20 August 2019

The Day Music Died

18.02.1927 - 19.08.2019
Har mulaaqat ka anjaam judaii kyun hai
Ab to har vaqt yahi baat sataati hai hamein

I woke up today to hear the news that music director, Khayyam, was no more. For many of us, of a certain generation, the 'golden age' of Hindi film music was bookended by the 50s and 60s. A pantheon of great music directors, singers, musicians and arrangers collaborated to give us enduring melodies – songs that filled our childhoods and adolescence, and became part of our collective consciousness. 

As we grew older, nostalgia tinted our memories of the films for which these songs were recorded, though many of them have not aged well. Nevertheless, music lovers found new ways to discover 'new' old songs – YouTube did yeoman service in this regard. Hitherto unheard interviews, recording sessions, rehearsals – all that we had once heard of, or read, now came alive through the efforts of some dedicated music lovers who uploaded these rare videos for our viewing pleasure. 

27 June 2019

My Favourites: RD Burman

27 .06.1939 - 04.01.1994Photo credit: Decan Herald
Truth to tell, RD Burman's music in mainstream Hindi cinema in the 80s – which was when I was devouring every movie that came out – didn’t really appeal to me. Brought up as I was on the music directors of an earlier generation, the beats of the 80s were, on the whole, unappealing. Of course, RD wasn’t the only culprit. Hindi film music in the 80s was at its nadir, with only stray oases of melody to alleviate a parched landscape.

29 May 2019

Sudani From Nigeria (2018)

Directed by: Zakaria Mohammed
Music: Rex Vijayan, Shahabaz Aman
Starring: Soubin Shahir, Samuel Abiola Robinson, 
Aneesh G Menon, KTC Abdullah, 
Savitri Sreedharan, Sarasa Balussery,  
Navas Vallikkunnu, Ashraf Thangal, 
Abhiram Pothuval
Kerala, Bengal and Goa are probably the three Indian states that can be called football mad. The Beautiful Game is a very serious matter in these states. In fact, when my cousin visited when the World Cup began last year, our home town, she said, looked like it was hosting the World Cup it was bedecked in the yellow and green of Brazil and the blue and white of Argentina.  Soon after, when both nations unceremoniously bowed out Argentina in the Round of 16, and Brazil in the Quarter Finals, it seemed as if Kerala was in mourning. That's how important Football is, to the Malayali heart.

15 May 2019

The Nav Ketan Ladies

I seem to have been gone a long time. Well, seven months is a long time in blog land. It was an enforced sabbatical that went on far longer than I'd estimated. But... like all good things, all bad things must also come to an end. In the meantime, a blog acquaintance contacted me to ask if I would write for an online magazine that is all about films - not reviews of films as I usually do, or song lists, but a personal essay. We threw around a few ideas - ideas that I'd often thought of, and even remarked upon either in my own writing, or in comments on other blogs I frequent. She found one of them rather interesting and asked if I would be interested in expounding on it. I hadn't written anything for these seven months, so I was a bit hesitant, but it was only a momentary hesitation. I had been given an opportunity to brush the cobwebs off my writing and write about something that interested me. It seemed the right time to break my self-imposed exile from my blog. So, onward then, to the article that ended my sabbatical.

14 October 2018

House No. 44

Directed by: MK Burman
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Starring: Dev Anand, Kalpana Kartik, 
KN Singh, Bhagwan Singh, Rashid Khan, 
Jagdish Raj, Sheila Vaz, Kumkum, Shivraj
Madhu (Dustedoff), Bollyviewer and I have all sometime or the other rued that we often follow great songs into bad movies. For a long time in our early movie-watching days, we assumed, I think, that a great score meant the movie would be equally good. We learnt, over multiple experiences, that that is not always the case. We still occasionally fall for it. But this time, I was wary. I love Dev Anand. Phaili hui hai sapno ki baahein is one of my all-time favourite songs. And this was a film I hadn't watched before - yes, a Dev Anand film that I hadn't seen. How could that be? A supposedly-noir film too. Matters had to be remedied.

5 October 2018

An Intangible Legacy

I'd really liked RD Burman, The Man The Musician. While I'd mixed feelings about Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal's selection of 50 songs, their immaculate research still made it an invaluable addition to my books on Hindi cinema. So, buying SD Burman: The Prince Musician (Tranquebar, Westland Publications Private Limited, ₹799) was a foregone conclusion. 

1 October 2018

In Tandem: SD Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri

My previous post came about because Hemant Kumar’s demise coincided with Dev Anand’s birthday. Coincidentally, nine out of ten songs in that post were composed by SD Burman. Today is SD Burman’s birth anniversary. It is also the birth date of another man, who was closely associated with him – lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri. 
SD with Majrooh and Anand Bakshi

26 September 2018

In Memory

Today is Dev Anand’s birthday – he would have been 95 – and, coincidentally, Hemant Kumar’s 29th death anniversary. Why am I mentioning this? Because, despite the fact that many of Dev Anand’s earlier songs were sung by Mohammed Rafi and his later ones by Kishore Kumar, Dev has had many other singers give playback for him. One of them was Hemant Kumar.

23 September 2018

The Masters: Rajinder Krishan

06.06.1919 23.09.1987
Rajendra Krishan Duggal or Rajinder Krishan was born on 6 June 1919 in Jalalpur Jattan (in present-day Pakistan). A precocious child, he was always interested in writing stories and poetry, much to the consternation of his parents. When he moved to Simla (now Shimla) in his teens to live with his eldest brother, Madholal, he was a frequent visitor to the poetry gatherings that were held in that hill town. In fact, Simla was famous for hosting all-India mushairas every year. Attending one such gathering when he was barely 15, the young Rajendra plucked up enough courage to recite one of his poems the response was staggering. In an interview given much later, Rajinder Krishan would affirm that the poem garnered him much praise from the celebrated poet Jigar Moradabadi; praise that gave him the confidence that he could write well. 

17 September 2018

More Adventures... and Some Misadventures

Photo: Young A
We were back in our hometown, and Dad’s birthday was looming. The head count was beginning to go out of control. At one point, my cousin had enough – ‘I think we should stop inviting people,’ he said. In principle, we all agreed. But we were stuck – if we called these relatives, then surely, we should call those relatives too? But finally, even we gave up – the guest list was the size of a small wedding.

My sister and I diligently worked our way through the list; in some cases, having to call to invite someone and then ask for someone else’s telephone number. My sister, sotto voce: If we don’t even have their telephone number, why are we inviting them? Well, apparently, ‘because’… By the second day of cold calling people, my sister and I had our delivery pat: ‘Hello, is this …? I am ….' 'Who?' 'Oh, elder/younger daughter of Mr and Mrs…' Still no idea who we are? 'Oh, we belong to this family; we are ….’s granddaughter. No, I’m not in Bombay/US; that’s my sister…. We would like to invite you to our father’s 84th birthday.' Who’s our father? Well, he is …. Through all of this, my mother sat like a sphinx. (That’s her usual expression.)

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