Sunday, August 24, 2008

Snapshot of SKS - By Arunabha Roy

This is a snapshot of SKS (Sangeet Ke Sitare) that Dr Arunabha Roy had created. It makes a delightful and nostalgic read for those who interacted on the forum in those days. Arunabha, you being my friend, I have taken the liberty to post this without asking for your permission. I hope you do not mind.

This links to the tribute to Priya

From: "asroyus"
Date: Thu May 8, 2003 8:23 pm
Subject: Snapshot of SKS

No, this isn't one of those literal adobe-acrobat-doctored "snapshots"
that are so common on SKS nowadays. Just thought to myself: amidst the
smorgasbord of topics discussed on SKS, certain patterns emerge and
repeat at regular intervals to the point where they remain entrenched
in one's mind. I've put together a typical sequence of SKS posts which
in my mind forms a representative sample of what SKS is all about. No
offence is intended to anyone, just take it lightly.

- Arunabha

Everybody, please vote for your favorite male singer.

Kishore is the best - why even ask ?

You must be kidding -Kishore sings loud songs. He is not even in the
golden era.

No. Just listen to Kishore's songs for Husnalal Bhagatram and Anil
Biswas and you will revise your opinion. Here is a clip.

Oooh ! What a song by the master ! AB rules !

I like Talat.

Ya, but only when you want to go to sleep. If you want to charm the
women, get Hemanta. No woman I have met has been unmoved by his singing.

I don't follow Hindi but this Hemanta song is so nice. I
wish I could spend the entire day just listening to these songs. But
then I wouldn't accomplish any work, sigh. Anyway, got to stop
listening now, the people around me are giving me strange looks.
Anyway it is raining now and ....

I am willing to jump off the second storey if I can have access to all
of Kishore's work. (Really, I did this in college, so don't challenge me)

Where is Sathya ?

Hi everyone, just uploaded a rare NJ song.


FYI, that song was composed by Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, composer of
immortal melodies for Noor Jehan during her post-partition stint in
Pakistan. It was composed on May 12, 1961. Recently these feckless
companies have come out with jhankaar beats-enhanced remix versions of
Madam's songs.

New wallpaper of NJ uploaded.

Another wallpaper uploaded.

And one more !

Really, what beautiful photos ! Which software did you use ?

Guys, have you heard this song at
? It's awesome. Rafi rocks !

LOL ! It's actually Mahendra Kapoor singing.

You call Mahendra Kapoor's "singing" singing ?!!

Naushad replaced the dogs of the Tamil original with Mahendra
Kapoor. Wonder why ?

Terrible song, but Mukesh shines.

Mukesh degraded beyond recognition in the 70s. It didn't help that LP
composed songs to drown out the melody in raucous dholak beats.

Yes, the bridge over Godavari suffered permanent damage during the
filming of the Milan songs. Appeared in the TOI.

Guys, what are you talking about ? LP and raucous ? I guess it has
become fashionable to diss L-P at every available opportunity. They
were the uncrowned masters at their game. Even with Asha who was never
their mainstay they have 200 gems !

LP were single-handedly responsible for the degradation of Hindi film
music as we know it today. Compare them with Jaidev or Khaiyyaam, who
showed that it was stil possible to compose quality music in the 70s.

Jaidev ? Pshaw. He composed for a mere 23 films. LP did 1000 !

Yes, but we are talking of quality here, not quantity. LP always
catered to the masses.

Sigh. So it's the classes-versus masses argument again, isn't it ? A
specious argument if I ever saw one. If for every song Jaidev composed
LP composed 50 in the same time, doesn't it stand to reason that
Jaidev could create a better tune ?

Yes, but that's the point ! Jaidev's tunes ARE better !

But LP have composed 10,000 songs !

Jaidev made great use of classical and folk tunes. Talking of catering
to the classes and to the masses, there is one and only one composer
who managed to straddle the two effectively - SDB.

We have the SDB mantra available for free download, at Download it and cure your schizophrenia and all other
ailments. Madeline O Brien take note.

What does SDB say in that song ?

I don't know, it sounds like Bengali.

Even Bengalis don't follow what SDB sings in Bengali. SDB Rules !

Was SDB Bengali ? I thought he was from Tripura.

No, MDB was from Bengal. She composed all his songs.

Guys !!!!!!!!! You won't believe this ! Did you know that it was
actually RDB who composed "ruup teraa mastaanaa ? What a revelation !

SDB won the most votes in the recently concluded poll. Take a look !
Three cheers for Old Man !

That's only because he is in the top five of everyone's list ,
aged 10-100. And no one's No. 1 choice. Just combining the various
people's votes, he gets the first spot. The average is always a
misleading measure of the sample.

Bandini is superb. He deserved the Filmfare award for that rather than
the tepid Abhimaan.

Abhimaan is my favorite SDB soundtrack !!!

These awards don't mean anything. Anilda didn't get even one and LP
got eight ! Do we then understand that they are 8 times superior to
Anilda ? And don't even get me started on CR ....

Well, but even Lata, when she selected her ten best songs on her
silver jubilee of singing in films, chose zero AB songs, one by LP,
and two by Madan Mohan.

See, I told you. In the final reckoning, Madan Mohan is the
best. Classical, ghazal, qawalli, fun song, cabaret, you name it ....

Returning to Abhimaan, I must take back what I said earlier. While
"meet na milaa re man kaa" sucks, "piyaa binaa" and "ab to hai tum se
" are actually quite good.

Lata was way past her prime in Abhimaan. He should have got Asha.

"Way past her prime". What do you mean by "past one's prime" ? After
her so-called primes she sang .... (list of twenty-five 80s and 90s
songs, ending with "so gaye hain") If after this you claim she is past
her prime, I have no more argument.

Lata's voice has soul, Asha's voice has body.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Do you mean to say Asha's singing lacks soul ?

Here's an easy quiz : an extra in film f1 utters a bit of dialogue.
This dialogue becomes a title of an extremely popular song in the 2003
film f2, picturized on the son of the actor who played the villain in
film f3.Film f3 has a heroine who is related to the real-life father
of the bride in film f1, as well as to the stunt-director of film f4.
film f4 and film f2 share a common phrase in their titles.

Got it ! Solved it in 0.3 seconds ! It is blah and blah-blah and
blah-blah and blah. Waiting to crack the next quiz :-)

is newsgroup me.n ko_ii ghazal me.n dilchaspii rakhataa hai ? agar ho
to mai.n kuchh arz karuu.n ? mere aziiz ghazal gaayako.n me.n Ghulam
AliKhan saahab aur Jagjit Singh-ji hai.n

Mehdi Hassan beats Ghulam Ali by a mile.

No, I think Ghulam Ali is more mellow.

Here are the top ten romantic songs of all time. (Long list and

I amazed that there are some non-Noor Jehan songs you have included in
the list !

Just yesterday they had a program on NJ and they said she sang for
five years and then went to Pakistan. As if she did nothing after
that, sat at home, you know ?!. What an insult to the greatest singer!
Really, meraa khuun khaul rahaa thaa.

Relax, those announcers are lazy, ignorant bozos, and are just
indulging in self-fulfilling prophecies. Madam sang this disco song in
91, just listen to it !

In ghazals, Lata-Madan Mohan were the best. Better than your Anil
Biswas, CR, Jaidev and everyone else. Madan Mohan was an excellent
cook -whether in the matter of tunes or songs. Lata sez ! (in this clip)

Yes, but he did not use Asha at all.

Or Geeta ! She was the singer with the most expressive voice. What
fabulous bass ! And a lilt all-too-endearing. According to me, she was
better than Lata, Asha, and everyone else. Literally clear-as-bells
quality to her singing. Lata and Asha's singing is so studied, dry and
academic in comparison.

Let us compare Geeta Dutt and Noor Jehan. Both emoted so well in their

Emote ? Asha mentioned in the legends tape that Geeta Dutt couldn't
laugh while singing. So SDB made her sing instead for both of them.
Asha's comment is in such poor taste. Couldn't she find anything good
to say about Geeta Dutt ? These legends tributes really suck.

Humanity sucks. I am going to Mars.

After listening to this song, I am beginning to feel that Martians
have good taste.

Oh, they have excellent taste !

Check out the photo of the do jasoos together with Naushad.

I could not see the photo - where is it ?

It's at the SKS main website. Click away and go crazy !

Why does Naushad look petrified ?

It's because I have CR's paw around his neck.

Dev Anand is off to make his hundredth film based in Chicago "Love at
Sears Tower" He says it's going to be a very "different" romantic
film, with a totally modern feel. It's a historical moment in the
timescape of Hindi film cinema, folks. Please celebrate the great man
and his achievments!

Sheeesh ! Will he never cease being an embarrassment to his fans ?

Dev Anand has fans ? That's news to me. Who are these people ?

Dev Anand was the most dapper and well-dressed person of his times.
Always young at heart and always a thorough gentleman. Like SDB. Any
woman would love to have him !

And countless guys idolize him, too. He is a role model. What style,
what charisma, what consummate suaveness ? Who cares if he dons red
frilled shirts and blue tweed trousers ? Or even blue frilled shirts
and red tweed trousers ?

Please vote for the ten best songs of Anilda.

I refuse to vote as I cannot choose only ten representative songs for

"jaa mai.n tose nahiin boluu.N" is missing in your list of ten songs.
How could you !

My word, to my utter chagrin I discover that you are right. How COULD
I ? Anyway, please do vote.

"jaa main tose" deserves to be ranked among the best classical songs
in Hindi films. Lata was unparalleled in her classical singing. And
Manna De among the males.

No, I think Kishore Kumar was without a doubt the best male singer
when it came to classical. And ghazal. And bhajan. And qawali. And
chhe.D chhaa.D. And romantic song. And sad song. And...

Kishore and classical !! Well I never ! Name even one song. Can he
even compare with "man taDapat" or "duniyaa ke rakhwaale" . Did you
know Rafi's throat bled while recording the latter ?

On the subject of classical songs, does any one happen to have the
beaut "baa.Ndh preeti phul Dor" by Lata ? Lata sang it before Bade
Ghulam Ali Khan was to appear on stage at a concert. Such was the
effect, even after BGAK took the stage, people were clamoring for Lata
to sing instead of him.

If I want to listen to classical, I'll listen to Kishori or Bhimsen
Joshi or Amir Khan.Not hindi film music !

So you don't care for HFM, is it ? Too low-brow ?

Oh no ! It's all a matter of mood- you see, on day 1, Kishori Amonkar
and Amir Khan. On day 2, Mehdi Hassan and Iqbal Bano.on Day 3, SDB and
SDB,.On day 4, Jaidev, Roshan and Nadeem Shravan. On Day 5, Bappi
Lahiri and RDB. See that way I emerge feeling happy at the end of the
week. Music of all moods, that's the key.

Kishore is the best. No one says that you need to be able to sing
classical in order to be a film singer. dono.n apanii apanii jagah
kaayam hai.n

PSmith says the following on the subject of work :

Oh, I love PG Wodehouse. Do you ?

What, you haven't gone to sleep, yet ! It must be 4 am there, naa ?

Please send me the source of your article on Khaiyyaam,, i.e. which
website did you cut and paste from , i.e. which site did you point
your mouse and double click, wait for it to load, then copy the
selected text, go to SKS, and click on paste ?

Grrrr. I know what you mean by the "source of the article" !

Sahir was the best.

But Shailendra is the man after my heart. Shailendra's writing had the
mysticism of a Sufi poet.

But everyone recites Sahir's poetry at parties. Think of any romantic
song and it's likely to be Sahir's.

True, but Sahir appealed to a very select high-brow intellectual
cross-section of the public.

Here's a slightly more difficult quiz this time .... this singer sang
only once with this singer (OK, I'm almost sure of that)....blah-blah
singer...blah-blah ... film..blah.... director...blah....singer ...
and this actor and actress were paired only once ever in hindi films
(OK, I'm reasonably sure of that)

All your clues were wrong! X also starred with Y in the Z-grade film
"Samundar Aur Ek Machhli" A sang the duet with C in 1958 P-grade film,
"Bijli Ki Sansanahat" Anyway I have still cracked the quiz. Here are
the answers !

Damn. Those were red herrings intended to throw you off the track.
Didn't work, I guess :-(

C also sang in this film with A !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and so on .....

"chalataa rahe ye kaaravaa.N,
umr\-e\-ravaa.N kaa kaaravaa.N"

Seasons in the Sun - Goodbye my Dear P

It is sobering to know the true value of a moment sometimes. The difference that a mere moment can make to your sense of equilibrium is mortifying. It it gets demonstrated time and again in life, yet nothing prepares us for those moments when they come on. It is only a sense of deja vu that runs through the veins when the mind and body go numb. I ask the same question I have asked many times. Why doesn't nature prepare us for these moments. Why isn't a tolerance hard-wired into our beings? Why does it hurt as much every time?

Shocking News, was the title of the e-mail that peered out from the mail preview window on the google home page. It was morning time, the mad rush and the usual hazaar chores dancing in the head. I had paused by the computer to pick up my charging iPod. Suddenly the whirl paused. Shocking News - looking at the mail I knew that this was not some random forward but real news... and bad news. My heart thumping loud in the chest, I clicked on the link. The wait till the mail loaded seemed to be like eternity... and then it showed up.

"I am not sure if you are aware of this. I have been informed of this tragic news by a friend of Priya Gainneo's. Priya met with an accident last week and passed away."
And there it happened. The moment that shatters your sense of equilibrium. I sat down with a thump, my breakfast, bus all forgotten. Priya Gainneos? Priya? my friend P? Dead?. No this cannot be true. It has to be a mistake, a miscommunication. Priya cannot pass away. Maybe she's met with an accident, is critical, but she has to be still around. Priya... come on, she cannot just go away.
What followed was a whirlpool of emotions shock, anger, denial, sorrow, trying to understand what happened, how it happened, befuddlement at the lack of any information anywhere. Priya had been away from e-groups for a while. But is public memory this short that there would be no mention of hers anywhere? Life on all e-forums seemed to have been conducting itself merrily completely oblivious to this tragedy.

Cyber relationships are such, that your handle to it is nothing but a couple of electronic switches, a couple of bits and bytes in form of of an email id or a profile_id. Phone numbers are exchanged, but seldom used and rarely updated. It is difficult then to accept and come to terms with things like death. It is surreal. The email exists, the profile exists, how can the person be gone? I pinged Priya's email, found her id on Orkut and Facebook and even send friend requests! Hoping from somewhere that a rumour that no one could confirm was false and she would accept the friend request.
But, nothing of that sort obviously happened, gradually as we got in touch with folks from her real life, the truth finally dawned. Priya was truly gone. She had met with an accident. She slipped and fell into the backwaters of Cochin. The same beautiful backwaters that she has promised to show me when I visited Cochin...
Priya! I had been out of touch with her for a while. She had moved on to Hamara Forums and I was consumed by work and real life related activities and seldom went to groups, our days together on SKS were long over. SKS - Sangeet Ke Sitare, a motley online gathering of passionate music lovers that once flourished on Yahoo Groups. Even though it was a forum to discuss music, off-topic conversations thrived in merry abundance. It was a vibrant, warm and friendly group. An easy camaraderie prevailed amongst it's members and unlike most newsgroups people were not just a profile_id with a musical opinion but real people. Most active members on the forum came with their musical Gods and had much fun defending and ribbing each other about their idols. Yours truly was present there with Dev Anand(DA) and SD Burman(SDB) and Priya held the flag high for Asha Bhosle and Noor Jahen(NJ). We teased and pulled each other about our favourites much like school friends rib each other over their crushes. SKS was a fertile ground on which many online friendships took seed.

That fertile ground is now barren land. The old group and the many people that inhabited it have moved on, the group itself has moved on to swankier locales on Orkut. The old SKS on yahoo lies like an old abandoned house, falling apart, desolate, its archives an aching reminder of it's past. A few stragglers post there once in a while, but its glory is long gone.

In a virtual world with virtual friends there are no pictures, letters or real tangible things through which you can seek solace when grieving a death. The only thing that remains are the same bits and bytes stored on some remote server. In my quest to connect to Priya I had no other place to go but to my emails and the SKS archive.

A strange feeling enveloped me when I navigated to SKS. One has been so busy moving ahead, that one barely looked back upon this time. There was a time when I was here everyday, five times a day. Sometimes after every 10 minutes discussing, teasing, fighting, gushing and bonding. The portals of SKS seem to reveal a faint strain of music....a song....Asha Bhosle.

Yehi woh jagah hai, yehi wo fizaayen yehin pe kabhi aap hum ko mile the"

The voices get louder

"Look P, I chose an Asha Bhosle song"
"Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so you have finally realised what good taste is all about" "Only for you P"
"P? P? Priya?"
Priya is gone..... she is only in the archives now.
I type 'Priya' in the archives search box. A bunch of posts come up. mostly from the recent past. I don't find anything I can connect to. Priya loved Noor Jahen (NJ ). I type NJ this time. I get a series of posts talking about New Jersey. Useless. How do I get the key to those days? The archives are vast, navigating through them will get me nowhere. I try again "NJ SDB". I start seeing the posts now, voices start filtering in from the past, I am back to the old SKS....
There seems to be some commotion, a thread titled 'Geeta Dutt Jaimala' has seen a series of Noor jahen uploads from P. When Priya would start uploading NJ songs, she did atleast ten together (and this was from her slow dial-up connection in Cochin)
Me: P dear, what is this, you entice us with a mail titled Geeta Dutt and torture us with NJ? This is taking undue advantage of your moderator position.
Priya: Jealousy the green eyed monster--we all know what would happen to SKS if you took charge..... it would become Do Buddhe.[two old men]
Another thread

Me: Waise.. I am on an SDB sabbatical these days. I will hear anything but you can initiate a session on anyone else you want.
Ok am dispatching some NJ songs at once.

P and I were both Virgos and typical ones at that. We loved our battles of wit. She would rib me incessantly for my interest in two old men (SDB and Dev Anand). "Atleast they are men", I would retort. "P your obsession for two old women is not healthy at all, find your self a male idol" . Ofcourse I love Sachin Tendulakar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, she would protest [any communication with her came with a minimum of 50 exclamation marks]
I had once defended Dev Anand's diminishing charm with the gallant argument. "He is not old, real men don't age, they mature like fine wine". Well that was it. After that Dev Anand came to be christened as "Wine Anand" and thereon referred to as 'Wineji' by P. I navigate to the SKS Photo Folders and see a Album titled 'Wineji'. I never got down to telling Priya that I finally realised my dream of meeting 'Wineji' in Bombay. Neither did I tell her that the 'wine' turned out to be more like 'sour vinegar'. She would have squealed with mirth at that one. "See I told you....". She had gone out of her way to get Dev Anand's rendezvous with Simi Garewal recorded for me by a friend since I could not see it in the US. When I asked her how it was, her answer 'Quite intolerable, but a fan like you still might find some value'. That was P for you.
You know the song that is twirling in my head now P?
We had joy we had fun
we had seasons in the sun
but the wine and the song,
like the seasons have all gone.

Priya always dreamt of meeting her idol Asha Bhosle someday. A dream that went away with her. Maybe she was spared of a great disappointment. After all our idols are humans at the end of the day, they can never live up to the elevated image we fans build in our minds...
Back on SKS, in another thread, Priya and I seem to be making truce on some NJ, SDB battle (now you would ask what our old monk from Tripura has in common with Mallika-e-Tarranum? In the SKS of those days, everything would find a connection.)

Priya: I think SDB and NJ must be laughing over a cup of coffee in the grand place over us dumbos.
Me: NJ and SDB enjoying coffee together! Unimaginable. Not even up there. First.. SDB and coffee is unimaginable then NJ and coffee is unimaginable and then SDB and NJ completely off mark.!
Priya: Oh but then they might sample paan together. That will bond them. And then SDB will compose a tune and NJ will sing it. Oh but Meera may not allow such fraternising with beauties.
Me: P Dear Please do not corrupt my Old Man. Let him be happy running after Kishore in the celestial woods singing 'Jhingala ho'!
Priya : Yeh sab kya hai Ritu? Once someone said DA is not straight and now U say SDB runs after men in woods!!!! People in glass houses should not throw stones. ;)))

aha.. P wins this round. We were such kids. Some more searches, some more posts...There is one post where I am defending P against someone who has attacked her for uploading too many Noor Jahen songs! "I don't generally download the songs she uploads, but she has all right to upload them and it is very generous of her to do so" I defend.
In another post P is defending me. Someone has insinuated that my contribution to SKS is basically begging for songs with a beggar bowl :). "Ritu does ask for songs sometimes but her contribution to SKS is not limited only asking for uploads, even though she likes to write about only particular artists(read DA and SDB), her posts are well-researched"
I chuckle. The only kind of compliments we Virgos can disburse are back-handed ones. We were like peas in a pod in that respect. Priya used to have a comrade-in-arms in Pulkit, another Noor Jahan fan. They were referred to as P & P on SKS. P & P loved to upload NJ songs regularly and every else loved to pull their legs. We have compared NJ to all singers possible during those days. Imagine an evaluation of NJ Vs Geeta Dutt!
I usually called her 'P Dear', especially when we were having our fun moments. I type 'P Dear' in the search. Another few posts come up.

Ganti: The way both of u fight, I wonder if you were sisters in pichla janam. Or maybe saas and bahu :)
Me: Well I like the latter. I would love to be P Dear's Mom in law. ....... P Dear if you had some male idols I would have even adopted whoever you fancied. But the idea of mothering NJ or Asha is so horrific that I shall abdicate from MILship.
Priya : Ya and the thought of having DA as surrogate sasur!!!!! Enough to send one fleeing to a nunnery!

Priya would love to make wall-papers for the SKS Marquee (a couple of them are in the photos section below). She would good-naturedly put up with all the leg pulling regarding her choices of singers and photographs. She had a strongly impish streak. She once got back at Samik for ragging her on NJ, by morphing his photograph with that of Madam Noor Jahan in a 40s style romantic pose. Poor Samik. As a birthday gift, she once sent me morphed pictures of myself with SDB and DA. Her mirth knew no bounds when I fumed that the picture in which she juxtaposed my head on a rotund RD Burman's body was mistaken for a true picture of mine! Knowing how much of an allergy Robin Bhai had for Asha Parekh, she made a nice romantic picture of his with Ms 'Choti-si-Aas' Parekh and labeled it Sharma Na Yoon. I managed to find a couple of those pictures tucked away in a corner of my inbox. They are in the photos section at the bottom of the post. Some of those pictures like the one of NJ and Samik are lost in cyberspace now.
Priya and I used to chat on a lot of non-musical topics and a lot of them on SKS itself. One such topic pops out from a thread.

Priya: Everyone here (In Kerala) thinks I have such outlandish tastes
Me : Don't worry anyone with a music taste like yours will be considered outlandish anywhere. Kerela ho ya US :)
Priya: [continuing, ignoring my barb] They keep asking me, why do you like Hindi songs, are you a North Indian, how silly na?

Despite the barb I understood where she was coming from. We were kindred souls in the respect. Both of us were attracted to a culture and art that was far placed from our immediate context . She a Malayali, whose soul connected with the Punjabi robustness of Noor Jahan and I a Delhite of UP origin who was fascinated with the sweet strains of Bengal. To a certain degree we were both outsiders in our own surroundings and were often niggled for it. For me, given my inherent sense of elitism, all the niggling was water off a duck's back. But she would get hassled sometimes.
We would chat about many things. I was always fascinated with her life in a sprawling colonial bunglow in the beautiful Kerala backwaters and she with all my travelling and the life I lived here. She loved travelling too and was a great animal lover. She had a couple of cats. We always made plans when I would visit her we would explore the backwaters of Cochin and she would visit me in Delhi and we would see the Delhi that Dalrymple wrote about in the 'City of Djinns'. We had a common favourite in William Dalryample. She was doing her PhD in English at that time and had even written to and received a response from Dalyrmple.
She would talk about getting a job and moving into her own little place once her parents retired and she finished her PhD. Later, I was told that she did finish it and got a job as a lecturer in the university.
I search for some more snippets on SKS
We have moved from the old SKS to the new SKS, members are ribbing that we leave the NJ wallpapers behind.
Arunabha: Since we have two SKS's running concurrently, how about all the NJ stuff occupying one forum. In that case, we can safely steer clear of it and carry on at the old one :-) Oh, that some government would ban NJ forums ! :-(
Shakeel: I have a suggestion, if all members of the new group agrees to it. Why don't we change the name of this group to DNA Group?????
D for Dev Anand
N for Noor Jehan
A for Asha Bhonsley

Priya: Or maybe SAND?
But see --remove NJ and the grp will be SAD!!!! :))

Another unrelated thread.

Samik : Its good that Madame P. is back after such a long absence.We were almost tempted to sing: 'P been suna jee '
[it was a joke then, a poignant reality now]

A couple of posts down we discover that P has been missing from SKS for a while because her computer crashed. No, it was not a virus, but ants.
Priya: My Pc is gone for several days--most ridiculous :((( Ants got into my hard disc!!!!! Howbizarre. :(((. .... I found these creatures travelling inside. They laid their eggs in the hard disk.
There is much mirth around the forum on this revelation.

Ajit : "Is it because of the sweet Noor Jahan songs"
Sajjad: It has an opposite effect on my PC. I keepNJ/Saigal's MP3 to keep the bugs away from Rafi collections
Sathya: Generations of ants to come would scarce believe that such a one as Priya existed in flesh blood. Who so generously provided her computer for new generations of ants to spring forth into this world. So what if a little hard disk became non-functional. Look at the larger picture ! You have so nobly, perhaps unconciously, aided in the Cycle of Ant Life to continue.
Priya: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Grrrrrrrr. How could I forget that. Priya loved to er... Grrrrrrr. She used it when she was happy, when she was excited, when she was annoyed and when she lost a point. She had come to be known as 'Ms Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr' on the forum.
I search for 'Grrrrrr'. Many many posts come up. As I had expected all the posts have Priya in her element. I randomly pick one thread. There are peals of laughter going around the group. A little digging in reveals that an earnest post in which Priya was exploring love, marriage and parental decision through the prism of NJ (who else?) and her film Anmol Ghadi, she has made a killer faux pax. Instead of Anmol Ghadi (Priceless watch), she has typed 'Anmol Gadhi (priceless she-donkey). Everyone is rolling over laughing and P is protesting vehemently. The truth is that Atul, aka Atku Miyan has played a trick. Priya had typed it correctly but he changed it just to get some laughs.
Priya: Nahin Nahin....Our creepy friend changed the words. I checked with my sent folder. Catch me doing that to my beloved NJ
Jurm-e-typo ki hamein log saza dete hain
Kaise nadan hai yeh GRRRRR ko hawa dete hain....

P_in Dharam paaji swearing mode baying for Aktu mian's blood ;)

I laugh out loud reading this thread. The fun and camaradarie of SKS spills over with this exchange. Everyone around had their own idiosyncrasies. There was Kiriko Fukuyama a dutch woman who adopted Japan as her home country and loved Indian music. She loved SDB's singing and thought 'Sun Mere Bandhu Re' was 'Ullu Mere Bandhu Re' (I thought Dada was an animal lover she explained), there was Robin Bhai, with his number crunching and wondrous posts on LP and Anand Bakshi, KCP, Sathya, Samik, Ummer, Ganti, Nimmi, Kamaal, Arunabha, Ajit, Pulkit, Satish Uncle, Atku Miyan, Sajjad, Tadatmya, Naresh,..... many different people with their own choices and opinions all bound through a common love for music. And there was Priya ofcourse, funny, witty, generous, nutty, impish and very sweet.
I suddenly snap out of the reverie. The stark reality stares straight in the face. Those days are past, P is gone, she is never going to come back and Grrrrrrr again. It is all over. These archives are nothing but an illusion. The realisation still does not quite seep in somehow. After all how different is it to read the archives today or to have read it when the a post was originally made? You read it then, you read it now. It is not as if you were interacting with a flesh and blood group then and it is not the same now. Everytime you read the archives those times instantly spring to life. Yet it is not the same. It was a different point in time and different 'me' that was there.
Online friendships are such, they have a sinusoidal wave of activity. We get busy with the concerns of our real life and the virtual life takes a back seat and then suddenly out of nowhere the people pop up come back again in your life. Somehow the only feeling I can summon is that Priya has taken a sabbatical. She is still there somewhere floating in the realm of cyberspace, busy with her life but connected. She will be back soon. The ants got my hard disk.. I am not going anywhere... grrrrrrr
P do come back. Do tell me that the ants really got your hard disk. P, please.....


I am putting up some links of a couple of threads from SKS that these reminiscences are culled from (I have taken the liberty to edit and proof read some of the exchanges, to get the gist of the conversation). If you scroll to the bottom of the page you can follow the thread and the various sub-threads it takes.
Thread1, Thread2, Thread3, thread4, thread5, thread6, thread7, thread8
Arunabha's famous snapshot of SKS

Some Pictures

The only pictures of Priya that could be located. If you have any please do share them

[Updated: 09/22/2008 - A small video tribute to Priya was put together by Srinivas Ganti with input from all her friends. You can view it on youTube ]

Tribute to Priya - Video

Here are some of the wall-papers P excelled in creating. Do note, the letting-my-hair-down picture of Asha. I would rib her incessantly about Asha's propensity to wear flashy clothes

The rest are in the archives and can be found here
Here are some of P's naughty tricks.

Sharma Na Yun - Robin Bhai with Asha Parekh

Oh my God.. is there no escape? - Dev Saab with Madsji

Yours Truly with Uncle Dev

Made for each other!

Pyara Parivar - I as Asha's MIL

The wine and the song like the seasons have all gone........
Good-bye to you my trusted friend!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mourning for Priya

P, I have to still come to terms with your going away ... the more I think about your departure the more difficult it gets to accept it. You did not deserve the deal God doled out to you. Farewell my friend, you are in a better world now.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Independence Day - Musical Montages

Happy Independence Day Folks!

(I know it is a little late, but here in the US we only celebrate on week-ends, so no apologies)

I would like to celebrate the 61st 'Happy Birdday' of our nation, by revisiting some musical memories from my growing up years. In the late eighties and early nineties DD had commissioned a series of 'Spirit of the nation' type montages. The most memorable amongst those was 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' that showcased the cultural diversity of the country through the prism of the folk and classical heritage of each region. This was Doordarshan and Lok Sewa Sanchar Parishad in it's last burst of glory, (before India began its journey towards globalization and DD towards fossilization). For those of us who grew up in this era, these montages are unforgettable. Remember trying to figure out the exact line 'chain taras te nain tars te' (the Kashmiri portion of the song), or marveling the stunning locales of Kerela, or trying to keep up with the various languages in which Mile sur mera tumhara is sung, or getting goose pimples on seeing the final image of Lata Mangeshkar, the ultimate tribute to popular sur in our country, the integrated voice of India fuse into the frame. My introduction to Bhimsen Joshi was through this montage. In those days I barely understood anything of what he sang, yet I loved to watch him, for the faraway look in his eyes, and the cute manner in which he would contort his face and hands as he sang.

I don't think anything has been able to capture the spirit of India's beauty, diversity and unity as imaginatively as Mile Sur Mera Tumhara did.

The other montage that ran in those days and I would specially like to showcase is the very unusual tribute to the spirit of the country through Raag Des. That was a collection of the who's who in the firament of Indian classical arts all performing on Des raag. While Mile Sur Mera Tumhara has obvious appeal, this montage is a quiet charmer. Raag Des is a sweet and distinctive raag, easy on the ears, extremely malleable and exudes the fragrance of fresh sprinkles on parched earth. The essence of the raag finds it's way into songs of the every region in the country. The whole idea to integrate the country through Des raag was a novel one. It is fascinating because, des raag probably existed before India was a nation, before we needed symbols and slogans to unite, yet even in those days there were binders in form of cultural roots and who would think amongst the innumerable raags that Hindustani and Carnatic classical music offer, it would be raag Des that would be the chosen binder. It is also the raag in which our national song 'Vande Mataram' is tuned.

Given the galaxy of classical luminaries that make an appearance in this piece, in another fifty years it will be worth it's microseconds in gold. Ravi Shankar's sitar piece particularly had left a lasting impression in the early days. When I heard it again after many years, it was even better than I remembered! I think it would have been appropriate to have had his appearance as the climactic piece. It is also fascinating to see Kavita Krishnamurthy's voice as the common thread in an effort that is essentially classical. It is a great way to gently coax the average listener into the world of classical music. It was only during the old DD stronghold that promoted folk and classical music with missionary zeal that something like this was possible. In today's 'bollywoodized' times it is next to impossible.

While we are on the topic of montages, it would be worthwhile to visit two contemporary efforts by AR Rahman - Vande Mataram and Jana Gana Mana , both conceived and presented by Bharatbala.

Watching the Jana Gana Mana video is like revisiting your ancestral town after twenty years. The same faces, but aged and tired. The same Bhimsen Joshi, the same Hariprasad Chaurasia, the same Lata Mangeshkar, but with many more lines creasing their faces. Some cherished old faces missing, notably Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Allahrakha and Ustad Zakir Hussien and many new additions like Bhupen Hazarika, Hariharan, and the most pleasant surprise - Asha Bhosle. Interestingly Asha Bhosle was completely missing from all the videos of the earlier era, a sad reflection on how late in life this great singer actually got her due. Finally the nation sees the legendary Mangeshkar sisters singing together on the same platform in the same frame. And the biggest surprise, they even pause for a microsecond and smile, yes smile at each other! (A historic occasion given all those rumours over the decades that sibling rivalry prompted the sisters to sing all duets looking in opposite directions).

The new age montages highlight the sharp difference in the eras. These videos are shot like epics. They are marked by sweeping locales, jazzy camera angles, glossy finish and flamboyant, larger than life orchestration of all the elements. Quite typical of our times. Yet despite the grandeur, they somehow seem to be missing something somewhere. They are missing the feel of 'real' India that the old montages had to offer. In the videos of yore, the locales were lush and real. The prosperous fields of Punjab, the stunning Taj Mahal, the boatman on the Hooghly, the Calcutta metro, the Dal Lake these were the visual elements that made us intimate with the living and breathing India. The moonscape of Ladakh in the Jana Gana Mana video on the other hand is impersonal and forbidding. It has a stark beauty, without doubt, but that is not a representative of 'dravid, utkal, banga' that our national anthem alludes to. The visual montages used in Vande Mataram look more out of central Asia than they do out of India. The video just does not get 'it', in my opinion.

Ofcourse, the disclaimer is that I am an old fogey when it comes to aesthetics and I tend to automatically put myself in reverse gear. Older an effort the better it is. However, I must admit, that when Lata Mangeshkar starts to sing Jana Gana Mana my hair stand on the end. I am extremely thankful to YouTube and it's denizens for uploading these valuable videos and giving me a chance to revisit cherished childhood memories again. I leave you with the videos and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Jai Bharat!

Click here to view Mile Sur Mera Tumhara
Click here to view Goonje Ban Ke Des Raag
Click here to view Jana Gana Mana
Click here to view Vande Mataram

Visit the poll section to vote for your favourite video.

The results of the poll 

Which is the best montage on national integration?

Mile sur Mera Tumhara
  12 (75%)
Ao Sab Gaayen Desh Raag
  1 (6%)
Jana Gana Mana
  2 (12%)
Vande Mataran
  1 (6%)

Votes polled: 16 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Readers Selection Invited

A new idea has started germinating in my head. After mulling over it for bit I have concluded that it should be a fun activity to do. Here is how it goes....

For all the lists put up on this blog, I invite reader's choices. No, not an entire suitcase of favourite songs (that prerogative is mine!), but just one song that you feel simply had to be there. This is the song ,that you cursed me for leaving out from the list. The cumulative list will grow as readers add their choices. So, if your favourite song was not chosen by me but another reader, then consider it already there. You are free to choose another song. However, remember only choose a song that would have been in your top dozen. We would not like to dilute the list. If all the songs you would have chosen are already there then you can endorse an already existing song. The key factor is the number. Only one choice is allowed.

The further rules of the game are
1. Along with your choice, a few lines about why you like the song would add tremendous value to your input.
2. I will look for an online copy of your selected song. If found, everything is hunky dory I will connect to it.
3. If not found I will hunt for a digital copy in my collection. If I find it I will upload it and link to it. If not found, then I will depend upon you to send me a digital copy of the song. If you prefer to upload it on your own channel or website, that also works for me. Just send me the link in that case.
4. Since the purpose is to create a list that people can click on and instantly hear the song, we will only list songs that we can point to online.
5 .You can indicate your choice either through email or preferably posting in the comments section of the list on the blog (the RMIM threads become tedious to read and extract from)
6. If you wish to stay anonymous we have no problems.
7. There are no deadlines, you can send your responses whenever you feel like. If and when there are a couple of them collected, I will update the main article.

At the end of the day, what we should be able to collect through this game, is a comprehensive playlist of the most popular songs in a selected category. Further, through song uploads, we should also be able to enrichen the online repository.

This game applies for every list that we do. Currently, these are the open lists on MPA

A Dozen Piyas
The Definitive Geeta Dutt

So then, lets get rolling... now!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Dozen 'Piyas'

The List Series is a category of posts which contain, yes you are right…. a list! The list could comprise of anything – a list of songs, films, books, desserts, travel spots, pet peeves or even my version of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. In a nutshell, anything that catches my fancy.

Most of my music listening is on the iPod these days. I travel to work by bus and sustain the ordeal of a 75 minute commute purely on the crutches of the iPod. Usually, I listen to songs off various playlists. Sometimes when I get tired of playing songs in the same order, I navigate to the main songs list and start playing down from a random point. That is usually not a very fruitful exercise because not all songs are that good and one is usually clicking on the next button. However today I started playing songs starting with Piya. I was quite amazed at how one after other I got such compelling songs. So, friends, that prompted me to compile...yes another list. A list of a dozen handpicked 'Piya' songs from my collection.

The word 'Piya' is a colloquial version of the word 'priye' meaning beloved. Over the many hundreds of years of musical history the word has found a place of pride in the songs of love. There is a distinct preference of poets to use 'piya' or 'piyu' over other words such as 'priye'. The word has a nice musical ring to it and phonetically sweetens the song when used. 'Piya' usually accompanies the another equally ubiquitous motif in folk poetry... the papiha. The papiha belongs to the cuckoo species of birds and is also refered to as, yes... the brain fever bird (Not very surprising, if you are as obsessed with piya as the papiha is then you just might be suffering from brain fever!).

As a completely faltu aside, I am of the firm opinion that our folk poets were closet ornithologists. Their poetry is replete with motifs of winged creatures of various hues. Mor/morni(peacock), Koyel(cuckoo), Papiha(brain fever bird!), Chakor/chakori(does it really exist or is it mythical?), Hans(swan) and so on. The animal motifs are also there predominately hiraniya(doe), but few and far between. The birds are far more popular.

Ok, halt of faltu analysis, without any further ado, here is my selection. Please be noted, this is the list of songs from my iPod. So, if you think a good Piya song was left out, you are free to ensure that it finds its way to my iPod :)

Click on the link against the title to view/hear the song

1. Piya Milan Ko Jana : What better song than this to start the list. We have after all, embarked upon a journey to meet a dozen piyas. There is a caveat here though. This is not the stately Pankaj Mullick version from the 1930s, but the jazzed up remix (I offer my head for the guillotine) by Zubeen Garg. It is a delightful song, irreverently reverent of the original and zany and creative on it's own. Zubeen merely lifts the tune and the first line off Pankaj Mullick's version and gives it a completely different treatment. He introduces a chorus refrain and and fuses it with rock. I know this is getting to be completely unpalatable for the vintage music lover. But listen to it once. It is truly a great justification for the existence of remixes.
(Note *** See Below)

2. Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon : We all know of Renuka Devi of Dehradoon whose 'piya' forsaked the 'patloon' for a 'lungi' as he pined for her in far away Rangoon. We all know that when a man has four beautiful women hanging on his arm, he is certainly pining for his wife. This is a Shamshad Begum song all the way. She is spunky, robust and delightful. The song continues to delight generation after generation. Yours truly has been besotted since the beginning of time.

3. Piya Aiso Jiya Mein : Geeta Dutt sings this song with such feeling it is difficult to remain unaffected. The besotted wife lovingly dressing up in the hope that her husband will notice her. The song is romantic but with the undercurrent of pathos. The pathos of neglect and unrequited love. Geeta's expressive detailing of Hemant Kumar's tune is par excellence. The picturisation is the icing on the cake.

4. Piya Basanti Re: This song appeals for the delicious contrast between the voices of Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra and the interesting fusion of the modern sound with the traditional strains.

5. Piya Mehendi Liyada : Since I live safely here in the US, I can fearlessly flaunt my UP Bhaiyya roots without the fear of my Panache (shes my car.. duh!) getting smashed. So here is a Kajri by Soma Ghosh, disciple and adopted daughter of the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan saheb. This is a light-hearted folk version of the Kajri. Absolutely delightful.

6. Piya Tose Naina Lage Re : Any 'Piya' list is incomplete without the mother of em all piya songs - yeah this is the MIL of all songs. OK I get off the corny horse and say that it is impossible to listen to this song and not want to do a dandawat pranaam to Old Man. One marvels how one can be completely spontaneous and detailed at the same time. Burman Dada achieves just that in this song. I have written a long piece on Piya Tose Naina Laage Re for SDB.Net before here. But I am still discovering the song. For instance hear the tabla pieces in the 'Jag ne utare dharti pe taare' stanza, they emulate the sound of the ghungroos. The motif subtly repeats itself after every few bars (e.g after dharti pe taare) so much so that by the time Lata songs 'aa sajan payal pukare' the mind is already programmed to expect the 'jhanak jhan jhan jhan'. This song belongs to the rarefied plane of complete songs. Nothing is out of place. Sweeping vision, creative detailing, perfect singing, alluring lyrics, beautiful choreography, grand sets and perfect picturisation. It is truly a feather in the cap of anyone and everyone who associated with it.

7. Piya Ke Aavan Ki : From one exhilarated plane to another. This is ustaad Amir Khan saheb singing a thumri in raag Khamaj from the Bengali film Kshudita Pashan. I find myself completely inadequate to even begin describing the beauty of this piece. I shall leave you to your own devices!

8. Piyu Pal Na Laagi Mori Akhiyan : Since we are in the rarefied zone now, let me offer the song that is the Sartaj Geet in my iPod. The song that has the highest playcount of 95 times. The redoubtable Pandit DV Paluskar, the redoubtable raaga - Gaud Sarang and this timeless bandish in the raag. I have heard the recording of this bandish in many other voices but Paluskar Sahab's magnetism has remained peerless. One can never get enough of it.

9. Raat Piya Ke Sang : Let us completely switch moods from sublime to sensual. Hindi films since the days of yore have usually been reticent about depicting any kind of erotica. The fear of the likes of Asha Parekh, Sushma Swaraj and their predecessors like Morarji Desai have historically scared writers and film makers behind nodding roses, swaying palms and pecking birds. But once in a while the composer of yore would get fearless and come up with some good old erotica in the mould of classical Indian literature. This song comes from unexpected quarters - composer Jaidev and singer Meenu Puroshottam come together in a sizzler of a song. Meenu Purshottam is so strongly influenced by Asha Bhosle that this song becomes a tribute to Asha's hold over this genre. Jaidev's treatment remains classy and evolved even in a genre which is not a part of his staple. Not to be missed!

10. Piya So Milan Kaise: While we are on Jaidev, here is Jaidev in his element. A soulful Meera Bhajan sung by Asha Bhosle. It is rare, very rare when Asha Bhosle lets go of her self and her earthy ties. This is one of those occasions. Very few composers took Asha to that exhilarated plane. Hats off to Jaidev for doing it consistently. The instrumental pieces in this song are extremely inspired and compliment the singing beautifully.

11. Piya Sang Khelo Holi : This is a ripe and succulent fruit of Burman Dada's creativity in its autumn years. Songs like these reaffirm the legend that SD Burman's creativity never saw an autumn, even in the autumn of his life. The song bubbles with the spirit of spring and the spring festival of Holi. The swaying rhythm of the tabla and the swish of the pichkari, the delightful 'dhin na ka nak dhin' of the chorus, Lata's lush vocals and Majrooh saab's earthy lyrics they all work together to make this song a stand out. Such is the chemistry between the various elements of the song that the chorus, orchestra and the lead vocals all seem to be playing Holi with each other. Have you ever heard of the heroine being referred to as a 'Gende ki kali'? That is what Majrooh calls her in this song. And that in a way is an apt characterisation of this song. Like a marigold flower this song is bright, earthy, strongly fragrant and easy on the eyes(ears).

12. Piya Tune Kya Kiya Re: All lists end with the greatest of them all . So this list has to end with SDB(here on MPA there is no dispute of his being the bestest). So here is Sachin Dev Burman enjoying himself playing around with Piya, Kiya, Jiya, Liya, Diya. Yes the official lyricist is Anand Bakshi (who else would do such tukbandi) but I am of the firm opinion that when it came to Burman Dada's singing, a lyricist had to detach himself from his poetry like a programmer would do with open source code. Old Man sang whatever suited his whim at that particular moment. A lyricist had little hold over what would catch his fancy and how he would chose to pronounce it. Remember mooonsafeeeeer tu jaanyega kahannnnnHere he deviously leaves us on a merry guessing game as to what he actually sang(I suspect that's how he ensured repeat value for his songs). There are many choices

Piya tune kya kiya re
Kiya tune kya piya Re
Liya maine kya diya re
Diya maine kya kiya Re
Piya tune kya diya Re

All? some? none?, the choice is yours. And I could swear I also heard

Piya tune kya piya re

Or maybe I am just high on a dozen shots of the 'Piya' potion...... time to wind up and head for bed. But before I go may I opine(for the last time on this post), at the end of the day whatever he sings, however he pronounces, the magic that SDB creates in this song is such that one can unabashedly admit ....tere bina laage na jiya re. Feel free to replay!

Ok one last 'Piya' sparkler before I really retire for the night. Consider it as a non-competing entry as it is in Bengali. No, you don't need to know Bengali to enjoy this song, I don't! SD Burman sings 'Dushtu Papiha Bole Piya Piya'. No more descriptions for this song. It speaks for itself!

*** - Searching You Tube for the Pankaj Mullick version of Piya Milan ko Jaana, yielded this (click here). It is from 'Meri Behen/My Sister', not 'Kapal Kundala' the film in which this song appeared. The 'My Sister' version is by some female voice. The music director for both films was Pankaj Mullick.

*** - One song I would have loved to see on this list song is 'Mera Piya Ghar Aaya', the sufi song made famous Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. but alas! I don't have that song in my collection.

Readers' Selection
I invite your choicest Piya song to add to this list. The rules of the game are explained here

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Acknowledgements : A big thanks for Archisman Mozumdar (Archieda) for passing on the Ustad Amir Khan recording. Also thanks to all contributors to RMIM Commemoratives through which a lot of these songs have made their way to my collection.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympics Opening : Take a bow China!

I have just finished watching the Olympics Opening Ceremony. My hair are still standing on the end. Spectacular, stunning, awesome, extravagant, exhilarating it was a grand celebration of the vision and sweep of the human mind. The extravaganza at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing was one of the greatest spectacles the world has seen in recorded history. It is the coming of age of one fifth of the inhabitants of this planet. It is the coming of age of China.

After years of shunning the outside world, the enigmatic China opened it's doors to the world.. and how! The rich art, culture, technology and grit of one of the world's oldest civilizations came on a dazzling display at the show. The dance of the dynasties, the precision and co-ordination of the tai chi displays, the sweeping vision, the breathtaking aesthetics and the precision of execution, all this has already become a become a bench mark that will be hard to move for a long long time. This event has breached all the barriers. London, my sympathies!

The million small torches that lit up the stadium in bobbing twinkling lights formed a mesmerising backdrop for the Olympic torch as it made its way to the cauldron. I had never thought anything could beat the archer who fired an arrow and lit the cauldron in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. But Li Ming's sky walk to the cauldron that majestically appeared from mid-air was spellbinding.

As I watched the events unfolding in front of my eyes, everything was forgotten. The political issues with China, the human rights violation, our own skirmishes on the border and my sympathy for the Tibetan struggle. I just watched awestruck and riveted by the power of 15 Cm of grey mass, the human brain. After watching the opening ceremony I felt proud to be an Asian, proud to be a neighbour of China and more than that proud to be a part of race that could create this cosmic dazzler.

One World, One Dream - this truly was an achievement for the entire mankind.

I am sure, that all other life forms, the Martians, the denizens of Venus, Jupiter, faraway galaxies, all those with their telescopes and antennas trained on our sapphire planet, those who send the UFOs, the low-life of the universe...they just had a show of a lifetime!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Falling in Love II - Gaana Aaye Ya Na Aaye

Hi friends, I am back as promised with my second edition on the great Dr Chaudhury. (Read Part 1 here : Falling in Love)

The secret revelation that I made to my blog has resulted in an avalanche of good wishes from all of you eavesdroppers... I mean friends. I am truly touched by your sincerity. I know all of you are shy about leaving comments here on the blog so I shall do the needful for you. After all good things should be shared with the world. Using this blog as a fireplace mantle, I am going to draw lots and pick out some of those heartfelt messages to display as mantelpieces. So here we go...!

"My belief has become stronger that some people "look" besura. I was so confident that this guy was going to be besura..."

Ouch! That was a not so lucky draw. But never mind. Mein aur mera blog are both equal opportunity feedback receivers. We believe in freedom of expression. Psst... let me tell you a secret on the side, this person is just jealous. I think he is feeling insecure because hamare Chaudhury Saab is giving serious competition to his second most favourite singer! Guess who?
Let's go to the next one

"You are such a silly-billy - Doctorjee needs singing lessons!!!! I also heard his rendition of 'Dancing Queen'...still tearing my hair..."
Isn't that sweet? She is obviously tearing her hair in ecstasy after hearing him immortalize ABBA with his kauwwa, sorry kokila roopi kanth. The part about the singing lessons, is obviously about the need to dispense lessons. True genius needs to be shared.

"I like his "roop tera mastana" better than the original and I'm sure if SDB were alive today he would have to agree that Dr Chaudhry is even cooler and zanier than Kishore ....Really have to doff my hat to you dilli wallahs/waalis !"
Now that is a true friend. Ok, admittedly a part is aimed slightly below the belt. In one blow it hits my SDB soft spot and my Dilli soft spot. But I shall remain positive. I shall let the 'Dilli barb pass as the inferiority complex of a typical Mumbaikar in the age-old Delhi-Bombay war. As a fan of the old man, I remain benign to all people who are fans of any of his assistants..[halo shining]
Actually, there is a point there, I have to agree, Kishore Kumar will need seven lives and a chestful of SDB's paans to sing like the good doctor. The way he sings 'mauj koi saahil se takraaye' and the way the '... ae.. ae... ae.. ae' echos in my 'karn karn'. It makes my hair stand on the end.

Here is the last one..this one came as a voice message on the phone and then a follow-up phone conversation

Voice-Mail : You have one new message. Press 1 to play the message
[Pressed 1]
Voice- Mail: [Background Dr Chaudhury singing ae.. ae... ae.. ae' ]..... I strongly suggest you go back to Dev Anand. Mera vote Dev Anand ke saath hai......

After such a message I simply had to call back. This is what I heard

".... I saw each of the videos thinking the real thing is yet to come. But now after watching them carefully I am very impressed. I am going to start singing and uploading my own songs.."

Errr... sometimes spreading good news can get counter-productive. (anyone who has heard her sing 'Hai Banto' will agree on that)

So those were your glowing good wishes, thank you very much for them. With the curtain raiser over, let me now take you on the journey to meet Dr Chaudhury.

Fasten your seat belts!

It has turned out to be a grand revelation that for the travellers on You Tube Dr Chaudhury is a legend. There are 562 such samples of his superior serenading skills out there on You Tube all recorded in a span of seven months. He has covered multiple languages Hindi, English, Punjabi and has elevated the works of artists ranging from Britney Spears to Abba, Kishore Kumar to Kumar Sanu, Lata Mangeshkar to Shreya Ghoshal and from Prakash Kaur to Surinder Kaur. And all of them swinging in the same chair with the same intense expression. I love such consistency.

Needless to say Dr Chaudhury has legion of admirers. Just a glance at the comments section in his uploads and you shall see the effects of his charismatic singing. People want to invite him over to their work-place. Other have him sing happy birthday on the laptop as they cut the cake and even others give singing suggestions. Here is a small sampling of the comments

Comment 1: "Wah wah Chacha ji qasam se aap ne to Mohammad Rafi, Mehdi Hassan, Mukesh sabb ko peeche chor dya,, ap ne music training kahan se lee he,, very nice voice and very nice songs,, plz do come to Sweden im ur big fan ,, Take care Uncle ji u are very zindadill "
Comment 2: "...I am really looking forward for my retirement. :-) "

Comment 3: "Respected Doctor sahab,
We are very grateful to you for the entertainment that you provide us. We are your fans from America. We want to give you 2 suggestions:
1)In the next summer, why dont you plan a US tour??? It will be awesome to have you in person --amongst us.
2)Another area which you have neglected is Hindustani Classical Music. A rendition of few ragas coming from you will be just HEAVENLY!!!!
- Choudhary fan club Stanford University'"

The last one is a great suggestion. I cannot wait to have Dr Saab do a DV Paluskar to 'Piyu Palan Lagi Mori Akhiyan'. Incidentally the fan following does not stop there. Stanford University is not the only place where he has a fan club. He has multiple fan clubs ( His fans all revere his superior singing skills. So huge is his fan following that India TV did a feature on him and he now rubs shoulders on Page 3 with the Ramanis and Ramonas of Delhi. No mean achievement.

Ofcourse, all legends invite criticism - some constructive and some otherwise. Our Doctor Saab is no exception. There are jealous souls out there who say he is besura. I wouldn't pay much attention to them. These are the same people who point fingers at legends like Himesh Reshamaiyya accusing him of being nasal, besura, wolf, doggy, and what not.. You know who these people are? I suspect they are all those singers on whom Dr Saab has done a favour by Hoton se chhooing and geet amar karoing. Jagjit Singh is definitely one of them (There are some people who think it is nemesis for Jagjit Singh after what he did onto others in his 'Close to my Heart' series).

Any music lover worth his salt knows that besurapan is a tag that should be worn proudly on the lapels. Today there is his highness Himesh, in the past there was Mahendra Kapoor of the 'Gaana Aaye Ya Naa Aaye Gana Chahiye' fame and above all there was Mukesh about whom many speculated that 'Sur ki gati main kya jaanu' was actually ghost written by him as an honest confession on his own singing skills. People even dare to whisper the same about the high priestess of Hindi film music regarding her recent forays into singing. I think the good doctor definitely has all these legends in his ears when he performs and Lata's stellar rendition of 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham' (the K3G one and not the 'Baaton Baaton Mein' song) seems to be a constant inspiration. When he sang 'Kuch na kaho' he surpassed her (in what sense, I shall leave to your imagination).

Doctor saab himself, is no Guru Dutt. Like a true artist who knows his worth he is unfazed by any criticism. Sample below.

"I love criticism and critics - even those showering obscene abuses, users blocked by me."

That is the spirit!

OK, lets get off our funny horse for a bit and examine what it is about this 63 year old gentleman that he has attracted so much attention. Undoubtedly he is completely tuneless. But then there are many other tuneless wonders on You Tube who don't have India TV chasing after them. Is it the prolific streak? 561 videos and still counting is no mean achievement. Is it his age? Or is it just the new age media that loves to celebrate the inane? It is probably a little of all the above. The kitsch value of his output is indisputable, yet it not only that. What probably attracts people to Dr Chaudhury's forays is his sincerity and conviction in the usefulness of his completely useless singing. There is something touching about it. The childlike concentration when he sings, the polite and enthusiastic response to all the smart alec comments and the consistency with which he has been pursuing his passion, one cannot help but feel indulgent. At the end of the day, it is the same indulgence that makes top film reviewers give Dev Anand's nth turkey a sympathetic review or infact a review at all. It is an indulgence for the indomitable spirit of a person in the autumn of his life.

So that was a journey into Dr Chaudhury's world. For his fans there is some distressing news. Dr Saab is currently pursuing other vocations and is not singing. But, there is some better news in offing. Lets hear it from him

" Thanks! I dedicate myself to one field at a time. Currently it is not singing. I would resume soon, composing my own songs on pakistan movie tunes"

Aha... so after giving Rafi, Kishore, Mukesh, Talat, Sonu Nigam etc. competition, our doctorjee is now making inroads into the territory of Nadeem Shravan and Sameer. I love it!

Lage rahiye doctor saab. Please keep singing... we shall keep listening... er... reaching out for our ear plugs!

Gaana aaye ya na aaye gaane chahiye