Rains have been delayed terribly this year. Intermittent, sparse and playing hide & seek with all of us. It has been terribly depressing – without the rains. The body and the mind have both been feeling extremely tired and as thought there is no hope of renewal.
Yesterday, it finally rained. the proper monsoon downpour. the kind of downpour that gets the roads flooded, and sends you towards a samovar of adrak chai. Suddenly the world looks beautiful, the earth smells lovely, and the heart smiles !
The link that India has to rains, is much like the colder nations of the North have towards Spring. A lot of our mental and physical well being is linked to it raining and raining well. it is hardly surprising that monsoons are such an integral part of Hindi Cinema (and regional cinema).
But, before cinema got into the act there was folk and classical music that celebrated the rain gods. In Hindustani Classical Music – Malhar and its many variants cover the whole range from longing for rain (or the love of your beloved); to celebrating it ! With the first rains, i thought i will list some of my favourite film songs based on the rain ragas. do add yours to this list :
Raga Miyan Ki Malhar – by Salamat & Nazakhat Ali Khan – in Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece Jalsaghar. The film is about the passage of time, and the decline of glory – it tells the story of a zamindar who gives a last hurrah to a dying way of life – by hosing a magnificent music concert in his music room. Miyan ki Malhar is a raga that captures the full power of the monsoons – complete with the thunder & lightening
Bole Re Papi Hara – based on Raga Miyan ki Malhar – a fabulous rendition by Vani Jayaram. I always thought that Vani Jayaram’s voice was too mature and strong for a school girl – which is what Jaya Bhaduri played in the film Guddi.
Woh Chup Rahen – in Raga Ramdasi Malhar – a variant of Malhar, picturized on Minoo Mumtaz. Lata Mangeshkar singing this great composition in Malhar for the film Jahan Ara. Bharat Bhooshan showing as much emotion as a block of wood , as always, but the lucky man had some of the best songs in Hindi cinema picturized on him
apni zulfein – from Taj Mahal, not the old version – but the unwatchable new version. The music, though, is brilliant, though it feels as it belongs to the last century. I was quite sure that the song itself was composed – in Raga Malhar – for a film made in the 1960’s meant to be sung by Rafi sahaab. Here is Hariharan crooning the said number -in a composition by Naushad. I never watched the video – because the thought of an over metrosexualised Zulfi Sayed playing anyone from the past was kind of off putting
Kahan Se Aaye Badra – from the film Chashme Badoor . Composed in Raga Megh – it covers the entire gamut of emotions from anticipaiton of love, to heart break and longing. Beautifully sung by Yesudas and a lovely female voice .
Ghanana Ghanana – from Lagan, once again captures the longing for rain, rain that nurtures, and renews and rejuvenates.
Megh for me, is the Raga that is associated with the longing for rain, while Malhar & all its variants, especially Miyan ki Malhar is associated with full blown monsoons – with all the power and glory of thunder, lightening and buckets of water
while you are at it, check out the Megh Malhar again by Lata – in the film Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan. The glory & the power of this rendition is in contrast, with the mellowness of the Ramdasi Malhar
Also check out Suresh Wadkar from this great song from the film Saaz . Again a very powerful rendition
But, for the full power of Miyan Ki Malhar – you can’t miss Bhimsen Joshi singing the Raga. It is almost like he will get it to rain with the power of his voice
i will leave you with a very young Bhimsen Joshi trying to single handed get the rain gods to listen and grant us their bounty !! enjoy and happy rains