Guest article by Subodh Agrawal
(It has now become routine for Subodh to surpass the outstanding. He is coming back after a long gap. But if the outcome is this superb piece, we don’t mind his prolonged preparations. It is interesting to note that while the raga itself has gravitas, the word ‘Darbari’ meaning a ‘courtier’ lends itself to some pejorative connotation, giving rise to some interesting trivia and anecdotes. Subodh’s explanation of its difference with ragas in close proximity, such as Adana, is scholarly. Continuing a great beginning to 2014, I present this guest article by Subodh, his 7th in the series on the film songs based on classical ragas. - AK)
Darbari – along with Bhairavi, Yaman and Pahadi – is one of the most commonly used ragas for film music. Having written about Yaman and Pahadi earlier and having enjoyed the experience, I was looking forward to doing this post on Darbari, but my enthusiasm waned considerably after I compiled a list of songs in Darbari in preparation for this article. The songs are good, some of them are great, but few of them really do justice to Darbari. Let me cite just three examples: O duniya ke rakhwale from Baiju Bawra, Dil jalta hai to jalne de from Pehli Nazar and Teri duniya mein dil lagta nahin from Baawre Nain – all three are very good songs but the mood they depict is not what Darbari is meant for. As the name suggests, Darbari has a royal aura about it. There has to be a certain gravitas about it. In my humble opinion it is not meant for the kind of wailing and whining these three songs represent. Composers would be better off using a raga like Todi for such songs.
Let me now touch briefly upon the technicalities of the raga. Readers of Songs of Yore would have seen my earlier post on Malkauns. Malkauns uses only five notes, Darbari uses all seven. You add the missing notes‘re’ and ‘pa’ to the scale of Malkauns, and you have the scale of Darbari. There is one very important difference, however, in the way the two ragas use their scales. As I had mentioned in the earlier article, Malkauns allows a great freedom of interpretation. Once you get the notes right, whatever you do will sound like Malkauns. Darbari, on the other hand, has the same scale as Asavari/Jaunpuri. One has to be very careful about the movement, otherwise one risks straying into the territory of Asavari, Desi and a host of Malhars.
With these opening thoughts let me now present my choice of ten songs in Darbari.
1. Nain heen ko raah dikha prabhu by K L Saigal from Bhakt Surdas (1942), music by Gyan Dutt
Although Saigal departs from Darbari in the last lines of the second stanza, overall this song preserves the mood of Darbari much better than the two Mukesh songs I have mentioned in the opening paragraph. There is entreaty, prayer and pathos, but it is all rendered with a sense of dignity.
2. Hum tujh se mohabbat kar ke sanam by Mukesh from Awara (1952), music Shankar Jaikishan
Most fans of Mukesh – and I count myself as one – would probably not rate this song as high as Dil jalta hai or Teri duniya mein. However I have chosen to include it here because to me it depicts the mood of Darbari better than the other two. There is sorrow, the mood is somber, but like the Saigal song above it is presented with introspection, restraint and dignity.
3. Ae dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal by Talat Mahmood from Arzoo (1950), music Anil Biswas
I am sticking my neck out by including this song in this list as one of most respected sources of classical music on the internet www.chandrakantha.com lists this song under Adana. I will cover Adana later in this post and in my opinion the movement of this song is much closer to Darbari than Adana. It may have used a note or two which is forbidden in Darbari but permitted in Adana, but I would not call it Adana on that count alone. This song was included in this year’s first post as the centenary tribute to Anil Biswas. I am sure readers won’t mind its repetition as my personal tribute to the Maestro.
4. Tu pyar ka sagar hai by Manna Dey from Seema (1955), music Shankar Jaikishan
We have all remembered this song, among the best of Manna Dey, as we paid homage to the great singer last year. Of all the songs in this list, this one captures the mood of Darbari the best.
5. Ud ja bhanwar maya kamal by Manna Dey from Rani Roopmati (1959), music S N Tripathi
The first part of this song, sung by Manna Dey, is in Darbari; while the second part in Lata’s voice is in Sarang. This song has already found mention on Songs of Yore – Arvind’s comment # 19 on my first article in this series.
6. Nain se nain milaye rakhne ko by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Zahida Parveen from Waada (1957 Pakistan), music Rashid Attre
This is a very interesting composition for Darbari with its energetic rendering and a lighter mood. The opening instrumental sequence is not in Darbari – the raga shows itself only when the vocal begins.
7. Tora man darpan kahlaye by Asha Bhosle from Kaajal (1965), music Ravi
There are two very good songs by Asha in Darbari – this one and Daiya ri daiya laaj mohe lage. I have included this as this is closer to the mood I associate with this raga.
8. Koi matwala aya mere dware by Lata Mangeshkar from Love in Tokyo (1966), music Shankar Jaikishan
I have reached number 8 in this list without a song by Lata – what sacrilege! Let me make up for this by including this dance number. I haven’t seen the movie, so I have no idea how this song fits into the foreign setting of this film. Hopefully some reader would throw light on this.
9. Mitwa laut aaye ri by Manna Dey from Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962) music S N Tripathi
Hindi film music directors have often misused Manna Dey’s talent for classical singing for flippant songs. Fortunately when it comes to Darbari, they have by and large, avoided this temptation. I say ‘by and large’ because there is a glaring example of this misuse even in Darbari – Pyar ki aag mein tan badan jal gaya. The present song from Sangeet Samrat Tansen does the singer and the raga full justice.
10. Jhanak jhanak tori baaje payaliya by Manna Dey from Mere Huzoor (1968), music Shankar Jaikishan
This song has perhaps the highest recall factor when one thinks of film songs in raga Darbari. I fondly remember a fellow student from my days in IIT Kanpur – a sikh gentleman – who was very fond of this song and sang it with feeling whenever there was a musical evening organized by the students. He made up in enthusiasm whatever he might have lacked in musical subtleties. Before presenting this song he would shyly confess that he would sing two stanzas from the film, and two more that he had composed himself. Unfortunately I don’t recall his name or anything else about him. I would be very happy to know about him if he himself, or someone else who knows him, happens to read this.
That brings me to the end of the list of ten songs in Darbari. I look forward to many more in the comments by learned readers of Songs of Yore.
A few words now about Adana. Darbari and Adana are closely related. They follow the same scale, although occasionally Adana uses the shudh version of ‘ni’. The major difference is in the movement – as would be evident from the examples below. Unlike the slow ponderous movement of Darbari, Adana moves quickly and spends more time in the higher notes. In the words of Rajan Parrikar at http://www.parrikar.org/hindustani/kanada/ “although Adana is allied to Darbari it jettisons much of the latter’s ponderous baggage… In contrast to Darbari, Adana is an uttaranga-pradhana raga, lithe and full of gusto.” I have omitted a politically incorrect part of the comparison; interested readers may visit the original site.
I now present three songs, without any comments, in Raga Adana to illustrate this point. This will also show why I have differed with chandrakantha.com on the third song in the Darbari list:
1. Jhanak jhanak payal baaje by Ustad Amir Khan from Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), music Vasant Desai
2. Radhike tune bansuri churayi by Mohammad Rafi from Beti Bete (1964), music Shankar Jaikishan
3. Manmohan man mein ho tumhi by Suman Kalyanpur, Rafi and S D Batish from Kaise Kahoon (1964), music S D Burman
I now present the classical pieces – first in Adana, and then in Darbari. The first piece in Adana is from an album of sitar concertos featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar with London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andre Previn. The ‘gusto’ of Adana is very much evident in this short piece:
The second and final piece in Adana is the most famous composition in this raga – ‘Mata Kalika’ by Pandit Jasraj. Audience doesn’t permit Panditji to leave the stage without singing this composition in any of his live concerts:
Over to classical pieces in Darbari. Like Malkauns Darbari suits the voice better than the instrument; the male voice better than the female voice. Of the Darbari pieces in female voice I like this rendering of Amir Khusaru’s Yaar e man biya biya (come, my friend) the best. There are several versions of Khusrau’s kalam on Youtube. I have chosen this one after listening to many of them. The uploader has not given the name of the singer but I think it is Kankana Banerjee:
Of all the instruments sarod is probably the best suited for Darbari, given the richness and depth of its sound. This piece by Amjad Ali Khan does ample justice to the raga:
Darbari is normally a raga to be developed at leisure. It is not very easy to establish it in a short piece. But then Bade Ghulam Ali is Bade Ghulam Ali, nothing is difficult for him:
Frankly I am a little disappointed by Ustad Amir Khan’s presentation of Darbari. This raga seems to have been created for his voice and style but for some reason it fails to reach the depth of feeling that Ustad ji’s Marwa or Malkauns evoke. Still, as the Hindi saying goes, haathi dubla hoga bhi to kitna:
I now come to one of the finest available recordings not only of Darbari, but of any classical raga: Dhrupad by the elder Dagar Brothers – Moinuddin Khan and Aminuddin Khan. Dhrupad is an older and purer form of presentation than Khayal, which is more common today. For the first nineteen minutes the Dagar brothers establish the structure of the raga – note by note – through what is popularly known as nom-tom alaap; and then they start the rhythmic composition. My list of the five best commercially available recordings of classical music would include this alongside Amir Khan’s Marwa and Malkauns, Bhimsen Joshi’s Shudh Kalyan and Vilayat and Imrat Khan’s Miyan ki Malhar: