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In one of her several tributes to Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, one of the God’s supreme gifts to our musical ears, had likened his voice to that of a monk singing a devotional song in a temple.

She could not have been much off the mark. His repertoire of songs covers a wide range of the spectrum of human emotions. If some bring out the unalloyed bliss of love, others highlight some philosophical truths of life. Some are like soothing lullabies whereas others are highly patriotic. Many others convey the acute pain of loneliness while few caress us with vibes of positivity arising out of the despondency one feels after facing the harsh slings and arrows of fate. In many cases, his haunting voice even teases the listener with a mystery of sorts.

Here are some of his songs I have relished from my childhood. Even today, these never fail to either soothe my frayed nerves or uplift my spirits. Dimming the lights around and simply listening to one of these songs envelopes me in a comforting ambience. The decaying cells of a bruised soul get regenerated and perk up, just like a recently watered flower would.

Non-film Songs

Bhala tha kitna apna bachpan…

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Music: Kamal Dasgupta

Lyricist: Faiyyaz Hashmi

Kal teri tasveer ko…

(1943)

Music: Kamal Dasgupta

Lyricist: Faiyyaz Hashmi

Anchal se kyon baandh liya…

Music: Kamal Dasgupta

Lyricist: Faiyyaz Hashmi

Film Songs

Yaad kiya dil ne…

Movie: Patita (1953)

Music: Shankar Jaikishan

Singers: Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar

Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri

Zindagi pyaar ki do chaar ghadi…

Movie: Anarkali (1953)       

Composer: C. Ramchandra

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Rajendra Krishan

Na ye chaand hoga…

Movie: Shart (1954)

Music/Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: S H Bihari

Tere dwaar khada ek jogi…

Movie: Nagin (1954)

Music/Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan

Chandan ka palna…

Movie: Shabaab (1954)

Music: Naushad

Singers: Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar

Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni

Teri duniya mein jeene se…

Movie: House No. 44 (1955)

Music Director: S.D.Burman

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

Jaane wo kaise log the…

Movie: Pyaasa (1957)

Music Director: S D Burman.

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

Ganga aaye kahaan se…

Movie: Kabuliwala (1961)

Music: Salil Chowdhury

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Gulzar

Na tum humein jaano…

Movie: Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962)

Music: S D Burman

Singers: Suman Kalyanpur, Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Bequaraar karke humein…

Movie: Bees Saal Baad (1962)

Music Director and Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni

Jagat bhar ki Roshni ke liye…

Movie: Harishchand Taramati (1963)

Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal, Hridaynath Mangeshkar

Lyricist: Kavi Pradeep

Ya dil ki suno…

Movie: Anupama (1966)

Music Director and Singer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

I am not mentioning four of his songs which I have already covered elsewhere. These include Ye raat ye chandni… (Jaal, 1952), Aa neele gagan tale… (Badshah, 1954), Nain so nain… (Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, 1955) and Tum pukaar lo… (Khamoshi 1970).

According to Wikipedia, Hemant Kumar (16 June 1920 – 26 September 1989) was a legendary Indian music composer and playback singer who primarily sang in Bengali and Hindi, as well as other Indian languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Odia, Assamese, Tamil, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Konkani, Sanskrit and Urdu. He was an artist of Bengali and Hindi film music, Rabindra Sangeet, and many other genres. He was the recipient of two National Awards for Best Male Playback Singer and was popularly known as the “voice of God”. He Completed his B.E & M.Tech Engineering Degree from Jadavpur University.

Hemant joined the Bengal Technical Institute at Jadavpur (now Jadavpur University) to pursue Engineering. However, he quit academics to pursue a career in music, despite objections from his father. He experimented with literature and published a short story in a Bengali magazine Desh. He focused on music by the late 1930’s.

The US government honoured Hemant Kumar by conferring upon him the citizenship of Baltimore, Maryland; the first-ever singer of India to get USA citizenship. He refused Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards but had won so many other awards and accolades for his work.

By the end of his life, he had become an institution, a beloved and revered personality who was a courteous and friendly gentleman. His philanthropic activities included running a homeopathic hospital in memory of his late father in their native village in Baharu, in the South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

Creative geniuses like him surely descend upon this planet from a higher plane of consciousness. They help us to wash off the dirt which gets accumulated on our souls while living our mundane lives, thereby enabling us to reconnect us with our inner beings and enjoy a state of unadulterated joy and bliss.

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Life is often full of contradictions. Our desire for companionship of someone special in our life co-exists with a gnawing realization that we need to accept the reality and be happy to live in a state of separation, if necessary, and not keep complaining about it. Women need the necessary space in a relationship to be able to pursue their own ambitions and career goals.

Tere bina…

Movie: Aandhi (1975)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Composer: R D Burman

Lyricist: Gulzar

Songs with simple lyrics and a dash of classical music never fail to regale one!

Jab deep jale aana…

Movie: Chitchor (1976)

Singers: K J Yesudas, Hemlata

Composer/Lyricist: Ravindra Jain

The male version of this lovely song is a song of passionate romance, whereas the female one deeply resents a separation forced by circumstances. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma and Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia regale us with this poignant composition.   

Neela asmaan so gaya…

Movie: Silsila (1981)

Singers: Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar

Composers: Shiv, Hari

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

This one captures the agony of a lover who believes that the other one deserves a better soul mate in life.

Tumko dekha to ye khayal aaya…

Movie: Saath Saath (1982)

Singers: Jagjit Singh, Chitra Singh

Composer: Kuldeep Singh

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

When we turn a hypocrite and try to hide our tears with an artificial smile, a person who really cares for us is quick to spot it.

Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho…

Movie: Arth (1982)

Singer/Composer: Jagjit Singh

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

Some time back, I had listed out my favourite lullabies from Bollywood. Permit me to list here an outstanding one.

Surmayee akhiyon mein…

Movie: Sadma (1983)

Singer: K J Yesudas

Composer: Ilaiyaraaja

Lyricist: Gulzar

Here is an introspective song which makes us think of what the purpose of our life really is. Do we really know what we desire and yearn for? 

Aye dil-e-naadaan…

Movie: Razia Sultan (1983)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Khayyam

Lyricist: Jan Nisaar Akhtar

There are times when even a highly talented person like Gulzar outshines himself. This song is a ready example of the same and showcases the yearning of a beloved for closure in a relationship. 

Mera kuchh saamaan…

Movie: Ijaazat (1987)

Singer: Asha Bhosle

Composer: R D Burman

Lyricist: Gulzar

Lilting music, captivating visuals, and the sizzling chemistry between the lead couple – all these go on to make this song an enticing romantic offering!

Tere mere hothon pe…

Movie: Chandni (1989)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Babla Mehta

Composers: Shiv, Hari

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Here is a lovely romantic song from the stable of Rajshri Productions.

Pehla pehla pyar hai…

Movie: Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)

Singer: S. P. Balasubrahmanyam

Composers: Raam Laxman

Lyrics: Dev Kohli

This song gives us hope that there is always someone out there in the universe who is destined to be our soulmate.

Ek dooje ke vaste…

Movie: Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hariharan

Composer: Uttam Singh

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

This beautiful composition is surely dedicated to those who have suffered the pain of unrequited love; also, to those whose spouses have chosen to move on from this planet to the Brighter World.

Main bhool jaun tumhe…

Album: Silsilay (1998)

Singer/Composer: Jagjit Singh

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

As mentioned elsewhere, here is a touching lullaby which would surely put a kid to sleep.

Door kahin ek aam ki bagiya…

Movie: Zubeida (2001)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: A R Rehman

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

The love between Radha and Krishna is the stuff of legend and folklore. Bollywood has never quite shied away from offering famous song-and-dance sequences to us based on the same. Songs like Hamen gop gwala kehte hain…(Navrang, 1955) and Mohe panghat pe…(Mughal-E-Azam, 1960) readily pop up in our minds. The latest version brings in the dancing skills of Madhuri Dixit, duly backed by Birju Maharaj’s choreography, music and lyrics.

Kaahe chhed chhed mohe…

Movie: Devdas (2002)

Singers: Birju Maharaj, Madhuri Dixit, Kavita Krishnamurthy

Composer/Lyricist: Birju Maharaj

This song effectively captures the innate desire of a female to bear a child, her vivid imagination of the physical form much before she brings him/her into this world.  

Kyun baar baar…

Movie: Filhaal (2002)

Singer: K S Chithra

Composer: Anu Malik

Lyricist: Gulzar

Some directors happen to have a keen ear for soulful music. Think of Raj Kapoor, Gulzar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and, of course, Yash Chopra. Decades may have passed, but the embers of undying commitment between two star-crossed lovers and their affection for each other continue to glow unabated. 

Tere liye…

Movie: Veer Zaara (2004)

Singers: Suresh Wadkar, Lata Mangeshkar

Composers: Madan Mohan, Sanjiv Kohli

Lyricist: Javed Akhtar

A lovely romantic song which captures the growing affection between two lovers separated by the high walls of material wealth and other societal concerns.

Piyu bole…

Movie: Parineeta (2004)

Singers: Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal

Composer: Shantanu Moitra

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Indian scriptures tell us that the unbound souls in the universe decide the kind of next life they need in view of their past karma and choose their parents accordingly. Children descend from the heavens above and bestow profound hope and joy upon their family seniors. They deserve all the love and respect they can get.      

Taare zameen par…

Movie: Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Singers: Shankar Mahadevan, Bugs Bhargava, Vivinenne Pocha

Composers: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi

All of us have role models in our lives. These are persons who are better gifted than us in so many ways. We go to great lengths to remain in their orbits. This song vividly captures the search of three class fellows for their long-lost role model.   

Kahaan gaya usey dhoondo…

Movie: 3 Idiots (2009)

Singer: Shaan

Composer: Shantanu Moitra

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Our homes and hearths are not mere blocks of bricks and mortar. Small moments of shared happiness, an abiding love and harmony between those who populate a dwelling, and tantalizing dreams, bring in the real warmth. And that is how a house becomes a home.   

Itti si khushi…

Movie: Barfi! (2012)

Singers: Shreya Ghoshal, Nikhil Paul George

Composer: Pritam

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Yet another love song which captivates our hearts.

Chaar kadam…

Movie: PK 2014

Singers: Shaan, Shreya Ghoshal

Composer: Shantanu Moitra

Lyricist: Swanand Kirkire

Bollywood has offered us a few songs where the virtues of a mother are showcased by a loving son. Here is a rare one where it is the daughter who is expressing her love and admiration for the mother.

Meri pyari ammi…

Movie: Secret Superstar (2017)

Singer: Meghna Mishra

Composer: Amit Trivedi

Lyricist: Kausar Munir

I am rather hesitant to take this subjective list any further for two reasons.

One, by no stretch of imagination can this list be considered an exhaustive one. There are so many good songs which are available to us. However, out of respect for your time and attention, I cannot simply go on adding many other songs. That would go on to make the listing a wee bit unwieldy. I confess that selecting the songs listed above has not been an easy task for me.

Two, even though there are many which are of recent origin and happen to be popular as of now, we need to allow them more time to mature and acquire an alluring flavour in our emotional casks. I think the shelf-life of these can only be assessed after the lapse of a few years. I allude to such songs as Yaadon ki almaari…(Helicopter Eela; 2018), Teri mitti…(Kesari; 2019), Kitthe chaliye…(Shershaah; 2021) and Meri jaan…(Gangubhai Kathiawadi; 2022).

The Evolution of Bollywood Music

Over the decades, our songs have evolved in more ways than one.

One kind of transformation which has taken place is in the character of the lyrics. In the past, elements of nature used to play an important role, especially when it came to effectively capturing the emotions being depicted on the screen. Think of Aaja sanam madhur chandni mein hum (Chori Chori; 1956) and O sajana, barkha bahaar aayi (Parakh; 1960). This is no longer true. Now, once in a while, we get treated to a song like Suraj hua maddham (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham; 2001).

Also, gradually, the orchestra and the sound have elbowed out the lyrics somewhat. Songs which appealed to the audience not only for their deep layered meaning but also for their soulful music have become part of a rare breed. Philosophical truths of life have got relegated to the background. Thus, we have become used to getting entertained by offerings which accord a higher priority to our ears than to our minds. 

Moreover, with the new-found zeal for quick cuts, adroit camera work and the razzle-dazzle of a heightened visual appeal, we have virtually stopped hearing songs and have willy-nilly become reconciled to seeing them. Cinematography rules. Locations keep changing in quick succession. Even before we have had the chance to savour one, the next one pops up. The camera has become obtrusive. Even if a patriotic song like Teri mitti…comes up, we are exposed to a visual world which is in the fast forward mode. Since our eyes are constantly being bombarded with visual information, the hapless ear often has no other option but to take the back seat.  

Whatever may be the direction of evolution of songs, music remains a nourishment for the soul. The genre does not really matter. Our choices and preferences may differ widely. But what matters is the way it touches our hearts and resonates with our inner being.

Music makes us experience a glowing harmony between our inner and outer selves. It helps us to dig beneath the veneer of several masks that we wear in our mundane life. It also acts as a catalyst in our quest for our true inner selves, thereby raising our level of consciousness. Indeed, like all other forms of fine art, it washes off the dirt of our mundane lives and nurtures our souls.

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Music forms an integral part of movies. If the background score keeps capturing human emotions of different hues in each of the scenes, songs heighten the sentiments in diverse situations faced by those on the screen. Lyricists play a crucial role by not only depicting the feelings of the characters involved, but also conveying deep philosophical truths of life at times.  

Some songs elevate our spirits and motivate us to get up after each tumble and restart chasing our dreams. Others bring us happiness, even if some of these might be intrinsically sad.

Some of you may remember a song which Talat Mehmood had rendered in his velvet-like soothing voice long time back:

Hein sabse madhur woh geet jinhen hum dard ke swar mein gaate hain…

Roughly translated, this says that the songs which are the sweetest are the ones which are set to the melody of sorrow! You may agree that Shailendra was not much off the mark when he wrote this for the 1953 movie Patita. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XagIs_0zgaY

Each song is a multi-layered offering. If the lyricist pens something heartful, the composer sets it to music which tugs at our heart strings. The characters finally breathe life into it, either by lip-syncing it or by going through the motions while the song itself plays in the background.

Here is a collection of some of the songs which are close to my heart. Songs appear here in a chronological order, ranging from the year 1939 and coming forward up to 2017.   

Whenever the chips are down and dark clouds cover your inner space, here is a song which can motivate you to move ahead in life with a steely resolve and a chin-up attitude.   

Karun kya aas niras bhayi…

Movie: Dushman,1939

Singer: K L Saigal,

Composer: Pankaj Mullick

Lyricist : Aarzoo Lucknowi

When a lover’s heart is pining away for the beloved, this song comes in handy.  

Suhaani raat dhal chuki…

Movie: Dulari (1949)

Singer: Mohammed Rafi

Composer: Naushad

Lyricist: Shakeel Badayuni

Here is a light-hearted and delightful experience in the art and craft of serenading, eventually prompting a reluctant heroine to overcome her hesitation and rush to meet the hero. Yet again, nature plays an important role in the proceedings.

Ye raat ye chandni phir kahaan…

Movie: Jaal (1952)

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

This one is a romantic song which has soulful lyrics set to lilting music. The part that I find very touching is where the heroine imagines doing her make up while the hero quietly sits opposite her! Unfortunately, a YouTube search did not throw up the original movie footage.

Aa neele gagan tale pyar hum karein…

Movie: Badshah (1954)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hemant Kumar

Composer: Shankar Jaikishan

Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri

V. Shantaram had a penchant for offering us movies with a distinctive touch of classical music replete with songs which used different elements of nature to enhance a contemplative communion with it. Here, we find someone of the stature of Gopi Krishna showcasing his enchanting dancing skills opposite Sandhya. This movie had used santoor for the first time, played by the inimitable Pt. Shivkumar Sharma.   

Nain so nain nahi milao…

Movie: Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hemant Kumar

Composer: Vasant Desai

Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri

Here is a flirtatious song from an otherwise serious movie. The back-and-forth chat between the heroine and the hero is a sheer delight.   

Hum aapki ankhon mein…

Movie: Pyasa (1957)

Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Sahir Ludianvi

Amongst the many songs steeped in chivalry that Bollywood has brought to us over the years, this one takes the cake. 

Pyar par bas to nahin…

Movie: Sone ki Chidiya (1958)

Singers: Talat Mehmood, Asha Bhosle

Composer: O P Nayyar

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

What really defines true living? According to this song, there are three elements: having someone whose smiles you can fall for, borrowing and shouldering someone else’s pain, and having love for someone in your heart!

Kisi ki muskarahaton pe ho nisaar…

Movie: Anari (1959)

Singer: Mukesh

Composers: Shankar Jaikishan

Lyricist: Shailendra

How do we enthuse a soulmate to share his/her suffering with you? Here is a poignant appeal from a beloved, set to unobtrusive music by Jaidev.

Jahaan mein aisa kaun hai…

Movie: Hum Dono (1961)

Singer: Asha Bhosle

Composer: Jaidev

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

When a passionate wooer praises the one being wooed rather profusely, how does the latter respond? Towards the end of the song, the heroine starts wondering if the excessive praise being showered upon her could lead her to entertain feelings of unjustified pride. Here is a lesson in humility and equanimity.

Bahut shukriya badi meharbani…

Movie: Ek Musaafir Ek Haseena (1962)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi

Composer: O P Nayyar

Lyricist: Raja Mehdi Ali Khaan

Here, Sahir Ludianvi tells us that issues which cannot be resolved in life are best concluded with a loving twist!

Chalo ek baar phir se…

Movie: Gumraah (1963)

Singer: Mahendra Kapoor

Composer: Ravi

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

Each song sung by Manna Dey is unique. Interestingly, this one is open to two interpretations. At the mundane level, the lady is wondering how she can return to her home and hearth when a part of her attire is soiled. At a spiritual level, it expresses the yearning of a soul to be reunited with God. 

Laaga chunari mein daag…

Movie: Dil Hi To Hai (1963)

Singer: Manna Dey

Composers: Roshan and Omi Sonik

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

The pathos of a failed love which does not get reciprocated by the party of the other part, so very aptly rendered by Rafi here, leaves one speechless. Simple lyrics and soothing music make it the perfect song for those facing a similar situation in life. 

Mein ye soch kar…

Movie: Haqeeqat (1964)

Singer: Mohammed Rafi

Composer: Madan Mohan

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

Here is another song which tugs at one’s heartstrings by capturing the frustration of loneliness arising out of a misunderstanding in a relationship. 

Din dhal jaaye…

Movie: Guide (1965)

Singer: Mohammed Rafi

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Shailendra

When lovers express their gratitude for the other person’s presence in their lives, unalloyed joy swirls around in their midst. Also, a dash of the Karma theory propounded by Bhagavad Gita raises the philosophical quotient of this song rather high.     

Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good…

Movie: The Sound of Music (1965)

Singers: Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer

Composer: Richard Rodgers

Lyricist: Oscar Hammerstein II

Those who hail from the tribe of the delicately nurtured and believe in female empowerment these days might scoff at this song. However, the fact remains that love based on a deep-rooted loyalty towards each other is truly a sentiment to be cherished.  

Chhupaa lo yuun dil mein pyaar mera…

Movie: Mamta (1966)

Singers: Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Roshan

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Many movies have captured the ambience of matrimonial bliss, with the couple exchanging meaningful and loving glances with each other. These are surely couples who have no use for the much-touted phrase ‘I love you’. Their body language says it all. Here is a song which never fails to touch my emotional chords.

Dheere dheere machal ae dil…

Movie: Anupama (1966)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Composer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi

Here is an uplifting offering which also fits rather well with the sustainability issues we just appear to be waking up to in our chaotic times when Mother Nature often sounds as if she is trying to punish homo sapiens for destroying its beauty and plundering its limited resources.  Human greed has taken over prudence, thereby increasing the entropy in the natural system.   

Ye kaun chitrakaar hai…

Movie: Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti (1967)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Satish Bhatia

Lyricist: Bharat Vyas

By now, most of us are aware of the ills of social media, where people often talk without listening, dumping what they wish to say and completely ignoring what others are wanting to say. In movies, we keep running into those who talk without speaking. Their eyes, facial expressions and body language say it all. This song touched upon this aspect of our lives many decades back!

The sound of silence…

Movie: The Graduate (1967)

Singers/Composers: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel

Lyricist: Paul Simon

When lyrics get penned in chaste Hindi by someone of the stature of Neeraj, set to music by the inimitable S D Burman, rendered by a multi-talented Kishore Kumar and the song features the evergreen Dev Anand, something unique happens. Add the picturesque locales of Switzerland, and magic follows!   

Phoolon ke rang se…

Movie: Prem Pujari (1970)

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Neeraj

Here is another heart pining for the beloved; sung by Hemant Kumar in his eternally soothing voice.

Tum pukaar lo…

Movie: Khamoshi (1970)

Singer/Composer: Hemant Kumar

Lyricist: Gulzar

Over the years, Bollywood has offered us many songs centred around the heroine’s eyes. Here is just one such which strengthens one’s desire to live a full life.

Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen…

Movie: Safar (1970)

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Composers: Kalyanji, Anandji

Lyricist: Indeevar (Shyamalal Babu Rai)

Life often makes us suffer the harsh slings and arrow of Fate, separating us from those whom we love. However, our Guardian Angels offer us life-long relationships with perfect strangers. Mukesh makes us brood over this facet of our lives.

Kaheen door jab din dhal jaaye…

Movie: Anand (1971)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Salil Chowdhury

Lyricist: Yogesh

When those who hurt us are the ones we consider our own, the hurt is indeed very deep.

Chingaari koi bhadke…

Movie: Amar Prem (1972)

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Composer: R. D. Burman

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

When relations between husband and wife turn sour, a tragedy proves to be a blessing in disguise, bringing them together, yet again. 

Tere mere milan ki ye raina…

Movie: Abhimaan (1973)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Composer: S D Burman

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

What happens when there is uncertainty and confusion in our relationships in life? Here is a soulful song which speaks of our yearning to seek a clarity in our thoughts by controlling the endless desires of our heart.

Kayi baar yoon bhi dekha hai…

Music: Rajnigandha (1974)

Singer: Mukesh

Composer: Salil Chowdhury

Lyrics: Yogesh

(Continued…)

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About the Book

What would happen if you got stuck at a place with dreaded Bollywood villains like Gulshan Grover and Ranjeet, and they actually rescue you from being harassed?

What would your reaction be if Madhuri Dixit said I Am Sorry to you?

Which Ambani could have possibly reported the Author to the moral, if not the actual police?

How did Hrithik Roshan fool a city editor?

To find out answers to these questions and more, pick up a copy of the Bestselling Memoir – Hotel Adventures with the Stars, penned by the International Hospitality Writer, L. Aruna Dhir, who calls Dehradun her forever Home.

The book is a delightful compendium of delicious stories based on L. Aruna Dhir’s encounters with celebrities from different walks of life, spanning the world of cinema, arts, music, sports, politics and literature. It is truly one of a kind book that chronicles several of Aruna’s engrossing encounters with a gamut of celebrities.

Funny, thrilling and heart-warming in equal measure, Aruna vividly recounts cherished memories of when Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan gave her a personal concert, Kapil Dev bowled her over and what it is to actually shake Sunny Deol’s Dhai Kilo Ka Haath (a hand weighing two and a half kilograms!) amongst many other equally endearing incidents involving Jackie Shroff, Dimple Kapadia, Ruskin Bond, Sharmila Tagore, Maneka Gandhi, Kiran Bedi, Khushwant Singh and several others, in this collector’s edition.

The Foreword for this enchanting Memoir has been written by the famous Master Storyteller, Ruskin Bond, who calls this unique recollection “Immensely readable.”

About the Author

As a four year old, growing up in the verdant Doon Valley, Aruna would prance about the garden while the great sitar maestro Vilayat Khan held his music soirees. Who knew that would set the shape of things to follow. At 19, Aruna had Bollywood’s sexiest hero of the time, Sanjay Dutt, say I Love You to her. By the time she began working with international Five Star hotels Aruna had stars from Bollywood and Hollywood orbiting her galaxy.

L. Aruna Dhir is today a recognized International Hospitality Writer with her insights presented in the #1 ranked global hospitality publication. She is on the Board of the Association of Commonwealth Leaders’ Conferences (ACLC) – a Commonwealth Body and a Member of the World Tourism Network (WTN).  A national-poll winning Communications Specialist, she has launched hospitality brands. As a Hotel PR Strategist, Aruna has worked with some of the world’s finest hotels such as the Hyatt, the Oberoi Group and The Imperial.

She has represented India to a select group of opinion-makers in the United States, as a Cultural Ambassador under the GSE Program of Rotary International. She has also participated in the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference held in Australia and chaired by Princess Anne.

During the course of her checkered and exciting career, Aruna has brushed her shoulders with a scintillating set of well-known personalities, including royalty. A clutch of them feature in highly entertaining anecdotal stories in Hotel Adventures with the Stars.

The quintessential Girl from Clement Town, Aruna grew up in Dehradun and spent her formative, school-going and collegiate years in the Valley Town. Quite naturally so, the Memoir is sprinkled with reminiscences of life in Doon in the 70s, 80s and the 90s.

As a young girl, Aruna would attend many a Kavi Sammelan held at the Town Hall or the Doon Club to participate in poetry recitals in the company of notable poets of the region. Unsurprisingly then, she graduated to become a poet par excellence, and has to her credit two published poetry anthologies. Aruna has the distinction of being India’s first-ever Creative Writer with Archies Greetings, with several series of cards sold under her by-line – an unprecedented feat that has not been repeated since. The milestone puts her in the league of Helen Steiner Rice, Susan Polis Schutz and Amanda Bradley.

Journey of the Book so far

Hotel Adventures with the Stars is the author’s third Book, but her Debut Non-fiction.

In less than 24 hours of its pre-order link being put up, the book debuted at the #2 spot on the Hot New Releases and at #25 spot on the Bestseller List of Biographies, Autobiographies and True Accounts, in a list that had President APJ Abdul Kalam’s Autobiography at #1!! 

Since its launch, the book has continuously popped up on the Bestseller list, to sit as a neighbour with the Man of the Hour, Elon Musk’s Biography and to be ahead of other popular biographies such as Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ Unfinished and Dr. NR Narayana Murthy’s Biography.

It is of little wonder then that the book has received exceptionally noteworthy endorsements from a string of superstars.

Some Endorsements from Celebrities

“Lucid, Witty & Engrossing…Aruna’s sharp writing makes this book a captivating read!” is how the Superstar Jackie Shroff describes the Memoir.

“L. Aruna Dhir is an extremely engaging writer. She involves you in her stories and entrances you with her beautiful writing. What a fine time travel the Memoir allows into nostalgia!” affirms the Super Cop woman, Dr. Kiran Bedi.

“Aruna is a Master-weaver. She has woven a colourful tapestry with gossamer threads to create a design of sensitive beauty,” says Sonal Mansingh, Padma Vibhushan Odissi classical dancer and Cultural Icon of India.

Sanjeev Kapoor, Internationally acclaimed Indian Masterchef, Restaurateur and the Khana Khazana TV Star has this to say about Hotel Adventures with the Stars, “A fun, honest, memorable portrayal of personalities interwoven with anecdotal slices of nostalgia! Readers will find themselves in the stories and come away with a pleasing sense of warmth and realism.”

Interested?!

Here’s the link for you to peruse and use: https://amzn.to/3wG1m9l

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ashokbhatia

Come Valentine’s Day and the air is fragrant with thoughts of love, caring and compassion. The movie buffs amongst us are literally spoiled for choice. For example, we can catch up on one of the breezy romcoms, like 50 First Dates (2004, Peter Segal), Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008, A Match Made by God, Aditya Chopra), No Strings Attached (2011, Ivan Reitman) or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani(2013, Crazy Youth, Ayan Mukerji). Movie 50 First Dates

Or, we can delve into our personal collections and rediscover classics such as Gone With the Wind(1939, Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood), Mughal-e-Aazam(1960, K Asif, The Emporer of the Mughals), The Sound of Music(1965, Robert Wise) or Guide (1965, Vijay Anand).Guide_poster

We also have the choice of curling up on a love couch and savoring romantic escapades of the mature and ripe kind. Here are some movies…

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ashokbhatia

The #MeToo allegations which have popped up recently in Bollywood go on to show the extent to which the virus of the infamous Director’s Couch Syndrome has not only permeated our entertainment industry but also morphed into a more disgraceful version of itself.

Perhaps a part of the solution lies within Bollywood itself. The gender insensitivity which is showcased and glorified in our movies is something which leaves us gasping for some innovative scripts. Exceptions are there. But these remain just exceptions.

When it comes to winning the affection of a heroine, a typical Bollywood hero spares no effort. He charms. He dazzles. He pursues. He flexes his rippling muscles. He shows off his biceps. He chases away a gang of baddies who try to harass his lady love. He poses as a well-endowed person. He even threatens and imposes himself.

Our heroes are adept at expressing their emotions in…

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I have never—in all the years this blog has been in existence—compiled a list of my favourite Madan Mohan songs. An oversight, and one for which I have no explanation to offer: just reparation. Born Madan Mohan Kohli in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) on June 25, 1924, the young Madan Mohan returned with his family to […]

Ten of my favourite Madan Mohan songs — Dustedoff

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We appear to live in times when lyrics in Bollywood are mostly lost in the loud music churned out by a metallic orchestra. Lyricists are barely acknowledged.

It is times such as these which persuade us to travel back in time and remember the kind of soulful poetry the lyricists of yore used to offer.

Here is a great post on Hasrat Jaipuri.

Enjoy!

Dustedoff

Today is the birth centenary of one of Hindi cinema’s greatest lyricists, the very prolific and versatile Hasrat Jaipuri. Born in Jaipur on April 15, 1922, ‘Hasrat’ was named Iqbal Hussain, and took to writing poetry fairly early in life. In 1940, not even 20 years old, Hasrat moved to Bombay, where, though he attended mushairas and wrote (and recited) a good deal of verse, he was also obliged to take up a job as bus conductor. This job helped him make ends meet for the next 8 years, when Hasrat had the good fortune to be noticed by none other than Prithviraj Kapoor at a mushaira. Kapoor was so impressed by the young poet, he recommended Hasrat to his son Raj, who was then in the midst of planning Barsaat (1949). Hasrat was taken on to write songs for the film, and that was the start of a…

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

Bandish Bandits, the exceptionally melodious 10-episode web series that released on the OTT platform Amazon Prime on 4th August has found immense popularity among the young and old alike thanks to its outstanding music by the trio of Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, excellent performances by the entire cast who bring to life their respective characters and the striking locations set in Rajasthan which add a lot of colour to the proceedings.

Amidst all the revenge sagas and gangster dramas being offered on the OTT platforms, such a pure musical is a refreshing change and comes as a breath of fresh air.

The series has not only revived memories in the older generation of viewers the fast disappearing appreciation and magic of our culture and music but more importantly succeeded in attracting the younger generation to the beauty and allure of Hindustani classical music. Indeed, this is an incredible…

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Often, we complain about the inane offerings of mainstream Bollywood cinema. We bemoan the fact that we are expected to spend our hard-earned money, leave our brains outside a cinema hall, give our common sense a commercial break, temporarily suspend our beliefs and just enjoy the proceedings on the silver screen.

Some scripts make us go through the romantic upheavals in the lives of the hero and the heroine. Few others offer us unique insights into the world of crime and gore. Others thrive on keeping us glued to our seats wondering as to what may happen next. The thrill of a car chase, a saga of revenge and dollops of suspense make the experience worthy of our time, cost and attention.  

But there has always been a tiny segment of intellectually inclined directors who have kept regaling us with their unique insights on ills which plague our society as well as our economy. Call it the Parallel Cinema, the Consciousness Movement or the Cinema on the Fringes, if you will.

When Cinema on the Fringes becomes Meaningful

When it comes to caste-based prejudices, we have had Sujata (1959), Masaan (2015) and Article 15 (2019). A movie like Jhund (2022) showcases the everyday struggles of vagabond Dalit youngsters, haunted by the humiliating gaze of society. Speak of the disadvantaged and we are apt to think of Ankur (1974), Akrosh (1980), Chakra (1981) and Nil Battey Sannata (2015). Think of the angst of the educated unemployed and we discover Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai (1980) and Rang De Basanti (2006). Speak of sex workers and movies like Chandni Bar (2001), Chameli (2003) and Gangubhai Kathiawadi (2022) pop up in our minds.

When it came to our criminal justice system, movies such as Do Ankhen Barah Haath (1957), Kanoon (1960), Bandini (1963) and Achanak (1973) stood up for bold reforms. A cooperative movement leading to a resounding success in brand management inspired Manthan (1976). Difficulties faced by marginal farmers formed the central theme of such movies as Do Bigha Zameen (1953) and Heera Moti (1959). Challenges based on disabilities were poignantly captured in such movies as Koshish (1972), Black (2005) and Guzaarish (2010).

If the plight of rural migrants was showcased in Jagte Raho (1956), movies like Garm Hava (1973) and Pinjar (2003) brought home the trials and tribulations of those affected by Partition. Patriarchal maladies formed the crux of such movies as Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam (1962). The plight of a widow moved us in Ek Chaadar Maili Si (1986). Swades (2004) spoke of using innovative frugal engineering solutions to the issues faced by villagers.

The Winds of Change

However, jingoistic nationalism, often camouflaged as patriotism, is the flavour of the season. In the past, movies like Haqeeqat (1964), Shaheed (1965), Lakshya (2004) and Mangal Pandey (2005) led to a rise in patriotic fervour amongst movie watchers. Upkar (1967) was all about ‘Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan’. In the recent past, we have had Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Raazi (2018) and Kesari (2019).

In tandem with the political headwinds, Islamic terrorism has come under a sharper focus. Gone are the days of such socials as Chaudvin Ka Chaand (1960), Mere Mehboob (1963), Mere Huzoor (1968) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008), wherein our composite Ganga-Yamuna ‘tehzeeb’ (culture) was lovingly portrayed. Instead, we now rejoice in people of a certain faith being portrayed as violent aggressors and anti-nationals. The recent successes of such movies as Padmaavat (2018) and The Kashmir Files (2022) form a part of this trend.

It is not that riots and genocides have not been captured by Bollywood before. A wonderful example which stands out is that of Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002). Movies like Mission Kashmir (2002), Parzania (2007) and Firaaq (2008) brought home the futility and tragedy of hatred. Some of these have attempted to uncover the inner turmoil experienced by the main protagonist. Many such movies have been banned. However, the focus now appears to have shifted on widening our social fissures rather than mending the same. Perhaps, a deeper cleaning of sorts of our social fabric is taking place.   

The rise of OTT platforms, thanks partly to a pandemic, has broadened the scope of offerings. If Jalsa (2022) keeps us on tenterhooks, The Fame Game (2022) gives us a sneak peek into the lives of celebrities. If Bombay Begums (2021) captures the ambition of gutsy females wanting to break the proverbial glass ceiling, Panchayat (2020) took us back to the countryside and showed us the kind of challenges which rural folks face. Bandish Bandits (2020) was a brilliant ode to the prowess of classical music.  

Even outside the traditional channels of cinema halls and OTT platforms, several talented directors keep coming up with offerings which show the day to day challenges faced by us in an inspiring mode. Those of you who have heard of Nirmal Anand Ki Puppy (2021) directed by Sandeep Mohan would heartily agree with me.

The line between conscious cinema and not-so-conscious cinema (in other words, ‘masala’ movies!) often gets blurred.  

Of Creative Consciousness

Creative juices need several favourable conditions which enable these to spring forth and eventually reach their target audience. When it comes to the powerful medium of cinema, a good script, backed by proficient actors, lilting lyrics and music, adroit editing and good production values surely helps. We may call many of these as meaningful. But if a movie entertains, educates and even goes on to address our deeply embedded social concerns and prejudices, it plays a useful role in shaping the values which govern our society. Such movies originate from a higher level of consciousness. Personally, I would prefer to call these movies as being the real meaningful ones!

A question may be asked as to whether it is possible for producers and directors to churn out socially relevant movies even when commercial considerations rule the roost. In Awara (1951), Boot Polish (1954) and Shri 420 (1955) Raj Kapur showed us how. So did B. R. Chopra when he came up with Nikaah (1982), and Yash Chopra when he offered us Dharmputra (1961) and Veer Zara (2004)!

Eventually, it all boils down to the level of consciousness of the producer-director duo. Awareness, Care and Intent alone are the enabling factors. These alone act as catalysts of Creative Consciousness. Those who have the courage and conviction to offer such movies pay back to the society what they get from it. 

Some Neglected Areas

There are three areas of strategic concern which appear to have been given the short shrift in the scheme of things.

What we lack is a vibrant children’s film movement. Movies like Aakhri Khat (1966), Makdee (2002), The Blue Umbrella (2005), Tare Zameen Par (2007) and Bumm Bumm Bole (2010) are few and far between. In the rat race of commercial considerations, this segment of the audience has lost its appeal. The outcome is that the age of innocence has got brutally cut short. The advent of internet and animation movies has further eroded the interest in child-friendly offerings. Children are losing the opportunity of imbibing rich values from such ancient texts as ‘Hitopadesha’ and ‘Panchatantra’. Poor souls are getting sucked into adult entertainment right away.   

Secondly, state funding for socially relevant and meaningful cinema has all but vanished. Unlike countries such as France where state support ensures that movies steeped in consciousness keep getting made, the rulers of today turn a blind eye to their own soft power.

Thirdly, the interest in preserving the history of cinema for the sake of posterity is singularly absent. It is an irony that not even a single print of Alam Ara (1931), the first ‘talkies’ to be churned out by Bollywood, is available in our archives.

If such strategic issues are left to the manipulations of the private sector alone, Bollywood will keep marching ahead with bolder and bolder themes, wooing their audience with exotic locales, sex appeal and special effects which leave the viewers in a state of shock and awe. Return on investments alone would count. The movies it churns out may be entirely soulless, so to say. Viewer tastes will keep getting manipulated by our dream merchants.

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