Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jeena to Hai, Par Ae Dil Kahan..

Sometimes, I really wonder what makes a movie song really hit – good lyrics, great composition, flawless rendition or the way it is presented on-screen?

I am sure there is no clear answer to it. Yes, verse, vocals & composition are a must, but somehow, I have observed that a movie being a visual medium, its picturisation, the actors involved & finally the success of the movie make a bigger difference. This held true at least for the movies produced till late 70s, where in the absence of a 24x7 television, and lack of easy availability of music other than radio (Record players were not so common then!), in case a movie did not fare well, there was hardly any scope for the music to survive. Of course, there were exceptions where the good music became popular, despite dismal performance of a movie, due to sheer star power of the performers; but as I said, these were exceptions.

What else could have been a reason for the song that I am presenting today not to be rated amongst the evergreen classics from Pancham-Kishore?

No, it is not an exaggeration. Since the time I have heard this song a couple of weeks ago, I have been absolutely mesmerised - reeling under its spell.

This one, as promised earlier, is from Paanch Dushman. Yes, the same one which was first released in 1973, and later as Daulat ke Dushman in 1983. 1973 was the same year where Kishore & Pancham combination was on an upswing – what with super-hits like Tera Mujhse Hai Pahle Ka Naata Koi, Kiska Rasta Dekhe, Diye Jalte Hain & Main Shayar Badnam – just to name a few. Yes, amongst their own repertoire, 1973 was a tough act to beat. I am sure, among those sterling releases, a movie like Paanch Dushman with only villains being the noteworthy performers, it would have been perfectly justified, had Pancham not bothered to be at his usual self. However, such was never the case with him.

He still gave his best and the result is this composition. It begins with the notes derived from “The Sound of Silence” of Simon & Garfunkel, and then charts a course which has Kishore Kumar giving a no-holds-barred rendition – changing scales & pitch so effortlessly - that coupled with the very subtle notes of flute & guitar, brings out the melancholic mood of the situation in the movie. Majrooh, of course one of the mentors of Pancham, ensures to add depth with his verse – bringing me back to the question – why is this song not amongst Kishore & Pancham’s all-time bests?

Perhaps Majrooh’s verse were also wondering about this:

Naaraaz koi, Na koi Meherbaan
Naa kahin koi Bijali, Naa koi Aashiaan
Are baithun to, Nahin milti hain Zameen
Main Udana chaahun to, Hai door Aasmaan
Jeena to hai, Par aye dil kahaan

Listen to this yourself, and I am sure you will agree with me.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Main Aur Meri Awargi..

In my last post, I had promised the other song, a Kishore Kumar solo, from that rare - twice released under different names movie. However, let me first take a detour and take you to a Kishore classic, but from a different movie -Duniya, a 1983 release. The movie was a typical pay-back revenge drama with Dilip Kumar & Rishi Kapoor in lead, and did fare quite well.

However, the reason for this detour is very simple. Today one of the most prolific poets of the recent times - Javed Akhtar, has turned 70. After having worked for a long on various movies together - but as the story writer & the composer, this was the first movie where Javed Akhtar & Pancham collaborated together for music. In fact this was the first movie where Javed Akhtar had penned the lyrics.

Though there is no original movie clip available on internet for the song featured here, the reason to choose it was very elementary - It showcases the simple play of words that Javed Akhtar always manage to bring out while detailing the emotions. Quite possibly that is why, once again, more than a decade later, the same lyrics were used by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for his Sufi music album – Sangam – in collaboration with Javed Akhtar.

Perhaps it is the lyrics itself, written as if emanating from the inner most emotions of a nomadic soul, that found resonance in Pancham & Kishore Kumar. As a result, though not sufi-ish in style, yet the composition & rendition they came up with is also very simple – almost zen-like when one really think about it.

Hum bhi kabhi aabad the
Aise kahan barbaad the
Befikar the, azad the
Mashhoor the, dilshad the
Woh chal aisi chal gaya
Hum bujh gaye, dil jal gaya
Nikle jalake apna ghar
Main or meri aawargi

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jaana Hai Humen To Jahan Karaar Mile

Movies that take a long time to make are innumerable and they do tend to fare miserably. Adhura Aadmi was not an exception. However, rarely does one come across a movie that gets released twice – under different titles. Pancham had this distinction too.

In 1973, a Mumbai based builder, enamoured with the cinema & related glamour produced a movie that was supposed to be anti-smuggling. Unlike a multi – heroes, this was a movie with multi-villains - five to be precise and all top notch in early 70s: Pran, Manmohan, Prem Chopra, Shatrughan Sinha & Vinod Khanna – all pitted against one hero – who alone graced the posters of the movie. Movie was aptly titled Paanch Dushman. The movie tanked, and tanked big time.

Not to be deterred though, and perhaps because of the misplaced notion of being ahead of the time, the producer re-released the movie in 1982-83, this time with a new title – Daulat Ke Dushman. A few of the dynamics though had changed in the intervening years, and hence Vinod Khanna & Shatrughan Sinha got the top-most billing this time. Well, the change of name of the movie or the billboards did not alter its fate – justifying that Shakespeare was right when he wrote - What’s in a name?

Oh, yes, a few more trivia that I should have mentioned, the producer of the movie also decided to cast himself as the hero. Perhaps his success in his other business interests - involving construction & hospitality – did make him feel eligible enough to take on these 5 stalwarts actors. After all he also owned one of the key & an iconic hotel of its time in Mumbai . This was Manu Narang – also known as Manohar Lal Narang who owned Ambassador Hotel at Churchgate – the first one to have a revolving restaurant in the country.

Getting back to the movie, it had two lovely compositions of Pancham – a Kishore Kumar Solo & a duet featuring Kishore- Lata.

Let me play today the duet because once you see the performance of the lead actors, you will understand the reason why even Pancham’s music could not help it survive – neither first time nor in its re-christened avatar.

However, the song is an absolute gem with verse by Majrooh. Listen to it here:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tumse Hi To Shuru Hai..

Namkeen was released in 1982, a year which was an exceptional year for Pancham. Not so much because of the quality of his music, which was like any other good year of his, but more so as this year got him his first Filmfare award. Perhaps, time had come for the powers that were to finally recognise his talent, after his enthralling the cine-music lovers for more than a decade and a half.

The award was for a Kamal Hasan & Reena Roy release – Sanam Teri Kasam, a mega hit of the year and his second movie after the block-buster Ek Dooje Ke Liye.

As I said, however, his quality of music was superlative like any other year; with movies like Namkeen, Shakti, Sanam Teri Kasam & Yeh Wada Raha being the chartbusters. My favourite, though, from this year, other than Namkeen, is a song from a movie, which took inordinate years to complete and sank within no days. It featured one of Lata’s loveliest numbers, which finally got its dues years later when HMV released it as part of a compilation.

This was from a movie – Adhura Aadmi – Amjad Khan’s first directorial effort, which took almost 5 years to complete, and had featuring Vidya Sinha besides Amjad Khan himself. The movie is so buried in the archives, that even the song that I am featuring year has no video available, except a clip from the trailer of the movie.

Once again Pancham used the fusion of Hindustani & western instruments. The song itself starts with very subtle notes of Guitar just lending back-up to the vocals of Lata. Once the composition goes in full flow, you can hear the lilting medley of Sitar, Santoor & Flute, and the verse from Yogesh, that unsung but one of the classiest poets of Hindi movies. All combine together, playing a perfect foil to her voice, as it soars and takes you into an ethereal world of sweet and self-less love and adoration.

Here it is:

Tere Jeevan Mein Ban ke Kiran
Teri Kasam Bikharungi Sada
Tere Kadamon Ke Kaante Saare
Palakon Se Chun Lungi Main Piya
Janam Ka Naata Jo Tumse
Baandha Bandha Rahega Sada
Tumse Hi Toh Shuru Hai
Khatam Bhi Tum Par Hogi
Jindagi Ki Kahaani Mere Devata

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Khush Raho, Ahal-e-Watan..

It has been a long time since I visited this page. There have been reasons - the procastination being one of them, and finding a suitable occassion being another. I realised that today could be a good day to begin another phase where we explore the genius of Pancham.

It was 21 years ago, this day, when he moved away from this world and yet his legacy has lived on. In fact, his music is sounding as fresh and is as popular now, as it was then. While writing about him today I was looking for a suitable song and came across this gem .

Words – especially those which are well thought out lasts forever. The times may change and one fine day the same phrase re-appear again, looking as befitting and as apt as they were years ago – or in this particular case – centuries ago.

Around 1857, Wajid Ali Shah, the Nawab of Awadh was forced to abdicate his throne & was exiled from his beloved city Lucknow. It was this pain that made him pen a couplet that has been used many a times.

Our history tells us that one of the earliest user was Shahid Bhagat Singh when he wrote his final farewell letter from the gallows to his brother.

Almost 50 years later, in 1982, Gulzar was making a movie based on a truck driver’s life and his interaction with a family full of women. Perhaps taking an inspiration from the truck art – this couplet is quite often seen on the trucks - Gulzar used the last line of this couplet and penned lyrics of what could be an eternal journey song, in Kishore Kumar’s inimitable baritone for movie Namkeen.

Pancham of course was at his prime when Namkeen was produced, and created a composition where simplicity of instruments and the creative use of Hindustani Ragas – Malkauns for the night drive & Megh Malhar for the rainy season – turned it not only a classic, but also a perfect song as his legacy for his fans.

So here it is:

Aise Ujade Ashiyane, Tinke Ud Gaye 
Bastiyon Tak Aate Aate Raaste Mud Gaye 
Hum Thahar Jayen Jahan
Usko Shahar Kahte Hain 
Raah Pe Rahte Hain 
Yadon Pe Basar Karte Hain 
Khush Raho Ahal-e-Watan, Hum To Safar Karte Hain