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ashokbhatia

TALAT_MAHMOOD

For those who continue to be enamoured of the velvet-like voice of the late Talat Mahmood, here is an article from Mr Raj Kanwar, an India-based author, freelance journalist and music lover.

His ‘quivering’ voice still a rage

One of Talat Mahmood’s most unforgettable songs is “Meri yaad mein tum na aansoo bahana,” rendered way back in 1951. Over the following two decades, Talat sang one hit ghazal after another and continued to cast a spell on legions of ghazal aficionados both in India and abroad.

Today 64 years later, the musicality and lyricism of these ghazals still haunt generations of his loyal fans.

However, it was not all hunky dory for Talat Mahmood as he had to compete with the likes of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey.

It is, therefore, creditable that Talat was able to hold his own and remain the first choice for…

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One often wonders as to why nature has stopped playing an important role in Bollywood songs. Perhaps, themes have come to represent the urban lot, and are no longer village-centred. Moon no longer gets compared to the face of the beloved as frequently as it did in the past. The gentle rustling of soothing wind has all but vanished from our soundtracks. Shimmering waters of a sea or a lake no longer excite our lyricists. Snow-covered mountains make a rare appearance. The soothing sounds of nature have got replaced by metro screeches, car honkings and trains trudging along.

Not to fret, though. Here is a brilliant post from Dusted Off, which takes us back in time, right into the warm embrace of nature.

Dustedoff

Several years back, poet, friend and fellow Sahir Ludhianvi fan Karthika Nair and I were discussing Sahir’s poetry. After a while, we arrived at the conclusion that, while everybody acknowledges the brilliance of Sahir’s more revolutionary poetry—of the Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye or Chini-o-Arab hamaara—and some of his more angsty and emotional lyrics (Chalo ek baar phir se, anyone?), many people tend to overlook the fact that Sahir was also one of those poets who could describe nature brilliantly.

When I mentioned having studied Pighla hai sona in school (it was in our school textbook), Karthika remarked that, in that song, “nature became an active agent, not a landscape.” That reminded me of a theme I’d been toying with for a long time, for a song post. Songs that celebrate nature, songs that appreciate the beauty of nature. Nature or an aspect…

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

Our rich repertoire of films boasts of many kinds of unique song picturizations which have kept the songs as well as the artistes associated with them alive in our hearts. Take for instance the innumerable songs picturized on different modes of transport- from bullock cart and horse cart to cycle, car, jeep, bus, train, plane and even helicopter- the vehicle in all these songs imparts a special character to the songs and thus help the actors in conveying their emotion in a distinctive manner in the concerned situation .

The very conception of such ideas requires tremendous imagination that definitely needs to be lauded. The director who thinks of the apt situations to insert such songs in the narrative, the dance director or choreographer who translates this idea into reality, the lyricist who writes the words, the music director who turns them into catchy songs and finally…

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

The musical instrument ‘Guitar’ has always been associated with love, romance and a youthful vigour in Hindi cinema. From the Black & White era to the present scenario we have had various actors and actresses lip-syncing to some fabulous songs in different situations in our films.

Many songs were picturized in clubs and party settings while others were solo numbers sung by the hero to the heroine and in rare instances vice versa. Still others became part of the film’s story when the actor concerned was playing the role of a singer in a band in the film. Some directors imaginatively picturized guitar songs as part of the background in a situation.

Ironically many of our popular stars like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dharmendra, Salman Khan, etc., never got the opportunity to have a full-fletched guitar song picturized on them. On the other hand some of the…

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer 

The rich repertoire of our century-old Hindi film music boasts of a wide range of songs based on a variety of classical Hindustani ragas. There is no denying that the reach of Hindi films and Hindi film music in our country is far beyond any other form of music. Therefore instead of composing these songs in a typical classical style which may appeal only to a select audience with in-depth knowledge of the technicalities of classical music, our music directors draw inspiration from our vast legacy to compose either semi-classical songs or just touch upon the raga lightly. 

These subtle modifications in the raga allows them to compose apt songs to suit the mood and setting of  the story and the character keeping in mind the visual medium of cinema. Therefore, such compositions not only help to enhance the appeal and reach of these ragas to the large…

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My Views On Bollywood

By

Sharada Iyer

Lyrics impart soul to the song and form an integral and important part of any song. Not only do the lyricists have to use their talent to express in words a variety of feelings and emotions but they also need to have the knack to fit the words into a 3-minute song format to suit the character and the demands of the scene as conceived by the director. Indeed it requires tremendous skill, a lot of imagination and mastery over the language to come up with winning results.

Our film industry has been blessed with some brilliant poets and lyricists in every era but not all of them attained the same level of popularity. Though we may recollect the names of some top lyricists like Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Sahir Ludhianvi, Anand Bakshi, Indeevar, Majrooh Sultanpuri, etc., not many of us can remember lyricists like Naqsh Lyallpuri, S…

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When Bollywood directors decide to etch out the character of either a mother or a soul mate in finer detail, lullabies come in handy.

It is widely believed that lullabies, when sung with minimal words and unaccompanied by any kind of music, have more of a soothing effect on a baby. However, given the penchant of the Indian audience to lap up lyrics only when dished out along with some lilting music, our directors make some compromises and come up with songs which not only boast of some soulful lyrics but are also accompanied by a wide range of musical instruments playing softly in the background.

The result is that many of these tend to soothe the frayed nerves of not only a baby but even some adults who appear to be passing through a challenging phase in their lives. In other words, the lullabies on our silver screens not only put babies to sleep but also get deployed as a clever device to provide succour to anguished souls in other age brackets.

Let us recapitulate some of the outstanding lullabies dished out by Bollywood over the past few decades.

For kids in all kinds of circumstances

A key feature of parenthood is the desire to protect one’s child from the harsh slings and arrows of Life. A lullaby could get sung in a protective environment. It could also get rendered when either a mother or a caretaker is seriously concerned about the future of the child.

 

Do Bigha Zamin

(1953, Music: Salil Chowdhury, Lyrics: Shailendra)

 

Vachan

(1955, Ravi, Prem Dhawan)

 

Do Ankhen Baarah Haath

(1957, Vasant Desai, Bharat Vyas)

 

Pardesi

(1957, Anil Biswas, Prem Dhawan or Ali Sardar Jafri)

 

Sujata

(1959, S D Burman, Majrooh Sultanpuri)

 

Mujhe Jeene Do

(1963, Jaidev, Sahir Ludhianvi)

 

Brahmchari

(1968, Shankar Jaikishan, Shailendra)

 

Koshish

(1972, Madan Mohan, Gulzar)

 

Mukti

(1977, R D Burman, Anand Bakshi)

 

Masoom

(1983, R D Burman, Gulzar)

 

Zubeidaa

(2001, A R Rahman, Javed Akhtar)

 

Swades

(2004, A R Rahman, Javed Akhtar)

 

Providing solace to adults

When a weary soul is on the lookout for some solace, help comes from a loving and devoted companion, who could either be a soul mate or an empathetic person who believes that it is his duty to comfort the other. The music is so soothing as to put the weary person to sleep, thereby helping him or her to cope with distress.

Zindagi

(1940, Pankaj Mullick, Kedar Nath Sharma)

 

Albela

(1952, C Ramchandra, Rajinder Krishan)

 

Shabaab

(1954, Naushad, Shakeel Badayuni)

 

Hum Dono

(1961, Jaidev, Sahir Ludhianvi)

 

Khandaan

(1965, Ravi, Rajendra Krishan)

 

Sadma

(1983, Iliyaraja, Gulzar)

 

The deep yearning to bear a child

Some of you might agree with me that a soothing song which poignantly captures the deep yearning of a woman to bear a child could also be labelled as a lullaby. Even though it expresses tender thoughts for a child who might still be on the horizon, the feelings portray the same love and affection as the ones articulated in a lullaby.

Filhaal

(2002, Anu Malik, Gulzar)

 

Most of these songs have a different context. But the underlying sentiment of empathy, compassion and love remains the same. The fertile imagination of a director, coupled with the creativity of a music director, ensures a wide spectrum of the genre of lullabies in Bollywood, ranging from yet-to-be-born children to those who are much past the phase of childhood.

Diminishing returns from lullabies?

This post is surely not an exhaustive one. But while compiling the songs, yours truly was struck by the relative absence of lullabies in the movies released in recent decades. For the 1950s, I could come up with 7 of the songs listed above, whereas for the 2010s I could barely trace 3 songs in  this genre!

Perhaps, our producers and directors no longer appear to believe that the presence of soothing lullabies in their offerings to the gullible audience makes the box office ring any louder. It is not that scripts centered on kids do not find favour with them. In fact, the converse could be true. Think of Tare Zameen Par, Nil Battey Sannata, The Blue Umbrella, I Am Kalam, Stanley Ka Dabba and many others which have been eagerly lapped up by the audience in the recent past. But the character of children has undergone a change. No longer are they to be pampered with lullabies. Instead, they are showcased as being smarter kids, somewhat grown up and awash with dazzling inputs from the digital world that surrounds them. They no longer appear to be vulnerable, needing the emotional support of a lullaby to get to sleep.

Perhaps this has to do with the setting of most scripts having become an urban one. With the rise of the nuclear family and the ready availability of technological gizmos, the space for lullabies appears to be shrinking. Choices for hapless parents who are caught in the vicious circle of materialistic pursuits of life have narrowed down. In children’s formative years, perhaps a soothing touch is getting gradually replaced with cold metallic screens streaming inane cartoons and animation movies which are replete with violent sequences. With each passing decade, the threshold of innocence appears to be getting lowered, thereby reducing the utility of a soulful lullaby to add to the box office collections.

But parents and soul mates need not lose heart. Bollywood’s repertoire of lullabies of the past is a rich one. Many of the songs alluded to above could still be of immense utility when it comes to putting their wards to a restful slumber.

Also, there is the hope that the future may somehow see a revival of this unique genre of Bollywood music. However, given the creative imagination of our script writers and lyricists, one would not be surprised to find a humanoid being shown to be crooning a lullaby wherein the moon has got replaced by inter-galactic travel, the stars have given way to the twinkling city lights and a cool breeze has got substituted by gentle air conditioning!

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/bringing-up-kids)

 

 

 

 

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