Friday, December 25, 2009

The Symphony of Nature

Do you sometimes have those moments? Moments when a general feeling of well-being suddenly whips up into something more potent. Quite like an ecstacy that completely engulfs the being. These are those moments when there was no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is just that moment and the luminous beauty of the moment.... I have those moments once in a while. Born mostly out of appreciation for music or nature, sometimes of both and sometimes of things far placed from either. Something like that happened to me a couple of months back.

Now, in retrospect it seems that whole 3 minutes and 31 seconds of experience was the scripted by a divine hand.

It was Sunday and a brilliant day in my part of the world. Spring was in the air, the breeze was fresh, and crisp. It felt that everything in the atmosphere had devoured a mouthful of breath freshner. The day was painted using a palette that never fails to stir - azure sky dotted with brilliant woolly whites, lush green on the ground, pastel pink on the trees and yellows in the crevices. A vigourous breeze had charged the atmosphere with an electric optimism. It is always that way in spring. Everything seems upbeat and ready for a new beginning. As providence would have it the AC in my car gave away and I had to do something I do rarely - open the sun roof. So there I was trundling down in my car with the windows all down, playful breeze in the hair, lung full of fresh spring air and music for accompaniment . With a setting like that even the most sullen of God's creations would find it difficult to escape the feeling of good cheer. I being of a fairly 'unsullen' disposition was feeling quite kicked and content.

The music that I was playing is a collection of SD Burman's songs, that I greatly cherish. It is cherished not so much for my love for the old monk brand of music, but more for the way the CD has been compiled. There are about ten songs, placed in such a sequence that with a little help from the ambience they can create a delectable mood that lingers long after the music stops playing. By themselves the songs are great but when played together they are magic. This post, however, is not about that sequence. It is about one of the most lumniscent songs in that sequence -'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahen'.

I had stopped at a traffic signal when the initial low notes of this gorgeous composition started streaming. At that very moment a stray plastic bag caught the corner of my eye. It had come into my eye-view sliding up the road pushed by the light breeze. As the vigourous sitar strings in the prelude picked up tempo, a sudden gust swept the bag into the air and took it on a merry dance across the road and into the greens. There it was, the plastic bag, waltzing away in the breeze in absolute synch to the music playing my car! And that was the moment. Suddenly everything in the universe snapped into a perfect symphony. The music playing in my car, the plastic bag, the birds, the trees, the breeze outside and along with all of them - me. We all fused into a single rhythm, the divine rhythm of life.

The breeze took a momentory lull and then renewed vigour gave the waltzing bag a last nudge and like a seasoned gymnast it took a final somersault and bowed out of view, just as Lata's voice started picking up the first few notes of the alaap. My eyes having lost the plastic bag, ran up the branches of a tree that stood where I had lost sight of it. Lata finshed her alaap right at the moment my vision touched the tree tops. There they were, swaying away in the breeze. The spring green of the trees caressed the brilliant of the blue sky as nightingale's dew soft voice sang 'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahen, aaja chal den kahin door'. The voice siezed me and took me along - far far away on the wings of ecstacy. It was sheer magic and almost an out of body experience that lasted for all of the 3 odd minutes the song lasted. An exhilarating flight, up to magical lands beyond the clouds, swinging on rainbows, playing hide and seek in the mist..... and then as if on pre-ordained cue, the last notes of the song faded away just as the wheels of my car rolled to a stop at my destination.

I have heard this song many times before and many times since and many a time the song has lifted me off the ground into a merry flight but never has the experience reached the lofty heights it reached that day. As an ode to that magic I present this song as a part of the 'Song of the Day' series.

Eloquence falls short in supply when one ventures out to describe the beauty of this song. What should one describe? The restlessness sitar prelude fluttering like a bird ready to take flight? The enigmatic 'dhundhli fiza mein kuch khoyen kuch paayen' ? The gentle of rhythm of life in 'sanson ki laye par koi aisi dhun gaayen'? Or the final burst of nirvanic energy in the alaap before 'jhoola dhanak ka' ? And then there is Lata's voice -pristine, pure like a drop of fresh rain. The moments are so many and that one feels stunted. I would suggest that you click on the link below and discover your own.

A philospoher had once opined, music is the only innocent and unpunished passion. The ecstacy that people search for in LSD, Ecstasy and other stimulants, is right there, within easy reach and with a power of rejuvenation that is in many multitudes higher than the power destruction all these external stimulants hold. All it requires is a moment of tuning your inner-self with the greatest symphony of all - the symphony of the nature. I am sure Sahir, Lata, SD Burman and all the accompanying musicians were tuned in when they created this song and I am eternally grateful to them for tuning me into the same magical frequency on that lovely spring afternoon.

.. aaja chal den kahin door...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Geeta Roy, Off The Beaten Track

A lot of feedback to the List of definitive Geeta Dutt songs has rued the exclusion of her equally delightful but lesser known songs. Since the purpose of the earlier exercise was to profile Geeta Dutt through her known output, a lot of good songs did not get the space they more than deserved. So, here is another list. This time the endeavour is to commemorate Geeta Dutt with the help of her lesser known gems. Let me confess, after all the 'danda-maroing' on the figure of ten, I have fallen prey to the temptation to choose a dozen instead of ten songs. Also, this time it is a solo-only list. That leaves us with the tingling anticipation of doing a duet list sometime in the future.

Let me admit to another little quirk that went into the selection of the list - The first list tilted heavily in the favour of Geeta Dutt - the uninhibited sensuality, passionate love, bone cracking pathos, deep despondency and the sharp mix of emotions that came to be her lot as Mrs Dutt. Intensity was the key-word to her latter day renditions. This list celebrates Geeta Roy - Young, bright-eyed, innocent, naughty, joyous, full of what were
'chhoti chhoti khushi aur chhote chhote gham'. Her singing from his period is completely oblivious of the complexity of her later singing life.

Many music lovers are of the opinion that the best of Geeta Dutt came when she was Geeta Roy. Her singing after her marriage got focused on her husband's films and a handful of composers who worked with the legendary film-maker. This stifled her range considerably. Almost all of her singing for outside banners got limited to two-bit club songs (the glorified item numbers of the era) . Rarely did she sing for the heroine outside Guru Dutt's films.

However, it is also interesting to note, her 'Golden Collection' kind of songs all come from her Mrs Dutt period. They are the most high-profile songs in her kitty. This could be attributed to the fact that Guru Dutt's cinema has developed a legendary status over the years giving the songs of his films far more air-space than other very good songs that unfortunately got buried in the soundtracks of films that did not pass the test of time. This selection is a minuscule attempt to dig out those gems and put them in spotlight.

If we pause to reflect for a moment, it is this contrast between Geeta Roy and Geeta Dutt that makes her life story so poignant. The girl who sang
Chanda khele aankh micholi, brimmed over with optimism and joie-de-vivre. The woman who ultimately sang Na jao saiyyan was tired, despondent, bitter and forsaken by the capricious world. Her life and the 'candle in the wind' kind of end bears striking similarity to Guru Dutt's own in Kagaz Ke Phool - Dekhi Zamaane Ki Yaari - Bichhde sabhi baari baari.

Both Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt were supremely talented artists and cursed with the cross of genius. They were both temperamental, sensitive and easy to hurt. And unknown to themselves, they harboured a strong self-destructive streak. When such people come together in matrimony, the doom is inevitable. Had Guru Dutt not fallen victim to his own demons, it is likely that he would have fallen victim to the bottle just like his wife. There was no Sanjay Dutt like rehabilitation in the world of cinema those days.. just painful ends. Artist after artist fell prey to the opium of the lights and glamour, a world that ate the innards of their soul and then discarded them to waste away in obscurity. KL Saigal, Madhubala, Guru Dutt, Geeta Dutt, Meena Kumari, the list is illustrious. One sort of gets de-sensitised reading the the same story over and over again.

Yet, Geeta's waste somehow, is very poignant. It hits home. Her spirit was not tailored for tragedy. It was joyous, resplendent and luminous . When such a spirit breaks down and withers away it is difficult even for the most cynical to remain untouched. But the brighter side of things is that what will never wither away is the immortal art that came out of this suffering. And at the end of the day whichever angle we look at it - famous or rare, club song or cabaret, Roy or Dutt, Geeta's voice remains as enticing and magical as ever.

So without any further babbling, here is the list.

Hamen chhod piya kis des gaye (Film : Do Bhai(1947); Composer: SD Burman; Lyrics : Raja Mehndi Ali Khan): While Mera Sundar Sapna and Yaad Karoge are the well known songs from this track, this one is a hidden gem. A lilting tune in vintage Burman mode is adorned by some very nice word play by Raja Mehndi Ali Khan. To sample

hum aankh se ojhal hote the
tum sau sau aansuu rote the
hum sau sau aanson rote hain
tum mukh dikhlaana bhul gaye

The rustic manner in which 'bhool' is pronounced as 'bhull' is particularly charming. While the expression is a little immature and slightly over the top, the magnetism and richness in the voice quality is inescapable. SD Burman sure knew what he was doing when he locked horns with the studio bosses to make the then unknown Geeta Roy his leader singer for the film. The rest as the cliche says is history.
2. Tumhe saajan manaaye tum rooth jaana (Film : Milan(1946); Composer: Anil Biswas; Lyrics : ?) A bright and innocent song which never fails to bring a smile to the face. Beautiful music by Anil Biswas and a charming rendition by Geeta. Particularly sweet is the childlike innocence with which she sings kaho na na. It shouldn't be surprising if you knew how old she was when she sang the song... sweet sixteen!
(Note : I strongly suggest you close your eyes when you 'watch' the song lest the bovine actress on screen ends up in making you
'kaho na na na' to the magic of the song)

Haule haule hawaye dole (Non-Film; Composer: Nikhil Ghosh; Lyrics : Bharat Vyas) This is a breezy song that showcases the rich bass in Geeta Dutt's voice. The song has a very strong Bengali flavour to it. For minute if you don't concentrate on the lyrics you could easily mistake it for a Bengali song!. It is upbeat, melodious and easy flowing. . The composer was Nikhil Ghosh, brother of flute maestro Pannalal Ghosh. This is 3 minutes of not-to-be-missed savoury delight.

Kuke ambua pe koyalia (Non-Film; Composer: ?; Lyrics : ?) This song of unknown origin is a traditional phagun song. Geeta renders it with characteristic simplicity. The choral singing and the spontaneity of the folk form makes it a charming representation of an era and tradition long gone.

5. Mein toh girdhar ke ghar jaun (Film :Jogan, Composer: Bulo C Rani, Lyrics :Kabirdas) Jogan was such a stellar Geeta track that it is difficult to pick any one song from the ensemble. This kabir bhajan has been chosen because it showcases the devotional genre for which she was celebrated in her early career. This is a good example of the 'happy bhajan' that became a rarity in her later years. It has been sung by many before her and many after her but Geeta Roy's version still stands out. What attracts me to this song, apart from the rich tonal timbre of Geeta's youthful voice, is the way she lays a slight emphasis on 'Girdhar'.
6. Daro re rang daro re : (Film :Jogan, Composer: Bulo C Rani, Lyrics ?) Another one from Jogan. I fought with my objective self(asking for more composers more variety) to include this song. I don't regret my choice for a second. This is such a captivating song. It transports the listener to a breezy field at the edge of a idyllic village lined with red Semal trees, where a group of happy people are enjoying the festivities of Holi. It's very nostalgic and evocative of spring. One of my all time favourite Holi songs. Almost every time I hear this song I wish I was born hundred years ago!

Jhoome re kali (Film :Naukri, Composer:Salil Chowdhury, Lyrics : Shailendra) This is such a bright-eyed song. It revels in the joy of first love. That very secret celebration with the self, the spring in the step and the stars in the eyes, they all spill over in this charmer from the Salil Chowdhury stable. The tune is lilting to begin with but flowers under Shailendra's simple poetry. Typical to him, that goes beyond the immediate - "lagan kahe jeevan ka chain chhupa kaanton mein". Salilda makes Geeta sing in the lower octaves and she hits those notes in a deep and sonorous tone. It is a well known fact that Salil Chowdhury was a card carrying Lata Bhakt. He used all other female singers including Geeta sparingly. But on the few occasions that he did look elsewhere, the result was compelling enough to make one wish there were more such sojourns. This song bears witness to that could-have-been magic.

8. Dekho jaadu bhare more nain (Film :Aasman, Composer:OP Nayyer, Lyrics : Prem Dhawan) This film marked the beginning of the legendary OPN-Geeta partnership. Aasman saw a completely different OP Nayyer, in a pre-ghoda gaadi avtaar. The tune based off Gaud Sarang is in a genre that is rare to find in OPN's repertoire and is probably the only example with Geeta. Even though her classical training was minimal, Geeta carries this song with characteristic aplomb. The breezy sitar and tabla accompaniment accentuates the fluidity in Geeta's voice. The two remind me of fast-flowing mountain streams that rush towards an exhilarating confluence. The racy sitar interludes in this song could be considered fore-runners to Nayyar's strings fest in the Rafi-Asha duet 'Aap yu hi agar humse' from 'Ek musafir ek hasina'. This is probably a 'Golden Collection' kind of song, but simply had to be included for the genre it represents. All in all a sure-fire 'patel point' in Geeta's musical landscape.

9. Chand hai wohi (Film : Parineeta, Composer: Arun Mukherjee, Lyrics : Bharat Vyas)
This pick is from the 1953 film Parineeta. Meena Kumari and Geeta Roy team up for an exquisite beauty. The song is mellow and soothing and carries just a whiff of melancholy. It is beautiful and delicate. The music direction is by Arun Kumar Mukherjee, a former Bombay Talkies singer, Ashok Kumar's ghost voice and also a cousin of the Ganguly brothers. The lyrics by Bharat Vyas in a sanskrit leaning Hindi add a unique appeal to the song.

raag hai wohi, parag hai, wohi pavan
phir bhi kyon udaas hai udaas mera man

To pause and reflect for a moment, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt shared a lot in common. They were both celebrated as tragedy queens owing to the melancholy in their artistic identities which spilled over to their personal lives as well. Their ends too, were chillingly similar. Both succumbed to cirrhosis of liver within months of each other. Like a dying flame they both gave a short burst of incandescence before the eternal darkness - Meena Kumari with her performance in 'Pakeezah' and Geeta Dutt with her singing in 'Anubhav'. 'Na jao saiyyan', their last association came to immortalize the poetic tragedy that became their life. But this song tells us that many many years before, they were bubbly and innocent young women pre-occupied with the little joys and little sorrows that define the wonder years in life. The whole effect is of transient sorrow, one that does not take root but lightly touches you and then floats away. It leaves you with lingering sense of sweet restlessness. This is truly a rare gem from a rare genre.

10. Rut phire par dine hamare (Film :Pyaasa, Composer: SD Burman, Lyrics : Sahir) The soft strains of the flute that start streaming in the prelude seem to have travelled a great distance from a land, far faraway. On the wings of this Pied Piper like flute follows a beautiful voice, floating on sails of timelessness. A melancholic voice - disembodied and ethereal, it seems to have drifted across the seven seas of time. Slowly and gently it beckons us beyond the clouds into its secret magical world...

OK, I need to snap out of the fairy tale mode and get back to reality. But that, vaguely, is the aura of 'Rut phire par din hamare'. The song does not seem to belong to this world. (which might be the reason Guru Dutt decided to chop it from the film). I don't know what the lyrics of 'Rut phire par din hamare' really are, I vaguely register them to be outright sad. But that's not the way my heart reacts to it. It is more wistful than sad. There is a sense of mystery, enigma and infinity. ..apne liye siwaaye majhdhaar kuch nahin hai..'. I am actually quite glad this song never got picturized. Somethings are best left to imagination.

11. Zor lagake - Aangan mein baithi (Film : Jaal, Composer: SD Burman, Lyrics : Sahir) Geeta Bali and Geeta Roy were made for each other. The bubbly effervescence that defined the actress was matched in equal measure by the singer. Together they brought a bright bright smile to the face. Tadbeer se bigdi hui, De bhi chuke hum, Dil chura loon, Jaate ho to jao are just some of the songs that define this chemistry. Aangan mein baithi hai machheran is one of those songs. Geeta Bali on screen, Geeta Roy on the mike, hubby-to-be wielding the megaphone and Sahir and Dada Burman in the music-room. End result - a sure-fire winner.

12. Aaj nahin to kal (Film : Naagmani , Composer: Avinash Vyas, Lyrics : Pradeep) This song is like a homing call for the ravaged soul. It is deeply inspirational and gives you the courage to stand up and face life. Zindagani se door bhaagana hai man ki kamzori, Kavi Pradeep wrote his lyrics in a simple, lucid and hitting straight to the point style. There is no poetic playing around with the thought, just to-the-point truths. It is Geeta's voice that provides comfort and applies the balm that eases the pain. It is like burying your tired self in the mother's caress. The tune is based off 'Om Jai Jagdish Hare'. It gives the energy and strength to carry on.

The music director is Avinash Vyas who used Geeta Roy with some memorable results in the early 50s. Vyas also used Geeta's voice extensively for Gujarati films.

I end off with a song that is like a non-competitive entry. That is because in truth it is not a full fledged song, but just a little songlet. But these couple of lines are so captivating that they simply have to be showcased here. Geeta Roy singing for SN Tripathi for the film Kavi Kalidas.

Footnote: As usual, the list has been very difficult to compile. For each song chosen, there were so many left behind. Here are some songs that almost made it but got chopped off in the final list. On another day in another list they are sure to take place of pride!

1. Do chamakti aakhon mein (Detective)
2. Chanda khele micholi (Jogan)
3. Gun gun gun gun gunjan karta bhanwara (Har har mahadev)
4. Jhanan jhanan mora bichua (Mangla)
5. Chanda dhale pankha jhale maiyya tumhari (Pyar ki pyaas)
6. Dil chura loon chura loon dil mein chhupi baat (Faraar)
7. Ayi re ghir ghir pehli pehli baadariya (Miss Mary)
8. Dekh ke akeli mohe barkha sataaye (Baazi)
9. Tune khoob racha bhagwan khilona maati ka (Naagmani)
10. Rangili chhabili rani nindiya (Ferry)
11. Jaate ho to jao (Milap)
12. Manjhi albele chalo re haule haule(Baaz)

See Also


Thanks to everyone who has provided me with rare Geeta songs that I could upload on youTube. In particular I thank Dr Mahesh Sagar. And ofcourse thanks to the wonderful effort on youTube to archive her songs.

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.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If Only...

In this universe there are two kinds of people - those who are music lovers and those who are not. The second lot are more or less off our radar. They are after all deprived souls who have missed being tuned into most vital frequency of all and we will let them be (after expressing our gloating sympathy ofcourse). It is the second category of homo sapiens, the music lovers, that are of interest on MPA.

Music aficionados of this world come in various sizes and packaging - from Kumar Sanu to KL Saigal, from Adnan Sami to Asha Bhosle, they all have their admirers. But in essence all music lovers can be safely categorized into two broad bands - the listener and the critic. The first is the fellow who will listen to a song, relish it and then move on. He is person who is wholly and solely satisfied by mere activity of listening to the song. The who/what/wheres of the song hold no interest for him, only the song does. Now isn't that boring? But as the old proverb cheerfully reminds us God's abode might harbour delay but no darkness (der hai andher nahin...duh!). And so to brighten up the world, he created a second category of 'sangeet premis'- the critic. The critic is a music lover who does all that the first type does but, in addition, he has a parallel track running in the mind that provides constant annotation to his basic experience. Eg..'Note Rafi took three breaths in this line whereas Asha took only one', 'Lata's voice is thins out just between 2:34 and 2:36 portions of the song', 'did you know Kishore sang this song on June 12 1952 at 2:00 AM ?' and so on and so forth. For this creature, the music experience is never complete without being tuned into every little detail and nuance of the object of his fancy. He simply has to focus in on every electron, proton and neutron that comes within his aural space.

A favourite pastime of this microscope friendly tribe is the 'If Only..' activity. The 'If Only...' activity is nothing but an exercise in fantasy, where a music lover tries to sneak in his own sense of aesthetics into any musical piece that catches his fancy. 'If Only, SJ used a modest orchestra', 'If Only Lata sang this in a lower scale', 'If only RDB used less Lata instead of Asha', 'If Only Kishore...' , 'If Only Rafi...', 'If Only.....'

The 'If Only...' activity is the Viagra for a dreamer of any hue. Nothing is more stimulating than dreaming up the most perfect... well anything - perfect vacation, perfect song, perfect relationship, perfect anything. So what if it will never happen. It has already happened in your fantasy. I indulge in this activity quite often, esp. musically. Most of the time the thought is fleeting and disappears before I am even finished with the song. But many a time it persists and becomes wishlist. Here is a collection of some of my pet 'If Onlys'.

Cick on links against the song to view it in youTube.

1. Jab naam-e-mohabbat (Kala Pani, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Asha Bhosle)
If Only : Geeta Dutt sang the mellow part.
This thought crept into my mind when we were discussing this Kala Pani beauty sometime back and now it refuses to leave my head. Asha Bhosle admittedly does a fine job at alternating between the mellow and exuberant moods of the song. But the thought of Geeta Dutt singing the melancholic part is irresistible. It is a tune composed for her voice and she has many such scintillating songs in her kitty. This would have been a prized jewel, if only she had sung it...

2. Sanjh dhali dil ki lagi (Kala Bazaar, Shailendra, Manna Dey & Asha Bhosle)
If Only : Mohd Rafi (and Geeta Dutt - optional) sang the song
Whenever I hear this song, I feel Manna Da is so not with it. Manna Dey was a great singer, but summoning flamboyance was not one of his strong points, which is the primary reason he did not get to sing for the hero that often. He was fine singing for the hero when he was mellow and romantic, but a chhed chhaad song? Nah! Whenever I hear him sing aa jaa aa jaa aa bhi jaa to Asha Bhosle, I think of the neighbourhood uncle taking a chance with the local pataka. It is impossible to imagine Dev Anand with Waheeda. Let me then suggest that Rafi be used in this song (since the composition is in that mould). I don't have a problem with Asha Bhosle. She is more than adequate. But since she is in her 'imitate Geeta' phase in this film, why not just Geeta? So a Rafi-Geeta duet it should have been...I am swooning already!

3. Teri dhoom har kahin (Kala Bazaar, Shailendra, Mohd Rafi)
If Only: Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the song
This song somehow falls through the sieve whenever one thinks of the legendary songs in this great soundtrack. A pleasant tune, smooth singing by Rafi and a deft picturization by Vijay Anand, yet it did not make it. One then realises that the lyrics in this song fall flat. The song was meant to be a witty social comment on the love humankind harbours for vitamin M, but it turned out to be regular and run of mill song. Shailendra is clearly not in regular form here. However, this is just the kind of song that Sahir could take up and sear with his characteristic straight-talk. I would have so liked to hear what Sahir had to say on the topic. If only this song was written by Sahir Ludhianvi...

4. Dil ki umangen hain jawan : (Munimji, Shailendra, Hemant Kumar, Thakur & Geeta Dutt)
If Only : Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle sung this song
This song brims over with the masti quotient. However, Hemantda by nature is a little sombre for the mood of the song. He makes a gallant attempt but just does not get there. I remember a music lover once slyly commenting, 'the only attempt Hemantda makes at some masti is to sing 'jeet liyaaa' in a slightly affected style'. Geeta Dutt is in far better form, but she too does notflow into the dialogues part effortlessly. Her Bengali accent is too heavy. Thakur (who gossip mills say was Pran himself incognito!) does the finest job here. A song like this begs for Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle, the emperor and empress of the whackiland. Infact if Kishore was around Dada Burman could have dispensed with Thakur's services too. It would have been a real blast. If only....

5. Chanda re chhupe rehna (Lajwanti , Majrooh Sultanpuri, Asha Bhosle)

If Only : Geeta Dutt sang the sad version.
Another song that I am convinced was created for Geeta. Asha is wonderful in the happy portion, but cannot summon enough pathos in the sad version. Also she sings it in a fake affected style that takes away from the song. Geeta was the natural choice for this lori. If only Dada gave her this song, it had a good chance to surpass the 'Nanhi kali sone chali' legend.

6. Dhalki jaaye chundariya hamari : (Nau Do Gyarah, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Asha Bhosle)
If Only : Lata Mangeshkar sang this song
At the outset let me say that this is a sparkler of a song. Asha Bhosle does a fine job with delivering it to near perfection. Yet, it is near perfection and still not perfect. Let's play with the thought of introducing Lata to this song. What would we lose by letting Asha go? The emotion with which she sings the song is it's selling point and then there us the wonderful modulation that only Asha could do. What do we gain? We let go of an Asha whose voice is still a little shrieky in higher octaves and we get a Lata in her finest form. This is 1957 and her voice is beautifully nuanced and pristine as the snow. The emotions would be restrained, delicate and fragile. I am beginning to imagine something to rival 'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahen' or 'Saiyan kaise dharun dheer'. I wish Dada should have given Lata this song or in the least got her to do a tandem version. Who knows, we would have another 'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahen'?

7. O mere Bairagi Bhanwara : (Ishq Par Zor Nahin, Anand Bakshi, Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only : Asha Bhosle sang this song
One has been snatching one legendary song after the other from Asha Bhosle's kitty and doling it around, it is time to give her some stuff back. This is one song that would have sprung to life in Asha's voice. Lata, even though she tries her best, does end up sounding a little like a school teacher dispensing a biology lesson on pollination. Asha would have given this song the subtle sensuality that it begs for. And some of the legendary OP Style voice modulation? Sone pe suhaaga

8. Rehte the kabhi jinke dil mein (Mamta, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only : Asha Bhosle sang this song.
This is one song that I love to hum and always remember it fondly. Yet everytime I listen to it I am left dissatisfied. I finally figured out that Lata's voice quality at that point in time that does not let the tune flower. I wish that a throaty singer had sung this - someone like Laxmi Shankar or Shobha Gurtu, but they might have taken away from the accessibility level of the song. I would then settle with Asha singing in a lower octave a la 'Umrao Jaan'. This song would have hit the moon if that happened.
(Note: I am not very familiar with Runa Laila's range but from a voice quality perspective, her voice could have given the song an interesting dimension)

9. Neend churaaye chain churaaye (Anuraag, Anand Bakshi, Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only: Suraiya
Anyone who has heard Dada's own Bengali version of this song, will find it near impossible to take to Lata's version. In comparison it seems sterile - too clinical and studied. This song requires a spontaneity to live up to if not rival Sachin Dev Burman. A tall order. Given the Bengali roots of this song, Geeta Dutt would be the natural choice. But, Suraiya's voice could pick this song from the realm of the humdrum and give it a flavour that would be quite exotic. Yes, we all know Suraiya was not singing at this time in history, but as if fantasy cares.

10. Loote koi man ka nagar : (Abhimaan, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Manhar & Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only : Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle sang this song
This song is sung with so much of disinterest that if I did not understand Hindi I would have thought they are singing about bus timetables. Manhar got his big break with this duet. But I do think he tamed it down a bit too much. It is supposed to be a song where a couple are playfully teasing each other. It requires some attitude, some pizaaz to sound real. Yes, Kishore and Asha are the candidates of choice. As a soundtrack too Abhimaan would have benefited with Asha's presence. If only Dada was not such a Lata-bhakt in his autumn years.

11. Aie mere man mein hoon magan: (Us Paar, Yogesh, Mohd. Rafi)
If Only : Majrooh wrote this
This sountrack has considerable statistical value. It was the last outing of Mohd Rafi with SD Burman, a giant association coming to an end. Alongside it also was the first outing of lyricist Yogesh with the maestro. It is a charming collection with a variety and freshness that was typical to Burmanda. The only song that stands out as a tad ill-fitted is the song in question. If you take a tune that reminds you of the zany 'Chala jaata hoon' and then put lyrics like', 'Aie mere man, main hoon magan', the end result is akin to Bharat Bhushan dancing on 'Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe'. This song cries out for Majrooh Saab. The flamboyance of his quill could have made it the merry bouncer it was meant to be.

12. Mitwa...Piya maine kya kiya : (Us Paar, Yogesh, Manna Dey)
If Only : SD Burman
I can never resist the temptation of dreaming up a new SD Burman song. Given the drought that Hindi Film Music has for songs in his voice, I hope I be forgiven for my over zealousness. This piece is one of Mannada's finer moments. He sings this song with a lot of feeling. Folk has always been his strong point and he's in complete control. Yet, the basic structure of the song is cut in the SDB mould. If Dada had sung this song, he would have given it the heart-breaking intensity that only he could give. What a song it could become. At the risk of being mauled I do wish this song was sung by SD Burman.


For some strange reason all but one song in the list are by SD Burman. It was not by design, but just happened. This could be because I am intimately tuned into his output or it could be that it is possible to imagine Dada Burman's music with a variety of alternatives which sets the mind down the 'If Only' path. Whatever be the reason, bottomline is that may the good Lord and Old Monk in heaven forgive my transgressions..

That ends this edition of the If Only series, another day we shall have another list. Till then keep reading and keep writing!

P.S 'Old Monk' is an affectionate way that some of my music lover friends like to refer to SD Burman. Dada Burman was often mistaken for a Buddhist lama.