged for Mukesh to fructify his dream as a singing male actor. Mukesh actually debuted in a movie Nirdosh, when Mukesh wasn’t yet 18. His initial films bombed. That effectively put paid to his cherished dreams of becoming an actor.  Motilal talked to a few of his friends including the genius composer, Anil Biswas, who is referred rightfully as “The Bhishmpitamah of Bollywood music direction”. The duo leaned upon the producer of one of Motilal’s films as a male lead (very much riding over objections by the producer and director) to give Mukesh his debut in a “reincarnation” as a playback singer. The movie was called “Pehli Nazar” and had Motilal and Munawwar Sultana in the lead. The music was scored by Anil Biswas himself and this is the very song that saw a great playback singer Phoenix-like, out of the ashes of his dreams of becoming an actor.

The one lost actor-singer (And I honestly must say Mukesh was much better looking than many logs of wood of the time who were thrust on a hapless, unsuspecting public as male leads. Watch the song in Aah, made by Raj Kapoor, “Chhoti se ye zindgani re…”) gave way for a truly gifted and divine singer who created a space for himself at the golden era of Hindi Film Music when one was spoilt for choice for the male singers.

Clearly influenced by the legendary Kundan Lal Saigal (as were pretty much every other singers of the time) he sang from his heart and the song remains fresh in my memory, despite having been sung more than a decade before my birth.

Legend has it (corroborated by many) that the Big Man (KLS himself) heard this song and said “Strange! I don’t remember having sung this song!” . A massive compliment to a budding singer from the undisputed numero uno of the time.

Stay happy, folks, enjoy the rains. So essential for life to thrive in India, more than elsewhere on the planet.

Lata Love songs Mohammad Rafi Sad Film Songs

Truly unforgettable….

I remembered this song after many a month. One of the great thespian Ashok Kumar‘s most challenging roles where the make up actually was designed to make him look ugly. A wonderful combination of the combined geniuses of Sachindev Burmanda , Shailendra , Rafisaab and Lata Mangeshkar. The movie Meri Soorat Teri Aankhein was directed by RK Rakhan and wonderfully photographed in monochrome. The movie was actually edited by a giant of Hindi Films, who like an institution trained and groomed multiple greats of the industry: Bimal Roy. It was based on a Bangla novel, Ulka by Nihar Ranjan Gupta.

I have written about the song before but like every lovely work of art, one thinks of nuances one may not have captured earlier. This composition in Pilu and Taal Dadra is a testament to Burmanda’s genius. From the first notes of the sitar, and then an assortment of other instruments including the Santoor and Baansuri, (suspect the usual suspects there) & you’re transported to auditory bliss. Rafisaab takes over with a touch of pathos and loneliness that tears me up. A master of emotive expressions through his voice, Rafisaab brings in an unimaginable set of feelings into the song, it is truly amazing.

I found it amusing the movie has been shot off the old Mumbai- Pune highway. The need for an apt locale has been thrown out of the window in the current era of bigger and more in-your-face productions that throw credibility away. You will see the same 3 minute song being picturized everywhere from Sahara to Kashmir to Switzerland and Iceland.

This song also has a solo version by Rafisaab, a sadder version, pictured later in the movie. That is even more moving.

A wonderful song I recalled from a movie released nearly 60 years ago. Stay safe, folks, stay happy and healthy. Join me at 11.20 am for the 26th of my fortnightly shows on music on AIR Delhi FM Gold. I will showcase a famous songwriter/ singer whose skills I am in awe of