Oct 052015

9-10 months before dad passed on, crows began visiting our home, in Wadala. My mother would feed them dal rice with ghee. and bread and cheese. They would sit on the window sill and kaw-kaw away till they were fed (and satisfied). Both appa and amma would laugh and say, the pitrus have come for food …

During the funeral ceremonies they turned up in full force.

And, when we moved from Wadala to Bandra, they turned up. I am not sure if they are the same crows. But, they way they have demanded and consumed food is quite like the earlier lot. One in particular, comes in first – i think it is a male – and sits patiently till mom finishes her prayers and feeds him.

Maybe the ancients got it right. Maybe they are our ancestors. Maybe not. I neither have that much faith in myths, nor that much science to argue that. I will take each argument as being from a different frame of reference. But, there is some degree of comfort in little rituals like this. Something soothing for the soul.

Yesterday, mom and I went to the little Ganesha temple in Kantinagar, Andheri (E). Where we had gone for the longest time. It is a small temple with a compassionate priest. I did the shrardh,  with tulsi and gangajal. Non ritualistic, yet full of meaning. For, the first time since he died, i could cry, freely,  for him.

It is four months. It still feels surreal. Loss and death are so much a part of life, yet we speak about it so little. He meant so much to me. He made me strong, by believing in me, having faith, and never ever restricting me because of gender. He had a fantastic sense of humour, and a strength that comes from within. After a terrible day at work, all i had to do was say “appa, hug me” – he would – and the stress would just flow away.

I miss him.

Oct 242013

The Last of the Great Playback singers of Indian Cinema has passed on today, marking the end of a glorious era of Film Music. Manna De is no more. His music however, lives on.  Compared to Mohd. Rafi or Kishore Kumar – he didn’t sing as much for Hindi films, but the songs that he sang left a mark.

It’s been a long time since i put together a compilation of songs, for quite sometime my music consumption has been predominantly Hindustani Classical Music.But, Manna De along with Mohd. Rafi gave me my first ever taste of the classical, something that has been with me for life.

Manna De, more than any other Hindi singer – was completely at ease with classical music. A voice like honey, he was comfortable with all sorts of songs – the philosophical (Tu Pyaar ka Saagar Hai) l, the romantic (Yeh raat bhigi bhigi) , the teasing (dil ki umange hai Jawan) , the classical (Ketaki Gulab Juhi), the tragic (sur Na saje)  .

Here in no order of preference, are some of my favourite songs sung by Manna De. if you have your favourites, please post them.

Yeh Raat Bhigi Bhigi – Mukesh is said to be the voice of Raj Kapoor, but i personally preferred the duets that Manna De sang for him with Lata. Be it this, or Pyaar huva or Aaja Sanam …. Shankar Jaikishen composed the music, and the film is Chori Chori . The guitar as the prelude is possibly one of the most distinctive pieces of Hindi film music. i need to hear two chords to identify the song. Enjoy Raj Kapoor & Nargis in this brilliant composition.

Na to Karvan Ki Talaash Hai – My favourte Qawalli from Hindi Films. Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle, Mohd. Rafi and others. The song runs for almost 10 minutes. Manna De opens the classic piece and Rafi ends it… both are at their best in this song. Roshan Sahab (the father of Rakesh & grand father of Hrithik) composes a masterpiece, lyrics are by Shailendra –

Tu Pyaar ka Saagar Hai – I used to have this huge crush on Balraj Sahani when i was a kid. in those glorious days of watching Chitrahaar and Hindi films on Doordarshan. I could never understand his films in those days – but i simply thought he looked yummmm :) i still do. and of all his songs, this one was played the most frequently. Soul stirring stuff. Balraj Sahani & Nutan in the film Seema. Music by Shankar Jaikishen.

 Kaun Aaya mere Dil ke Dwaare – I cannot remember watching this film, though i must i have. i devoured everything on Doordarshan whether it was Krishi Darshan or Santakukdi or Kilbil … Anoop Kumar (Kishore Kumar’s brother) and Anita Guha in Dekh Kabira Roya. Music by Madan Mohan

Dil Ki Girah Khol Do – the film “Raat aur Din”. The subject multiple personality disorder. The year 1967. And a commercial success. Nargis in her last leading role. Fabulous film. Fabulous music. Watch it also for a very young Feroze Khan. Music Shankar Jaikishen

Ja Tose Nahin Bolu Kanhaya – Raga Hamsadhwani. Lata Mangeshkar & Manna De. The movie is Parivaar and the music director is Salil Choudhary .

Hoke Majboor Mujhe – The film Haqeeqat. Possibly the finest war film ever made in India. From the point of view of the men who serve. Directed by Chetan Anand it starred Balraj Sahni (him again), Dharmendra and a host of others it is set around the 1962 war – which no one talks about. The song ‘kar chale ham fida jaan aur tan saathiyo’ by Rafi is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. But, this song, more philosophical is equally good. Check out Manna De in this

Mausam Beeta Jaye – The film “Do Bhiga Zamin”, the director Bimal Roy. Music Salil Choudhary. Actor Balraj Sahni and the voice Manna De. I cry everytime is see this film – nothing has changed for the farmer. When we decided to make our film “Jhing Chik Jhing” i went and rewatched this film — the famers’ lot is the same. there is a line in Jhing Chik Jhing where Bharat Jadhav says ‘we are farmers, we grow food but our children go hungry; we grow cotton and our kids wear torn clothes’. This is not the post to call for agricultral reform or greater support to farmers, but consider it said :(.

By the way, despite the subject this was not an art film. it was a commercially viable film .

Ketaki Gulab Juhi – a duet with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The song is a competition between the two singers, and in typical Hindi Film ishtyle … Pandit Bhimsen Joshi loses. If your mind can overcome this fact… listen to the song…

Zindagi kaisi yeh Paheli – Manna De sings for Rajesh Khanna – a man with a medical death sentance. the music by Salil Da. The film Anand. Lyrics by Yogesh.

Laga Chunri Mein Daag – Music by Roshan (grandfather to Hrithik ). The film is Dil Hi to Hai starring Raj Kapoor and Nutan

O Meri Zohra Zabeen – the Film is Waqt – the first of the last and found sagas …. The song is picturised on Balraj Sahni (be still my fluttering heart),the music is by Ravi and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi.

Mud Mud ke Na Dekh Mud Mud Ke – Asha and Manna De in this fabulous number from Shree 420. Picturised on Nadira & Raj Kapoor. The music is by Shankar Jaikishen and lyrics by Shailendra. The film is about a young idealist Raj Kapoor, who is seduced by wealth, fame and fortune – represented by Maya (nadira) … and brought back to the straight and narrow (not to mention poverty) by Vidya. The song marks the turning point in the film when Raj Kapoor goes over to the evil side….

Pucho na Kaise Man – The film was hackneyed but the music was great. Staring Ashok Kumar in a triple role , the film is Meri Surat Teri Aankhen. Music by S.D.Burman

Sur Na Saje Kya Gaaon Mein – the film Basant Bahar. music by Shankar Jaikishen – who hitherto had been considered to be ‘pop’ music composers without a handle on classical – and how they proved the world wrong. Starring Bharat Bhushan who possibly had some of the best classical songs featured on him. The other great song in this film is Ketki Gulab Juhi sung by Manna De and Bhimsen Joshi !

Phir Kahi Koi Phul Khila – the film is Anubhav – a complicated tangle of marital relationships. It has a wonderful sound track. Other classics in this film include the brilliant number by Geeta Dutt – Mujhe jaan na Kahon, meri Jaan. The film stars Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja as the newly married couple with more than than their share of problems.

And, today when it seems that the heavens are spring cleaning (atleast in Mumbai) one of the most famous duets sung by Manna De and Lata Mangeshkar … his ease with both high and low notes, and the sheer beauty of his voice.

Dec 112011

(some things never change – Indian politicians)

And one more artistic great makes his way to the world beyond… This year has seen a severe depletion in the ranks of the greatest and most beloved of cultural icons. Started with Bhimsen Joshi. and then there was M.F.Hussein, Jagjit Singh, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, and now Mario Miranda. i wonder if there is a cultural event up there.

(some things never change – Mumbai traffic)

Thank you for Ms.Nimbupani, Bundledass, images of Mumbai and Goa.. thank you for all the smiles… happy journey 😀

Dec 042011

And one more goes off into the sunset. What a year it has been for Indian Culture -both classical & mass..

Here is a bit a wrote a couple of years ago on his birthday.

Dev Saheb – the original Peter Pan of Indian films. The man who refused to grow up. In fact the films that he made in his first 5 years were far more mature than the films he has made in the last 25 odd years.  A few years ago, a leading magazine had done this list of mysteries. And, right at the top of the list was “Who Funds Dev Anand Films” – I remember sniggering about it, because the stuff he has made in the last two decades, or so, has been quite unwatchable.

Remember Aawal Number – starring Dev Saheb (almost 70) and Aamir Khan (25) – there Dev Anand played Aaditya Pancholi’s elder brother – who was the head of the board of cricket, who is also the head of the anti terrorist squad, who was also half a dozen other things – and of course the hero who saves the day by blowing up terrorists from a helicopter – or something equally inane. It was the last Dev Anand Film I saw (confession, i actually saw the film for Aamir Khan ).

A few years ago a friend of mine went to see Mr.Prime Minister as a challenge – he was the only person in the audience :)

But, when we guffaw at the films that Dev Anand makes today, it takes away from the rich legacy of films that he made till the mid seventies. I don’t consider his body of work post that – simply because it is unfair to him.

The time he made his debut, was just after independence. He ruled the roost with two other mega stars of that generation – Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.
Dilip Kumar was the tortured hero, Raj Kapoor was the naive hero and Dev Anand played the lovable rogue – more the romantic hero than the other two.

Dev Anand’s collaboration with Guru Dutt produced some gems – Jaal, which i remember watching on DD when i was a kid and sobbing my heart out, Baazi and CID If India ever had a noirish bent of film making at any point of time – it was here .

There was then, the entire string of films as the boy next door – kind, fun and slightly goofy – but totally appealing. Munimji, Paying Guest, Tere Ghar ke Saamne and the ilk- films that were frothy and fun :)

I personally preferred his darker films – like Hum Duno – how i loved that movie and its music – Kala Bazaar – again a great story and great music; and Kala Paani – there was somthing about DevAnand the actor – that made the moral ambiguity or greyness not only plausible but also  attractive. Of all his characters none was more ambigious than Raju Guide – a man who embarks on an adulterous relationship with a married woman – Rosy – in the film Guide. He robs her, and he loves her and the audience doesn’t really see the contradiction in those two acts.

His other film that i thoroughly enjoyed was Tere Mere Sapne – based loosely and not as bleak as A.J.Cronin’s Citadel –  there is his tender little love story with Mumtaz, and of course his total fascinationwth the superstar Hema Malini. The former represents his values, the latter what he could become if he gave up his values.

For me, the final film in his repertoire was Hare Rama Hare Krishna – i personally refuse to consider his filmography after that point.   The film would have got theaters burnt, if it was made today. The story is a man who is in search of his sister who has fallen in – and been brainwashed – by a religious cult – The film is famous for it ‘dum maro dum’ song.

Today, as I remember him, I will leave you with my favorite songs from his films : Enjoy and do add yours to the list


Aug 142011

This morning Shammi Kapoor passed away.

My father was a huge fan of the actor. We grew up with music from his films. Later on when we got a Television – some time in 1985 – watching his films on Doordarshan became a favorite pastime. Ujala, Professor, Kashmir ki Kali, Dil Dekhe Dekho, An Evening in Paris, Junglee, Bhramachari, Teesri Manzil, – were movies that were part of my childhood. All India Radio kept his movies alive by constantly playing his songs.

Later, when I was in the 9th – I saw Hero. Obviously one drooled at a very young Jackie Shroff. But, one couldn’t but agree with Shammi Kapoor’s character who had an issue with his favorite child (Meenakshi Sheshadri) marrying a two bit criminal. The following year I saw Premrog – one of my favorite modern Raj Kapoor films… and again Shammi Kapoor had a fanstastic cameo as a man – Bade Raja Thakur – who wanted to do the right thing – get the widowed Padmini Kholapure married to Rishi Kapoor – but prevented by custom & tradition.

But, Shammi Kapoor wasn’t just the old patriarch in films.

He was the young rebel. The first modern Indian man in films – the one without the angst about life, being Indian, corruption, or any other thing. He was the Hero who laughed, sang, cajoled, flirted, was not just strong enough to beat up the bad guys, but also strong enough to shed tears. He was, for many my generation, the ideal Indian male. The man so secure in himself that he ddin’t need to humiliate women… He just loved us all…

Shammi Kapooraankh mein kaajal, mooh pe pasina ..yaala, yaala dil legayi Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey sing for Mala Sinha & Shammi Kapoor

He was a very physical actor – i am sure if you tied up his hands he would not have been able to talk. Legend has it that he ended up dislocating some bones in singing this song. He was trying to keep pace with Mohd.Rafi’s singing.

He had a fine flair for comedy. Though the comedy was also intensely bumbling and physical – the pie on the face kind of comedy. And he was very good at it. This scene in Professor, never fails to crack me up

He was romantic. the Ufff kind of romantic …what woman can say no to a man like this.

And, he could sizzle … passionately sizzle …Dil tera dewana …

and, Raat ke Humsafar with Sharmila Tagore in the film an Evening in Paris

And, he could sulk, and sulk and sulk and sulk …. till the heroine made up, and of course he would accept her eternal love. In that sense he reminded me more of Bhaloo the bear in the Jungle Book than the macho hero 😀 Here is Ameeta trying to get a sulking Shammi Kapoor to smile

There was no one – then or now – who could quite move like him on the dance floor. the women who could match him step to step – jhatka for jhatka were only two – Helen & Mumtaz

Aaja Aaja Mein hoon Pyar Tera – Shammi Kapoor & Helen

Shammi Kapoor & Mumtaz in Bhramachari … boy could they move

Baar Baar Dekho – Shammi Kapoor – am told that narrow trousers made a comeback after this song 😀

No piece on Shammi Kapoor can be complete without talking about Mohammed Rafi – When you hear Rafi Sahab sing for Shammi Kapoor, he managed to capture all the energy, the playfulness, and joy of life that Shammi Kapoor brought to all his roles.

Shammi Kapoor – Jawaniyan ye Mast Mast … I truly love this song the ultimate road song.

And, finally, the song that was the ultimate Shammi Kapoor descriptor

My play list for SHammi Kapoor on Youtube is here – it is work in progress.