Friday, September 6, 2013

The Music Director Project: Post 1 - Salil Choudhary

Salil Chaudhary, or Salil-da as we like to call him, was known for his different style of tunes. He was said to be far ahead of his time. A talent which is unmatched. His skills as music director are legendary. But he was also an accomplished writer and poet, with strong socialistic messages. How many know that he wrote the story and screenplay for the celebrated Bimal Roy film "Do Bigha Jameen"?
We somehow managed to filter down his song list to 17. But going from 17 to 10 was a tricky affair. Each of the 7 songs we eliminated, would have made it in the most comprehensive lists of the best songs. We agreed on a compromise to give honourable mention to the eliminated songs.

The Top 10

1. O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayee 
Film: Parakh (1960)           Lyricist: Shailendra          Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Use of sitar in this song is amazing.  Salil-da originally composed it as a bengali song "ne jeo na". It has been said that the only non-classical record found in the collection of renowned Hindustani vocalist Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan after his death was an LP of “na jeo na.” What an honor!
Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar once mentioned that he was very young when he accompanied Lata didi for rehearsal of this song and he complained to Lata didi that the tune seemed like unnecessarily complicated jugglery of notes. Lata didi simply told him "you are too young to appreciate the tune. No one else can think of this tune, only Salil-da can."

2. Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai 
Film: Rajanigandha (1974)           Lyricist: Yogesh          Singer: Mukesh
Mukesh received National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song. But thats not the main thing. The line to line variations is what makes the song stand out. After a forceful line, the next one is sung very softly and then back to full force. We had been listening to this song for ages. But saw the video recently. The completely expressionless bearded male actor is a funny aside, which makes it worth watching.

3. Na jiya lage na
Film: Anand (1970)           Lyricist: Gulzar          Singer: Lata Mangeshkar  

This was also composed in bengali earlier, and sung by Lata didi. Even the wordings in the two versions have similar meaning. In second stanza, there is a two line 'sher',
'na jiya lage na..
piya teri bawri se raha jaye na'
makes you feel there is a pitch shift.. brilliant composition.

4. Guzar jaaye din
 Film: Annadaata (1972)           Lyricist: Yogesh          Singer: Kishore Kumar 

One of my constant complaint has been how rarely Salil-da has used another fellow bengali, Kishore Kumar. But the few songs he has sung for him are truly memorable. This one is another brilliantly deceptive tune. Unfortunately, the youtube video including the video track has missed a small initial part of the prelude. So we are including an audio only version.

5. Ae mere pyare watan
Film: Kaabuliwalaa (1961)        Lyricist: Prem Dhawan          Singer: Manna Dey 

There couldn't be a more soulful song for someone craving to go back to his motherland. Brilliantly rendered by Manna Dey. The choice of instruments in this song takes you to Afghan valleys.

6. Woh ik nigaah kya mili
Film: Half Ticket (1962)        Lyricist: Shailendra      
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar

Movie half ticket was undoubtedly made for Kishore Kumar who does everything he is expected to do on screen from travelling on a half-ticket to high-jacking someone's dance show. This song is of particular importance because of the high notes Lataji has sung. These outright western style vocal notes were extremely rare in bollywood till 1990s and yet Lata didi gives full justice to the song, which was like home turf for Kishore-da. Further, you will note that although the tune is western, there is Indian rhythm accompanying the vocal parts, and for the interludes, Salil-da has used western drums. Amazing, wonderful. This would have been at number 1 in the list, except for a fact that the basic tune appears too similar to traditional European folk music.

7. Na jane kyon hota hai
Film: Choti Si Baat (1975)        Lyricist: Yogesh        Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

When you are missing someone, this song is what you want to sing. The way antara is composed, one cannot guess the progression of the tune.

8. Zulmi sang aankh ladi
Film: Madhumati (1958)        Lyricist: Shailendra         Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

This is a timeless folk song. With Vaijayanti mala on screen, it just couldn't be better. In fact, this song is like the brightest star in a majestic constellation that was the score of "Madhumati".

9. Tasveer teri dil mein
Film: Maya (1961)        Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri      
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar & Mohd. Rafi

In this song, the varying pace gives it a feel of roller coaster. It starts off slower and then without any warning, you are hurtling ahead. No words.

10. Aansoo samajh ke kyon mujhe
Film: Chaya (1975)        Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan       Singer: Talat Mehmood

Chaya was another masterpiece by Salil-da. Talat was really in his elements during this period. This song has everything just perfect. Lyrics couldn't be better. The tune is exactly tailormade to convey all the layers of the lyrics and there are no words to describe Talat saab's voice in this song.

Honourable Mentions

Jaaneman Jaaneman Tere Do Nayan
Film: Choti Si Baat (1975)        Lyricist: Yogesh    
Singer: Asha Bhosle & Yesudas
Dil Tadap Tadap ke keh raha hai
Film: Madhumati (1958)          Lyricist: Shailendra    
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar & Mohd. Rafi
Yeh Din kya aaye
Film: Choti Si Baat (1975)        Lyricist: Yogesh        Singer: Mukesh 
Aha rimjhim ke ye pyaare pyaare geet liye
Film: Ussne Kaha Tha (1960)        Lyricist: Shailendra       
Singer: Talat Mehmoon & Lata Mangeshkar
Chil Chil Chillake Kajari Sunaye
Film: Half Ticket (1962)        Lyricist: Shailendra      
Singer: Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar
Itna na muzse to pyaar badha
Film: Chaya (1975)        Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan  
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar & Talat Mehmood / Talat Mehmood
Aankhon mein tum
Film: Half Ticket (1962)        Lyricist: Shailendra      
Singer: Geeta Dutt & Kishore Kumar
Zindagi Khwab Hai
Film: Jaagte Raho (1956)        Lyricist: Shailendra        Singer: Mukesh

The Music Director Project: Post 0 - Genesis

This Sunday Hindustan Times' supplement 'Brunch' carried an article called "Ultimate Bollywood Playlist". They asked 17 people from Bollywood Music Industry including Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Shantanu Moitra, Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, Abhijeet, Ameen Sayani, Prasoon Joshi, Piyush Mishra, Anu Malik, Alka Yagnik, Sunidhi Chauhan among others.

They all selected some songs. We agreed with some, we laughed at some of the more ridiculous choices. Without going into too many details, let us just say that we could not find much fault with lists of Ameen Sayani saab or Kavitha Krishnamoorthy or Prasoon Joshi. At the other end of the spectrum, some of the song choices were so bad, there was room to doubt musical brain of the person.

Next we we started discussing what would be our ultimate playlist. Within a short time, we decided finding all time best 10 or even best 50 would be next to impossible. Hence we turned to next best thing. We decided to select up to 10 songs per music director. Even this is not very simple. We can keep discussing worth of one song over other till cows come home. But this is our list.

How we chose the 10 songs? Although we are calling it "The Music Director Project", the selection is not just about composition. A hindi film song has three important facets namely, music, lyrics and singing. If any one of these falters, it will pull the song back from the greatness ladder. Some may ask, what about picturisation? We feel that most of us like to "listen" to the songs than to "see" them. Videos of songs were not available to masses easily till just a few years back and it certainly did not help that many great songs were picturised on cardboard actors and actresses. But there are some songs, where the on screen actors add to the beauty of a song and seeing them instead of listening is certainly worth the trouble. Also as a mark of versatility of a music director, we tried to choose songs of different moods and, if possible, from different films. Popularity is not an important factor and also we tried avoiding songs which are based on tunes of other composers.

Enough of this talk. Lets get going. Next posts will start taking up one music director at a time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Fake Counselor

A warning for students / parents living in / near Dombivali:

There is a guy who claims to be a famous career counselor. he has copy-pasted information from net to create so called "encyclopedias of career". Has written columns in newspapers and has been counselling for last decade or more. But this guy has no clue about the things he talks about. He is a complete fraud.

I saw him at a programme this weekend in Thane where he was a co-speaker. The theme of the programme was "careers in research". Here are a few things he said in the speech based on this theme: "there are no jobs in India", "you can earn 56 times more money (i.e. USD to INR conversion rate) in USA than in India", "you can't learn anything about nanotechnology anywhere in India", "nano means 1 millionth of a metre", "IUCAA is doing excellent work in nanotechnology", "science students can be only servants, so if you want to do good career you should ONLY consider share market or politics". "No successful person ever needed graduation from college to be successful, so education is highly overrated". Every sentence was accompanied by an advertisement. e.g. "my book is available in this shop, this guy runs classes for this, that guy will charge you only this much for this information" and so on.

And I am not even talking about his other rantings which were completely off-topic. About politics (he is an interesting mixture with loyalties divided between RSS, Shiv Sena, NCP and Modi), idea that students should go away to western countries to realise dream of "Akhand Bharat", his claim that boys never make good career (only girls do) etc.

Did not confront him at the first venue as I was too shell-shocked. Tried giving him a fair warning at the second venue in private. However, he made a scene complaining about what right a co-speaker has to challenge him. Organisers tried telling him that he sticks to topic.But he kept his usual track on. So I confronted him during his speech twice publicly and told the students that this guy was misguiding them. He again threw tantrums about perceived "insult of speaker" and accused me of not understanding basis of "freedom of expression". Anyway, after that ugly showdown, organisers showed him the door and cut his name from the speaker list at the third venue.

Can't name him publicly for legal reasons. Contact privately if you need concrete info.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Minister, Minister go away!!!

What: Most of the India has had scarce rainfall this season so far and prospects for rest of the season are not very bright. A minister in the Indian state of Karnataka had a brilliant brainwave that he should order all temples in the state to conduct prayers and rituals (poojas) to please the rain gods. Here is the report in The Hindu.

Why its here: Spending Rs. 17 crore of public money on performing poojas to please rain gods? As the report says, this is not the first time the BJP government in Karnataka has indulged in wasting money on religious / superstitious causes. They have allotted funds to bring water of Ganges for special Pooja in every temple every year and there is a circular which orders temples to conduct daily Poojas for well being of Chief Minister and every time they change Chief Minister (and hence retake oath of the office), they do poojas in their respective ministries. Whats going on?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Give me your money!!!

What: If you have a lot of money to waste and are looking for ways, here are some methods. Thanks to Devdatta Bhise for sending me this link.

 Why its here: "Science of attracting money" is real. The person conducting this workshop is really attarcting money to himself. Although what happens to his student's money is different question altogether. One day workshop to "read coffee cup" and "crystal gazing" can be nicely achieved with right kind of beverages. Throw away the coffee in the cup and pick up the bottle, if you catch my drift. But I wonder why a bottle of soothing beverage should cost 8000 Rs. Some expensive variety perhaps?

Guwahati case through their eyes

All know what happened in Guwahati. A 17 year old girl went to pub with some friends. They had some arguments with pub owners and hence they left the pub. The voyeuristic mob outside stripped the girl and a news reporter caught the incident on camera. But thats already well known. It is actually a more enriching experience to see how the so called authorities and guardians of public morale see this incident. I had missed these bits. Thanks to Ashish Shakya's blog for bringing my attention to it.

What: See this story first. District Collector of Guwahati says: "We are planning to take action against the bar owners if they are not following the norms. The bars are supposed to be closed by 10 pm."

Then look at twitter feed of Dr. Kiran Bedi. She claims: "Pubs attract hooliganism and violence just as holy places attract peace and devotion! Its in the nature of environment!" and then "there is a big difference between vibes at both places! Pubs breed lust, holy places reduce it (ofcourse exceptions exist!)"

Why its here: Does the collector mean that if the said pub had closed at 10:00pm, all those part of the mob would have suddenly turned into saints? Or just that they would have considered the time before 10:00pm as inauspicious for any molestation? For Ms. Bedi, as Ashish Shakya rightly says, "I’m sure devdasis, altar boys and people in Ayodhya would agree."

Whats with these people? What is the real issue here and what are you talking about?

Khap Panchayat

Khap Panchayats have been functioning to fulfil an important role in India. Common people need their daily dose of comedy, news channels feel constant need for sensational news and Khap Panchayats provide these. A widely reported news from last week about a Khap Panchayat must have been seen by all. Here is a source for reference purpose.

What: Khap Panchayat in Baghpat, UP (incidentally Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's constituency) issued a following "guideline" for women below 40 years of age:
  • They should not wear jeans.
  • They should not use mobile phones in public spaces including roads and by-lanes.
  • They should not go for shopping unescorted.
  • They should not go unescorted anywhere after sunset.
  • No love marriages are allowed in the village.

Why its here: The diktat is obviously hilarious. Its aftermath is even more worrying. Apparently, when Police were forced to arrest some of the Khap members (after a lot of hue and cry in national media), villagers arranged a protest march against the arrest, disrupted traffic on a national highway, assaulted the police official investigating the case.They claim that it is not a diktat but a "guideline" for women as approved by all communities in the village.