Songs of Yore completes one year

June 7, 2011

Songs of Yore Today Songs of Yore completes one year, and like any new born in its first year, it has looked at the beautiful world of old Hindi film music with wonder and amazement, flitting its gaze from one beautiful sight to another spontaneously and randomly.

My articles so far have been on themes which were on top of my recall and on features I found most interesting.

This gave rise to two articles on two important watershed years heralding a new era, emergence of new stars and new style of film music – one in the backdrop of 1949 Lata Mangeshkar versus Noorjehan and the other on 1969 Mohammad Rafi versus Kishore Kumar. Twin Songs always puzzled me. Chitragupta was my special favourite for his extremely melodious songs, yet he remained outside the big league. Similarly some more articles came off without any particular structure or deliberation. If some pattern emerged at places it came about without prior planning. For example, Kamal Barot was followed by some more niche singers such as Subir Sen and Jagjit Kaur.

Now that Songs of Yore has acquired some form and shape, in future I visualise a number of themes which would require some planned series. The Golden Era (1950s and 60s) abounds in a number of composers who shone like a comet fleetingly, gave some immortal songs, usually in obscure and grade B films, and vanished. Not much is known about them, except the few songs which would remain immortal. I plan to write about them in a general broad category Forgotten Composers, Unforgettable Melodies. I have enormous fascination for Vintage Era (1930s and 40s). The songs of this era are generally more obscure and you do not get to hear them as a casual listener. Moreover, I have heard many knowledgeable listeners expressing some mental block in relating to music of that period. The vintage songs are indeed very different, some reflecting the theatrical and artificial style of acting and dialogue delivery of the period, some reflecting pure classical tradition. But once they grow on you, you can never have enough of them. They are a very important part of our legacy. I plan to write about that period in a more systematic manner than one needs for 50s and 60s. I also plan to write on special days like birth and death anniversaries of important personalities as I did for Pankaj Mullick.

If the above conveys an image of a serious blogger, nothing can be farther from truth. Blogging was never on my horizon for various reasons. For one, I always felt blogging belongs to a person who is an expert on a theme. I am not one. At best I am a passionate and, perhaps, an informed listener. Secondly, there was a natural inhibition – music is a deeply personal matter; I would not feel comfortable to mention before a stranger that a particular song brings tears to my eyes – that song may not mean anything to him.

The anonymity provided by the internet has enabled me to express feelings and emotions which would have remained deeply inside me. And what a wonderful journey it has been! I have reconnected to the beautiful songs which were deep inside me and which I had thought I would never be able to listen to again. I have also discovered many new gems. But most importantly, I have met on the blog many readers who relate to my kind of music and even particular songs in an identical manner, and enrich me with their comments and information.

Some more acknowledgments are due:

1. Internet in general, You Tube in particular and all the unknown good Samaritans, who have selflessly put information, songs, videos in public domain.

2. http://indianscreen.com/. They have, according to me, the most amazing collection of rare vintage songs (audio). Their display is, however, like a museum, where only a part of the collection in vaults is put up for display. The site does not give any system of accessing their archive, so you need to visit it every two weeks or so.

3. Hindi Film Geet Kosh by Harmandir Singh ‘Humraaz’. He needs no introduction to music lovers. His work of compilation of songs with their references (films, year, directors, actors, singers, lyricists, music directors) is a life-time endeavour and simply awesome.

4. Dhunon Ki Yatra by Pankaj Raag. A comprehensive survey of music from 1930s music director-wise. A very useful reference source.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 K R Vaishampayan June 8, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Hello AK,
Wish Your Blog A Happy Birthday. I have said number of times before about birthdays that – ” It doesn’t matter how many candles you burn and blow, what matters is the amount of light you emit.”
But without a touch of flattery or sycophancy…I must admit AK that ” YOU HAVE THROWN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF LIGHT on Hindi Film Music within 1 year.”
Keep it up. Here I wish your blog, The Very Best in the years to come. Regards – KRV

2 AK June 8, 2011 at 10:46 pm

@KR Vaishampayan
Thanks a lot for your very kind words. It is greatly encouraging.

3 K R Vaishampayan June 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Hello AK,
My kind words have a reason. In you I found someone like me [almost a mirror image] who has a well endowed ear and – according to a majority an odd taste and choice. For instance, as a Naushad fan, I like all the songs from Ganga Jamuna, Kohinoor, Andaz or Mother India songs too. And of course…that rare pearls by Pt. Ravi Shankar – Hiya Jarat Rahat Din Rain [from Go-daan], or by Anil Biswas-Minoo Kapoor – Kuchha Aur Jamana Keta Hai and Jinadagee Kaa Ajab Fasana Hai – both from Choti Choti Baten;or that rare pearl by Pt. Ravi Shankar – Hiya Jarat Rahat Din Rain from Go-daan. Therefore my dear friend, always count on me to support your brilliant efforts to spread the joy of hindi film music of the era when Melody truly ruled the listeners. Regards – KRV

4 Subodh Agrawal June 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

One year already! Congratulations and keep up the good work.

5 sindhushree k June 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

the occasion of a milestone has made me come out of the shadows -have been a silent reader of the “pearls”. I remeber song books that used to sell for some paise being the guides before Internet sites!
Play it again, Sam as they would say in America!

6 Gaby June 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Hullo Ak,
Mnay happy returns to the blog and many many thanks to you. The narrative you bring in and the subsequent discussion is fascinating.

Although you are clear in your facination fort he 30s and 40s I do hope you will cast your eyes occasionally on the equally fascinating and I daresay melodious 50s as well.

May your pen ( and cyber ink) never go dry.

7 AK June 12, 2011 at 7:21 am

@Subodh Agrawal:
You have been a regular and a constant encouragement. Thanks for your good wishes.

@sindhushree k:
Delightful to have you here. Thanks.

@Gaby:
50’s (and 60s) would inevitably be bread and butter of Songs of Yore. Thanks for your kind words and good wishes.

8 K R Vaishampayan July 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Hello AK,
This time around, I am on a different musical trip and shall be more than grateful if you will share your personal mail ID. That said, I embark the purpose of this mail. While looking for C Arjun classics, by a happy accident I landed up listening to Mubarak Begum classic – Bemurrawat Bewafa…re-sung by Dr. Radhi Chopra. Futher search on Dr. Radhika, and I realized my level of ignorance. I am sure, you must have more information on Dr. Radhika. Will you please throw some light? Please do. Regards – KRV

9 AK July 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm

@KR Vaishampayan
I heard her name for the first time from you. Whatever information I coud gather from her web site http://www.radhikachopra.com, you also might have already seen. It is obvious she is a trained singer who performs professionally. But surely there are a large number of singers like her, and I do not see why I would be worried if I had not heard her name.

10 K R Vaishampayan July 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Hello AK,
NO! Not at all. No reason at all for us to be worried. But yes, I was a bit annoyed with my lack of knowing her although there may be plenty like her. What I though was that: probably you knew about her. Regards – KRV
P.S.: Anyway, I just had an earful of Madan Mohan for one full hour via a Time Now program Total Recall on Madan Mohan.

11 AK July 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm

@KR Vaishampayan
You are lucky! I missed it. Had I known I would have made sure that I watched the programme. But can you believe it, something amazing happened. About the same time I was browsing YouTube, primarily to check up Tum chand ke sath chale aao to raat suhani ho jaye. I thought it should be C Ramchandra composition and just wanted to confirm it. It turns out it is Madan Mohan from Ashiana (1952). Then I browsed several early Madan Mohan-Lata songs from this movie and Ada such as Mere piya se koi ja ke kah de, Preetam meri duniya mein ek din to rahe hote, Sanwri surat man bhai re piya etc. Another amazing song which is my discovery in the internet era is Hamare baad ab mehfil mein afsane bayan honge from Baghi. I am curious to know if they covered all these songs.

Madan Mohan-Lata of 60s have acquired some kind of legendary status, but my favourite is early 50s, though I must say several of them sound like C Ramchandra. I guess the reason was early 50s C Rachandra-Lata had acquired a reputation of ultimate in soulful, deeply romantic, love songs, and some composers including Madan Mohan might be unconsciously following that style.

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