Saturday, June 28, 2008

The RMIM World

The RMIM Music Meet is around the corner. It has been so long a time since we had a meet in this New Jersey region. Five years ago to be precise. It seems to have been a life-time away. Miles and miles away in the journey of life and in the journey of RMIM. To look back, a lot of life has happened since. A lot of new experiences... good, bad, exhilarating, despairing, enlightening, profound, warm... just a lot of life. And along with it the growing up that accompanies life. The loss of the rose-tint, the swagger of 'it cannot happen to me' and the diminishing of intensity. The greying down of the blacks and whites. The passage of dear ones....physically and metaphorically. Our RMIM world too has come a long way since then.

Rewinding back to 2001, the first encounter with RMIM and the internet music world can unhesitatingly be etched as a milestone moment in my life. Suddenly, I, with my propensities that were looked upon by the world as quaint at best and crazy/obsessive by the rest, found a whole new world out there. It was a home-coming for my soul. In this world everything was normal. It was normal to have seen a film 20 times (like I watched 'Nau Do Gyarah'). It was normal to hero-worship personalities who were way before your times. I could finally stop being embarrassed about being besotted by Dev Anand instead of Tom Cruise. Of loving Hemant Kumar instead of Bryan Adams. Here were people who would scout 100 shops just to rent a video and record a song off it. People who collected articles, people who passionately loved their idols, enough to fight for them, kill for them(all virtually ofcourse). It was here that I could admit that songs have colours in my mind. There are some songs that are in the colour green, my favourite colour, the songs of nature, the other in grey and so on. It was here I could admit that my heart danced with the rain and 'Diwana hua badal'. No longer would my bubble be burst by someone looking in my direction and circling her fingers near the temples to indicate a person off their bonkers. It was here one could unabashedly admit to crying after hearing 'Waqt ne kiya'. I also met people with an intensity and devotion, so much greater than mine, something I know I would never be able to summon. People, who have dedicated almost a whole life to this passion.

RMIM gave me confidence. The confidence to be really who I am. To stop trying to fit into the mould of the world that surrounded me. I could finally turn around and tell Vivek Dada, (my brother, who has played a significant role in shaping my personality) that the Finance Times and the intricacies of the business world did not interest me. It could stop being in my list of 'to aspire for' ideals. I could turn around and scorn the aspirational elitists who believed that culture was only about Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar, Munshi Premchand and Tagore. No. Culture was as much about Sachin Dev Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, Sahir Ludhianvi and Shailendra. It was here that I realised, one could direct the passion to do something constructive for the medium. More than that it was here I realised how much can be done and still needs to be done for the medium.

It was through RMIM that I made 'internet friends'. People miles away from me physically, yet inextricably bound with the same twines. People who you fight with, debate with, marvel at and yet cannot do without. It is impossible to think of my world without them now.

I can safely say today, that had I not encountered RMIM, I would have been a very different person.

As I head out for the RMIM Meet today, my heart is filled with bitter-sweet feelings. The anticipation of a soul-fest, yet, can it be the same without Satish Uncle?

I will probably get back with my impressions at some point later. For now, I leave you with an old account from the last New Jersey RMIM Meet in 2002. Re-reading it was quite an experience for me. I guess it happens to a lot of us who revisit our writings after a long time. Many a time we don't completely identify with the person who wrote the piece. Sometimes, you feel embarrased at the lack of depth and unevovled writing style, sometimes you feel indulgent towards the naivety in the piece and in some vulnerable moments you mourn it's loss. I had mixed feelings for this piece too. I am sure, if I get down to penning my thoughts about RMIM this time, they are going to have a very different tenor. It might be an interesting exercise to compare and contrast. So much for now.

"So, are you taking mental notes?" Ashok asked me as I sat diligently digging into a particularly delicious lunch. "Mental notes?" I looked at Ashok quizzically." Mental notes for what?". You are supposed to be official meet reporter, he said. Didn't Chetan tell you?. Official Meet Reporter???? I said choking over my more than generous helping of srikhand/puri. Yes, said Ashok with a twinkle in the eye now. I'm sure you must have noted down **all** the relevant activities till now . Noted down **all** (choke) activities????… but but but (me gulping down some water).. Chetan never told me I protested. Never mind says Ashok you can goto people take details and create a report. Ouch! ………Yes, I said bravely, I'm sure I could do that….
And so, I spent the rest of my afternoon thinking of people who could provide me details (write the report for me). After a couple of agonizing hours my friend Madhuraji casually mentioned that Kanchanji was taking notes throughout the meeting. She is the official meet reporter!
Ashok that was not a very kind thing to do to a poor harmless soul enjoying a quiet lunch….. !
So, while we wait for Kanchanji to come out with an official and detailed meet report. Here is an informal account from my memory. Add on guys and put in your two bits too.

The RMIM Meet for me started 5 days before the actual meet as I tried to come up with a quiz I had promised Chetan I would do (why do I leave everything for last minute). So after a sleep starved week, I left office on Friday, picked up dear madsji and her gobhi aaloo (for the potluck dinner in the evening) from her place, headed home and then finally headed out to the hosts Chetan and Purvi's place for the informal get-together. It was close to 10:00 by the time we got there. Obviously everyone was hungry enough to eat us by then :-). Chetan it can be told now… we almost forgot the gobhi aaloo behind !

Anyway, after gulping down a scrumptious dinner (thanks Purvi for keeping us really well-fed with delicious fare throughout the meet) we got down to getting to know the people around. Quite a few people had reached by Friday Satishji and Sarojji, Surjit Singhji and Harmeshji who came all the way from San Diego (we hope you do this every year :-)), Ashok, Sanjeev and Armeen, Ramesh Hariharan(whose wife Radhika unfortunately could not make it. Ramesh tell Radhika we missed her!), the co-hosts for the meet.. Moloy and Kanchan Bannerjee who came from India….isn't that nice? Kumjum and Rajesh and their little daughter Shubangi, Vijay Kumar – ISB, Vijay Kumar –Saigal (sorry guys but can't think of another way to distinguish you :-) , Arunabha and Srinivas Ganti (who formed THE twosome of the evening!) and Abhay Jain (have I missed anyone? Hope not)

The Friday session was marked with the usual music discussions that were followed by a singing session kick-started by our dearest Sarojji with a very cute love song in Hinglish based on the tune of ‘Aie dil hai mushkil jeena yahan'. The singing session was accompanied by little discussions as well alongside. Sanjeev's comment on Hemant Kumar's flamboyant singing had us cracking. While Rajesh's mouth organ rendition of ‘Aie dil hai mushkil' and ‘Hai apna dil to awara' had us tapping our feet. Sanjeev delighted us as usual with his near perfect rendering of a Rafi number. While Ramesh sang a couple of songs for us on karaoke. And Ashok kept our spirits up with his wonderfully timed one-liners. Yours truly and Madhura also took full advantage of the benign crowd and belted out '‘Garjat barasat saawan aayo re'.. and yes.. they were good enough not to belt out tomatoes in response!

We then attempted antakshari with keywords. The first set was ‘Pawan, hawa and bahar' but that did not last too long. The next was ‘Duniya' which had an equally short life.
We finally wound up that night by 1:00 as everyone headed out…

Saturday morning was again marked with the interesting discussions and antectodes. From the SJ-Lata fight to OPN's ghoda gaadi beats lots was discussed. More people like Ami, Ajit, Shashak and his wife arrived.The formal meet started after the DC crowd landed in. The first event was the distribution of the Commemorative CD on Geeta Dutt. This was accompanied by Molloy's account of his meeting with Manna Dey.

The day was followed by a series of quizzes of which the official report would elaborate (I'm bad at remembering details). Notable was Arunabha made his exit before lunch. Hey Arunabha had you come all the way from chicago for a Saturday morning breakfast :-)????.

One of the interesting highlights of the event was Sanjeev and Armeen's very imaginative game based on Fantasy football. They put in a lot of hard work preparing the game and we guys had great fun playing it. Great idea Sanjeev/Armeen. We really enjoyed it.

The high point of the whole evening though was a presentation by Vijay kumar ‘Saigal' . He played for us a few songs of Master Madan and KL Saigal that are very rare to get. I had read about Master Madan in the past but after hearing him I'm speechless. Nothing I say will do justice to the way I felt upon hearing that voice. I still get goose pimples when I think of it. Thanks ever so much Vijay for giving and (the others) an opportunity to experience this tragic phenomenal voice.

Vijay has very generously agreed to put up this extremely valuable resource up as an MP3 and I (and I'm sure the rest of us in the group) are eagerly looking forward to it.
A few highlights of the meet:

- Ramesh Hariharan during the ‘Duniya' antakshari session on Friday. After we sang the song ‘Duniya mein logon ko' he wanted know if it was composed by Bappi Lahiri. Very earnestly he says ‘Isn't it a really BAD song? Has to be Bappi Lahiri!!!! :-D!- RDB supporters you know where to find him!

- Vijay Kumar ‘Saigal' (on how he acquired his rare Saigal songs)……. I went to this meet where everyone was IAS, everyone 100 and everyone wore a safari suit. The performer Mr JC Pandey(IAS) played 2 tanpuras, had wives in the past but now lived with 3 dogs (there were speculations on whether the dogs played the tanpura as well) and singled me out for his affections maybe because I was not 100, not IAS and did not wear a safari suit !!

- Sanjeev/Armeen's quiz

- The greying population in the meet grouped together in one team called the ‘Young lads'.. they had Vijay Kumar ‘Saigal' as the only anomaly in their group who I'm sure after wining and dining with 100 year olds found his teammates to be truly ‘young lads'

- Ketan, Shalini, Ramesh and I formed the deadly Force-UM.. we were potentially unbeatable but…… Ramesh and I watched in wonder as Shalini in a couple of minutes created this long list of singers and MD post 1990s.

- Satishji, Srinivas and two other's initially called their team Srinivas (Ganti's answer to Sanjev's question ‘What is your(team) name' – Srinivas ! ) What did you guys finally call yourselves

- Poor Vijay Kumar ‘ISB' was stuck with a 2 rowdy females(Madhura and Preeti) and 1 controlled one(Kanchanji).. they aptly called their group ‘The losers'

- Any guesses who won???? Yeah ‘THE LOSERS'… though I think they should have had 50 points cut for screeching too much.. Sanjeev are you listening?

- Srinivas Ganti mistaking SD Burman's voice for Rafi!..And over that missing out on identifying most SDB songs in the Musical Potpourri quiz. Ganti…. SDB is going to give you a tough time when you meet him up there :-)!!

- Chetan, (after hearing the Aaram piano prelude) in the quiz.. you've given a longer play time to easy songs and shorter ones to the difficult ones.. which were the difficult ones ‘Ganga aaye kahan se', ‘Diwana mastana hua dil' !!!!

- … Sanjeev's comment ‘Popular songs should make a comeback on RMIM" (particularly relevent after Chetan's above comment)

- After Guri's quiz, where he played a Shamshad Begum number backwards. The general consensous : Shamshad Begum sounds better backwards than forwards. This one was guessed by Saroj Aunty and Harmesh Aunty and Saroj Aunty actually sang another song backwards for us.

Overall, we had a blast for 2 days and one feels sad that the next meet is now a year away. A very big thanks to all the organisers of the event. Chetan and Purvi, you were great hosts. Thanks to everyone who worked on the commemerative CD. I am enjoying myself thoroughly listening to it. And thanks to Malloy and Kanchan for co-hosting the meet.

For the entire thread read here


  1. Hi Ritu
    Been an anonymous RMIM for some time now and have to agree with you on all points. Ever since I discovered RMIM and by extension the "Golden Age" of Hindi Film Music, life has not been the same for me. And SDB...he is the BOSS!!!

  2. Hi Srinivas,

    Thanks for writing in. It is so true, the discovery of people who are wired by the same twisted gene is always a delight :). Hope you start contributing to RMIM soon. We would look forward to your inputs and experiences. And since you think SDB is Boss, even more reason for you to pitch in :)


  3. Hi Ritu,

    Looks like you have found another mad fellow.

    Except my closest friends I never dared to tell any one that Peechhe Peechhe Aake and Tum Na Jane appear Pacific Green to me, with very gentle waves.

    I even think these and few others can reduce hypertension in some of the patients.

    Does it look more madness?

    Incidentally what colour comes to your mind for these 2 songs, and the one Tum Kya Jaano Tumhari Yaadmein?

    Best regards

  4. OK.. this is an exciting exercise. Lets see.

    'Peeche Peeche aake' is like a very light blue for me. Lots of blue and just a dash of green.

    Tum na jaane is a dark colour. Inky blue with a silver of the moonshine. It is a night song. And to me there is more of a wistfulness about it and less pathos. There is also something desolate about it. All dark colours

    'Tum kya jaano'... hmmm not a very colour invoking song even though I love it. The colours here, if any are also all dark though. shadowy.

  5. Hi Ritu

    Off late, I have been a read-only mode RMIMer. However, I must say RMIM was key in opening the world of musical magic. I also met a bunch of wonderful people such as yourself. I remember our maiden introduction to the real-world RMIM at Satish-ji and Saroj-ji's house. It was such a pleasant revelation. It happened a long time ago, but seems like just yesterday. Satish-ji is no more - its hard to believe. Much like the lovely melodies Satish-ji will always be a part of RMIM.



    P.S.: Thanks for re-introducing me to SDB.