( 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:
Suresh Wadekar is one my favourite singers. He is very talented and he is really someone who can sing a classical song with great perfection. I can quote many songs, which bear testimony to his exceptional singing talent. Aur Is Dil Me Kya Rakha Hai (Imandar), Meri Kismat Me Tu Nahi Shayad( Prem Rog) and Khamosh Sa Afsana (Libaas) are some of the great numbers rendered by him.
At present, I am presenting a song from movie Utsav based on two Sanskrit plays: Charudatta by Bhāsa and Mrichakatika by Śhudraka. The best thing about this song is that it produces great soothing effect, creates a perfect scenario that prevails when the sun goes down.
Another sterling feature is that it uses pure tatsam words, which is a rarity. Hats off to Laxmikant Pyarelal and Vasant Dev for producing such gems. Some music lovers are of the opinion that this song “ “Saanjh Dhale Gagan Tale” is based on Raga “Bibhas”.
सांझ ढले गगन तले हम कितने एकाकी
छोड़ चले नयनों को किरणों के पाखी
पाती की जाली से झांक रही थीं कलियां
गंध भरी गुनगुन में मगन हुई थीं कलियां
इतने में तिमिर धंसा सपनीले नयनों में
कलियों के आंसू का कोई नहीं साथी
छोड़ चले नयनों को किरणों के पाखी
जुगनू का पट ओढ़े आयेगी रात अभी
निशिगंधा के सुर में कह देगी बात सभी
कांपता है मन जैसे डाली अंबुआ की
छोड़ चले नयनों को किरणों के पाखी
Audio Link: Saanjh Dhale Gagan Tale
It’s never an easy task to pay tribute to great maestros. They have so many shades, which remains elusive from the normal human eyes. Jagjit Singh, the legendary Ghazal singer with infinite beautiful shades, left the world quietly, leaving his fans caught in the fervour of celebrations virtually stunned. It’s hard to believe that he is no more with us. He was recovering fast but ultimately death like always had the last laugh. The icy hands of death prevailed over the wishes of his lovers, proving that nature wanted this singer to give eternal peace. The same peace which his ghazals, songs and bhazans provided to millions of listeners spread across the globe.
Jagjit Singh burst upon the ghazal scene like a whiff of fresh air in the seventies and shattered the established norms associated with the ghazal singing. There were big names like Mehadi Hassan, Ghulam Ali, Farida Khanum and Noorjehan but their appeal was restricted to certain class. Let’s also not forget that seventies was age of transition for music world. The western beats were fast replacing traditional appeal and, therefore, making room for qualitative singing was a difficult task. In fact, the early experiences of Jagjit Singh, were bitter ones in the world of Mumbai. This man who sang shabads in Gurudwaras in his early days of singing met with series of bad happenings in an attempt to carve a niche for himself in the Mumbai. He went back to his hometown with heavy heart but he was born to become successful so after a gap he made fresh attempts. The big break came in form of ” ‘The Unforgettables’ and after that there was no looking back for him. Happily he found a sweet partner in form of Chitra Singh. This highly popular duet team gave us number of popular albums like “Someone Somewhere”, “Ecstasies” , “Emotions” , ” A Sound Affair”, “Live at Wimbley” and ” A Milestone”, to name a few.
We need to understand what made them gain such a terrific mass appeal. It was their intimate deep bond with music which made them make a permanent inroad in the hearts of the listeners. They came to be aware of the fact that unless ghazal singing is subjected to new changes both content wise and music wise it would be hard to retain the existence of ghazal among the listeners. However, in the name of changes, he didn’t gave way to gimmicks. His subtle understanding of the music prevented him giving way to lesser traits. Ultimately, he roped in better poetry from both well known names and lesser known names. However, he ensured that selected ghazals conveyed their emotions in simpler language.
As a result of his fine selection, the fine poetry from some well known names like Dr. Bashir Badr, Sudarshan Fakir, Qateel Shifai, Gulzar and Javed Akhtar became hot favourite in Indian households. However, the ghazals became everlasting because of his unique ability to synthesize modern beats with traditional Indian instruments. He has the uncanny ability to create catchy tunes. Probably, his rigorous musical sadhana (practice) paid him rich dividends as he moved ahead in the musical journey.
Remember his ghazal “Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti“? This masterpiece became a darling of the masses. Now anybody interested in taking a step back in time to his childhood had to anticipate this ghazal. For love birds, his ghazals served as surest means to convey their emotions. In fact, I am myself guilty of reaching to conclusions if I hear a young person listening his ghazals that he/she is in love!! One need not forget that ghazals gained prominence in Hindi movie world with his arrival. The albums “Saath Saath” and “Arth” are still the most sought after albums in the music stores across the globe. A fact that I came to be aware of when I interviewed many music shop owners way back in late nineties for one of my articles.
Apart from making ghazals popular in movies, the T V portrait related with great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib attained huge popularity when Ghalib’s ghazals rendered in soulful manner attained a new dimension. May be his golden voice did justice to whatever he came to sang- something that kept him a busy soul till the end of his life’s journey. It’s no secret that how many great ghazal singers lost their relevance in age dominated by cheap gimmicks. So if Jagjit Singh, managed to dictate the rules and worked on his own terms with no compromise, then that in itself is a great achievement.
The tribute would be incomplete if I fail to mention about his bhazans. His tender mellifluous voice gave birth to innumerable beautiful bhazans. His Krishna series with Chitra Singh including albums like Bhajan (HMV), Hare Krishna Hare Rama,Hare Krishna..Hare Krishna, Jai Radha Madhav, Mokasha-Sri Krishna, Saanwara, Hare Krishna and Radha Ballabh Kunj Bihari, to name a few, became great hits. For a huge section of listeners he is more popular as a bhazan singer than a ghazal singer. The wonderful synthesis of western and Indian musical notes worked wonders in bhazan singing as well.
This man was a fearless in his confessions as well. He was not reluctant in admitting that in our age music has gone to the dogs. The media’s devastating role in promoting worthless people has led to demise of good singing. He was also highly critical of A R Rahman’s musical abilities. He found him an incompetent soul, who relied heavily on computerized beats !! He sounds so true because when one listens the songs of A R Rahaman it’s strikingly clear to any conscious listener that there is huge lack of completeness or totality. Jagjit Singh was conscious of the fact that the present age listeners as well as the new age composers have lost hold over refined musical sensibilities. Still , he did not fail to shower compliments upon new talents like Kumar Shanu when Shanu was new in the movie world. In our times, he appreciated the singing of Kay Kay.
In the end, I must reiterate the cliche that artists enjoy an advantage over other souls. While other souls are soon forgotten after their deaths, the creative geniuses like Jagjit Singh always make their presence felt. I am sure he would always make his presence felt in form of his ghazals, bhazans and songs. I am holding back my tears as ”
( In love my fear of being shamed/exposed did not allow me to cry )
Otherwise, what reason/thing was it that did not allow me to cry)
Some of my favourites:
A Memorable Interview In Two Parts:
It’s never an easy task to find appropriate words that come to honor the greatness of some people. I always face the shortage of expressions whenever I wish to say something about Kishore Kumar as earthly words, in my eyes, come to limit the achievements. However, the dilemma to miss the opportunity to say few things whenever time allows you to do that always haunts me and I am but just compelled to deal with unique aspects related with this man. This man was not just a mere entertainer -the nachaiyya gavaiyya soul ( mere singer and dancer).
He was a Gandharva in human form or a saint with a musical heart who lived with us to help us release our pains and frustrations and turn into better human beings with the help of notes of music.On his birth anniversary, I wish to take note of unheard aspects related with his life via him! I mean with the help of few recordings that captured him live in conversation with equally legendary figures. I think it would be the best way to shatter many myths associated with this great man.
Like in this rare video wherein I find Shammi Kapoor talking about Kishore Kumar. Though Kishore Kumar does not figure live in this video but Shammi Kapoor was one of the contemporaries who loved him lot. He was quite frustrated on not having any song to his credit in voice of Kishore. He got so identified with voice of Rafi that in his long career he didn’t get a single chance when Kishore could sing for him even as they walked together for decades. And that made Shammi restless as he loved this wonderful person very much. Remembering Kishore’s love for Madhubala he was bit sad. Shammi calls it a tragic affair but he came to shatter the falsehood that Kishore was bit casual towards Madhubala when she was seriously ill.
Shammi tells that this man did all what was humanly possible despite having tight singing schedules. Anyway, Shammi was the happiest person on earth when Kishore finally sang for him. The song turned out to be one of the biggest hits of its times and also one of the most notorious songs in history of Hindi movie songs. Remember “Saat Saheliya Khadi Khadi” from Vidhaata! Yes, this was the first song picturized on Shammi Kapoor in voice of Kishore and what a song it turned out to be!
Can you imagine Kishore in a long conversation with Lata? Yes, that’s true. These two legendary figures entered in a long conversation all in the name of interview. Kishore was so unhappy with media persons that he said if now ever he gave interview it would only be a possibility if Lata approaches him. A generosity on part of Lata made it possible for future generations to see two great people in a very intimate conversation.It was supposed to be an interview but it turned out to be more than an interview. After all, taking interviews was not Lata’s cup of tea! These two souls in name of interview revealed so many touching episodes as they laughed and smiled together. No wonder Lata went into stage of huge depression after death of Kishore Kumar.
In this so-called interview, Kishore remembers how he came to meet her for the first time in a very hilarious way when Lata misunderstood him for a man chasing him! They both went to a same studio in the same train together for two different purposes. Later the confusion got removed when it became clear that Kishore actually had an appointment with Khemchand Prakash and so he was in the studio to meet him. He held Khemchand Prakash in high esteem as this was the man who shaped his music career. Though K L Saigal was source of inspiration for both Lata and Kishore, Kishore finds the contribution of Khemchand Prakash a defining one.It was he who assured Ashok Kumar that this man had great singing talent. Ashok Kumar was bit apprehensive about the singing ability of Kishore in front of Khemchand Prakash telling him that he lacked the art of voice modulation!
In another part of this interview one finds him making candid confession before Lata that he lacked formal training in music and Lata in that regards stood miles ahead of him. One can notice the sense of embarrassment which grips Lata on this disclosure. Anyway, both felt that music has changed its face lot and singing is now no longer that beautiful affair but a strenuous affair. Kishore was really depressed over the badmouthing that portrayed a false image of his in eyes of his well wishers. Kishore made Lata uncomfortable once again when he asked her why do people enter in such loose talk? Though Lata dismissed such rumours associated with Kishore outrightly stating this was all bullshit but logical explanation came from the side of Kishore himself. Hitting the detractors below the belt he stated that world belongs to mad people devoid of ethics of any sorts! Kishore says that people hail him as a person not in his senses but he feels that world has gone to the dogs!
True, many people accuse him of money oriented but I am pretty confused as the man who had to do so many charity shows to get rid of income tax burdens could never be a money conscious soul. In fact, look at the way he suggests Lata to stop singing and do stage shows for charity’s sake. Can this ever come out from heart of money conscious soul? At least, it’s impossible in my eyes. Anyway, let me discuss his association with a towering figure in the world of Hindi film music S D Burman. A person who played a monumental role in life of Kishore. Kishore reciprocated the kind gestures of this great man by hailing him as mentor and father figure. Nobody saw tears in eyes of lively Kishore lost in laughs all the times but the day S D Burman passed away many noticed tears in his eyes. Recalling the same experience live he says that it appeared to him as he sat near his dead body that this man would just wake up and ask him to sing! One is really touched the way Kishore unfolds his association with S D Burman.
This was the man who was conscious of Kishore the way a father is conscious of a pretty naughty child. In fact, SD Burman was himself a child hearted figure. So both enjoyed a great chemistry.Kishore remembering S D Burman says that he became hugely upset with him when he started doing so many concerts, fearing that it would deteriorate the quality of his vocal chords. He warned Kishore that if he did not stop doing concerts it would be impossible for him to give him singing assignments.
Revealing the innocence of S D Burman he tells us that when he refused to participate in practice sessions, S D Burman invited him to share food with him at his home. After enjoying great food as he was about to leave, S D Burman locked the doors and get him involved in the rigorous practice sessions. S D Burman at odd hours of night used to give rings to Kishore mainly to ensure that all is well with his vocal chords! Once as he was about to leave for important recording, he noticed S D Burman coming towards him and taking him to a long drive to an open area full of greenery. S D Burman asking him to run in open fields along with him made Kishore sing some songs for him at the end of running session!! No wonder he was in tears when S D Burman became part of the stars.
Ending this article with prophetic words he said to Lata. This man did not live for long after he said that. I notice that this great man like all exceptional soul was eager to merge in supreme consciousness. He told Lata that it’s now time to bid adieu to this temporary home as it’s good for artists that they should quit the world once they have achieved all. It’s not good that they should leave the world, when the world starts treating them with disdain! This man I find left the world after this disclosure. However, he lives in our memories in an eternal way. Such people never die.
Some of the popular songs of Kishore Kumara are here: Kishore Kumar Songs
2. Kishore Kumar Talks About S D Burman (Part One)
3. Kishore Kumar Talks About S D Burman (Part Two)
4. Kishore Kumar Talks About S D Burman (Part Three)
5. Shammi Kapoor Remembers Kishore Kumar
6. Kishore Kumar Live ( Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas)
7. Kishore Kumar Live ( Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana)
Some Popular Kishore Songs Are Here: Popular Songs Of Kishore Kumar