Dilip Dholakia? D. Dilip? Dilip Rai? – A Singer or A Music Director or A Music Arranger?

A tribute to Dilip Dholakia on his 6th death anniversary (15 October 1921 – 2 January 2011) by guest author Ashok M Vaishnav

(Hindi film music attracted talents from different regional languages and musical traditions.  Some, especially from Bengal, achieved great success and, in fact, became known as founding fathers of Hindi film music, such as RC Boral, Pankaj Mullick, Anil Biswas and, later, SD Burman, Hemant Kumar and Salil Chaudhary.  Stalwarts from some other regional languages, such as Gujarati, could not achieve the same success. Dilip Dholakia is one such doyen from Gujarat who in Hindi film music is primarily known as assistant to Chitragupta.  Ashok Vaishnav introduces us to many unknown aspects of this multi-faceted talent.  Earlier, he had written an excellent article on another doyen from Gujarat, Avinash Vyas. This is an important addition in the series on Forgotten Composers Unforgottable Melodies.  Thank you Ashokji for this enlightening article as a tribute on the 6th death anniversary of Dilip Dholakia which was a few days ago. – AK)

Dilip DholakiaThose who are familiar with any aspect of Dilip Dholakia’s world of music probably may know of him by any one of these names that he used for his different music career roles. For Hindi Film’s mundane history, Dilip Dholakia (Born: 15 October 1921 / Death: 2 January 2011) was probably noticed more as an assistant to Chitragupta or S N Tripathi or to the music-duo Laxmikant Pyarelal. And yet, Dilip Dholakia remained all of singer, music director, music arranger and at times even lyricist and an actor, during his active career. Probably that is the reason the lady luck did for not favour him with great worldly success in any one field!



Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year with guest article by DP Rangan

(Steam engines are everyone’s childhood romance.  The billowing smoke, the speck of light becoming bigger, the strange rhythmic sound of the wheels clanking with the rails, and a gentle tremor as the train chugged into the station, were a source of wonder not only for the children, but also for the adults. Waiting for the train was as exciting as the journey itself. Those days ‘people like us’ did not travel by planes. With air travel becoming middle class, and the modern diesel/electric-powered successors of the steam engine entering the station quietly, the train journey has been denuded of a great deal of its charm. Taking us on a nostalgia-trip is our seventy-plus-but-eternally-young DP Rangan, who packs in a massive amount of research into the origin of the steam engines, interesting trivia and their uses in films and songs all over the world.  One couldn’t ask for a better New  Year gift. I am delighted to wish the readers a very Happy New Year with this guest article by Mr. Rangan. Than you, Mr. Rangan. – AK)

World's Oldest Fairy Queen Steam Locomotive EIR 22The little boy standing at the railway platform with his uncle is completely entranced. As a 7 year old, he is going on a rail journey to the great metropolis Madras, capital of the Madras Presidency, with his uncle. He is keenly gazing at the distant spot where he expects the steam engine to emerge. Suddenly, he sees a dark shape hurtling towards him belching smoke and steam with a tell-tale rhythm peculiar to the steam engines. He is quite close to the edge ignoring his uncle’s warnings. As the engine rushes past him with passenger cars in tow, he is pulled back by his alarmed uncle, but not before a fire-spark from the smokestack has burnt a nice hole in his shirt and also scorched his skin. He is all smiles and brushes off his uncle’s rebukes after they are seated in the train. His uncle does not understand the enthusiasm of his nephew and tells him he has made umpteen number of journeys by train since his birth. The boy states that this is the first time he is conscious of it and would savour every moment of it. They had to travel seated as sleepers were not invented in British days. The boy did not sleep during the whole night and was always peeping out to have look at the steam engine. He was brushing off irritating carbon specks lodged in his eyes. By the time they landed in Madras Egmore next morning, his upper half was besmirched in coal dust and his eyes were a bright red. The boy was following by sight a bunch of white cap-clad young men being shepherded by a few policemen. His uncle, a keen wit, simply remarked they were in the garb of satyagrahis protesting against British, but, in reality, were seeking His Majesty’s prison to ensure they do not starve for a few days, not at all bothered by the hard looks of passers-by. Concerned at the sorry state of his nephew, the uncle hauled him off quick to his residence where an indulgent grandmother started right away to make him look presentable. The boy could not conceal his joy when he saw railway lines close to the house. During the summer vacation he was forever watching the trains plying to and fro throughout the day. All good days come to an end and, eventually, he was back in his home town to resume his humdrum life. The boy preserved the mutilated shirt as a talisman and guarded it fiercely from being worried by his siblings. One day his mother, unable to find the usual mop cloth, picked up the fragile shirt and wiped the rough floor of the house and reduced it to tatters. The boy, on discovering it, was disconsolate for some time and kept a frosty silence with his mother. Eventually, he made peace with her, after her profuse apology, tendered from time to time for her act of inconsideration, was accepted. This is not a figment of imagination, but an episode from the life of the author. Since that tender age, I had made many journeys in trains hauled by steam engines and my fascination for them has only grown more since they were phased out of operation. I am about to unfold history of steam engine none too briefly. After my previous posts, you all must expect something of the kind. I know it is a bitter pill to swallow but would compensate it with offerings of wonderful songs to bring smiles to your faces.



The SoY Award for the Best Music Director goes to?

Anil Biswas_Shankar-Jaikishan_Naushad_Khemchand Prakash_C Ramchandra_Husnlal-BhagatramFor the final wrap up, I can do no better than quote Mahesh: “The year 1949 itself was the biggest winner of all.” That refers to the historical place of the year in the evolution of Hindi film songs which we have discussed in the overview post, as well as in the various wrap ups: Wrap Up 1 (Best male solos), Wrap Up 2 (Best solos of ‘other’ female singers), Wrap Up 3 (Best solos of Lata Mangeshkar) and Wrap Up 4 (Best duets). In brief, there were two watershed events that changed the course of film songs. Lata Mangeshkar’s coming as a Tsunami shook the established order of the full-throated vintage era singers – her high-pitched thin voice becoming the industry standard for female playback singing for leading ladies. This started the era of Lata Mangeshkar versus ‘others’. Shankar-Jaikishan had a sensational debut with Barsaat in which they came with a unique orchestration, which was easy on the ears and extremely melodious. For the next twenty years they would be counted among the five most dominant music directors.



A tribute on her birth centenary (16 September 1916 – 11 December 2004)

(About three months ago, there was a burst of discussion on SoY on MS Subbulaxmi, initiated by a new member RSR (RS Ramaswamy) to which many others joined. Shalan Lal posed a question why MS had not been covered yet on SoY. Around this time, I had come across an article on her in the Hindustan Times on the occasion of her birth centenary. N Venkataraman informed that he had collected some materials on her. While her birth centenary was passing by, he said he would be able to put out an article within the calendar year, which could be published on her death anniversary December 11. Thus, we have this wonderful article on her as a tribute to her in her centenary year.

The first person from the field of music to be conferred the highest civilian honour of Bharat Ratna, MS’s fame rests mainly as a doyenne of Carnatic classical music, but she has acquired an indelible image as Meera-incarnate among the people at large, not only for her role in the bilingual film Meera (Tamil/Hindi), but also for her Lord Venkatesh Suprabhatam, and the devotional songs and bhajans like Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu Sahasranamam etc. Her journey from Kunjamma to Meera is a saga of toil and struggle for perfection and rebellion against social prejudices. I am delighted that SoY is able to pay a worthy tribute to a great soul of India with thanks to Venkaramanji for this erudite article. – AK)

MS SubbulakshmiThe life of M S Subbulakshmi is an extraordinary story with all the elements of a fairy tale; a journey of a small-town singer who reached the pinnacle of glory.It was an extraordinary transition from what was good to what was moulded to be great to what became grand. Guy De Maupassant once wrote “Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe; it gives back life to those who no longer exist”. In keeping with the saying, this post is my humble effort to recount her life and her art, and thus pay my tributes to the celebrated musician Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, on her birth centenary year.

M S Subbulakshmi or MS as she was popularly known as or Kunjamma as she was called in her childhood, was born to Shanmukhavadivu on 16th September 1916 in the ancient city of Madurai. Her roots can be traced to the Devadasi community (an ancient tradition) who dedicated themselves to the service of the temple gods. The Anti-Nautch Movement, which coincided with the Purity Movement in England in the last decade of the 19th century, brought in a vast change. Ritual dancing almost came to an end by this time. But the all-round training they had received in music stood in good stead at their hour of need.

Since MS was born in a class of temple singers, it was natural for her to identify with her matrilineal lineage. MS’s mother Shanamukhavadivu was an eminent veena artist and MS’s maternal grandmother, Akkammal was a violinist. Although Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer (a distinguished Carnatic musician) was referred to as MS’s father, as per T J S George the biographer of M S Subbulakshmi, ‘MS herself had gone on record saying that Subramania Iyer was her father. There the matter should rest’. She lost her father at the age of ten. MS’s sister Vadivambal was a promising veena player but her life and career were cut short untimely. Her brother Saktivel was a mridangam artist and had accompanied MS in the early years of her career. MS received her initial training in music from her mother and later she was trained by Srinivasa Iyengar, who passed away soon. Later in life, even after becoming the doyenne of Carnatic music, she had no hesitation in learning to sing kritis (Carnatic classical songs) from her contemporaries like Thanjavur Brinda, Musiri Subramania Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Among others who helped her to build up her vast repertoire were Dilip Kumar Roy, Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas and Vidushi Siddheswari Devi. She gave her first performance in Madurai at the age of ten and cut her first disc at Bangalore at the age of thirteen.

After the demise of MS’s father, Shanmukhavadivu along with MS shifted to Madras. MS was 12 years old then. Madras was the new cultural and music capital, replacing the ancient city of Thanjavur. Mylapore was the home of the Brahmin male vidwans, who dominated the classical music scene, and George Town became the home of the women musicians from the Devadasi community. Her natural talent and beauty made her vulnerable in a ruthless male world. At this stage she needed the benefaction of the Sabhas, the new platform providing patronage to art and culture. In 1932, her performance at the Kumbakonam Mahamaham festival attracted appreciation from various artists and paved the way for her first major concert in Madras. In 1935, MS was at the prestigious Music Academy’s annual season and that year she was one of the few singers who came in for praise from the press and the public. And, later on in the year 1968, when she was honoured with the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi, the first woman to be conferred with this title by the Music Academy, she acknowledged that in conferring this honour on her the academy has sought to honour the womanhood of this country. With her immense talent and golden voice, aided in no small measure by the managerial abilities of T Sadasivam, MS’s popularity graph soared from 1937 onwards. Within ten years of her arrival in Madras she became the reigning queen of melody appreciated by the connoisseurs and the commoners alike.

The year 1936 can be considered as the turning point of her life. She met T Sadasivam, 14 years elder to MS. He was a freedom fighter, working for the popular Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan. T Sadasivam was taking enormous interest in her career and this led to her first film opportunity. Seva Sadanam was published as a weekly serial in Ananda Vikatan, translated from the novel, Bazar-e-Husn, written by Munshi Premchand. K Subramaniyam, well-known producer-director of south Indian movies then, wanted the rights of the story. Sadasivam struck a deal that MS should act in the movie. Shanmukhavadivu didn’t agree to this and MS took the courageous decision to leave her home and landed in Sadasivam’s residence in Triplicane, much to the chagrin of Sadasivam’s mother and wife. This landmark film was close to MS’s heart. The story dealt with marital issues, domestic abuse, prostitution and women’s liberation. One of the early Tamil films set in a contemporary social settingand to advocate reformist social policies, the film and her songs became immensely popular. The success of the film further heightened MS’s popularity.

Thus we come to the first songof this post from her first film Seva Sadanam (1938). MS had trained under the guidance of Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas for a brief period. The song was adapted from a Bhajan sung by Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas. I could not find any video link to this song. Here is an audio link to the song from Seva Sadanam. To listen to the song please click against song number 7.

Shyamsundara Kamalvadana, film Seva Sadanam (1938), lyrics and music Papanasam Sivan


The bhajan rendered by Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas


Buoyed by the success of Seva Sadanam, Sadasivam decided to turn to production and launched Sakuntalai with MS in the title role. Their association with the American director Ellis R Dungan began with this film. And then there was GN Balasubramaniam, or GNB, as he came to be called – a dashing and handsome musician, six years older than MS. She was mesmerized by GNB’s unrivalled singing style. By the time they started working together for Sakuntalai, MS’s reverence for GNB had blossomed into a full-fledged affair of the heart. The feeling was mutual, as evident from the fact that he kept all her love letters (written between 1939 and 1940) safe, until the end of his life. But things took a different turn. Sadasivam rushed through his marriage (10th July 1940) with MS, soon after his first wife’s tragic death. Thus her romantic affair with GNB came to a rather abrupt end. The film Sakuntalai was released in 1940 and had 24 songs mostly sung by MS, including two duets with GNB, and all of them were hits.

My next song is from her second film Sakuntalai (1940). Here MS by way of her beautiful rendition does full justice to the wonderful lyrics and music. The first line of the song goes like this “I surrender to the all-encompassing Nadabrahmam”, the primordial sound.

Engum nirai Nadabrahmam, film Sakuntalai (1940), lyrics Papanasam Sivan, music Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma

The tune of the above song was adapted and used in the Hindi version of the film Meera (1947).Thus we enter into the sphere of Meera. Unable to accept Meera’s single-minded devotion to Lord Krishna, a distressed Rana, orders the demolition of the temple at Chittorgarh by use of cannon and sends his brother Vikram to execute the job. Meanwhile, Rana comes to know from his sister the failed attempt earlier by Vikram to poison Meera and the truth dawns on him. He rushes to the temple to stop the demolition and in the process gets injured. Meera declares to Rana that she has failed as a wife and queen and she expresses her desire to leave for Dwaraka in response to the call from Lord Krishna. Here MS playing the role of Meera renders the song Mere to Giridhar Gopal doosaro na koi.

In the meantime MS acted in the role of Narada, in Savitri (1941). A mythological, Savitri, attracted considerable attention. Savitri had many songs, mostly sung by MS and some by Shantha Apte, who played the title role. Then Meera came. The film was produced by T Sadasivam under the banner Chandraprabha Cinetone. ‘Kalki’ Krishnamoorthy and T Sadsasivam wrote the script. In the Hindi version Amrit Lal Nagar was part of the team. Ellis R Dungan was the director for both the versions. Dilip Kumar Roy played a vital role in the selection and composition of the songs for the Hindi version. Naresh Bhattacharya, G Ramanthan and Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma were part of the music team. And Paapanasam Sivan and Pt. Narendra Sharma were part of the lyrics section. The Tamil film was released on the Deepavali day, in the year 1945, followed by its Hindi version two years later on 5th December 1947 at the Plaza Theatre, New Delhi. This was her only Hindi Film and her last film too. The film Meera and its songs propelled her to national fame. I would like to present some of the songs out of the 15 exceptional solos she rendered for the film Meera. People may have complained about MS’s accented Hindi, but they adored her music, its mellifluousness and its sanctity.

Even after her marriage to Rana of Mewar, against her wishes, Meera’s love for Lord Krishna remains unaltered. Soon after her marriage, Meera, while wandering around the royal gardens, entranced by the drifting sweet melody of the flute, renders this beautiful song. A perennially popular song, Kaatriniley Varum Geetham, is said to be adopted from a Bengali song sung by Juthika Roy. Here is the immortal number from the Tamil Version.

MS stands unparalleled in her bhakti and devotion. Maybe it was the presence of the implied shringara rasa transformed into bhakti in her music. Let us listen to the equally enchanting Hindi melody, Hari aawan ki awaaz, aaj suni mein.

Responding to the request from Meera and out of his love for his wife, Rana constructs a temple for Krishna at Chittorgarh, capital of Mewar. Much to the disappointment of Rana, Meera spends most of the time in the temple, singing in praise of Lord Krishna along with the other devotees. Kannan leelaigal chaivane is one such song rendered by MS (with chorus) in the Tamil version. In this song we can find the touch of Dilip Kumar Roy.

Let us listen to the Hindi version of the song Mane chaakar raakhoji.

Meera is criticized by the royal family for her unworldly ways. To get rid of her, Vikram gives poisoned drink to Meera through his sister, but Meera is saved by the grace of Lord Krishna. Krishna’s idol at Dwaraka turns blue due to the effect of the poison. The temple door closes spontaneously and remains shut till Meera reaches Dwaraka (at the end of the film). Meera expresses her gratitude to Giridhari for saving her life by rendering this song Aaravene…. Giridhari unadhu arule.

Now I present the Hindi song, Pag ghunghroo re set to the situation mentioned above. During the filming of Meera, the Maharana of Udaipur said to MS and her husband “In the olden days I would have exchanged my whole kingdom for her singing. Now I shall give you whatever help you need by way of horses and elephants for the shooting.”  This incident speaks volumes about the beauty and grace of her music which over a period of time matured into greatness. Let us listen to the song. I am presenting an audio of this song recorded much later, since the video of the film, available in YT, ends abruptly.

Legend has it that the Mughal Emperor Akbar, on hearing about Meera’s singing and devotion to Lord Krishna, accompanied by Man singh, travelled all the way from Delhi to Chittogarh in disguise to see and listen to Meera, with an offering of a pearl necklace as gift. The song Unnaiye enathu uyir thunai enru is set to this situation. Another superb song. The polarities of seeking and finding, loss and conquest, desire and fulfillment are realised in her rendition and the lyrics. The song comes after a viruttam/ aalap Characharam unnaiyavum thedume.

In the Hindi version, the song Main Hari charanan ki daasi is set to the same situation. Please listen to this captivating song.

After the cannon incident (mentioned earlier), Meera leaves Chittor in quest of her beloved Lord Krishna. On reaching Brindavan, on her way to Dwaraka, she breaks into another enthralling song, laden with spiritual ecstasy. The Tamil song Brindavanathil Kannan valarndha.

Followed by the Hindi version Yaad aavey, Brindavan ki mangal leela set to the same situation and tune.

The next pair of melodious songs is set to the situation where Meera leaves Brindavan for Dwaraka to attain her ultimate goal. The Tamil song Enggum niranithaye followed by the Hindi song Kunjan ban chhaadi he Madho kahaan jaaun.

In the decade 1935-44, we find MS in a different mode, a defiant and daring woman who could walk out of her maternal home for a career in films, a woman afflicted by love, who loved all good things in life. MS was a sensitive person and she was saddened by the gossips/ scandals doing round in the local magazines/Journals. All this started changing in 1944 and ended in 1947. With Meera came the transformation of MS. MS’s aesthetic changeover was clearly visible,the transcendence and actualizing Meera in herself. She deeply immersed herself in the role of Meera and that association would never leave her. Meera was a national success, launching a small-town south Indian singer into the national headlines. Sadasivam ensured that MS never acted again, thus etching the image of Meera, an image of divinity and dignity, forever on the frame of MS. Thus the makeover from Kunjamma to Meera was complete.

And the journey after………

MS was primarily a Carnatic classical singer who also acted in a few films. I would not discuss her Carnatic classical songs here, nor would I present any of her renditions form this genre. If any of the readers feel like, we can bring in this genre for discussion in the comments section. The image of Meera would never leave her, and there was never a concert which did not have Meera bhajans. MS also rendered and recorded a wider repertoire of Bhakti Sangeet, including the works of Tulsidas, Kabir, Nanak, Surdas, Tukaram, Narsi Mehta and other composers. She also learned Rabindra Sangeet. Thus she acquired many identities in her music. I would post a few of her non film bhajans.

A Tulsidas Bhajan, Shri Ramachandra kripalu bhaja mana, preceded by a Shloka / Stotram.

In MS’s singing there is a partnership between the singer and the sung which arises from the depth of her being. A false note from MS was unimaginable. There could not be any slip, her concerts had to be as impeccable as her personality. In my next offering a Surdas bhajan, Ankhiyan Hari darsan ki pyasi, at the end of the clipping /rendition you can notice MS (4:25), giving a rebuking look, when Radha Vishwanathan slips / falters and goes off key.

MS’s association with Dilip Kumar Roy is well known and needs no further elaboration. Indira Devi, a trained and accomplished dancer, who later left everything to become a Yogi and a disciple of Dilip Kumar Roy, had penned few devotional numbers. My next presentation, Ghunghroo baandh pag ayi Meera, a Bhajan penned by Indira Devi and set to music by Dilip Kumar Roy.

During the course of filming of Meera, MS came into the national limelight, attracting the attention of Mahatama Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and others. She was handpicked by Gandhi to sing two of his favourite Bhajans, Hari Tum Haro jan ki Bhirh and Vaishnava jana to. My last offering would be the Bhajan, Vaishnava jana to penned by Narsi Mehta.

MS received many an accolades including the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1974 and Bharat Ratna in 1998. After the death of her husband T Sadasivam in November 1997, she stopped all her public performances. MS left for her heavenly abode on 11th December 2004. Thus an era ended.

Borrowing from T M Krishna, an eminent Carnatic musician of this era and a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee this year, I quote:

“Every time she sang, she allowed every moment of her life experience to imbue the melody, letting go of all her inhibitions, abstracting herself into the raga. Once in a great while, we experience an unadulterated sense of what is real, so tender and vulnerable that our fences break down when it touches us, and we see ourselves like never before. MS, more than any other musician, can gift us these moments of self-realisation.”

Thus I bring to close my post on M S Subbulakshmi.


I have hinged heavily on a few books, articles and writings from various magazines and internet for doing this post. I have simply gathered materials/ information collected from various sources and collated/ arranged them in a best possible way known to me and the real credit goes to the authors of these books and articles. I owe responsibility for any mistakes or wrong information

Acknowledgements & References:
1.    Menon, Indira. The Madras Quartet: Women in Karantak Music. Indira Menon. Roli Books
2.    George, TGS. MS, A life in Music.  Harper Collins Publishers India
3.    Articles/writings of Gowri Ramanarayanan, grandniece of M S Subbulakshmi and author of the book MS and Radha: Saga of Steadfast Devotion, New Horizon Media, Chennai, published under the auspices of the Suswaralakshmi Foundation for Classical Music and Performing Arts
4.    Krishna, TM. MS understood. The Caravan
5.    Dhananjayan, G. Pride of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2013. Chennai:Blue Ocean Publishers
6.    Talks by V Sriram on MS, (author of Carnatic Summer: Lives of twenty Great Exponents) published in Rasika.org
7.   Ramakrsihan, Nivedita. MS Subbulakshmi’s Hindi Meera. Cinemacorridor.blogspot.in
8.  Saregama Tamil, Alkananda 2007, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and other uploader(s) of the songs

Let me convey my wholehearted thanks to all of them. My apologies to the authors and writers of those books and articles, whom I might have inadvertently missed out or failed to remember.


Shankar JaikishanIn my series on Shankar-Jaikishan, I have covered so far their best songs for his leading singers, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Rafi and Manna Dey. SJ would be easily reckoned among the top five music directors for these major singers. Besides, I have also presented his best dance songs for Lata Mangeshkar and female dance duets. One measure of a music director’s versatility is the number of diverse singers for whom he gives their career-best songs. Take the case of SD Burman – there is no prominent singer for whom he has not composed some songs which would count among his or her best. As I come towards the close of the series, it is useful to take a look how Shankar-Jaikishan fare with other singers. SJ’s oeuvre is so huge that some more posts would be needed to give a fair coverage to their music. But I have been generally closing a series on a music director in the calendar year, and I have some other mandatory posts scheduled in the remaining part of the year. Therefore, I am presenting my final tribute to SJ with their songs for ‘other’ singers which give a glimpse of their multi-faceted talent.



Best songs of 1949: Wrap Up 4

November 20, 2016

And the SoY Award for the Best Duet goes to?

Ae mohabbat unse milneIt is always a pleasure to write the Wrap Up 4, which is for the best duets of the year. The best solos always generate some  controversy. In male solos this year, there was a close tie between Rafi and Mukesh. My conclusion that Mukesh was the No.1 singer of the year left many readers dissatisfied.  Lata Mangeshkar versus ‘other’ singers can never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Even in a year in which it was acknowledged that Lata Mangeshkar came as a tsunami, there was a dissenting voice. The duets, however, present a less contentious scenario. Here the ‘others’ come in full force; their combination with the leading male singers, such as Rafi and Mukesh, creates a kaleidoscope of colours. Shamshad Begum sheds off the challenge of Lata Mangeshkar when it comes to duets. Suraiya is always supremely melodious. Surinder Kaur, who is a legend in Punjab, gives some wonderful duets, besides solos which we have seen in Wrap Up 2. In female-female duets, we get some niche vintage voices. But the main charm is that we also get duets in which none of the familiar voices are there, and they are as delightful as any by the leading singers.



Shankar-Jaikishan with Lata MangeshkarLata Mangeshkar is a ubiquitous presence on SoY. Shankar-Jaikishan, being one of the most dominant and successful music directors, have also figured very prominently on this blog. Therefore, it is difficult to believe, but it is true, that I have not done a post on the best songs of this combination as I have done for my other favourite music directors Chitragupta, C Ramchandra, Roshan, SD Burman, Anil Biswas and Naushad. To be sure, her songs by SJ, too, have figured very prominently in different contexts, such as in the reviews of the best songs of 1949 (currently underway), 1951, 1953 and 1955. In the SJ series, too, this year I have done a post on a special class of their songs – Lata Mangeshkar’s dance songs by SJ. Also, she figures in all but one song in the post on S-J’s female dance duets. But with this combination’s over 450 songs of which over 300 are solos, even if we exclude all that has been covered earlier, we would be still left with dozens of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs which would figure among her greatest.



Wishing Happy Diwali with guest article by DP Rangan

(Readers are now used to seeing DP Rangan’s name as a guest author regularly.  He can write faster than I can schedule him on SoY. At any point of time I have a couple of his articles in my mail. I admire his amazing enthusiasm. I am happy to present another well-written article by him containing some rare vintage Diwali songs – impressive for someone whose first language is not Hindi.  Thank you Mr Rangan for this offering of Diwali songs. – AK)

DiwaliIndia, that is Bharat as it was known in ancient days, is populated by heterogeneous group of people following their own religion. Many religions like Buddhism, Jainism flourished at one time or the other, but disappeared over time with very few or none practicing it today. Hinduism is the predominant religion followed by the populace right from the Punjab in the North to Kanyakumari in the South. Despite difference in language and custom in the country, the basic tenets of Hinduism have remained the same and one could perceive a tenuous link among Hindus across the country. Again Hinduism is not a religion in the strict sense of the term, but a way of life amidst its followers. The basic tenets of life, i.e. creation, maintenance and destruction, are represented by the triumvirate of Gods and their consorts in the Hindu religion and there are numerous festivals in honour of them. That way all religions of the world have their own festivals. Hindus celebrate more festivals in a year compared to other religions. The major festival among them are Deepavali and Dussera. The present blog will confine itself to discussion of Deepavali, and the manner of its celebration in the country.



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.