Category Archives: Lata Mangeshkar

Sri Ramachandra Kripalu

RamaHappy Ramanavami everybody!

Dickens was a clever fellow, wasn’t he? I reckon he hit the nail on the head with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Just as Scrooge was haunted by this Ghost, I too feel the presence of the Ghost of Ramanavami Past all around me today. Is this how it is for everybody? Do we all go through life shaped and then haunted by an unchangeable past and hemmed in by an unpredictable future? I wonder, what past am I creating today? How will it haunt me later?

Thankfully for me, unlike Scrooge’s Ghost, my Ghost only shows me warm and wonderful memories of Ramanavami. From its annals of collective memory, it shows me the joy of Lord Rama’s birth and from my own personal memory, it shows me the joys of celebrations past.

As I pick the song for today I am haunted more than by just Ramanavami. This song has sent me hurling back in time to my school years. Every morning I would be woken by Vividh Bharati’s 6 am devotional music program which featured songs like my choice of the day.  I would sip my tea standing on the veranda, watching the sun make its way up the horizon, listening to the songs on the radio accompanied by mum’s voice joining in as she busied herself in the kitchen. She would have woken much earlier, for she would have showered, then finished her half-hour morning puja, made filter-coffee and be well into making lunch. On festival days and holidays, this morning devotional music would be followed by Venkatesha Suprabhatam and Vishnu Sahasranamam on my father’s favourite possession – a Grundig tape recorder that he bought in Germany in the 1960s. For the rest of the festival day, there would be non-stop Carnatic Music.

What a feast my mum would lay out for us! There would be panagam and kosumalli in addition to the festival menu of many dishes with vadai & payasam. How many hours she would have spent in the kitchen! Why don’t I remember thanking her? Forget festivals, did I even thank her for getting up early enough to pack me a cooked lunch everyday? I can’t remember.  So after all, I too have a ghost which haunts me –the Ghost of ingratitude, of taking my mother’s love for granted, for were not her meals just edible love?

Today’s song is by the great poet-saint Tulsidas (1532-1623). He extolls Rama’s beauty in wonderful verse, calling him equal to ‘innumerable Cupids’, like a ‘lustrous white lightning in his yellow garments’. The sounds of the words ring as pleasingly as the description of his Lord. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. His prayer is basically for the Lord who is the ‘destroyer of the great fears of life’ to ‘live in the lotus of my heart’. Is that not our prayer too?

So here is the voice which sang so beautifully through my growing years, Lata Mangeshkar, singing Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana.

For those who are unfamiliar with the life of Tulsidas, there is a Hindi film made in 1954 which is available on youtube with subtitles. Though it does stretch what is essentially quite a short story, I still enjoyed watching it; I do like the innocence of old films.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

श्री रामचन्द्र कृपालु भज मन हरण भव-भय दारुणम् ।
नव-कंज-लोचन कंज-मुख कर-कंज पद-कंजारुणं॥१॥

कंदर्प अगणित अमित छवि नव नील नीरद सुन्दरम् ।
पट पीत मानहु तड़ित रूचि शुचि नौमि जनक सुता वरम् ॥

भज दीन बन्धु दिनेश दानव दैत्य वंश निकन्दनम् ।
रघु नन्द आनंद कंद कोसल-चंद दशरथ नन्दनम् ॥

शिर मुकुट कुण्डल तिलक चारु उदार अङ्ग विभूषणम् ।
आजानु भुज शर चाप धर सङ्ग्राम जित खर दूषणम् ॥

इति वदति तुलसीदास शङ्कर शेष-मुनि मन रञ्जनम् ।
मम हृदय कंज निवास कुरु कामादि खलदल-गंजनं॥

shrI rAmachandra kripAlu bhaja mana haraNa bhava bhaya dAruNam
nava-kanja-lOchana kanja-mukha kara-kanja pada-kanjAruNam

kandarpa agaNita amita chavi nava nIla nIrada sundaram
paTa pIta mAnahu taDita ruchi shuchi naumi janaka sutA varam

bhaja dIna bandhu dinEsha dAnava daitya vansha nikandanam
raghu nanda Ananda kanda kOsala chanda dasharatha nandanam

shira mukuTa kuNDala tilaka chAru udAra anga vibhUshaNam
AjAnu-bhuja shara chApa dhara sangrAma jita khara dUshaNam

iti vadati tulasIdAsa shankara shEsha muni mana ranjanam
mama hrdaya kanja nivAsa kuru kAmAdi khaladala ganjanam

O Mind (mana)! Pray (bhaja) to compassionate (kripAlu) Ramachandra who destroys (haraNa) the great (dAruNa) fears of life (bhava-bhaya). With eyes (lOchana) like a new (nava) lotus (kanja), with a face (mukha) like a lotus (kanja), and feet (pada) like a crimson (aruNa=dawn) lotus (kanja).

With boundless (amita) splendour (chavi) like innumerable (agaNita) cupids (kandarpa), he is as beautiful (sundaram) as a new (nava) blue (implies rain?) (nIla) cloud (nIrada). I bow (noumi) to that groom (varam) of Janaka’s daughter (sutA), who is like  (mAnahu) a lustrous (ruchi) white (shuchi) lightning (taDita) in his yellow (pIta) garments (paTa). 

I bow (bhaja) to the Sun-like (diNesha) friend (bandhu) of the wretched (dIna),  destroyer (nikandanam) of the demons (dAnava & daityA) dynasties (vansha). Son (nanda) of the Raghu dynasty, root (kanda) of joy (Ananda), gladdens (chanda) the Kosalas (his mother’s dynasty),  son of Dasharatha.

Beautiful (chAru) with a crown (mukuTa) on his head (shira), earrings (kunDala), and mark on his forehead (tilaka) and limbs (anga) generously (udAra) decorated (vibhUshaNam). With long hands to his knees (AjAnu-bhuja), holding (dhara) a bow (chApa) and arrow (shara) , winner (jIta) of the battle (sangrAma) with khara and dhUshaNa.

Thus (iti) says (vadati) tulasIdAsa. He who pleases (ranjana) the minds (mana) of Shankara and Adisesha (sEsha muni), who has contempt (ganjanam) for the wicked things (khala-dala) like (Adi) desire (kAma), please dwell (nivAsa kuru) in the lotus (kanja) of my heart (hridaya),

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Filed under Bhajan, Lata Mangeshkar, Tulsidas

Listening to: Sachaa Jhutha (1970)

Sachaa Jhutha (1970)Since Rajesh Khanna passed away last month, I have wanted to review one of his films but have been deliberately procrastinating. I think perhaps I am having trouble coming to terms with his death. He represents an era in the Hindi film world which is personally meaningful to me. Through his films I passed from childhood to my early teenage years, learnt to appreciate filmi music and became more aware of the world in general. A coming of age as it were. With his passing away a bit of my world has passed away too. The sand castle of my life has already been assaulted as the tides have started coming in; this is one more step towards its destruction.

So when my husband picked up Sachaa Jhootha as our late night watch yesterday, I did have a few moments of reluctance. Surprisingly, I have never seen this film before! On the whole it was not a bad film; the first half was well-scripted and brisk but the director somewhat lost control of the plot in the second half.

Bhola (Rajesh Khanna) is a dirt-poor young man from a village. He lives with his disabled sister under the cruel treatment of his step-mother. Uneducated but with some musical skills, he decides to go to the city to earn a living. Good hearted but extremely naive, I could not find this character as appealing as the film makers wanted it to be.

Ranjit (also Rajesh Khanna) is a rich diamond merchant by day and a jewel-thief by night, a leader of his own gang. He is clever and cunning but ruthless, not stopping at even murder. Thankfully there is no background story to wring sympathy for him. Bhola and Ranjit look, as you can well guess, exactly alike. And no, they are not long lost twins, thank God!

When Bhola comes into town, he gets mistaken for Ranjit at a costume party. Ranjit, who is in disguise, sees this and immediately thinks of all the opportunities this presents. He cons Bhola into training to be his double. His in-house moll Ruby (a meaty role for Faryal) is Bhola’s trainer.

The police have suspicions that Ranjit is the jewel thief but have no proof; they make elaborate plans to trap him. The plot is devised by Inspector Pradhan (a very dashing young Vinod Khanna). Another officer, Rita (a gorgeous Mumtaz), is to act as the lure to catch Ranjit who has an eye for a pretty lady.

What follows is typical Bollywood fare of the 70’s. There are uses of unspecified chemicals by the thieves  – a truth serum and some kind of stunning mixture. There are police bugs and inefficient snipers. There is a clunky recording device. There is a sword fight. And best of all, there is a really clever dog chasing a car, two cars chasing the same dog, and the dog finding its way to the court to identify the bad man in the climax!!

Rajesh Khanna is adequate as Bhola but quite good as Ranjit. His representation of innocence and naiveté borders on imbecilic which I quite object to. His dancing has always been abysmal and surely he could have done better with his wardrobe choice? Red trousers with a bright red shirt, a bottle-green suit..honestly!! However he does know how to deliver dialogue and has his signature charm. And as Ranjit, he does ‘cold-hearted’ very well. This role won him a Filmfare award.

Mumtaz is not at all convincing as a police officer. But in her role within her role to attract Ranjit she just has to look pretty and she does that and how! This film was one of her stepping stones from being a supporting actress to a lead one, and she looks tentative at all times.

Vinod Khanna too seems somewhat amateurish at times but so very handsome that I didn’t much care! Again, this was before he started playing lead parts and his skills are obviously raw. The supporting cast members do reasonably well.

The music by Kalyanji-Anandji is not of uniform quality. There are two good songs but the others left me cold. The lyrics are by Indivar, Gulshan Bawra, and Qamar Jalabadi.

  • Meri Pyari Behaniya – Kishore Kumar. The song which was to be played in thousands of baraats (marriage processions) in the future has a slightly melancholic air. Normally the baraat songs are cheerful and the bidai songs are sad, but this is a strange mixture of two emotions! Well tuned and well sung, I am unable to judge its true merit as it is overly familiar! Open-mouthed smile
  • Dil Ko Dekho Chehra Na Dekho – Kishore Kumar. Rajesh cannot dance but Kishore can certainly sing! The melody is not too bad but somehow doesn’t quite hit the mark. Thinking smile
  • Duniya Mein Pyar Ki – Asha Bhonsle. A totally pedestrian tune warmed up slightly by Mumu’s wriggles. I am sorry to say that even her dancing at places is stiff and unconvincing. Don’t bother listening. Sad smile
  • Yunhi Tum Mujhse Baat – Mohammad Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar. This superb gem is a surprise in the otherwise middling album. Kishore Kumar was in his ascendency at this time yet it is Rafi who strikes a chord with this song. Melodious and beautifully sung. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • O Kehdo Kehdo – Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar. Another rather pedestrian song, I can’t recall this song ever playing in the radio. Did it? But this is at least well sung. I don't know smile

My song choice for the day is evident I guess. Enjoy !!

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Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi

Listening to: Mere Mehboob (1963)

Mere MehboobFor those of my regular readers who are wondering where I had disappeared to, I was blogged-out (new adverb: to be blogged-out, to be exhausted from blogging too much) after a marathon effort in organising my photos and writing up my recent trip to Spain. If you enjoy travelling and would like to read my photo-journal, click here.

In need of old, familiar and well-loved music, I picked up Mere Mehboob to watch for my post today. No self-respecting blog on Indian Film Music can ever ignore such an iconic album. Fifty years have passed but the charm of this music has not faded. How Naushad has waved his magic wand!

Muslim socials are a genre which were quite popular in the sixties. The settings talk of another place and time – women in purdah, the lives of nawabs, the splendour of their homes and most of all the beauty of Urdu.

Anwar is a young man at university, a poet. He falls in love with a glimpse of a fellow student behind her burqa. This is love at first sight at its minimalist best! As I watch the lead pair in their throes of love, I say to myself ‘Ah yes, a glimpse of pretty eyes, a touch of a hand are enough to decide who your mate is for life, the father/mother of your children. HA! Fools!!’ and then scold myself for getting old and losing the romance in my soul. Husna at least knows more of her man; she not only sees him but also has read his poetry. His poetry being that of Shakeel Badayuni, I can sympathise with her for falling in love, for who can resist such words? When they go back to their respective homes from university, they are resigned to not meeting each other again.

Chance or fate brings them into each other’s lives again. Anwar is asked by Husna’s brother, the Nawab, to help her with her poetry. The pair finally get to know each other and their love is strengthened.

But there are secrets and undercurrents which will bring disaster upon their lives. Anwar’s sister Najma had had to take up a life of public singing and dancing to support her brother; as a Muslim woman she is forever disgraced in decent company. The Nawab  happens to love her but can never marry her because she is a fallen woman.  And as to the Nawab’s respectability, even that may come crashing down for he has inherited huge debts which, if called, will break him. Naseemara, Husna’s friend, is also in love with Anwar – another love at first sight! The evil Munne Raja, catches a glimpse of Najma and wants to immediately marry her – and is prepared to use any means to achieve it. It all comes to a head about 2 hrs into the film and with some drama and some melodrama, our loving pair come together.

On the whole a simple enough story from more innocent times when the height of romance was holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes and the height of villainy was when an evil man wants to wed the heroine. These stories of those gentler times suit me much better than the cynicism and blatant sexuality of today’s films.

The mark of a good film is that all actors, small and big, do their parts well and add to the strength of the film. I am not a fan of Sadhna or Rajendra Kumar but both of them are very convincing in the lead; in fact, I am wondering if I have been unfairly biased so far. Ashok Kumar as the Nawab is impeccable, and Pran as Munne Raja is nicely slimy. Nimmi as Najma I found quite annoying but then Nimmi always annoys me! Ameeta as Naseemara is fine at the start but rather artificial in a crucial scene in the climax. She gets to say some really good lines – फिर तो अपने मोहब्बत को अरमानों के कफ़न में लपेट कर यहीं दफ़न कर दो | and towards the end मोहब्बत इबादत है | इबादत की जाती है, न बेची जाती है न खरीदी जाती है | Johnny Walker as Binda Din Ghayal has a lot of screen time in the first half of the film; sometimes the comedy is too farcical but it is not too bad.

The music is the true winner in this film. This is a gem of an album from the genius of Naushad with Shakeel Badayuni weaving incredibly beautiful words to match.

  • Mere Mehboob Tujhe – Mohammad Rafi. An unforgettable song. The lyrics are the epitome of romantic poetry (see footnote), the melody has the grace typical of Naushad’s music and it is performed by Rafi with an effortlessness that comes with mastery. Very rarely do we hear music of this calibre. To be savoured forever.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Tere Pyar Mein Dildar – Lata Mangeshkar.  A lovely solo, with an innocent love expressed in beautiful poetry.  तेरा मेरा साथ हो कुछ दिल से दिल की बात हो जी भर से मुलाकात हो | ‘That we should be together, that we should talk heart-to-heart, that we should meet to heart’s content’. What more could be simpler? What could be more romantic? Open-mouthed smileRed heart 
  • Allah Bachaye – Lata Mangeshkar. Brings a smile to one’s lips. Smile
  • Mere Mehboob Tujhe– Lata Mangeshkar. I do like Rafi’s version better but it doesn’t take away the credit from Lata’s beautiful singing. Open-mouthed smile
  • Ae Husn Zara Jaag – Mohammad Rafi. I do object to actors pretending to play the piano without making the slightest effort to get it right! The song however is quite lovely, slow and seductive. Open-mouthed smile
  • Tum Se izhare-haal Kar Baithe – Mohammad Rafi. Aaah. Romance melted and infused into a song!! There is such happiness in this song, a joy from a romance fulfilled. And how clever are the lyrics! सोचे समझे बगैर कातिल से ज़िन्दगी का सवाल कर बैठे says the poet beautifully expressing the conundrum of love, where you give your heart in the safekeeping of the one against whom you are most vulnerable.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Mere Mehboob Mein Kya Nahin – Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. A lovely duet by the Mangeshkar sisters, both in fine form. The teasingly competitive lyrics and exceptional music by Naushad, this is a true gem. Sadhna and Ameeta are pretty dancing. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Jane Man Ik Nazar Dekh Le  – Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle. A lovely little marriage song. Smile
  • Yaad Mein Teri Jaag Jaag Ke Hum – Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar. This fantastic sad-duet suffers from bad placement in the movie; it is too near to the climax and feels abrupt. Otherwise the song is exceptionally beautiful and very well sung.  Open-mouthed smile 

This album is an all-time great; click here to listen.

I have no choice but to present the timeless title song for nothing can match the beauty of the poetry. 50 years old and still the song has the power to melt hearts.

And for the glorious singing by the Mangeshkar sisters, the exuberance of the melody, the exaggeration of the lyrics and the qawwali like clapping rhythms, listen to Mere Mehboob Mein Kya Nahin. 

 


Lyrics
:

mere mehboob tujhe meri muhabbat ki kasam
phir mujhe nargisee aankhon ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

aye mere khwaab ki taabeer meri jaan-e-ghazal
zindagi meri tujhe yaad kiye jaati hai
raat din mujhko sataata hai tassawwur tera
dil ki dhadkan tujhe awaaz diye jaati hai
aa mujhe apni sadaaon ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

bhool sakti nahin aankhen woh suhaana manzar
jab tera husn mere ishq se takraaya thha
aur phir raah mein bikhre thhey hazaaron naghme
main woh naghme teri aawaaz ko de aaya thha
saaz e dil ko unhee geeton ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazaara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

yaad hai mujh ko meri umr ki pehli woh ghadi
teri aankhon se koi jaam piya thha maine
meri rag rag mein koi barq si lehraayee thhi
jab tere marmari haathon ko chhuaa thha maine
aa mujhe phir unhi haathon ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazaara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

maine ik baar teri ek jhalak dekhi hai
meri hasrat hai ke main phir tera deedaar karoon
tere saaye ko samajhkar main haseen taj mahal
chaandni raat mein nazron se tujhe pyaar karoon
apni mehki huyi zulphon ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazaara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

dhoondhta hoon tujhe har raah mein har mehfil mein
thhak gaye hain meri majboor tamanna ke kadam
aaj ka din meri ummeed ka hai aakhri din
kal na jaane main kahaan aur kahaan tu ho sanam
do ghadi apni nigaahon ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazaara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

saamne aake zara parda uthha de rukh se
ek yahi mera ilaaj e gham e tanhaayee hai
teri furkat ne pareshaan kiya hai mujh ko
ab to mil ja ke meri jaan pe ban aayee hai
dil ko bhooli hui yaadon ka sahaara de de
mera khoya huaa rangeen nazaara de de (mere mehboob tujhe)

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Filed under Asha Bhonsle, Bollywood 60's Music, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi

Listening to: Rang De Basanti (2006)

RDBSometimes a movie makes such an impact that I am reluctant to re-watch it, fearing a loss of that impact. Rang De Basanti is one such film. After six years, as I prepared myself to watch it again, I told myself to be objective as I needed the eyes and ears of a critic. I failed miserably. The movie involved me from the first scene to the last and as I watched the credits with the remnants of tears streaking down my cheeks, I could only think ‘Whence objectivity?’.

The truth is that my emotional involvement started a long while back. I had read of Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekar Azad when I was at school and these boys were my heroes from then. When in 2006 I told the story to my son, he said ‘Oh they were terrorists were they?’. I looked with shocked eyes at him.  I could not bear to have them called that. No, I am not uninvolved.

The first kudos is for the script – Rang De Basanti is beautifully written with main characters painted with a deft but sure brush. Within 20 mins or so, I knew who they were, what made them tick.

A young English woman, Sue, wants to make a film about Bhagat Singh, Azad, Rajguru, Ashfaqulla Khan and Bismil. Her connection? Her grandfather was their jailor and had kept a diary. She comes to India. Her Indian friend Sonia and her mates, DJ, Karan, Aslam and Sukhi are roped in to act for the film. The discordant note is set by the one outside recruit – Laxman, a political activist. Two stories unfold before us then. There is a story of young men who fought against the British on ideology and belief and little else in the late 1920’s, Lilliputian Davids against Goliath. Here in the early 2000’s, the young men have little in common with the parts they play. They are drifters in life with neither nationalism nor ideology. It is as if the worlds of these two sets of men can only meet in the celluloid.

An event changes all this. A friend and Sonia’s fiancé Ajay, an Airforce pilot, is killed in an accident. There is talk of old spare parts from Russia, political corruption, cover-ups. Politicians turn the story on its head, calling the pilot inept. From here things get quickly out of hand.  Are they influenced by the story they just filmed? These two disparate sets of young men separated by decades slowly become superimposed, one on the other. They decide to kill the politician in charge of the corrupt deal. But the media makes him out to be a martyr instead. They have to do what Bhagat, Azad and the other boys did. They have to come out in the open to acknowledge responsibility and state their case. These boys had not been able to identify with the revolutionaries whose parts they played; now their stories become one.

The film has been made perfectly. I have some serious reservations about showing this kind of violent activism on screen but if I keep that aside, I can find nothing to fault. Next to Aamir, I was taken especially by the intensity of Siddharth Nayaran. However, all the actors have done an excellent job. There is no one-upmanship – each part, small or big, contributes equally to the film.

This is a brilliant film.

Lets come to the music. A.R.Rahman has composed music which melds perfectly with the mood of the film. Those who read my posts know that I am a traditionalist. I like songs which have good melodies and lyrics, songs which are voice-centric. This album is not for the traditionalist. However, the songs are a fitting background to the film and add to the drama. The film would be much poorer without them; ARR has to be acknowledged for that. Prasoon Joshi is to be congratulated on his lyrics as well.

  • Paathshaala – Aslam, Blaaze, Naresh Iyer. There are two versions of this song, one a dance song and the other a rap mood-setter. Both work well as picturised, defining the carefree and rather daredevil nature of this group. I found myself tapping to the rhythm and swaying to the beat.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Ik Onkar – Harshdeep Kaur. Shot in the Golden Temple, it is a serene prayer song. Thankfully ARR has left it with little instrumentation. Smile
  • Rang De Basanti – Chitra, Daler Mehendi. I enjoyed this high energy Bhangra title song and its excellent picturisation. Good cinematography keeps the memory of the song alive. The singers do a decent job. Open-mouthed smile
  • Khalbali – Aslam, A.R.Rahman, Nacim. Arabic sounds with a good beat, this is another very atmospheric song. Though I will not choose to hear this by itself, I was drawn to it thanks to its setting in the film. Smile
  • Tu Bin Bataye – Naresh Iyer, Pandhshree. The only romantic duet in this film, it should have appealed but did not touch any chord. Disappointed smile
  • Luka Chupi – Lata Mangeshkar, A.R.Rehman. Lata’s voice is not what it used to be, but as it stands in the movie, it does fine as the mental voice of Waheeda. A.R.Rahman for the first time impresses me with his singing. The lyrics are cleverly done, a mother playing hide-and-seek with her child  and worrying about not finding him to match this mother who will never find her son again.

    तेरी राह तके अँखियाँ जाने कैसा कैसा होये जिया
    धीरे धीरे आँगन उतरे अंधेरा मेरा दीप कहाँ
    ढलके सूरज करे इशारा चंदा तू है कहाँ
    लुका छुपी बहुत हुई सामने आजा ना
    कहाँ कहाँ ढूँढा तुझे थक गई है अब तेरी माँ
    आजा साँझ हुई मुझे तेरी फिकर
    धुंधला गई देख मेरी नज़र, आजा ना
    I like this song very much indeed. An emotional and touching song. Open-mouthed smileRed heart

  • Khoon Chala – Mohit Chauhan. Another background song which adds to the mood of the film. Interesting that such a gentle sounding song works well to rouse the blood!  I am not a Mohit fan however, wish it had been some other singer. I don't know smile
  • Lalkar – Aamir Khan. A poetry reading. Beautifully written by Prasoon Joshi. Smile
  • Roobaroo – Naresh Iyer, A.R.Rahman. Another atmospheric background song with  lyrics to match the setting. Sets mood well enough but I find the melody to be a bit repetitive. Disappointed smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My selection for today is Luka Chupi. As the movie does not use the complete song, listen to the audio version for the full song.

And for the sheer colourful joy of it, watch the title song here (sorry, embedding disabled).

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Filed under Bollywood 00's Music, Lata Mangeshkar

Listening to: Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971)

MGMDI was eager to watch this film for some time now. It had been described to me as a ‘great film’ by more than one person and it starred two handsome gentlemen I admired much as a young woman. The few songs I remembered from my childhood triggered a nice response too.

The two handsome men did not disappoint; I am in awe of their looks and presence. And the acting is not too bad either! The songs I remembered were pleasing enough though not outstanding. However, perhaps thanks to over-expectation, I was mildly disappointed in the film as a whole.

This is a theme which has been done more number of times than I can count. A village cowed by evil-doers, one or a few handful of men protecting and leading the village to self-sufficiency. Wasn’t the Seven Samurai just fantastic?  For Bollywood fans, this film is particularly interesting because it was a precursor to the super-hit Sholay. In fact, I was shocked to see how much Salim-Javed have ‘lifted’ from the screenplay by G.R.Kamath.

MGMD Sholay
The instigator of defence, Jayant with one hand missing The instigator of defence, Sanjeev with two  hands missing
One petty crook, Dharmendra, roped in to defend the village Two petty crooks, Dharmendra & Amitabh, roped in to defend the village
Dacoit leader played by Vinod Khanna is called Jabbar Singh Dacoit leader played by Amjad Khan is called Gabbar singh
Dharm falls for feisty village belle Asha Dharm falls for feisty village belle Hema
Jabbar stands his people in a row, questioning them, while loading one bullet in his gun. Gabbar does this and more in the memorable ‘Kitne Aadmi The’ scene.

Ajit (Dharm) is a petty crook invited by Major Jaswant Singh (Jayant) to help him farm and at the same time make a new life for himself. He doesn’t mention the dacoits who keep the village under their thumb. Ajit settles down after a few slips and enjoys a nice romance with village belle Anju (Asha). The dacoits under their leader Thakur Jabbar Singh (Vinod Khanna) make their presence felt. In this village where everyone is cowed and fearful, only Ajit is willing to stand up to them. Munnibhai (Laxmi Chhaya) is the dancing girl who is a spy for the dacoits but she falls for Ajit and becomes a double-agent. With the odds stacked so heavily against him, will Ajit manage to rid the village of their terror?

Dharmendra has done a decent job of his role; in any case, I was too charmed to be unbiased! Vinod Khanna is excellent, menacing with his red rimmed eyes which always stare elsewhere with manic intensity. What a handsome man he is to be sure!! Asha Parekh’s role doesn’t have much meat and she is not in good looks; her costumes are very very unflattering. I wish they had chosen another female lead. Laxmi Chhaya is competent and has two lovely song-and-dance sequences to impress us with. Supporting actors such as Jayant and Asit Sen are dependably good.

So why was I disappointed? It always comes down to bad screenplay. I cannot deal with with melodrama (a drunk Dharm sleeping it off in the lap of a mad Ma, a dying Jayant asking to be called Papa), depiction of the police as nincompoops, Dharm beating up Laxmi Chhaya, Asha walking into a dacoit-infested forest on her own (is she mad?!!) – the screenplay just annoys. And the moralistic lectures at the end grate.

There is some decent enough music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal with pedestrian lyrics by Anand Bakshi (spelt mysteriously as Baxi in the titles).

  • Sona Lai Ja Re – Lata Mangeshkar. A pleasant enough melody, but nothing extraordinary. Smile
  • Aya Aya – Lata Mangeshkar. Boring. Laxmi Chhaya dances well enough on screen. Sad smile
  • Kuch Kehta Hai Ye Sawan – Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi. I remember this song well from my childhood; it still sounds as pleasing as it did then. Lyrics are so-so but Rafi and Lata sound very good. Open-mouthed smile
  • Hai Sharmaoon – Lata Mangeshkar. Laxmi Chhaya gets to dance to this nice song made more memorable by the on-screen drama. The melody has a hint of sadness which I like.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Maar Diya Jai – Lata Mangeshkar. Why not Asha? I think she would have put even more verve into this song. Still, I remember and like it. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My selection today is Hai Sharmaoon, for Laxmi Chhaya’s dance and upper-lip adornment by the handsome male leads. Check out Vinod’s luxurious greying mouche and a more sedate one sported by Dharm!

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Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Lata Mangeshkar

Listening to: Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

Amar Akbar AnthonyClichés? No worries! The film provides Bollywood’s version of secular harmony, coincidences after coincidences with impossible odds,  tight shirts in myriad colours,  obviously staged fights in which opponents have time to make conversation, decorative ladies, disguises galore, miraculous cures  and an evil villain who even has a good twin! How could anyone not like it?

The storyline itself is a huge Bollywood cliché. A family is separated by evil machinations, poverty and bad luck. Three brothers are brought up following three religions. The evil man continues in his evil ways and even the good father seems to have become part evil – but then he is Pran, so what do you expect? There are three pretty ladies who look decoratively helpless on demand. But it all resolves itself after many unbelievable plot ploys with more holes than Swiss cheese! The pace of the film is brisk and there is never a dull moment.

Rishi and Neetu make a handsome young couple and they play their parts with ease. Vinod and Shabana make a rather mismatched couple. Vinod is good as a police officer but Shabana…I prefer her in her serious roles.  Amitabh has great comic timing and for his fans, there is even a dialogue with God! Parveen I am not a fan off but she looks quite beautiful and they make a good pair. Jeevan and Pran have undemanding and clichéd roles. Amitabh has the most screen time amongst the leads and he does a good job.

Watch this film with suspended judgement and a healthy sense of humour and you’ll have great fun!

The music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal has some numbers which made the charts at the time of release. It doesn’t really stand the test of time but provides good nostalgia value. Lyrics by Anand Bakshi are adequate.

  • Khoon Khoon Hota Hai – Mohammad Rafi. Pedestrian. Sad smile
  • Pardah Hai Pardah – Mohammad Rafi. This very well-known  Qawwali deserves its success. Rishi and Neetu glow with youth and Rafi is very good even though he is past his best phase. Open-mouthed smile
  •  My Name is Anthony – Kishore Kumar. This fun song became very famous with Kishore’s voice suiting Amitabh’s comic timing and long-limbed prancing. A song to make you smile. Smile
  • Hum Ko Tum Se – Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad, Mukesh. A melodious song which is still very enjoyable. I like that it has three of the great male voices of that era singing the same song.Open-mouthed smile
  • Taiyabali Pyar Ka Dushman – Mohammad Rafi. Don’t remember this song and won’t in the future. Sad smile
  • Shirdi Wale Sai Baba – Mohammad Rafi. A song which used to be run often in the radio, it seems ordinary now. I am normally much attracted to Qawwalis but not this one. Disappointed smile
  • Amar Akbar Anthony – Kishore Kumar, Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh. Familiarity made me listen to the song with pleasure rather than it’s musicality. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

In honour of three great male singers of Bollywood, and to see all the leads on screen, here is Hum Ko Tum Se.

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Filed under Bollywood 70's Music, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh

Listening to: Mughal-E-Azam (1960)

Mughal E AzamA prince, the heir apparent of a vast empire, falls in love with a slave, a dancing girl, and wants to make her his future Empress. The Emperor, his father, puts a stop to it. This legend  about Salim (later known as Jehangir), the son of Akbar, and Anarkali has caught the imagination of generations of Indians. I have a post on Anarkali, another film made on the same story. Mughal-E-Azam is a much better version with better production, better actors and better music.

But before I say more – this is not an unbiased review. Some films have such an epic status that they cannot be viewed in an unbiased manner. Can one ever criticize Ben Hur, the Ten Commandments or Gone with the Wind? Mughal-E-Azam has the same status and I can only view it with awe.

Madhubala as Anarkali glows and dances her way into our hearts. Dilip Kumar is dark and intense as only he can be and delivers some wonderful lines.  It is indeed poignant that Madhubala and Dilip were in fact doomed lovers in real life as well; with life echoing the film, Madhubala’s father was opposed to the match. Prithviraj Kapoor is majestic as Akbar and Durga Khote gives great support as Jodha Bhai as does Nigar Sultana as Bahaar.

There are some clever touches throughout the film. The sculptor as the voice of truth, the observer, is nicely integrated. A glimpse of Salim as a spoilt little boy makes us wonder if by fighting a war with his father for his slave girl, is he just being a spoilt little man? It also made me think of Edward VIII who abdicated the British throne for an equally unsuitable woman. Anarkali first comes into the court with anklets tinkling; this is nicely contrasted when she comes later in the movie with chains clanging. In the beginning, the story revolves around her but in the later half, she seems to become no more than a pawn in the ego-game between father and son. The father-son fight for supremacy was not so extraordinary in those times; in real life, Salim will go on to blind his own son in a political move.

Dialogues are impressive and kept me on my toes, given that my Urdu is not so good. The subtitles were indeed useful. Often, I forgot about the story and just enjoyed the words, like for example when Salim faces Akbar with या परवर दिगारे आलम से आप ने मुझे इसी लिए माँगा था कि ज़िन्दगी मुझे मिले और उसके मालिक आप ? साँसें मेरी हों और दिल के धडकनों पे आप का कब्ज़ा रहे ? दीन-ए-इलाही क्या मेरी ज़िन्दगी आप की दुआओं का कर्जा है जो मुझे आंसुओं से अदा करना पड़ेगा ?

The music by Naushad is extraordinarily beautiful and  Shakeel Badayuni has written beautiful poetry in the form of lyrics. But it is Lata who makes this album a triumph with her absolutely impeccable singing.

  • More Panghat Pe Nandalal – Lata Mangeshkar. A slow and incredibly sweet song with nice lyrics to which the stunning Madhubala dances enticingly. It is unusual to have a slow song which sounds so happy. Lata does great justice to  Raga Gara. The lyrics are simple but really nice!
    मोहे पनघट पे नंदलाल छेड़ गयो रे
    मोरी नाज़ुक कलैय्या मरोड़ गयो रे
    कंकरी मोहे मारी गगरिया फोड़ डाली
    मोरी साडी अनाड़ी भिगो गयो रे
    नयनों से जादू किया जियरा मोह लिया
    मोरा घुंघटा नज़रिया से खोल गयो रे
    Dilip Kumar emotes falling in love so well with just his eyes that my heart gave a little flip!   Open-mouthed smileRed heartRed heart
  • Shubh Din Ayo – Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Only part of the song seems to have been used in the film. It did not catch my attention.I don't know smile
  • Teri Mehfil – Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum. A qawwali with female voices, the lyrics are excellent and beautifully illustrate the feelings of both ladies. Bahar says
    ‘मोहब्बत करने वालों का है बस इतना ही अफ़साना
    तड़पना चुपके चुपके आहें भरना घुट के मर जाना
    किसी दिन ये तमाशा मुस्कुरा कर हम भी देखेंगे’
    ’The story of those who love is to suffer quietly, sigh deeply and die silently. One day I too will watch this act out with a smile’.
    and she goes on to try and destroy the grand romance. Anarkali likewise says
    ‘मोहब्बत हमने माना ज़िंदगी बरबाद करती है
    ये क्या कम है के मर जाने पे दुनिया याद करती है
    किसी के इश्क़ मे दुनिया लुटाकर हम भी देखेंगे’
    ’I agree that love destroys life. But isn’t it enough that once you die the world will remember you? I too will like to see how it is to lose my life in the name of love’. See footnote for lyrics. An important song in the narrative and truly memorable.Open-mouthed smileRed heartRed heart
  • Hamen Kash Tumse – Lata Mangeshkar. Slow song. A little confusing because though there is no need to be sad, it sounds very sad. I don't know smile
  • Prem Jogan Banke – Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. This classical song was sung by the illustrious Maestro in raag Sohni. Very touching, deep. Love it without reservations. There is an interesting story connected with this song, click here to read. Open-mouthed smileRed heartRed heart
  • Ae Ishq Yeh Sab Duniya Wale – Lata Mangeshkar. I don’t remember this song from previous viewings – and I know why! Not included in the colour version. Disappointed smile
  • Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya – Lata Mangeshkar. The combination of memorable lyrics, great melody, Lata’s voice, Madhubala’s dance and a great set makes this THE iconic song of this film. The defiant परदा नहीं जब कोई खुदा से बंदों से परदा करना क्या (When there is no hiding from God, why hide before men?) is a defining moment. See footnote for lyrics. Open-mouthed smileRed heartRed heart
  • Mohabbat Ki Jhooti – Lata Mangeshkar. How effortlessly and sweetly Lata’s voice traverses the octave! Lovely sad song.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye – Lata Mangeshkar. A lovely little prayer song. Open-mouthed smile
  • Ae Mohabbat Zindabad – Mohammad Rafi. This is the message song and has a rousing, political style with a chorus, it is said, of a hundred voices. I am not sure I like it much.  I don't know smile
  • Jab Rat Ho Aisi Matwali – Lata Mangeshkar. Beautiful poetry, Kudos to Shakeel Badayuni for writing these lovely words.
    नगमों से बरसती है मस्ती छलके हैं खुशी के पैमानेआज ऐसी बहारें आयीं है कल दिन में बनेंगे अफसाने
    अब इस से ज़्यादा और हसीन ये प्यार का मौसम क्या होगा
    जब रात है ऐसी मतवाली फिर सुबह का आलम क्या होगा  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Khuda Nigehban Ho – Lata Mangeshkar. The farewell song, sad. But not gripping.Smile

This album would probably feature among the All-Time-Best-Top-10 from Bollywood. To listen to the whole album, click here.

For my selection of the day, I cannot but present the iconic song of the film first :

Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya

Teri Mehfil : Because I like Qawwalis and because the lyrics are outstanding,

If you’ve caught the Mughal-E-Azam bug and want to listen to two more outstanding songs :

More Panghat Pe Nandalal : For Madhubala’s dance and Dilip Kumar’s expression.

Prem Jogan Ban Ke : For the pleasure of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan’s singing and for the simmering and sultry chemistry between Madhubala and Dilip Kumar.

 


 

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya

इन्सान किसी से दुनिया में इक बार मुहब्बत करता है
इस दर्द को लेकर जीता है, इस दर्द को लेकर मरता है

प्यार किया तो डरना क्या जब प्यार किया तो डरना क्या
प्यार किया कोई चोरी नहीं की छुप छुप आहें भरना क्या

आज कहेंगे दिल का फ़साना जान भी लेले चाहे ज़माना
मौत वही जो दुनिया देखे घुट घुट कर यूँ मरना क्या

उनकी तमन्ना दिल में रहेगी, शम्मा इसी महफ़िल में रहेगी
इश्क़ में जीना इश्क़ में मरना और हमें अब करना क्या

छुप न सकेगा इश्क़ हमारा चारों तरफ़ है उनका नज़ारा
परदा नहीं जब कोई खुदा से  बंदों से परदा करना क्या


Teri Mehfil :

तेरी महफ़िल मे किस्मत आज़मा कर हम भी देखेंगे
घड़ी भर को तेरे नज़दीक आकर हम भी देखेंगे
अजी हाँ हम भी देखेंगे

तेरी महफ़िल मे किस्मत आज़मा कर हम भी देखेंगे
तेरे कदमों पे सर अपना झुका कर हम भी देखेंगे
अजी हाँ हम भी देखेंगे

बहारें आज पैगाम-ए-मोहब्बत लेके आयीं हैं
बड़ी मुद्दत मे उम्मीदों की कलियाँ मुस्कुराईं हैं
गम-ए-दिल से ज़रा दामन बचाकर हम भी देखेंगे
अजी हाँ हम भी देखेंगे

अगर दिल गम से खालि हो तो जीने का मज़ा क्या है
ना हो खून-ए-जिगर तो अश्क पीने का मज़ा क्या है
मोहब्बत मे ज़रा आंसू  बहाकर हम भी देखेंगे
अजी हाँ हम भी देखेंगे

मोहब्बत करने वालों का है बस इतना ही अफ़साना
तड़पना चुपके चुपके आहें  भरना घुट के मर जाना
किसी दिन ये तमाशा मुस्कुरा कर हम भी देखेंगे
अजी हाँ हम भी देखेंगे

मोहब्बत हमने माना ज़िंदगी बरबाद करती है
ये क्या कम है के मर जाने पे  दुनिया याद करती है
किसी के इश्क़ मे दुनिया लुटाकर हम भी देखेंगे
अजी हाँ हम भी देखेंगे

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Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Lata Mangeshkar, Shamshad Begum