Songs of Angana

October 19, 2016

Aanagn me upnayanWe have seen in the songs of atariya how its vantage location at the back of a house makes it an ideal secret meeting point for the lovers. Aangan or angana, i.e. courtyard, on the other hand, is a central feature of the house. Open to the sky, and surrounded on the four sides by verandah and living rooms, this quadrangle is the place where the family lives out its life, does all its mundane chores of daily existence, and also holds all its ceremonies and special occasions.



Bacchus in Bollywood

October 9, 2016

Guest article by DP Rangan

(The intoxicating drink as elixir of life is a part of mythology in almost all cultures. Harivansh Rai ‘Bachchan’ said that while the world celebrates Holi and Diwali only once a year, दिन को होली रात दीवाली रोज़ मनाती मधुशाला. After galloping on the High Horse, riding the tonga, and romancing with moon and stars in the night, DP Rangan ventures into the delights and sorrows of drinking. I have described him as a seventy plus-going on-seventeen, which makes him short of the minimum legal age for drinking. But this is an age when a youthful heart is filled with forbidden thoughts. In this well-researched article, typical of him, he takes us through the mythology and history of liquor and some drunken songs of Bollywood. Thank you Mr Rangan for another nice article from your inexhaustible repertoire. – AK)

Dilip Kumar and MotilalHomo sapiens have been indulging in drinks from time immemorial. There are enough records in writing or stone carving to demonstrate this fact. Our religious literature talks of Aryans drinking somras after performing yagnas. Adverse effect on health of habitual drunkards did not deter them from indulgence. It came to be accepted as a consequential hazard. History is replete with instances of kings ruining themselves by excessive drinking and also destabilising their kingdoms due to negligence of proper administration leaving it in the hands of their incompetent or even villainous henchmen. The final sufferers were the common populace.



Best songs of 1949: Wrap Up 3

September 28, 2016

Wishing Lata Mangeshkar a very Happy Birthday on her 87th birth anniversary (b. 28 September 1929) with her best songs of 1949

Lata MangeshkarIt is a no-brainer that Lata Mangeshkar was the best female playback singer of 1949. In later years, that would become routine – she defined the lead female voice. But in 1949, it must have been an amazing phenomenon. Here was a twenty year-old girl who had an inconspicuous debut as a playback singer a couple of years earlier in Aap Ki Sewa Mein (1947). The next year some stories started growing around her – how Ghulam Haider ‘discovered’ her, took her to S Mukherji of Filmistan for Shaheed, but he rejected her as her voice was too thin, whereupon Ghulam Haider famously told him that a day would come when the producers and music directors would line up before her, begging her to sing for them. She did have a couple of memorable songs in the year, but who could have thought that in 1949 a dam would burst with torrent of Lata Mangeshkar songs, leaving the yesteryear stalwarts dazed?



Dekho Dosto Chhed Ka Maza!

September 18, 2016

Guest article by Shalan Lal [The title is adapted from Hasrat Jaipuri’s lyrics in the film ‘Shararat’ (1959)]

(From Krishna teasing the gopis to Kishore Kumar, Shammi Kapoor and other heroes teasing heroines in the films, chhed chhad has been an integral part of our culture.  You would expect from the title that the post would contain a brief write up and some chhed chhad songs.  But as the readers have seen Shalan Lal in her Aviary of Songs, she infuses even the most commonplace subject with deep knowledge of literature, arts and music. In her second guest article for SoY, she similarly explores the origin of teasing and myths related to the pastime of harmless leg-pulling across cultures, and also presents some of the best Hindi film songs in the genre. Thank you, Shalan.AK)

PadosanThe SoY posts bring attentions to certain aspects of music, songs, themes and music makers etc. So I laboured to see if there was any mileage in the genre called Chhed chhad songs in the SoY. I found that it was yet an uncovered territory and I could add some interesting material about it.



Wishing Asha Bhosle a very Happy Birthday on her 83rd birth anniversary (b. 8 September 1933)

OP Nayyar and Asha BhosleWhen I wrote on my favourite ‘special’ songs of Asha Bhosle about five years ago, I was somewhat dismissive of her songs by OP Nayyar. At that time I viewed SoY as a स्वान्तः सुखाय self-indulgence. Five years down the line, I cannot claim that SoY is my blog. The readers have become important stake-holders in the way the blog has developed. Now I have become more aware of different tastes. While I may not have been purged of my biases, I can accept that there could be a large number of persons who are as moved by an Asha Bhosle song as by a Lata Mangeshkar’s. My favourite Asha Bhosle’s songs are predominantly composed by SD Burman, but it is commonly accepted that the most important influence in her career has been OP Nayyar. I have written on OP Nayyar’s songs for Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor and Shamshad Begum. This list cannot be complete unless I write on his songs for Asha Bhosle as my tribute to her on her 83rd birth anniversary. I hope her great fans like Arvinder Sharmaji, Hans, and my friend Arvind who appears to have been off-SoY for a while, would take it as some reparation on my part. I have to also thank our OPN-expert Ravindra Kelkar whose comments have added a great deal of information. I must add here that in that post on Asha Bhosle I did include an OPN composition – Bekasi had se jab guzar jaye from Kalpana (1960).



Mukesh’s vintage duets

August 27, 2016

A tribute to Mukesh on his 40th death anniversary (22 July 1923 to 27 August 1976)

MukeshMukesh debuted well into the vintage era with Dil hi bujha hua hai to in Nirdosh (1941). His first few years as actor-singer did not do him much good. He discovered his calling as a playback singer when his relation Motilal, then a leading actor in the industry, introduced him to Anil Biswas for singing in Pahli Nazar (1945). Dil jalta hai to jalne de created a sensation and made Mukesh, Mukesh. Thereafter, he was a very visible singer until another boost came when he became part of the legendary team of Raj Kapoor with Shankar-Jaikishan, Hasrat Jaipuri and Shailendra with Barsaat (1949). Thus, a long stint pre-1949 gave him an opportunity to sing with most of the famous vintage era female playback singers.



“Kuchh to log kahenge”

August 18, 2016

Kuchh to log kahengeWhen the media described the change of portfolio of a high-profile minister in the last cabinet reshuffle as downsizing her, she tweeted, Kuchh to log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kahna. The media makes its living out of saying up things, often with generous doses of spices and garnishing. Celebrities and public personalities learn to live with it. The minister was better off ignoring the barbs, but I have to thank her for giving me an idea for a post.



A tribute on his 98th birth anniversary (3 August 1918 – 6 January 1987)

JaidevQuite a while ago Mumbaikar8 wrote to me, in a somewhat stern tone, that Jaidev has been sidelined on Songs of Yore. I tried to explain to her that the absence of an artiste does not amount to his or her deliberate exclusion, but she was not willing to reduce the charge of pre-meditated homicide to a lesser offence. But to be fair, she sent me links of the songs of Kinare Kinare, some of which were new to me. She also offered an explanation why he might have been ‘sidelined’: SoY has room for the famous music directors on one hand, and the ‘Forgotten’ ones on the other, but Jaidev was neither a remembered composer nor a forgotten one. I have been somewhat late in making amends, what with the crowded Year of Naushad and C Ramchandra in 2015, followed by Shankar Jaikishan in the current year, but I was always conscious of the charge hanging on my head. Here is my tribute to this great talent on his 98th birth anniversary, which was about a week ago, with thanks to Mumbaikar8 for the title of this post.



A tribute to Rafi on his 36th death anniversary (24 December 1924 – 31 July 1980)

Shankar-Jaikishan with RafiRafi is arguably the best male playback singer of Hindi films, and Shankar-Jaikishan are, by any yardstick, among the greatest music directors. In any case they have been commercially the most successful and dominant figure over two decades (1950s-60s). Therefore, one would expect that any compilation of Rafi’s greatest songs would have a good number of SJ compositions. However, when I think of the best of Rafi, SJ do not pop up in my mind instantly. At the top in my reckoning are Naushad, Roshan, SD Burman and OP Nayyar, followed by a platter of Madan Mohan, Ravi, Chitragupta and Khayyam; thereafter, an assortment of Ghulam Mohammad, Hansraj Bahal, Husnlal-Bhagatram, and even ‘Forgotten Composers’ such as C Arjun, Lachchiram, Iqbal Qureshi etc. Surely, SJ cannot be dismissed in such a peremptory manner. To make sure that I was not missing something, I went through the entire list of Rafi songs closely.



A tribute on Mukesh’s 93rd birth anniversary (22 July 1923 – 27 August 1976)

Shankar-Jaikishan and MukeshMukesh debuted as (actor-)singer in 1941 with Nirdosh, i.e. 8 years before Shankar-Jaikishan’s debut in 1949 with RK Films’ Barsaat. After some initial struggle, Mukesh got a chance to work with the music titan of the era, Anil Biswas, courtesy his relation Motilal’s recommendation. Dil jalta hai to jalne de from Pehli Nazar (1945) created a sensation making Mukesh one of the leading singers of the time. Three big films with the successor stalwart, Naushad, in 1948-49 – Mela, Anokhi Ada and Andaaz – further boosted the popularity of Mukesh. Thus, when he first sang for SJ in their debut film, he had already achieved fame for his sweet, mellifluous voice. But this association proved to be the most important factor in the later career of Mukesh.