Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bombay Talkie Quiz #2

Again in the title sequence, a magazine/newsstand is being shown.

Quiz # 2: Name the three actresses on the magazine covers ?

1. Filmfare - ???
2. Film World - ???
3. (Top right) - ???

Good Luck!

Bombay Talkie Quiz #1

I was watching the opening credits sequence, and noticed some movie billboards up behind the Helen Poster.

Quiz # 1: Which 4 films are being displayed on billboards in the background of the Helen credits? (I already found Abhinetri)

1. Upper Left - Abhinetri
2. Upper Right - ???
3. Lower Left - ???
4. Lower Right - ??? Starts with "B"?

You can also checkout the opening sequence itself.

Hope you can figure it out!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shankar Jaikishan: Bombay Talkie (1970)

Bombay Talkie is quite a find. The music, by Shankar Jaikishan, is the only collaboration between themselves and the famous Merchant-Ivory film team (Ismail Merchant and James Ivory). The english film, starring Shashi Kapoor, his wife Jennifer Kendal and Zia Mohyeddin, mostly takes place in Bombay of the late 60's early 70's. Vikram (Shashi Kapoor) is an aging hero stuck in an unhappy arranged marriage with his wife Mala (Aparna Sen). Lucia, a three time married middle age novelist, takes a liking to Vikram while Hari, a Bombay screenwriter, madly in love with her, does as she pleases. This has to be my favorite Merchant-Ivory film ever! But I won't say any more than that, as I will probably review the film one day. For now, let me talk about some of the soundtrack's great songs.

The tracks comprise, mostly of various versions of the Bombay Talkie Theme, "Title and Theme" can be heard in the Title Credits along with "Tum Mere Pyar Ki Duniyamen" a few seconds before that. In this particular sequence, the "Title and Theme" is played as hand painted portraits (filmi style) of the cast and crew are shown around the streets of Mumbai.

Besides the theme variations, five, of what we can call conventional, songs are found on the record. Along with the previously mentioned "Tum Mere Pyar Ki Dumiyamen" you have to start with the great and famous "Typewritter Tip Tip Tip" song because, well, just because. With the fantastic Helen and Shashi dancing on a giant typewriter, what else do you need. A young and spunky Usha Lyer gives us two versions of "Hari Om Tat Sat" (हारी ॐ तट सात). One is the orchestrated version which is
the film version and the other version is the "official" version. She also sings the vocals to the Bombay Theme tune "Good Times, Bad Times".

As for the variations I enjoy the "Rajput Suite" "Now I Shall Call You Ma" and especially "Picnic in the Cave" with it's new wave synthesisers.

Overall, though it's not entirely a commercial Hindi film soundtrack, it is very enjoyable and interesting to listen too. As much for it's filmi songs, instrumentals and some rare Usha Lyer (now Usha Uthup) tunes. Just listen for yourselves!

Oh, and once your done listening to the music, those who have not seen the movie yet, rent it or buy it NOW!


Side 1

1. Instrumental - Title and Theme
2. Mohd. Rafi - Tum Mere Pyar Ki Duniyamen

Variations of theme:
3. Instrumental - Incidental Music
4. Instrumental - Devotion
5. Instrumental - Rajput Suite
6. Instrumental - Now I Shall Call You Ma
7. Instrumental - More Incidental Music
8. Usha Uthup - Hari Om Tat Sat

Side 2

9. Usha Uthup - Hari Om Tat Sat (with Orchestra)

Variations of theme:
10. Instrumental - Picnic in the Cave
11. Instrumental - Birthday Party 1
12. Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar - Typewriter Tip Tip Tip

Variations of theme:
13. Instrumental - Meeting and Birthday Party 2
14. Usha Uthup - Good Times, Bad Times

Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri, Usha Lyer/Uthup only for "Hari Om Tat Sat"

Stella_1's score: 4/5

Get the music now: Shankar Jaikishan Bombay Talkie

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Compilation: Film Favourites of the Fifties (1962)

The 1950's were a time when the Hindi film industry was in full bloom. It was a golden age for filmi music but sadly this record only showcases a fragment of the classics of this period. Personally, the songs on this vinyl this would not make my top picks (not because they're not good, I just think some are better), but it is still well rounded with a good variety of noted composers and playback singers. For the most part, the songs are based on folk (Naushad usually derives from Rajasthani folk and O. P. Nayyar from Punjabi) so you won't find any songs falling under the categories of classical or "westernised".

Two songs I was glad to see "made the cut" were "Bol Ro Kath Putli" from Kath Putli and "Chali Radherani" from Parineeta because they are rarest of the bunch to find on vinyl.

My favourite songs are all the ones on Side 2, in addition to Talat Mahmood's male version of "Ai Mere Dil" from the classic Daag. I like the song from Mother India but I prefer other tunes from the film. In all, it's a good record.

Something I found weird was the Aan song. It's not the same in the video as on this record.


Aa Ha Ha...

Aaj Mere Man Me Sakhi Basuri Bajaye Koi*

Aaj Mere Man Me*

Aaj Mere Man Me Sakhi Basuri Bajaye Koi

Pyar Bare Geet Sakhi Baar Baar Gaye Koi

Basuri Bajaye*

Basuri Bajaye Sakhi Gaye .....

* missing from this record (not film version, either cut or variation)

Here is the video version:

Mini Challenge

Hey, if you could make film favourites from the 50's, which songs would you absolutely have to put on the record? Tell me some or all of them? I will try and figure out my top picks as well (its hard for me there are so many). Anyway, can't wait to hear from you, and I hope you enjoy!


Side 1

1. S. N. Tripathi - Janam Janam Ke Fere: Zara Samne To Aa O: Lata Mangeshkar & Mohd. Rafi
2. Shankar Jaikishan - Daag: Ai Mere Dil: Talat Mahmood
3. S. D. Burman - Pyaasa: Jane Woh Kaise Log: Hemant Kumar
4. Naushad- Mother India: O! Mere Lal Aaja: Lata Mangeshkar
5. C. Ramchandra - Nastik: Kitna Badal Gaya: Pradeep
6. Arun Kumar Mukherjee - Parineeta: Chali Radherani: Manna Dey

Side 2

7. O. P. Nayyar - Naya Daur: Reshmi Salwar Kurta: Asha Bhosle & Shamshad Begum
8. Naushad - Aan: Aaj Mere Man Men: Lata Mangheskar & Chorus
9. O. P. Nayyar - Phagun: Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le: Asha Bhosle & Mohd. Rafi
10. Shankar Jaikishan - Kath Putli: Bol Ro Kath Putli: Lata Mangeshkar
11. O. P. Nayyar - C. I. D.: Leke Pahla Pahla Pyar: Shamshad Begum & Mohd. Rafi
12. Shankar Jaikishan - Ujala: Ya Allah Ya Allah: Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey

Stella_1's score: 3.5/5

Get the music now:
Compilation Film Favorites from the Fifties

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Naushad: Dard (1947/1977)

Here is a classic Naushad score. Dard is a totally female album. It is one of many albums by Naushad, released prior and in the early 50's, which follows the trend of being in majority female. One factor for this could possibly be that film heroines in the 40's would be more important than their male counterparts, thus having more importance in the film and story. But this would only be one of many factors explaining this tendency.

The "female voices" on Dard might be unknown to some of you, but they were immensely popular at the time and still are to the few who can appreciate the early singers and musicians of Hindi cinema (I hope that you are one of these people or are yet to become one soon). And except for Shamshad Begum whom I love (yet she does not standout on this record), for those of you who have no clue who the other two playback singers are, I will get you acquainted.

Suraiya, the actress and playback singer, was associated to Dev Anand with whom she had a love affair. The peek of her career was from 1947 to 1950. She reigned in this period, for the most part, because she filled the void of the earlier queen Noor Jehan who in 1947 left for Pakistan during Partition. Suraiya's short stay at the top was also due to the arrival of India's very own nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar, as her first big hit "Aayega Aanewala" from Mahal (1949) changed the whole meaning of playback singing. You could not just be good, you had to be great. But Suraiya is not merely the one who filled the gap in between these two legends. For me, she is a simple beauty that evoked rawness and realism with her voice and expressions. I see Lata as a perfect queen and Suraiya as a modest artist. Later she still worked, mostly as an actress, but she still sang for other and herself. She was not a trained singer but she will always be remembered as one of the last popular singing actresses.

Who is this Umadevi (Uma Devi)? Voh Kaun Hai? Well, perhaps Tun Tun might ring more of a bell. We might know her more for her comedic or secondary roles in later films but in the beginning of her career she aspired to be a singer, even threatening to kill herself if Naushad did not give her chance. He did, and she ended up with the hit of the film and one of the best songs "Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon".

"Chale Dil Ki Duniya" was my favorite from the start. Other tracks to listen to are "Beech Bhanwar", Ham Dard Ka Afsana.
Overall, I enjoyed it more and more every time I listened to it. It took me a while but I gave it a chance and it grew on me. Hope it does the same with you!


Side 1

1. Suraiya: Beech Bhanwar
2. Umadevi: Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon
3. Shamshad Begum & Chorus: Ham Dard Ka Afsana
4. Suraiya: Ham The Tumhare Tum The Hamare
5. Umadevi: Aaj Machi Hai Dhoom

Side 2

6. Suraiya: Chale Dil Ki Duniya
7. Umadevi: Yeh Kaun Chala
8. Suraiya & Umadevi: Betab Hai Dil
9. Shamshad Begum: Yeh Afsana Nahin Zalim
10. Suraiya: Dil Dhadke

Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni

Stella_1's score: 3.5/5

Get the music now: Naushad Dard

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kalyanji Anandji: Upkar (1967)

Even though I do not admire Manoj Kumar as an actor, I appreciate the films he has directed. Upkar as a film, is very evident in theme yet it’s experimental in its photo direction. And this is particularly evident in the song sequences with even make the music more notable (and sadly not the other way around).

The story is that of a young man played by Manoj Kumar, who is forced to sacrifice his education for his brother's played by Prem Chopra (looking quite handsome indeed!). Chopra’s character goes away to study and later returns as a young westernized and selfish man. Many of the themes in the film; East vs. West, Country vs. City and Rich vs. Poor are reflected in the brothers’ relationship.

On the side of the Indian simpleton with superior moral values is the patriotic song "Mere Desh Ki Dharati". It reminds me of the “we proudly work our land” type of patriotism found in Mother India (1957). The cover of the album also shows Manoj’s character admiring Nehru while holding a plow as in THE song of the album.

You don't need fancy lounges or glamorous city clubs, just check and see how much "Punjabi style" fun you can have with the village song "Aaye Jhoomke Basant". I dare you not to dance!

The next song "Gulabi Raat Gulabi" is associated with the "EVIL" West! (you know, Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West type of West or the Pardes (Sharukh Khan version) type of West). But it's one of the best songs on the album, sung by the one and only Vamp Queen Asha Bhosle. The song is divided into two parts. Asha sings to the consumerist westernized party goers and the second part is sung by Mohd. Rafi as images of hungry and miserable street goers are shown as they try and survive in the slums.

No sharabi (alcohol) for you mister!

Also, lend an ear to "Kasme Wade Pyar Wafa" and "Diwano Se Mat Puchho".

It's a classic film and soundtrack, but not one of my personal favourites. I absolutely recommend watching the film, Kamini Kaushal and Pran are amazing!

Take that Slumdog Millionaire!


Side 1

1. Mahendra Kapoor & Chorus: Mere Desh Ki Dharati
2. Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey, Mahendra Kapoor, Shamshad, Sunder & Chorus: Aaye Jhoomke Basant
3. Manna Dey: Kasme Wade Pyar Wafa

Side 2
4. Mukesh: Diwano Se Mat Puchho
5. Lata Mangeshkar: Har Khushi Ho Wahan
6. Asha Bhosle & Mohd. Rafi: Gulabi Raat Gulabi
7. Mahendra Kapoor & Chorus: Mere Desh Ki Dharati

Lyrics: Gulshan Bawra, Prem Dhawan, Qamar Jalalabadi and Indiwar

Stella_1's score: 3/5

Get the music now: Kalyandi Anandji Upkar (link to Music From the Third Floor, because my computer is STILL broken.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who I was in a previous life!

There are strong chances that I am Margaret Thompson's reincarnation or bizarrely related to her. This is the Kannada (maybe a link- I live in Canada) Bili Hendthi from 1971. It's somewhat weird but a little funny as well. Just have a look for yourselves!

Monday, February 23, 2009

S. D. Burman: Aradhana (1969)

Aradhana is a very pleasant soundtrack! But, just when I was going to admit to finally really liking a S. D. Burman soundtrack, I found out about S. D. Burman, who was ill during the recording, who let R. D. Burman record some songs himself. The two hits "Roop Tera Mastana" and "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani" are all Burman junior, hip and young, yet all the credit "officially" goes to S. D. Burman.

Raju Bharatan, writer for the Hindustan Times, explains why this is: "That was the norm in our films then. That, first, two songs of a production had to be recorded -- as the launching-pad. Plus the news of such a recording had to appear as a published item in an industry-respected paper like the weekly Screen. Only after that would finance for a film flow. So it was as finance for Aradhana was set to flow that SD fell ill." excerpt from The Aradhana Syndrome by Raju Bharatan (click on the title to read full article)

The first two songs, and the only ones recorded by Burman senior, were two duets "Gun Guna Rahe Hain" and "Baghon Mein Bahar Hai", who's male vocals were both sung by Mohd. Rafi. But the two hits which were also picturised on Rajesh Khanna were the memorable and my favourite songs, "Roop Tera Mastana" and "Mere Sapnon Ki Rani" sung by Kishore Kumar.

Besides this being a good record, Aradhana is also an important marker in showing the shifting of popular style in Hindi film music. This soundtrack is an exception as it includes the hit making team of Mohd. Rafi and S. D. Burman, and the future hit makers Kishore Kumar and R. D. Burman. The second who had already defined his style composing for Teesri Manzil in 1966 would surpass the firsts popularity with legendary albums as Kati Patang, Caravan and Hare Rama Hare Krishna about a year after the release of this album.

But one track I enjoy is the trademark S. D. Burman solo "Saphal Hogi Teri Aradhana" Other ones are also found in classics like Guide in 1965 and Amar Prem in 1971 (although the last was composed by R. D. Burman). These songs bring a very earthy or organic feel that, takes us from the filmi illusion of life to a more and more down to earth emotional connection. I think one of S. D. Burman's fortes.

A remix of "Roop Tera Mastana" from the 90's and 2008's "Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte" from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi starring Sharukh Khan has the intro of "Mere Sapno Ki Rani" in Priety Zinta sequence.



1. Kishore Kumar: Roop Tera Mastana
2. Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle: Gun Guna Rahe Hain
3. Kishore Kumar: Mere Sapnon Ki Rani
4. Mohd. Rafi & Lata Mangeshkar: Baghon Mein Bahar Hai

Side 2
5. Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar: Kora Kagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera
6. Lata Mangeshkar: Chanda Hai Tu Mera Suraj Hai Tu
7. S. D. Burman: Saphal Hogi Teri Aradhana

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Stella_1 score: 3.5/5

Get the music now: S. D. Burman Aradhana (link to Music From the Third Floor, because my computer is broken.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Lucky Chance?

I know, I know, but I couldn’t resist, my obsession is growing up and this really feels like a turning point in the history of the Hindi film industry. And I could not resist in partaking in this glorious moment. I will only occasionally post film reviews, only when I can’t deny the temptation.

After a mentally challenging Hindi class (I started Chapter 3 in Snell) and a spontaneous solo birthday (I’m 22 today) mean a reason to “enrich my Hindi vocabulary”, I decided to head to the theatre and check out Luck by Chance directed by Farhan Akhtar’s sister Zoya Akhtar. Even after spending 26 $ just for the ticket, a medium popcorn and drink, I didn’t waste my money and I was really really glad that I went. Luck by Chance is part of a new breed or cinematic genre that I feel will one day define this new age in Indian Cinema. It will not be called Bollywood, Masala or Parallel Cinema but rather, the term, Hindi Film (made in the Hindi Film Industry as Dimple Kapadia’s character so strongly insists). This film deserves some recognition for raising the bar by offering more than simple entertainment while still keeping people entertained. A great thing about this film is how it interestingly pair’s top Bollywood entertainers (Hrithik Roshan, Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chalwa, Etc) and actors (Farhan Akhtar, Konkona Sen Sharma etc) in the same movie. The characters become more complex and interesting as the line between the two categories (entertainers and actors) delightfully shifts and blurs throughout the film. One of my favourite examples of this is the short Zaffar Khan (Hrithik Roshan) sequence when street children run up to the film stars car and he rolls up the window. The glass separates or rather isolates him from the real world. A traveling shot into the inside of his car shows him looking out of the window, we see his reflection in it and both the person and the image are in the frame. Ah! It’s so symbolic. Love it.

The main character Vikram Jaisingh (Farhan Akhtar) does not have much substance but one thing he is not, is the perfect hero. His character is a bit ordinary but that’s the whole point. He comes from Delhi (or it could have been from X, Y or Z), he wants to be an actor and, like all the other million young men who want to act in Bollywood, he is not more talented, more handsome or more qualified than anyone else. He is simply the one that won the refrigerator or, if you don’t understand that parallel, the one that became a star. This character’s “every guy” aspect is even shown visually in the film, especially when Vikram goes to his audition (and yes the color scheme is important like Nikki (Isha Sharvani) points out). Intentionally, everyone in the audition room is wearing black and they all look similar. Also, when the producer and casting director must pick a picture for the lead part all the photographs on the table look the same. Farhan’s role represents the every man trying to make it.

The characters that really bread life into the film are all the film personalities. My favourites have to be Rishi Kapoor playing the very lovable Producer and Dimple Kapadia who plays a has been 70’s star and an over protective mother that you just feel like slapping she’s so good, and even then you still sympathise with her. The producer’s wife played by Juhi Chalwa is a delight to watch and Isha Sharvani as a grownup child presents herself in a corky Amelie Poulain inspired "I like/ I don’t like" sequence.
The two actors Sona (one of my favourite actresses Konkona Sen Sharma) and the cute Abhi (Arjun Mathur) carry the emotional charge of the film. Sona, Vikram’s girlfriend, tries to deal with her crushed dreams and her complicated relationship with Vikram. Abhi, on the other hand, is well settled and concentrates more on the art of acting than becoming a Bollywood star. Abhi is more talented than Vikram and does not approve of “the system” or the pre-packaged “Bollywood Bootcamp” (acting school, dance, martial arts, and cheesy photo session) which Vikram abides too. You also have guest appearances and an almost endless list of cameos. Like, Aamir Khan, Mac Mohan, Anurag Kashyap and Saurabh Shukla . SRK shows up for an indispensable “moment of truth” to guide our poor Vikram. Continuing, you have Rani Mukerjee, Karan Johar, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Rajkumar Hirani, Boman Irani, Manish Malhotra, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham, Kareena Kapoor and Akshaye Khanna. But one person to profit from all the success is actually the film coach, character actor Saurabh Shukla, as he also appears in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire as the assistant police investigator.

Om Shanti Om pays homage to the film industry and Luck by Chance does that too with Hrithik Roshan’s colourful dance sequence that reminds me of a mix between the Cirque du Soleil, Mera Naam Joker and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory , or one of the first scenes in the film with Aamir Khan who refers to his love interest as Kamla Devi who in actuallity is the founder of the National School of Drama. But mainly the film shows the reality of the behind the scenes. Although nothing shocking is announced, they're is just a confirmation of what everyone has already heard about. Like the casting couch or the gossip and media controversies. It deglamorises the whole Hindi Film industry, and that is maybe one reason why some people might not like the film. If you want escapism, watch Bollywood, not Luck by Chance.

This is looking like it’s going to be an amazing year for the Hindi film industry. Up next is Dev. D (feb. 8th) starring Abhay Deol, Ballu Barber (feb. 13th) starring Irrfan Khan and Laura Dutt + amazing Shahrukh Khan item numbers and Delhi 6 starring Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor with music by A. R. Rahman (feb. 20th). I am going to see them all, but don’t count on me paying for 12$ popcorn every time.

Filmi Girl and Post Punk Cinema Club have already shared their thoughts on the film. I encourage you to go see Luck by Chance as there are different elements catered to everyone's tastes, so the whole family can enjoy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Naushad: Mela (1948/1980)

Mela's soundtrack creates a great mood inspired by romanticism, a certain "attractive despair", as I could name it, that is characteristic of a time in Hindi cinema, (and as far as I know maybe to other Indian cinemas as well) called the 40's. But this being 1948, I could also blame this "depression" on a certain, um, let me think...Partition. I think it's a mix of both the melancholy of the country's separation mirrored in the lover's separation that set the tone of the film and it's music. Also, the film visually looks like a filmed play as the director uses theatre to show the insignificance of the backdrop and the importance on concentrating more on the emotions and the characters (which Naushad picked up on and developed in his music). Also, I think, in those days, theatre had more prestige then cinema and early in the development of the film industry the only reference for cinema was theatre. Bizarrely enough, this does not take away from the realism, not portrayed visually but musically (emotionally as well) of the two main heroes Manju (Nargis) and Mohan (Dilip Kumar).

The 40's was the heyday of the "sad song". Not the kind you feel like skipping or fast forwarding, but the kind that people actually liked, and still like even today. One brilliant song "Gham Ka Fasana" is one of the finest examples of a great "sad song", and it is also my favorite track on the record. Naushad could have picked the melody queen, Lata or, Geeta, the empress of tragedy, but he chose Shamshad. I think he was looking for something raw. Her voice expressed the voice of the people, like the persevering village girl that wants more than what is destined for her. Mela is a high point in her career, although Shamshad's luck did not last long, when the "classical trend" came in the early 50's, Shamshad did not have the training to stay at the top.

Besides the classic sad song, some of Mela's most memorable tracks are, one of Mohd. Rafi's first big breaks with the song ''Yeh Zindagi Ke Mele'', and another one of my favourites ''Aai Sawan Rut ''. For the track ''Phir Aah Dilse Nikli'' you can almost imagine that you are sitting in a zeenat during the very late reign of the Mungals. (Well, at least that is what I imagined the vocals would have sounded like.)

Some other tracks I enjoy are the playful ''Pardes Balam Tum Jaoge'' and the duet ''Mera Dil Todnewale''. In the second one I mentioned, you can really hear the Talat Mehmood influence for sure, who was the usual voice of Dilip Kumar. He's not singing for Raj Kapoor that's for sure.

Overall good soundtrack, resembles Babul (my post) but let's Shamshad really shine trough. Inspired by emotion and the northern sound this album can seem dull on the first try, but the more you listen the better it gets. Enjoy!


Side 1

1. Shamshad Begum: Dharti Ko Aakash Pukare
2. Shamshad Begum & Mukesh: Main Bhanwra Too Hai Phool
3. Shamshad Begum, Mukesh & Chorus: Aai Sawan Rut
4. Shamshad Begum: Gham Ka Fasana
5. Shamshad Begum: Taqdeer Bani Bankar Bigdi
6. Zohra Ambala: Phir Aah Dilse Nikli

Side 2

7. Shamshad Begum: Mohan Ki Muraliya
8. Shamshad Begum: Pardes Balam Tum Jaoge
9. Shamshad Begum & Mukesh: Mera Dil Todnewale
10. Mohd. Rafi: Yeh Zindagi Ke Mele
11. Mukesh: Gae Ja Geet Milanke
12. Music

Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni

Stella_1's score: 3.5/5

Get the music now: Naushad Mela

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Books on Indian Film: Part 2 - Filmi Music (1)


The books in "Part 2" of this series focus more on the soundtracks of films than the films themselves. But film music, in my opinion, is just as important in analysing and studying cinema, especially Indian cinema moslty because that specific cinema gives much space to music.

That said, these books only focus on Hindi film music, and not all filmi music from across India. (Maybe I should write that book one day!)

A little history

The tradition of filmi music seems to have started before cinema even existed, as musicians and vocalists would serve the same purpose as in films today, but in theatre. Most of this "theatre music" is lost principally because it was not recorded (no recording technology) or was later recorded but no copy has survived. The term Indian Film Music or "Hindustani Cine Sangeet" was first used by Raju Bharathan. This new type of music, born with the art of "Talkies" or films with sound*, could only be heard on Radio Ceylon because All India Radio would only play classical music. With the gaining popularity of films and their music, slowly but surely filmi music got its place on the airwaves and became, what I think, the music of the people.

* I would like to add that a study on filmi music should start (both books I read start with the 30's) with recorded music for plays and continuing to music played for silent films. It would be interesting to hear what was done at the beginning of the merging of the two art forms, cinema and music.

Book 3: Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song (2008)

Do Lata, Asha, Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar or Mukesh ring a bell? Or, maybe, Laxmikant Pyarelal, R. D. Burman, Kalyandji Anandji, Shankar Jaikishan or C. Ramchandra? Well if none do, then I strongly suggest that you familiarise yourself with these wonderful talents. Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song is just what a curious filmi fan needs to familiarise his or herself with the different people who made film music legendary. It is written by self proclaimed filmi music buff Ganesh Anantharaman (yet, before writing the book he had never listened to any other Naushad soundtrack besides Mughal-E-Azam and Baiju Bawra?) who specifically wanted to write about music from the 50's and 60's but his editor convinced him to broaden his horizon. After doing some extensive research he discovered many other talented people like Saigal and Naushad Ali (Naushad is not overlooked on this blog anyway!). I wrote a list of all the personalities you can find in the book at the bottom of the page.

The book is called Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song, but in actuality the number of pages dedicated to history are only 18 in a book of about 250. So really what you are getting is a "brief" overview of the evolution of the Hindi film song added to short essays (about 90% of the book) each on specific singers, music directors or lyricists. In their turn, they comprise of some biography, low and high points in the specific persons career and some of their most memorable songs. There are also five interesting interviews, one of Dev Anand, Pyarelal, Gulzar, Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar (the last to which he lied to get the interview. Oh my!). But besides those first pages in the book most of the history of the Hindi film song is found in the people from all different eras.

But since musical taste differs from one person to the other, and in the book a singer’s best song is ultimately either one of the author’s favourites or a classic that many people appreciate. Anantharaman tries his best to stay objective and please everyone by not insulting anyone but always lets a few of his thoughts slide trough (e. g. his favourite music director is S. D. Burman or he finds “Choli Ke Piche” from Khal Nayak (1993) lyrics repulsive).

Also, like me, the author is a fan of older soundtracks (50’s and 60’s). Sadly, this affects the content somewhat when he pushes aside music from the 1970's, but mostly the 1980's and beyond, because it is seemingly invalid. The name of the section about film music of the 70's is called "When music becomes secondary" and do I agree? Yes and No. Personally, I think, that in those days it did not become secondary but rather detached from the film. Because, as we see in some cases, especially in films starring Amitabh Bachchan, there is no need of good music in films (from a financial perspective, anyway). But on the other hand some films succeeded on most part because of the songs. Other than the bollywood start system talking over, I think that the past “clans” (or teams) e.g. Naushad-M. Khan, R. K. Films -Shankar Jaikishan-Lata-Mukesh or Dev Anand-S. D. Burman were either no longer existent or changing. This made music more independent of the film it was being composed for.

Bizarrely, the cover of this book resembles very much a book on the same subject yet more expensive and rare called Hindi Film Songs and the Cinema written a year earlier by Anna Morcom (I really want to get my hands on that one! Also to compare, the cover picture is beside the book I am presently reviewing).

Pictures - the same picture of Meena Kumari in Pakeezah (1972) on Ganesh Anantharaman's book (2008) and Anna Morcom's (2007)


He is one of the few to write about hindi film music, and one of the very few to write about filmi lyricist. They deserve more recongrition. (I'm starting to understand, now that I'm learning Hindi).

The book is easy to read, as he writes in a laid back manner.

Interesting interviews and insight on many different personalities.


The book is aimed at an indian public and if you don't understand hindi (it is atleast written in roman script) then you will have trouble apreciating the book.

The book is for begginnier's but not for the total ingnorant, because you need to have enough filmi knowledge to know what songs he is refering too. So, I wish all books on the subject of filmi music would have a CD or tracks you can download that play in the order in which they are mentionned, so when the author name's a tune, you can hear it right away. (But in the meantime, thank god for Youtube).While reading the book I felt very "handicapped" because I cannot understand Hindi/Urdu, and it truly took away from me fully understanding what he was trying to demonstrate or prove in the text.


To list all the people mentioned in the book:

Music Directors:Pankaj Mullik, Khemchand, Anil Biwas, Naushad Ali, C. Ramchandra, Shankar Jaikishan, S. D. Burman, Madan Mohan, O. P. Nayyar, Salil Choudhury, Roshan, Hemant Kumar, Ravi, Jaidev, Vasant Desai, Kalyanji Anandji, R. D. Burman, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Khayyam, Ravindra Jain, Bappi Lahiri, Rajesh Roshan, A. R. Rahman, Anand-Milind, Nadeem-Shravan, Annu Malik, Jatin-Lalit.

Lyricists: Kidar Sharma, D.N. Madhok, Pradeep, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Sahir Ludhianvi, Shailendra, Kaifi Azmi, Gulzar, Anand Bakshi, Javed Akhtar.

Playback Singers: K. L. Saigal, Noorjehan, Suraiya, Shanshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, Mukesh, Talat Mehmood, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam, Alka Yagnik.

Previous Posts (Book Series):

- Indian Film (1963) by Erik Barnouw and S. Krishnaswamy
- Bollywood: A History (2006) by Mihir Bose

Stella_1's score: 3.5/5

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

O. P. Nayyar: Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963/1978)

I was totally ready to praise Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon with it's wonderful cover (Asha Parekh looks great!). And without even knowing who the composer was I put on the first track.....Ahrg! No...nahin! Not the horse trotting songs! Picture my reaction in cinematic terms. The scene starts, I've just heard the song, then there is a shot of horse hooves trotting, quick shot of O. P. Nayyar, back and forth shots, horse trotting-O. P. Nayyar, horse trotting-O. P. Nayyar, then a turning spiral superimposed on a spinning picture of me looking confused and demented. The album cover was a trap! And it only got worse as I realized that there is not 1, not 2, but 3 "horse trotting songs" on the same record. Didn't I just mention in my last post that Nayyar needed to crank up the originality button. If some people couldn't hear the constant auto-copying last time (Kashmir Ki Kali or Kismat), this record is certainly proof of it. If some people don't know what type of song I am talking about, a standard O. P. Nayyar soundtrack has at least 1 song with a beat that resembles the sound of a horse trotting. Too name a few examples, you have Naya Daur's "Maang Ke Saath Tumhara" or "Piya Piya Mora Jiya Pukare" from 1955's Baap Re Baap " and then the less evident "Deewana Hua Badal" from Kashmir Ki Kali or "Dekho Kasam Se Kehte Hain" from Tumsa Nahin Dekha, and I could go on.

Anyway, on this record the three "horse trotting songs" consist of the title track "Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon", "Ankhon Se Jo Utri Hai Dil Men" (the beat is used more subtly since it's played on the guitar) and "Lakhon Hain".

My favorite song has to be "Dekho Bijli Dole Bin Badal Ki" probably because it is inspired by classical music, but I also think that I have a weakness for dance battles especially in Indian movies (e.g. Vijayantymala Vs unknown in Amrapali, Vijayantimala vs Helen in Prince or Padmini vs Vijayanthimala in the tamil film Raj Tilak). Also, even though I like classical music I also enjoy O. P. Nayyar's Punjabi inspired songs, which in this specific film is shown in "Aji Kibla".

I would simply like to end this post by saying that my intentions are not to bash O. P. Nayyar, I even applaud him for having succeeded in the film industry without having musical training or using the instant success magnet Lata Mangeshkar. I also applaud him, for his courage to be different and original at the beginning of his career and not following the latest craze, but making one instead. But as I once said, there is missing something, especially at the stage in his career of Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon. The folk songs seem to be fuller but most of the time you can almost listen to this album and not even know when the songs change from one to the other because the mood and style do not vary much through the record. And as I have said before, I still find that his music becomes more and more unoriginal as time passes, especially after listening to more and more of his work. But even with that said, I cannot say that this is a bad soundtrack, just an unimaginative one.
Thanks and Enjoy!
Both screencaps are from Apni East India Company

Side 1
1. Mohd. Rafi: Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon
2. Asha Bhosle: Dekho Bijli Dole Bin Badal Ki
3. Mohd. Rafi: Anchal Men Saja Lena
4. Asha Bhosle: Ankhon Se Jo Utri Hai Dil Men
5. Asha Bhosle: Mujhe Pyar Men

Side 2
6. Mohd Rafi: Lakhon Hain
7. Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle: Zulf Ki Chhaon
8. Mohd. Rafi: Aji Kibla
9. Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle: Hamdam Mere

Lyrics: Majrooh

Stella_1's score: 3/5

Get the Music now: O. P. Nayyar Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bhupen Hazarika: Aarop (1973)

Aarop is my first taste of Bhupen Hazaika's music and, as far as I can tell, this soundtrack is distinctly 70's yet the music has a very organic feel. The closest I can compare it to is Ananda Shankar's Sa Re Ga Machan album (you can get a track on eastern eye), yet this one is a lot less experimental and more filmi. This "organic feel" is mostly caused by Hazaika's choice of instruments. Even though most songs have the classic high pitch violin intros, most of the time a light mix of classical and western instruments added to the sweetest melodies which are often played on the flute, are accompanied by some traditional folk instruments. The singers all have very good classical background, especially Manna Dey and Lakshmi Shankar, but you won't hear pure classical music on the record. Basically, this album has great vocals with music that has hints of earthy/indian/filmi/classical/western/folk music etc. Yeah, I know it's a mix of a lot of things, and weirdly enough, except for the last song, each category is so diluted by one or the other, that it creates a united feeling yet at the same time creates one that points in no particular direction.

I would never have guessed that my favourite song on the album, "Jab Se Too Ne Bansi Bajayi Re",was sung by a 47 year old woman. Lakshmi Shankar is a trained classical singer with a lovely youthful voice that portrays, in the song, innocents and a feeling of loss and hope at the same time. I love it.

"Nainon Men Darpan Hai'' is the only song I could find the video for. It is probably the most popular as it is sung by top playback singers Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. But I find it very ordinary and moulded to be very filmi. Deja Vu or in this case Deja Entendu. Yawn.

The album ends with a totally R. D. Burman sounding cabaret number that seems a little out of place compared to the rest of the record. I feel as if the composer just wrote it because the film format, especially of the 70's, demanded a sexy upbeat track for the vamp. In this case, the song called "Sub Kuchh Mila Too Na Mila" is sung by no other than Asha Bhosle and, judging by the back cover, is picturised on Bindu.

Even though no specific songs, except "Jab Se Too Ne Bansi Bajayi Re" really capture my attention, the whole soundtrack is well constructed and I feel connected to the overall sound. It's kind of like I know what he's going for, and he's almost there but not quite. Also, I find Hazarika used each singer to his advantage, Lata and Kumar for the popular tune, Asha for the cabaret, Manna Dey to sing for the mature hero and Lakshmi Shankar, somewhat underused, for the simple melody. He knew what each singer could do best.


For more info on Bhupen Hazarika (he's coming out with a new album) here is a link to a fan blog and to his web site.


Side 1

1. Manna Dey: O Phoolon Ke Desh Wali
2. Manna Dey: Haath Mere Hai Madhu Ka Pyala
3. Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar: Nainon Men Darpan Hai
4. Asha Bhosle: Chale Aao

Side 2

5. Manna Dey: Toot Gaya Mera Sapna Suhana
6. Bhupen Hazarika & K. N. Sharma: Hey Jai Yashoda Nandan
7. Lakshmi Shankar: Jab Se Too Ne Bansi Bajayi Re
8. Asha Bhosle & Chorus: Sub Kuchh Mila Too Na Mila

Lyrics: Maya Govind

Stella_1's score: 3.5/5

Get the music now: Bhupen Hazarika Aarop

Sunday, January 11, 2009

O. P. Nayyar: Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)

The film, Kashmir Ki Kali , introduced Sharmila Tagore to Hindi cinema (she is of course Bengali, and is a distant relative of the TAGORE. Previously, she acted in two Satyajit Ray films, World of Apu (1959) and Devi (1960)) co-starring with an always charming and overly expressive Shammi Kapoor. Even though the film is set in Kashmir, generally for many films, O. P. Nayyar, who is Bengali (Jan. 12th Correction who is Punjabi), focuses on Punjabi folk which I consider to be Nayyar's forte (strength).

The film was a big hit and the soundtrack as well, but I truly think that it was Shammi Kapoor's persona, more than O. P. Nayyar's songs, that helped sell records. Because I find the music not bad, just uninspired.

Two tracks which I enjoy are, firstly, my favorite, "Subhan Allah Haseen Chehra" with Rafi's wonderful voice on the most melodious song on the record, accompaning some folk instuments and harmonium. Secondly, "Meri Jan Bale Bale", (love "Punjabi Shammi" ! My heart goes oy! oy! bale bale!) is a great song but Asha's voice isn't Punjabi sounding at all (Shamshad or Noor Jehan would have been better) and is missing a little authenticity. Though Mohd. Rafi is not "authentic" compared to let's say Gurdas Mann, but he seems to get away with it more easily.

I also enjoy, "Diwana Hua Baadal"but honestly I am not impressed with this album. Maybe my hopes where too high, but I am beginning to become too familiar with O. P. Nayyar's work, and the more I listen too his soundtracks, the more it's all sounding the same. It sounds as if Nayyar would say: "I'm cool. I am the highest paid music director. I sound western and rebellious. Come targeted urban youth! Want to rock'n'roll?". Ah, but this type of music would later become either a musical and creative trap for O. P. Nayyar (or a way to make easy money in the film music industry by duplicating his own style, either way it's starting to get to me. I mean, give me Naushad or give me R. D. Burman, but not the squeaky clean somewhat repetitive attempt to be different. C. Ramchandra was western before him and Shankar Jaikishan could imitate Nayyar better than he could imitate himself with rock'n'roll songs (e.g. Gumnaam, Junglee) which had at least some melody. I know I'm a sucker for classical inspired albums or really wacky musical gems , but O. P. Nayyar is on the bottom in my best composers list. Ok, ok, I will stop this useless rambling, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So I hope you enjoy the record more than I do! I encourage you too watch the film.

In the 60's there was Kashmir Ki Kali, now we get Mission Kashmir? Sad. One day peace will come and we will be singing and dancing in Kashmir once again.


Side 1

1. Mohd. Rafi: Taarif Karun Kya Uski
2. Mohd. Rafi: Hai Duniya Usiki Zamana Usika
3. Asha Bhosle: Phir Thes Lagi Dil Ko
4. Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle: Meri Jan Bale Bale
5. Asha Bhosle: Balma Khuli Hawa Men

Side 2

6. Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle: Diwana Hua Baadal
7. Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle: Isharon Isharon Men Dil Lene Wale
8. Mohd. Rafi: Subhan Allah Haseen Chehra
9. Mohd. Rafi: Kahin Na Kahin Dil Lagana Padega

Lyrics: S. H. Bihari

Stella_1's score: 3/5

Get the music Now: O. P. Nayyar Kashmir Ki Kali

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I know it's been a while, but don't worry I will be posting albums soon. As to celebrate the new year, and since I could not find any new year Indian videos to share, I decided to initiate some some of you to my French-Canadian roots with a song, called "Degeneration", which is a modern twist on traditional Quebecois music.

tragedia, who posted the video writes : "I put subtitles on this music video by Québec band Mes Aïeux that is really good. It's about different generations in Quebec and what kind of life/possibilities they had. I suppose it could apply to anywhere but the transition in Quebec from Catholic backwater to liberal modernity was particularly quick and harsh. (Read up about the Quiet Revolution/Révolution Tranquille.)"

Usually this song is played on the 24th of June (St-Jean-Baptiste day) or on New Year's Eve, and at the end of the video there is usually more music which is a musical interlude that makes everyone dances like crazy (but it's not included in the clip). Hope you like it, if you don't, don't worry I will be back to hindi soundtracks soon.

Bonne Année!