Romantic songs Unconditional love

For an eternity…

Just as my father would have gladly acknowledged the musical legacy of my grandfather, and I am happy to see the same genes I inherited from both of my parents express themselves in me, I am sure the love of music both of us share did percolate through to the next generation as well. This has been one of the biggest passions of my life and indeed grows by the day with no signs of abating, thankfully so.

This song (& band) are actually something I was introduced to by my son. He was a teenager who achieved much (including something no one in the family had ever achieved before and hasn’t been equalled since, a prize for a poem he wrote from the then President of India).

When I first heard the song, I loved the melody and the beat first, before I really heard the words properly.

I saw the video much much later and thought it was interestingly shot. The lyrics are very interesting, too, if just a tad long.

Although loneliness has always been a friend of mine
I’m leavin’ my life in your hands
People say I’m crazy and that I am blind
Risking it all in a glance
And how you got me blind is still a mystery
I can’t get you out of my head
Don’t care what is written in your history
As long as you’re here with me

I don’t care who you are
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me
Who you are
Where you’re from
Don’t care what you did
As long as you love me

Every little thing that you have said and done
Feels like it’s deep within me
Doesn’t really matter if you’re on the run
It seems like we’re meant to be

I don’t care who you are (who you are)
Where you’re from (where you’re from)
What you did
As long as you love me (I don’t know)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you’re from (where you’re from)
Don’t care what you did
As long as you love me (yeah)
As long as you love me
As long as you love me

I’ve tried to hide it so that no one knows
But I guess it shows
When you look into my eyes
What you did and where you’re comin’ from
I don’t care, as long as you love me, baby

I don’t care who you are (who you are)
Where you’re from (where you’re from)
What you did
As long as you love me (as long as you love me)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you’re from (where you’re from)
Don’t care what you did (yeah)
As long as you love me (as long as you love me)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me
Who you are (who you are)
Where you’re from (where you’re from)
As long as you love me
Who you are
As long as you love me
What you did (I don’t care)
As long as you love me

Backstreet Boys  are an American boy band with Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, and cousins Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson.

Howie Dorough and AJ McLean were natives of Orlando, Florida, who met each other through a mutual vocal coach and later discovered Nick Carter through auditions. The three, realizing that they could harmonize together, decided to form a trio.

Cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, both from Lexington, Kentucky, sang in local church choirs and festivals when they were children.

They were bonded as a group in 1993 by Lou Pearlman, who held auditions in Orlando, Florida,where hundreds of hopeful boys participated.

They were named Backstreet Boys, after Orlando’s Backstreet Market, an outdoor flea market near International Drive which was also a teen hangout.

38, almost 39 years on, the first heady feeling stays as effervescent and overpowering as it was then.

To you, my dearest, this song on a weekend’s escapation enforced by the din and mayhem of the city during the culmination of the Ganeshotsav.

Hope you like this song , folks, a gift from my son to me to my wife. Stay happy and healthy

Ghazals Introspective melodies

Reminiscing about days of yore….

I first heard this lovely ghazal in the early 90s when I bought a 3 CD collection from Navras Records.

The collection titled “Classical Ghazals” by Mehdi Hassan is one of my most prized pieces in my collection of music and my Dad loved it too.

The poet is Aarzoo Lakhnavi and Khansaheb has composed it in Yaman (aka Yaman Kalyan), a truly divine raag.

This ghazal is so simple to understand and every single listener can relate to the expression and wordplay. I have loved it every single time that I’ve heard it.

 मुग्घम बात पहेली जैसी बस वोही बूझे जिसको बुजाये

भेद न पाये तो घबराये भेद जो पाये तो घबराये

जिसको अकेले में आ आ कर ध्यान तेरा रह रह के सताये

चुपके चुपके बैठा रोये आँसू पोंछे और रह जाये

सारी कहानी बेचैनी की माथे पर लिख देती है

ऐसी बात कि घुटते घुटते मुँह तक आये और रह जाये

आरज़ू अपनी धुन का हैं पक्का, ठान चुका हैं मरने की

जाना बूझा रोग है यह तो, समझे हुए को क्या समझाये

आरज़ू लखनवी

Ghazals have, like all these greats tend to have, different flavours to varied renditions, and this is no exception. The greatest singers just need a taanpura, a harmonium and tabla and they’re ready to go. Every single time they sing the same piece of verse, the effect is different. This one is a shorter, studio version and the Urdu verse has been translated into English.

For those who might have not been able to follow the translation, here is an attempt at transliteration. Please feel free to correct me or add your thoughts as well. These are, as always most welcome.
मुग्घम बात पहेली जैसी,
बस वोही बुझे जिसको बुझाये,
भेद न पाए तो घबराए,
भेद जो पाए वो घबराए…
Your talks veiled in mystery,
Are understood only by those they’re intended for;
Damned if you get it (understand)!
Damned if you don’t.

जिसको अकेले में आ आ कर,
ध्यान तेरा रह रह के सताए,
चुपके चुपके बैठा रोये,
आँसू पोंछे और रह जाये,

The one your relentless thoughts
Torment in solitude,
Sits quietly and cries,
Wiping the tears, seeking solace…

सारी कहानी बेचैनी की,
माथे पर लिख देती है,
ऐसी बात की घुटते घुटते,
मुँह तक आये और रह जाये

The narrative of turbulence,
Visible on the forehead,
Such are the feelings that choke,
Get stuck at the tip of my tongue, remaining unspoken

आरज़ू अपनी धुन का है पक्का,
ठान चुका हैं मरने की,
जाना बुझा रोग है ये तो,
समझे हुए को क्या समझाए

My desires remain unwavering, (Aarzoo is his nom de plume)
Committed to see his death;
It is a well known ailment,
What is the point of explaining to the one who already knows.

Another wonderful rendition, also from a live concert is truly worth a listen. The more the renditions are the same, the more they differ.

Stay healthy and happy, folks as the Ganeshotsav draws to a close today and the heavens open up in consonance with the devotees’ feelings.


An unforgettable adaptation

The romanticised folk tale of a Prince/Princess falling head over heels in love with a commoner is a theme which has been repeated through many cultures and has resonance in many countries and continents. I don’t know if it is a case of Art imitating real life or vice versa. One such very famous story was rooted in folklore, then found it’s way to Urdu/Parsi theater and made into 2 Blockbuster movies, both truly blessed with musical scores (an inseparable part of Bollywood ever since Silent movies in India found a voice; I can recollect all the songless movies I’ve seen in the last 6 decades in a trice, and perhaps film music and songs help defined Indian Cinema as a distinct class distinct from World Cinema) that helped make both movies truly eternal. Anarkali had music by C Ramachandra, Mughal-e-Azam by Naushad. The former was legendary for his unique ability to spin extremely melodious and truly unforgettable tracks from diverse genres in a flash. He was much more prepared and adept at dabbling with many musical forms and experimented with everything from Bossa Nova through to Hindustani Classical music at either end of the spectrum. Naushad on the other hand was very much a protégé of Khemchand Prakash, who he considered (& publicly acknowledged) to be his Guru, and was deliberate, slow in his musical creations, a tad more folksy and also skilled at popularizing Hindustani Classical Music based compositions in Hindi Film Music. Take this one song. From the second of the famous movies made that was based on the legend of Anarkali.

Madhubala was an electrifying on-screen performer who could make the dead arise from their graves, catch a glimpse and then return to their resting place , somewhat satiated. She arguably had the most memorable roles, was very brave in her choice of roles when her career was floundering in her late teens and knew how to romance the camera a bit better than her peers. The tragic demise at a young age, sadly due to congenital heart disease (virtually untreatable at the time it was diagnosed, anywhere in the world, given the state of infancy of cardiac surgery in the early 60s) undoubtedly added to the magnetic aura of the lady who will always be remembered by wistful sighs by successive generations of Indian Men all over the world.

Very few know this famous , timeless classic has its roots in a folk song. Naushad himself came from Uttar Pradesh and had heard this famous song of Uttar Pradesh ‘Prem kiya kya chori kari hai’. He loved the song and it’s militant attitude to love. The folk song was embellished with modified lyrics and then moulded it to the beautiful musical piece which we have gotten addicted to since 60 years.

The song is actually a clever fusion of two sublime raags from Hindustani Classical Music.  Jab pyar kiya to darna kya  starts with the raag Darbari (where only the Taan and a string of bols are  heard in a male voice) and moves on to the main song which is based chiefly on raag Durga. An amazing and skilful blending by Naushad.

K Asif, the producer almost went bankrupt producing his dream project, with multiple hurdles, with the original producer legging it to Paapistan, the original hero kicking the bucket (Chandramohan) & a tortuous and torturous pre-production course of events. The gestation lasted nearly 2 decades, and ultimately Shapoorji Pallonji had to be brought in to salvage a floundering project. He did despite (or maybe because of) having no knowledge of films and film making. The final product made after several, humongous cost overruns actually owes it’s existence to a clever editor Dharamvir who made 197 minutes of the final cut out of more than a million feet of film shot. In the original movie this was the only song to be shot in Technicolor, Asif was so impressed, he shot two more reels in the same format. In the final cut, almost half of the songs recorded were left out.

Stay happy and healthy, folks. The wait for the promised downpours stretches on interminably.

Madan Mohan Romantic Duets

Mock displeasure

I heard the song today on an early morning music program on the local FM station. I must’ve heard it after nearly 2 years. The song brought back memories from half a century. Impromptu movie shows in Piramal Nagar where I spent a few years of my childhood adolescence and early youth would mean a large white bedsheet being strung between two buildings, moored at each corner from the grilles of folks’ balconies, a 16 mm film projector and cans of films being projected and the sound coming across woefully small speakers, “free for all seating” (which meant you got your own dhurries and placed them on the ground because if you got chairs instead you’d have to, by default, move to the edges of the crowd, and the dhurrie was always larger than you needed for your family, so it was presumed and taken for granted by everyone that the empty spaces were meant to be occupied by those who came in late or those who were at the back and couldn’t see/hear clearly from there, and no one could object to or resist/repel the invasion). I loved the movie when I saw it there. Much later I thought it might have been used by Hrishikesh Mukherjee as a rough template for making his own movie with the same composer, Madan Mohan. Even the two ladies who played pivotal roles were shared by both movies : Durga Khote and Usha Kiron. That’s not really surprising as Hrishida himself is a protégé of the great one-man-institution in Bollywood, Bimal Roy, who made the earlier movie, Parivaar. Each had a story of a number of brothers staying together under the same roof. Bipin Gupta, the oldest brother in Pariwaar plays the role of the patriarch. Bawarchi had the irascible crusty old patriarch being enacted by Sarojini Naidu’s kid brother, the amazing Harindranath Chattopadhyay. I just loved his amazingly varied characterizations in his vastly different roles. His ability to write romantic poems late in life was a revelation, too (viz. Julie).

The duet is written by Shailendra, a very gifted poet with a sad end, and the song composed in the extremely melodious raag Hamsadhwani, and sung so beautifully by Manna Dey (the most capable singer for the genre in the history of Bollywood) & Lata Mangeshkar. The song is picturized on Sabita Chatterjee and Ashim Kumar, the youngest brother who’s musically inclined and his danseuse wife ( remember Asranis character in Bawarchi?)

And then there are 2 characters in Parivaar which were combined into one in Rajesh Khanna‘s persona in Bawarchi.

The man-for-all-seasons of the house is Agha, in one of his most delightful roles that I’ve seen him in. He is perpetually harassed, and pulled in many directions by various inhabitants, and is a butler cum general dogsbody cum everything else: just about everybody in the household is telling him to do this or do that every waking moment of their lives. This ends up making Agha run about aimlessly most of the time, but also underlines the fact that this household relies heavily on him for just about anything and everything.

The cook in Parivaar is Dhumal, who is constantly bragging and boasting of everything from his ear for music (from having worked 10 years at a famous ustad’s house) to his fluency in English (from having worked 10 years at an Englishman’s house). All of which, even to the more gullible members of the household, are obvious signs of wishful thinking. The same traits and claims are shown by Kaka in Bawarchi, too.

A most enjoyable watch, really.

Have fun, guys, as I disappear for the weekend breathing oxygen into my starved lungs.

Romantic songs

Falling in love, again

I must’ve first seen her when I was not yet 10. She was standing in a crowd of other young girls. But I was drawn to her and her alone. She had that pristine, serene air about her and I fell in love with the eyes and the eyelashes. I was much too young at the time to realize the feeling was to grow unbeknownst to me into a lifelong yearning, a craving of sorts, even an obsession. After that first encounter, I did not pass up a single opportunity to look, gawk and ogle at her , always from a distance. I hoped no one would notice. She certainly didn’t!

The only person who noticed it and teased me a bit about it was Sureshkaka, who was actually my first cousins’ uncle. He was outwardly, a very jovial person, but actually a very shy person who was almost an introvert. A very sensitive soul who taught me how to hold a pencil right and sketch. That early on, I must’ve blushed to a dark cherry red, almost mauve, that my secret infatuation and childhood crush had been discovered. As I saw more of her on growing up (and having started wearing spectacles and having my visual acuity restored), I continued to be drawn evermore into the maelstrom I didn’t sense existed. As with all vortices, it sucked me in and refused to let go. Life went along, as I got more involved with my academics, but I never forgot Her. Medical school is a very demanding environment and my parallel existence and involvement with so many kinds of things meant I couldn’t get to see enough of her.

But I kept her in the crosshair of my sights never once losing aim. So many years, nay 5 plus decades of first seeing Her, I am still head over heels in that heady, frothy, all consuming first rush of passion, being a mere teenager (with nearly 5 decades of experience being one)

So I would like to dedicate the melody that truly epitomizes my feelings for her at the end of the day.

It was, after all, Her Birthday today. Here’s wishing the lady of my dreams and my first crush a wonderful day and I look forward to many more years of hopelessly being in love with you.

Memories Paul McCartney,

Revisiting yesterday

It started with a spoof video my friend sent me last evening. Amazingly one of the guys in the spoof is the very same iconic superstar who had performed the original on which the spoof was based, like one satirizing one’s own creation, an extremely unusual event. My mind was instantly transported more than half a century back to the years of my childhood when life (& the world itself) was a lot simpler.

The band the man sang, wrote songs for, and was part of was a worldwide phenomenon unlike whatever the world had experienced before they came into existence. He was the only one of the group to enjoy a longer, highly successful career even after the original band broke up thanks (in part at least) to his partner’s affaire de coeur with an Asian lady, and continues to remain active, even now, past 80 years of age.

Let’s listen to the original song. Here it is, then:

The band of course now needs no introduction at all. The Beatles is something I could write a tome on, as would a few hundred thousands of fellow Beatlemaniacs-for-life.


Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why? she had to go?
I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong.
Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday! love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why? she had to go?
I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong.
Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday! love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm.

The song took me back 50 years in time, Prakash Nadkarni, Rajesh Parikh, K R Balakrishnan and I landed one full moon night at the remnants of the old Portuguese fort at Land’s End, Bandra ( they’ve built a couple of Hotels close to that spot later, none existed at the time: you may remember the spot where the tall lanky actor Imran Khan dons a saree and sweeps the place trying to be “just good friends” with Genelia Fernandes in the wonderful teen flick “Jaane tu yaa jaane na” ) & spending a greater part of the night singing all these songs with nothing but a guitar accompanying us. Prakash was very good on the guitar and the four of us couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more. No tobacco, no alcohol, no girls, just clean , pure fun that cost us nothing but is so precious today. I think we went someplace close by to eat well past midnight in the city that never sleeps and the one that was so safe when I morphed from being a teenaged boy to a young man with a mission.

Prakash is today the head of Centre for Medical Infortmatics at Yale University, Rajesh a famous Psychiatrist in Mumbai, Bala is a very very big name in Cardiovascular surgery and the poster boy of Heart Transplantation in India. All three are amazingly grounded and humble even today. I remain a plumber and an electrician in Pune. Those, truly, were the days….

Paul McCartney actually composed the entire melody of “Yesterday” in a dream. Upon waking up, he hurried to a piano and played the tune in order not to forget it.

Paul McCartney wasn’t sure that the melody was original when he first came up with it, so, he asked several people just to be sure that he hadn’t plagiarised it.

John Lennon made a reference to “Yesterday” in his song “How Do You Sleep”  on his 1971 album “Imagine”. The song appears to attack McCartney having the line “The only thing you done was yesterday, but since you’ve gone you’re just another day” with a reference to another McCartney song: “Another day”.

“Yesterday” is one of the most recorded songs in the history of popular music. Its entry in Guinness World Records states that, by January 1986, more than 1,600 cover versions had been made. I am sure the number has at least doubled in the last 36 plus years

In 2012 the BBC reported that “Yesterday” remained the fourth most successful song of all-time in terms of royalties paid, having amassed a total of £ 19.5 million in payments.

Despite all this, what does the man go and do? Watch this, his naughty streak rather prominent.

Thanks to my friend and fellow canophile Atanu Chatterjee, I took this walk down memory lane nearly half a century later.

Stay healthy and happy, I will immerse my Today in Yesterday.

Introspective melodies Jagjit Singh

Life before you

Driving out of the city on Saturday, the car audio threw up an old favourite. I can listen to any number of Jagjit Singh ghazals any number of times, even binge listen to his many ghazal albums. Thanks to endless long drives I’ve heard countless CDs, DVDs and pendrives with his ghazals and of late, on YouTube while driving. This one was published as part of his Seher album at the turn of the millennium.

I like the way it starts, soft and introspective as the singer is imagining how it was before he met the love of his life. An admission of the love of his life being far more important than he thought she would be to him. Absence makes the heart grow fonder is a clichéd statement that’s repeated ad nauseam.

A lovely, touching, almost maudlin piece of verse by Meraj Faizabadi.

तेरे बारे में जब सोचा नहीं था
मैं तन्हा था मगर इतना नहीं था

तेरी तस्वीर से करता था बातें
मेरे कमरे में आईना नहीं था

समंदर ने मुझे प्यासा ही रखा
मैं जब सहरा में था प्यासा नहीं था

(सहरा  = रेगिस्तान)

मनाने रूठने के खेल में हम
बिछड़ जाएँगे ये सोचा नहीं था

सुना है बंद कर लीं उसने आँखें
कई रातों से वो सोया नहीं था

गुज़र जा इस तरह दुनिया से ‘मेराज’
कि जैसे तू यहाँ आया नहीं था

-मेराज फ़ैज़ाबादी

The heady intoxication of the ghazal stayed with me through the weekend and stayed with me when I woke up today.

In all probability it will be there with me through the day as well.

Stay safe, stay healthy and happy, folks and do speak up. Don’t lose the love of your life. Enjoy the week ahead

Ghazals Mehdi Hassan

Lonely and hating it….

Love and pain are two very common themes for poetry. One could (and frequently does) lead to the other. The danger is of course, in falling in love with the pain and staying happy in the process of being in it.  These two emotions have perhaps spawned more poems than most others. This is a wonderful poem by Qateel Shifai that was set to an excellent composition by the unquestionable Emperor of Ghazals, Mehdi Hasan sahab.

A great verse that talks of a broken promise, an unfulfilled dream, and an acceptance of the inevitability of the situation.

तूने ये फूल जो ज़ुल्फ़ों में सजा रखा है
इक दिया है जो अंधेरों में जला रखा है

जीत ले जाये कोई मुझको नसीबों वाला
ज़िंदगी ने मुझे दाँव पे लगा रखा है

जाने कब दिल में कोई झाँकने वाला आ जाये
इस लिये मैंने गिरेबान खुला रखा है

इम्तिहाँ और मेरे ज़ब्त का तुम क्या लोगे
मैंने धड़कन को भी सीने में छुपा रखा है

दिल था इक शोला मगर बीत गये दिन वो 'क़तील'
अब कुरेदो ना इसे राख़ में क्या रखा है

One of his really lovely ghazals that I love, although it’s not as popular as many of the others.

Stay safe folks, and stay healthy. The I day special will bring me on the airwaves at 1120 am tomorrow on AIR Delhi Gold FM . Do tune in.

Chitra Singh Introspective melodies Memories Unconditional love

The cry of the wounded soul…..

I must have heard this ghazal in the early or mid 70s. My older uncle was a huge aficionado of music. His life story is a huge inspiration. He started life after his graduation in a chemicals factory in Mumbai in the early 60s and continued to reinvent himself to become an industrialist of some repute to the point where his company would undertake turnkey projects in a wide variety of manufacturing, including sugar factories and oil manufacturing units across many countries. He had heard the duo perform in private mehfils from their earliest days and always foresaw a great future for them. This one is from an early album.

From the first somewhat sombre notes of the sarangi, the one instrument in Hindustani Classical music best suited to convey pathos, the atmosphere steeped in maudlin introspective thought is automatically created. When Chitra Singh starts singing, one is magically, almost instantly transported to a different planet. The ash’aars, heavy with the pain of untold suffering heaped upon the narrator easily strike upon an inner empathetic chord and makes one a tad morose and even lachrymose.

The power of great art, be it a painting, a piece of poetry, a dance or a soulful , sublime song to make a sensitive heart resonate to its notes is truly amazing. Just one of a panoply of emotions that exist in the audience’s minds can be selectively invoked by one well directed effort in one form or the other.

What better example of this than this sublime ghazal of a wounded soul ready to accept untold atrocities in return for just a simple demand: शर्त ये है कि हमे अपना बनाये रखिये…..

Poignant and gut wrenching, one of my very favourite ghazals by the lady.

Great, really meaningful verse by Tariq Badayuni. One has to understand the minds and psyche of the suffering womanhood completely to be able to come up with the glittering gem.

एक ना एक शम्मा अन्धेरे में जलाये रखिये

एक ना एक शम्मा अन्धेरे में जलाये रखिये
सुब्ह होने को है माहौल बनाये रखिये

जिन के हाथों से हमें ज़ख्म-ए-निहाँ पहुँचे हैं
वो भी कहते हैं के ज़ख्मों को छुपाये रखिये

(ज़ख्म-ए-निहाँ : छिपा हुआ ज़ख्म, अंदरूनी घाव)

कौन जाने के वो किस राहगुज़र से गुज़रे
हर गुज़रगाह को फूलों से सजाये रखिये

(राहगुज़र = गुज़रगाह = मार्ग, रास्ता, पथ)

दामन-ए-यार की ज़ीनत ना बने हर आँसू
अपनी पलकों के लिए कुछ तो बचाये रखिये

[(दामन-ए-यार : प्रेमी/ प्रेमिका का आँचल), (ज़ीनत = शोभा, श्रृंगार, सजावट)]

फिर तो हम आपका हर ज़ुल्म गवारा कर लें

शर्त ये है कि हमे अपना बनाये रखिये

-तारीक़ बदायुँनी

My eternal respect to all those ladies who suffer the indignity in quietude and their feelings rise occasionally in such a poignant form. I dedicate this verse and song to all you superwomen.

Stay safe, folks, stay healthy as heavy rains engulf the skies and nurture the nascent vegetation.


Memories Sad Songs

A lamentation,a cry of longing…

In Hindustani Classical Music, there is one genre that’s ideal to convey the pain of longing. There is really nothing better to convey the raw pain and the gnawing at the soul after being separated from one’s loved one, that too in such a short span of time. I am referring to the genre, the unique format of a Thumri. It is as effective at conveying Shringar rasa as it is in painting the picture of a विरहिणी, a lover separated by distance or circumstance from someone one loves. Take this outstanding example of a Thumri that is in our family collection, and a very treasured heirloom if I could add that, as the record was purchased by my grandfather. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, the portly maestro sings his heart out in virtually every song he sang in his lifetime. This is just one.

The raag called Bhinna Shadja comes into play as the maestro sings. The first jhankaar of the Surbahaar (which I’ve seen Pandit Swarmartand Jasrajji use frequently to excellent effect) from the first alaap, the brief musical piece just enchants, enthralls and captivates. When Khansaheb says “ये दुख सहा न जाये” one realises that one will have to pretend there is a speck of dust that entered one’s eye to explain the rush of lachrymosity. The raag itself is of the Bilawal thaat and is audav-audav.

This is a longer version from a live concert but the quality of recording isn’t quite as good as the studio version, given the times in which it was performed.–oNd9h1nYI

Just sublime, Khansaheb Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, unquestionably the emperor of this most refined musical genre. I sometimes feel a great injustice was done to exponents of this fabulous musical form by classifying them as being Semiclassical or Light Classical. The presentation is different, yes, but the genre is just superbly crafted to convey love, eroticism, longing, pain and can be even richly metaphorical or allegorical and actually can reach high on a spiritual plane. Unlike khayal gayaki which pays extreme attention to the elaboration of the structure of a raag, the thumri is more direct, laden with emotions and is deliberately restricted to the expression of the countless hues of shringaar by skillfully combining sur and shabd. The structure of a khayal is undoubtedly left broader and fluid without any overt temporal restriction of any kind. A Khayal on a single raag could easily last a few hours. I’ve been fortunate to be absolutely spellbound for nearly 2 and a half hours listening to Meghmalhar by Bharatratna Bhimsenji Joshi. While Khayal gayaki goes into great details on each swar, expounding on each diversion, toying with the emotions of the audience, while encompassing and expressing a wide range of complex emotions. The thumri goes straight to the emotional core of a composition and focusses on each fiber of that sublime feeling called love, each strand of sensuousness, with great discretion and clarity. Khayal is a lot more elaborate, grandiose even and one is awestruck by its majestic expanse; thumri is unambiguous in its intent, tone and more intensely romantic in spirit. It definitely needs a sensitive heart, and a sufficiently supple, elastic, manoeuvrable as well as soulful voice that can express several shades and hues of tones to embellish its beauty.  Thumri can be traced back to the 19th century, with a clear link to the classical dance type: Kathak . Of the two main types, this is the bandish ki thumri or bol-baant , this evolved mostly in Lucknow in the court of Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah, who was an accomplished poet and a lover as well as patron of the arts. As was the case with many art forms, it was a song sung by the Tawayefs (Courtesans). According to musical historians, a new version of thumri evolved in the late 19th century, which was independent of dance, and was therefore much more slow-paced, it was called bol-banav and it evolved in Varanasi.

The original lyrics are usually attributed to Khan saheb Bade Ghulam Ali Khan himself. Over time the lyrics are now prevalent in 2 forms , the other words used are given in parentheses.

याद पिया की आये
यह दुःख सहा ना जाये- हाये राम

बाली उमरिया सूनी रे  (री ) सजरिया
जोबन बीतो  ( बीता) जाये- हाये राम

बैरी कोयलिया कूक  सुनावे ( सुनाये  )
मुझ बिरहन का जियरा जलावे ( जलाये )
हाँ पी बिन रैन जगाये (पी बिन रहा ना जाये) – हाये राम

Originally composed as a lament for his departed soulmate, Khansaheb’s raw emotions come through in the lyrics of the bandish as well as in his soulful singing. The thumri has been rendered by Ustad Rashid Khan, one of my favourite singers of the current set of Hindustani Classical Music, and he uses the same voice soother that I was gifted by Pandit Jasrajji when I met him. That is a great way to remember

The same Thumri has been rendered by Vidushi Shobha Gurtu who devoted her life and career to these genres. I have never seen a more enchanting voice and her vocal power was awe- inspiring. Amazingly Laxmikant Pyarelal had the gall and unspeakable temerity to claim the credit for the composition when they used this for a Nana Patekar movie, Prahaar. The cherry on the top is when the lyrics are credited to Mangesh Kulkarni.

Of all the recent renditions, I loved Maithili Thakur’s. Here is a kid who worked hard, extremely hard and overcame tremendous odds to rise to the top. I love her spirit. One worth watching in the years to come, surely.

Stay safe, folks. The met department announcing very heavy rains for Pune district today expectedly turned out to be a damp squib.