( Also published in Northern India Patrika, December 08, 2013 )
One needs a great musical mind to appreciate the music of Vishal Bhardwaj. We are well aware of his directorial skills, having seen his ability to deal with complex themes in movies like Omkara, Maqbool, Kaminey and Saat Khoon Maaf, to name a few. In my eyes he is a music director par excellence, who still have guts to introduce original compositions in Bollywood given way to borrowed tunes. If we analyze deeply the happenings inside Bollywood’s musical landscape what prevails is recycling of works of others in most blatant manner with no credits to original composers who composed these compositions in the first place.
Very recently I watched “Ek Thi Daayan” which dealt with supernatural elements. It was a theme which had not much scope for a romantic number. However, Vishal managed to create magic with his “Yaaram” song. Gulzar after demise of his best friend RD Burman felt a great sense of loneliness. He wasn’t all wrong in feeling that way. Only RD Burman had that capability to lend perfect musical notes to newsy type lyrics penned by Gulzar. Thanks to the arrival of Vishal Bhardwaj, which allowed Gulzar to breathe a sigh of relief. Vishal didn’t disappoint Gulzar. The chartbusters like ” Yaaram”, “Naina Thag Lenge”, “Darling”, “Chod Aaye Hum Wo Galiyan”, “O Saathi Re”, “Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji”, “Raat Ke Dhai Baje”, “Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola” and “Sapney Me Milti Hai” etc. are the ones which bear testimony to the fact he knows what treatment very sensitive verses of Gulzar actually need.
This very highly conscious music director, dealing in experimentation and improvisation in unorthodox manner, loves to introduce best of the literary works, which until now remained unexplored by Indian movie-makers. The cinematic versions of Shakespeare’s Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet really impressed all film-goers. At the same time, movie versions of Ruskin Bond’s “Susanna’s Seven Husbands” and “The Blue Umbrella’ also left the lovers of cinema spellbound. In fact, even in movie meant for kids like Makdee you can notice the variation he introduced in his music. He has received National Award for his music in Ishkiya and Godmother. Today Bollywood is dominated by musicians who first don’t know what music really means, and second, they are not musicians but technocrats depending on arrangement of music done by the computers. A reason why film music sounds so mechanical and jarring to the ears. Worse, it’s so humiliating when foreign composers make allegations that Indian music makers totally copied their compositions in the name of inspiration!
Against this backdrop, this genuine music composer evokes a sense of self pride within with his creativity. Let’s hope his fabulous compositions which make wonderful use of various instruments like Piano and Guitar keep enthralling music lovers. One is not against Western music and use of latest technology but against ignorance of richness present in Indian music. There is calculated attempts on part of movie makers to diminish the aura of Indian classical music. Vishal Bhardwaj is the best example of how to blend western notes with Indian classical music. This art needs to be learnt by new age Indian music directors, who, sadly, are more interested in making money instead of truly enriching the world of film music. Anyway, Vishal Bhardwaj needs to be complimented for keeping the roots of Indian classical music green and fresh.
Some of the songs composed by him:
The world of writing is marred by strange twists and turns. It’s never easy for a writer, whether established or novice, to keep pace with time in an easy-going manner in world dominated by materialistic principles, which treats nurturing aesthetic pleasures as some sort of waste of time. When selling rose becomes more worthwhile task than to appreciate its scent, it’s quite certain that one would not gain much by falling in love with creative pursuits. I faced extremely tough conditions with humiliating episodes taking place quite frequently, but I always tried not to take them to heart, remembering that great writers of previous eras also received similar treatment. Pain and humiliation do not break a writer ( unless destiny has predestined such a fate) but make him gain more insights, not available to ordinary mortals. The other thing that really kept me going ahead with ease despite huge setbacks was constant support of extremely talented souls, who appeared at various stages of my life as friends and colleagues. Apart from them, I feel really privileged that I also got an opportunity to spent some precious moments with towering figures in world of literature. These very special moments still keep me spirited and cheerful in depressing times even as memories related with those meetings have been clouded by the affairs of time.
I met Ruskin Bond and Gulzar at a time when my bonhomie with the writing world was gaining depth. However, after meeting them, I became certain that being a writer was no crime! I always met people who stupidly asked me( and thereby revealing the actual worth of their grey cells) about my work sphere even as I told them that I write! ” It’s okay that you write but what work you do?” That’s the sort of queries which always chased me. Thank God such queries today neither appear nor they have any relevance left in my life. The sight of Gulzar and Ruskin had left me spellbound, although I had met them separately, but exhibition of feelings remained the same.
I became the fan of Ruskin Bond at the very moment when in one of the boring literature classes of my school, I first came to read his story “The Eyes Have It”. The intensity of emotions expressed in this story fascinated my young heart to great extent. Though my class teacher, the other school mates and the old-fashioned academic standards, compelled me to anticipate the story in a given way, I came to visualize many other things as I read this story. And that’s why I met Ruskin Bond not only as reader but also as a writer! It’s the writings of Ruskin which taught me that how you say is equally important as what you come to say! However, the greatest lesson Ruskin taught me was that great writing is simple writing! Never use bundle of complicated expressions, which make a reader be involved more in picking up a dictionary than being lost in the content of the post! It’s one of the reasons why I avoid reading Arundhati Roy unless I have to sleep early!
Ruskin Bond, the Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awards winner, visited Allahabad, circa 2003. He had come here to attend promotional event organised by a leading publisher Rupa & Co. I wasn’t prepared for this meeting, but the moment I heard news of his arrival, I got prepared my manuscript related with my first unpublished anthology- The Petals Of Life. When I met him, I saw him surrounded by his well-wishers. I waited for my turn, and fortunately when my turn came he had some spare moments. He gave a fabulous smile when I introduced myself as a writer and informed him about my literary pursuits. When I handed him my poems, he seemed to be very pleased by this gesture. He patted my back and asked me to keep writing. Though he was tired but he still obliged me by giving me his autograph at number of places. Our conversations lasted for few minutes but the undercurrents still remain alive. And so I refuse to leave the company of pen!
Gulzar- the Oscar Award winner lyricist-also visited Allahabad, at the invitation of same publisher, during the same period. My meeting with him was once again a hurried affair than a pre-planned affair. When I reached the place where he was about to arrive after couple of hours, I was apprehensive about the meeting. However, call it my luck, despite presence of huge crowd, I created space for my meeting with this amazing man. It was hard for my eyes to acknowledge the fact that maker of landmark movies like Aandhi, Ijaazat, Kitaab, Parichay and Achanak, to name a few, was sitting right before my eyes. Like always, this time, too, he was clad in white kurta-pajama. And like always donned his lips a typical smile, which any Gulzar fan would easily recognize had he/she been noticing photographs of him quite sincerely. To be honest, I had not read enough literature penned by him but I had watched his movies and heard his songs with exceptional zeal and abnormal seriousness. And that’s why his “surrealism” permeated in my writings as well. Anyway, he remained seated in relaxed way. When I informed him about my credentials, his faced remained expressionless yet I noticed that he was pretty conscious! And as I finished saying what I had to say, he gave a very deep look at me. A stare that refused to leave me and became part of my being. I left the space after spending couple of minutes with him but as I came out of that place and headed towards my home these particular lines from this immortal song “Aknhon Mein Humne Aapke” kept appearing and disappearing within mind’s chamber-
“नज़रे उठाई आपने तो वक्त रुक गया
ठहरे हुए पलो में जमाने बिताये है “
– When you looked at me, the time stopped
And in those moments I came to live many lives.
Many thanks to these gentlemen who appeared at a very important juncture in my life. I needed some genuine encouragement and their generosity in display of emotions proved to be a tonic for my spirit chased by uncertainties. The uncertainties remain the same but my spirit attained the required evolution and so my writings. And so I am still writing! Pervert critics remain the same and situation remains hopeless like always and yet I am above all these negative concerns. A proof that meeting such enlightened gentlemen did not go in vain.
“I wondered if I would be able to prevent her from discovering that I was blind. Provided I keep to my seat, I thought, it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
“The man who had entered the compartment broke into my reverie.
‘You must be dissapointed,’ he said. ‘I’m not nearly as attractive a traveling companion as the one who just left.’
‘She was an interesting girl,’ I said. ‘Can you tell me – did she keep her hair long or short?’
‘I don’t remember,’ he said, sounding puzzled. ‘It was her eyes I noticed, not her hair. She had beautiful eyes – but they were of no use to her. She was completely blind. Didn’t you notice?’”
Song: Ankhon Mein Humne Aapke..
Movie: Thodi Si Bewafai
Singers: Lata and Kishore
Well, for past few days, I was bit taken aback by some sad developments. I wanted to finish the English version of one of my well read posts in Hindi. However, lack of concentration on my part was delaying it. By dint of fortune, I came to participate in conversation on a prominent Radio Forum, Shrota Biradari,dominated by oldies, which was involved in making of document related with Hindi movie songs based on moon. Moon has always appealed to my senses. I am a night watcher since childhood and to gaze at stars and moon has been my favourite past time. Even now in my village, when I am all alone, surrounded by nothing but stillness of night, penetrated by chirping of cricket etc., I sit hours in open to gaze at the moon. Neil Armstrong had to visit moon to end up as philosophical human being but my passion for moon is deep enough that it does not require a trip to moon to admire its beauty.
Anyway, the forum involved in preparation of songs missed some of my favourite songs. I wanted to add these songs to the document but I thought let’s share the same songs for readers and friends, having taste for refined music, narrating my own personal connection with the songs. Don’t forget that popular numbers already got included in that document and these are the ones which are close to my heart, but, sadly, these did not appear in that document. The silver hairs got trapped in age which produced gems like “O Raat Ke Musafir” (Miss Mary), “NaYe Chand Hoga” ( Shart) and “Ye Raat Ye Chandni Phir Kaha( Jaal), to name a few. So let me include some of the songs they failed to take note of.
“I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
As you might try a jewel in your hair.
I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
Alone, or in one ornament combining
With one first-water start almost shining.
I put it shining anywhere I please.
By walking slowly on some evening later,
I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
And brought it over glossy water, greater,
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.”
( The Freedom of the Moon by Robert Frost)
That’s a charming song from movie directed by Mahesh Bhatt’s “Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi”. The best thing about Mahesh Bhatt is that no matter what’s the theme of his movies, he gives brilliant songs. The camera angles employed in his songs make the songs look so terrific. Just remember “Tumhe apana banane ki kasam khayi hai” from Sadak – a well picturized song which depicts the state of mind of woman trapped in world of prostitution, trying to come to terms with new-found freedom. Anyway, this song is also well shot. And like always, the movie involves doomed romance. For me, the songs brings back the memories of 90s and this movie’s almost all the numbers were simply too good. Lyricist Qateel Shifai and musician Annu Malik did a wonderful job. Interestingly, as a student, I had limited access to money, and thus, buying cassettes always meant sacrificing the last few notes found in my pocket. So I had to doubly assure whether or not all the songs were melodious in cassette. That meant taking “panga” (starting a fight) with the shopkeepers as they were often reluctant to make you listen all the numbers in bits and pieces. Anyway, these type of cassettes did full justice to few bucks (paisa vasool) which I managed to save those days.
Amazing song! No wonder R D Burman is hailed as a true genius. Look at the sound employed in the travel song with folk touch. Talking of this sound effect, he told to Gulzar that when he first played this instrument, flanger, it produced a very harsh noise. The people around him were bit skeptical about its effect in ensuring melody. It was not so easy to make use of it. But watch this superbly picturized train song and you would realize that how well R D Burman used this instrument to create rhythm effect produced by train as it travelled through the valley. Hey, the song talks about Dhanno but this Dhanno is totally different from Basanti’s Dhanno! Like always imagery employed by Gulzar mesmerizes us. The song is visual delight as well. Never before train song produced such a romantic appeal. Above all, it’s “Chand Ka Chumma” (Moon’s Kiss) which kills us!
Again R D Burman and Gulzar come together to produce this great number. I like the song because the moment it refers to stealing of moon and love birds spending time behind some building like church, it brings into my mind the great buildings of British period. Although, this song does not feature Church but images of majestic buildings from previous eras appear before the eyes. By the way, tell me how many times have you seen Church being used as a spot to promote romance? But anything was possible if two souls, always out of their minds, Gulzar and R D Burman sat together to compose songs. These two always hailed themselves as crazy souls. Oh yes, crazy souls alone made some sense in world turned into hell by intelligent souls!
This song from movie “Rog” has two versions. One is sung by M M Kreem, the music director who composed this song. Another one is sung by Udit Narayan. However, Kreem’s version is close to my heart. I need to say few words about Kreem. This techie music composer, hugely underrated in Bollywood, is one of the few music composers, who know how to really compose a song using modern instruments, without copying anything from Western world, in name of inspiration. These are some of the hard working musicians who have kept the dignity of Bollywood music world intact. How sad, people talk about A R Rahman but they fail to take note of gems composed by such lesser heard names. I came to hear him first in my college days, when out of curiosity, I came to buy this cassette, seeing new names on the flap of the cassette as unheard names always fascinated me. Now lend ears to this moving number, which talks about pangs of falling in love with beloved belonging to someone else legally! That’s why the song says ” moon is dotted with rough spots yet one cannot resist its beauty”!
For movie version to notice the picturization one can visit this link.
The tragedy with Bollywood is that if movie bombs at the box office, the songs also fail to create impact. I am sure very few movie lovers would have heard the name of this movie released in the middle of the 90s. Mercifully, Jatin Lalit was at its peak in those days. This innovative duo managed to give some beautiful numbers, which managed to find the ears despite movie doing average business. Since this movie is by-product of Bhatt Camp, rest assured that song must be aesthetically shot! I love this song because it takes me to college days, wherein I realized that moon in youth leaves the sky and gets placed in some beautiful face!
Whenever Ghulam Ali came to sing for Indian movies, the song turned out to be defining moment in world of Indian movie music. Be it “Dil Ye Pagal Dil” or ” Chupke Chupke Raat Din”, the songs always managed to stay in the hearts and minds for forever. So it was not unexpected that this song became representative song for broken dreams. What stunning lines the verses have! Just listen to it and you would be bound to play it for more time. Anu Malik was not very popular in those days, but with such movies, he managed to build a position for himself. The bold sequences in the this song have the stamp of Mahesh Bhatt’s vision!
This song is departure from the songs I have mentioned in this post. It’s from a classic produced in 1950 “Bawre Nain”, featuring Raj Kapoor and Geetabali. The song would let you know that how simple and innocent gesture have given way to nothing left for imagination gestures of Sunny Leone. Anyway, this song has remarkable innocent gestures of Geetabali, who is trying to please her moon. I am happy that silver hairs failed to mention this good number, dedicated to moon, sung by Rajkumari, and allowed me to talk about this song..ha..ha..ha. This beautiful singer sang few songs but these few songs have become unforgettable numbers.
This song has a very pleasant tune and some excellent from verses from Maya Govind- a very talented female lyricist from Lucknow. How often we notice female lyricist in Bollywood or elsewhere? My friend Sagar Nahar, who is prominent song collector from Hyderabad, very rightly points out that this Bappi Lahiri’s composition sounds very similar to S D Burman’s composition in Abhiman ” Tere Mere Milan Ki Raina”. Interestingly, both the movies Jhoothi and Abhiman were directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. And, above all, it’s picturized on stunningly beautiful Rekha! What else can eyes crave for!
For Rekha lovers, here is a clearer video, but unfortunately, the song is incomplete.
9. Kolaveri Di
Well, I need not to say anything about this song. I have already written a post on it, which you can read here. I have to mention this song for one more time because first it belongs to current period, making you all know the changes that have hit the Indian film music, and secondly, it talks about moon in hilarious way. A song meant for heart broken guys but the approach involved is refreshingly unique. Anyway, for me, it means a greater involvement with moon instead of nurturing hatred for distance moon.
Gulzar is in news again. Not for right reason this time. This brilliant poet dealing in surrealism is accused of dealing in plagiarism. Stunning and outrageous isn’t it? One of the lesser heard name from world of poetry has accused him of lifting the idea and verses from Nazım Hikmet’s, a famous Turkish poet, playwright and novelist, poem “Mera Janaza”. Well, it’s not a hard nut to crack to ascertain the real motive of such people who are trying to ride roughshod over his genuine achievements. They are all burning in the fire of envy.
There are two ways to attain success in literary world. Either work hard, write good pieces, or since that takes lot of energy besides needing lots of intellectual usage of brain, the easier route to fame for most of upcoming writers have been to enter into conflict with some established writer. That way you gain instant recognition. Some depressed and frustrated writers not able to gain the desired recognition try to heal themselves by painting other eminent writers into wrong colours. It’s easy for them to give rise to vain controversies and gain quick popularity which they failed to attain via their creations. In Indian literary landscape, it’s commonplace to find one writer engaged in character assassination of other writer. A constant effort is made by some writers, under the aegis of fake institutions, to label the good work done by other writers as rubbish.
It’s really sad that at least, in India, it has become some sort of fashion for writers to write less and play politics more. That not only ensures them awards, cream posts in various academic institutions but also provides them a chance to be branded as successful writer! After all, what’s the point in calling Gulzar a plagiarist ? He is an Academy Award winner for penning best song in movie ” Slumdog Millionaire”. His poems are read across the globe for their beautiful metaphors blended with delicate lyrical construction. The free flowing loosely constructed verses not only talk about ironies of life but also direct our vision towards something beyond the normal human perceptions. It’s ridiculous to suggest that a poet of such an evolved nature, capable of penning good poetry with such great ease, can enter in plagiarism. Why the hell would he ever do that?
The argument that there is remarkable resemblance between the two poems i.e. one penned by Gulzar, Mai Neeche Chal Ke Rahta Hun, and other penned by Nazım Hikmet, Mera Janaza, is quite laughable. It may be that he was quiet inspired and he came to write his own version of the same feelings echoed in Mera Janaza but somehow failed to give due credit to the said poet. However, Gulzar has already mentioned that he always loved to read Russian writers or, for that matter, take note of great writings spread in foreign literature.
He never kept it secret that he has not read works of Russian writers. It itself is a proof that one can trace his source of inspiration! I need to say that there are always chances that two people come to express the same views with great degree of similarity in expressions. That’s called a rare coincidence. However, I am ready to admit that in this case the level of similarity is of greater degree, and therefore, Gulzar should have specifically mentioned about Nazım Hikmet’s poem as footnote.
However, I raise strong objection to the efforts made by some people to make Gulzar get branded as plagiarist. That’s only the sign of mental retardation of people making such attempts. Even the Western worlds are not above such crude attempts. Just few years back V. S. Naipaul labeled some great writer’s creations as rubbish!
I mean one can see some meaning in words of Noble Prize winner writer like Naipaul but it’s hard to understand how can writers devoid of stature can paint another writer enjoying great fame as plagiarist? Do they have the moral courage or enough stature, attained after writing good pieces, to pass judgement on the worth of writings of their contemporary great writers? To be honest, let those who have not attained any height stop measuring the worth of writers who have given us some excellent creations. Who has given the intellectual dwarfs to issue certificates of excellence to literary geniuses like Gulzar? Any answers?
Anyway, listen this Gulzar’s song from movie Aandhi: Is Mode Se Jaate Hai
गुलज़ार पर अभी किसी ने नाजिम हिकमत की कविता ” मेरा जनाजा “ (लिंक पर क्लिक करे) को चोरी करने का इलज़ाम लगाया है. अरे भाई इतना माथा को दही नही बनाने का इस मामले में. सीधी सी बात है जिगर में इर्ष्या की आग जल रही है. सब के अन्दर से धुँआ सा उठ रहा है. देखिये साहब प्रोग्रेस करने के दो तरीके है. या तो आप मेहनत करे और और लोगो से आगे निकल जाए सो ऐसा हो नहीं सकता क्योकि मेहनत के साथ अक्ल की भी जरुरत होती है सो वो तो है नहीं. अब सबसे आसान रास्ता बचता है उसपे थूको और उसकी रचनाओ को या तो चोरी की या तो कूड़ा बताओ, उसको बदनाम करो और उसके बाद सब लोग संगठित होके उसकी टांग खीचो, उसका बहिष्कार करो. साहित्यकार आजकल साहित्य कम और जोड़ तोड़ में ज्यादा तल्लीन है. ऐसे अवार्ड भी मिल जाते है और आप शीर्ष साहित्यकार भी बन जाते है. कम से कम आप जिससें इर्ष्या करते थे उससें तो आगे ही निकल जाते है.
गुलज़ार की रचनाओ में जो मौलिकता व्याप्त है उसपे प्रश्नचिन्ह लगाना अपने मानसिक क्षुद्रता की निशानी है. एक संवेदनशील रचनाकार जो की खुद सक्षम है लिख पाने में वो भला दुसरो की कृति को क्यों चुराने लगेगा ? गुलज़ार तो खुद ही अच्छा लिखते है वे भला दुसरो का लिखा को अपना क्यों कहेंगे ? ” इब्ने बतूता “ गीत पर भी यही हंगामा मचा था पर बात साफ़ है दुनिया में मौलिक कुछ भी नहीं और किसी के कुछ विचार दूसरे से अवश्य मिल सकते है प्रेरणा के नाम पर या फिर सिर्फ इत्तेफाक की वजह से.
पता नहीं दुनिया में हर साहित्यकार, खासकर जो कुछ नहीं हासिल नहीं कर पाए है, वे दूसरे को एक सर्टिफिकेट देने में पता नहीं क्यों इतनी रूचि दिखाते है ? ऐसा सिर्फ हमारे यहाँ नहीं होता बाहर भी खूब होता है. वहा भी अपने को श्रेष्ठ बता के दुसरो को कूड़ा बताने की परंपरा है. वी एस नायपाल ऐसा उदहारण प्रस्तुत कर चुके है. खैर उनका भी एक स्तर है. वे एक बार ऐसा कर सकते है पर हमारे यहाँ जो लिख रहे है वे गुलज़ार पर ऊँगली उठाने का नैतिक साहस या रचनात्मक ऊंचाई रखते है ?
चलते चलते ये गुलज़ार की कविता पढ़े.
किताबें झाँकती हैं बन्द अलमारी के शीशों से
बड़ी हसरत से तकती हैं
महीनों अब मुलाकातें नहीं होतीं
जो शामें इन की सोहबत में कटा करती थीं
अब अक्सर …….
गुज़र जाती हैं ‘कम्प्यूटर’ के पदों पर
बड़ी बेचैन रहती हैं किताबें ….
इन्हें अब नींद में चलने की आदत हो गई है
बड़ी हसरत से तकती हैं,
जो क़दरें वो सुनाती थीं,
कि जिनके ‘सेल’ कभी मरते नहीं थे
वो क़दरें अब नज़र आतीं नहीं घर में
जो रिश्ते वो सुनाती थीं
वह सारे उधड़े-उधड़े हैं
कोई सफ़ा पलटता हूँ तो इक सिसकी निकलती है
कई लफ़्ज़ों के मानी गिर पड़े हैं
बिना पत्तों के सूखे ठूँठ लगते हैं वो सब अल्फ़ाज़
जिन पर अब कोई मानी नहीं उगते
बहुत-सी इस्तलाहें हैं
जो मिट्टी के सकोरों की तरह बिखरी पड़ी हैं
गिलासों ने उन्हें मतरूक कर डाला
ज़ुबान पर ज़ायका आता था जो सफ्हे पलटने का
अब ऊँगली ‘क्लिक’ करने से बस इक
झपकी गुज़रती है
बहुत कुछ तह-ब-तह खुलता चला जाता है परदे पर
किताबों से जो ज़ाती राब्ता था, कट गया है
कभी सीने पे रख के लेट जाते थे
कभी गोदी में लेते थे,
कभी घुटनों को अपने रिहल की सूरत बना कर
नीम-सजदे में पढ़ा करते थे, छूते थे जबीं से
वो सारा इल्म तो मिलता रहेगा आइन्दा भी
मगर वो जो किताबों में मिला करते थे सूखे फूल
और महके हुए रुक्क़े
किताबें माँगने, गिरने, उठाने क़े बहाने रिश्ते बनते थे
उनका क्या होगा ?
वो शायद अब नहीं होंगे !
ये गीत भी सुन ले: खामोश सा अफसाना पानी से लिखा होता, ना तुमने सुना होता ना हमने कहा होता..
संगीत: आर डी बर्मन
गायक: सुरेश वाडेकर, लता