Gulzar: The Lyricist, Bharadwaj: The Director

I’ve always associated Vishal Bharadwaj with Gulzar, who gave him his first chance and then collaborated with him with great success.

It was interesting to find out that neither wanted to be what they are best known for today:

  • Sampooran Singh Gulzar, the amazing lyricist (adapted from Wikipedia): Bandini marked the debut of Gulzar, who was working as an assistant director on the film, as a film lyricist, initially having refused Bimal Roy on the offering saying that he didn’t want to become a lyricist. Gulzar relented only after film’s music director S.D. Burman convinced him so.
  • Vishal Bharadwaj, the amazing director (adapted from Wikipedia): Vishal Bhardwaj came to Mumbai to become a music composer, he took to directing movies only to create the opportunity to compose music.
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Suhana Safar to Bichua

Someone posted “Suhana Safar Aur Ye Mausam Haseen” as his status message at facebook.

The song is

It reminded me of Salil Chowdhury, who used to be my favorite composer for a while … in those days! Chowdhury, perhaps, never got the acclaim of Shankar-Jaikishan, SD Burman, LaxmiPyaare, RD Burman, or even Bappi Lahiri, but he carved out his own niche and none could equal him.

In those days, Jayamala was one of our favorite radio programs. We used to make sure to tune in to it and its repeat telecasts the next day (?) and again sometime in the week. It was a program dedicated to our brothers in the military (fauji bhaiyyon ke liye). A celebrity would  present his favorite songs or songs relevant to a certain topic/theme.

In one such episode, Salil Chowdhury said that he almost always composed first and then had the someone pen down the lyrics.  He said he was amazed at how Shailendra came up with the word Bichua” for his composition from Madhumati after the music was composed!

As a result, I developed immense respect for his lyricists also! Whereas Chowdhary composed some of the most amazing melodies in Hindi Film industry, he had managed to get equally amazing lyrics to go along with them!

My daughter’s favorite songs

My daughter absolutely loves two things: Taking a book in hand and speaking gibberish, and listening to/watching some songs. Here is a list of some from Bollywood that she listens to and/or watches

  • Gulmohar Gar Tumhara Naam Hota
    The audio used to be an absolute favorite;  I would sing this when she received her shots and she would be silent! Not any more
  • Koi Yahan Aaha Naache Naache
    She shakes her head (left-right) at the Naache Naache
  • Chaiyya Chaiyya
    Audio and Video; dances up and down, and gives out a beautiful smile as soon as she hears the start, “Jinko Sar ho …”
  • Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo
    Audio only; dances up and down
  • Ajeem-o-shaan Shahenshah
    She loves the drum beats
  • Maine Tere Liye Hi
    Audio only; loves the part – Chhoti Baatein.. used to be mesmerized in the olden days
  • Kitni Khoobsurat Yeh Kashmir Hai
    The audio used to be a favorite in the olden times
  • Jaanu Meri Jaan
    Audio alone is not enough
  • Deewana by Sonu Nigam
    Absolute favorite; she remains mesmerized by this one, audio or video!

Attending Indian Classical Music Performances

Anything that I understand about Indian classical music is attributed to my friend, Ashish Deshpande, who has always shown immense patience in understanding and explaining every doubt/query/criticism.

A couple of weeks back, I attended Swaraanjali hosted by Indian Classical Music and Dance (ICMD) Group at the University of Michigan. Overall, it was a very nice program. However, I felt it lacked something. t is not about the quality of the players – they were really good.

I think the flaw in the program was in not making the listeners identify themselves with what is happening on the stage, or making them feel involved. As long as classical music is not explained in the language of the layman, it will remain the prerogative of those who have the talent to play it. It will remain an activity that should be performed and appreciated.

Just imagine, by translating the Gita to Dnyaneshwari, Dnyaneshwar brought an item that was perceived as complex to the common man! I am not saying that ICMD should have such goals, which would require Herculean efforts, but can they not have small items that can help explain to the audience? Not even once as a small part of an entire evening?

Every time, the common audience claps when the player plays the tabla/mridangam for a long time; or when the singer sings a long note in a single breath. Is that all there is to classical music? Is it not a narrow (and possibly, incorrect) view of Indian classical music? What is the difference between MS Subbalaxmi singing “something” and Asha Bhonsle singing Raat Akeli Hai? Why should I then ever take the effort of listening to the former?

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Title track of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” in Bollywood music

I like the title song of Jal Bin Machhli Nriya Bin Bijli – a Hindi
movie made by V. Shantaram in 1971. The music is by the
famous duo of Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

Recently, I got the entire soundtrack just to listen to this title song.

In this soundtrack, there is a nice solo by Mukesh – Taaron Mein Sajke.
It is easy to recognize the opening music as a direct lift of the title
music from Ennio Morricone’s “Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo”, more
famous as “The Good The Bad and the Ugly.

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Plagiarism in Hindi Film Music

For long have we complained about the blatant plagiarism in Hindi Film music by music director’s such as Anu Malik, Bappi Lahiri and Jatin Lalit.

I think there are worse heartbreakers – Shankar Jaikishen, R.D. Burman, S.D. Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Laxmikant Pyarelal and so on. They never got tagged as “lifters” but lifted some of the biggest hits in the Indian film industry.

I knew about quite a few of these copies, but ItwoFS (I2FS – Inspirations in Indian Film Songs) is a good website that has enlisted quite a few of these.

My heartbreakers include (most links and information copied from ItwoFS):

  1. R.D. Burman (one of my most favored music directors)
  2. Laxmikant Pyarelal
    • Om shanti Om (Karz) – Real heartbreaker – Shanti om
  3. Anand Milind
  4. S.D. Burman
    • Hum The Woh Thi (Chalti ka Naam Gaadi) – Listen to The Watermelon song if you want to be speechless!
  5. Shankar Jaikishen – My favorite music directors :(
    • Kaun hai jo sapnon mein aaya (Jhook gaya aasmaan) – Blatant – Marguerita
  6. Salil Chowdhury

ItwoFs lists many more!

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Music library? iTunes? Yahoo! Music engine? Songbird?

For quite some time, I have been using iTunes for all my music needs – buying, listening, ripping my CDs. It is literally my big music library.

In the meantime, I tried Yahoo Music engine and Songbird (0.1?). I am impressed with Yahoo music engine and I was impressed with Songbird 0.1 Now, Songbird not yet 0.2 has been released. I did not test it, yet. I am waiting for the version of a software that can do at least the following:

  1. Import all the stuff that I have in iTunes – I have several playlists/smart playlists, etc.
  2. Use the iTunes subnet to listen to other’s music and provide access to others to listen to it.
  3. Directly let me buy from iTunes or Microsoft or Yahoo or Realplayer and play any of my purchased music.

Is this really possible?

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Percussion in Hindi Film Music

This blog was my first blog at blogspot.. I am just rewriting it
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I have Zero knowledge about Indian classical music, and no understanding about beats/rhythms, etc. However, my friend, Ashish Deshpande pointed two things about Hindi film music:

1. A.R. Rahman is amazingly innovative and different when it comes to percussion in any of his compositions.
2. The song "Mere Humsafar" from "Refugee" has an awesome tabla rhythm (I don't know which one) throughout the song- rarely seen in Indian music.

And now, when I listen to any song, my focus is only on "percussion." So, here is my list of songs that I think have special percussion (throughout the song):

1. "Ek Hasina Thi" from "Karz".
2. "Ek Shahenshah Ne" from "Leader", "Abhi Na Jaao" from "Hum Dono" and "Jaane kahan gaye woh din" from "Mera Naam Joker" have same rhythm; I have not heard it much in recent songs!
3. The song "My name is Lakhan" seems to have only percussion. At least, I could not detect any strings in it!

It seems that it is very rare for Hindi film songs to use different/novel rhythms/taals. This does not imply that the other songs are not melodious!