Raju Bharatan’s ‘Naushadnama’

May 5, 2015

Book Review as a tribute to Naushad on his 9th death anniversary (25 December 1919-5 May 2006)

Naushadnama

 

 

Naushadnama
By Raju Bharatan
Hay House India (2013)
pp. 341

 

 

 

The most important thing about Raju Bharatan’s Naushadnama is that it is Raju Bharatan’s Naushadnama.     Which means, if you are familiar with his writings, that there is a good deal of Raju Bharatan in the book, besides its principal character, Naushad. And as you expect from him, he is not only an observer and chronicler of Naushad, he was also his trusted friend and confidante, as he was of C Ramchandra, Anil Biswas, Shankar-Jaikishan, SD Burman, Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh, Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangehskar, Shamshad Begum, Suraiya, and all the major characters that appear in the book. The blurb on the book modestly describes him as “widely recognized as the last word on Hindi film music in India – as the only one physically there ‘on the scene’, through the decades, when music sittings and song recordings took place”.

In short, you imagine a modern-day benign Narad Muni, who roamed about the चित्रपटसंगीतलोक, reaching everywhere when a song that was to become a landmark, was being discussed, planned or recorded. He enjoyed the confidence of all the celebrities, who sought him out as a sounding board in complex situations, and shared with him their inner thoughts they would be embarrassed to discuss in public. He was not merely a bystander, but at times a participant in the history in making, when he would nudge things to move in the right direction, resolve misunderstandings by trying to correct a person’s prejudices and break the deadlock in relationships. In Naushadnama, Raju Bharatan outshines himself and packs more information, anecdotes and stories than he did in his previous two books, and, therefore, it is a significant book on Hindi film music.

Many serious followers of old film music have problems with Raju Bharatan’s omnipresence, and his key role in the history. Often his credibility is questioned, and worse still, he is charged with propagating many of the ‘lies’ circulating about film music personalities. I don’t make any judgment about celebrity gossip. Are there really celebrity ‘truths’? Even the first-person accounts by celebrities in the form of interviews and signed writings are at times selective truths, embellished truths, half-truths of the अश्वत्थामा हतो नरो वा कुंजरो वा type, or truths which a person sees from his or her own perspective, which are subject to Rashomon Effect. Most of us enjoy celebrity-gossip without being judgmental about them. Raju Bharatan narrates not only stories, which are mostly harmless, but he also discusses songs and songs – hundreds of them – many of which you have never heard and your curiosity is piqued to look for them on the Net, and you discover some rare gems. Naushadnama does that in ample measure and a music lover would find the book riveting.

Raju Bharatan describes Naushad as “The Last Mughal”, and as if to emphasise the point, he has chosen a title in the tradition of –namas of the famous Mughals (suh as Babarnama, Akbarnama). The book’s title and its sub-title “The Life and Music of Naushad”, however, create an erroneous impression, because it is very far from being a conventional life-history. In style and content, it is different from his first book, Lata Mangeshkar: A Biography (1995), and closer to his second, A Journey Down Melody Lane (2010). But, as a concession to the book’s title, he packs in his life history in four pages of fine-print, in Appendix 2. In Appendix 1, he gives a summary statistics of his career; in Appendix 3, a list of awards and rewards won by Naushad; and in Appendix 4, his filmography. This should satisfy most readers, except those who approach the book looking for solid ‘biography’. The book’s value would have been enhanced if he had given a bibliography of suggested readings on Naushad, for such readers and researchers.

More than a profile of Naushad, Raju Bharatan depicts the world of film music of the time, which, like a typical Mughal court, was full of intense rivalries, jealousies, ego clashes, intrigues, deceptions, betrayals and ruthless executions. All the top music directors had this thing going about Naushad, and their favorite pastime was their bi-monthly meetings at each other’s place where they would vent their frustration by passing snide remarks and petty jokes about him. His most vocal and implacable foe, C Ramchandra, emerged as the leader of ‘the brigade bent upon debunking Naushad’. He was spurred on by others to take on Naushad frontally. What does he have that I don’t? Who is he to preach us about classical music? What is new in his orchestration in Mother India? Look at my orchestration in AR Kardar’s Yasmin, it is better than what Naushad has ever done for Kardar. Thus would rant C Ramchandra to Raju Bharatan. AR Kardar also confirmed to him that indeed C Ramchandra was the best among the seven music directors who worked for him. Being a regular visitor to both Sargam and Ashiana, the bungalows of C Ramchandra and Naushad, Raju carried musical points made by them back and forth to each other. Naushad made a point-wise rebuttal to all the charges made by his rivals.

From every page of the book oozes extreme closeness of Raju Bharatan with all the famous music personalities. One morning in 1992, a panic-stricken Talat Mahmood, when he failed to get confirmation from Naushad till the last moment whether he would attend the function to release Talat Geet Kosh at his place, called Raju Bharatan for help. Raju called Naushad, Naushad Saheb, please be ready. I am coming to your place in half an hour to fetch you for Talat Mahmood’s function. Naushad replied, You don’t worry, please proceed to the venue directly. I would be there on time. Lo and behold, Naushad was there in full regal splendour, and made an elegant speech in his Lakhanavi Urdu eulogising Talat. On another occasion, Talat made a startling revelation to Raju that Naushad had called him back after thirteen years in 1963, and recorded two Paalki solos, Kal raat zindagi se mulaqaat ho gayi and Chehare se apne aaj to parda uthaaiye, in his voice. But the project got shelved as both Rajedra Kumar and Naushad became obsessed with Mere Mehboob. When Paalki was revived after 30 months, they decided to hear his recordings again. They said something was missing, and Rajendra Kumar, whose word was command then, put his foot down that these had to be redone in Rafi’s voice. Talat confessed to Raju that he had been a self-conceited fool to have smoked a cigarette in the presence of Naushad at the recording of a Baabul (1950) song, and to have underestimated the threat of Rafi, and to have forayed into his acting misadventure.

Amidst all that, you can figure out a picture of Naushad. A man, who was singularly devoted to his art, hard-working, meticulous in detail, a perfectionist and a creative genius. But he was also savvy enough to know the importance of career management, marketing and the skill to remain at the top of his rivals.

So, you get a hang of the book. It is a बृहद्‌ कथासरितसागर. A more apt title for the book would be चलचित्रसंगीतपुराण-नौशाद विशेषांक. And my final recommendation? If you are of weak heart and get disturbed if your idols are brought down from their pedestal, this book is not for you – no hero, including Naushad, is without blemish here, barring a few who are victims of the powerful. For the rest, whether you loathe Raju Bharatan or don’t care Raju Bharatan who?, whether you love Naushad or don’t care about him, if you are fond of reading about old film music,  the book is unputdownable. It is not pulp, it packs in enormous information, and gives valuable insight into the world of film music of the time. At its price of Rs 599, less substantial discount offered by e-tailers, the book is a steal.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dustedoff May 5, 2015 at 10:10 am

While I have heard of Raju Bharatan, I must confess I’d never read anything by him – book-length – before. This sounds like a good place to start, especially as I am not one of those who mind having their idols toppled! Thanks for the review, AK. I’m going to put this book on my wish list. May even buy it for my father, who is a huge fan of Naushad’s.

2 AK May 5, 2015 at 10:37 am

Madhu,
I am sure your father would be delighted. You would also enjoy the book. I would also strongly recommend his earlier book, A Journey Down Melody Lane, which full of interesting anecdotes and a lot of trivia.

3 gaddeswarup May 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

I have a weakness for gossip and read upto fifteen sections or so. I enjoyed some parts but there was no way of knowing the correctness of the statements. Suraiya parts and some of Talat parts ring true to me. It was fun.

4 Arunkumar Deshmukh May 5, 2015 at 11:55 am

AK ji,

Thanks for writing a review of RB’s latest book.
I thoroughly enjoyed your superb language. I especially appreciate your hold on the language and very apt similies that you use in your writings. Nowadays such writings are becoming rarer and rarer,with the breed of your variety slowly dwindling.
I do not know if I like Raju Bharatan or not. I have both negative and positive feelings about him. Sometimes I feel he is too much and how can a man be present in ALL the controversies happening in the film Industry and the other times I cant resist reading his books avidly,while my mind is feeblly resisting.
Whether he uses Masala in every story or happening is not fathomable but he sure makes it highly readable.
I bought all his book,against one portion of my mind. Looks like the other portion overpowered or simply ignored it.
One thing is sure. I have never regretted buying his 3 books. Not only that,I use his books as a reference point too. He has,as you have rightly pointed out,recreated the scenario of Hindi Film Industry thru his writings most of the times. His books are part History,part gossip,part truths and part cooking…possibly.
He is an Enigma.
To check if he only brags,makes up stories,I carefully scanned his same incident details in different books and his articles on TOI and Rediff etc,but to my dismay,he was very consistent about these happenings !
Still not giving full marks to him for credibility,I got irritated with his talking about self too much. The printers of his books must have ordered the alphabet ‘ I ‘ in tons !
If Madhu ji wants to start reading Raju Bharatan,I would recommend she starts with his book on Lata- which I consider his best book.
Thanks again,AK ji, for a very interesting article.
-AD

5 P. S. Seshadri May 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Though Mr Raju Bharatan’s book on Naushad quite some time ago, I am reading a review of it perhaps for the first time in an appropriate column. As soon as I saw the book, I bought it as also Mr Bharatan’s earlier book on Lata. After reading perhaps two chapters of Naushadnama, I put the book down because I found Mr Bharatan’s writing very very irritating. It is one thing to claim that he knows everything about HFM and the singers and another to mix his personal views while writing on them. Granted that both Lata and Naushad are, after all, human beings and may have their foibles, is it necessary for Mr Bharatan to insert these things on almost every page? nfortunately, there is none left from that era to contest what Mr Bharatan writes.

6 Ashok M Vaishnav May 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm

While writing for full-fledged books, if he would have maintained an arm’s length distance from his journalistic self, Raju Bharatan would have maintained readability with credibility of his narratives.

Unfortunately, most of the film journalism takes of more of gossiping to add flavor to the story.

Raju Bharatan was certainly well connected and well versed in his chosen field. So, his articles and his books have a fair amount of information stored within the layer of Raju Bharatan-ian stayle.

7 Dinesh K Jain May 5, 2015 at 12:51 pm

Dear AK, your review is as delightful and ‘unputdownable’ as I am sure the book would be. Raju Bharatan was always a very interesting and knowledgeable journalist, even though his unique writing style, full of whimsical idioms and contrived puns, was a tad tedious. But gossip…that is the elixir of life, especially of an idle life, and your review has whetted my appetite to the extent that I would have to invest in buying the book, also his previous book that I did not know about and sounds like more general in its scope, and therefore more promising.

8 Ravindra Kelkar May 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

AK Ji,
Very good review of the book. I read it about 2 to 3 months ago. It contains all those things which you have mentioned in the review. I like the way Raju Bharatan writes. As Arunjji has said in his comments, his book on Lata was the best. As far as how much of it is truth, we will never know. However, most of the stores he recounts, sound very much plausible & mosty make a lot of sense.

9 AK May 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Gaddeswarupji,
I enjoy gossip too. Why bother whether about correctness? Subodh once said not allowing truth to come in the way of a good story.

10 AK May 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Arunji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation for my writing. My natural language is uncluttered, and I try to make it interesting.

If you checked up RB’s past writings, you would not find any contradiction. The primary source of his books is his past journalistic writings or the notes he had kept. The only way to cross check would have been if there was a primary source available to confirm or rebut. In absence of that he had an advantage. I don’t have much problem if he was at 16000 places at the same time, as our mythical heroes did. I also have a very relaxed approach to the veracity in his writings. What I find very valuable in his books is the hundreds of songs and trivia he mentions, which are new for most of us. For example, it was through his writing that I first came to know that Ashok Kumar had sung Koi hum dum na raha in Jeevan Naiya 25 years before Kishore Kumar did in Jhumroo. Another interesting one, which would floor most of the readers, is “Has Lata Mangeshkar ever sung an OP Naayar composition?” The answer is, yes. I am sure you know it, having read all his books thoroughly.

11 AK May 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Ashokji,
As I have said, it is the information you cull out from all his gossip that is of great value.

12 AK May 5, 2015 at 2:46 pm

Dinesh,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. You have said it, which I didn’t out of politeness. The only problem I have is with his mixed metaphors and obsession with puns, making his sentence construction tortuous. I try to translate him in English as I read his books. “Naushadnama” as well as the earlier book, “Down Melody Lane”, are same genre, and I recommend both the books.

13 AK May 5, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Ravindra Kelkar,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. If I have to re-read his books, I prefer his last two.

14 AK May 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm

P.S. Sheshadri,
If you mean his language, I am with you. But, on whether his stories are true or not, I am not judgemental. If you get yourself around to completing his books – if you have paid for them, you might as well – I think you would find them very informative. You can always add a pinch of salt to your taste.

15 N.Venkataraman May 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Akji,
Enjoyed reading your excellent review of the book ‘Naushadnama’ by Raju Bharatan. Your views and observations, on his writing and his ubiquitous capacity, were interesting. I bought this book a year back and read selected chapters. I may read the book in entirety now. The segment on the bi-monthly meetings of the MDs and their small talks where CR emerged as the most vocal leader in belittling Naushad was a bit difficult to absorb. I simply ditto what Arunji and Seshadriji (portions) have said. True, we can question the reliability of the information and anecdotes, nonetheless the book makes an interesting read.
A couple of years back, after reading your write-up on a contemporary film I made a polite suggestion to continue writing reviews not only on films but on books too. Graciously you replied “… SoY has become very wide around its core theme of old film songs. Therefore, expanding it to other subjects may not be practicable.” And ended up with “One of my greatest weaknesses is that I believe every good thing anyone says about me, even if not true. Thanks for your compliments, and your belief that I could do book reviews, film reviews etc.” I am glad that you have started writing on films and books too, may not be (and likely too) in the typical review mode, in your distinctive style.

Thank a lot

16 AK May 5, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Venkataramanji,
The reason I did was Naushad. I have also done a few film ‘reviews’ recently, if you are willing to call them reviews. If something fits in with SoY, I am open to doing that. I am happy you enjoyed my book review, though you are also qualifying it by saying that it may not be a review. But thanks a lot for your appreciation.

17 gaddeswarup May 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm

AK Ji,
As you said the book is unputdownable. I read what I could in one sitting and did not pick it up again. I am a sucker for Suraiya and Dev Anand story and must have read about it several places. May be my interest flagged once Suraiya part was over.

18 SSW May 5, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Nice review AK. I bought this book when I was in India last and read through some of it. Couldn’t really complete it as it wandered around a bit but I do intend to get back to it some time later. It has as you say a lot of Raju Bharatan and his indispensability to the great ones (sic). The dialogue between Sur and Raj was a revelation. There isn’t a lot about the music itself, sadly it is more about the personalities, but I guess that is fine as it was supposed to be a book on Naushad and not his music.

19 mumbaikar8 May 5, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Ak,
Surprise again! Pleasant (though some of them are not.)
Least expected review of Naushadnama.
I read bits and pieces of it on net seemed interesting, your review makes it more interesting.
Right now I do not have time or patience to read through, but will surely do it one fine day वह सुबह कभी तो आएंगी.
I like gossip and at times be judgmental too, but try to be cautious to make two and two four and not three or five.
Rahu Bharatan displays the courage of calling spade a spade unlike most of them, I admire him for that.

20 AK May 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

SSW,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. If you are looking for music, in the sense you mean it, Raju Bharatan would disappoint you. His books are about people,which includes a major dose of himself. The remostest he comes to music, which might gain your approval, is when in his biography of Lata Mangeshkar, he gives a list of her songs and their Ragas .

21 AK May 5, 2015 at 7:28 pm

Mumbaikar8,
Thanks a lot. I hope you are able to read the book.

Calling spade a spade is all right. Some people feel he might be inventing some shovels.

22 SSW May 5, 2015 at 11:12 pm

I don’t mind reading about people as long as the prose is elegant. Mr.Bharatan has a habit of vividly overstating the obvious like say using “parabolic zenith” “eternal gully” “sip by pepsip”, “sachink in the Indian armour” , any amount of mixed metaphors etc. So then the reading gets tedious as my tiny brain grapples with all the verbiage and I put it aside for a better day. I first encountered him writing about cricket as you can see, I did not know the same chap wrote about music till much later, and then I heard that he was the person who said that “Raaton ke saaye ghane” was inspired by Chopin. Never been able to verify which Chopin composition this was. I have almost all of Chopin’s compositions. None of them start on that trademark Dm6 chord. Since then I take his comments with several pinches of salt though he does know a lot.

23 Naresh P. Mankad May 8, 2015 at 7:50 am

I have read Raju Bharatan since my student years when he used to write very informative articles in lucid style and I took care not to miss any of them. It is only after the excessive use of first person singular and of the newly coined unauthorised words took too much space that people started despairing. Still he often comes up with valuable and very interesting bits of information.

24 Hans May 9, 2015 at 2:29 am

Good topic. But people are not coming out against him though they know his reality. Shayad log uske budhape pe taras kha rahe hain.

In his book he says Naushad expected him to write his biography in his life time. But, if he had done that, how could have he put words at will in Naushad’s mouth, which facility is now available to him after his death. He is the master of character assassination. He is the one writer whom I have followed from my college days, because he shared with me the two interests – cricket and music. And he was invariably against my two favourites Gavaskar and Rafi, so I closely followed his writings. He is the master of lagai-bujhai or chugalkhori or backbiting whatever you call it and must have started half of the fights in cricket and hfm in those times.

He has himself admitted in his Lata biography that he published a Naushad quote which he made in private talk against Asha after a gap of many years and precisely at the time when Asha was singing regularly in his films. In this book he has blamed Naushad of conspiring to stop Suraiya’s marriage with Dev Anand. And Suraiya who had withdrawn from public life after the Dev episode allows him to call her Sur and addresses him Raj, as if they were chaddhi friends. To make his story credible he organises a three way talk between him, Suraiya and her mother. He says her mother told him that she and her husband were ready for the marriage. If all the three were willing then how on earth Naushad could have prevented it.

At another place he says that SD Burman said about Talat that he is not a good singer (He never discloses the time when such statements were made). I frequently criticise SDB for his Dhratrashtrian love for KK which forced him to under use other singers and ultimately hurt his own career and standing as MD. But, SDB never talked about his singers in such terms and least of all about Talat, who was instrumental in getting him his first Filmfare.

Regarding, his being consistent in his writings I dont agree. In Lata biography he puts OPN on top in 1957 itself, but, in Naushadnama, he does not let him become even no 3. And he is keeping Naushad at the top till 1963, which was never the case. OPN had certainly reached the top by 1957 and people had started questioning Naushad’s top place by the end of 1955 itself. In The Hindu’s magazine section he had published a full page article some years ago, in which he had given his ratings to MDs, singers etc. There he put CR on top. But, in this book he puts Naushad on top.

25 Jignesh Kotadia May 10, 2015 at 1:53 am

Itna sannata kyun hai bhai……!

SSWji,
you mentioned a fantastic song in your last comment. An excellent self motivating writing by Yogesh Gaud : “Raato ke saaye ghane, jab bojh dil par bane”(Annadata,1972,Lata,Salilda). I dont know whether he inspired this tune from somewhere or not but it seems a typical astounding composition of Salilda.

Raato ke saaye ghane
Jab bojh dil par bane
Na to jale baati
Na ho koi saathi
Phir bhi na dar, agar bujhe diye
Sahar to hai tere liye

Jab bhi mujhe koi jo gham ghere
Lagta hai honge nahi, sapne yeh pure mere
Kehta hai dil mujhko, mana hai gham tujhko
Phir bhi na dar, agar bujhe diye
Sahar to hai tere liye

Jab na chaman khile mera bahaaro me
Jab doobne mai lagu, raato ke majhdhaaro me
Maayus man dole, par yeh gagan bole
Phir bhi na dar, agar bujhe diye
Sahar to hai tere liye

Jab zindagi kisi tarha bahelti nahi
Khamoshiyon se bhari jab raat dhalti nahi
Tab muskuraaun mai, yeh geet gaaun mai
Phir bhi na dar, agar bujhe diye
Sahar to hai tere liye

Box office may not acknowledge them amongst even top 15 or 20 most successful MDs of Hfm, but the masters Anil Biswas, Vinod and Salil Chaudhary were truly genius composers.

Bye the way,
Lyricsbogie.com has some different thought to fight with dejection and hopelessness. They have indicated a short and sweet way to end the melancholy. Take some pills of OP and please have RIP.. See their lyrics

Raato ke saaye ghane
Jab bojh dil par bane
Na to jale baati
Na ho koi saathi
Phir bhi na dar, agar bujhe diye
ZAHAR to hai tere liye (!?!) 🙂 🙂 🙂

Now, see the contrast of the effects of OP. If a man ingests OP pills, he will die…and if he listens OP pills, he will extend his life !!

26 SSW May 10, 2015 at 8:06 am

Mr.Kotadia or Jignesh if you prefer , I merely pointed out that song to indicate that in my opinion Mr.Bharatan did not quite know his onions. Yes it is a lovely composition, and there are three distinct versions of the main melody in Bengali, Malayalam and Hindi with the same chord progression but different arrangements. In my biased opinion Salilda was a nonpareil.:-)

27 Jignesh Kotadia May 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm

SSWji
Thanx for replying
I know you have referred this song in the context of RB’s no-link statements, but when i saw this wonderful song in your comment i couldnt restrain myself by highlighting it. It is a sweet deviation that is well allowed by our generous Admin. If you believe Salilda a Nonpareil, i have no hesitation to accept it, i dont think it is your bias, rather it is a fact.
Salilda had kept the golden era flag flying with Yogesh in 70’s and even single handedly in 80’s too. You can call me only Jignesh.

28 PRAVEEN May 11, 2015 at 4:10 pm

What an interesting article and even more interesting comments from the regulars!! Never knew that the cricket writer (have read his articles in The Hindu) and this Raju Bharatan frequently mentioned in SOY were the same person. I used to rather like his cricketing stories when I was in school!!

“Calling spade a spade is all right. Some people feel he might be inventing some shovels” – lol, that was epic!!

May not come around to read this book (even to find about Lata’s song for OPN:) ), but nevertheless thanks for this article and the discussions. I learned a lot 🙂

29 arvindersharma May 12, 2015 at 9:20 pm

AK Ji,
There was a time, around 25 – 30 years ago, when Raju Bharatan, along with Pran Neville, Rajan Bala and a few other distinguished experts used to write excellent features on HFM, and I used to look forward to reading those.
I remember buying Filmfare regularly, just for Raju Bharatan’s article, which was a regular feature in Filmfare of that era.
Raju’s style of writing was very captivating, moreover, I remember him writing about virtually everyone and everything related to HFM, In a very interesting style.
I still remember his rating of ‘Shabab’ over ‘Baiju Bawra’, his rating of ‘Jis Desh Me Ganga Behti Hai’, as the best SJ creation and one more.
I will never forget an article where he found himself in a dilemma, whether to celebrate India’s historical ’71 wins in cricket or to mourn the death of Jaikishan, (of SJ) his dear friend.
Over the years, his writings contained more I’s, which were not palatable at times, but still, the tidbits provided by him in the non internet era were informative.
Many thanks for the ‘Hatke’ article.

30 AK May 12, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
I am partly with you on Raju Bharatan. I always followed his articles, because they were about old film music, but I always had issues with his style.

31 AK May 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

Praveen,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. I am happy you enjoyed it.

32 Shalan Lal May 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm

I enjoyed the review of the Book “Naushadnama” reminded me of Baburao Patel’s famous sub heading of his Q & A column in the Film-India “In Good humour and without offence”.

I very much like the caricaturing of Raju Bharatan as Narad Muni with his Tambora or Tanpura wandering in the “चित्रपटसंगीतलोक”. His jaunty antics must have been at the time very nuisances as the journalists are usually are to the famous people. But when he started writing them in the week-end supplements in English poor Indian musicians like most of the Indians who were subdued by the English language and writing and overcome by the feeling of elation by whatever he wrote and said true or false, real or imaginative.

His eye and ear witnessing the musical event, happening or gaffes made unwittingly by the musicians who were not celebrities in their own times but by his spiced up writing made palatable slowly became more than just gossip column style of Dorothy Parker in the forties and fifties Hollywood.

But what I gather from AK’s review that the Bharatan’s writing though interesting and glamorous is not serious enough as a critical study nor historical but chronically anecdotal and full of palavers.

I agree and mourn that there are very few writers on Indian cinema who could be taken very seriously and also there is a real want of judicious, well thought-out, sensible and sensitive, skilled critics who could elevate the Hindi music and songs as they have been so much loved by the populace. Sadly many writers have tendency to shine the moon. And the Indian celebrities also go for that. Recently I met a “has been” Indian actor and in the conversation I suggested that it is time that the life and times of the celebrity should come out. The celebrity coyly said that she is now looking for a member of the House of Lords who could write or a ghost writer who could do it for him. This started with Dilip Kumar got his bio written by Lord Meghnath Desai a member of the House of Lords.

Shalan Lal

33 AK May 20, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Shalan Lal,
Anecdotes also have some value. In any case they are quite entertaining. Therefore, my judgement about him is not so harsh. The imagery I have used is because that is what came to my mind when I read the book, or his earlier books. Since I am a great fan of Naushad, my overall recommendation of the book is positive.

Among serious writing on film music, Dr Ashok Ranade’s book is excellent. Some other writers’ books, or essays in anthologies I have come across are so academic/pedantic that they are almost unreadable.

34 shalan Lal May 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Thanks AK for good response to my comment. Naushad himself was very mucc anecdotal and dotty on his subjects. He was a brilliant storyteller and was responsible for many lyrics and script writings and stories of many films of which he was a musician. His famous acting out story about how Karim Asif accepted BAde Ghulam Ali Khan’s “Talmalauli” about appearing in Moghul-e-Azim”.

But I think it was Naushad recreating creatively funny side of his story.

Yes I agree improvisations are good but don’t they come in way of our understanding of the people, and history?

Shalan lal

35 AK May 21, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Shalan Lal,
I should also thank you for appreciating my “review”. You have put in a leading question, but my answer is different from what you are driving at. Anecdotes are not only interesting and entertaining, but also vital to understand the celebrity. His nature, idiosyncrasies may have some bearing on his oeuvre.

I would refer to two celebrated books. Sheila Dhar’s Raga n’ Josh’ and Namita Devidayal’s The Music Room, are written in anecdotal style. But they give an insight into how learning under a Guru/Ustad worked. The endearing anecdotes about some doyen’s fury like Durvasa Rishi at not being feasted properly are very much a part of our heritage. The other day I saw a programme about Gwalior gharana in which Pt. Laxman Krishnarao Pandit was reminiscing, how after the British Regent took over Scindia’s estate, the classical musicians had to leave, because the Regent did not approve of the “wasteful” expenditure on them. Among them were Pandit family (Shankar Pandit/ Krishnarao Shankar Pandit etc), who had originally come to Gwalior from Maharshtra to learn music from the great Ustads of the gharana. The doyen of the gharana, Ustad Nisar Hussain Khan, also left; he was taken in by the Pandits as a part of their family. The learning under the Guru included all the chores we have read in Puranas, such as drawing water from the well and pouring over the ustad to bathe him, and the disciples could not ask the guru when to stop. This was in a pucca Brahmin family in those days. It says a lot about the elevated level these people lived.

I must admit here, my fascination for these aspects is partly on account of my limitations as I am quite illiterate in music. It is true that experts might be looking for something which talks about nuances of music and its technicalities.

36 Hans May 23, 2015 at 1:39 am

Shalan Lal’s comments are really thoughful. Particularly, this supremacy of English language theory and the use he made of minor musicians are very relevant. There are two very important admissions of his, one in the Lata biography about banning his entry in functions of HMV and the other in Naushanama itself where he admits having been ghost writer for many MDs and music personalities.

I dont know whether he was the one who pioneered such ghost writing, but one fact is that he made a lot of money and connections through his ghost writing in the areas of music and cricket. When ghost writing for such music personalities he conveniently passed his own stories through them. They were not in a position to protest, because they were getting money for the piece of writing which he wrote. Two-way benefits accrued to him. He put his own words in their mouths and also received cut-backs from there money. He talks at various places about the stories about film personalities in vernacular press in derogatory terms. Yet, when he tells the same stories they become sacrosanct. The story of Noorjehan cutting up Suraiyya’s dresses in Anmol Ghadi if told in Hindi or other languages (vernacular press is the word used by him which in itself is derogatory in the vocabulary of these elitist English writers) is just gossip talk. But, when Sur tells the same story to her Raj (as told in Naushadnama), then it becomes gospel truth.

37 Shalan Lal May 24, 2015 at 6:40 pm

To AK Comment No. 35
To Ak
Yes in the example about the classical singers and Guru-Shishya -Parampara that kind of of anecdotes help to understand about the harsh system in which Indian Classical music grew up. In certain way it is similar in the many branches of knowledge in the past centuries of European art and Sciences as well. We have a famous story of how Faraday being repressed by his scientists masters. We have exactly similar story about the composer Delius who was fond of caning his disciples. The English public school system until very recent times was extremely horrific as abundantly clear in the novel “Tom Brown’s School Days.” Very recently many headmasters have been accused by their past students as they have been sexually abused by their teachers. At present U.K. is undergoing the turmoil of scandals after scandals of VIPs and celebrities abusing underage boys and girls. In this storm our darling Cliff Richard is also presently embroiled but nothing has been proved but he is the doghouse.
But it is difficult for me to believe that the Classical Music was decayed by the British Rule as it lost the patronage of the small and big Maharajas vanished due to the British policy of unification of India. Unification gave unity to India and also future Independence and common law and rule and equal revenue system, education for all etc. Sadly the classical music had to struggle hard but heroes like Bhatkahnde who did research and found a graduated system of education in the Classical music and created colleges like Morris College in Lucknow and Lahore etc. Commons got important voice and future leaders of India came from the commons and not from the Royal heritage.
I do like anecdotes to lighten the heavy topics or just to embellish the writings but I would use them rarely. Using them heavily or making an article of them is not my cup of tea as the abundant use of them creates an unbelievable atmosphere. That happens in the narratives of Raju Bharatan as many of the commentators have expressed. I still would like to give credit to Bharatan for making the talking about Golden age of Hindi Films and its matrix as an acceptable topic among the elites and commons, way back in fifties.
But he should acknowledge that now we are grown up amongst his writings we have every right to criticize his previous, present or future writings for our understanding as well as his and remind us that in a democracy if the democracy has to be an organic growth then the present process is very ideal. Furthermore your image of him as Narad Muni is very apt and he should wear it around his neck as he has been elevated to a great character in the Puranas and that have been responsible for goading humans and divinities in actions. R.K debuted as Narad telling off to his father’s character of Highway Robber who turned into a great writer Valmiki of Ramayan in the film Valmiki a brilliant film costarred by Shata Apte who sang a few sweet songs in it.
And thanks AK for suggesting some good books on the songs of Hindi films. It’s not easy to find them here as Indian Books shops are very rare and they cost fortunes as they had to charge for their overheads and freights to bring them here. Still I shall look for them in the British Library or when I visit Southall which is called Little India.
Shalan Lal

38 Shalan Lal May 24, 2015 at 6:44 pm

To Hans
Thanks for your good response and lighting up the puerile points in Bharatn’s writings
Shallan Lal

39 mbprakash June 8, 2015 at 5:42 pm

I have read the book, and it has been written with a high standard English. In fact , I spoke RB over the phone about this, he agreed that he had received so many calls from the readers. He has taken pain and justified the contribution of Naushad

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: