Monday, November 4, 2013


सरहद पार की सुविख्यात लोकगायिका रेशमा के दुखद निधन से उपमहाद्वीप के संगीत प्रेमियों का शोकाकुल होना स्वाभाविक है.बॉलीवुड की फिल्म 'हीरो ' के लिए गाये अपने गीत ' चार दिना दा प्यार रब्बा बड़ी लम्बी जुदाई .....' से भारत में अति लोकप्रिय हुई इस गायिका ने संगीत के क्षेत्र में अपनी एक अलग पहचान बनाई. एक अन्य पाकिस्तानी गायक परवेज़ मेहदी के साथ गाया उनका गीत- गोरिये मैं जाना परदेस- लोक गायन में एक मील का पत्थर है. गले से ही नहीं अपितु दिल से निकली उनकी खनकती आवाज़ अपनी ओर आकर्षित करती थी और करती रहेगी. उनके गायन में एक earthiness - ज़मीन से जुड़ाव- का आभास होता है जो कि लोक गायन की आत्मा कही जा सकती है. इस महान गायिका को विनम्र श्रद्धांजलि

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Manna Dey-the musical manna

Passing away of Manna Dey , the legendary singer at the ripe old age of 94 in the wee hours today has left a void in the classical style singing as far as film music is concerned. Though light classical was his forte, he was equally well versed in qawwalis, chorus and duets. My late father, no fan of film music was often heard humming-laga chunri mein daag chhupaoon kaisey - a Manna Dey song from the film Dil Hi To Hai .
Who can forget his duets with Lata Mangeshkar sang for the film Chori Chori like aja sanam  madhur chaandni mein hum & pyar hua iqrar hua hai  pyar se phir kyun darta hai dil ! The qawwali- Na To Caravan ki Talash Hai ; Yaari hai Imaan mera yaar meri Zindagi , and the songs- ai meri juhr zabeen ; dil ka hal sune dil wala; apne liye jiye to kya jiye ; tu pyar ka sagar hai , kasame vaade pyar wafa are some of the many gems from his musical treasure.His song , yeh kahani hai deeye ki aur toofan ki  was most soulfully sung by him.  He was deservedly awarded with Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award  for his immense  contribution to the world of music  .
Shraddhanjali !

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Oh , Superstitions !

The  other  day  there  was a shocking  news  of  a 23 year old  qualified engineer  committing suicide in Bengaluru for the simple reason that  a crow  had sat on him twice  and this did not  augur well for him . This is a glaring example  of  superstition   embedded  in our psyche that no amount of education  and enlightenment   can get us out of it.  What worse could have happened to the guy   ! This escapist attitude  is really unfortunate .  One can be sorry for the hapless parents who would have pinned hopes on the guy. There are many other superstitions  and false beliefs  like  a cat crossing your path  will definitely  spoil    your chances of success   at something    for which   you are venturing out  . A    young man   once missed   a very important interview  , as he kept waiting for   another person to  come and  cross  the road as  a cat had crossed his path. 

But sometimes you have strong reasons  to  harbor such beliefs. Decades back   an otherwise very  nice lady in the neighbourhood   proved   unlucky for me  many a time , as  coming across her on an important  day  in the morning  would spell  doom. Fortunately  once she was not around during the time I was to appear for an interview . The fact in itself boosted my confidence and    I appeared for the interview and  by chance  and luck  got the job .

There  was  also a belief  in old times  that  if the shadow of a  flying bird called  Huma   fell on  a person , he was sure to become a king, whatever  his antecedents  and whoever  his   ancestors  might  be.  
I  was born with   the planet   rahu   in  lagna   and my grandfather would wax eloquent that one day I would become a   celebrity or a big man .  I became what I did but certainly not a   celebrity.
Shakes peare always blamed  ‘ the stars above us ‘    that guide our destiny  and contrary to this there is a   famous couplet :

Muqaddar  ki  khabar kya  de  ga  sitara
Din-raat   gardish mein khud hai bichara. 

Both these views appear  to be extreme  and a golden mean needs be struck  in between .

Monday, July 15, 2013

Goodbye Telegram

“तार इस  मतलब का आया है  मुझे भोपाल से
रात भर भैंसे की दुम  हिलती  रही भूचाल से .........”

This was  a frivolous piece of poetry  quoted by  a very well known  Hindi author in one of his books , which shows how  sending  Taar  or telegram was in vogue  in matters important and mundane alike  some decades back. 

From    today, i.e.  15th July, 2013  it is good bye  to Telegrams , as the   Govt . in   their  wisdom   have discontinued  this - one time very  important   , but now rendered  obsolete  as also   commercially  nonviable – service thanks to other cheaper and  quicker means of instant communication and transmission   like mobile phones  and  internet    etc. There is hardly person , who has grown up with me through the fifties , and  has not  felt the importance of  telegrams  in day to day life. Little wonder that the last day of   this service saw  a sizable number of people  at many places  rushing  to the post offices and telegraph offices  to send  welfare  messages  to relatives and near and dear ones , not only to  avail the service  for the last time but also  to be able to keep the specimen of a telegram   as a memento or an  important  relic of the past    for the posterity. Some people  were also seen taking along  their kids  to show    and apprise them of the system  of sending telegrams. 

Telegram has been rightly called the harbinger  of both good and bad   news , mostly- I am afraid- bad news . The mere arrival of a  messenger or the delivery man would   cause goose bumps in everyone in the neighbourhood  ; it is another matter  that sometimes the telegram carried good news of a  birth in the family or in relation , a promotion, an appointment to a service of one of the relatives  , and last but not the least   safe arrival of  a dear one  at the destination after a long journey. I  have seen   people rushing to an English knowing  person to read out the telegram when education was not so common.

 It is also true that   sometimes loud cries and wails  were heard   when the telegram carried    sad and shocking news of an  accident or a death . Once  I had  to rush to the  post office to send a congratulatory  Greeting message to an acquaintance  who was getting married, leaving  aside my personal bereavement. Telegram also came handy  when due to some unavoidable and compelling reasons, extension of leave was sought  by sending a  telegram . However one had to keep  the receipt  safe     in token  of having sent it ताकि  सनद रहे और   बरवक़्त  ज़रूरत  काम आवे !

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


“Bhaag   Milkha Bhaag “  are the three  last parting words  spoken by  the father of  Milkha singh  aka  the Flying Sikh  exhorting the  under 12 boy  to make good   his escape , when the father  himself  had death staring in the face and ultimately taking himd  other members of the family  during the  1947  holocaust  called Partition  .   The movie slated to be  released on 12th July   borrows these very words for its title. It is rare for a living legend like  Milkha  to  see a film made on his life , times and achievements .The film also contains some rare  vignettes from his life . All credit to  Rakeysh  Omprakash Mehra , the producer- director of the film  for this  unique venture  as also  to Farhaan Akhtar  who plays  and relives  the Legend  on the screen. The movie when  it  is open to  public view  should contain  many lessons   for  present day and budding    sports persons  and others alike. Here’s one who  without any lure of money  or riches  took to the   racing  track   and brought laurels to  the Country. It is nice to hear from his own  mouth  that the  epithet  “ Flying Sikh “  was actually a compliment   given  by   General Mohammad Ayub  the then   President of Pakistan. So much so for the admiration , praise and accolades  the Legend deserved and  got .

Long   live Milkha Singh  !

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shani Dev

Even at the peril of being termed  orthodox and  superstitious ,  my faith  in destiny and stars  remains unshakable.  In my childhood , I have seen  a turbaned gentleman  going from door to door every Saturday , carrying a  saucer half filled with mustard oil  and in it placed a  metal image or pratima  of  Shanidev , the god wrongly associated with everything sinister and ill-omened so much so that a person with these negative   personality  traits is referred to as     nira sanichar’.One by one each member of the family was required to put a coin in the oil after moving it over the head thrice  , during which time the person carrying the saucer –also known as shanidev- would mumble some mantra - as one looked at his reflection in the oil- to ward off  evil designs of some unknown power.  Though no one now goes  visiting door to door , but  one can see  persons , even young boys and  girls carrying the saucer  with the pratima dipped in  oil  and people like me  on sighting one of them  faithfully  put some coin in the oil.

Here is a real life incident  that occurred with me some 18-19  years ago. 

I was posted at Palampur and at the bus stop  , from where I sometimes  boarded the bus ,on  Saturdays I never forgot to put a coin  in  oil whenever a  person  carrying the saucer  was in sight. However, one Saturday ,   I thought otherwise and  bypassed the   ‘shanidevta ‘  without bothering to put the coin in oil. The day in the office passed peacefully. When it was  time to leave after duty hours,I came out of my room  and while passing  through   the corridor,  I  perchance pushed  the door of an Almirah to close it  and in no time , a  broken steel chair placed above  fell down hitting my  forehead. The office staff came running and the chowkidar-God bless him- tore his  razai and  took out some cotton  to press against the wound to stop bleeding. The rationalists  may laugh at the idea but I believe it was Shanidev’s curse that fell on me  for having ignored  the necessary  ritual of putting coin in the saucer.
Shani Dev, the son of Surya is believed to be a dispenser of justice  and  reasonably punishes the  wrong doer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Match fixing

I am amused to see that match fixing has become a crime  and being a match fixer, a stigma for life . In good old days, match fixing  was considered a valuable social service  and fixers were  held in high esteem  by all  especially those anxious and worried  parents who were on the look out for  a ‘suitable match ‘  for their  sons and daughters  before  it was too late. In the social context, the match fixer of either gender was a go betweencredited with uniting   two families  through matrimony. I am instantly  reminded of Shankari tai ,  the  match fixer in the daily soap   “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata hai “- and what a match he finds  for Akshara  ! In real life also the services of these fixers are  sought and availed by people subscribing to the conventional way of life , who do not believe in other options available these days.

 Coming to the  Cricket match fixers, be it   some of the  players  or the   managers or the  sponsors or the much maligned    speculators aka   ‘satorias’ or the satte baaz    , they  have done irreparable harm and disservice to the game . It is  disgusting to see players playing to lose  rather than win  in lieu of  some wads  of currency notes or maybe some other gratification. This reminds me of the old  Bollywood song – chandi ke chand tukdo ke liye, iman ko becha jata hai…… – sung beautifully by Hemant Kumar . These game changers take millions of spectators for a ride, who  throng the  Cricket  stadium  after purchasing  costly tickets or  who  remain glued to the idiot box , making virtual  idiots of themselves, watching , who knows , may be a fixed match ! Cricket played  in this manner is no longer a game of  glorious uncertainties but  ignominious ‘ fixties’.

 George   Bernard Shaw is proved half right !

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Lullaby or Lori

A lullaby is a song that is sung to put a child to sleep .It is also known as  the  Cradle song , when along with singing , the cradle in which the child is lying  is moved gently    forward and backward . The English poem   “ The Lullaby ”  by W.H. Auden  is however  cast in a different mould  as the  poet  on looking at  his lover, who is already asleep , indulges in some philosophical   thinking and  the poem,  simply is an expression of his philosophical thoughts, which in my  humble  opinion hardly  justifies the title  .

 There are lullabies in every known language or dialect of the world as the need to sing these in order to put young ones to sleep is a  universal one. Hindi films have a lot of lullabies or  lori  songs, out of which two instantly come to mind. One is – Dheere se aa ja ri akhiyan mein , nindiya aa ja ri aa ja from the film Albela   and the other – Chandan  ka Palna , resham ki dori ; jhoola jhulaoon  nindiya ko tori  from the film Shabaab .In my view both have   the potential  to   serve the purpose. I can safely vouch for the first one , which I have sung  nth   number of times  to  put my kids to sleep when they were growing up. Another song- Ek tha Gul aur ek thi bulbul , dono chaman mein rehte they – from the movie Jab Jab Phool Khiley- that I used  to sing was not a lullaby but a   composition of long duration - some 6-7 minutes - which was enough to  put them  to sleep, more so since I cannot lay any claim to being a singer of any merit. . Surprisingly, my  kids  asked me to sing this one  more often. I often wonder, what is there in a lullaby, that makes  one  fall asleep , whether it is the lyrics, which  invariably contain the words neend  or  nindiya ,  sapna (dream) or their equivalents  in other languages or the lilting tune the lyrics are set to , the gentle  forward & backward  movement of the cradle or the gentle thumping  of the chest  called thapki .

Tuesday, March 12, 2013