Friday, July 22, 2011

Remembering Mukesh

Today is Mukesh’s birthday . Mukesh, the popular playback singer of Hindi cinema is my hot favourite. I am always in a fix, when I ask myself as to which of his songs I like the best - I like most of them for the sonorous quality as well as that peculiar twang which makes Mukesh stand apart from the other singers. Mukesh , though he lent his voice to songs picturised on almost all the heroes or actors of the time, was in particular, associated with Raj Kapoor. Mukesh , the singer ; Raj Kapoor, the actor; and Shankar- Jaikishan , the music duo - were a unique combination. His song- Nain ka chain chura kar le gayi - has many a time had the effect of a lullaby on me. The songs sung by him for films like Aaag, Awara, Andaaz, Upkar, Kabhi Kabhi , Milan, Bandini, Anari ,Teesari Kasam , Banarsi thug , and many many others are classics and as such unforgettable. I remember, I won a small bet for the song Dil jalta hai to jalne de - as many others would think that the song was sung by K.L. Sehgal , another immortal singer. The song from Kabhi Kabhi- Main pal do pal ka shayar Hoon - proved prophetic as Mukesh died in 1976 , the year the film was released.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sawan Ka Mahina

How beautiful is the rain!

After the dust and heat,

In the broad and fiery street,

In the narrow lane,

How beautiful is the rain!........”

-wrote H W. Longfellow, the noted American poet.

Back home, reams and reams of paper have been consumed writing paeans for rain and particularly the month of Sawan i.e.; the peak rainy season. Sawan has long been associated with showers of rain resulting in good crops and prosperity to the peasantry. Little wonder that Sawan finds mention in poetry, songs and folklore especially in northern India. For the religious minded, sawan ka mahina is the time for immersing in worship of lord Shiva . For others, depending on the age, stage and mindset, this is the time for merry making, swinging in the Jhula, weaving romantic dreams and fantasies . The separated beloved thinks of her lover when the sawan comes.

One is reminded of Kalidas’s Meghdootam - the cloud messenger, the echoes of which can be felt in the old film song , Sawan ke badalo, unse yeh jaa kaho..............." Hindi films are replete with titles based on sawan like - Sawan- bhadon , Sawan ki Ghata , Sawan ko aane do , Aya sawan jhoom ke etc. etc. with the title songs invariably thrown in.

There are a number of songs, finding a mention of sawan and clouds :

Mere naina sawan bhadon

Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul…….

Kar de na kahin barbad mujhe, jab chhaye kahin sawan ki ghata

Aya sawan jhoom ke

Sawan aye ya na aye, jiya jab jhoome, sawan hai

Phir sawan rut ki pawan chali tum yaad aaye

Ghanan ghanan ghir aye badra etc . etc.

- My personal favourite is Rim Jhim gire sawan , sulag sulag jaye man – sung beautifully by Lata Mangeshkar from the film, “Manzil” . On the screen the bubbly and innocent Moushumi, in the company of Amitabh Bachchan, seems to enjoy fully the rain showers., while walking on road in the metropolis.

I am also reminded of a beautiful rendition by Jagjit Singh in Punjabi--- Saw(a)n da mahina yaaro , saw(a )n da mahina e - bringing alive the scene in rural Punjab as to all that sawan means and stands for. While the urban people are content with, hot pakoras and tea, the rural folk gorge on mal puay and kheer .

Sawan is really a month of joy and merry making !

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Remembering Guru Dutt

The larger than life persona of film actors has fascinated me since childhood-so much so that I always thought of them as above humanity- or immortal -so to say. It came as a shock when as a ten year old , the news of untimely death of Guru Dutt , was disclosed to me in the school itself , by a class pal of mine, who had heard the news on AIR during lunch break. Even his tone carried a streak of disbelief, as it was for the first time that we had heard about the death of an actor. I had not heard of Guru Dutt , but his death did cause a feeling of deep sorrow. Only a few months back, the same year the death of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister had plunged the nation into shock and grief.

When I went home and disclosed that the actor had died, my parents told me that actors were also human beings and as such were destined to die one day like others. In later years, I heard of the death of Madhubala , Meena Kumari, Smita Patil …….. also at very young age, but by then had reconciled to the bitter truth.

But , metaphorically, actors and singers or other artistes for that matter never die , as they come alive through their films, creations and compositions any time we chance upon their masterpieces.

One has only to see Guru Dutt’s movies like Pyaasa, Kagaz ke Phool, Chaudhawin ka Chaand and Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam to feel the magic !