January 24, 2013

We sing, cry, laugh, and love in Hindi, Urdu, and Bhojpuri

The Thamizh Thendral Thiru. Vi. Ka. Award was conferred on Dr. Prema Nandakumar, noted Sri Aurobindo scholar, in recognition of her excellent contribution to Tamil literature and for her literary and creative works. This award was given to her and other Tamil scholars as part of Thiruvalluvar Day celebrations by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa at a function organised at Lower Camp in Theni district recently. The award carries Rs 1 lakh, a gold medal and a certificate.
Dr. Prema, a native of Srirangam in Tiruchi, was born in 1939. She is a regular contributor to several journals, including The Hindu, and has authored many books, including her pioneer research on Sri Aurobindo, and translated works of poet Bharathi and novels of Akilan. Her first study on Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri encouraged many scholars to take up Savitri-related subjects for academic dissertations. She has been a member of several academic councils. Dr. Prema has addressed many international conferences on Tamil, Nationalism and Buddhism. She has done extensive research in Indian philosophy, history, Indian culture. Her collection of short stories, ‘Amduha Thuli Piranthathu,’ has won a State Government award.

Music of Bollywood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bollywood music has drawn its inspiration from numerous traditional sources such as Ramleelanautankitamasha and Parsi theatre, as well as from the West, and other Indic musical subcultures.[5] Hindi film songs form a predominant component of Indian pop music, and derives its inspiration from both classical and modern sources.[1] The language of Hindi movie songs, generally termed Hindi, can be complex. Some songs are saturated with Urdu and Persian terms and it is not uncommon to hear use of English words in songs from modern Hindi movies. Several other Indian languages have also been used including BrajBhojpuriPunjabi and Rajasthani. Occasionally a few lines in other Indian languages are used as well.[6] Film songs have been described as eclectic both in instrumentation and style.[7] They often employ foreign instruments and rework existing songs, showing remarkable inventiveness in the reinvention of melodies and instrumental techniques.[8] In a film, music, both in itself and accompanied with dance, has been used to for many purposes including "heightening a situation, accentuating a mood commenting on theme and action, providing relief and serving as interior monologue."[5]
Hindi film songs are now firmly embedded in North India's popular culture and routinely encountered in North India in marketplaces, shops, during bus and train journeys and numerous other situations.[2] For over five decades, these songs formed the staple of popular music in South Asia and along with Hindi films, was an important cultural export to most countries around Asia and wherever the Indian diaspora had spread.  Indian cinema, with its characteristic film music, has not only spread all over Indian society, but also been on the forefront of the spread of India's culture around the world.[1] The Hindi film song now began to make its presence felt as a predominating characteristic in the culture of the nation and began to assume roles beyond the limited purview of cinema. In multi-cultural India, as per film historian Partha Chatterjee, "the Hindi film song cut through all the language barriers in India, to engage in lively communication with the nation where more than twenty languages are spoken and ... scores of dialects exist".[4] Celebrated Hindi film musician Anil Biswas credited with introducing orchestra music to cinema in India died May 31, 2003. 

It's Bombay, My Jaan - Chandan Mitra - Outlook Jun 26, 2006 – From classical strains in the heyday of the talkies, the music industry now encompasses all song genres
Music is what distinguishes Indian cinema from the rest of the world. In fact, music is the defining characteristic of Indian, particularly Hindi, cinema. Music was probably integral to Indian cinema because of the strong folk theatre linkage. It was, however, the launch of RK Films in 1948 that heralded a musical revolution. With Barsaat and Awara, Hindi film music was revolutionised. RK Films changed the grammar of film music decisively and forever. Shankar-Jaikishen were the pioneers of Hindi cinema's musical makeover. They set an example before countless aspiring composers that you had to dare to win. They proved that India's first post-Independence generation was waiting to break free of traditional, strictly classical-based compositions. Naushad, with superhits like Baiju Bawra under his belt, emerged as the first choice of Raj Kapoor's ratings rival, Dilip Kumar. Naushad's contemporary, Roshan, was not exactly in the same mould. In fact, he was quite an experimentalist, although his experiments did not break the parameters of classicism.
Compared to Naushad and Roshan, Madan Mohan was a later entry and not quite a hardline puritan, … Among the experimentalists, C. Ramachandra should take pride of place for his immortal hip-swingers… But no one had a bigger impact on film music's evolution in the '60s than Omkar Prakash Nayyar, … The narrative of the '60s would be incomplete without reference to the extraordinarily talented Salil Choudhury who hit big time with Bimal Roy's Madhumati. The '60s were probably Hindi film music's finest decade. Even as Shankar-Jaikishen ruled, challengers had begun to dent their supremacy. The one who outlasted all others was S.D. Burman with son Rahul Dev in tow. Meanwhile, Kalyanji-Anandji emerged as the poor man's Shankar-Jaikishen after they composed music for Raj Kapoor's Chhalia (Dum-dum diga diga). Kalyanji-Anandji blended folk, classical and Western in catchy ways to produce vigorous, earthy numbers, especially for Manoj Kumar's films… Since the '90s, popular music has gradually shifted out of the sole orbit of cinema and now revolves in several trajectories such as remixes, bhangra-pop, Indipop and also ghazals, though the high noon of the last genre has now waned.

Her usual is so much better than the best around her. She lifted ordinary into memorable, and was superb when the musical score was minimalist. She excelled with Naushad, who distilled the purity of a raga with an aesthete's light touch, never better than 'Khuda meherbaan ho tumhara, dharakte dil ka payaam le lo / Tumhari duniya se jaa rahen hain, utho hamara salaam le lo'. The second line is not there to remind you of lyrics but to recall the music. Compare Shankar-Jaikishan when Lata sang for them, and when they were with anyone else. They made fools of themselves when they fought with Lata and switched to Sharda, and were soon piling violins into the background to ameliorate the foreground. Suman Kalyanpur, the would-be alter ego, could hold a note, but was simply not in the same class.
My great regret is that Lata and Rafi did not sing together for three years because of royalty disputes. Individually they were masters; together they were magical. Witness the eternal song from Kaali Topi Laal Roomal: 'Laagi chute na ab to sanam, chahe jaaye jiya teri kasam'. Rafi deserved a Bharat Ratna too, even if he died at 55 and denied us decades of thrall. Hemant Kumar, of Hemantada to Kolkatawallahs, was absolutely right to refuse a Padma Shri. That genius could never be an also-ran. The silken bonds of the Lata-Hemant number from House No 44, 'Neend na mujhko aaye, dil mera ghabraaye' could capture you forever.
As for the big question: preference cannot be locked into the straitjacket of mathematical formula. Since the personal is creeping into public space through this column, there will be those who sniff and others who snigger. But, as any politician says on the eve of an election, ''Please saar listen please, with folded hands.''
The finest Lata solo, on my admittedly prejudiced list, is that sublime harmony of voice, word and music so delicate that you can hear it only through Lata's vocals, 'Ja ja re jaa baalamwa, Sautan ke sangh raat bitaayi kahe karat ab jhooti batiyaan'. See what heights Shankar-Jaikishan ascended when they got themselves out of the way. The verse, lifted by near-absence of instruments, is an exquisite blend of mischief hovering above pain and captures, with love, the ethos of an age. Sentiment steps outside boring adoration, and smiles at its own excess. A lover's complaint that never descends into the self-abasement of a moan. English cannot hope to convey the meaning of 'sautan', so we shall merely describe her as a woman's competitor for her lover's affections. He has just returned after spending nights with the other, and Lata's hurt voice keeps pushing him away, but never pushing him too far, for he belongs to her.
There are a hundred ways in which to rebuke a man for telling lies. Have you ever heard anything quite like 'Kaisa harjai, daiya!'? Hindi flowers in the spring of dialect. We might run our governments in English and write our balance sheets in Roman, but we sing, cry, laugh and love in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Kashmiri, Tamil or any of the innumerable mother tongues with which our nation is blessed. The tongue of a mother could never write a proper balance sheet for it is too heavily overloaded with assets. How in heavens to do you translate 'daiya!'? Note, incidentally, the dexterity with which the short line is worked into seamless melody.
Lata sang the largest number of film songs for the first of the moderns, Laxmikant-Pyarelal. The partnership provided unforgettable music to eminently forgettable films like Inteqaam (the difficult 'Aaaa jaane jaan'). The Lata who could mesmerize you in Vyjanthimala's Madhumati ('Main to kab se khadi is paar...'), hypnotize you in Sadhana's Woh Kaun Thi ('Naina barsey rim jhim rim jhim') and perhaps tranquilize you in Bina Rai's Anarkali ('Yeh zindagi usiki hai, jo kisi ka ho gaya') could also energize you with Gen Next Mumtaz in 'Bindiya chamkegi, churi chamkegi...' This, too, is the song of a new epoch, as much of a breakthrough as 'Aayega aayega, aayega aanewala' in Madhubala's Mahal. 9:32 am

we can now add Vikram Sampath's "proposed Archive of Indian Music that would act as a repository for all kinds of vintage recordings of India--Hindustani and Carnatic music, folk, theatre, early cinema and voices of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore etc and also of common Indians. These are largely 78 RPM shellacs  that have been digitized and restored..." The first phase of the project is over and a pilot website is now up and running here, already featuring about 180 artists of yore and close to 600 clips. The entire listing of artists is available here.

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