Song of Surrender

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Unforgettable Jhumritalaiya

By V Ramnarayan

Anand Akela from Marwar Mundwa. Allah Rakha from Jhumritalaiya. Sharad Agarwal from Rajnandgaon. And countless others from Yeotmal, Mancherial, Nanded, Karim Nagar, Nepa Nagar, Indore, Rajkot, Beed, Ujjain and Dhanbad. People to whom I’ll forever be indebted for introducing some of the greatest Hindi film songs to me. If Akashvani’s Aap ki Farmaish in which the names of all these listeners figured regularly brought me so many evergreen melodies, programmes like Sangeet Sarita not only played film songs based on ragas, but also presented classical music renderings of the same ragas, thus adding to the listener’s appreciation of good music.

I speak here of some of the most famous songs of all time based on classical music-songs like Man tarpat Hari darsan ko aaj, Poocho na kaise maine rayn bitayi, Jyoti kalash chhalke, Manmohana bade jhoote, Madhuban me Radhika nache re, or Zindagi bhar nahin bhulegi, each one a blockbuster-but also other melodies that did not quite hit the jackpot in box office terms, yet touched a chord with a whole generation of listeners.

I have in mind little gems that have stood the test of time, gems that I would probably never have come across but for Vividh Bharati. Of course, O sajna of Parakh belongs to the first category of all-time favourites, but the other Lata Mangeshkar beauty from the same film, Mila hai kisika jhumka, is a typical Salil Chaudhuri charmer whose first acquaintance I owe some anonymous listener from Ajmer or or Sriganganagar.

Jaoon kahan bataye dil from Chhoti Bahen is a subtly poignant Mukesh-Shanker Jaikishen number whose music director I for long erroneously believed to be Sardar Malik, the creator of the haunting Saranga teri yaad mein and Haan deevana hun main, songs from the film Saranga which bring back memories of sleepy afternoons with book in hand and transistor radio by your side.

Songs heard on radio can be misleading. Kohinoor, a film released in the sixties, had a rich slew of delightful raga-based melodies. From Madhuban mein Radhika nache re, to Do sitaron ka zameen par hai milan aaj ki rat, or Dhal chuki shame gham, everyone of them promises a scene of serious purpose or sentimental romance, but what you saw on screen was a spoof-like treatment by the brilliant comic genius of Dilip Kumar with Meena Kumari, adding to heady music by Team Naushad-Shakeel Badayuni-Mohammed Rafi/ Lata Mangeshkar.

The same musical foursome had been a runaway success in Baiju Bawra, whose cast had Bharat Bhushan and Meen Kumari in the lead. Incredibly--well not so incredibly, for it was almost the norm in Hindi film music--the classic Man tarpat Hari darsan ko aaj was the result of a collaboration among a trio of Muslims in Shakeel Badayuni, Naushad, and Mohammad Rafi, as were the songs in Kohinoor, which offered the additional dimension of both the lead actors belonging to that category.

If Bharat Bhushan was not exactly known for his histrionic ability, he proved a credible Baiju in Baiju Bawra, but gave a relatively wooden performance in Barsaat ki Raat, in which he got to lip-sync for the all-time favourite Zindagi bhar nahin bhulegi. The actor’s portrayal of Mirza Ghalib in the eponymous film was unaffected if touchingly na├»ve, with at least one moment of delicious nonchalance when the poet swaggers away on hearing a wandering mendicant sing the praise of the incomparable Ghalib, though he does not recognise him:

‘Hai aur bhi duniya men sukhanvar bahut ache
Kahten hain ke Ghalib ka hai andazen bayan aur

(There are doubtless many good poets in this world
But Ghalib has a unique style all his own, they say)

An extreme case of a complete ham getting to ‘sing’ some of the greatest songs in Hindi cinema was Pradeep Kumar, the star of movies featuring some unforgettable melodies by music director Roshan, with Man re tu kahe na dheer dhare from Chitralekha my personal favourite among that composer’s delightfully original numbers based on classical ragas.

While Naushad’s were probably the creations I most frequently heard on these wonderful broadcasts on Vividh Bharati--not to mention Jai Mala for India’s jawans, and the Urdu programme of Akashvani relayed at 3 pm or so--Sachin Dev Burman was never far behind, while Madan Mohan, C Ramachandra, Jaidev, Roshan, Chitragupt, Ghulam Mohammed, Ravi, and Shanker-Jaikishen kept you in constant supply of delightful compositions, each composer affixing his trademark touches to his songs.

And Khayyam! Was there ever a more completely original music director? Particularly engaging was his use of Punjabi folk, Pahadi dhun and ghazals. It was thanks to Vividh Bharati that I first heard that priceless Rafi-Suman Kalyanpur duet Thahariye hosh men aaloon that Khayyam composed for the film Mohabbat isko kahten hain. His Pahadi delights included Lata Mangeshkar’s Baharon mera jeevan bhi savaaro from Akhri Khat and his wife Jagjit Kaur’s Tum apna ranj-o-gham from Shagun, not to mention the title song from Kabhi Kabhi, written by Harivansh Rai Bacchan and sung by Mukesh.

Pages can be written about the music composed by each of the giants in the preceding paragraphs. Watch this space!

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