Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ae Sakhi Raadhike / Bolo Ki Achhe

Once again it is the time of Durga Pooja. Living in Powai in these days is indeed a privilege with all the festivities around. Keeping with the festive spirit, like last year, once again I am using this as an opportunity to put across two songs of Pancham on each post - one Bangla & another Hindi; the similarity being the composition - with one inspiring the another.

Today being the birth anniversary of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, one of the most sensitive director of Hindi movies, it will be a befitting tribute to select a song from one of his movies. This one is from Jurmana, released in 1979. Sandwiched between Golmaal & Khubsoorat, Jurmana was less popular, (and hence was lucky of not having been remade in its modern, heartless, glamourised versions!) despite a stellar cast, good performances and some amazing compositions of Pancham.

In my last post, on Lata Mangeshkar's Birthday, I wrote about her singing some classical compositions under the baton of Pancham. One such gem is from Jurmana. The composition was based on Raag Kalavati, which he had earlier used successfully for the title qawwali of Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin. 

Coming back to Jurmana - or rather the song I am presenting here. It is essentially a Lata solo, though begins with a cameo vocal by Manna Dey.  Once the song is on its way, & Lata takes over, the composition has Pancham using a host of Indian instruments, including Sitar and Santoor. Lata of course rises to this difficult & delectable composition and shows her absolute mastery over the genre. Before I move on, let us hear her rendering Ae Sakhi Radhike:

Gali-gali men Gokul ki yeh naam pukaare,
Shyaam pukaare baithi hai jamunaa kinaare, 
Kabhi mere kabhi tere ghar ko gai
Shyaam ko dhundhate aap hi kho gai
Ae sakhi Raadhike baavari ho gai

Lata's perfect rendition of this Hindi song is not surprising though. What is surprising is the Bangla composition, - Bolo ki Achhe - released in 1977. Here, the composition has lesser instruments, and hence used in more pronounced manner - with emphasis on flute & Sarangi. What makes it more special is finding the singer Pancham in altogether a different avataar, modulating his voice and flowing with each of the notes of the composition

So here it is - a Durga Pooja special for the fans of Pancham:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Albela Re..

Each art has certain personalities who end up defining the art itself. The Hindi movies music lovers - specially those of 60s to 80s, were luckier as there have been a plethora of such towering personalities. Those who not only kept extending the parameters of their own performances, and went beyond it, but also created a Gold standard for those who were to follow them in the later years. Of all these great personas, Lata Mangeshkar, who has turned 85 today, remains the first among equals. To put things in proper perspective, in a country with 67 years of post independence history, her's has been one of the omnipresent voices.

Pancham idolised her, and hence chose to make his own debut with her singing Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye - a classical number matching Lata perfectly. And why not? For is not Lata's singing essentially about a sound that purists & the classical music lovers would love? Over the years, there were many more such classical or sugar syrupy compositions which Pancham created keeping only Lata in mind, and most of them went on to become all time hits.

However, it would have been a very un-Pancham like to not give her the compositions where she had to get out of her own boundaries. Yes, he did manage to give her a number of such compositions - like the raunchy - "Bangle ke Peeche" from Samadhi or Anamika's seductive "Baahon men Chale Aa". Another such number was from Rampur ka Lakshman, picturised on Rekha - in her those days when she was yet to become the proverbial beautiful elegant swan.

This composition is zany and has very interesting interludes, specially the way Bongo beats have been used through out, intermingling with Guitar notes. Add to that the peppiness with which Lata has sung it, giving emphasis on some of the words, making them sound so fizzy, as Rekha tries to stop the running-away Randhir Kapoor, singing Albela Re..

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Phir Se Aaiyo, Badra Bidesi..

While on my regular evening walk today,there it was - after a hiatus of almost 2 months - a perfect setting Sun. There were a few clouds but too few and too scattered to make any difference. It seems the time to bid adieu to another monsoon is here. A perfect way to end a week that began with the birthday of Asha Bhosle.

Now, just in case you all are wondering about the missing connection that my ramblings are hinting at, here is another gem of Pancham. A not so heard composition from one of Gulzar's unsung works - Namkeen.

Namkeen was a 1982 release starring Waheeda, Sharmila, Shabana, Kiran Vairale and Sanjeev Kumar, and was centered around the world of Waheeda & her three daughters, and the interplay of their emotions, aspirations & relationship - before and after the entry of Sanjeev Kumar in their household.

The composition I was talking about is at the moment when one you are in love with has gone away, without a hint of promise to return. It is not really a complete heart-break. There is an uncertainty, a lingering doubt and yet there is a hope.

Pancham created a haunting melody, using the reverberating effect of percussion instruments which coupled with a drawling & distortion effect of very soft Guitar notes bring out the pathos. Asha's voice, with the mountains as backdrop, echoes Shabana's musings & sentiments, as she roams amidst the melancholic & foggy Rohtang Pass, almost touching the clouds, asking:

Tere jaane ki rut main jaanti hoon , 
Mud ki aane ki reet hai ki nahi?
Kali darga se poochungi jaake
Tere mann mein bhi preet hai ki nahi?

Kachchi puliya se hoke gujariyo, 
Kachchi puliya kinaare milungi

Phir se aiyo badra bidesi, 
Tere pankhon pe moti jadungi  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dar Ke Jeena Hai Koi Jeena Yaaron..

Though Javed Akhtar and R D Burman were part of a number of movies, beginning from Seeta Aur Geeta of 1972, their collaboration as a lyricist & music composer began more than a decade later, after Javed Akhtar broke up with Salim, and also started writing lyrics. As a result, there are very few movies where they both worked together.

For the artists like these however the quantity is immaterial. Even in these few movies, their team had started making an impact.

Like Gulzar, Javed Akhtar has also been a poet with an acute sense to capture the sensibilities & language of the young generation & turn it into lyrics. His Hum Hain Naye Andaaz Kyun Ho Purana from the 2002 release Dil Chahta Hai was one such song that went on to become the anthem of a whole post-liberalisation generation.

Much before that there was another such anthem penned by him - reflecting the social settings of a different India - an India of mid eighties, which had gone through a decade long textile mill strike, unemployment, corruption, and rising anger in the aspiring youngsters of lower-middle class. The lyrics from the movie Arjun, a slice from the life in the city, were reflection of the rebellious mood, and hence also needed a composition to match it. Who better than Pancham - a born rebel?

The song itself was on a unique situation - a street fight - perhaps inspired by west-side story. But since the situation warranted, after a long time, he again created a long prelude that begins with whistling tune, added clicking of fingers, and as the tension builds up, kept adding the instruments, even using chorus, till the prelude reaches a crescendo. Even the interludes keep up the tempo & energy - using Tabla and flute among other instruments, while the gang of youngsters, led by Sunny Deol, moves across the Mumbai city, lip-syncing to Shailendra Singh singing:

Ghar ne jo dil se nikala humen
In raasto ne hai pala humen
Muskara ke hum jhelte hain gham
Ro ke beete woh koi zindagi hai kya
Duniya mane bura to goli maro
Dar ke jeena hai koi jeena yaaron

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chhuo Na, Chhuo Na, Mujhe Chhuo Na...

Of course, he belonged to "The First Family" of Hindi cinema, yet was aware that this tag alone will not get him success. He also had good looks, but again that alone would not have been enough. Fortunately for him, in his generation from this family, his DNA was the only one bestowed with natural flair to act &, since it helped him a lot, dance. Perhaps that is why, besides Amitabh & Rajesh Khanna, the only star who got a large number of scintillating compositions of Pancham was - Rishi Kapoor.

He arrived as a full-fledged hero in 1973 in Bobby - one of the all time biggest block-busters that brought the showman Raj Kapoor back into business - from the abyss of bankruptcy. His pairing with another newcomer Dimple Kapadia was a kind of magic not created too often. Since she immediately got married to Rajesh Khanna & left the movies, it also remained an enigma for a long time, till they came together again, more than a decade later in Saagar - a movie by Ramesh Sippy.

While the pair could not scorch the screen the way they did it in Bobby, if audience felt still enchanted, the music was the reason behind. Pancham, in one of his most creative mood & phase, provided a score that has outlived the movie. Almost each of the songs went on to be an evergreen hit, but the one I like the most has him showing a very sensual avatar of his music.

The composition I am talking is simply delectable. It begins with a very sexy flute & sax, giving way to the notes of Guitar while Tabla adds to the mood. Even in the interludes - specially the first one, as Dimple paints the screen red with her unfurled saree, the piece of Sax & flute add an elegant touch of raw sensuality without which the scene is absolutely incomplete.

So here it is with Shailendra & Asha lending their voice to the verse of a very very romantic Javed Akhtar, for whom this song was his first one with Pancham: