Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Raga based Bollywood Songs- Raga Bhimpalasi

In one of my earlier blog-posts, I had explored the Raga ‘Pahadi & Thumri in Hindi Film songs. In this post, I am looking for the songs based on this one of the most popular ragas among our music composers.
As per the classical text, Bhimpalasi is a rag that is very much associated with a hot Indian afternoon. It evokes a feeling of deep-rooted love and yearning for the lover. Usually, it is sung in the late-afternoons when the harshness of the sun rays recedes. It has five notes ascending and seven notes descending. This Raaga is also used in Carnatic Music where it is called 'Abheri'. It is more used in South Indian languages. This raga is one of the favorite ragas of A R Rehman.
The scale of Bhimpalasi is equivalent to the Western scale Blue scale. Many western Pop songs look similar to this raga. If you listen carefully to the very popular song of Ed Sheeran 'Shape Of You'. This song is influenced by Bhimpalasi.

Song of Afsar 1950

Song of Aan 1952

Song of Anarkali 1953

Song of Amar 1954

Song of Chandrakanta 1956

Song of Amar Deep1958

Song of Kala Bazar (1960)

Song of Saheb Bibi Aur Gulam 1962

Song of Kohra 1964

Song of Ghazal 1964

Song of Mera Saya 1966

Song of Sharmili 1971

Song of Rudali 1993

Song of Criminal 1995

Song of Rangeela 1995

Song of Yaadein 2001

Song of Lagaan 2001

Shape Of You - Ed Sheeran

Brilliance of Shubha Mudgal | Raag Bhimpalasi 

Monday, 6 July 2020

" Fly the Flag". tells Dev Anand to Chetan Anand

Chetan Anand (3 January 1915 – 6 July 1997), while he was teaching History, wrote a film script on king Ashoka, which he went on to show to director Phani Majumdar in Bombay Phani Majumdar cast him as a hero in his Hindi film, Rajkumar, released in 1944. The film flopped and so his career. He soon took to film direction The first film he directed was Neecha Nagar. Though the film won the Golden Palm Award at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946 but couldn't be released.No distributor was ready to distribute the film, the cinema halls were asking for heavy rentals.  This being Chetan's first directorial venture went unseen depressed him. He did not get any work offer after that.
After the release of  Ziddi Dev Anand was going great as an actor, a plan came to his mind. Without discussing with Chetan he went ahead to gather money to start a banner where Chetan could direct films.
After he was assured by one of his producers to give him the required money, he approached Chetan and said: " Fly the Flag". He asked him to name the banner where both of them will work together.
He pulled out bundles of notes and showed it to Chetan and said start a film with me as Hero and Suraiya as Heroine. That was the day when he saw a smile on the face of his brother after one and a half years
The fist film Afsar was started in 1949. The film was based on Nikolai Gogol's play The Government Inspector. This play.was played earlier many times by Balraj Sahni and Dev himself in Bombay.

.Unfortunately, the print of this film is not available. The film was an average success.  After this, the next film was Baazi released in 1951. This was directed by Guru Dutt as promised by Dev Anand to Guru Dutt on their struggling days. The film was a hit that established Navketan.  It became a training ground and school for many famous directors, producers, composers, and technicians.

The next film he directed was Navketan's Aandhiyan released in 1952 was again not a successful. So he refused to do the Navketan's next film Humsafar, in this film he plays the role of Vivek who is a good guy. This film also failed. 

The next film he directed was Taxi Driver released in 1954, it was a smash hit film, the first time he experienced success in Bollywood. After Baazi and Taxi Driver, the Navketan was a big banner. The next film of this banner was Funtoosh released in 1956, he directed this film but the film was not a runaway success. During the making of this film, some differences between the two brothers surfaced. He decided to do outside banner films. He directed Anjali (1957), Arpan(1957)and Kinare Kinare (1963) He acted in all the three films. He started his own company with Haqeeqat (1964) banner called Himalaya films. This banner produced films like Heer Ranjha, Hanste Zakhm, Hindustan Ki Kasam, and Saheb Bahadur. He also directed Navketan's Jaaneman after a gap of more than 20 years.
In the 1960s, well after being estranged from his wife, Anand fell in love with Priya Rajvansh, who had made her debut as a heroine of his film Haqeeqat. The two fell in love during the making of this film and their relationship lasted all their lives. 
He died on 6 July 1997, at the age of 76 in Mumbai 
Song of Neecha Nagar 1946

Song of Afsar 1950

Song of Aandhiyan 1952

Song of Taxi Driver 1954

Song of Funtoosh 1956

Song of Kinare Kinare (1963)

Song of Haqeeqat (1964)

Song of Heer Raanjha (1970)

Song of Hanste Zakhm (1973)

Saturday, 4 July 2020

The Sound of Shehnai in Bollywood Songs

Shehnai is a wind instrument usually played in the folk music of North India and has very strong associations with weddings, where it is considered especially lucky. It is also played when the bride leaves his father's place but this time it sounds sad.
Shehnai and Ustad Bismillah Khan have become a synonym in India. He is credited with exceptional skill and with classical music in Hindi film songs, this instrument became a part of many songs, to some reviewers and fans, came as close to making the instrument "talk" as is possible. Surprisingly he played this instrument in only one film "Goonj Uthi Shenai" released in 1959. Dave Mason plays one on The Rolling Stones' 1968 song "Street Fighting Man."
The film narrates the story of a Shehnai player and features shehnai recitals by maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan throughout the film. There is also Jugalbandi between him and Sitar player, Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan.
The film opens, naturally, with music, as Raghunath Maharaj (Ulhas) is doing his riyaz (musical practice) in a temple. Suddenly he is accompanied by the melodious, dulcet tones of a shehnai. He goes to check who the player is, and discovers it's a young boy, Kishan. The overjoyed musician immediately takes Kishan home, and under his wing, to train him in the ways of music.

Song of Goonj Uthi Shehnai 1959
Lata Mangeshkar sang this song beautifully and wonderfully! Every single word of this song is excellent The Shehnai of Ustad Bismillah Khan added beauty to this beautiful song! Right from Lataji's "mmmm", immediately followed by Ustad Bismillah Khan's heavenly shehnai and Lataji's alaap, this melodious song leads the listener into sheer aural bliss.

This song starts with a prelude of Shehnai by Ustad Bismillah Khan.
Song of Goonj Uthi Shehnai 1959

                    Raga - Kedar - Jugalbandi-2 Goonj Uthi Shehnai

The same year Dhool Ka Phool was released, in this film composer, N Dutta in the following song Shehnai was beautifully played, not by Ustad Bismillah Khan. 
Song of Dhool Ka Phool 1959

The credit for introducing Shehnai io Bollywood goes to composer Ram Ganguli, who brought Musician and composer Ram Lal from Varanasi/ He was a flute & shehnai player. He was his disciple Initially he was working for Prithvi Theatre when Ram Ganguli gave the music for the first film of RK Banner released in 1948, Ramlal played flute & shehnai in that film "Aag". He played Shehnai for the first time in the song "Zinda Hoon ls Tarah"

Song of Aag 1948

Ramlal's shehnai can be enjoyed in the song "Tu Chhupi Hai Kahan, Mein Tadapta Yahan" of 1958 film Navrang released in 1959. 

Song of Navrang 1959

Ramlal ji was employed with V Shantaram after Prithvi Theatre, he was a musician for his films composed by Vasant Desai or C Ramchandra. He was given charge of composing the music of V Shantaram's film Sehra in 1963. In this film, he composed the music as well as played Shehnai in the song" Taqdeer Ka Fasaana" sung by Mohammad Rafi. This solo Shehnai played by him can never be forgotten. Enjoy the song and feel the pain through Shenai

Song of Sehra 1963

Before Goonj Uthi Shehnai, this instrument was also used by Salil Chowdhary in Bimal Roy's film Naukari in 1954, in the following song by Geeta Dutt

Song of Naukri 1954

Naushad also used this instrument in a song of Shabab released in the same year,1954

Song of Shabab 1954

This instrument is beautifully explained in the song "Kya Ajab Saaz Hai Yeh Shehnai" sung by Mohammad Rafi, written by Rajendra Krishan for the 1964 film "Shehnai"
Song of Shehnai 1964

The Shehnai is mostly played to greet someone on a happy occasion but also played at a time when the bride leaves the house of her parents after marriage.  The opening shehnai of “Babul Ki Duaaen” feels as if someone is crying, reflecting the sadness of a father’s loss. This song is usually played by the bands in almost all the Bidai ceremony of North Indian Families.

Song of Neel Kamal 1968

Before this song, "Chal Ri Sajni Ab Kya Soche " from Bombai Ka Babu (1960) was the most popular Bidai song A beautiful piece of "Taar Shahnai" played by Dakshina Mohan Tagore. Taar Shehnai is not a Shehnai but produces the sound of Shehnai. For the knowledge of readers, I must submit that Taal Shenai is a rare instrument. D.M. Tagore preferred to play rare instruments. He was a master in Taar Shehnai, Mandar Bahar, and Territ Vina.

Song from Bombai Ka Babu 1960

Naushad used Shehnai very beautifully in the song "Pi Ke Ghar Aaj Pyari Dulhaniya Chali " from the 1957 film Mother India, I don't think he used the shehnai in any of his earlier songs.
Song of Mother India 1957

In the year 1957 composer Chitragupt used Shehnai in this immortal song

Song of Bhabhi 1957

Another beautiful song in which you can listen to the sound of shehnai after the Mukhada.

Song of Aarti 1962

In 1976 shehnai was played in the song of Kabhi Kabhie just after the antara "Suhag raat hai ghoonghat uth raha hoon mein"

Song of Kabhie Kabhie 1976

Nowadays the sound of most of the Indian instruments has vanished from Bollywood music, Shehnai is also one of them. Very rarely the present composers use Shehnai or Sitar. A R Rehman is an exception. he used Shehnai in the song “Ye Jo Des Hai Tera” from the movie “Swades” 

Song of Swades 2004

The shehnai played in the prelude as well as in the background is played by Pandit Ballesh. He is a big name in Shehnai, He is an internationally acclaimed Shehnai player and Hindustani Classical vocalist with a specialization in Patiala Gharana and is trained in Kirana and Gwalior Gharana.  He is one of the well-known disciples of world-renowned Shehnai Maestro Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan. Ustad ji blessed Pt. Ballesh as “Dakshina Bharat Bismillah Khan”.  
He has worked with O. P. Nayyar, Naushad Ali, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Ravindra Jain, Jatin-Lalit, Kalyanji-Anandji, Anand-Milind, R. D. Burman, Kailash Kher in Bollywood. Pt. Ballesh played Shehnai in the Bollywood movie “Rockstar” for the track titled “The Dichotomy of fame” Shammi Kapoor is shown playing Shehnai in this film.

Friday, 3 July 2020

AMIT KUMAR- Like Father Like Son

Like his father, he is also a singer, composer, actor,  filmmaker but also a music company owner. Like his father, he is also wedded to music. He eats music, drinks music, and breathe music.  Like his father, Amit started singing from an early age and he used to sing at Durga Pooja festivals in Calcutta
When he was 11, his father brought him as his son in the films that he produced, Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein' in 1961. When he was a teenager he sang for the film ' Door Ka Rahi.but it was removed from the final cut of the film.

He sang professionally for the first time, outside his father's composition, at the age of 21 in 1973. The song was "Hosh Mein Hum Kahan", composed by Sapan Jagmohan for the film Darwaza, which was released in 1978. Officially his first released song was in Main Bhi Akela Hoon from the 1974 film Zindagi Aur Toofan.
He came into the limelight after the song "Bade Achchhe Lagte Hain" composed by R.D. Burman, for the film 'Balika Badhu' in 1976, the song was a hit. After this song he was one of the favorites of R D Burman. He sang 170 songs under him.
His duets with his father, such as "Haseeno Ke Chakkar Mein" from Deewangee in 1976, "Nazar Lage Na Saathiyo" from Des Pardes in 1978 and "Sun Chache Bol" from Badthi Ka Naam Dadhi in 1974 became popular. His duet with Asha Bhonsle and Lata Mangeshkar also became popular, by 1980 his songs were becoming hit. In 1981 after the release of Love Story, he was the most sought after singer after Kishore Kumar. In this film, he sang all the songs for Kumar Gaurav and became his screen voice.

After the success of Love Story, Rajesh Khanna employed Kumar for playback singing in Fiffty Fiffty (1981) and then later in Aakhir Kyon? (1985), Ghar Ka ChiragJai Shiv ShankarSwarg (1990) and Sautela Bhai (1996).
Among music directors, Amit Kumar was used more by Pancham from 1975 to 1994 and by Bappi Lahiri from 1983 to 1995.  He sang for almost all music directors and actors of that time. He sang songs for Anil Kapoor in films including TezaabYudh, and Aag Se Khelenge and continued to sing for him in the 1990s. 
After the death of R.D. Burman in 1994, with whom Amit had a special bond, he withdrew himself from the film industry. Kumar started undertaking more live stage performances in various parts of the world since 1996.
Amit Kumar also acted in several films directed by and starring his father, which were Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein (1964)Door Ka Raahi (1971)Badhti Ka Naam Dadhi (1974), Shabhash Daddy (1979) and Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi (1982). In 1989, he made his last film appearance in his father's incomplete film Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein, which starred himself, his stepmother Leena Chandavarkar and Rajesh Khanna. After his father's death in 1987, he took over as director and completed the film for release in 1989. In his long career in the film, he acted in a Bengali film namely "Gayak". In this film the name of his character was Amit and it was of a struggling singer. He sang a number of songs for this film under the direction of Rabin Banerjee. 
Nowadays he is away from Bollywood, Amit does not even follow what is happening in the Hindi film industry on the music front.
Song of Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein 1964

Song of Balika Badhu 1976

Song of Deewangee 1976

Song of Des Pardes 1978

Song of Kasme Vaade 1978

Song of Hum Paanch

Song of Aap Ke Deewane

Song of  Qurbani. 1980

Song of Love  Story 1981

Song of  Shradhanjali . 1981

Song of Akhir Kyun 1985

Song of Tridev 1989

Saroj Khan- The Mother of Bollywood Choreography

Saroj Khan (22 November 1948 - July 3, 2020),  started her career as a child artist at the age of three with the film Nazarana as child Shyama. She worked as a background group dancer in many dance songs in the late 50s.
She got her break as an independent choreographer, with Geeta Mera Naam (1974).before that she was assistant to dance director  B. Sohanlal.  Her first breakthrough came with Subhash Ghai's Hero (1983), but it was Sridevi's Nagin dance in Nagina (1986) where she was noticed for her talent, followed up by Mr. India. Next, she worked with Madhuri Dixit in 'Ek Do Teen' number, Tezaab (1989), and later in Khalnayak, where she choreographed the Choli Ke Peeche' number.
Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit were her favs. dancers in Bollywood. Sridevi danced to her steps in Mr. India's Hawa Hawai and Chandini's 'Mere Hathon Mein'.Madhuri Dixit starting with the hit Ek Do Teen in Tezaab (1988), Tamma Tamma Loge in Thanedaar (1990), and Dhak Dhak Karne Laga in Beta (1992). 
With a career span of over forty years, she choreographed more than 2000 songs Many of her choreographed songs have been iconic. Saroj Khan was the recipient of the most National Film Awards for Best Choreography with three wins. She was the first recipient of the filmfare Best Choreography Award. Filmfare instituted this award after watching the excellent choreography and audience response to Khan's song "Ek Do Teen" from Tezaab. Saroj Khan went on to have a hat-trick at the Filmfare awards winning consistently for 3 years from 1989 to 1991. She also holds the record for winning the most Filmfare Best Choreographer Awards, winning 8 times. 
She was admitted to Guru Nanak Hospital at Bandra, Mumbai on June 17, 2020. She was admitted with breathing complaints, and died of cardiac arrest at 1:52 am early on Friday, July 3, 2020.  
Some of her Iconic Choreography
Song of Hero (1983)

Song of Nagina (1986)

Song of Mr India (1987)

Song of Tezaab (1988)

Song of Chandni (1989)

Song of Beta (1992)

Song of Khalnayak (1994)

Song of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam 2000

Song of Devdas  2003

Song of Guru   2008

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Bollywood’s Obsession With Fair Skin

Black Lives Matter movement gave me a thought to write a blog on the obsession of Bollywood with fair skin. There are are many songs related to dark skin or fair skin. From Hum Kale Hai Toh Kya Hua to Chittiyan Kalaiyan, take a moment to consider how offensive all these songs are.

In Mother India (1957), the good son is shown as light-skinned and the bad son has decidedly dark skin, with actor Sunil Dutt blackening his face for that role. The bad son is later shot dead by his own mother
A few months back I saw a Hindi movie 'Bala': The film portrayed the story of a woman facing prejudice based on her skin tone. I remember a film in which  Zeenat Aman darkening her skin to play the role of a domestic worker in the 1982 movie Pyaas, In Bollywood, often the roles of protagonists are reserved for fair-skinned artistes. Dark-skinned actors are either reduced to making jokes about their grotesque bodies, or they play detestable villains.
In 1972 film Gora Aur Kala, which translates as black and white, identical twins are separated at birth and grow up with dramatically different skin tones. The fair one grows up to be a nobleman. The one with darker skin becomes a dacoit 
1986 movie Naseeb Apna Apna starring Rishi Kapoor as Kishan and his "dark-skinned and ugly wife" Chando played by Raadhika Sarathkumar. The problematic storyline has Kishan being married to Chando without his consent. Kishan who is clearly unhappy with the marriage marries a "light-skinned and beautiful girl" Radha. So Chando decides to go through makeup to become fairer and desirable to her husband.
The first song that I recollect on the dark skin was written by Rajendra Krishan for the film Payal, 1957, though it's not racist but talks about the skin, referring to Lord Krishna

Song of Payal 1957

 Next song by Gulzar in Bandini(1963). Incidentally, this was the debut song of Gulzar. This is also not a racist song but tells about the color of skin.
Song of Bandini 1963

The next song about the skin color is from the 1965 film Gumnam, written by Shailendra
Song of Gumnam 1965

This song was again picturized in 1968 film Brahmachari on Jr Mehmood.

Song of Brahmachari  1968

Song of Roti 1974

Song of Apne Rang Hazar' 1975

Song of Satyam Shivam Sundaram 1978

In 1982 film Desh Premee, superstar actor Amitabh Bachchan and his A-list leading lady Hema Malini both put on blackface to portray Afro-Caribbean singers for the song Gore Nahin Hum Kaale Sahi

Song of Desh Premee 1982

Song of Aaj Ka Arjun 1990

This song is based on Kashmiri's poem Bhumbroo from 2000 film Mission Kashmir The song talks about the black colored Bee
Song of Mission Kashmir 2000

Song of Mujhse Dosti Karoge’ 2002

Song of Roy 2015