Around the World in Songs

February 18, 2018

An evening in Paris

Today everyone has a nephew into software who works on-site in the US or Europe. But there was a time when ‘people like us’ did not travel to foreign lands. Today, there is hardly a film which does not have some song-dance sequence, if not most of the film, shot abroad. Bollywood is an important promoter of tourism to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Switzerland. The main attraction of Mount Titlis is to get yourself photographed with the cardboard cut-out of Shahrukh Khan and Kajol.



Ei hai Bambai nagariyaIn the first part of our Bharat Darshan in songs, we journeyed through small towns for which I have a special liking. But, ‘progress’ means progression from villages to small towns to big cities. If you live in small towns, you are a lesser mortal. There are practical aspects of jobs, infrastructure, access to education, medical facilities and entertainment, which pull people from the hinterland to the big cities. Therefore, Bharat Darshan is not complete unless we cover the Metros too.



Greeting the readers on the 68th Republic Day

Bikaner JunctionWhen I joined service, an important part of our training was to go on a 30-days’ Bharat Darshan by train. This had been sanctified by Mahatma Gandhi at the inspiration of his mentor and political guru, Gokhale, and romanticised by Richard Attenborough. In between, Abhi Bhattacharya showed kids a jhaanki of Hindustan by train. You can imagine the logistics involved in the exercise – about ten groups of a dozen officers each to be sent from one part of the country to another, stopping for different lengths of time at about eight locations, reservations in connecting trains, board & lodging and asking host organisations to impart orientation training to the group. All these in the days of snail mail and telephone, which was more a decorative piece signifying status rather than an instrument for making calls. The exercise was mindboggling. Come to think of it, all this trouble and expense was avoidable. Our film songs do a very good job of giving a Bharat Darshan. They go not only to the metros, but also to the hinterland, which is where the real India lives. They also give some interesting social and cultural information about the place, not available in any history book or tourist literature.


Nuptials in Bollywood

January 14, 2018

Guest article by DP Rangan

(With Makar Sankranti and Pongal, as the month-long ‘inauspicious period’ comes to an end and the wedding season is set to resume with full vigour, our indefatigablete  DP Rangan comes up with a very nicely-timed post on nuptial songs from our films. In his characteristic style, Mr Rangan packs in a lot of sociological information on the evolution of the institution of marriage across cultures. He also comes up with an outstanding collection of songs of different hues. Thank you Mr Rangan for yet another excellent article. Coincidentally, a message is doing the rounds that the state of Virginia (US) has resolved to designate 14 January every year as Pongal Day in their calendar. Let me also wish the readers Happy Makar Sankranti and Pongal. – AK)

Pi ke ghar aajMale and female interrelationship among Homo sapiens tended to be loose in ancient days when they started to spread over the globe, starting from Africa. They migrated on foot in close-knit groups and colonised Europe and Asia over a period of more than several thousands of years. At that time they were primarily a hunter gatherer group wandering all over following their prey. There were no permanent settlements. Life expectancy was low and mortality rates quite high particularly among males who were the prime hunters. There was no fixed bond between male and female and change of partners was quite common.



Wishing the readers a very Happy New Year

Multiple version songsLong ago there used to be a popular game show on the American TV titled: ‘It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman’. The host would invite the participants in pairs, one of whom would be given a clue, which could be a famous proverb, or a quotation, or a film or a song title. This person was allowed to draw, sketch or mime, but not to speak or write words or numbers, and his partner was to guess the clue. The game was exciting because the audience in the show and the TV viewers were shown the clue. If you imagine its Indian version, supposing you are given the clue ‘Mere sapne mein aana re sajna’. You may draw and mime to the best of your ability, but your partner might falter from Sapna ban saajan aaye, to Sapne mein sajan se do baatein, to Sach huye sapne mere, to Kaun hai jo sapne mein aya, to Mere khwabon mein jo aaye, with the audience rooting all along, wishing he reached the correct clue.



And the Songs of Yore Award for the Best Music Director goes to?

Naushad_C Ramchandra_Ghulam Haider_Husnlal-BhagatramI start with wishing the readers  Merry Christmas. After the Overview post and the three category-wise wrap ups – Wrap Up 1 for the best male solos, Wrap Up 2 for the best female solos, and Wrap Up 3 for the best duets – we now have a fairly good idea of who the dominant music directors were. Naushad with all his songs in Anokhi Ada and Mela – totalling about two dozen – being super hits, is undoubtedly top of the pack. Anil Biswas in Anokha Pyar, Gajre and Veena; C Ramchandra in Nadiya Ke Paar and Khidki; Husnlal-Bhagatram in Pyar Ki Jeet; Ghulam Haider in Shaheed; Ram Ganguly in Aag; and Khemchand Prakash in Ziddi gave some everlasting songs. The underrated genius, Ghulam Mohammad never fails to create outstanding songs, and he did so in Grihasthi and Pugree. There were others, too, whose one or two songs featured in the best lists.



OP Nayyar unlike OP Nayyar

December 14, 2017

Guest article by Ravindra Kelkar

(OP Nayyar lived life king size. Even when he was in financial difficulty in his later years, he was immaculately dressed and had a regal bearing; there was no dent in his famous pride – he refused the Lata Mangeshkar Award for music, which carried a substantial cash award for those days, when he was in need; he never cared for winning friends and impressing people. His music was as much in-your-face – the infectious rhythm and joy was recognizable from miles. It was impossible for such a person to be unlike him.

Ravindra Kelkar started his series on OP Nayyar with an overview of three phases of his career. After covering his peerless combination with Geeta Dutt, his influence on other music directors, and his duets in two parts, he brings the curtain down on the OPN series with his sixth and the last article – befittingly with his unique songs which are very different from his characteristic style.

This theme was first suggested to me by a reader Mukund Gadgil a few years ago, who also sent me a draft article. I made some suggestions with regard to the write-up and the song selection to fit with the general style of SoY, but I did not get any response from him. I tried a couple of times later to establish contact with him, but didn’t succeed. When Mr Kelkar came on board to write the series, I suggested the theme to him. The write-up is entirely his. I suggested some songs which fitted the theme according to me, and I am happy to note that most of those songs have been included. I thank Mr Kelkar for his highly acclaimed series, and this excellent concluding article. I also take this opportunity to thank Mr Gadgil for the theme idea. This may be the last on OP Nayyar, but I trust this is not the last of Mr Kelkar. Hopefully, we will have more from him on other themes. AK)

OP NayyarThis is the last post on OP (did I hear a collective sigh of relief?) and this interesting theme was suggested by AK. Before, we get into it, let us take a summarized look on OP’s career highlights.




Duets of OP Nayyar: Part 2

December 3, 2017

Guest article by Ravindra Kelkar

(Of the 223 total duets composed by OP Nayyar, the most conspicuous are male-female duets in which the male voice is Rafi and the female voice, either Geeta Dutt or Shamshad Begum or Asha Bhosle. These are 119 in number, and were the subject matter of Ravindra Kelkar’s last post on OP Nayyar’s duets. That leaves 104 duets, including 60 ‘other’ MF duets – Rafi with other female singers, and male singer other than Rafi – and 44 duets of mixed type, i.e. male-male, female-female or more than two singers. Thus, in spite of the smaller number, these 104 duets present immense variety. With this second part of the two-part post on OP Nayyar’s duets, Mr Kelkar completes the comprehensive review of OP Nayyar’s duets. Thank you, Mr Kelkar for your painstaking effort. – AK)

OP NayyarIn part 1 we listened to Rafi-Geeta Dutt, Rafi-Shamshad Begum and Rafi-Asha Bhosle duets. Now let us listen to some other combinations.



Duets of OP Nayyar: Part 1

November 23, 2017

Guest article by Ravindra Kelkar

(SoY readers would recall that Ravindra Kelkar has been making valuable contributions on OP Nayyar through his guest articles and, thus, filling up a gap in SoY. He has contributed three articles so far: ‘Three distinct phases of OP Nayyar’; OP Nayyar-Geeta Dutt: A peerless combination’; and OP Nayyar’s influence on other music directors. As we inch towards the conclusion of the series, Mr Kelkar covers OP Nayyar’s duets in two parts. The first part is on his most conspicuous duets in which Rafi is the male voice, combining with his three most important female singers – Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum and Asha Bhosle, in chronological order.

Mr Kelkar observes OPN was among the four best music directors in composing duets. His choice of musical instruments, his rhythm and special features like either the male or the female singer entering late in the song, giving it an effect of solo, make OPN unique. The romanticism in his duets was a reflection of his fascination with women, observes Mr Kelkar. Thank you Mr Kelkar for another excellent piece. – AK)

OP NayyarI consider C Ramachandra, SD Burman, Shankar Jaikishan and OP Nayyar as the four best music directors (MDs) in composing duets. Of course, all other MDs have composed outstanding duets, but the sheer numbers and variety make these four MDs stand apart.



Best songs of 1948: Wrap Up 3

November 12, 2017

And the Songs of Yore Award for the Best Duet goes to?

Kyun unhe dil diyaAs per the long-term average, female solos outnumber male solos by a big margin, with duets somewhere in between. The same is true for the year 1948. My list of 114/115 MEMORABLE SONGS in the Overview post has the following break-up:


Male solos        –  26
Female solos    –  53
Duets                  –  36
       TOTAL    –   115

Besides the significant number, the duets present  interesting variety of combinations of singers. This category also includes all male or female duets, and songs by more than two singers (which could be all male or female or mixed). I count the chorus songs in which there is only one identifiable dominating voice as a solo of that singer.