Friday, February 28, 2014

Achchhi Nahin Sanam Dillagi..

It was not by design, but a coincidence, that last two songs on this page had Asha Parekh as the heroine. Having done that, now by design, let me present another duet that starred Asha Parekh. Asha Parekh being the key protagonists of all Nasir Hussain movies from Dil Deke Dekho to Caravan and also one of the topmost actresses in 60s, it was quite natural that Pancham had some of his best compositions picturised on Asha Parekh. 

The duet presented here is from a movie - Rakhee Aur Hathkadi - another spin on the cliched formulae of "Lost & Found", so popular amongst the producers-directors of late 60s & early 70s. The movie had Asha Parekh in double roles - one as a courtesan and another as of her daughter. Apart from Ashok Kumar, Pran & Helen, all other key protagonists of the movies were rank new-comers at that time - including Danny for whom this was perhaps the first movie as a full fledged villain. Asha Parekh herself being past her prime by then, the movie had nothing interesting for the cine-goers and hence tanked. Fortunately, some of the songs survived, due to freshness that RD offered.

Getting back to the composition, it is a lilting duet - penned by Majrooh - that starts of with a Sax prelude and has very subtle score through out, including interludes. The harmony is created by relying more on the vocal chemistry of Asha & Kishore - who carry out their bit so well that song remains as sweet as it was 4 decades ago. 

Unfortunately, same can not be said true about the chemistry of the performers on-screen, the other Asha - looking a bit tired, and her co-star Vijay Arora - who tries his hardest to find a balance between his hangover of Shammi Kapoor & Rajesh Khanna.

See for yourself, and then close your eyes, and just enjoy the song:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pyar Ka Mausam Aaya...

Talking about the romantic duets sung by Rafi & Lata under Pancham's baton, here is another of their classics- one of my favorite. 

Once again, a Nasir Hussain, Pancham & Majrooh combination. The song is set amidst a valley, which gave a reason to Pancham to make one of his first forays into using folk as the base for his composition. The Composition has a lovely and very interesting prelude. It opens with guitar chords followed by an echoing alaap by Rafi & Lata. This is in turn followed by a heady mix of santoor, guitar & clicking of fingers before Pancham's own brief "O...", somewhere in the distance, takes the prelude into the main song. 

Picturised on Shahi Kapoor & Asha Parekh, the composition has a beautiful rhythm. Interestingly, song also features a very young actress who later on went on to become one of the most famous TV anchors - during Doordarshan's Black & White era – Tabassum of Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan. 

Here it is – from Pyar Ka Mausam:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kitna Pyara Waada Hai...

With formula driving the Hindi movies always, almost each movie has a tailor-made situation to infuse a romantic duet. And irrespective of the actors performing, the most popular duo to perform these duets were Lata & Rafi. With their mellifluous & pure rendition, and their command over ragas, together, they always managed to create that effect of pure romance which was difficult to match for most of the other singers. 

Pancham had worked with them , as assistant to his father in a number of movies - specially those of Navketan banners. However, there have been very few numbers where he himself used their magical chemistry for a romantic duet. This, despite Lata being one of his favourite singers. Partly, this could have been due to him preferring Kishore for most of his male songs. 

Yet, when he did work with them together, the compositions & the songs turned out to be not only super hits, but also have been rated amongst Rafi & Lata's best songs together. 

One such song was in 1971 from the Jitendra & Asha Parekh starrer - Caravan. Being a Nasir Hussain movie, with a story woven around gypsies, the compositions - across the movie - were outstanding. Pancham used the theme of road journey to bring in sounds that were as varied as jazz, the blues as well the folk. Amongst all the compositions, one closest to Hindustani sound was this lovely duet with a two-paced composition. The interesting part is the way song ends with a refrain on Harmonica as the caravan moves on. This refrain was later used by Pancham for another of his composition - Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na - from Aa Gale Lag Ja. 

Of course, with Majrooh in his prime, Lata & Rafi lending their voices to suitably subtle & coy Asha Parekh with dancing Jitendra - much before white shoes became his trademark - the songs could not have been anything but sweet & melodious - to remain a chart toppers for years to come.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Tere Liye Palkon ki Jhaalar Bunu..

Talking about love, romance & music of Pancham, here is another gem of RD.

This is from a movie Harjaee. The movie - a story of a terminally ill patient - starred Randhir Kapoor with Tina Munim. Despite a good melodramatic storyline, the movie was as big a disaster as its hero looked by that time.

Notwithstanding the flop show, its music was scintillating - in line with other movies where Pancham worked with movie's director - Ramesh Behl - one of his closest friends. Their repertoire together include movies like Jawani Deewani, Basera & Kasme Vaade.

Harjaee had three lyricists - Gulshan Bawra, Vitthal Bhai patel & Nida Fazli. Almost each of the song went on to be a chartbuster when the movie was released, and have remained evergreen.

The one I am showcasing now was penned by Nida Fazli, and has a composition which is lilting & subtle. Pancham used Guitar as the key instrument while flute, santoor and windbells provide the supporting structure.

All that was required to make it really ethereal was a voice & rendition which can bring out the care & affection of a woman in love. And here comes in the singer whom Pancham always went to for such songs - Lata Mangeshkar. No wonder, when one hears her singing:

Naya naya sansar hai,
Tu hi mera ghar bar hai
Jaisa rakhe khushi khushi, waise hi main rahu
Aaja Saajna
Tere liye palkon ki jhaalar bunu
Kaliyon sa gajre me bandhe phirun
Dhup lage jaha tujhe chhaya banu
Aaja Saajna

Friday, February 14, 2014

Har Khushi Se, Har Gam se Begaana Hota Hai....

"At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet..." Thus spoke Plato.

Well! Love not only creates poets, it also creates music. More so, when it comes to Hindi movies where a song has remained the perfect way to express one's love. Almost each movie, irrespective of its theme and mileu, has a love story going for it, creating a need for those love ballads. Bit it is not always only about verse. A good verse needs good composition to create that feeling of perpetual warmth in one's heart which only love can evoke.

Pancham, in tandem with some of the best lyricists of Hindi movies, created songs which have retained their freshness - even after so many years. One such song is a classic from the repertoire of that eternal loverboy of Indian Cinema - Rajesh Khanna!

The situation in the movie provided an opportunity to the lyricist Anand Bakshi to pen verse which make an attempt to define the love - an undefinable emotion otherwise - and its inevitability . Kishore brings to life the emotions in his rendition. And Pancham? He used one of the stock instruments in most of the movies of late 60s, a grand Piano, in a manner that spell-bounds the listener, forever. I never get tired listening to this song as Rajesh Khanna tries to explain to reluctant & reticent Asha Parekh:

Rahe koi sau pardon me, dare sharam se 
Nazar aji laakh churaaye, koi sanam se 
Aa hi jaataa hai jisape dil aanaa hotaa hai
Pyaar divaanaa hotaa hai, Mastaanaa hotaa hai
Har khushi se, Har gam se, Begaanaa hotaa hai

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamara

What was just started as a one-off post to mark the 75th birth year of Pancham became a way of sharing my fascination with Pancham's music with the big world of Pancham-fans all over - some known and a lot many stranger earlier, but not any more. 

It would be apt to use an oft-quoted couplet from Majrooh, with whom RD created some of the biggest hits of his career:

Main Akela hi chala tha Jaanib-e-manzil, Magar
Log Aate Gaye Aur Caravan Banta Gaya

Talking about the caravan & the journey, here is another of Pancham's hit. This is in format of a quawwalli - a format which Pancham mastered, specially in 80s. 

The song, picturised on a fast moving train - from The Burning Train by Ravi Chopra - is a prelude to the mishap that is about to take place. Hence, keeping true to the format and the situation, the composition starts with Harmonium & Shehnai, and then becomes double paced to match the romance and the joyous mood inside the train, juxtaposed with the mood outside, where the train is racing towards a disaster. Unfortunately, despite a huge star cast, and a season of hugely popular disaster movies from Hollywood, this movie itself proved to be a disaster. However, Rafi & Asha's rendition in this excellent composition, proved to be a big draw, and is popular even now.

Philosophically, this is extension of Majrooh's couplet. While Majrooh wrote about gathering people on the journey, Sahir who penned the verse here, wrote about the need to enjoy the life now, due to its fickleness and the inevitability where by the end of the journey one is always left alone. Ironically, this was also the last movie of Sahir, just before his leaving for another journey - alone.

Nazaron ke shok nazrane Hontho ke garm paimaane
Hai aaj apni mahafil men, Kal kya ho koi kya jaane
Yeh pal kushi ki jannat hai, Is pal me ji le diwane
Aaj ki kushiyan ek haqiqat, Kal ki kushiya afsane hai
Pal do pal ka saath hamara, Pal do pal ke yarane hai
Is manzil par hai milne vale, Us manzil par kho jaane hai

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Aa Aa Ee Ee, Masterji Ki Aa Gayee Chitthi

Welcome to the 100th post on this blog. 

Adolescence - an age which is most difficult to deal with - for the parents as well as for the one who has just outgrown being a child and yet has not reached the age of being treated like an adult. 

Gulzar's Kitaab was a movie about that difficult age when nothing really makes sense to that growing up child. Add to that the growing discord between his sister & brother-in-law, played by Vidya Sinha & Uttam Kumar, and the child, Master Raju, could not think of anything but to run away from home. The movie, aptly named Kitaab, was like a book with childhood memories - bitter & sweet both.

This was one such movie where the kids were cast as kids and performed like a kid too. There was nothing precocious about them. For the audience weaned on the angry young men days, where their childhood roles would also be about the ill treatment at the hand of the society or villains, a movie like this was an anti-thesis. This could be one of the reason why it did not fare well.

Despite movie being a debacle when it was released, the songs turned out to be quite a hit. The movie, with no major star cast, allowed Pancham to create unusual compositions. Dhanno ki Aankhon men was one such song - played a couple of days ago here.

Another popular song had RD using an array of tables, with varying heights, to create the basic tune for the song. The lyrics itself were unusual, a mish-mash of verse yet the language which normal children, influenced with their surrounding, would probably sing impromptu. 

Here it is, to take you, on this 100th post, to your own childhood memories:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Jidhar Dekhoon Teri Tasveer Nazar Aati Hai

She was my first crush – at my age of 17, when somewhere in mid-eighties of technicolor world, I saw her in one of her movies from B&W era. 

She had arrived on Hindi screen, with a very innocent and a quintessential beautiful face, which looked all the more alluring in the Black & White world of Hindi movies. As the cinema went colour, her elegant demeanor and extraordinary acting capabilities were a whiff of fresh breeze in those times when a heroine essentially was part of the glamour to attract the audience. 

Adopting a very subtle style of performing, over the years, she essayed a variety of challenging roles, and excelled in each one of them - be it of a moll in her first movie, a courtesan in love with the dacoit who has abducted her, an actress outshining her mentor, a married woman wanting to unshackle herself so that she can dance & discover herself, a woman caught in the middle of two feuding clans – which got her a National Award, a nurse fighting & losing in a doomed romance, a married woman trying to hide her affection for her illegitimate child – and many more. 

Her best features were her eyes &, Oh boy, she used them so eloquently. Those eyes could express sorrow, joy, anger, mischief, innocence, coyness and determination –as would be the demand of the role – and in a manner that could connect with the audience instantly.

With changing times, she was perhaps the only actor of her times, who aged gracefully, still retaining her beauty naturally and her zest for life, which makes her that much more attractive – even today when she has turned 78.

She is Waheeda Rehman. She is my first crush.

Here is a Pancham special for her, a song with romance at its core. Kishore Kumar rendering, the way only he could, the lovely verse penned Anjaan, as Amitabh croons his undyling love for Waheeda on-screen in Mahaan:

Zinda hoon main tere liye
Jeewan tera hai ho 
Mera hai jo sab hai tera
Ab kya mera hai
Meri khushion ki tu jagir
Nazar aati hai
Jidhar dekhun teri tasweer
Nazar aati hai

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Raat Ka Surma, Chand Ka Chumma

Flanging is an audio effect of mixing two identical sounds - but one being played with slight delay. This results in a distorted sound with different peaks & troughs - which in turn can be manipulated based on the requirement. One of the first persons to use it was John Lenon. Later, as the sound recording became digital, the engineers created an instrument called Flanger - which when attached to any instrument, will create this effect.

In late 70s, RD got his instrument, from one of his trip abroad, and used it for one of his compositions - attaching it the Guitar. As usual, this was the first use of this technique in India.

Since the composition created a very different sound, it also required someone with different kind of vocal rendition. The verse written by Gulzar were romantic - again creating images out of daily routine, but the movie did not have a romantic hero. In fact the song was picturised on Ram Mohan - a character artist, thus freeing the song from the limitation of singer. The location also was far from being termed romantic

As Gulzar, conversing with RD, said in one of their programmes together on radio, this was a composition for which no normal singer could have sung, and thus came in RD.

The composition, one of the highlights of RD's career as a singer, is largely based only on Guitar & the flanging, while a bit of tabla & flute create the effect of a journey - of a train.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai..

On one of my recent road journeys, while listening to the music, I realised there are very few road or journey songs in Hindi movies. Amongst those which come to mind immediately, there are a couple of songs which have Gulzar, RD & Kishore in common. 

To take you to one such journey songs, we need to travel back from Ghar of 1978 to the first movie where RD & Gulzar joined hands together - Parichay. The movie, though based on a Bengali story, had a structure similar to that evergreen musical hit Sound of Music. Naturally, it was essential that it was sound in music department - in its Indianised version too. 

RD achieved not only that, but in the process also created the song which got Lata & Bhupendra a National Award. I have played this song - Beeti Na Beetai Raina - already.

However, the song I was talking about is the one which movie opens with - a sequence just like the one Sound of Music opens with - the journey of the main protagonist. Gulzar wrote the verse that create a strong imagery of a journey, with hero travelling on a tonga. Straying away from a well-trodden path of using typical Indian instrument to create the sound of tonga-ride, RD created a composition - apparently while in the shower - which has a strong guitar influence - backed by other instruments including accordion and resso. 

And then the icing - Kishore's rendition - that feeling of being in love with the journey itself, when he sings:

Ek Raah Ruk Gayee to Aur Jud Gayee
Mai Muda To Saath Saath Raha Mud Gayee
Hawaaon ke Paron par Meraa Ashiyana
Musaafir Hoon Yaaron
Na Ghar Hain Na Thikana
Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai
Bas, Chalte Jaana